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Day 24: The Camino Provides

Day 24:  The Camino Provides
While walking along today, Todd from Minnesota (now living in Puerto Rico with his wife Wendy), were speaking about Camino sayings. One of them is "The Camino provides".When I arrived at the Albergue in Villafranca del Bierzo at 1:00 p.m. I asked for a place to celebrate Mass at 6:00 p.m. The owners, a very nice couple, pointed me to...
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Day 23: The Joy Of The Cross

Day 23:  The Joy Of The Cross
Having taken the decision to press on to the Iron Cross yesterday evening, it meant that I needed a new place to sleep. There were two options, a Refugio at Manjarin 2.4 Km past the cross or a new Albergue 9 Km on. It was 4 p.m. and I had already walked close to 30 Km for the day.I chose the Refugio. I arrived at Manjarin and met Javier a...
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Day 22: La Cruz de Ferro

Day 22:  La Cruz de Ferro
In every way, today was a wonderful day! I was like a child filled with wonder and awe. The sunrise was magnificent; I left Astorga at 5:30 am and began in the dark. Just before leaving town there were two paths, the pavement and another.A couple ahead of me took the other, it was the wrong way. I was able to stop them before they went too far. All...
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Reflection On The Gospel with Fr. Michael 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

Reflection On The Gospel with Fr. Michael                                 14th Sunday Ordinary Time
SUNDAY READINGS To prepare for Sunday Mass it is a good idea to read and give thought to the readings and gospel in your missal or Bible. Here are some questions to ponder. First Reading [Isaiah 66:10-14c] "At the sight her heart will rejoice" what most of all would make my heart rejoice? Call it to mind and thank God for the gift. Second Read...
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​Meseta III: Unless You Become Like A Little Child

​Meseta III: Unless You Become Like A Little Child
Many days ago I met a young German who was passing me. He asked me while passing; "How is it? "I said; "It is beautiful"! He responded by saying that the landscape was all the same; it was "ugly and boring". I was in shock. I said to him; "Ugly and boring would be sitting at home in an office or a locked up room. This is beautiful!" I told the stor...
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THE WIND IS BLOWING: THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

THE WIND IS BLOWING:  THE GIFTS  OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1.WISDOM Losing Jesus and finding Him in the Temple is counted as one of the Sorrows of Mary, as it would have been for any parent. Who would blame Maryfor affectionately chiding Him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." Astonishingly that He replied, "Did you not know I must be in my Father's ...
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Day 20: Nothing Less Than The Best

Day 20: Nothing Less Than The Best
Two nights ago while writing the blog; Chris from Korea was asking many questions. He is a Protestant and did not understand the Catholic architecture and culture. For him these are forms of idolatry at worst or distractions at best. We had a really interesting and wonderful conversation. We are in Leon which has a magnificent 14th Century cathedra...
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Day 19: God Provides

Day 19: God Provides
Yesterday I reached Leon.This is the third major city in the Camino; Pamplona, Burgos and now Leon. I have been on the Camino for eighteen days now, walking every day. In total I have walked more than 480 Km and have 300 Km left to Santiago. It has been a fascinating journey filled with so much Grace. What is in the blog is only part of the story; ...
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Day 18: Peace

Day 18: Peace
​Phillip said: "If everyone walked the Camino there would be much less war and violence in the world". I enquire about this statement that came out of the blue while walking into Leon this morning.His perspective is that because we meet people from all over the world on the Camino, we have a great opportunity to challenge our prejudices by meeting ...
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Hospitaleros

Hospitaleros
Yesterday was a very good day until I wrote the blog. Then the day went uphill in the most incredible ways!I stayed at a Parish Donativo.It was set up very nicely with two kind men checking us in and giving us the drill of the evening's proceedings. At the Donativo there is no fee, you contribute what you can and they make it work. I inquired about...
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The Meseta Part II: The Cost of Distractions

The Meseta Part II: The Cost of Distractions
Today again I walked the Meseta.I saw in it the beauty that was hard for me to see yesterday. Today, the landscape was only external. It did not get into me and so I began the day with joy in my heart and praise on my lips for the incredible opportunity of this month of walking. My prayer was wonderful and my spirit was light.My body h...
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The Maseta

