Today we arrived in Pamplona, Spain concluding our third day of walking. Interesting fact of today is that the hostel we are staying in is a former seminary built in 1782. How appropriate that seminarians dwell within the same walls where seminarians more than 200 years ago slept. In walking the camino we have had many opportunities that would not be possible however, it has been a challenge especially for myself.
In this challenge, I along with my brother seminarians have been able to overcome every challenge that has come our way. For me, hiking in the mountains has been very challenging and very rewarding. The most rewarding part of the camino thus far has been encountering God in the churches, in nature, and in others.
We've had an opportunity to be at many beautiful churches. All of them have exemplified the transcendental quality of beauty. A church is supposed to be a physical representation of heaven on earth which is encountered especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The churches here really help one enter into that reality that at mass we join with the church in heaven and worship the Triune God the in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. The Blessed Sacrament altars in the churches are always the most beautiful part of the church, helping us to recognize and remember that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist. I can say for myself that I truly have encountered God in the brilliant beauty of the churches.
In walking through mountains, one may be challenged physically to scale the mountains but one will also be rewarded with a breathtaking view. I experienced this first hand in each day thus far on the camino not only in the stunning vistas but also in the many animals we see throughout the day. Today in particular, we saw a shepherd herding about 200 sheep with only a loyal four-legged friend bringing up the rear. It brought to mind the parable of the Good Shepherd who leads his sheep. If one is lost the shepherd will go out, leaving the other sheep, to find the lost one. Seeing the sheep today really made real what the parable is saying.
The final way in which I have encountered God in this time on the camino is in the people. You meet and encounter many people from all around the world. Thus far, we've met several Germans, an Italian, an American, a Puerto Rican, and many more people from many different countries. The one common thread that runs through all of them is a desire to find something. Some are looking to be in better health, others want to find themselves, to find forgiveness, and to find God. While they may be all walking for different reasons, they each help us to see Christ. They are all different yet in their own way are very similar.
It has been a great gift to encounter God in many ways and I look forward to encountering God ever more fully in the coming days and weeks of the camino.
St. Pius X and Our Lady Queen of Heaven and Earth, pray for us!