-Charlie Beaver ’20
Now that we have completed the Camino Ignaciano, we all have a sense of relief and joy. It seems like our journey started ages ago. From Loiola in the Basque Country to Manresa in Catalunya, we learned about the life of St. Ignatius and more about ourselves. For some this immersion was about escaping life in the United States, for others it was about finding a challenge that was spiritual, mental and physical. In our journal entries, we recorded our thoughts and experiences. This was where we discovered the artists of the group with sketches and poems about significant moments on the Camino. It is crazy to think that our journey in Spain is nearly coming to an end, it is sad and happy at the same time.
We want to thank all of our family and friends that accompanied us in spirit along the trail from the first trek in Aranzazu to the final prayer in the cave in Manresa. In the cave, Father continued with his humorous yet serious attitude and helped us conclude our journey with an emotional prayer. That was easily one of the best moments of the Camino and a close second was our cheerful march to the end of the Camino. When we were on the outskirts of Manresa, Señor and Father told us that the end was at the Catalan flag. Then we heard a joke from Rob our Canadian friend who accompanied us along this journey and in honor of our friendship, we made the unanimous decision to allow him to cross the finish line first while we chanted the Canadian national anthem.
The final day at Manresa when we toured the locations where Ignatius stayed, we got to truly immerse in the life of a great man. Everything that we learned in our religion courses came to life. It was also a day of emotional goodbyes: to our journey, Manresa, and Rob. However, we were still able fro finish the day strong by going directly to the beach once arriving to the hostel in Badalona (Barcelona).
All in all, this has been an amazing journey with friendships that will last a lifetime and experiences that will be cherished forever.
- Guillermo Valdivia ’19
Sunsets are beautiful things in Arizona. We all emerge from our homes after heat-stroked days and look out at the sunset. The sky looks as if it’s ablaze, the sun going out with one final blaze of glory. Red, orange, yellow, purple, blue all light up the sky in a symphony of color that anyone reading this blog most likely knows well.
For me, I’ve been looking at sunsets my entire life. All eighteen years of it, I’ve been looking at the same, Arizona sunset. More recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of final blazes of glory. My final exams, final papers, prom, the Awards Assembly, the most recent BLAM, the most recent Roundup edition, Baccalaureate mass, Graduation. Each of these things is one, final blaze of glory across the sky of my high school career. It’s not different, as people move on from high school every year. I’ve watched upperclassmen slowly move away to college before, watching those sunsets from afar in their lives.
Now the sunset has taken place in my life, and the sun is over the horizon. And for a little while, all I could see was darkness. Not in an emo sense as in my soul hurts, but it’s more along the lines that my life taken a turn into a four walled room, with no light switch and no windows. A perpetual purgatory of each day rolling into the next, the sunsets rolling by, signaling the end of each day, but no progress more than that. I knew that my life would be moving forward soon, but I kept rocking back and forward with each and every day waiting for the sunrise to come up over the horizon.
On this Camino, we’ve had a lot of early mornings. Many mornings getting up at 7, then 6, then 5:30, then 4:45 on the earliest morning. Waking up and practically sleep walking out of the door. Slowly walking our way out of the place we were staying in, our group of pilgrims would start the day with a dark sky. However, soon after starting our walk in the cool, night air, each day would start with a sunrise. Now, I don’t know how many of you reading this blog see a sunrise very often. Especially when the sky routinely sets alight back home at a much more convenient time. I will admit the only times I’ve really seen the sunrise have been on night where I’ve been binging Netflix and I happen to have the session of whatever show I’m watching roll into the next day. At those points, the sunrise is a complete accident, and to be fully honest it’s a bit disappointing when we are in Arizona. When you have the sunset, where endings of the day are much more entertaining to watch, why would you bother to wake up at the time that is required in order to see the disappointment that is a sunrise?
