279. Pilgrimage is a universal religious experience and a typical expression of popular piety (Cf. Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants, Pilgrimage in the Great Jubilee of 2000 (25.4.1998), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano, 1998). It is invariably connected with a shrine, for which it is an indispensable component.* Pilgrims needs shrines, and shrines need pilgrims.
My sense is that the Christian life contains more pilgrims than just the ones who visit shrines. Traditional Catholicism sometimes speaks of “exile” in regard to life on Earth. But I think of myself more as a pilgrim than an exile. The notion of always being on pilgrimage suggests that I am always on the move, always prepared to encounter the Lord in a new and marvelous way. An exile can just sit like a Puddleglum. But a pilgrim is on the move, perhaps in her or his interior life as well: semper reformanda est. Thoughts? Disagreements? Other comments?
* According to the Code of canon Law, the frequency of pilgrimages is an integral element of the concept of shrine: “The term shrine signifies a church or other place to which the faithful make pilgrimages for a particular pious reason with the approval of the local ordinary” (can. 1230)
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.