During Summer 2014, Holy Family University's Chaplain, Father James MacNew, is travelling The Way of St. James, a famous pilgrimage dating back to the Middle Ages. Father Mac will be sending updates as frequently as he can throughout this journey. Check back frequently for updates; they will be listed in reverse chronological order.
I have sent along a photo and text from Astorga on the Camino de Santiago! This statue in Astorga of a pilgrim on the way to Santiago stopped me in my tracks!
More GOOD updates coming!
I was embarrassed purchasing these high viz colors for the Camino. When I dressed like this on the Flight Deck of the aircraft carrier, it made sense. At the hiking store, I kept thinking, "what are the other priests wearing today?" But the truth is that motorists and truckers on tight Spanish roads CAN'T slow for every pilgrim...so they don't slow for ANY! One speeding trucker backed me into a barbed wire fence bordering a sheep pasture...and then waved in apology! Thank God for the Green jacket!
Context is always critical to understanding situations! Honestly, you CAN'T apply the Gospel to a situation UNTIL you UNDERSTAND the situation! People might think I'm dressing like a 62 year old "Dead Head", but, actually, I'm striving not to become road kill! It's all a matter of context!!!!
Love To All,
This map reminds the pilgrims that their 500 mile journey has a destination. The journey takes us up mountains and down into valleys, into forests and through verdant pastures. The journeys takes us past bars and stores and all sorts of potential distractions, but always we are striving to track faithfully to the relics of St. James in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.
In life itself, we are always striving to track faithfully to God in all that we do. We must courageously and consistently choose the narrow way that will lead us most directly to our heart's true desire. We must bypass the unhelpful diversions that could, delay, distract, or dissuade us from our ultimate goal.
Sometimes OTHERS help us to make the right choice!
Yesterday I visited the cloistered Visitation Sisters in Burgos! They were founded by St. Francis de Sales and were completely warm and welcoming to an Oblate of Francis de Sales like me.
As I left the monastery, Mother Begona Sancho gave me two rosaries. Then she held up two cellophane bags of wonderful cookies and said, "The sisters also make THESE...," and returning the cookies to the shelves, she said, "But THESE are not for the CAMINO!"
See? Sometimes OTHERS help us!!!
P.S. Please don't tell Mother I've already HAD an ice cream cone!!!
From the "Narrow" Road,
My pace and distance increase daily: 14.7 miles yesterday! Today's track only called for 12 (an easy day). My feet are very sore and tender, but there are no blisters!
On about day 4 of the Camino, I severely sprained my ankle on an ancient Roman road. Hours later, I limped into the gas station-restaurant-rooming house where we had a reservation. One guy was running the whole place. He asked about my limp. The guy did not know I was a priest. He carried my pack to my room, put me in his car and drove me to see a doctor--leaving his business unattended! Unbelievable! The guy didn't know me from Adam! He saw my injury and took generous loving action to help me! Two days ago, I was talking to God about my sore feet and ankle and then I met the guy making the Camino in his wheelchair!!! That caused some "re-framing" on my part!
Yesterday, a 60 year old woman who has been away from her Catholic faith since after 12th grade spent the day walking next to me, teaching me to use my poles properly, and helping me keep a steady (rapid) pace, and she unburdened herself of all of her hurts and anger about the Church. Like the road to Emmaus, I very gently opened the scriptures and a mature and correct understanding of Church teaching for her as I struggled to maintain the pace she set. At day's end, she slowed on a long uphill and said, "I've been away a long time. I need to get back." We agreed to walk together tomorrow! "Yes, I'm looking forward to what God will do tomorrow, but I'm dreading her pace on the uphills!"
Love to all,
In the end, each person gives daily what she or he is able to give to God and that becomes their gift! People keep reminding us: "It's YOUR Camino! Do it your way. Flex and adjust as necessary to make it your best gift to God. Don't judge, but be understanding if someone needs to take a taxi part of the way! Perhaps, in his zeal he has overdone it and now his feet are raw. Be loving, be helpful: that is what the Camino calls you to, not just on the path, but, so when you return home!
Writing this from my taxi,
Love to all!