Pilgrimages have been a part of the Christian tradition for centuries. A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey to a sacred place.
Pilgrimages to holy places help us on the most important pilgrimage of all, our daily personal journey. They give us a chance to re-charge mentally, physically and spiritually. Some people go on a pilgrimage because they are at a crossroad in their life. Some people are searching for deeper meaning in life, maybe a healing. A pilgrimage could mark a special date. No matter the reason, you are feeling the call. You might be called to visit a shrine, cathedral, a monastery or convent, or even a retreat house in your area. Or you might be called to travel halfway around the world. Whichever you are being called to do, near or far, say yes and embark on this holy journey.
The calling, you feel it. A small tug on your heart. It is pulling you to go. But, why?
It is on this pilgrimage, where you will step away from your everyday life. You will leave your job and your everyday routine. You will leave your comfort zone. Just open your eyes and your heart. Listen to God and then say, YES to Our Lord, He will show you a new way of seeing yourself! A new beautiful you! In this place, your journey will progress. The steps might not be easy, the path might be steep, but it is these steps on this path where we move towards God, where we move to a new beautiful you!
God calls each and everyone of us.
Did you hear the call?
It is a personal invitation from God.
A Pilgrimage is a gift. A gift to yourself. It can be a life-changing experience. Let go of the old to let the new come in. While on a pilgrimage, one must embrace this journey with an open heart and have joyful anticipation. God will shower you with graces, but ones heart must be open to receive these gifts. Your pilgrimage is your own, no two pilgrimages are the same. To receive the most from your pilgrimage, will depend upon you. Open your arms, heart and mind and be ready to receive and appreciate the most amazing of life's gifts! You!
So you have planned to walk the Camino. You have joined all the Facebook pages, forums and whatever else you could find online. You are ready. But then it starts, the questions. Where do I start? How do I train? What do I pack? Will I be OK doing this alone? Your mind is wandering and it just keeps going. Anxiety is normal. You are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Just breath ...
So you turn to all those internet pages looking for the information. You develop a pre-Camino pilgrim identity. We all do it. We want to talk with everyone who has walked before us. Nothing is wrong with this. The information starts flowing, everyone is sharing, its everywhere you turn. The advice is great, it helps alleviate some of the worries and and concerns. But then it happens, overload. Too much information, you start feeling more confused. Information overload! Information overload is the norm with our internet age. Stop, step back, slow down, the Camino rules apply before you even leave. Just walk! Breath ...
The Camino is a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage. But many walk it for many other reasons. It could be a cultural quest, a physical challenge, a bucket list thing, just to do it and the list goes on. This is your Camino, for your reasons. Some are searching for the answer to the age-old question, "Who am I?"
Whatever your reason is for walking the Camino, it will provide you with a rare opportunity to slow down life’s hectic pace. To walk a rhythmic three kilometers per hour and ponder the basics of living simply. As you walk, the biggest decision you will have to make is ‘Where will I eat,?’ ‘How far will I walk?’ and ‘Where will I sleep?’ Walk, eat, sleep. Simple. There is something revitalizing about embracing this simplicity.
Simple Reminders as you walk:
START EARLY, ENJOY THE JOURNEY:
It's nice to start early, in the nice cool morning air, and walk until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Another nice thing is you will beat the afternoon heat. On my average day walking the Camino, I would be up by 6 o'clock and leaving to walk by 6:30 or 7:00. By noon, I had covered so much ground - literally. I would walk slowly with lots of breaks, enjoying the journey. Stopping at cafes, for that Cafe con Leche, snacks or just relaxing in the red plastic chairs. Another favorite thing for me is to sit under a tree or along a river and just be. I love arriving into town and getting to the albergue by early afternoon. Just in time, for a siesta or just relaxing around town. I always feel so accomplished after walking for 6-7 hours, spending the afternoon and evening around town, and well rested to start the next day.
ONE DAY AT A TIME, BE IN THE MOMENT:
I am lucky here, because this is the way I live my life. Never look at the big picture, break things into smaller tasks. Don't look at your whole Camino and be overwhelmed. Don't even look at your full day, break it down. Be in the moment. Right here, right now is all that matters. So you have 24 kms ahead of you, break it down. Look at your map/guide, the next cafe is 5 kms. Then that's all you need to get to. That is your goal. Don't think about the whole day, just get to that cafe. You will start to love red plastic chairs, because that means cafe, restroom and a break to enjoy! I have even used this to climb a hill, break it down. Find a focal point, I have found trees up the hill and said to myself, "I am going to make it to that tree and take a break" Once there done. Rest and repeat, Remember one day at a time, one moment at a time, be in the moment. You will learn to treasure that moment!
