Six Miles To Go. November 4, 2014

Tomorrow , I finally make it to the holy city of Santiago. There is a saying made popular by the movie , The Way , that says, “the journey is the destination.” Yes, that is true, to a certain extent, especially if the journey and life , itself, isn’t very religious. Destinations…arrivals to specific places, are very important, whether you are religious or not. We are all going somewhere, I hope. But if you don’t really believe in the religious significance of a historical person named James, Iago in Spanish, who was an Apostle of Christ, then the destination of the city of Santiago or “St. James” really means nothing. I’m not even sure why getting the official Certificate at the Cathedral is so important. Maybe, deep down, the destination IS important , after all.

We all have a destination awaiting us: living in the Kingdom, in the city of the Living God. This “place” or destination, is the ONLY one on which ALL are invited and welcomed. Jesus told a poignant parable about an who gave a dinner party and invited many people. Each person had a reason , an excuse, not to go to the dinner. In essence, they were busy or preoccupied with other matters believed more important. So the man becomes furious and tells the servants to go into the byroads and alleys and invite the poor and crippled. The story jesus told doesn’t say it, but the implication or outcome is that these unfortunate ones, “Les Miserables,” accepted and dined at the feast.

Perhaps we become too inflated in self importance, that we really believe that we are important and indispensable. The truth is that we are ALL dispensable in the world in which we live, someone can and will take our place. We will be forgotten by most.
This isn’t depressing, it is simply the reality of life in this world and on this side of the Kingdom.
But there is a destination where each and every human being has a place at the table. We are ALL invited to feast at this dinner party which celebrates our arrival at a “destination.”

Jesus gave us the Eucharist as the Meal which makes present his love for all of us in the cross and resurrection. It is a Meal on the pilgrimage of life…
This truly is a feast that anticipates the great Banquet at the end of time when All are gathered around the one table. We are “destined” for this great feast, which becomes our ultimate destination.
We have this feast of the Mass that our church has placed too many restriction on who can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. If we want to be a welcoming and inviting church and parish, what message do we give when we say , “Your invited , but don’t come to Communion if your are not Catholic of if you are in mortal sin. ”
Restrictions to the great feast of Mass do not seem in the spirit of the gospel.
And the ways I have seen the Mass celebrated in a number of countries, we have no reason to be so restrictive.

Perhaps we even need to rethink the whole RCIA process, the process that gradually initiates a person who is not a Catholic into full communion with the Church. It doesn’t seem to be working and our church needs to look
into this process of initiation that is cumbersome and outdated. Our theology of the Eucharist needs a larger heart of mercy.

So many pilgrims on this wonderful journey have no relationship with any church or religion, a reality that saddens me. The Camino is fast becoming a walk of endurance and an adventure of challenge. These are important reasons to make the Camino , for many, if not most of the people I have met. And the people I have met are truly wonderful people…God’s holy people. But it has been difficult and awkward trying to talk faith on a pilgrimage rooted in faith with people who do not have the desire to engage in such discussions.

But tomorrow , the fifth of November in the year 2014, thousands of pilgrims will arrive at a destination…a truly “holy city ” where they will come to the feast of the Mass and realize, deep down, that the destination IS vital and essential. The priest will hopefully welcome ALL to the Feast, in the Spirit of the Feast’s Founder. Without this destination, these pilgrims could never experience the JOY, I have no doubt they will experience , when they embrace “friends” they will most likely will never see again, one last time , until that ultimate destination….where goodbyes never happen.
Buen camino. Padre.

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17 thoughts on “Six Miles To Go. November 4, 2014

  1. Alice came into the office last week and asked where you were because she hadn’t seen you in weeks. We told her that you were walking far far away and she said, “Oh, ok, but I miss him.” 🙂 Have a good time in Santiago.

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  2. What a beautiful post! I have enjoyed reading/hearing about your journey. Enjoy these last 6 miles. Wishing you continued blessings and safe travels as you make your way to your destination.

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  3. Marilee Halpin says:

    We have this feast of the Mass that our church has placed too many restriction on who can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. If we want to be a welcoming and inviting church and parish, what message do we give when we say , “Your invited , but don’t come to Communion if your are not Catholic of if you are in mortal sin. “
    Restrictions to the great feast of Mass do not seem in the spirit of the gospel.
    And the ways I have seen the Mass celebrated in a number of countries, we have no reason to be so restrictive.
    What an interesting reflection. As a faith community we need to ponder this and pray over it. Such deep reflections!

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  4. Sharon says:

    A very thought-provoking (and hopefully action invoking) reflection Fr. Frank. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this journey. ENJOY these last six miles! Tomorrow is a destination but not THE destination – yet still a reason to celebrate, so I hope it is a beautiful and joyful day!

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  5. Padre, congratulations on completing the Camino (at least this part of it, isn’t the other saying that the real Camino begins sometime AFTER you finish the walk :))

    I am so proud of you for taking this journey a second time. You have inspired us through your words and reflections and I know from personal experience walking with you for 11 days that you are also inspiring others. While the conversations around religion on the Camino at times may be awkward you are planting a seed in others and only God knows how that seed will grow, blossom and nourish others. It may take days, weeks, months, years or even decades for that seed to start to grow but it is planted and God is patient…which is a good thing for all of us! You have done good and I feel honored to count you as my friend. Looking forward to your safe return to Chicago!

    Buen Camino mi amigo.

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  6. Ann says:

    We have followed you on your “way” and thank you for the inspiration. This is probably the last time you will walk this way so breath in all that life will bring you tomorrow. God bless & keep you.

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  7. Mary says:

    Thank you for sharing the journey, in pictures and thoughts, and, once you return to Chicago, for helping us all go on a journey to a more welcoming church.

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  8. Barb Schell says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I have found your reflections to be thought provoking. I believe the seeds planted on your Camino journey will bear fruit back here in Chicago also.

    At the completion of your pilgrimage, I hope you can take some time to savor the memories and the joy that comes from reaching your goal. Wishing you safe travels home.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Bien venido a Santiago Compostelo…You have carried all of us with you…thank you. Enjoy the mystical presence …may it linger in you as you continue your “walk” in Chicago.
    Blessings,
    Sister Sandra and the Mixteco families of Pajaro Valley, California.

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  10. So happy to hear you’ve reached the destination of THIS journey, and a very inspiring one at that. Thanks for all of your great lessons and thoughts you’ve shared along the Way!

    Buen camino (as it doesn’t end there…)!

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    • Thank youvryan for uourcsupport and comments. I hope they were intetesting. I can’t wait to be back in chicago and get back to regular life. Let all of our journeys continue. Peace. Frsnk

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