Today is the Feast of Saint James the Apostle. Happy feast day. The brother of Saint John, James was beheaded in Jerusalem in 42 or 43 A.D. upon the orders of Herod Agrippa. Since the 9th century Spain has claimed the honor of possessing his relics. The pilgrimage to St. James of Compostela has drawn great numbers from the Middle Ages to the present day. Bishop Earl Boyea now reflects upon great benefits that derive from pilgrimage:
In the Spring of 1999, while serving as the Academic Dean of Sacred Heart Seminary, I accompanied the seminarians on their month-long pilgrimage to the Holy Land. What an amazing blessing! To spend an entire day at the Church of the Annunciation; to sleep under the stars on Mount Horeb; to meditate at the shore of the Sea of Galilee while picturing Jesus walking on those waters; to join others at the site where John the Baptist preached; to visit the upper room blessed by the Eucharist and the coming of the Holy Spirit; and to pray where Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. And to do all this with fellow pilgrims!
Today, Saturday, July 25, is the feast say of Saint James the Greater, who is venerated at the great pilgrim shrine of Compostela in Spain. From the Middle Ages to the present, pilgrims have walked great distances from throughout Europe (and now the world) to journey in prayer and rest at the great shrine to Saint James. This pilgrimage has not been a part of my life, unfortunately. But many have told me of their own experience on this path.
There is something about pilgrimages, about journeying. They remind us that our time here on earth is as a pilgrim. We are not meant to be here forever. We are only passing a time here. How shall we use that time? If we see ourselves as fellow pilgrims with others, there is then born in us a great desire to care for our neighbor. When visiting my parents, I walk with them in the morning. They are able to turn a 10-minute walk into 45 minutes. There is no need to hurry. To accompany these cane-users is a great blessing.
Make a pilgrimage. Make a pilgrimage with others. Make sure that a part of that includes walking, if you are able. Keep your eyes on your companions, on the path, and on the goal, Jesus Christ. We have the Shrine of St. Joseph down in Brooklyn, Michigan. There are also many outdoor shrines as well as beautiful Churches in our diocese. Journey to one you may have never seen. And realize that the most important companion of all is right there with you – our Lord himself, Jesus Christ.
Assuring you of my prayers, I am sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop of Lansing