Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Camino de Santiago seed has been planted!

The Camino de Santiago is calling my name!  I have tried to iqnore the calling yet it keeps coming at me stronger and stronger.  I surrender, the seed is planted,  a plan is slowing being formulated.

What is The Camino de Santiago?

El Camino de Santiago, in English “The Way of Saint James,” is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where legend has it that the remains of Jesus’s apostle Saint James the Elder lie. The Camino has existed as a Christian pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years.  Throughout the medieval period it was one of the three most important Christian pilgrimages.  It was believed Pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela could result in a plenary indulgence, which frees a person from the penance due for sins.

The Calling:

Fall 2011 a post pops up on my Facebook wall from one of my travel peeps they are doing this thing called the Camino.   Several months later another post is on my wall, another travel peep is sharing a blog or something about this Camino thing.  Time passes and one boring afternoon my mind says search Facebook for that Camino thing,  I find the Camino de Santiago Forum, I read some of the posts and gave the page a "like".   Thanks to the like more and more Camino posts start popping up on my wall, I find myself reading the posts.   I become intrigued,  many of the forum members appear to be "mature" if you know what I mean.   Memories of past times start floating around in my mind, I wish I had known about the Camino when I was young, mentally strong, daring and determined.  I then reminded my self those attributes belong to a personality so I am still all of those things!   A second thought enters my mind, I am a physical  nightmare!  I am a knock kneed klutz, I wither in the heat and  I have limited stamina.   I wondered, could I walk this Camino thing?   Searching Amazon I found books by pilgrims (peregrinos) who have completed the Camino.  One title jumped out at me, Grandma's on the Camino.  The author was 70 years old when she walked The Camino Frances solo.  The Camino Frances, The French Way stretches roughly 500 miles and is the most popular of the Camino de Santiago's.  She claimed to be overweight and out of shape, if she could do this surely I can!

The Decision:

Grandma Mary's book brought life to the Camino de Santiago.  I  knew this needed to be on my bucket list.   I started reading blogs of other peregrinos and my mind became more aware that this could become a reality.  Then it hit me, I retire in the spring of 2017, what better way to celebrate the start of a new phase in my life.   So there it is, the Camino de Santiago is in my future.

The Camino begins:

I feel my Camino began before I had even heard of The Camino de Santiago.  I have been fortunate to visit Rome, I plan to visit Jerusalem in January 2014.  Indulgences or not it only seems fitting that I include The Camino de Santiago in my pilgrimage adventures. 

In the few weeks since I decided to make "IT" happen I have gone through a mixture of emotions.  The walk will be physically challenging, I fear crossing the Pyrenees will be more than I can manage. The mental walk has already began.  I am sure the next three years will bring more self awareness and self doubt.  The constant I will need to remember is success is the trying, failure is not attempting the dream at all.    

Blessing till the next post!
3 months and counting down till I leave for Israel!

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Occasionally we have a visiting priest celebrate mass at our parish.   My favorite is the brown bag priest.   Father "Brown Bag" has been retired for 11 years but he has not lost his touch, he is still one of the most captivating speakers I have ever heard.   His schtick is "what do I have in the brown paper bag".  He walks up and down the aisle shaking a brown paper bag quizzing parishioners to guess what is in it.   Our flock is always at a loss, 10 or more yell out a guess but never a "winner winner chicken dinner".   Father "Brown Bag" is pretty sly as the bag contents is always related to the gospel readings and by the time the bag contents is reveled we have been reeled in to his homily hook, line and sinker!  What was in the bag this week you ask?  His wallet.

As I look back on my walk towards maturity I see the path zig zagging, priorities ever changing.  The question that lingers is have I followed the path God planned for me or have I attempted to pave the path I wanted? One can always get back on the right path.  It is never to late to plant the roots of life, allowing them to run deep bringing forth strength and tenacity, opening our hearts to kindness, generosity and love.

