We hope that our own peregrinos, and all who wish to participate, will find in this program an enlightening Way from Leon to Santiago de Compostela
The Camino de Santiago has as its foundation a spiritual experience grounded in medieval Catholic tradition. In recent decades, of course, pilgrims of many spiritual origins—Catholic and non-Catholic, Christian and non-Christian, theistic and even non-theistic—have contributed their customs and experiences. Our own group has always mirrored this diversity of spirits and, true to our Ignatian roots, sought to discern a true path among them. This year, one group of students (Hannah Ervin, Martine de Matteo, and Santiago Sordos Palacio) has undertaken to offer possibilities for spiritual exploration and growth, true to tradition but enlivened by the diversity of our own experience and the current reality of the Camino.
Note: you do not have to go in order!
- Take a silent walk with a partner.
- Take a silent walk with a different partner.
- Find a beautiful spot and draw it in your journal.
- Find a beautiful spot and journal about it.
- Find a beautiful spot and meditate there.
- Walk with a stranger today.
- Share a meal with a stranger.
- Talk with the Hospitaleros.
- Spend time in reflection at a Holy Site.
- Go an entire day phone-less (exceptions = directions or translations)
- Find a church at the end of your day’s walk and pray the Ignatian Examen
- Ask to feel God’s presence, grace, and light
- Pray in Thanksgiving
- Reflect on how your day went
- Face your failures
- Look toward the rest of the day and tomorrow
- Find a soundtrack for the day and walk to it (this can be a favorite album of yours, a playlist, or something recommended by a friend).
- Talk to a pilgrim who is biking or driving. Compare your Camino experiences.
- Start your morning with the Sun Salutation Yoga Routine:
- Go to a café or restaurant and ask the waiter to give you their favorite meal.
- Call or video-chat a family member or friend you haven’t talked to yet during the Camino.
- Try something new. Literally anything. Activity, food, whatever. Just go out of your comfort zone.
Before our first walk together
Missal of Vich Cathedral, A Pilgrim Blessing (1078)
Blessing of the Pilgrims Emblems
C: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R: Who made heaven and earth.
C: The Lord be with you.
R: And also with you.
Let us pray. O Lord whose word makes all things holy, bless we beseech you these emblems, rucksacks and staffs to be used on this pilgrimage. May all those who carry them arrive safely at the shrine of St. James the Apostle, the objective of their journey. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Presenting the Rucksacks
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, shoulder these rucksacks which will help you during your pilgrimage. May the fatigue of carrying them be expiation for your sins, so that when you have been forgiven you may reach the shrine of St. James full of courage, and when your pilgrimage is over, return home full of joy. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Presenting the shells and other emblems [omit if not everyone has them]
Receive these shells and medals, as signs of your pilgrimage. With God’s grace may you behave as true pilgrims throughout your entire journey and be able to reach your objective, which is to visit the shrine of St, James and gain indulgences. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Blessing the Pilgrims
Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us through the Apostle St Paul that here below we have no lasting city and must always seek the heavenly city. Hear our prayers for these pilgrims we commission. May the Holy Spirit breathe his grace into their hearts; may he enliven their faith, strengthen their hope and feed the flame of their love. May they thus make their pilgrimage in the true spirit of penance, sacrifice and expiation. May the same spirit purify their minds from every evil thought. May he defend their hearts and give them the constant help of his protection so that they can reach the objective of their journey safely and by means of this pilgrimage they are now starting merit to come one day to the heavenly Jerusalem. You who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
May the Lord always guide your steps and be your inseparable companion throughout your journey.
May our Lady of Roncesvalles grant you her motherly protection, defend you against all dangers of soul and body. Through her intercession may you arrive safely at the end of your pilgrimage.
May St. Raphael the Archangel accompany you throughout your journey as he accompanied Tobias and ward off every contrary or troublesome incident.
And may almighty God bless you, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Go in the peace of Christ
The Pilgrim’s Prayer to St. James
(An ancient prayer that comes at the end of the Pilgrim Mass said along the Camino de Santiago)
O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldean’s, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us, your servants, as we walk in the love of your name to Santiago de Compostela. Be for us our companion on the walk, Our guide at the crossroads, Our breath in our weariness, Our protection in danger, Our albergue on the Camino, Our shade in the heat, Our light in the darkness, Our consolation in our discouragements, And our strength in our intentions. So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue we return safely to our homes filled with joy. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. Apostle Santiago, pray for us. Santa Maria, pray for us.
Prayer for Each Morning and for Difficult Times
May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps,
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey,
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on life’s pilgrimage,
and the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you wherever you may go. Amen.
[Include intentions for the Camino]
Prayer of Pilgrimage
give us the courage to set off on pilgrimage.
