Saturday, July 15, 2017

We have arrived!!

Saturday, 15 July 2017, one day ahead of plans we set foot in Santiago!

Yes, that's the cathedral behind us. Still being cleaned after at least a year. This is us about 10:30 Saturday morning. We began around 6:00am with great excitement that we were so close to our goal. We were still about 24k away, but that seemed like nothing. So, we started out in silence as we had most days. However, the number of pilgrims began to swell, and as so many joined the flow, it felt more like a parade rather than a hike. Then around 5k from the goal our group broke into song. Well, more like music practice. Matthew W. Dimock, Jr. and Camilo X. Salas-Bowen had arranged to bring the words and music to "Qué Alegría Cuando Me Dijeron." So for almost an hour there was practice. Once we were close, the practice subsided as the excitement grew and distance shrank. Then we reached the outskirts of the city.

I took this photo...

...and Camilo said, "Father, you need to have a picture as well!"

There's always a photo-bomber!

From here we made our way to the Cathedral and as we entered, singing, others occasionally joined in. What a great joy to have arrived. We went to get our certificates and then to Mass. At the end of the Mass was the Botafumeiro, lunch with Camino friends and then to the hotel. We checked in and had a nice siesta.

Afterwards we went for a walk around the city and found the local singing group across from the Cathedral where there was music and dancing, laughter and "one ton tomatoes" (if you have to ask . . .)
Then, finally, a well-earned long night of sleeping.

More to come.

God bless,
Fr. Roux

Santiago Square

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Casual Camino

We rose this morning expecting everything to continue as usual. So, after watching the Running of the Bulls from Pamplona on the morning news, we headed off. Boy were we in for a surprise! 

Pilgrims were coming out from everywhere. Families with mother, father, grandparents and children; older folk, younger folk. Boys with girlfriends, and youth groups. The casual Camino has begun. At the 100 kilometer mark so many people join the Way to make their journey.

Gone are the long stretches without seeing anyone for hours. Now laughing and chatting from those who have just entered are becoming the new norm. It makes our quiet time more difficult, but we will keep trying. We still will begin each day with a prayer and blessing when we mention, by name our particular intention for the day, then we impose our silence and begin.

At dinner tonight, one of our fellow pilgrims, from Germany, that we met a few days ago, lamented the t had begun. We had been calling it the Casual Camino, but tsunami had such a good ring to it. Well, we realized today, if we hadn't before, that this mountain top experience couldn't last. As we begin our final 60 miles we will need to begin to integrate the lessons learned into everyday life. We will need to find the silence even when things around us are growing louder. Hopefully we will also remember the beauty of the world we passed through.

And the confusions we encountered...

And the new friends we met...

Of course this isn't the final post and there will be much more to experience, but this change in the dynamic of the hike does bring to mind that we are almost at the end. It's almost hard to believe that it's almost a year since I began to plan this journey. I had no idea what God had in mind for me and I am still looking forward to surprises from Him.

Until next time, God bless, pray for us and know of our prayers for you.
Fr. Roux

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Out of the Wheat Fields and into the Mountains

Thoughts and Reflections
from Matthew P. Harrison
We're here in Triacastela, and I must say that it's nice to be more than halfway done. We have been hiking for over two weeks now and everyday I'm shown yet another way I can make improvements in my life as a seminarian and really as a Catholic in general. I must admit that I have been constantly wanting to keep pushing, not take breaks, and power through the Camino. Although that is a possible way to hike, every time that we are forced to stay back a day or decide to hang out longer I have witnessed God use us to change the lives of other or has used others to make a big impact on us! 

One of the first instances of this was the need to stay in Leon a second day. I was pretty bummed to hear that Father's bag didn't arrive and we would need to stay longer off the trail, but God made sure to make our experience in Leon far better than anything we would find on the trail. We were able to attend Mass in the Leon gothic cathedral, and then sing for the high Mass there with full organ and some of our favorite songs including singing solemn tone Salve Regina with drones, O Magnum Mysterium on organ and Missa de Angelis Mass parts. It was amazing and a very rare opportunity which we are so thankful for. Our singing of little chants has opened up many people to having great conversations and I hope that they all remember the things they experienced on this trip. 

These conversations are something that I did not expect at all. There have been so many people that we briefly meet at a restaurant or albergue that I typically would never think to try and approach and greet. But the times that we have met a random hiker, we may see them a week later in a different town, and any conversation we had can be built on and may eventually change their life or their view of the church. It's is just so beautiful to watch people slowly take interest and turn toward only thing that matters in their life; God.

This has given me a new perspective on how important it is to make greeting and talking to each person we come across of utmost importance and just have a good human interaction with every person we come across; cashiers, construction worker, doctor, or just a person walking by, which can eventually turn into something great. 

We also began to ascend into the mountains a few days ago and it has been amazing. The climb is very tough but the views and towns are so pretty. It often makes me think I'm in the blue ridge mountains where I hike often and trained for the Camino.

Today has been a very cloudy day so the entire hike of this segment was just walking through clouds, which was pretty cool. We are about out of the mountains now which is unfortunate but with every change in terrain there has been a new chapter of experience for our Camino, so I am so excited to see what God leads us to do in the hearts of others and what he does in ours! 

Here's one last picture of us reaching today's summit and be prepared to hear from us again.

God bless...