WALK AT YOUR OWN PACE:
Go your own pace. Even if you are with a group. You do you. I have walked with people who walk fast. I walk slow. Some days, they would slow down and walk with me and other days we would just meet at cafes and walk at our own pace. You don't have to walk with other people. What is beautiful about the Camino, is we are one community. We are all the same. We all have the same goal. No need to think you have to talk with everyone you pass. Some pilgrims you will pass with a "Buen Camino" and then sometimes you end up walking side by side and having a wonderful conversation. It is totally acceptable to be walking and talking with someone one minute, then separating or walking in silence for a while, and then drifting apart because your walking pace is different. Don't worry about this, it will all happen naturally. God places the right people in your life and for the right reason. You will be amazed at how this happens along the Camino. You will run into familiar faces again and again along the Camino. You will make many friends and some will be lifetime friends. Just remember, go at your own pace. I have found myself having a wonderful conversation and walking at a faster pace to keep up with them. Only to find myself 30 mins later so tired. Saying goodbye because I need a break, I slip into a red chair at a cafe. No worries on their part, "Buen Camino" as we separate.
Simply put: Enjoy your Camino, it is your Camino.
You will find your way and you will make it your own. Everyone is different, what is right for one person might not be right for the other. My Dad always says, "that's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream" Take all the advice, break it down. Don't get overwhelmed, you will know what applies to you. , you will know what applies to you. Pray about it. Let God lead this. Remember, breath ....
I will be heading out again, April 29th. I will be leading a small group from Samos to Santiago and then I will head up to Saint Jean and lead another group from Saint Jean to Santiago. Still a few spots available, if you are interested in joining us. Please contact us, firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-619-1112.
Please keep us in your prayers. I will keep you in my prayers, if you have any special intentions, please visit our Prayer Request page.
Our Majestic Galician Camino, April 29-May 9, is filling up, few spots are still available. Contact us today and say "yes" to the Camino!
One of our pilgrims who will be walking with us, sent this in. She is a member of a spiritual book club and in January everyone had to pick a word for the year. "awake" "focus" and so on. She took those words and wrote this amazing little prayer. The words are in bold. Hope you enjoy.
I just love the ending, "my heart is full of gratitude for the adventure"
Every Camino I walk is like my first. It doesn't matter how many times I walk this path, a new lesson or maybe a lesson I still need to learn is shown to me. Isn't that how life is? How many times does God need to show us something before we truly understand and learn. I pray that I am smart enough and have the wisdom to learn the first time, but I am human and sometimes I just need to be reminded again and again.
This one lesson seems to be shown to me over and over again. I know it. I believe in it. Maybe, the continuous reminder is a gift and a grace. Not a lesson. A reminder of Gods beauty, a reminder of His mercy, a reminder of His love. That reminder, that little nudge, that little gift is trusting in Him. Trusting that He is taking care of us. Trusting that He is guiding us.
He has carried me through a lot in life. He has brought me through the desert. He has helped me in carrying my crosses. He has always been there. So, why do I doubt? Why do I question? Why do I fear?
So, my little reminder on this Camino is beautiful and it is perfect. This past September, I lead a group from Rabanal del Camino to Santiago. It was a special Camino. Planned for my pilgrims. I liked the route so much, that I am now offering it as a pilgrimage. After staying our first night in a lovely Albergue in Rabanal del Camino and enjoying a beautiful and delicious breakfast, we started our walk to Molinaseca. Molinaseca is a beautiful village in a valley alongside a river. We started early and came to the Iron Cross. One of the things I like about this Camino is even though it is short, we were able to walk to the Iron Cross. One of the most important points along the Camino. We left our stone, left our burdens and continued along the mountain range. The day was perfect. It was sunny with a little chill in the air. We enjoyed good food and great company!
The next day was going to be different, a little walking and a little transferring by bus. Our day consisted of a short walk to Ponferrada. This was about 3-4 miles and then we will take a bus to Piedrafita. Piedrafita is a little town at the base of a mountain. This mountain road takes you to O'Cebreiro. After the bus ride, we will walk 2.5 miles uphill into O'Cebreiro.
We started our day at a nice pace and when we arrived into Ponferrada, we had a nice surprise. A festival was taking place. We enjoyed a nice cup of cafe con leche and headed to the bus station. As we made our way to the station, we were able to enjoy all the food and crafts at the festival. Remember the Camino is all about the journey, so enjoy every moment that is given to you.
