Reimagining Pilgrimage Restricted; Files Only

Karst, Layla A. (Fall 2018)

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In this dissertation, I reimagine Christian pilgrimage as part of the liturgical tradition of the church and in so doing, show how pilgrimage can expand our theological thinking about the church and its practices. I argue that the church’s current theological understanding of pilgrimage has lost content that could be supplied by attention to lived practice. This loss of content impoverishes the church’s ability to think theologically not only about pilgrimage, but also about those other theological ideas for which pilgrimage serves as a metaphor.

By constituting pilgrimage as a liturgical practice, I press against definitions that confine liturgical practice to that which has been systematized, written down, and promulgated by the hierarchical authority of the church. I propose a more inclusive space for liturgical authority and liturgical practice and argue that when we expand the ways in which we think about liturgy, we also expand the possibilities for thinking from liturgy about pressing theological and pastoral concerns. I begin by examining how our theological thinking about pilgrimage became separated from lived practice and then work to retrieve this practical content. Finally, I argue that Christian pilgrimage is a sacramental, liturgical practice that renders the pilgrim church and the pilgrim God present in the world.

My theological method brings ethnographic accounts of Christian pilgrimage into conversation with a Rahnerian theology of symbol and sacrament. My attention to pilgrimage is first empirical and then theological. I make use of a rich literature of pilgrim ethnography from the social sciences to access the phenomenon of Christian pilgrimage. My use of these texts requires a disciplinary boundary crossing in which the theologian first discovers the pilgrim in these ethnographic texts and then invites that pilgrim back into the realm of theology. Separately, neither theological nor anthropological discourses offer a full account of the practice of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage exceeds the boundaries set by both. But careful study situated within these two disciplines, both transected and connected by the pilgrim, opens a space for new theological understanding.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Beyond the Rites: Liturgy and Popular Piety 12

Ritual Sharing 16

The Clergy and the People of God 28

Purification and Evangelization 40

Liturgical and Popular Renewal Movements 53

Consequences of a Dichotomy 81

Chapter 2: Pilgrimage as Ecclesial Metaphor 89

The Form and Function of Metaphor 90

Conceptual Domain 1: Aliens and Ascetics 98

Conceptual Domain 2: Penitents and Exiles 108

Conceptual Domain 3: Faithful Travelers 118

Conceptual Domain 4: Spiritual Exercise 130

Conceptual Domain 5: The Pilgrim with a Human Face 146

Thinking about Practice 158

Chapter 3: The Practice of Pilgrimage 171

A Theology of Pilgrim Practice 172

Mapping Pilgrimage Practice 177

Don’t Think, Look! 184

Reading and Writing Pilgrimage Practice 197

“As Long as She Gives Me Life” 201

“Living the Gospel” 214

“Day by Day” 224

Thinking Pilgrimage 237

Chapter 4: Pilgrimage as Sacramental Ecclesial Practice 249

A Theology of Symbol 250

The Pilgrim 267

Pilgrimage as Ecclesial Practice 276

The Pilgrim as a Sacrament of Christ 286

Pilgrimage as a Sacrament of the Eschatological Kingdom of God 292

Chapter 5: The Pilgrim Church of God 301

A Church of Sinners or a Sinful Church? 303

The Pilgrims of Padre Pio 313

Saints and Sinners 322

Bibliography 326

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