Today was our final stage of the Ignatian Camino, the descent from Montserrat to Manresa. Before we left we walked over to the Basilica and venerated the Black Madonna.
I anticipated that this would be an easy day, but it was difficult. The weather was hot — Larry Naismith said it was 34°C — and it was humid. It felt as though it was the hottest day we had walked in.
Today we were following in the footsteps of Ignatius of Loyola who we know walked from Montserrat to Manresa on March 25th, 1522. He lived in Manresa for the next eleven months. His favourite place to pray was the Cave; a natural grotto facing Montserrat and over which the Church, the Jesuit Residence and the Retreat House are built. His experiences there would bear fruit in his spiritual masterpiece, the Spiritual Exercises.
Michael Bertie told us at dinner this evening that, according to his GPS, we have walked 686 km since we left Loyola.
This evening I said Mass for the group in the cave where Ignatius composed his Spiritual Exercises. It was a great privilege.
Late in life, Ignatius dictated a short Autobiography. In it he summarized the depth of his experiences at Manresa, and in particular while he sat beside the River Cardoner:
He sat down for a little while with his face toward the river…While he was seated there, the eyes of his understanding began to be opened; not that he saw any vision, but he understood and learned many things…with so great an enlightenment that everything seemed new to him.” He added, “even if he gathered up all the various helps he may have had from God, he does not think he had got as much as at that one time.
Contemplation to attain the love of God
Today I suggested an “Ignatian repetition” — we repeated the same meditation as yesterday, but this time we focused on the time of pilgrimage. We reviewed the various stages of our journey and we thanked God for the experiences we have had and the blessings we received as we prepare to return to our everyday routine.
The grace. Today I ask the Father to give me an intimate knowledge of the many gifts I have received during this pilgrimage so that, filled with gratitude for all of these, I may love and serve the Divine Majesty in everything I undertake.
I also spoke to the group about the difficulties of re-entry after an experience like this.