When we arrived in Piedrafita, after a nice nap on the bus, we started our walk into O'Cebreiro. Again another important point along the Camino, the village of O'Cebreiro. This is the village where the Eucharistic Miracle happened. The church is beautiful and the miracle is on the side altar. We weren't taken the normal path, we were hiking up the road. We decided to walk and get lunch in O'Cebreiro. Its only 4 kms, we can wait and eat there. That was our vote as a team. We started our climb, it was a long 4 kms straight up. It was hot and it was long, oh wait did I already say that? We all started to get hungry.
We kept walking, because that's all you can do. I asked the girls if they wanted to get a taxi to O'Cebreiro. They said, no they were going to walk into O'Cebreiro. I was happy, because I wanted them to walk, but as a guide I had to offer the other option. As we walked, Nancy looked at the sides of the road. She started laughing, she said look at what He has given us! A snack! We stopped and looked. All alongside the road was blackberry bushes and to our surprise there were still some on the bushes. We thought how can they still be ripe and delicious in September? How can they not all be eaten? We stopped questioning the gift and enjoyed our snack. A reminder, He is taking care of us. He gives us what we need.
As we continued our walk, we started playing games. We sang songs, made up a few of our own. We laughed, we rested, we walked. We were almost there and we noticed a car pulled over to the side of the road. There was a little old Spanish lady filling bottles of water from a natural spring. We all got excited, our bottles were almost empty and not very cooling. As we approached the lady, she said, "the best water you will ever taste" as she continued filling like four gallons of water in her tubs. We waited our turn and sure enough, the water was perfect. Cold fresh spring water right out of the mountain side. Another gift. Another reminder. Thank you Jesus!
We continued into town, sat down and had the most delicious meal. As usual, our day was perfect in every way. Our Lord provides.
May we all be blessed with the many gifts and graces of Our Lord this day.
Buen Camino my fellow pilgrims!
Whenever I talk to someone about what I do for a living, they say to me, "Oh, the Camino de Santiago. I want to walk that one day it's on my bucket list!"
Why is this pilgrimage on everyones bucket list?
There are many reasons. But I believe, one of the reasons is because it is a huge accomplishment and an opportunity for personal growth. It is a challenge for all who embark on it. Not everyone has time to do the complete Camino (33 days of walking) but that's okay. There are many paths, many distances and many opportunities to walk the Camino. Now a days there are lots of tour groups out there to help the pilgrim plan their Camino. You can walk it alone, walk it with a group, have someone plan it, plan it yourself, carry your pack or transfer your pack. It is your Camino so you do it the way thats best for you.
When you give yourself the gift of walking the Camino, you will be apart of history. You will walk where millions have walked before, where pilgrims have walked for centuries. You will see local villages, churches, beautiful parts of nature, experience silence and laughter, meet new friends and be apart of the incredible mix of people from all over the world. This experience will be your own. Take what you need and allow it to be your story.
So when you walk and cross it off your bucket list, will it be spiritual? emotional? or just an adventure?
No matter your reason, the Camino is calling and you must go!
Are you ready but just don't know where to start, contact us and we can help you experience one of the most memorable and powerful sacred adventures of your life!
By: Mary Maddox
People walk the Camino de Santiago for many reasons. The Camino means different things to
different people. But one thing is the same for all pilgrims, it is a unique and one of a kind experience. It is a journey that enlightens and enriches your spirit.
Here are a few reasons people walk the Camino:
Spiritual and Self-Descovery:
It is on this pilgrimage, where you step away from your everyday lives. You leave your job, your concerns and give yourselves to God. It's on this pilgrimage, where you open your eyes, heart, and listen to the Word of God. In this place your journey progresses. The steps might not be easy, the path might be steep, but it is these steps on this path where you move towards God.
You are much stronger than you think you are. But you will never know that until you try something outside of your comfort zone. The Camino allows you to live outside your comfort zone. This Wayis a journey of self-discovery. Pushing you to your limits. Living day by day, step by step. As the journey continues, you will find yourself getting stronger physically and mentally. You will find self-awareness, self-reliance and the ability to trust.
Simply a vacation:
Vacations are about taking a breather from every day life. The Camino gives you that and more. The Camino is about getting back to basics and enjoying some of the most simple pleasures in life. It is about living in the moment. Enjoying the journey not just the destination.
Hiking and Exercise:
Just to walk. Walking and enjoying the outdoors. From the French Pyrenees to the lush hills and woodlands of Galicia, the Camino takes you across many different landscapes. If you can walk, you can do the Camino. The walking paths are well marked and most of them are suitable for all fitness levels.