The Maseta
In the imagination of pilgrims on the Camino Frances, the Meseta has mythological dimensions. Many pilgrims avoid it completely, others send out big warnings to anyone who ventures into it. In fact the Meseta is the section between Burgos and Astorga, the name at its root means table, as it is a flat plain or plateau of central Spain. The landscape...
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Reflection On The Sunday Gospel

Reflection On The Sunday Gospel
​13th Sunday in Ordinary TimeSUNDAY READINGS To prepare for Sunday Mass it is a good idea to read and give thought to the readings and gospel in your missal or Bible. Here are some questions to ponder. First Reading [1 Kings 19.19-21] Elisha left everything to follow the Lord. Is there anything in my life that I would not give up for the sake ...
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Do Unto Others

Do Unto Others
The other day at mass we were all reflecting on the Gospel, "always treat others as you would like them to treat you, this is the meaning of the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)The Golden Rule is such an inspiration. On the Camino, as I have said, in many ways people live this rule without thinking about it too much. This is what makes the Cam...
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Following Christ

Following Christ
Greetings from Fr. Isidore Clarke on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time.Today's Gospel –Lk. 9. 51-62 -marks a decisive turning point in Christ's mission.Resolutely, he sets out on the journey to Jerusalem.There he would be raised physically on the cross, and would ascend to glory with his heavenly Father.This would not simply be a personal triumph fo...
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No Greater Love

No Greater Love

Yesterday at mass we had a large group of pilgrims; one of the largest yet. After the Gospel, Tomas walked towards us and asked if he could join. He is in his 68th year, with Parkinson's disease and walking from St. Jean Pied du Port to Lyon with his son. 

 

Before I give the rest of their story there is a pre-Camino story to be told. Yesterday after mass they asked where I was walking to. I told them Itero de la Vega, which was 21km away. Today when Chris, Sarah and I arrived, they wanted to press on another 9Km but I did not have it in me.  I told them to go on and that I would have a quiet day and recoup from our long walks over the last two days. We said goodbye, I checked into an Albergue and got a room by myself for the first time in thirteen days

I took a bath and had a long sleep. When I opened my door, Thomas and Tommy were in the next room. They’d pushed themselves to arrive in this town, went to the other two Albergues and did not see me, so therefore checked in. We celebrated mass together at 6:00 pm as is now the custom. We were all overjoyed to see each other and could not believe how God's providence worked on this day. 

Thomas is a self-made man, a lawyer with a great practice. Earlier in life he was an Augustinian seminarian, but that was not his vocation. He came down with Parkinson's disease about fourteen years ago, but this has not stopped him. At his son's invitation, six years ago they’d walked together from Lyon to Santiago. It was a great time of father and son bonding. They’d finished that stage of the journey. During that Camino the Parkinson’s went into remission. Thomas was the best he had ever been and even his enemies could not say that he had the disease. 

Based on this past Camino miracle, dad read, researched, and dreamed about completing the current Camino by walking from the beginning. Tommy agreed and here they are. On their first day, remember that grilling day I spoke about 25Km rising to 1200 M and then a very steep descend? Well it took them 15 hours to complete that climb. They arrived in Roncesvalles in the dark after 10 pm. Thomas fell five times that day. In the end Tommy left him in the woods, ran down to drop off the bags and get a place to stay and went back up to find his father in the dark and walk him down.

At the end of that day I was totally exhausted. I cannot imagine anyone going through this ordeal. Several times during the day pilgrims stopped and walked with them and then went on their way. Because they were so behind they were the last pilgrims on the trail that day. 

This is courage and extreme determinism at its best. They have completed 334Km to date, a remarkable feat. Today there was a very steep mountain to climb, it wiped Thomas out. He has a battery in him to assist with the motor actions because of the Parkinson's. Yet he was determined to walk the 21K to arrive in this town today. It was the hottest day on the Camino. At 10 am, it was already very hot for me to walk. One of the reasons I stayed back was because of the heat. They arrived at 2:30 pm, the hottest time of the day and totally exhausted. But tomorrow they will go again and see how far they can progress with the time they still have on Camino.

