The Camino of Christian Life
I write these few lines while sitting in the Praza do Obradoir: the main square in Santiago de Compostela in front of the famous Cathedral containing the relics of the Apostle Saint James the Greater, Patron Saint of Spain.
After the rush of my last semester at the Gregorian University and the pressure of preparing for the final comprehensive exam, and before the arrival of our Diocesan World Youth Day pilgrims, I decided to spend 12 days walking part of the famous 'French Way' to Santiago. Starting at Leon, I crossed 300km of misty mountains, green vineyards, dry plains, and busy city streets in the company of other pilgrims from all around the world.
Unsurprisingly, some days were relatively easy, others laborious and even painful. Some very social, others solitary, some inspiring, others dry and unrewarding. Today I was struck by the words of the priest preaching the pilgrims Mass here in Santiago: "the Camino (the way) is the paradigm of the camino of our lives". This is very true.
What links the different stages of 'the way', and indeed the different stages of our lives, is that the journey is undertaken purposefully with a destination in mind and perhaps with specific intentions or questions. It is this purposeful walking and searching that makes the Camino a pilgrimage rather than a sight-seeing tour or simply an interesting hike through some beautiful countryside.
As I finish my time of formal study in Rome and prepare to return to Australia it strikes me that the various stages of the life of a Christian, and the life of a priest, is knitted together as a whole, as one pilgrimage, through a common purpose: responding to the call of God and so moving towards our heavenly homeland. It is by constantly recalling this purpose and destination that gives the ups and downs of our daily lives their true Christian depth.
During my pilgrimage to the tomb of St James I prayed daily for the clergy and people of the Diocese of Bathurst and, in a particular way, for our young people about to set out on pilgrimage to the Holy Door in Rome and onto World Youth Day in Kraków. I look forward to returning to the Diocese shortly for the next stage in the pilgrimage of the Christian life.
Fr Greg Bellamy