Every sunrise on this pilgrimage has been an extreme treat. I’ve included a few photos that I’ve taken on some of the mornings where we’ve seen the sunrise so that you have a reference point. I remember with each of the photos that I’ve included, I’ve had my breath taken away each time. And so I try to snap some sort of photo that will do it justice. And from there, we start our days in silence. There are times where I simply start the day looking at the sky as the day starts to unfold, and the sun starts to pour into the world around me. Color returning to our world. The score of sunrises on this trip to sunsets: 13-4. We’ve typically been inside enjoying a dinner together as the sunsets here are much later than what we are used to in Arizona. The times we’ve been up to see the sunrise has simply outnumbered the times where we’ve been present when the sunsets for the day.
Now, while I know that Montserrat and our trek into the mountain was yesterday, I’m going to talk a bit about my experience with it. After the mostly uphill hike, we ended the trail going down a simple, wet, flat dirt path as it had rained that morning. Every town in Catalonia had brought their own depiction of Mary to portray near the same house as Montserrat. And, for one reason or another, I felt extremely overwhelmed with emotion. Not that I couldn’t describe how I felt. Exhausted after the steep uphill climb to get there, happy to be there in that moment, joyful of how the Camino had been going up to that point.
But then it hit me right there. “It” being two things. How God’s love was so present in that moment, how forty different towns were there that moment so special. But the other moment was how this was the end. A sunset not only on the Camino, although we still had the hike down to Manresa, but the sunset on my Brophy career. How this would be the last time I could almost check a box to connect with God. How I’d miss the teachers I’d had, and the teachers that I hadn’t.
Later that night, each of us left a piece of our past lives on the altar of Montserrat, just like how Ignatius had laid down his sword just under 500 years ago. I placed a stone, resembling many of my own self-doubts, demons, and toxic attachments, as well my the chain of my Kairos cross. Not because I hate the Kairos cross, but because I need to break away from the chains of my past, just as Ignatius had done hundreds of years before me. And that chain symbolized breaking away from Brophy. I kept the cross of course, as I’ll always remember the mountaintop that Kairos represents. But the need to break away is needed in my life.
The next morning, we woke up like Ignatius had the night after he laid down his sword in front of Our Lady of Montserrat. And we were greeted with the most spectacular sunrise, pictured along with this blog. The day had been renewed from the night before it, the sunrise revealing the beauty of God surrounding us.
I sprinted down the mountain this morning, my legs working like they could go for a thousand miles as they pumped on the downhill slopes of Montserrat. No aching any more, my legs working as if renewed from the sunrise itself. Or they were so sore from all the days of walking, I didn’t notice the pain. Either way, we reached Manresa, the end of our journey, a huge triumph.
As the sadness of this being the last Brophy triumph I would really have came over me, I realized something else: the sun has risen again in my life. I have college to look forward to at Oberlin, with new opportunities, people, activities, songs, people, prayers, an endless list of new sunrises and renewals. So much to look forward to.
At the end of the day, we entered into the cave of Saint Ignatius. All of us sore and tired from the hundreds of kilometers we’d walked over the last few days, we rested there for a moment and then admired the bests of this trip. For me, the sunrises were the best thing of this trip. As we sat in the cave, I found myself not only appreciating the beauty of the sunrises, but also appreciating the renewal this whole Camino experience had brought to me.
A sense of inner peace and joy seemed to warm my body and soul, pulsing through me. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the night, at the beauty of being on sacred ground. My last trip to Manresa being the literal cave of reflection and change.
Tonight, all of us will be sleeping in until about 7:30. We won’t be able to see the sunrise again for a little while as we are exhausted. We will be heading back to Barcelona to wrap up this trip, and then we return to our lives. For most of the pilgrims, it’s a return to Brophy. For me, it’s seizing each sunrise and day set before me, forging a new path in my life.
- Graham Armknecht ’18
Today was an incredibly powerful experience for me both physically and spiritually.
