Many people may be thinking today in catching a plane, in starting a few days of rest… in doing the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), or in disconnecting a few days from the frenetic rythm of our daily lives. Yet, no, I do not think it is time for that, even though in other years and in many countries Pentecost has marked the start of vacation. This year is different.
Today is Pentecost, however there are no flights, no trains, no traffic… no Camino, no trips, no hotels; few people are in the streets, shops are shuttered, restaurants operate at reduced capacity, and half of humanity remains confined in their homes with more or less limitations on their movements.
Despite this, today is still Pentecost, which marks the last stage and, at the same time, the start of a new time. Easter has ended, and in religious terms today we celebrate the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send us the grace of the Spirit to continue a new way of walking, a new “camino.”
In fact, today is a good day for us to put ourselves “in Camino,” to motivate ourselves with new goals, to pack our “backpack” and undertake an adventure that leads us to discover new horizons where the Spirit continues to blow with strength.
For this reason we propose as an adventure joining us in this virtual Camino.
Camino online is the invitation that our Monastery of Rabanal launches to all those who, in the midst of the current situation, fear neither going deeper within yourselves nor going beyond yourselves, beyond our “me,” our own little worlds, our ego and our many ego-isms.
Pentecost is the start of the Church’s mission, the moment of being sent, of going out, of announcing, of educating and of sharing, of opening doors and windows and letting the Spirit blow with strength… As of today and until the end of August, we invite you to pilgrim through many of the monasteries in our Missionary Congregation, including the youngest members (such as Egypt or Cuba) and long-standing ones (such as those in the Philippines, Tanzania, India or Venezuela). A reflection will accompany us every week so that our pilgrimage is not only a simple virtual visit but also an opportunity to go within – to go towards that place within where the Spirit of Pentecost and the Pentecost of the Spirit encourages us to live with hope, with solidarity and with confidence.
Hopefully, this Camino online awakens within us joy, peace, patience and affability, loyalty and love, modesty and generosity… all of which are fruits of the Spirit, available to each of us as a gift even in days like those we are living today.
Because today is Pentecost. Embarking on a flight is not in the cards today for most of us. Let’s let the Spirit fly for us, towards us, rest amongst us… and accompany us to places full of humanity, of suffering, of struggle and hope, of needs and joys, and to the future…
Camino online is also an invitation to solidarity. Yes, there are moments which call for solidarity in very special ways. Camino online is born of a need: the need to be “in mission” in the midst of our world. Many communities within our Congregation have suffered dramatic effects of the ongoing pandemic. Some of our monasteries operate hospitals, health clinics; others operate schools and centers for vocational training for young adults; many of the monasteries workers now also live in a precarious situation and with uncertainty. All of these monasteries are located in vulnerable areas, such as those in Kenya, Venezuela, Togo or South Africa; all have been collaborating and supporting human and spiritual development in their respective countries; all of them with the need, and hope, that we will respond to their need for assistance, especially in these challenging times.
For this reason, Camino online also aims to raise funds to help these communities, to help them obtain sanitary material of basic necessity, food supplies and drinkable water… with such help that lets them see with clarity that “Yes, you matter.” Thanks to the structure of our international missionary Congregation, all of the funds raised through Camino online will be send in full to satisfy these needs.
Many countries in which we live have instituted border controls to which we had long grown unaccustomed. Our world continues to build walls that separate us from each other. At times, it is actually hard to believe that all of this is happening. In the midst of this situation, the Spirit of Pentecost invites us to cross borders of indifference, to join together to create shared spaces of communion, diversity, compassion and understanding…
Heavenly Father, empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and zealous in bearing witness to the Gospel, so that the mission entrusted to the Church, which is still very far from completion, may find new and efficacious expressions that bring life and light to the world.
Thank you for joining us “in Camino,” for being a part of our humble project, for your prayers, for your assistance and for your company.
With your support you will contribute with food bags, sanitary material, water supply, cleaning kits…
See you next week!