Deacon Blog February 10, 2019
A Walk About
For the next few months it will be impossible to stray too far from the “themes” of Lent. Lent begins March 6th, a late start for this forty-day pilgrimage. Traditionally pilgrimages are used for the purpose of addressing personal or collegial concerns. Sometimes an individual is in need of important discernment and the solitude and focus of a “walk with Christ”. I am thinking of the Camino de Santiago in Spain or the well-known sites of Fatima, Lourdes, and Medjugorje. A long hike or walk is generally associated with a pilgrimage, especially ones religious in nature, but it doesn’t have to. Throughout history, a “delegation” or individuals would make a pilgrimage to Rome or the Holy Land to request blessings and answers to specific intentions. They were offered for “good luck” in a harvest, healing for illnesses, or guidance for tough decisions. This delegation would represent their whole village or a region and would journey carrying these requests with them. Today, the longest “walks” are accomplished with the assistance of air or automobile travel. In either case, the act or intent of accomplishing a pilgrimage, including preparation, is about entering a sacred space solely for the purpose of intentional dialogue with our Lord.
I had a very interesting conversation with a college student, recently, about his discernment of which “spiritual” path he should follow. He had a deep sense that “Intelligent design” was in play, but what that looked like or how it could find expression in his life was a mystery. He was raised in the Catholic faith but was open to various faith traditions such as Islam, Buddhism, and a short list of various native practices. I should note that while some negative religious and family experiences had soured him on Catholicism, he felt a real truth could be found there and that maybe he should explore things further. I couldn’t help but flash back to my own youth and facing similar questions, trying to balance my empirical view of life with the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to me in the moments I was willing and able to listen. The whole conversation reminded me how gut-wrenching this quest could be. “What do you want me to do?” and “I could use a little help here!”. I would like to think this struggle is reserved for young people, but it isn’t. Many adults wrestle with this, as well. I feel many of us come to Mass seeking direction, weary of “wandering in the desert” but as I said last week, Mass isn’t necessarily the place to do this. It just isn’t enough time or a suitable environment. Grace is received but not enough to do much discernment. Private prayer and sacred reading are much more effective for this. Eucharistic adoration is a powerful option and is available all-day on Thursdays.
So…we discussed some ideas on reducing the vastness of his quest. I was recommending he take the time, after graduation, to pilgrimage when I realized this is what Lent is. Our Lenten pilgrimage each year is forty days long, and the desert is the emotional landscape we live in. We journey, like Christ, towards the Cross. We seek new ways to open our hearts to the voice of GOD…new ways to reflectively “reassemble” the parts of our relationship with the Father. In short, we seek Peace, and from that Joy in knowing that we are not alone, abandoned or forsaken. Lent teaches us, among many things to seek “silence” in our lives, to be able to hear our Creator speak to the Created, and…to respond. And then, in our darkest hour… on the third day… we RISE with HIM. God Bless, Deacon Mike
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