How to Turn a Road Trip into a Pilgrimage

 

When I was in college, some friends of mine (one of which being my future wife, though I didn’t know it at the time!) took a road trip to Florida. In many ways, it was your typical college road trip: in-car dance parties, getting lost (a lot), trying to stay awake, deep conversations, fast-food, etc. But in many ways, this road trip was very different mainly because of one thing: we prayed…a lot.

With NCYC fast approaching, I thought it would be good to give some tips on how to make a road trip into a pilgrimage. You don’t have to do every single one of these activities, but they will certainly help pass the time and sanctify the trip.

The Rosary

This is a must. Rosaries can take any road trip and change it into a pilgrimage. Perhaps bookend your trip with a daily Rosary: one at the beginning and one at the end. Rosaries are great because it not only calms a rowdy vehicle, but also helps to create a prayerful atmosphere. It also kills 20 minutes. With Rosaries and youth, however, it’s all about timing. 20 minutes is a long time to say the same thing over and over again, so either pray it when everyone is awake, fed, and has had a chance to use the restroom. Or split the trip up into 5 decades!

Liturgy of the Hours

The purpose of the Liturgy of the Hours is to literally sanctify the hours of the day. Print out Evening, Night, and Morning Prayer and have the bus participate in the prayer. It may seem hard to coordinate such a thing, but I was recently told about a group that actually does this.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

Shorter than the Rosary, easy to learn, but extremely powerful. A great way to introduce youth to using a Rosary and praying for the faithful departed (or departing). November is traditionally a month where we reflect on the souls in Purgatory, so use it as a teaching moment!

Listen to a Lighthouse Catholic Media CD

We are all familiar with these catechetical CDs. There are some that are specifically geared towards youth and could be a great way to plant a seed and inspire those going to NCYC.

Watch a Good/Catholic Movie

There are so many good Catholic movies available nowadays. There are also many good movies. Whether it’s explicitly Catholic or not, use it as a way to teach, catechize, and inspire. The movie that immediately comes to mind is October Baby: it isn’t overtly religious, but it caters to both those who enjoy such movies and those who maybe wouldn’t normally watch one.

Testimonies

One great way to inspire youth to start thinking about “deeper” things is to have someone give their testimony. People love hearing other people’s stories. You could even schedule three throughout the trip so that they have something to look forward to. Have a youth, an adult, and a priest or deacon (if there’s one on your bus) give one. Of course, this is assuming the bus driver doesn’t mind you using the intercom!

It Is What You Make It

As leaders, our attitude toward the trip can greatly determine our youth’s attitude as well. Be joyful, be calm, and don’t be afraid to engage youth in serious conversations about faith and life.