Fr. Javier Aparicio, osb
Monasterio Benedictino Rabanal del Camino
I do not know, quite honestly, if the joy that I feel writing this last submission is because it brings this project to an end, or because I re-create the joy that I felt during all of these weeks on this journey. Some say that the goal is the journey, while others are fully convinced that the journey is the goal. I do not know…
What I do know, from this time journeying, is that neither journey nor goal can be understand without reference to the other.
It was the end of May, when overwhelmed by the expansion of the pandemic, we began this “Camino Online”. The intention was simple: travel inwards… and also outwards. These have been intense months for this project; the figures speak for themselves. Camino Online involved dozens of volunteers, including abbots of our monasteries, friends contributed their written and recorded reflections. An extraordinary team of volunteer translators made it possible for each reflection to be translated into, no more and no less, than six languages: English, German, French, Korean, Italian and Spanish. In all, more than forty people generously gave of themselves to make this project become a reality. There have been countless hours editing, learning previously unknown programs, recording audios…and selecting photos and texts. More than 450 e-mails were exchanged to get everything ready for every Sunday of this Camino Online. Amongst those e-mails was correspondence with previously “unknown pilgrims” who shared their comments on the weekly reflections or the virtual visits to our monasteries.
To all: thank you!
Our heart felt thanks also to those who have generously collaborated with a financial donation. The financial aid received will soon reach the monastic communities most in need, those which continue to suffer the pandemic’s multiple consequences. As soon as we have made the final selection, we will write the donors to personally inform them of the communities receiving funds raised during this Camino Online.
The “Monte del Gozo” is the hilltop where pilgrims first glimpse the spires of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. After weeks -perhaps months- of pilgrimage, the joy mixed with the anxiety of contemplating the end blend in a confusing way in the depths of a pilgrim’s experience.
We are all still immersed in a situation that has altered our lives in a wild, unexpected way…and, what is worse, with a future that is still uncertain and unpredictable.
The wisdom of our spiritual father, Saint Benedict, guided the world through dark ages, and it continues to offer us a ray of light with its teaching that points to Christ. Saint Gregory the Great tells us that his response to a pandemic was very practical: Saint Benedict distributed food and oil to the local people to make sure that they kept well, albeit with the bare minimum. As we heard from Saint Paul in one of the readings on Saint Benedict’s feast day: “Live joyfully in hope, be patient in times of tribulation and be persistent in prayer” (Romans 12, 12).
I would like to conclude this reflection with two thoughts that have accompanied me during the last few days. The first is from a book that I finished a week ago (“Humankind. A hopeful history”, by Rutger Bregman):
“Don’t be afraid! So be realistic. Be courageous. Be true to your nature and offer your trust. Do good in broad daylight, and don’t be ashamed of your generosity. You may dismissed as gullible and naive at first. But remember, what’s naïve today may be common sense tomorrow. It’s time for a new realism. It’s time for a new view of humankind.”
The second is one that has accompanied one of the collaborators of this Camino Online, both professionally and spiritually:
“I hope that you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you. Something worth living for – maybe event worth dying for, something that energize you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead. I can’t tell you what it might be – that’s for you to find, to choose, to love. I can just encourage you to start looking and support you in the search.” Ita Ford, M.M
With these two thoughts we put an end to our “Camino online”.
May God bless you all and keep you in his peace.
To all of you, from our Benedictine monastery in Rabanal del Camino, our warm regards and our prayers.