The bus was due to pick us up from the hotel in Tarrega at 8.00am, and drive us to Cervera. But because of some miscommunication the bus didn’t arrive until 9.00am. This meant that by the time we drove to Cervera and began walking it was 9.40am — the latest we had ever begun a day and this on the longest stage of the Ignatian Camino.
Today was a long and challenging day. The official route is 37 km, but by the time we had walked from the bus to the starting point of the official route and then by the time we walked to our hotel at the end of the day Michael Bertie’s GPS showed that we had walked 41.1 km — not far short of a marathon. We arrived at the hotel in Igualada at 7.45pm — 10 hours on the road.
The landscape began to change as we approached more hilly terrain. We passed through six or seven small villages where we could pause for a rest. In one of them (Pallerols), we found a beautiful 12th century Romanesque church dedicated to Saint James. In one small village, Sant Pere dels Arquells near Cervera, we came across three Soviet-era MIG jet fighters in someone’s backyard. Intriguing. This small and rusty air force is composed of a MiG-15, a Bulgarian MiG-21 and a Czechoslovakian MiG-23.
We has a wonderful surprise when we arrived at Panadella for lunch. There was our old friend Fermin Lopetegui, our Basque guide.He is going to join us in walking the last two stages to Montserrat and Manresa.
About 10 km out of Igualada we had our first view of Montserrat. We will walk there tomorrow.
My feet felt battered and sore by the time we arrived in Igualada, a large and important city in Cataluña.
In Igualada it is believed that Ignatius bought the “sturdy cloth robes” that he intended to wear. It is also here that Ignacio decided on the prayer vigil that he would underterake in Montserrat. The Autobiography of Saint Ignatius reads:
Arriving at a large village not far from Montserrat, he decided to purchase a garment to wear on his journey to Jerusalem. He therefore bought a poorly-woven piece of sackcloth, filled with prickly wooden fibers. Out of this me made a garment that reached his feet. He also bought a pair shoes of coarse material often used to make brooms. He never wore but one shoe, not for the sake of the comfort he derived, but because this leg would be quite swollen from riding on horseback all day since for mortification he wore a cord tied tightly just below the knee. For this reason he felt he ought to wear a shoe on that foot. He also bought a pilgrim’s staff and a gourd to drink from. These he tied to his saddle.
The Grace we pray for today: I beg the Father for this gift: to enter into the joy of the risen and victorious Christ. To be able to contemplate the fullness of life that Jesus has achieved for us. I ask to rejoice deeply with Christ, and to be sent into the world to serve the mission of Jesus Christ.
Reflections: When we experience the grace of the resurrection it is not just a personal gift. Rather, it is a gift to be shared with others. When we are touched by God we are led into the service of Jesus’ mission: to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
A favourite image of God for Saint Ignatius was God the Worker, Deus Operarius. Ignatius saw God labouring that the world might be transformed and brought into final union with the divine. We in our turn are called to cooperate with God in bringing about God’s project in our world. Our projects and practices are united to God’s project.
Ignatius of Loyola was a mystic whose love of God was expressed in apostolic service. He wanted to find God’s will and carry it out in loving service. Likewise, he desired “to help souls” so that they too would “surrender completely to the service of God” (Autobiography, No 79).
Ignatius’ mysticism and its apostolic expression were inextricably linked. Ignatius’ love of neighbour flowed from his mystical love of God. For Ignatius discerned action for building the Kingdom of God was a constitutive element of his contemplation.
The Exercises of Saint Ignatius are designed to lead the one who makes them to serve God and neighbour. The question is, of course, how this spiritual consolation will be incarnated in his or her life. The question which the pilgrims have addressed today is: how will the graces of the Ignatian Camino be incarnated (made real in history) In my life when I return home?
This is not just about what we are called to do although that is critically important. It is also about who we are called to be. Karl Rahner writes: “Grace is the quality of one’s personal presence to the world.”
The Father continues to pour out the Spirit of Christ upon us. Jesus consoles us always and sends us forth on mission to console the suffering, the poor, and all who long for salvation. As it is written: We might be called to work in a slum, a laboratory, a church, a clinic, an office, a classroom. Jesus gives us our mission: go forth, baptize, teach, love, and bring God’s Compassion as reconciliation for all of humanity. We are invited to fulfill this mission in every moment and circumstance of life. And Jesus speaks the most wonderful words to us: He promises that He will be with us always, in each joyful and painful moment. Even though I may not feel worthy to accept His presence, Jesus will always stay close to me. Even if I am a sinful person, unfaithful and limited, Jesus is going to send His Spirit to transform every human situation as an experience of growth.
Even though our faith may be small, Jesus counts on us. Thomas had to recognize his lack of faith before being sent to the world. We pray to answer the call of Jesus, inviting us to follow him to the beach and stay with Him. We join the disciples there in receiving His commission and His blessing.
Matthew 28: 16-20: “I will be with you always, until the end of time.”
John 20: 24-29: Tolerant of my darkness and unbelief as He was of Thomas, Jesus delights in consoling me with the gift of renewed faith. In His loving presence, I say: “My Lord and my God!”
John 21: 1-17: A moment of joy – “It is the Lord!” A moment of companionship – “Come and eat your meal.” A moment of intimacy and decision – “Do you love me?” A moment of mission – “Feed my sheep!”
Final Colloquy: At this point in our interior pilgrimage, we are accustomed to walk with our friend and Lord Jesus Christ, speaking freely just as one friend does with another. If you honestly experience the strength and grace within you, beg Jesus to accept you under His banner, thus to build the Kingdom of God at His side. Finish with the “Our Father.”