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Halftime Report from Pilgrim Amayani Higueldo: Loving the Lord and the Logistics.

MOUNT LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA, June 15 — The Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is about to reach the midway point of its 65-day journey from New Haven, Connecticut to Indianapolis, Indiana for the July 17-21 National Eucharistic Congress.

During a half-day on the road, the blog interviewed Amayani Higuelo about her thoughts on the pilgrimage until now.


How did you find out about the pilgrimage? And was there any hesitation for you to sign up?

My friend, Raquel Castellanos, who had been involved with the Revival from the beginning, really encouraged me to check it out. I did. When I considered it would be two whole months with Jesus, how could I say no?

So I wanted to sign up about 30 seconds after I saw the the application. But then reality started to set in and my thoughts were, [after just graduating from nursing school], "I should probably get a job. I have no money. Would this be the best idea?" But the Lord kept tugging at my heart. So I went to my spiritual director. I talked it through with him and I kept praying about it and meeting the Lord. I felt the Lord just calling me deeper and deeper into this adventure, and here I am, praise God. It's just been it's such a gift.

What have been the highlights of the Pilgrimage over the first four weeks?

There have been so many. I think one of my favorite moments was walking through the Bronx with our Lord and just seeing the many faces and reactions to His Presence. There's one particular moment in the Bronx when I was the "caboose." Sometimes as the caboose, you're really far away from Jesus, from the music, from most in the crowd as the last person possible in the procession. There are often older ladies who are way in the back a good distance from the group. But there I was able to see many encounters that the Lord let me witness. There was one particular woman who was just bawling her eyes out because somebody told her that what was in the monstrance was Jesus. She firmly believed — which was beautiful! — that that was Jesus. She had a powerful encounter. Just being able to witness that, I think it was one of my favorite moments.

It's also been a highlight spending time with my fellow pilgrims and the priests, the CFR brothers. It's all been such a gift, because I'm learning so much. To be able to grow in virtue through these people and learn what holiness means from these people has been a real gift.

What has been your experience of hospitality along the way?

My goodness, it's been so amazing. I know that I don't deserve it. I realize that the hospitality isn't really for me. It is for Jesus whom they're receiving. I'm just a little donkey carrying around our Lord. Knowing that their love for Jesus is so immense and intense that they invite me into that and welcome me with such open arms has also been one of my favorite parts, staying in people's houses, being able to share with them and have an encounter with them and have them encounter our Lord in such a radical way.

A lot of the times people are volunteers or are "volun-told" to welcome pilgrims, and they look everything up and realize, "There's a Revival going on." This is amazing. They're so moved by it. There's the chance for a mini conversion that happens in receiving us.

Has the Pilgrimage had any major surprises for you compared to your expectations?

I had thought it was going to be two months of contemplative prayer. The reality is that it's not, and thank God it isn't, because I'm not really good with sitting around most of the day praying. I'm a very active person. Having those holy hours have been amazing, but it's not all about the holy hours or the Masses. There are a lot of moving parts and logistics that have to be taken care of, which I really did not expect. But it has been a grace to able to be a part of all these things, to carry the speaker or the Cross or the canopy, whatever it might be. It's been a real gift because I like I like to be moving and I feel most useful to carry something. I definitely did not expect how logistic-heavy the Pilgrimage was gonna be, but I'm grateful that it is logistic-heavy because the Lord knows that I wouldn't be able to sit still in a van for eight hours in prayer!

Have there been any physical or other challenges that you've had to encounter and overcome over the first four weeks?

Physically, I have gotten a couple blisters, I was hoping to go the whole pilgrimage without blisters, but that hope was dashed the first week.I feel good, though. The Lord gives us a grace to push through, even over15, 16, 17 miles days. Whereas normally, I should feel exhausted the next day, the Lord has really just given us the grace to go on the next day although we seem to have no more energy. During these long days, you have to be socially there, emotionally present to encounter all the people we meet. I don't know how well I do but it has been really surprising that at the end of 17-mile day, I can sit and have a conversation with someone over dinner, and really be present. It's been a grace and a gift to be able to experience the Lord's mercy in that way.

What was it like to be able to accompany the Lord through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which has been your home for the last many years?

To be honest, this eastern route, the Seton Route, was my last preference when we were asked our input. I said to myself, "I know these places! I would like to be somewhere new!" But the Lord knows better than I do and put me on this route for many reasons. One of them was coming home to Philadelphia. Before the pilgrimage started, I was indifferent about coming to Philadelphia besides getting to see my family. But as we waited for a half-hour to cross the Delaware River from the Diocese of Trenton into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I was getting really excited. I was thinking, "I've seen what the Lord has been doing in the last two weeks and I'm so excited to be able to be a part of bringing all those graces to my home, to my family, to my friends, and to the whole city. It was a real gift — one of my favorite parts as well.

What are you most looking forward to in the second half of the journey?

I think what I'm most looking forward to is visiting new places. These are all places that I don't know and haven't been to. I'm really looking forward to exploring that and inviting the Lord into all of that, to see what he does continues to do. We won't be in huge cities too much, but in smaller towns and I'm just looking forward to see what that dynamic will be like and how the Lord is going to work through it all.

Anything else you want to share at the midway point?

God is so good! From all eternity, he's set this time apart to allow us to grow deeper in love of him, to come to him and know him at a much more intimate level, to be revived and restored. Coming to meet him in the Holy Eucharist is free and it's the best thing that we could ever possibly do. Just to think that from all eternity he had this time apart for us. It's such a beautiful thought and reality.

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