We began our day in Jorba leaving very early in the morning as it began to rain. We took the bus to the base of our hike and began our ascent. The holding portion of our day was not very difficult but as we moved on to the highway portion after lunch as we got closer to Montserrat, I was experiencing the most amount of pain that I have ever felt in my feet and legs. I was genuinely struggling to take each step after the long day that we had prior. Once we reached Montserrat I was immediately overwhelmed by how high up it was, how beautiful the monastery was and how excited I was to see the image of Our Lady as Ignatius had before me to lay down his sword and take up his new life of faith.
Once we had settled in our room for break a group of us formed with a burning desire to reach the summit as I was told it was definitely worth doing despite the extra hiking. We were a little cut for time so we took the funicular to the halfway point and saw that the sign pointing to the top said it would be another hour of hiking to the top. I was so excited to reach the top that I completely forgot that the fact that I was was almost unable to walk hours before. On our ascent to the peak, a storm began to blow in and it started to drizzle around us. Drizzle turned to rain and the sound of thunder turned into visible lightning. We were all running so quickly that we did not think about the danger of what we were doing and reached the top in 34 minutes. This ability to run up the mountain was a true grace from God as it allowed me to reach the top despite the pain that I was truly feeling. Once there the winds had picked up immensely and the rain had gotten harder. It felt like the wrath of God was pounding the top of the mountain while we we’re on it trying to take pictures.
After our little hike we went into the church and watched the singing monks before going to the back and seeing the image of Our Lady of Montserrat. It was an amazing experience and almost impossible for me to wrap my mind around because of how amazing it was. Not just because of what it was, but rather all of the history and meaning behind it. It was almost hard to believe that it was the real thing, similar to the rib of Saint Peter Claver or the small mass that we had in Ignatius’ room that he had spent months recovering in and later converted in.
These experiences small moments that at the time are so overwhelming that I almost can’t enjoy them as much as I want to and have to hope that I can remember in their entirety in the future. All the while, I am incredibly grateful for the experience and am happy to have shared it with the other pilgrims that are with me.
- Ryan Sullivan ’19
To start this off, walking 33 kilometers was not the best experience on this trip. However, walking 33 kilometers does give you a chance to reflect on everything and take in as much as you can while the journey is still ongoing. Equally, I have just as much to write about (who doesn’t like more reading?). Beforehand, I pray that nobody is perturbed by this post, but it is something that I believe should be covered. Every day on this journey, we have been reflecting in a journal that I, personally, plan to continue to do, perhaps even after this trip. One common theme that I have been writing about, as I read back over my entries, was how prominent a sense of peace and feelings of bliss was discussed. Hard to imagine this while focusing on the topic of death today. One thing that I have come to realize is that death is a very common misconception in today’s world. The reason is that mankind has focused so much on its physical desires rather than those that come from deep in the heart; our spiritual necessities. The easiest way to understand these necessities is to have a greater intimacy with our Lord. The best way to do this is to sit in silence and talk with him in whatever way He calls to you. For me, it was taking a step back from the group to give myself space to experience the journey and the world around me. From this connection to nature, I learned a lot on what a true relationship is, whether it be spiritual or one on earth. However, I still wondered how this connection was being fostered; where was this feeling coming from? I have come to realize that this connection stems from the Spirit working within all of us, kindling the fires within our hearts to grow more intimate to God. The Spirit uses your surroundings to promote this relationship; for me, the natural world/creation was the easiest way to connect (reminds me a lot of how Jesus used parables to teach lessons piece by piece). I will touch upon death a little later because I think it is important to talk about another topic first: intelligence.
No, this isn’t getting an A in your dreaded English class or achieving the highest SAT score; intelligence focuses on how well we know things as they were created and the connection we feel while being surrounded by it. I know this may seem confusing, but bear with me. I feel my journal is the best way to explain this (the following lines is an excerpt). First, we must know that God is the supreme source of all intelligence and happiness. As a result of this, a desire to understand God is the best way to increase your intimacy with Him and your own overall well-being. However, to accomplish this, we must have a sharp mind. Therefore, a strong sense of intelligence about this world is a great gift to have. For in understanding God’s creation and it’s inner-workings, we give great praise and credit to Him for His work. Yet, we must be weary and make sure to tie-in faith with our discoveries for they can be warped into a terrible demon, capable of bringing evil into this new-found discovery. The best way to tie-in the faith is to realize that the Spirit is capable of fighting the battles against these demons to make sure that God’s creation stays the same, good and just. The memo of the story, intelligence isn’t simply what we read/solve; rather, it is finding a deeper understanding and connection by applying what we learn from God into our lives. The more often this happens, the greater intimacy we share with God.