Today, it was the Feast of St. Thomas Moore, a man of courage and conviction and determination. There was just the three of us and we spoke about the Saint and the Father and Son and their deep connection to each other. 

The Camino cannot be had on our terms; it can only be had on its own terms. This is something Tommy is grappling with deeply. He had hoped that it would be a repeat of the previous miracle and a continuation of the first Camino. This one is different. Passion and patience come from the same Latin root. During Christ's Passion he was totally cared for and everything was done for him. This is the significance of the last stage of life. It is a healing because it is a letting go. Tommy realizes that this is not his Camino and it is not the first one they walked together. This has been a painful realization that has taken much soul searching. 

 

Why do people walk the Camino? Tommy is walking for his dad, so that he can complete his dream while he still can. In the process he is being transformed. Thomas is walking because he wanted a repeat of the first experience - the miracle. The Camino is inviting him to let go and accept both it and God on God's terms. This is not an easy journey for them or for us. Both of them are a witness of unconditional love - No greater love does anyone have but to lay down their life for their friends. This father and son are indeed friends. This form of friendship is never easy. Vulnerability and letting go continues to be essential to their Camino. 

 

 

 

+Bishop Jason

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The Wind is Blowing: THE GIFTS OF HOLY SPIRIT – PROLOGUE Part II

The Wind is Blowing: THE GIFTS OF HOLY SPIRIT    – PROLOGUE Part II

In Part 1 of the Prologue to this series of meditations you were given the names of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now we are going to attempt to deepen our understanding and appreciation of their role in our lives.

At Baptism we received these gifts. At our Confirmation the Holy Spirit perfected and activated them so as to enable us to lead fully Christian lives.

It is the Prophet Isaiah who foretold the coming of the One whom Almighty God promised to send to His Chosen People. He would be richly endowed with spiritual gifts.

“A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse; a new shoot will grow from his roots.  On him will rest the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of  the Lord:    his inspiration will lie in fearing the Lord.” (Isaiah 11).

He also wrote of someone claiming to be anointed by the Spirit of God:The spirit of the Lord  is on me for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the news to the afflicted, to soothe the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, release to those in prison… to comfort all who mourn,” (Is.61).

 According to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament “Messiah” was the word used of one anointed as king, priest or prophet. The equivalent word in the Greek of the New Testament is “Christ.”

Of all the passages from Sacred Scripture Jesus could have chosen to read in the Synagogue in Capernaum He selected, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted...” Dramatically He exclaimed, “This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening!” (Lk.4).

Through and through the humanity of Jesus was briskly alert to the impulse of these gifts of the Holy Spirit in the service of His Heavenly Father.

And now we ourselves our caught up in this Messianic thrust of energy –to be compared to a schooner opening its sails to the wind. After the water of Baptism had flowed over our brows we were anointed with Chrism with the words, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, King, so may you live always as a member of His body, sharing everlasting life.”

Loaded with such spiritual Gifts it is now up to us to let God do great things in us, for us, and through us!

 

 

 

Peter Clarke, O.P.

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A Community Called Camino

A Community Called Camino

One evening after a meal, Paul said to me "God has a remnant and many of them walk the Camino". He was expressing a sentiment about the types of people who walk or are drawn to the Camino. What is intriguing is that all of these people form a community along the way. The community is usually not permanent, but many times some of these strands come together in unusual ways. 

On the first night after walking we stopped in a monastery at Roncesvalles, there was a young woman named Chloe who had set out to walk 800 Km from France to the Camino and then the 780 Km to the end. One week before she had an operation on her toes and was in serious pain. Max, also a veteran walker, seven weeks walking, assisted with the challenge. The next day some of the young women took her to a clinic and insisted she receive treatment. They took care of her. Chloe has not walked for many days but we see her as she buses to where we are to hang out with us. 

On the first days a little community formed around the Eucharist.  There was Fr. Peter from Korea who also brought a mass kit and we celebrated mass several times. Around us was Maria from Peru living in Seattle, Steve and Colleen who were faithful to mass every day, Maria and Colleen had foot injuries and they are now walking at a slower pace. Then there is the couple from Wisconsin, Mary and Keith, Catholics who keep turning up most days - a really great couple with energy and openness and joy.  

