All over the world, the pilgrimage is a time-honored tradition. The East is replete with pilgrims; the West, too, has many travelers seeking spiritual reinvigoration. From the Camino de Santiago in Spain to Chaucer’s pilgrims en route to Canterbury, these journeys are undertaken to refresh the soul and transform the spirit.
Bike For The Unborn adds a new, pro-life dimension to the traditional pilgrimage. The website states the event is to “Ride and Worship up the California Coast for the rejuvenation and the renewal of pro-lifers.” The 250-mile bike ride is a challenge, a sacrificial offering for the suffering of the unborn. It also offers healing for those affected by the tragedy of abortion: “We pedal and pummel, all for the unborn whose little bodies are pummeled in worse ways. But each pedal up a highway will make a difference if in a sacrificial offering of love.”
Event organizers invoke the words of Saint Paul, who writes: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24).
Bike For The Unborn reaches beyond the traditional, penitential aspect of pilgrimage; its ultimate goal is one of joyful transformation, both personal and social, through the grace of God. Organizers intend this four-day ride to be a petition for a “New Pentecost worldwide in the pro-life movement.” Through the ride, it asks for a “full renewal of great spiritual gifts” for pro-lifers, and for a change in hearts in America and all over the world.
The original idea for this “pilgrimage of love and penance” came from sidewalk counseling pre- and post-abortive women and men, according to Fr. Dave Nix, one of the event organizers. “The ancient missions of the Franciscans transformed what is now known as ‘California’ into a culture of life, once, in the 18th century,” says Fr. Nix. “We know God wants to do it again, and pilgrimage has often been the way for transformation of whole societies.”
Pedaling along the coast and camping in state forests is idyllic exercise and rest – not only for the body, but also for the soul. The beauty of the natural world has long been recognized for its healing power among pilgrims underway.
Riders will follow the path of Blessed Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Franciscan missionary who evangelized southern California and founded many of her beautiful Mission Churches. They will get to immerse themselves in the history of the Church, as Bike For The Unborn includes prayerful rest in the missions at San Gabriel, San Buenavenutra, and Santa Barbara.
While Bike For The Unborn stresses the spiritual side of things, it does not forget the practical. The ride is an opportunity to fundraise for the pro-life charity of your choice. Each rider is supported by donors; the first four donors provide funds for the rider’s needs on the journey, and every donor after that gives to the pro-life organization chosen by that rider.
So if you love a challenge, are looking for some time with God, and want to help the pro-life cause, this is the event for you. If you’re interested in riding and you’re over 18, it’s not too late to sign up. Those who would like to be involved but can’t do the ride can participate through sponsoring a rider.
Many more pro-lifers will be keeping these pilgrims in their prayers. Event organizers have chosen an apt passage from Scripture as their theme: “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins. You will raise up the age-old foundations, and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell” (Isaiah 58:12).
As Saint Francis was called to rebuild the Church while in the crumbling San Damiano Chapel, and Blessed Junipero Serra after him, Bike For The Unborn rebuilds further, using the foundation of the pilgrimage to combat the tragedy of abortion in the present time. Truly, the Church is ever-new.