On Purpose

Many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob (Is 2:3)


The real purpose of pilgrimage is to “ascend to Jerusalem.” That’s an important point because faithful Israelites set aside their normal routines to encounter Almighty God in the City of Peace. Jerusalem, the site of the Temple, housed the tabernacle where God dwelt among His people.


So isn’t Jesus everywhere? Isn’t it true that He doesn’t “need” a place to live? The answer to both questions is, “Yes.” But there’s more to the conversation than that.

While God does not need a place to dwell, man has always needed a place to meet with God. So God had Moses build the Arc of the Covenant and establish the Tent of Meeting (Ex 25:1–27:21). Man met God in the Tent until the Arc of the Covenant was moved into the Temple.


Today we have a New Covenant with the Lord (Mt 26-28). For 2,000 years, Catholics have done as Jesus commanded in cities, towns, and communities (parishes) all around the world. Through the authority He gave His Apostles, we take, eat, and drink the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 11:23-24). We literally consume the truth of the New Covenant.

It’s possible because the real presence of Jesus (body and blood, soul and divinity) is in the tabernacles of those parish churches. He is present with us to this day just as God was always present in Jerusalem’s Temple. This is confirmed by the promise of Jesus that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5).

Jesus remains with the Church He established both physically and spiritually (Jn 6:25-59). He will be with us until the end of this age (Mt 28:20). He is Emmanuel (God with us). The little red candle in almost every Catholic Church around the world bears witness to that truth. The Red Candle signals that we can enter into His physical presence to kneel or sit before Him as we listen and pray. It also invites the faithful everywhere to become pilgrims.


God still calls His people to meet with Him. Just as in Old Testament times, the faithful can still find Him in the tabernacle. But through the Church established by Jesus Christ, the tabernacle is now available to all people in every corner of the world. Today, ordinary can “ascend to Jerusalem” wherever they live.

We’ll share more about how to make short pilgrimages and what to do on your pilgrimage in other articles. For now, understand that pilgrimage is not out of reach no matter where you live. You don’t need a lot of money or extra time to encounter the living God!


We have a friend named John Bedard. John is a songwriter and a storyteller. He’s not famous or rich, but he is pretty prolific. We’re sharing one of his songs with you now because it is about that Red Candle that signals the real presence of God in the tabernacle.

Let the music bless you and pray about traveling Catholic Roads (Is 35:8) on pilgrimage soon too!