So I return to the topic of death. We were asked today, “are you ready to die?” For myself, if it came to that, yes. Death is not a bad thing, it is a calling to something more. It is a freedom of the soul to eternal bliss in heaven. However, this must come on God’s own time, not ours. The physical side has, sadly, seen a lot of people taking their own life. One thing that pains me is to see how un-fulfilled these people are, and the legacy they are leaving behind. If only we could look past the pragmatic and open our hearts to look at the Spirit to see that God has a plan for all of us. Only when (and I stress only) we have fulfilled this plan, is when we are finished with our mission in life. So I ask that those who are afraid of death, open your heart to the Spirit and focus on the greater good. For those who aren’t ready to leave if this were your last day, make amends, and create a connection with God through the Spirit however it calls to you. For those who feel they are troubled by this world, there is something more. You are a missionary of God; He is calling you to be an instrument of peace to teach the world about Him. The moral of the story: a greater connection to God comes from understanding His presence in this life. Only then can we truly be at peace and make the most out of or time with each other, which ends with the passing on into another life. Before I end this, one quote I repeated to myself today to keep my mind away from the pain of walking the distance goes like this: “I walk with the Spirit, and the Spirit resides within me.”
We woke up for a late 7:00 breakfast. I woke up at 6 to get a shower right before I would get sweaty again. We left at 7:45 and began our 17 kilometer walk- the shortest walk thus far. We walked from Verdu to Cervera. The walk was short but our blisters, shin splints, and the 2 kilometer steep incline made it as tough as all the other walks. We passed by miles of farmland of all different heights and plants- the most prevalent of which was wheat. During our journey, we were encouraged to reflect upon our faith and sense of vocation. When it came to my vocation, I focused on whether my calling involved growing closer to God and whether I was motivated by money and comfort rather than faith. I found it difficult finding a vocation that combines my passions and a relationship with God.
Day 6 of hiking has been one of the most significant segments of the Camino Ignaciano. We started the day at 5:45 AM and ate breakfast at the restaurant across the street from Hotel Sant Antoni in Palau D’Anglesola. Then we began the walk to Verdú, the first few hours were calm as we walked in the corn fields of western Catalonia. In our first hour of reflection, we focused on generosity. This was composed of moments where we gave spare change to beggars or being courteous to strangers. Many of us felt soreness in every muscle ranging from our toes to our head. Although it was a more of a struggle for some more than others, Father said our pace was good. Once our first hour of reflection was up we took a much needed break and watched the morning sun rise. We arrived to Castellnou de Seana and entered a bar/cafe for a snack. After finishing, we carried onto the next reflection hour. This time, our focus was justice. Some examples included justice towards new coming immigrants and abused people. By the end of the reflection hour, we reached a barn and were able to see a shepherd gathering his herd of sheep. The experience was symbolic of Jesus leading us along our transformative path. After a three more miles of walking, we reached Verdú. In Verdú we are staying at the house of Saint Peter Claver who is known as the slave of slaves for his work in Cartagena, Colombia. We were also able to have a nice excursion to the local public pool and a pasta dinner which was very filling. This has so far proven to be an amazing experience and we are all confident that there will be nothing but joy for what is next.
