April 27

Manresa & Montserrat

April 27

­This morning we travelled from Barcelona into the foothills of the Pyrenees to Manresa and Monserrat.  The traffic was terrible as the trip to Manresa took nearly three hours instead of one.  Our guide was once again surprised by our equanimity with traffic and delays. 

Manresa is where St Ignatius of Loyola spent nearly a year in service and reflection.  He had recently had a spiritual awakening.  It was in Manresa where he developed his spiritual exercises.  Having come from a military background he knew that physical exercises were key to being a fit soldier.  He then applied this thinking to the spiritual life fully intending to be a fit Catholic.  The exercises he developed stood the Jesuits well over the centuries.  We celebrated the last Mass of our pilgrimage in the very grotto where Ignatius did much of his writing. 

Following Mass and a brief lunch we headed further into the mountains to Monserrat.  At one point a large monastic community existed here.  Today the monks number about 60.  Monserrat, I am told, is a beautiful location with sweeping views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea.  We arrived in a deep fog which obscured the sweeping views but also highlighted the sense of seclusion.  While others in the group toured the church and museums, I wandered the plazas and streets steeping myself in the moist air and the quiet.  As we were leaving the clouds parted a bit and we saw a bit of the view and witnessed the steep cliffs we traversed in our bus. 

This seems to me to be a metaphor to life.  How often I feel, not in a fog so much, but as if I understand everything going on around me.  I feel so comfortable thinking I see and understand myself, my world, my God.  And then, the fog clears, I catch a glimpse of the grand sweep of God’s plan.  I am awed by God’s love for us.  I am frightened by how close I came to a perilous step but was protected.  Perhaps this is a bit of what happened that morning in Lourdes; the fogs parted and I caught a glimpse.

This was the last full day of the pilgrimage.  I felt both relieved to have it come to a close and disappointed that it could not continue.  I was relieved as the consistent travel was a trial.  Reluctant as the sense of peace and calm was soon to break up.  Even as we were traveling into the mountains I learned of more water problems at Immaculate and liturgical hiccups at St Therese.  Joan and I will delay our return a couple of days, but Fr Maurice will soon be back in the thick of things. 

As I process things a bit more, I might add one more entry in this pilgrimage blog.  We will see what the days bring.

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