What is Pilgrimage?

“A journey to a holy place, undertaken for religious reasons; a journey to a place with special significance.”
To the above definition, which was taken from the dictionary, we might add, “to reunite a person with their center of being and help to restore their relationship with their Creator.”
Sometimes just getting out of the routine for a few days or a few weeks can help us re-center and kindle or rekindle the fire of a passionate life devoted to love. Catholic Traveller’s mission is to inspire busy people to take time out now and then for retreat and pilgrimage – to allow the Spirit to enter and heal and renew us, so that we return to our everyday lives better able to see and serve Jesus and Mary in all those around us.


September 17, 2008

Summer has flown by and I have not been a very consistent blogger. I shall blame a lovely two week train vacation on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, from Los Angeles, CA to Tacoma, WA and back, and also the start of a new homeschooling year. But really we all know it’s just my own lack of organization. There’s always an excuse. The truth is, I have to stop on a regular basis and clear out the clutter in my life. I have always been one to try to overachieve, and with that comes the inevitable burnout and lack of achieving anything. I find myself stopping in the middle of doing something these days and asking, “how important is this? Is this just busywork that I’ve created for myself, or am I in some way contributing toward my livelihood and the work God has for me to do today?”

Which begs the question, “What is the work God has for me to do today?” The best I have been able to come up with is to do what’s in front of me with love. Take care of what God has graciously given me – my family, home, animals. Help and share in the community in which I live. Try to attract others to Him by the way I live – there’s the rub. Smile, speak in a positive and uplifting way. Dress modestly and behave modestly. Softly admonish the child who is poking along when we’re late for an appointment and I really feel like screaming. Don’t kick and cuss at the cow who broke through the fence – again. It’s a tall order. I can do it for a short while, but as the little frustrations pile up, it gets harder and harder. If I haven’t already done so, this is when I need to turn it all over to God. It’s His show anyway. I’m just an extra. Hope I can keep doing my part.


Are You Paying Attention?

July 15, 2008

This last Sunday’s gospel focused on being receptive to Jesus word. How often do I try to impart some amazing truth, only to have my listener question me moments later, as though I had never said anything at all? I will review the day’s schedule with my son at breakfast, only to have him respond with shock and amazement when I inform him that he cannot play his game now, as we have an appointment to keep. I will absentmindedly carry on a conversation with my son, only to look up and find him staring at me, and admonishing me for not listening. We have ears but do not hear.

What causes us to behave in this manner? If we are so preoccupied with the “cares of the world” that we are unable to give our family and friends our full loving attention, how much less so Jesus, who only wants to show us how to overcome those cares and live abundantly and fully. Today I am going to take a few minutes somewhere to be fully attentive to Jesus. Whether it be in a few moments of prayer or contemplation, or the reading of a few short verses in the Bible. And I am going to take that out into the world with me – to the post office, the neighbor who calls at an inconvenient time, the client who needs to vent about frustrations in his life, the friend who lives out of the way who needs a little help with her animals, and my son, who is now paging me from the bathtub.


So Little Time…

June 11, 2008

Busy, busy, busy. So with Tball, swim camp, summer school, running a business (or three), tending to farm chores, blah, blah, blah, how do we make any time at all for prayer and meditation? Sometimes it seems that after moving to the country and working from home I have become busier than when I had a “real” job and lived in the city. Technically I’m not, but it’s a matter of perspective. My priorities are different. I want my house to be a peaceful environment and it cannot be that way with all kinds of clutter, dirty dishes, and clothes stacked everywhere. So I need time to clean house and clean out the clutter. I want time to run my farm and benefit financially and physically from the homegrown produce, meat and dairy. This means I cannot be rushing off to every activity available to me or my son. Yet, I do want him to have social contact and enjoy activities with friends of all ages. So we try to limit activities to two days a week, besides Sundays.

Still, where do I fit prayer time into all of this? I have made a habit of beginning my day with prayer. This time is precious to me. I am thankful for working at home, because often, with a “job”, this time gets lost to me because of oversleeping and then rushing to get to work on time. I am grateful for homeschooling, because I can work to encourage this habit in my son, instead of rushing to school, etc. And yet, I still crave more. I want to stop during the day and read my Bible or say the Rosary, but frequently I feel there is too much to do, and I cannot take the 15 or 20 minute break. Not to mention that in saying the Rosary I tend to meditate myself to sleep, so it takes much longer. These are all excuses. When I take 10 or 15 minutes once or twice a day to take a prayer and meditation break, my work seems to go easier and better, my priorities become clearer. Hmmm…why can’t I get it through my head?


Which Way?

May 28, 2008
We went to see Prince Caspian the other day. What a fantastic rendition of the book. I have to admit, the actors that get cast in the roles of my favorite characters are rarely as I imagined them, but when the movie is well made, that little distraction passes, and I end up captivated. I read a review on the movie later which delved deeply into the spiritual issues that C.S. Lewis was dealing with in this book, namely pride. Although much of the reviewer’s analysis escaped me, I did grasp certain points of the movie. Namely, that when I try to “do it myself” I frequently fail, sometimes miserably. If we could do Spiritual Direction ourselves, we wouldn’t need the Ten Commandments, the Gospels, religious leaders, retreats, pilgrimage or the Church. Like Peter, carrying out an attack on King Miraz’ fortress himself, rather than seeking out Aslan and his advice and direction first, I bumble through one misadventure after another, leaving behind a trail of destruction and tears. Without a spiritual guide, it is difficult at times to resist the glamour of evil, as when the White Witch offers power and prestige in exchange for one drop of Peter or Caspian’s blood. Edmund, who remembers his humiliation at the hands of the White Witch and Aslan’s subsequent mercy and sacrifice, shatters the illusion and saves Narnia from that possible disaster.
Spiritual Direction requires submission. I am a proud, vain person. I like the feeling of being recognized for something “I’ve done myself”. But in truth, anything I’ve ever done well, I’ve had lots of help with. In music, I’ve had years of lessons, encouragement, criticism, and investment by my parents. In running my businesses there has been a network of people, offering advice, experience and assisstance. So in my spiritual life, why is it so hard to figure out who to turn to? Submission requires trust. Our parish priest is busy, yes, with all the administrative details of running a “business”. But when approached with spiritual questions and issues, his demeanor changes. He takes on a new enthusiasm, and answers with care and compassion. This is his real vocation. Our local bishop is laden with responsibility in running a large diocese which has been deeply hurt by scandal and in which immigration is a very present issue. Yet when he offers Mass, and preaches on Jesus word and how very applicable it is in our lives right this minute, you feel his holiness, his closeness to Jesus, his sincerity and devotion to us, his people. He is approachable, and very easy to converse with.
Spiritual Direction is not a do-it-yourself project. I have to ask for help, trust in the helper, and do what is suggested. How do I know if it’s working? I have to look at my relationships. Am I at peace, or fighting everyone and everything? Am I at peace in my living situation? Am I at peace with my work? Am I in constant communication with my Lord? These are my goals in seeking Spiritual Direction.