May we travel unhindered by worldly possessions
simply trusting in you for all that we need.
Sometimes our hearts will be heavy as we plod along
and our feet will ache and feel dirty.
Other times we will rejoice as the sun shines
on the path stretching before us.
May we ponder the truth,
that the pilgrim’s journey is never finished till they reach home. Amen
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead—as if innocence had ever been—and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered, and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day.
Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales: Prologue (1476)
Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury:
Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
Here begins the Book of the Tales of Canterbury:
When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England they to Canterbury wend,
The holy blessed martyr there to seek
Who helped them when they lay so ill and weal
Henri Nouwen, Expecting a Surprise
Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Country Life (1858)
“Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much….”
Andrea Gibson, Lens (A poem from Pansy)
I’ve been practicing gratitude.
I’ve been skipping entire weeks.
Practicing a wider lens. Listening
For the bully’s heartbeat
Hearing it in my own chest.
I’ve been remembering the time I cried
In a cloud of tear gas at a peaceful protest.
How I decided I was too soft to last,
And then I decided to be softer.
I’ve been remembering way way back
To the moment they told me Jesus walked on water.
How I knew whatever I’d grow up to believe
I would never try to wrestle a miracle
Away from anyone’s reason to live.
I’ve been remembering how I wrestled a miracle
Away from your reason to live.
If only shame could wash me clean
But that is never how healing works.
Nobody ever won anything from anyone
Thinking the whole world was out of their league.
I’m sorry you know
What I look like when no one is looking.
I don’t expect anyone to believe
In justice and forgiveness at the same time.
If it’s any consolation
I feel like a ferris wheel in a snowbank
Twenty years after they shut down the park.
If it’s any consolation I’ve been living in my head
Whenever anyone tells me I have a good heart.
And I think about you. I think about you.
Traditional Pilgrim’s Prayer at the Cruz de Ferro
“Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage that I lay at the foot of the cross, weigh the balance in favor of my good deeds some day when the deeds of my life are judged. Let it be so.”
Codex Calixtinus, Book V, Chapter XI: How to Treat Peregrinos
Pilgrims, poor or rich, whether coming or going to the place of St. James, must be received charitably, and respected by all peoples. For whoever will take them in and diligently procure hospitality for them, will be hosting not only St. James but even the Lord Himself. For the Lord himself said in the Gospel, ‘He who receives you, receives me.’
Many have met with God’s anger because they did not want to look after pilgrims to St. James, and the needy.
At Nantua, a town between Geneva and Lyon, a weaver, repeatedly denying bread to a beseeching pilgrim of St. James, found the cloth on his loom suddenly ripped away and crashing down.
At Villeneuve, a poor pilgrim of St. James asked for alms from a woman who had bread under hot cinders, who replied that she did not have any. The pilgrim said to her, ‘May the bread you have turn to stone!’ When he left her house and was far away, the woman went to the cinders, thinking the bread was there, and found a round stone in place of the bread. With a penitent heart she followed the pilgrim but did not find him.
At the city of Poitiers, two French veterans returning from Santiago without anything to call their own, looked for hospitality from the house of Joannis Gauterius all the way to St.Porchaire, without finding it. In the very last house of the street, next to the basilica of St. Porcarius, they were given hospitality at the home of a poor man, and by the working of divine vengeance, that night the swiftest fire burned the whole street, from the house where they had first asked for hospitality, all the way to the one which received them, and there were about 1,000 houses. And truly, by the grace of God, the home remained in which the servants of God were guests.
Which is why it should be known, that peregrinos of Santiago, poor or wealthy, in justice should be taken in, and diligently attended to.
Buddhist Prayer, The Bodhisattva Vow
May I be a guard for those who are protectorless,
A guide for those who journey on the road;
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.
May I be an isle for those who yearn for landfall,
And a lamp for those who long for light;
For those who need a resting place, a bed,
For all who need a servant, may I be a slave.
May I be a wishing jewel, the vase of plenty,
A word of power, and the supreme remedy.
May I be the trees of miracles,
And for every being, the abundant cow.
Like the great earth and the other elements,
Enduring as the sky itself endures,
For the boundless multitude of living beings,
May I be the ground and vessel of their life.
Thus, for every single thing that lives,
In number like the boundless reaches of the sky,
May I be their sustenance and nourishment
Until they pass beyond the bounds of suffering.
Lakota Native American Prayer, Seeking Trust
teach me how to trust
my inner knowing,
the sense of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.
Claire Marshall, Life Lessons from the Camino de Santiago
“The Camino is tough. Blisters are almost inevitable, your back may hurt, and you will be physically tired. But a friend I met along the way reminded me that the pain is the Camino’s way of making sure you are living in the present. If the Camino were easy, it wouldn’t be the same gift. Finding meaning in the challenges, feeling joyful regardless of the pain, that’s what it’s about. Pain is an inevitable part of life; it’s how we deal with it that matters.”
