Relying on Providence: Catholic Couple Begins Married Life on Pilgrimage
At World Youth Day itself, what most touched the newlyweds was the kindness of the people of Portugal, who graciously shared their homes and cities with the pilgrims, and the presence of Pope Francis. They particularly recall his part in the Opening Ceremony as a moment of grace. While some aspects of World Youth Day were disappointing — at times, a lack of reverence and missed opportunities to draw on the riches of the Church’ s patrimony — they were edified as Pope Francis reminded pilgrims that Christ is meant to be the center, not only of World Youth Day, but of our lives. While he was still far away from them, they each glimpsed Pope Francis through a gap in the crowd. Emily shared, “I start weeping. I was not expecting that reaction. I felt so, so fathered.”
From World Youth Day, the couple traveled to personally resonant locations in France and Germany. And there, too, God’s providence was extraordinarily clear. For instance, through a series of train mishaps, they somehow arrived in the town of Paray-le-Monial four hours earlier than initially scheduled. Perhaps most famously known for being the location of the incorrupt body of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, it is also the resting place of St. Claude de la Colombière, spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary and Matthew’s confirmation saint. This visit was described by the couple as “our cup-fill after World Youth Day” and “led by the Holy Spirit.” The first day visiting Paray-le-Monial happened to be the memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantel, founder of the Visitation Order. The couple each got to spend time with St. Claude’s bones and, as one would with a friend, share about their life. Before St. Claude’s tomb, Emily reflected on her love for Matthew, and for Matthew, “entering into conversation with him was quite powerful. I felt that Claude had been leading me along his way for a long time.”
Another highlight during this part of the pilgrimage was a visit to St. Pierre, the motherhouse of the Community of the Lamb located in Plavilla, France. Before this trip, Emily had previously been to Europe on a foreign-exchange trip as a musician. She came to realize that one of the locations in which she had played music was near Plavilla, and she was struck by the providence of being so close to the religious community that would become a spiritual home.