St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Mountain Top
The word pilgrimage is certainly evocative as those of us who have had a chance to focus on its import during this time of diocesan discernment have discovered. We think of journeys, whether to exotic locales or of deep inner explorations. I think that the best pilgrimages contain elements of both. We need to get away from our own place as a cog in the workings of the everyday world in order to get to the richness of purpose awaiting our inward journey.
As many of us may not be able to find the time or resources to plan a traditional pilgrimage journey, I strongly recommend the 2010 movie The Way as a “virtual” substitute. The movie stars Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez, who also wrote the screenplay and produced the film, and takes place on the most famous of trails for Christian pilgrimages, the Camino de Santiago.
The Way operates on many levels. It is a breathtaking travelogue of the Camino in Spain; a look at the grief of a parent dealing with the loss of a child; an opportunity to see what a pilgrimage journey on the Camino is like; and a chance to see how we can grow from our own tragic shortcomings and find the deeper connections and meaning that make life so rewarding. The film also offers acting and storytelling at its best: no fancy special effects here.
The father (Sheen) becomes exasperated by his adult son’s (Estevez) shiftlessness and wandering. He feels it is time for the son to grow up and become a productive member of the family. Instead the son leaves on another escape to “find” himself, this time to the Camino in Spain. The son is killed in a freak storm shortly after starting out.
I will not ruin the movie for you by revealing the remainder of the plot because I truly wish to implore you to see this movie and use its lessons to think about how we can make our lives and parishes and our diocese live up to our joy and responsibilities as Christians. Use it to discuss your thoughts and concerns about our situation and direction with your fellow parishioners. This journey we have embarked on together can and will take us to a greater place, a place of purpose and compassion.
Let us come to the convention filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to sweep away the barriers to the fulfilling work we are meant to succeed at!
Image Copyright: roberaten / 123RF Stock Photo