Over the last few days I have been walking with Chris and Sarah. Sarah approached me one day and we began a conversation. She studied environmental Science and I was intrigued. I asked her what her faith tradition was and she said Catholic and I further asked if she had read Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. She had not. That evening Maria brought her to mass. She has been at mass ever since. 

Chris met me casually a few times and then one morning early at a cafe we sat together and spoke a bit. Then for the next few days when he saw me he said we need to walk and talk together. That happened yesterday and it was a really great conversation. The three of us walked 42 km in very hot weather. Today we did another 30 Km in very hot weather. Long days but we supported each other along the journey. 

Today in our Albergue we met Grace from Paris and Emma from Washington State. They are full of life and bring great joy.

This is just like the life of the disciple along the inner Camino. People come and people go along the way. We are called to be present to those who show up and interact with us giving them the gift of companionship along the journey and also, we give them an opportunity for friendship and where possible development. 

The challenge for both types of pilgrims is to know when to attach and form community and when to detach and continue along the journey. The Good Samaritan did not stop his journey to tend to the man beaten up along the road by brigands.  He paused and did what he could do for him and went along his journey. On the other hand Jesus formed community with his disciples.

What is also interesting is that many of those with whom I have interacted deeply came only to participate in the Eucharist - just to be present in the ordinary of peoples’ lives. Then along the way they seek out a different interaction and a deeper connection. This too is a model of evangelization--meeting people where they are with their life questions and developmental challenges. No agenda just sacred presence.

In our inner Caminos let us become more conscious of those whose lives cross our path.  We do not know God’s intention for our interaction with them.  Grace interacted with a Frenchman earlier today and decided she did not want to walk with him. Many kilometers along the journey, he dropped his sleeping bag and did now know it. Grace and Chris saw it, picked it up, and returned it to the owner. Now she knows there is a connection that God wants, one which she does not yet understand. 

 

Every person who crosses our Camino, inner and outer, God has sent for a reason. It is our adventure to be present to discern just what God intends in this relationship and then to fulfil that call and be fulfilled by this great adventure that He invites us to. 

+ Bishop Jason

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Where You Look Is How You Walk

Where You Look Is How You Walk

We all learnt to walk when we were very young, or did we? Now that I am walking several hours every day so many things emerge. Did you know that where you look determines how you walk?

If you keep your eyes looking down at your feet you tend to slouch over which slows down your walking and shortens your stride. It also causes some anxiety.

 

If on the other hand you look up in the sky you tend to lean back too much which throws the balance and obscures the path. You could find your feet in puddles as well.

 

 

Looking at the middle view gives you a great sense of perspective, great balance and your best stride. You can see the immediate and into the distance.

 

There is someone I know who was walking through a town and saw a strange person coming from the opposite direction. They looked up to see in the rear-view mirror; to catch another glimpse of the person. Of course they laughed silly because there is no mirror when you walk! 

In our inner Camino where we look is also how we walk! Yesterday, Sunday I walked looking at the rear-view mirror for much of the day. All of the many stupid things I have done, and my many faults, my shortcomings, were ever before my eyes, a bit like the Psalmist in Plasm 51. This made the day a difficult day and it also meant that I was unable to finish this because I was depleted. 

 

 

Many of us in our inner Camino keep looking back with great regret. Each time we pause or have silence, we think of the things of the past and there, we are filled with anxiety and pain. For those who walk looking at the rear-view mirror, remember this is a Year of Mercy! In such a year God's mercy and grace is where we should focus. Walk to confession, lay all your regrets from the past at the feet of Jesus through the ministry of the priest, say the Creed, one Our Father, three Hail Mary's and a Glory Be and walk through the Holy Door of your diocese. God forgives all, bring it to him. 

There are two moments in spirituality; one is the rear-view mirror where we look at our sin sickness. This leads us to the experience of St. Paul in Rom 7:  “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  St Paul felt the full weight of the burden of sin in his life. If we stay here too long we will yield to despair.

