Photo by: ElenaMJacobs
I took my place under a coconut tree and pulled my knees to my chest, watching my boss paddle out against the surf. Salsa Brava is known as the biggest break in all of Costa Rica and only experienced surfers like the man before me would attempt to brave the hell it churns up.
The rain was coming down hard, and everyone else was sleeping soundly back at the bungalow. It was 5:30a.m and I was already drenched and covered in sand, but I felt this childish joy break within me. Continue reading
“To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
In the Gospel of John, chapter 8 verse 12, we hear Jesus proclaim, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” As the light of the world, Jesus guides us on our way. Through His public ministry He leaves an example of how to walk as “perfect pilgrims.” Helping to illuminate His public life, are the five Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Throughout the Luminous Mysteries Jesus displays, among other qualities; obedience, wisdom, perseverance, humility, and sacrifice. He prepares Himself and His disciples for what is to come as they undertake their pilgrimage to Jerusalem and ultimately to the Kingdom. During this process Jesus grows in what it means to be the Messiah and what it means to be the Son of God. Likewise, pilgrimage offers us a particular opportunity to grow in grace and to grow as fellow sons and daughters of God ourselves. With that in mind I would like to take a look at the experience of pilgrimage in light of the Luminous Mysteries. Continue reading
We are all on a pilgrimage. Knowing we are on a journey, knowing we are made for something greater, knowing there is a destination – this is the root of hope. Walking the Camino de Santiago last summer brought light to the words of a talk I recently heard: hope is the virtue of a pilgrim.
As I listened to reflections on hope, pilgrimage, and journeying, my mind was filled with memories of the time I lived these experiences in a very physical way. One particular recollection from my three weeks in Spain was overpowering: the destination.
I remember it clearly. I remember the moment I was able to stand directly in front of the altar in the Cathedral of Santiago and fall to my knees. The hundreds of pilgrims that filled the Cathedral disappeared, the pain of worn and tired muscles dissipated, and the feet that had been sore for two weeks were forgotten history. Because at that moment, nothing else mattered.
Nothing else could possibly matter except the breath-taking beauty in front of my eyes, the knowledge that Jesus would be present on that magnificent altar very soon, and the realization that we had arrived. We had reached the destination. Continue reading
The release of the encyclical Laudato Si by Pope Francis has stirred much political debate, news clips and sound bites making all kinds of claims about what it does and does not say or what the Pope does and does not support. Yet, most of the comments seem to be disconnected from what he actually stated. Since the beginning of his pontificate his statements and interviews have been scrutinized in a manner that, at times, makes him appear as an “ink blot” psychological test with media commentators and reviewers reading into his views and quotes what they what to express.
While walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, I met other pilgrims who were walking the way for their second, fifth, or even eighth time.
While I was amazed and in awe as I struggled through my first Camino, I also understand now why some people get “hooked on” the Camino.
More than any pain, what stands out from walking 15-20 miles a day, is the time for reflection and a realization of what’s important in life. Everything seems so clear on the Camino.
Fr. Roca, who has impacted the lives of countless pilgrims who journeyed to Chimayó, NM, died on August 4th. Fr. Roca “has come to symbolize, more than any living person, the heart and soul of El Santuario de Chimayó.” (El Santuario website) Many who have completed the pilgrimage to Chimayó, NM have had the great blessing of meeting Fr. Roca and being impacted by his holiness and life of witness. Please keep him and those close to him in your thoughts and prayers.
“I may be a little one, but I like to do big things.” – Fr. Roca (Beloved Priest of Chimayo at Heart of Community)
The last two posts addressed the problem of “nature deficit disorder” and how participation in outdoor education and nature activities can facilitate an interest and appreciation for God’s creation. A next step from that appreciation is to develop a stewards contemplation for action often called being an “ecologist”. Here is where our faith can provide the meaning and impetus for understanding the mystery of creation and why we have a role in it.
An infinite attraction
Fighting to preserve an ecosystem is hard. Cold, rain, little pay, isolation….Nevertheless, most of the ecologists continue to be attached to the beauty they find in preserving nature. Many of us seem to be attached to this “life” and in somehow have the intuition that there is a deep meaning in the things we do, a meaning that is not just provided by the utility of things or by nature as a provider of goods and services. There is something else, an attraction for beauty and order that we are not able to explain but to admire and wonder…
In our last post (Nature Deficit Disorder and Stewardship: Crisis in Creation), the problem of nature deficit and exercise deficit disorders and their relationship to a lack of a stewardship ethic was discussed concluding with the notion that faith based outdoor education can be viewed as a solution. Given that, what is that outdoor educational perspective that can make it a solution?
On a recent night hike in the mountains with students from a local Catholic school, I witnessed a very important conversation. The student in front of me to his friend said, “So, what if Freddy Krueger is out here?” His friends response was crucial to our times, “That is not real and this is, God is real and that tree that you are about to walk into is real.” Besides making me laugh, this conversation is a poignant statement of a culture mired in a two dimensional world disconnected from
authentic relationship and starved of the concept of stewardship.
The country of Peru is beautiful both in the people and landscapes that adorn the horizon. The Peruvian people have a faith to move mountains; despite their clear lacking of most material goods, they had an inspiring hope and trust in Divine Providence. On two occasions, I was literally swept toward the alter in a crowd of Peruvians reaching toward God in prayer. I hope that I will have such devotion in prayer and such an unfailing trust in God’s presence in my life. The landscapes of Peru were also nothing short of heavenly. At Machu Picchu, we literally sat for hours and stared at the mountains in silence, captivated by their beauty. Up in the harshest conditions of the Andes, the mountains pierced the sky with a combined gentleness and power but still provided a home for the people and alpacas alike. God did some good work there.
In the last post (Catechesis on Creation) an outline was provided for a series of articles on the need for addressing what should be our faith response to the various environmental crises. Any such discussion must begin with looking at our human role as stewards and what keeps us from meeting that responsibility. Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to express the state of disconnection between all of us but especially youth from nature and creation. It is an alienation and detachment from nature that leads to a reduced appreciation of the environment with additional human costs such as diminished use of senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional problems. It can also lead to the lack of a stewardship ethic and lifestyle for many.