The Rev. Canon Charles Cesaretti

So when they had come together, they asked him “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom
to Israel?”  He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own
authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses….

Acts 1:6-8

We arrived early in the morning to meet the pilgrims at the Plaza Major in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, taking our place at the stone with the scallop in the pavement, which is the terminus of the great pilgrimage. A small group soon appeared and made their way toward us.  All of a sudden, a woman unfurled a banner of welcome and the group of women made their way to her. Shouts of joy echoed across the plaza as the women greeted each other, celebrating the end of their pilgrimage of 140 km. They started to sing and hugged each other their faces aglow.

Soon the Plaza was full of pilgrims arriving from the east on the French Route; those from the south Silver Route, singing, forming small circles of joy and accomplishment. Then, moving toward the Cathedral they joined the growing queue waiting to climb the stairs behind the high altar and put their arms around the statue of Santiago (St. James).  At noon they formed a mighty crowd for Mass.  Voices raised in praise and thanksgiving.  Deo Gratias.

The women were sitting in a circle when I entered the small church in Central America in the early ‘80s.  The women met regularly to read and discuss the Bible and their lives together in their small town.  They were a part of a great movement that was stirring the church in Latin America, they were pilgrims in what was called “liberation theology.”  In the words of Luz Beatriz Arellano, a Roman Catholic Nun from Nicaragua, “We were discovering that God was different from what we had been taught…We were discovering God as the God of life, closer to us, as one who journeys with us through history…one who is immensely concerned for the poor…and gave us a deep hope and a deep sense of having found something new.”  Like the women in the Plaza Major in Santiago, the faces of the women glowed as they participated in the Lectio Divina.  Deo Gratias.

This past year I had the same experience as the pilgrims in the Diocese of Bethlehem gathered for Lectio Divina, for prayer, for conversation, for sharing.  There were uplifting sounds of joy, praise, and thanksgiving.  Deo Gratias.