We were able to attend Mass on the grounds--just my wife and I and a devout priest in the Jesuit mortuary chapel. The priest then asked if we wanted to venerate the relics of the Martyrs and Blessed Kateri, and we of course said, "yes!" To do this, he had to retrieve them from the Coliseum Church, so we said we would meet him there. At right is a photo of one of the four altars in the center of the Coliseum.
While we were waiting for him, we heard the most beautiful Latin choral music coming from the church, so we went in. As it turned out, a choir from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was practicing for a solemn high Mass which was to take place the next day. Here is a sample of what they sounded like:
Father soon emerged with the relics for us to venerate, and we did so along with a few other pilgrims. This was easily the high point of our trip.
We then toured the other buildings on the site of the shrine--many of which are sadly in need of repair or a fresh coat of paint. We were also eaten alive by mosquitos, but we chose to offer that small torment up for the poor souls, recalling how the early Jesuit missionaries themselves often complained of the horrible swarms of "biting flies."
Afterwards, I spoke with one of the young men in the choir and he told me that the Mass was to be the climax of The Pilgrimage for Restoration, an annual march from Lake George, NY to Auriesville, NY over the course of three days. Just for the record--that's 65 miles through the Adirondacks in three days. Now that is what I call a pilgrimage! The purpose of the pilgrimage, according to their website, is as follows:
What is the Pilgrimage for Restoration?Hmmmm. Compared to this, our own little pilgrimage--driving to the shrine in a comfortable car and staying in a fancy bed-and-breakfast--seems just a bit luxurious. Given the desperate need for Catholic restoration in the United States, I suddenly want to do this. Perhaps next year...
In its fifteenth year, the annual pilgrimage is a spiritual journey of the faithful to the place where Saints Isaac Jogues, René Goupil and John LaLande were martyred 368 years ago. It is conducted in honor of Christ Our King, for the restoration of new Christendom, and in reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Invoking the intercession of America's saints and martyrs, we desire that the Catholic Faith restore every dimension of our lives: our hearts, families, workplaces, parishes, neighborhoods, cities, dioceses, the American nations.
The pilgrimage is an exercise of penance and prayer, of contradiction and restoration, having both a personal and social character. Modeled on the annual Pentecost pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Chartres, France, we embrace the traditional doctrine & practice of Holy Church, with all its demands.
A special intention of the pilgrimage is the restoration of the Catholic family, civil society and the Latin-Roman litugical tradition. We hope thereby to show our attachment to the Church's Tradition and the riches it contains, not with the intention of reverting to some by-gone era, but rather of drawing benefits from the ancient sources and putting them to work in the world today.
The greatest irony of our experience at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Martyrs is the disturbing confirmation that as the fire of Faith and tradition seems to be going out among the older generation, at the same time that it is flaring to new life among the young. While the younger generation is focused on singing, sacrificing, and restoring, the old guard (that is, those running the Jesuit order and the Albany diocese) seems to be trying to sell off their patrimony to the highest bidder as fast as they possibly can.
Isn't this the opposite of conventional wisdom?
I would like to say a sincere "thank you" to those wonderful young people who made the pilgrimage and sang in the choir. Your sacrifice and the use of your talents to praise and serve our Lord were an inspiration to us.