The second moment is during the heavenly gaze, when we look into the loving gaze of God and know that we are loved and redeemed. Here St. Paul ends: “Thanks be to God for Christ Jesus our Lord!” He continues in Chapter 8: “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Wow! This loving God has redeemed us. We cannot stay here too long, for if we do, we will forget the truth of our need for redemption and we will slip into pride and presumption. 

To do the inner Camino with a middle gaze is to see the ground and the sky, the earth and the heavens, our sin sickness and God's merciful gaze. It is to stay in that place where you are present to the walking and to God and to the beauty of the environment. It is to live fully in the present moment. This is the goal of spirituality, to always be conscious of these three. 

Having reflected on this last night and this morning, a young man walked with me today.  He was looking in the rear-view mirror. Over the 42 Km we walked today in Spanish heat, he began to see God's face of mercy as he experienced the power of forgiveness. 

 

Remember for both the inner and the outer Camino, where you look determines how you walk. 

 

+ Bishop Jason

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Why Do People Walk The Camino?

Why Do People Walk The Camino?

This is a hot topic on the Camino? Many people open the conversation with other pilgrims with this question: “So why are you walking the Camino?”  At the bus station waiting on the bus for Saint Jean Pied du Port I was engaged by three young people separately with this question. Each re-emerged during the Camino in different ways. 

This is the story of Christina, who ended up sitting next to me on the bus that first night. She was tired and anxious as we approached the city of our destination and the beginning of the Camino. 

I was distracted by booking a hostel to stay that night as it was getting late. She was asking all sort of practical questions and I was part reassuring her and part scaring her. But we met and hit it off.  We met several times along the way and recognized each other. On the fourth day we were siting for breakfast in a small village and she said to me, “Rumour has it you are a priest, is it true?”  I told her, sometimes, not too often, rumours are true, and this one was. We laughed and she teased me for not being adventurous, for ordering a ham sanguage, and we were on our way. 

Much later in the day at Muruzabal Christina was sitting on the pavement. I went up to greet her but felt she wanted something more, so I took off my back pack and sat. Her story came tumbling out. Christina had lost her sister six years before in a car crash, and on the night of the funeral her friend died in a crash on his way home from the funeral. She was distraught, shut down and angry for years. The double grief led her to believe that God was punishing, vengeful and capricious. Her God-image came directly from her loss. God was a good place to put all her rage and anger.

I spoke to her about my loss of Shane my nephew, in September 2015 and about what we had learnt about Shane after he died; the great stories that we heard from his friends and the incredible impact he had on the planet during his short life. 

Grief is a very human emotion and it blinds us to the obvious. She was asking the wrong questions and so going down a dead end road rather than up a mountain of encountering God. 

The years of grief had its deep impact on her and she has learnt many lessons from it. Now recovering from grief and its impact, Christina has a deep desire to help young women make better choices in life. Her grief has become a channel of Grace and an invitation from God to experience His unconditional love. 

Christina did not come to the Camino; it was the Camino that called her to resolve the many questions that Life has thrown at her. By walking she has been resolving the questions, by speaking she is gaining perspective. Now she stands at a crossroad and needs to make many decisions--is God a God of judgement and punishment or a God of love and unconditional forgiveness. If God is love, then every experience in her short and wonderful life needs to be reinterpreted from the key of LOVE. This work will continue long after the Camino.

Here on the Camino Christina was able to speak about her pain, her regret and ultimately her need to forgive herself and others. By walking, Christina has fallen into the hands of a loving God who was walking with her all this time. She just could not see it that way.

During our conversation she kept saying that I reminded her of her priest back home. What she was really saying was that her priest and I both reminded her of God who was an unconditional Lover who was inviting her home. 

 

Why do we walk the Camino? Well the better question is why does the Camino call so many of us? It was the Camino that brought both of us together on that first night that we approached Saint Jean Pied du Port, and again, four days later to resolve many life questions. This is Grace at work in the depths and unconsciousness of our lives. If we can hear it, and if we accept it, we may come to encounter the God of unconditional love who called us to the Camino.

 

+Bishop Jason

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