Greetings on this the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Readings: Zep 3:14-18a; Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6; Lk 1:39-56 Notes:
During Camino I entered a town where about the noon hour.
At noon the Church bells began to toll a Hail Mary.
I diverted as did another person, a woman who I thought spoke only Spanish, and we made our way to the Church doors. They were locked. The Church was closed. The music was automated.
I turned to her and said, ‘?Oración del ángelus? Sí
The Angelus (Noon prayer of the Church) The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: R/ And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
[In Spanish] Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R/ Be it done unto me according to Thy word. [In Spanish] Hail Mary…
And the Word was made Flesh:
R/ And dwelt among us. [In Spanish] Hail Mary…
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
R/ that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.
At the end, in English, I said, ‘We are the first to pray the Angelus here in a long time’. She replied, ‘Yes, we are’.
One of the invocations in Mary’s litany is “Ark of the Covenant.” Like the Ark of the Covenant of old, Mary brings God’s presence into the lives of other people. As David danced before the Ark, John the Baptist leaps for joy. As the Ark helped to unite the 12 tribes of Israel by being placed in David’s capital, so Mary has the power to unite all Christians in her son. At times, devotion to Mary may have occasioned some divisiveness, but we can hope that authentic devotion will lead all to Christ and therefore, to one another.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Responsorial Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Gospel Acclamation Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
Gospel My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From about Rabadiso, a full 27 miles remaining, a small miracle for me. My legs had grown tired and painful. Little did I know the overexertion was causing severe shin splints and then, more obviously, severe swelling of the left leg. How can I even finish?
The miracle? The Eucalyptus Forest.
The eucalyptus forest span of 2 1/2 days was like walking on clouds with the eucalyptus leaves and bark as path footings.
It was a blessing. Now, the fact is Spain struggles with the over growth of the non-native species and some controls and cutbacks are needed. But for me, a blessing.
In the remotest parts of the Spanish countryside were these small chapels. One in particular had a most ornate and very old altar which reveals its purpose. A sacred place for sacred worship, the Holy Mass.
The parish priest would travel to these chapels to bring Holy Mass to the people remote from the parish Church. In other cases, an Itinerant Priest would come. But they came to the people, not the other way around.
Today these chapels are maintained as sacred spaces for prayer and contemplation.
My photos do not do justice to the sacredness within them. They have become holy ground.
But, but, but.
It is time again to free Jesus from the tabernacle alone. Free him from the Church property as if a prison. Or, understood another way, to live the priestly life of paroikia.
Sent, that’s what Mass means! Go, go now, to the periphery with Jesus, as Jesus, in Jesus and if the Church doors must be locked, let it be because Holy Mass is out in the fields, farms, estates where the servants and serfs are.
This is Church.
Sidebar: I can kick myself for not photographing the one that most clearly shows the purpose and reverence of the estate lord to provide the sacred to his family, servants and serfs. I have photos of others inferior qualities but ignored the inspiration to photo ‘the one’. I can be very dense regards the Holy Spirit.
Paroikia – the word ‘parish’ comes from the Greek ‘paroikia’ or ‘sojourning in a foreign land’.
During the entire five weeks of the Camino, nobody asked me my gender nor how I identify nor my sexual orientation.
As we stopped to eat and sleep we trekked through some very remote areas. All the Albergues were of like kind. Men and women shared 18-20 bunks all tightly arranged in one large room. There was one bathroom. Private stalls but no differentiation between groups.
Privacy was a common ethic. Courtesy another.
Questions we did ask one another…
As to the person:
What’s your name? Where are you from?
What type of spiritual Camino are you doing?
As to the body:
How are your feet?
Are you in pain?
Do you need anything?
We ate in common, slept in common and shared in common.
Nobody felt threatened.
It’s time to stop the shrill moralization and focus on behavioral excellence. Yes, Church, I’m talking to you.