Our 40-Day Lenten “Camino”
22 Feb 2016
Have you ever gone on a pilgrimage? Just as in times past, people today make pilgrimages to many sacred places, such as the Holy Land and Lourdes, or they may decide to walk the arduous Camino de Santiago. Pilgrimages often mean making a journey or “camino” toward a holy place.
Our forty-day Lenten camino puts us on a path like that of the biblical times of fast and preparation. We think of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert after his baptism in the Jordan River. Our Lenten camino is a summons to leave our comfort zone, seek spiritual food, and make ready for an inner journey. It is an invitation to allow ourselves to be changed by the journey and the experiences along the way.
What is it that we hope for on our pilgrimage?
Pope Francis speaks of Lent as a camino saying: “This is the meaning of Lent: to place ourselves decisively on the path of Jesus, the road that leads to life. To look at Jesus. Look at what Jesus has done and go with him.” Yes, our Lenten journey is an inner pilgrimage into the deepest parts of ourselves; it is a camino that can change our lives and deepen our relationship with God if we make space in our lives to listen to God’s voice.
Like every journey, our pilgrimage through Lent requires that we evaluate what to bring along and what to leave behind. Our Lenten fasting, alms giving, and prayer can help us let go of the excess baggage that clutters our way, and it can help open us up to spiritual hunger so that we make room for the Risen Lord in our life. Lent is a camino of the heart to God.
Lent is also a way that mirrors the journey of our lives: it can lead us through the desert of trying times and to the foot of the cross on Good Friday. But how can we hope when we pass through the deserts of life?
I often think of a conversation with a faith-filled woman I met. She was experiencing great pain and suffering in her life and had just been diagnosed with cancer. She told me: “I wake up every morning and give thanks to God for life.” She looked at me and said, “God is good.” She paused and repeated: “God is good!” And I answered, “All the time.” This is a woman who is holding the hand of God as she journeys through life.
On life’s camino we need to believe that God’s hand will always be there to hold us, support us and lead us on the right path. As we journey with Jesus, we all experience life’s challenges whether it is uncertainty about our future, broken relationships, guilt or the fear of making a mistake. It means that we never give up because God is with us and we know in Whom we believe. In Isaiah 42: 3 we hear, “When you pass through waters, they will not swallow you up. When you go through rivers, they will not sweep over you . . .” We believe that we do not walk alone, we walk with God, and that the camino ultimately leads to the empty tomb on Easter. Blessed Lenten camino to each of you!