Now is the time for all of us to look in to our hearts and find the beat that skips judgment, let the beat of caring, love and joy be the strength of our hearts.  Let this be what represents you as a Christian.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reliving the past

The Catholic Guy Crew and Mountain
Lou, Maureen, Mountain, Lino, Ryan and Father Rob
Florence Italy June, 2010

I began this blog in 2010, my intent was to write about my adventure to Italy with  host  Lino Rulli "The Catholic Guy"  and pilgrimage planner extraordinaire Mountain Butorac.   My attempt at blogging this trip was a successful fiasco!  Early to rise, late to bed left this traveler very brian dead.  I did have the adventure of a life time - Rome, Assisi, Siena, Florence and a Papal Blessing.  I ate fabulous food, drank luscious wine, enjoyed stunning pieces of art and thoroughly enjoyed the company of my pilgrim peeps.  The one disappointment was I did not feel I had grown as spiritually as I had expected.
The Best and Worst Pilgrims ever!
Italy pilgram peeps
Assis 2010
The following year I join up with the same host and the ever compentent planner Mountain (who does't love saying that name!) for another Pilgrimage.  With no thoughts of blogging or expectations for spiritual growth I was off to Greece with a side stop in Turkey.   With a last minute change to our plans, we gave up two days of our three days in Santorini Greece for a 38 hour whirlwind stop in Rome to attend the Beautification Mass of Blessed Pope John Paul II (canonization plans in process as I write this).   I told you Mountain was the MAN!  I cannot even put to words that experience but lucky for me I can link you to a blog of two warm and inspiring pilgrim peeps who articulated this blessing in a very lovely way.  The site name is  The Practicing Catholic, the link will take you to one of several stories they wrote about the Beautification.
Waiting with millions for enterance to Saint Peters Square
I am the tired one behind the bald guy (sorry Joel) - 2011

The goal is now within sight as the sun rises - 2011

The Surviving 14 of our group, we were the last to gain admittance in to  Saint Peters Square.
The Canadians, The Doctors, The Sisters, The Ulsh's, DaSchmidt's,  Mark, Dee, Jeff and Mountain.  We were blessed.                             May 1, 2011

Exhausted our Pilgrim group was quietly headed to Greece.   This group of pilgrims were the loudest pilgrims ever.  There was laughing, crying, karaoke, and Daily Mass held in a Cruse Ship Disco.   I was in awe that I was walking in the steps that Jesus had walked.  I was brought to tears visiting the House of our Blessed Mother Mary. I visited the cave where the Book of Revelations was revealed to Saint John.  I was overwhelmed by the Ancient Greek Architecture.  I was stunned by the greek sunsets and tantalized by greek food.  I enjoyed a chilling salty swim in the Aegean sea and was thrilled to climb the active volcano of Nea Kameni.  

The Loudest, Craziest Pilgrims ever
Partheon-Athens Greece 2011
Lino Rulli, Father Rob Keighron, Dee (me), Ryan,Maureen

House of Mary - Turkey-2011
                          Picture of the inside of the House of Mary- 2011

Cave of Saint John-Patomos Greece - 2011
   smoke = volcano-Santorini Greece -2011
Sunset over Mykonos Greece-2011
Notice the cross in the rock formation-2011
Greek Appetizers -2011

I returned from this pilgrimage again feeling I had not grown in my faith as I had hoped.  I returned to the dayin - dayout life of work.  I allowed my job to overwhelm my day, my thoughts and my worth.  I went on a trip to London, took my niece on a cruse with no release of the anxiety that had been building up in me.   Tired of this gray cloud floating over me I began to evaluate what was driving this low self worth, I became aware I was allowing unrealistic expectations to rule my thoughts.  I have moved work to a less prominent place in my life hierarchy and am striving to Work to Live not Live to Work.   I have come to understand the growth I was looking for in my spritual life was within ME all along.  I was looking for these growths to come from an experience and was not nourishing the growth from within.   I am back to jumping in to life feet first, I am opening my heart to listen for my calling, I am feeding my soul with more relevant experiences.  Don't get me wrong my travel adventures are not over, just the unrealistic expectation from them.

My final memories of the past I wish to relive are the fond memories of the animals who crossed my path during this trip.  After all they are creatures of God also!  Till the next post God Bless

Dog joining us for Mass at  Ancient Corinth
Father Rob did not miss a beat! 2011
Riding my Ass
(did I really just say that!) 2011

Burros of Lindos Greece - 2011

Camel of Kudasi Turkey 2011

Never have I seen so many dogs without homes. But they appear heathy and well  fed

 For the Finale  - my favorite things of Greece: