Stage 19: Candasnos – Fraga (26.3 km)

After breakfast Acai drove us back to Candasnos in the bus to commence the day’s walk. The sky was overcast and a cool breeze was blowing for the first three hours of our walk. It was ideal walking weather.

The morning was overcast — good walking weather

The morning was overcast — good walking weather

About mid-morning we met up with Fr Gerard Boyce from the Hamilton Diocese in New Zealand. Gerard is currently on a three-month sabbatical and is walking from Montserrat to Santiago de Compostella. We met up with him last evening in Fraga and we had Mass and dinner with him. He is walking the Camino alone and was pleased to have some company and conversation.

Fr Gerard Boyce and Fr Michael Smith SJ — two New Zealanders

Fr Gerard Boyce and Fr Michael Smith SJ — two New Zealanders

A very welcome overcast day

A very welcome overcast day

Fr Joe Taylor views Fraga from the top of the ridge

Fr Joe Taylor views Fraga from the top of the ridge

Finding some shade for lunch

Finding some shade for lunch


Chona and Jan find that umbrellas help on a hot day

Chona and Jan find umbrellas help on a hot afternoon

Today’s trail took us to Fraga, a  large town located on the Cinca river, and boasting a plethora of historic monuments from different artistic and historic periods. After arrival, explore the steep, narrow streets of the old part of town. The alleys are flanked by tall narrow houses, with the Montcada palace (built in Aragonese style) being one of  the most attractive old family houses.  The building was converted into a cultural centre in 1986 (here you can see an interesting ethnological, metal working, archaeological and medieval exhibition). The Church of San Pedro is a lovely church to spend a quiet moment contemplating.

Our contemplation today.  We walk with Jesus on the way to His death and we ask God for this gift: to feel sorrow with Christ in sorrow; to experience anguish with Christ in anguish; and even to experience tears and interior grief because of all the sufferings Christ endures for me at the end of His life.

Reflections: After the Last Supper, Jesus experiences agony while praying in the garden. He wishes that he could avoid the suffering He is about to undergo.

The Agony in the garden by Gaugin

The Agony in the garden by Gaugin

The story of Jesus’ Passion is a story of wounding and death. But it is not just a story about the physical woundings of Jesus — the wounds made by the nails in his hands and feet, the hole that the lance tore in his side, the welts left by his flogging at the hands of the Roman soldiers, the bruises when he was punched, the crown of thorns. It is also a story of deeper wounds; specifically, the wounds of betrayal Jesus experienced.

Caravaggio's depiction of Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss

Caravaggio’s depiction of Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss

Throughout the Passion narrative the drama of betrayal unfolds.  Firstly, the disciples fall asleep in the garden of Gethsemane — they cannot stay with their friend in his suffering.  Then Judas betrays Jesus with that most tender of human actions — with a kiss.  Then Peter, the supposed “Rock”, denies that he even knows Jesus.  In each of these betrayals Jesus is forced to the terrible awareness of having been let down, failed, left alone.  He is publicly humiliated. His life mission seems to have ended in failure and ridicule. Then, in the final moments as he is riveted to the cross, denied and abandoned by everyone — although not by his mother and the other women — he feels the full human depth of the reality of the betrayal, and cries out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is very sure of His bond with God the Father.  He repeatedly asserts, “My Father and I are One”.  But on the Cross Jesus, in his humanity, even feels abandoned by God.

So what can we say about betrayal in our own lives and what is the lesson of Calvary for us?  Trust and betrayal are always linked. When we are betrayed, our trust is broken. It is always the closest relationships that usually carry the fullest agony of betrayal: betrayal by parents who did not keep their promises to their children; betrayal by the lover who finds another; betrayal by the child who never calls home; betrayal by the trusted business partner who defrauds us.

Paradoxically it is where we have been deeply wounded and betrayed that God can act.  But what we do with our betrayals is what is crucial.  We all get wounded.  It always happens in life.  And if, when the wound happens, we can find some Divine significance in it, if we can say, “This is not just a mistake”, if we can find God in the betrayal, it can become a sacred wound which will lead us on our journey to God.

Today we pray for the gift of solidarity with Jesus and great compassion for Him. We take special note of Jesus’ ultimate and utter faithfulness to His mission, to His Father, and, by extension, to us. Jesus is the one who remains faithful to what He is called to accomplish. He also remains faithful to each of us in our personal moments of grief, pain, and uncertainty.

Follow Jesus with the disciples to Gethsemane. Stay with them as they wait for Jesus. Or just go there and watch Jesus praying to His Father. We follow Jesus in embracing the Father’s will, experiencing His humiliation, darkness, and doubt. Look at Judas arriving to betray his Lord, not really understanding the role he is playing. Feel the emotion of this situation. Stay close to Jesus in the house of Caiaphas. Keep your eyes on Jesus: What is He feeling? What is He thinking? How does He respond in this moment? Stay close to Jesus and look at the people who are speaking. What are they saying? What do you feel in this moment? Move forward and follow Peter outside of the house. Watch Jesus here since He knows that Peter will betray Him. Experience the pain of betrayal through some sign of affection. Notice how Jesus regards Peter. Jesus has been denied by the very one whom Jesus had called “Rock”. This is the lot of Jesus which I am invited to share. For me this is a moment of personal truth. How do I feel?

3 thoughts on “Stage 19: Candasnos – Fraga (26.3 km)

  1. Thank you, Michael, for sharing, as you walk along the road to Fraga, your truly Ignatian experience of the entry of Jesus into his passion. I can resonate deeply with this as I accompany at present someone in Brisbane in the the Third Week of the Exercises at the Archdiocesan Spirituality Centre at Ormiston. Blessings and many graces over you, Michael.

  2. Michael, this morning, Tuesday, as my retreatant doing the full Exercises in 30 days came to the end of the 3rd Week. I asked my retreat ant to read back to me your words on the Passion of Jesuswhich you wrote at Candasnos. It made a fruitful revisiting of the faithfulness of Jesus in his sufferings for my retreatant and for myself. Thank you for this, Michael.

  3. Dear Michael, so good to see you are on your feet again. And about your weblog….I just love to read it! And if I am not mistaken: Happy Birthday!

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