More than a year ago, I scheduled a pilgrimage with a couple of priests to Spain to walk The Camino, or the Way of St. James, starting in the south of France and walking along an ancient pilgrimage route until arriving in Compostela de Santiago near the northwest Spanish coast. El Camino has been on our bucket lists and we each have our own reasons for going. I thought about the journey several years ago, but it seemed even more appropriate to do so during the All Things New initiative. Here’s why:
Life is both a gift and a journey; it’s essential to take a few days once in a while to remind ourselves of this. The Camino is an arduous journey that demands walking an average of 15 miles a day through mountains, forests, plains and city centers. The trek offers something new at every turn and is physically and spiritually demanding — as is life.
One reason it’s good for me to take a spiritual break during the All Things New planning process is to empty myself of self-reliance and to remember that the world, and St. Louis, already have a savior — and I’m not Him. Instead, the Lord continues to invite me to recognize that He invited me onto a path that He has already prepared.
It’s easy to make excuses about being too busy or not being “just the right time” to do things like this. But there will always be more work and there is no such thing as the perfect time. There’s just the present moment. Quieting the voices of discouragement that keep us locked in place, instead of responding to an invitation from the Lord, is an important part of the spiritual life — and All Things New.
I truly believe the Lord has a vibrant future for the Church in St. Louis. He’s already prepared the way and is inviting us to journey with Him. Entrenchment in my current mode of being is an obstacle to receiving the vibrant and dynamic Spirit in our lives.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it will be easy or go smoothly. Few things do. One of our flights was canceled, and we had to rush to catch a new flight (and hope our bags made it with us). All Things New will have aspects that we find frustrating, anxiety-producing, inconvenient, and, at first glance, maybe wrong. But we must remember that anytime the Lord calls His disciples on a journey, He tells them to prepare for a rough road ahead and that the destination will be worth it.
I don’t know exactly what the future of the Church in St. Louis will look like, but I believe we are on the cusp of a new era of saints, evangelization and service to society. The faith we profess and the sacraments we celebrate remain unchanged, but we who are on the journey must prepare ourselves to adapt to the road before us so that more souls can be saved.