Faith in Christ sets a clear course on the winding pilgrimage of life
I’m the kind of person who likes to be inspired. I can be inspired by an engaging biography, spiritual reading, a touching movie, a stirring sermon or simply by being in the presence of an inspirational person. Such inspirations serve as a kind of encouragement for me along the journey.
Since the Middle Ages, the most famous pilgrimage site in Spain has been Santiago de Compostela, in honor of St. James the Apostle, the patron of our archdiocese. Even today Catholics from across Europe make the journey by car, by bicycle and on foot. In the old days, as pilgrims passed through villages on their way to Compostela, locals would shout, “Ultreya!” — “Onward!” — as a cheer of inspiration and encouragement. They knew that the graces awaiting them at the destination were worth the hardship of the journey.
Blessings along the journey
There has always been the added sense for Christians, however, that such journeys themselves bestow blessings. By God’s grace we already hold within us the rewards of our destination, which is not so much a place as it is a state of eternal union with God. We are always beginning the pilgrimage, always on pilgrimage, and always arriving at deeper union with God. That’s why I’m inspired by people, readings, movies and sermons that remind me of what God wants to give me right now, as a foretaste of what’s in store in eternity.
As you make your pilgrimage in the Lord, I would like this column to be a kind of Ultreya! for you.
Stay the course set by faith. The path of life is not identical for everyone and has surprising twists and turns. Its hazards are sometimes unpredictable, and its trials can be baffling. But along everyone’s path, no matter where it leads or how it winds, faith sets a clear course.
Trust in God to give light and guidance. We cannot see beyond the bend just ahead of us, but God can. In prayer and reflection on God’s word, we listen to him show us the way and calm our frayed nerves. Even in the most frightening and incomprehensible circumstances life sets before you, stay the course set by faith.
Follow the Lord Jesus as the only Way, Truth and Life. The New Testament is absolutely clear about this core of our Christian faith: Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and humanity, the only savior of the world, the only way to the Father. Strive to know him by pouring out your heart to him in prayer, by following his ways, and by imitating his example of sacrificial love.
This is the way of love for which you and I were made by God, and God has revealed it to us completely in Jesus. Cling to him. As his mother said, “Do whatever he tells you.”
It is never too late to start again
Stay close to the sacraments of the Church. We Catholics are doubly blessed because we are a people of both word and sacrament. In the seven sacraments the Lord Jesus himself comes to us and continues his saving ministry in the Church. To stay away from the sacraments is to deprive ourselves of the food we need most. To stay away from the sacraments is to miss precious face-to-face encounters with Christ.
Have hope. Hope is not the same as wishing, nor is it the same as praying that the odds will be in favor of what we “hope” will happen. Instead, hope is confidence in the truth God has revealed to us about himself and his promises. The truths that are the foundation of hope are not mere theories, good ideas or goals awaiting us at some point in our future. They are added lights along the path of life and sound criteria to be used in making concrete decisions.
They are truths about which God has given repeated, unmistakable evidence throughout history: You were made for God. God loves you. God forgives you. God is extending a hand in friendship to you. God has a plan for you. God is patient with you. God will never abandon you. God wants you to be with him forever.
In God’s eyes, revealed to us in Jesus, it is always too soon to give up; it is never too late to start again. Hope in God. Ultreya!
Send your prayer intentions to Archbishop Sartain’s Prayer List, Archdiocese of Seattle, 710 Ninth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104.
Northwest Catholic – June 2014