February 16, 2004


Entering a church is not a trivial thing because a church “is the sacred space in which communication between people and the High is made more fluid and intense. A church is a sort of inexhaustible source of strength and sacredness that allows people who enter to participate in that strength and be in communion with that sacredness.

When you see the church building at Eunate, you stop in order to contemplate it and take it in. You approach slowly. Before you enter the arcade that goes all the way around, you take off your backpack and boots. Let the words that God said to Moses resonate within you, “Moses, Moses, do not come near here; take the sandals off your feet because the place you are in is sacred ground. I am the God of your fathers. Moses covered his face because he feared God.” Repeat those words to yourself and as you do, slowly enter the cloister and walk around the octagon three times in the name of each part of the Holy Trinity. Stop at the northern door and ask the sphinxes on the capitals to hide your unworthiness and allow you to enter the sacred place. When you get their permission, cross the threshold: you have entered the space where God manifests himself. Place yourself in the center under the cupola looking at the apse. Let the light coming through the stained glass windows illuminate you. Listen: “I am the God of your fathers. Look at the image of Our Lady. Let the space flow into you, speak to you, tell you its secret. Ask for it. Do so with much humility, but ask for it. Open up your innermost self to the Presence.

Although Eunate is a special place, its character is facilitated by its solitude. You can perform this ritual when you go into any church. The Catholic tradition expresses this preparation when you enter a church by the ritual of using holy water and making the sign of the cross. With this purification, the faithful may enter the sacred space.

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