Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Back from Lough Derg...

Back on the mainland at the end of our three day pilgrimage

I made the long journey with the Presentation Family, most of them young people, to Lough Derg at the weekend. They came from Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Dublin, Sligo, Donegal and Tyrone.  Lough Derg is the sacred Sanctuary of St Patrick in Co. Donegal, a place where he often spent time in the fifth century.  It’s a special place, rich in prayer and faith which has been calling pilgrims for over a thousand years as it once called St. Patrick himself.
This traditional three-day pilgrimage is famous throughout the world for its penitential nature. Pilgrims spend their time on the island barefoot and stay awake in vigil all night on the day of arrival. They also fast from food each day (except for the Lough Derg ‘meal’ of toast (without butter), bread, and tea/coffee (without milk). Lough Derg soup was available throughout which consisted of hot water, salt and pepper. 
The pilgrimage was demanding but very rewarding. I experienced great solitude, a wonderful peace and I gave thanks for the strength to undertake the pilgrimage and for the many blessings of my journey as a Presentation Brother. The pilgrimage helped me step back from my life, take stock and look again at the direction my life is taking. It was also a time to come closer to God through prayer and reflection. The feeling of inner peace I experienced, no words can explain. 

I was so glad I came to this serene and sacred island, made holy by the prayers of millions of pilgrims over the centuries and continues to provide a safe haven for rest, reflection and renewal to all who wish to in the words of Mark 6:31 “Come away to a quiet place and rest a while”. 

P.S. Further reflections will follow in the days ahead!

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