Cultural, seeing the real Spain:
Along the Camino, you will walk through many cities, towns and villages. You will see beautiful churches, monuments and other cultural and historic landmarks, along this route which has been used for centuries. As you walk the Camino you will have the opportunity to sample the local cuisine. Each route and each region has its own traditional dishes. Take the time to try them all!
Are you ready?
As part of our supported Caminos, we have a special Camino planned for this April.
Full support, slow walking, short days and so much more!
Majestic Galician Lite Camino
April 29 - May 9, 2018
We have a few pilgrims signed up and due to their concerns of walking and their age, we thought lets help fellow pilgrims feel welcome and comfortable with walking the Camino.
We have seen all ages along the Camino. The average age is 30-60 but 18% are over 60. I have met an Eighty year old, who has walked the full Camino three times, a seventy year old woman who walked the full Camino all by herself. A mother daughter, Eighty year old and fifty year old walking together. The Camino is yours. You walk it how you want to. Carry your pack or transfer your pack, walk a little or walk a lot, walk at your own pace.
First thing to do is to push yourself to be conditioned and ready for the walking. Don't overdue it. You aren't twenty, and your recover time will be longer than in your youth. Make sure to take care of your feet. Take breaks. Stop when you are tired. This is important during training and as you actually walk the Camino.
The Camino is yours, do it your way. If you only want to walk five or six miles, then do it. Don't feel pushed to keep up with the Camino crowd. Or to try and stay with interesting people. You will have a group with us and you will be able to enjoy the company of others in the evening, as we rest and share our days.
I hate to say it, but expect to hurt. Expect most of the hurt to go away each night. Part of the Camino is to expect and accept what is given to you. So accept the discomfort. Avoid feeling sorry for yourself and negative thoughts that enter your mind. Avoid misery.
Every Camino is different and take every day as its own. Do not burden yourself with artificial rules and expectations. There is no right way. No official route, just a path. Just a path for us to follow. Follow at your own pace, follow your heart and listen to your body. Know when to stop and when to push yourself. There is no such thing as cheating. No wrong way. Just walk!
Just walk, one step at a time. Have fun and Buen Camino!
Please contact us if you want more information about our
Majestic Galician Lite Camino!
April 29 - May 9, 2018 .... $1300 pp, double occupancy .... 112 kms walking distance
Slow paced, van support, luggage transfer, two guides, group support, training support and more!
It's that time again, let's walk to Santiago! I am blessed to be leading a pilgrimage along The Camino de Santiago. I had to make a little flight down to Fort Lauderdale, FL to meet up with my pilgrims! Flying out tomorrow for Madrid!! Please keep us in your prayers!!
As I sit on the plane to Florida listening and praying my Rosary, I feel in my heart I should be walking this for others. Let me offer up my walk for your prayers! If you have any special prayer intentions please message me and I will pray daily as I walk into Santiago! I will then add them to the prayer intentions at the Cathedral in Santiago! .email@example.com
This is my third Camino and I will be walking 100 miles of the Camino this time. Starting in Rabanal del Camino, we will join the Monks for vespers and a pilgrims blessing. We will be walking from here to Santiago. Our first day will be 14 miles as we walk to the iron cross and onto Molinaseca, a little village on a river at the base of the mountain range. Our second day is a mixture of small walks about 9 miles with a transfer to Samos. Samos is the home of a beautiful Benedictine Monastery! We will enjoy vespers here as well. From Samos we will have 6 days of walking into Santiago with the average day being 14 miles.
If you would like a Mass said for your intentions at the Cathedral in Santiago, please donate $25 and I will have your Mass said and mail your card to you upon my return along with a special picture just for you!!
I would also like to raise money for my mission work in Haiti(Dec 2017) and Columbia(May 2018), if you would like to donate per mile for this mission work please click below ( EX ... $1 a mile = $100 donation or any donation will be appreciated) I will send you a pic along the Camino, just for you!!
Thanks again and Buen Camino!!
Send prayer requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Ken Bagstad
The church doors opened at 1 p.m. for Easter Mass in the town of Castrojeriz. I set my pack down in the back, stretched my weary shoulders and sat down in a pew, saying hello to the parishioners near me in the few words of Spanish I could now rattle off easily. I would have been self-conscious of what I was wearing in church that day—hiking boots, zip-off pants, moisture-wicking shirt, all covered in a fair share of mud and sweat—if I weren’t one of the hundreds of pilgrims passing through this small town along the Camino de Santiago each day.
