The Basilica in Loreto

Macerata-Loreto: “Before the Virgin as beggars of everything"

The 43rd Pilgrimage will take place in a reduced format. Yet, it will be an occasion for "a greater and deeper step." Saturday June 12 at 9pm (CEST), live from the Laurentian Basilica in Loreto.
Luigi Traini*

"Taste and see that the Lord is good". The Psalm that the Church invites us to read in these days reminds us that God becomes interesting for life when His presence generates a new gusto and a new gaze.

The Macerata-Loreto pilgrimage – which this year will take place on Saturday June 12 in a special format - has been a discovery in recent years of something that has proven stronger than the fatigue of the journey, capable of broadening our gaze on life.

Recently, in an audience with Pope Francis, we told him that in recent years we have recited the prayers and songs of the Christian tradition, without adding anything new. The novelty lies in the fact that the words and songs are re-proposed within an event that, as it happens, restores to those words something of the original force that gave birth to them.

Prayer in the Holy House

From our very first meeting with Julián Carrón, when we told him of our amazement at what we saw happening, he disconcerted us by saying that the evidence on which we had to fix our gaze was the grandeur of human need that the movement of so many people placed before our eyes, so that we too could realise the grandeur of our being beggars. But now that everything has changed, that the usual face of the pilgrimage has been distorted, what is the new step to which we are invited? What can we discover that will renew the joy we have experienced?

It helps us to look at Mary in the two most decisive and fruitful moments of her life. Her yes to the unexpected announcement of the angel makes her the mother of God, and her yes to remain disarmed under her Son’s cross makes her the mother of all men and women, at the very moment when her life seems to have the least value. Carrón's message for this year's edition reminds us that even our yes, in the face of the impact of the present, can generate a fruit of knowledge and a new emotional impetus.

For many years we have left Macerata carrying the needs and questions of so many people in our hearts, to arrive in Loreto with a clearer awareness of the chasm of our personal needs and the name of the One who alone can fill it. Now that the stretch of the journey is shorter, the step we are called to is even greater and deeper.

I am struck by the harmony between the Pope's judgement and that of Carrón. In our conversation, Francis pointed to the deserted St Peter's Square on March 27 last year as the place where the whole cry of man becomes evident: deprived of the uproar of appearances, man discovers that he is in need of a You who rules the storm in which he finds himself.

Carrón told us that " the impact of reality has been so strong […] that an unrest has exploded that has prevented us from taking refuge in what we already know and, above all, an abyss has opened that no plan or strategy can fill up. But all the better! Because […] many at the beginning thought that the questions, the unrest and the abyss of the heart were just obstacles; now, in time, they have become opportunities for making a truly human journey.”

The deserted St Peter's Square shows us that life, which until now seemed “normal” to us, can be shaken by an unexpected storm that makes us poor in the face of the present. Carrón invites us: "By placing ourselves before the Virgin as beggars of everything, we can ask her for the unexpected, which we absolutely need in order to get out of bed every morning and confront the daily duel between death and life, between being and nothingness that rages within each one of us. What was the unexpected most unimaginable for Mary? The most unforeseeable fact and, at the same time, the most awaited, was Christ. Only He can make us become, like the Virgin, certain in hope.”

On Saturday evening, in each "Hail Mary full of grace" of the Rosary we will be faced with the greatness that is hidden within the unforeseen impact of reality. And repeating "pray for us sinners now" we will invoke her help to live this dizzying present that is given to us, and in which our whole mission and destiny is at stake.

We can truly live the pilgrimage without lacking anything, discovering that we are called to walk more present to ourselves and to the hearts of our brothers and sisters. The grooves in the marble around the Holy House, traced by the kneeling pilgrims, make evident our infinite need and how it, over the centuries, has sought an answer in the place where the Word became flesh: "When I see you, I see hope".

* Pilgrimage Organising Committee