March 22, 2004


The pilgrim comes across some difficulties and problems that make the encounter with God hard. Sometimes, the fact that the pilgrim may find churches closed may cause him to rebel against anything with a religious connotation, even though it may not make sense. It is very important that churches be open as long as possible, even if it means getting people in the towns to help out, if necessary.

Next, is the issue that many pilgrims do not know how to pray. This is when by our example, and with available material, we can introduce them to prayer. After five years of working with pilgrims, I have come to understand that they discover that it is not difficult to pray and that prayer stirs things up internally that were dormant or that they had never awoken.

The vast majority thank us for allowing them to have such a special moment and tell us that they would like to have more places on the Camino where they can join others in prayer. What pilgrim does not remember fondly the blessing of the pilgrims in Roncesvalles and Jaca, or the prayer in Granon where all the pilgrims’ names are read aloud until they arrive in Santiago, or the Complines of the Benedictines in Leon, or the Vespers with Gregorian chant with the Benedictines in Rabanal del Camino, or the monks of Leyre?

These are moments that leave an impression on many people who go to Santiago with no type of religious motivation. Many say that in the prayers in the refuges they find the energy they need to keep walking because they discover Jesus as a pilgrim who walks alongside them, Santiago the Apostle who encourages them to continue walking, or the Virgin Mary, Lady of the Road who protects them and helps with her intercession.

We need more hosts or prayer helpers in refuges or in churches to offer brief moments that the pilgrims so badly need.

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