But there was another reason I didn’t quite fit into this Easter morning scene: I was not Catholic. I was the Jewish equivalent of a Christmas-and-Easter Christian—services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, lighting candles at Hanukkah, breaking matzah and drinking wine at the Passover Seder. At age 13, after my Bar Mitzvah, I decided that if I wanted to be a scientist someday I needed to embrace rational thought, and that meant letting go of things I could not see, feel or touch.
One year earlier, in 2013, I had walked my first 100 miles on the Camino. Then, I had no thoughts of God or faith, just a desire to stretch my legs after two weeks cooped up indoors teaching a course in environmental economics. But after my eight days on the trail, I was hooked.
"While not all of my fellow pilgrims were spiritual, much less Catholic, everyone there seemed to be looking for something."
It was not just the beautiful scenery and delicious food in each new village that drew me in. It was the way people just looked out for each other on the trail. I would end the day with a blister and just happen to meet a doctor or nurse who could care for me that night. A friend would break a boot lace and meet someone who just happened to have an extra in their pack. Priests, nuns and villagers were always there with a smile, a blessing, a greeting of “Buen camino.” While not all of my fellow pilgrims were spiritual, much less Catholic, everyone there seemed to be looking for something. So I returned in the spring of 2014 to walk another two weeks, the next 230 miles on the Way of St. James.
The Mass started to a joyous Spanish rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” as we got up and processed through the entire church and adjoining courtyard. My thoughts wandered through the readings. As parishioners stood and filed up to take Communion, I sat in the pew, gazing up at Christ hanging on a very large crucifix above the altar.
Like most non-Catholics, growing up I had trouble understanding the idea of consuming the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. As a Jew, the links to the Passover Seder were obvious, and I could understand the beauty and significance of religious rituals. But I never believed in miracles and certainly never expected to draw meaning from this sacrament.
"I had met Christ out on the trail, I was sure of that."
Yet, I had met Christ out on the trail, I was sure of that. I had received a kind smile or word of encouragement whenever I was tired, frustrated and ready to quit. And maybe, to someone else, I had even been Christ out on the trail. My thoughts wandered to a fellow pilgrim, an Austrian woman who chain-smoked and swore her entire time on the Camino but was as determined to finish as anyone I had met out there. One afternoon, her knee was so sore she could not walk any further, and we were still half a mile from town. She fought back tears as I carried her backpack over one shoulder and mine over the other, while two other friends took her arms over their shoulders, helping her limp along. In a moment when the possible end of her pilgrimage brought fear and disappointment, had she seen Christ in any of our faces?
So much care for the stranger, and so little care for the few physical possessions we carried on our backs. Earlier on the trail, a nun had handed me a written blessing saying “blessed are you, pilgrim, when your pack is emptying of things and your heart does not know where to hang so many emotions.”
Looking up at Christ on the cross as the faithful filed up to take Communion that Easter morning, the meaning of the sacrament became immediately clear to me. I felt my heart opening, encompassing all the people in this small church. I felt it move through the walls of the church, spilling out into the countryside where it met every person it encountered with love. I felt it expand beyond humanity to the trees and the wheat fields, the birds overhead, the other animals of God’s creation. And I understood the incredible gift of the Eucharist: each of us physically taking Christ into our bodies, committing ourselves and our community to live—as best as we can, given our human frailty—as he did.
"So much care for the stranger, and so little care for the few physical possessions we carried on our backs."
When I returned home to Denver after finishing my Camino journey in 2014, my heart was raw to the pain of the world. I saw homeless people living under bridges, and tears would come to my eyes. After weeks on pilgrimage, where all we did was care for each other, I couldn’t understand how society could be so uncaring to our own brothers and sisters. I started going to Mass, and that same transcendent feeling was there each time during the celebration of the Eucharist—where I first sat in the pews then later learned to walk up, cross my arms and receive the priest’s blessing.
I was baptized at the Easter vigil in 2015 at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Denver. Weeks later, I walked the Camino’s final 170 miles to Santiago de Compostela, where the experience of the pilgrim’s Mass— joined together with walkers from dozens of nations—remains fresh in my heart and mind.
God meets each of us where we are, when we can quiet our minds enough to let him draw near. God walked with me, mostly silent, for over 20 years after my Bar Mitzvah before I was ready to walk with God into the faith of my adult life. I never expected to become a Catholic. But then again, I could never have imagined how God would first prepare my mind to understand miracles, then to receive one.
In beauty may I walk
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again.
Beautifully birds . . .
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
A Navajo Indian Prayer of the Second Day of the Night Chant (anonymous)
(This prayer is part of a nine-day Navajo ritual called the Night Chant.)
Your fellow pilgrim, Mary Maddox