- Guillermo Valdivia ’19
Today we once again started the day nice and early at 5 in the morning. This time we were able to eat before our journey, unlike the day before. Though similar in length and conditions to yesterday’s segment, today’s walk was blessed with a breeze and cloud cover for most of the way. In terms of scenery, we were once again greeted with farmland as far as the eye could see. We were able to take a short break in a town along the way after an hour of quiet reflection. After the short repose, we continued on our way to the next town. Little and few breaks were taken in between, and by the end of today’s walking endevours, everyone’s feet seemed to be dragging in pain. When our destination was finally upon us, we had the golden opportunity to unwind in the local pool (with a small price of 3 Euros). After our free time concluded, we had the chance to visit a 12th century church in the area, and serve mass in the place where St. Peter Claver, the “slave of slaves” was baptized. Furthermore we stayed in the house of St. Peter Claver as a refuge. Today we contemplated the virtues of justice and generosity. We quietly reflected on the importance of being generous to the poor and also to our fellow pilgrims in need. We talked about the importance of justice and mortality when it comes to those most in need, and helping lift people that cannot lift themselves. To conclude, we ate dinner and had the chance to experience a hail storm outside. Drying cloths had to quickly be evacuated indoors and an open window soaked the bed of an unassuming pilgrim. Tonight we get a good night sleep and get ready for our next leg of the journey.
- Cullen Burt ’20
Today the group of Camino 2018 went on their first long walk. A very flat and farm inherited land brought clear skies that made you feel small in the comparison of God. The pilgrims left the hotel at six o’clock in the morning, visiting a shrine of St. James. As the pilgrims exited the city, they made their way down a river that was flocked by storks. The first two hours of our trip were in silence. Each pilgrim would contemplate specific themes of the day. The themes today were humility and morality. After the pilgrims had two hours of silence, they ate a massive sandwich with some Fanta Lemon while talking and laughing the whole time. As the pilgrims went back on their way, the trip was loaded with conversations for the rest of the journey. When the pilgrims arrived to their destination, they were walking on cheese graters. Everyone was tired, but they had to eat lunch. Lunch consisted of three dishes of seafood and many different types of drinks. After lunch, the pilgrims split up going either to the pool or to sleep. At the pool, they had a fantastic time playing with children and meeting a group of people a little younger than themselves. The pilgrims then came back and had a fantastic dinner of salad, fish, and pizza. When they were all done the pilgrims went back to the hotel to do some journaling and reflecting. At the end of the whole trip, the pilgrims had walked roughly sixteen miles in the day. The pilgrims will now need to go to sleep so they can get up early for tomorrow.
- Andrew Duque ’20
On our first day of large, open walking, we traversed a very, very large corn field. We were traveling to Palau D’ Anglesola from Lleida and it was all very flat terrain with open skies. We left at an early time of 6:00, and my roommate did not wake me at our alarm of 5:00. There I was, at 5:30, packing at an alarming rate and getting ready faster than I had before. In my rush, I was not at all prepared for the peace and enormity of what lied ahead after we got out of the bus. The vastness of space that we were to cover was so immense that I began to feel like I was not anything more than an ant on a rock, which humbled me greatly. Then, I recalled an old homily that I had heard from a wise priest at one mass. He used an analogy that compared humans to ants, and God to an elephant. An ant would not know that the elephant is overhead, but it would in fact be just as present as the ant. Different from the elephant, though, is that God is aware of all of us below him and embraces us all in his existence. I took all of this in when seeing nothing more than irrigation and varying stages of crop growth, and I was comforted that my existence, while small, was just as present in God’s eyes as anyone or anything else.
I have grown in relationships with those that are here with me and had time to contemplate many aspects of my life that I do not stop to think about on a daily basis. In the past few days, in particular, as well as in the 2 mass services that we have had, I have been thinking about some of the issues that have been going on in my life as of recent. I reflected on the aspects of what my roles are as a son and a friend with those that are in the relationships with me. I feel that I have not been an equal with those I am close to and need to work on being more active in those relationships. Maybe this is done by having more genuine conversation or just being more open in general. Either way, I am glad I have had time to look at myself inside and out to come to this realization so that I can change for the better moving forward.
