— Posted by Elizabeth (September 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm)
Grüß Gott! Or in English, “Greetings/May God greet you!” This fall I am studying abroad in Gaming, Austria! It has been a completely new and amazing experience! I am so blessed to have this opportunity, and all prayers would be appreciated for a fulfilling semester.
This past Saturday, nearly the whole student body of 180 students made a 17 mile – roughly seven hour – hike to the Marian shrine of Mariazell. The students and staff who take part in the pilgrimage traditionally offer it up in reparation for abortion and all offenses against the dignity of human life, as well as any personal intentions they may hold. The day began with Mass being offered at 7:00, then shortly after breakfast, the buses departed to take us to the beginning of the trail.
The first leg of the hike, which took about three and a half hours, was gorgeous. There was one uphill portion at the very beginning, and the rest was a winding, upwards and downwards trail along the river, and through the valley between the mountains. There were definitely some steep, narrow parts where a railing would have made it seem a little safer!
The view was absolutely spectacular with the water, and the rocks and mountains on all sides. At a little over half-way, the group stopped to eat our lunches, then continued to press on. The trail started off with a steep incline, which led through a grove of trees and a forest.
As beautiful as the trail was, the last hour and a half to two hours of the hike were completely brutal. To say the least, I now have a vivid and foreboding idea of what Purgatory may be like! I made it to the very end only through the help of 1.5 liters of water, positive peer pressure not to be a quitter, and a mental litany to every saint I could think of!
When I finally arrived though, the Marian basilica was beautiful. Mass was taking place in German in the main chapel, so I made my way to the second chapel where the tabernacle was located, to offer up my intentions.
Looking back, I love the aspect of physically making a sacrifice as well as visiting the actual shrine. This is without a doubt, one experience from my semester that I am glad to have taken part of!