Frédéric Gros, A Philosophy of Walking
None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.
Psalm 23, A Psalm of David (NRSV)
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths For His Name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
For you are with me;
Your rod and Your staff;
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life.
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord My whole life long.
Psalm 84, For the leader, upon the gittith. A psalm of the Korahites (NAB)
How lovely your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, My home is by your altars, LORD of hosts, my king and my God!
Happy are those who dwell in your house! They never cease to praise you. Selah
Happy are those who find refuge in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrim roads.
As they pass through the Baca valley, they find spring water to drink. Also from pools the Lord provides water for those who lose their way.
They pass through outer and inner wall and see the God of gods on Zion.
LORD of hosts, hear my prayer; listen, God of Jacob. Selah
O God, look kindly on our shield; look upon the face of your anointed.
Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked.
For a sun and shield is the LORD God, bestowing all grace and glory. The LORD withholds no good thing from those who walk without reproach.
O LORD of hosts, happy are those who trust in you!
Walker there is no path, the path is made when walking
Everything passes and everything stays,
but our fate is to pass,
to pass making paths,
paths on the sea.
I never looked for glory,
nor to leave in the memory
of mankind my song;
I love subtle worlds,
lightnessful and gentile,
like soap bubbles.
I like to watch them painting
of sun and garnet, to fly
under the blue sky, tremble
suddenly and break…
I never looked for glory.
Walker, your treads are
the path and nothing more;
walker, there is no path,
the path is made when walking.
When walking the path is made
and when looking back
you see the path that never
has to be walked again.
Walker, there is no path,
but trails in the sea…
Some time ago in that place
where woods dress with hawthorns today
the voice of a poet was heard, screaming
‘Walker, there is no path,
the path is made when walking…’
Stroke by stroke, verse by verse…
The poet died far away from home.
He’s covered by dust of a neighboring
When going away, they saw him crying.
‘Walker, there is no path,
the path is made when walking…’
Stroke by stroke, verse by verse…
When the goldfinch cannot sing.
When the poet is a pilgrim,
when praying has no use.
‘Walker, there is no path,
the path is made when walking…’
Stroke by stroke, verse by verse.
Excerpts from The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coehlo
“We always know which is the best road to follow, but we follow only the road that we have become accustomed to.”
“It is the road that teaches us the best way to get there, and the road enriches us as we walk its length.”
Adam Zagajewski, “Try to Praise the Mutilated World”
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
B.B. Luke 24:13-35, The Walk to Emmaus (NRSVACE)
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Philippians 4, 4-13 (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Louise Glück, “Faithful and Virtuous Night”
First divesting ourselves of worldly goods, as St. Francis teaches,
In order that our souls not be distracted
by gain and loss, and in order also
that our bodies be free to move
easily at the mountain passes, we had then to discuss
whither or where we might travel, with the second question being
should we have a purpose, against which
many of us argued fiercely that such purpose
corresponded to worldly goods, meaning a limitation or constriction,
whereas others said it was by this word we were consecrated
pilgrims rather than wanderers: in our minds, the word translated as
a dream, a something-sought, so that by concentrating we might see it
glimmering among the stones, and not
pass blindly by; each
further issue we debated equally fully, the arguments going back and forth,
so that we grew, some said, less flexible and more resigned,
like soldiers in a useless war. And snow fell upon us, and wind blew,
which in time abated—where the snow had been many flowers appeared,
and where the stars had shone the sun rose over the tree line
so that we had shadows again; many times this happened.
Also rain, also flooding sometimes, also avalanches, in which
some of us were lost, and periodically we would seem
to have achieved an agreement, our canteens
hoisted upon our shoulders; but always that moment passed, so
(after many years) we were still at that first stage, still
preparing to begin a journey, but we were changed nevertheless ;
we could see this in one another; we had changed although
we never moved, and one said, ah, behold how we have aged, traveling
from day to night only, neither forward nor sideward, and this seemed
in a strange way miraculous. And those who believed we should have a purpose
believed this was the purpose, and those who felt we must remain free
in order to encounter truth felt it had been revealed .
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (Part 1)
The road goes ever
on and on,
Down from the door
where it began,
Now far ahead the
road has gone
And I must follow
If I can.
with weary feet,
Until it meet
Some larger way,
where many paths
and errands meet,
And whither then?
I cannot say.
Matthew 6:25-34 New International Version (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
How has the Camino provided for you? What have you learned about humility and living simply? How will you carry this with you once you arrive back home and to the reality you temporarily left behind? How can you trust God and turn your life into a daily Camino?