Casey Beaumier, SJ, experienced many uncomfortable shifts during his weeks of pilgrimage, walking from place to place, begging for food and shelter, and allowing strangers to become friends. During all of that, he struggled to understand where the journey was leading. Why was he here? What was he doing?
I returned to Gonzaga grumpy and completely drained of any remaining confidence in myself. I felt completely fragile. We sat at dinner with two Jesuits, the superior of the house, Fr. Henry, and Fr. Joe, the house minister who served as campus minister at the high school. Having these dinner companions proved to be a game changer for me. We felt an instant connection to Fr. Henry and Fr. Joe. . . . Henry shared with us that he had revived the novice pilgrimage in the Maryland Province back when he was the novice master a few years earlier. He said that for him, the whole point of the pilgrimage was to cultivate complete confidence in and dependence on God. He discovered that among his novices the real challenge they faced was learning how to beg. Worldly pride and stubborn self-dependence had to be overcome for the graces of pilgrimage to emerge. The ultimate purpose of each particular pilgrimage was shrouded in mystery. Henry then turned directly to me, looked straight into my eyes, and said, “The purpose of your pilgrimage might not be known until months from now. If you knew the reasons now, well, you wouldn’t have any need for trust. The truth is that you’re being led in freedom all the time. I can’t make you believe that, but I believe it. You’re right where you are supposed to be as a pilgrim.”