On a more positive note, after having spent a few days in Badalona, I have been exposed to a culture fairly different than my own in a few aspects. The little bakery that we went to on the last day was a very interesting experience for me. After eating the greatest chocolate croissant that I have ever consumed, I sat there with Alex and Graham drinking my cafe cortado, looking at the other patrons of the bakery. None were on their phones and no one was in a rush to leave. They simply got their food and sat down and ate it, and spoke to those around them. This was an amazing moment, although so simple. This made me almost want to throw my phone away and never pick it up again. I wish that this could be more integrated into American culture, instead of the “go go go” mentality.
Lastly, I am growing in my faith much more than expected after hearing the story of St. Francisco de Borja. His conversion was so logical and so certain that it made perfect sense to me. After hearing of his realization among many other jesuits, I really want to strengthen my relationship with God. I want the ability to be so certain with my faith that nothing can lessen it or challenge it, a relationship built on both logic and true belief. Although I know it is impossible to rationalize the irrational, I would like for my faith to make sense to me, similar to St. Francisco. I hope that in the coming days on this journey I will be able to at least come closer to this goal and be proud of my relationship with God.
Caritas, in Latin, is charity or care, depending on how you look at it. Typically, when receiving care, it means that we have to swallow our pride in order to realize that we are wrong, and that we need help.
Today, I was a beneficiary of caritas.
Today we had a rather rough beginning. We had a steadily increasing incline from the start of our walk, going on for about three to three and a half miles. Despite my training, I’m not quite as athletic as many of my peers on this trip. To couple that, I also have asthma, which isn’t bad as long as my breathing isn’t thrown out of rhythm. Today my breathing was thrown out of rhythm a bit earlier on.
Because of this, while the majority of the group progressed, I was left wheezing and sitting down on a rock near the path for a few moments. Señora Rosi Freeman and Father Iriberri stayed with me while the rest of the pack started on ahead of us.
After a few moments of wheezing, Freeman gave me a few medications to help the asthma in my system, as well as to comfort me and say that everyone goes at their own pace. “It’s a pilgrimage, not a race.”
At that moment, I keeled over and lost a small portion of my breakfast. After taking a few sips of water, I wiped myself down before Freeman and I started to continue on our way up the long hill. Iriberri stopped me once we stopped again, and he asked me how much was in my pack. I told him that I followed the suggested weight before I took off my pack and he said, “What’s in here, bricks?” And took the load upon himself.
So there I was, climbing a steep incline, where two people waited with me as I struggled up the mountain. I tried taking my pack back from Iriberri a few times, but both Freeman and Ibierri stopped me and used the moment to teach me about “caritas.”
At first, the word was unfamiliar to me. I thought that it would be in Spanish, as we’d been learning certain Spanish words. But then I remembered back to Honor Chorale and the song “Ubi Caritas et Amor,” or in rough translation, “Where there is charity, there is love.” It’s a song traditionally associate with the season of Lent, the time right before Christ sacrifices himself for his disciples and for the sins of our world. It’s also familiarly associated with the washing of the feet.
In that moment, I felt like I was having my feet washed. Having failed by carrying to heavy of a load and by not having trained well enough for the incline, I thought for a few moments how I was humiliated. How everyone else on the Camino was doing perfectly fine ahead of me, and here I was having my bag carried and drinking water after I’d had my entire hydro flask.
But my thoughts slowly reflected on how Brophy has taught me that I shouldn’t have to be an island upon myself. How “he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother,” and that having your feet washed and being carried when you stumble is okay.
I knew that this would be a challenge for me, that’s why I took it. Why should I be ashamed when taking help when I was challenged?
Yet, the reward for the trek was incredible. The rest of the group greeted us at the top of the mountain, A view so stunning and naturalistic, my breath would have been taken away had I had any. In that moment, I felt relieved, yet also deeply grounded in my soul.
No matter how harsh the climb, no matter how long it lasts, there will be people to help you. No matter how much we tell ourselves we have trained and overcome our God-given deficiencies, it’s not likely that we will climb up the harsh terrain alone.
- Graham Armknecht ’18