On this feast of Our Lady of the Snows. And Happy Birthday to my little Isabel!
The quote in the title is by Our Lord to Saint James and his brother, from today’s Gospel; it is followed by the admission that to sit on His right or left is not His decision to make. In short, yes, you will suffer for Me, but do it for love of Me and not for any reward.
In fact, this exchange reminds me of the poignant interview between the Mother of God and King Alfred in Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse:
“The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gold,
Men may uproot where worlds begin,
Or read the name of the nameless sin;
But if he fail or if he win
To no good man is told.
“But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.
“I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.”
“Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?”
In this vein, St. Paul speaks so beautifully about the mission of the apostles in today’s epistle from First Corinthians:
 For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, but we without honour.
 Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode;  And we labour, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it. We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now.  I write not these things to confound you; but I admonish you as my dearest children.  For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.
Dear Readers, in these days of woe, we are all called to the same task as the apostles, as Santiago himself, as King Alfred: Do we love and labor manfully, without (worldy-speaking) hope of success, as the waves grow higher?
Santiago Matamoros, ora pro nobis!
Back home safe and sound. Grateful to Divine Providence Who granted us safe travels and wonderful family time. Aware that not everyone can scratch that travel itch. Praying for safe arrival in that heavenly homeland that contains all beautiful places, more real than these shadows. Pray we all meet there. Pax.
More Vienna today. The first photo is a poster near our apartment of our beloved president giving the Statue of Liberty the beating she deserves. After that, walking, shopping, hitting Peterskirche (where I was able to go to confession), touring the Hofburg (photos not allowed), and visiting Stephansdom, where we walked verically, 343 steps. Along the way, I was delighted to find that we haven’t escaped the Camino, as we twice encountered signs that we were on the Way of St. James. Wish I could keep going…
Photo from the Camino forum.
A blessed feast day to all of you.
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” — C.S. Lewis
Yes, Galicia: a land with an antediluvian soul whose splendor endures right up to present times. Its valleys, forests, villages, rivers and standing stones, shady corbels, rough walls, centuries-old chestnut trees, the Celtic feel that fills the atmosphere, its gentle rain that returns the present to the past… they work together to form an identity that permeates everything. Galicia! I’ve crossed into Galicia, and it’s broken into me.
I feel I’ve undergone another transformation, possibly the last one, in my evolution as a walker. Maybe it happened overnight, or today, on the way up this mountain. Or perhaps whatever I started in the mountains of León is finished now. I’m not sure if it’s an improvement, but I don’t care. I have assimilated my own smallness, my lack of understanding, my weakness and poverty of spirit. I’ve stopped fighting against myself. I’ve given myself absolution. The essential, unanswerable questions, the unreachable quests lose their validity. My insides are filled with a serene, calm sea, like the valley below, released from the action of the wind. The force that drew me on toward Compostela has turned inward and settled down into my soul. I do not need to arrive any more. The only transcendence is what I see, what I experience in the step that I’m taking right here, right now. My journey is made of pure steps. I have emptied myself, I am so immensely emptied that I feel it as a satisfied fullness.
Galicia begins, and my journey ends. I still have a few days left, as long as the Coroner allows it. Days of clear perception. My journey begins to wind up.
But this is no place for solemnity! Life is beautiful, and I am a boy child in the promised land! I think about standing in the lee of the statue to escape the wind, but of course that is not way to get ahead.
— The Great Westward Walk: From the Front Door to the End of the Earth, by Antxon González Gabarain