February 16, 2004

Rituals on the Camino

“No one went yesterday
nor goes today
nor will go tomorrow
toward God
on the same road
that I am traveling.
For each, God keeps
a new ray of light, the sun…
and a virgin road.” (Leon Felipe)

“Taking up the pilgrim’s walking stick means, first and foremost, occupying a sacred space where divine power has chosen to manifest itself through miracles.” Such a space is essentially symbolic and you can only access it through symbols and rituals. The word “ritual” may sound crazy or an like an empty custom to you. You have to make the effort to return to its deepest meaning since it does not seem possible to perceive the power of the divinity except through ritual. Ritual is an instrument used to perceive God. The mediations may be extraordinarily numerous since they include all the visible forms of the religious person’s answer to the Power with whom he comes into contact: from the simplest gesture or a word to the most elaborate celebration. A ritual, in the strict sense of the word, is a symbolic act performed with a certain frequency by a group in accordance with specific norms that attempts to effectively make present the reality of the symbolized supernatural order.” Some of the rituals we perform have the quality since they are from the Catholic Church. Others, that do not have this exact character, we propose as examples, models, initiations that facilitate the symbolic experience of God. When the pilgrim puts his feet on the road, he cannot deny that Jesus Christ the Lord, is the Camino and that the goal is on the other side of the Portico de la Gloria.

He needs, then, a ritual to help him across to the other shore, access to the “space where the divinity has chosen to manifest itself.”

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