A Pilgrimage to Our Lady

The month of August is like a Marian pilgrimage to me. We trek halfway through the sunnier side of the month to reach Our Lady’s feast days, her glorious Assumption on August 15th and her Queenship a week later. Then we return home in the shadier half of the month, as the days get a little shorter and my part of the world heads toward autumn.

We should bring her flowers, you and I—something to show a childlike love for our mother. The feasts of August are all about the special gifts our brother Christ has given her. We want to imitate him.

This year, we’ll have so much to give. You and I can bring this summer’s works of the St. Paul Center. We did them together, after all. You made them possible through your prayers and contributions. My colleagues and I did what we could, with our talks, our classes, and our special events. We have much to show for the summer, and it’s not nearly over.

Let’s give her our Summer Institutes. There were three this year, an all-time high.

At the first we gathered a group of young scholars, just setting out on their academic careers. They came from a variety of fields. All came to cultivate a more deeply Catholic and biblical worldview. The days were full, with lectures and with the prayer of the Church—the Mass and Divine Office. The evenings included more talks, with the give and take of seminars and a lot of time for questions.

As in past years, a significant number of attendees were from men’s religious orders, so they were male-only events. As soon as we finished, however, we started work on our first-ever women’s Summer Institute. So, for a second week, we enjoyed an exhilarating round of talks, prayer, and seminars.

Who attended these intensive “schools” of biblical thought? Go ahead and tell the Blessed Mother! They were the best and brightest of the up-and-coming generation. They’ll be training the next generation of clergy and laity in Catholic theology and related disciplines. They’re from widely respected universities: Duke, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Marquette, Dallas, Franciscan, Ave Maria, Catholic University of America and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. They were joined by a contingent of young men from Father Benedict Groeschel’s Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

What else have you and I done for Our Lady? We hosted a hundred clergy at our annual priests, deacons, and seminarians conference at St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. We gave them a rich, retreat-style experience of the Scriptures, useful for them as preachers and pastors and men of prayer.

As this publication goes off to press, we’re welcoming even greater multitudes for our annual Institute of Applied Biblical Studies. These are the lay men and women who will return to their parishes and lead life-transforming Bible-study groups.

We have quite a bouquet to take with us on our August pilgrimage to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s feast. I thank you for the part you played.

I remember when my children were very small, they often would recruit me to help them with a craft project. In the end, I’d find out that the project—which I’d end up doing mostly myself—was actually a gift for me! I was no less pleased, of course.

Well, that’s how I think of these “gifts” we’re bringing to Our Lady. We’ve begged her for help all along the way. She’s always provided it. But I, having a parent’s heart, believe she’s no less pleased with our efforts and our love.

I’m always moved by the letters of gratitude we receive immediately after people leave our events. I received this from a young scholar, who attended one of this summer’s institutes. I think he meant it for you as well: “Your seminar has opened to me the Bible … Thank you for this most precious of gifts.”