The Promise is to You

A Pilgrim on El Camino de Santiago

After a summer break, Upper Room’s blog returns with a guest post from one of our former young adult leaders, Louis Brown. Louis now directs the national Catholic health care sharing ministry, CMF CURO. He recently made a pilgrimage hiking El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in Spain. He gave permission for us to share his reflections below.

Reflection written after Day 5 of El Camino de Santiago –
Louis Brown on El CaminoThe pilgrimage thus far has been incredible. Our Lord acts so powerfully here if one listens, reflects, and literally and figuratively pays attention to the signs pointing the way ahead.

I have been reminded here of the vital importance of abandoning one’s will and desires to the perfect providence of Our Father God who is love itself and whose plans are always perfect. I have been reminded too that He always shows us “the way” as long as we look for His wisdom, counsel, and the consolation of the peace that only comes from God. Along these lines it is vitally important that we truly trust in Him, Our Lord, and not in ourselves. As wonderful as God made us, we are flawed in so many ways. And yet, the Lord comes like the warrior and hero that He is to rescue us and to carry us to our way home.

Reflection from Day 7 of El Camino de Santiago –
Thank you all for all your prayers and encouragement along the way. God has spoken so powerfully to me through the group I am here with, through prayer, and through the exchanges (many of them really profound) with other pilgrims along the way.

My prior reflections focused largely on the fact that Our Lord is constantly speaking to us through signs that point the way forward. These signs, natural and supernatural – ranging from a common word of encouragement to the more rare mystical experience, are all instruments that God uses to bring us closer to Him, who is love itself. Our Lord is constantly here, right now, seeking to bring us greater freedom, greater peace, and greater love in our lives. God sends us signs constantly to help us on our way, to bring us closer to Him, and to help us to become who we truly are.

Today, Our Lord has spoken to me about His main purpose and our main purpose. This is not original to me but simply what I know as a Catholic but often forget: God’s main purpose, is simply to love us. Period. God exists to love us. Our main purpose you ask? Our main purpose is to receive His love and serve Him by bringing that love to others. Period.

So many of us, myself chief at the line, run around like maniacs trying to do this and trying to do that. The tasks we are called to accomplish are very important. Indeed, they are tasks that God may very well have given us as part of our mission in this life. And of course it follows that we should give our very best efforts to accomplish them – laziness is unacceptable.

From Louis Brown - El Camino in the mountainsHowever, above all else, our purpose as children of God is not to do but to receive. God, above all else, is a father. He is the Father of fathers. All fathers want their children to be productive. Yet, more than productivity, a father wants to bestow gifts upon his children. In return, what must the child do? He or she needs simply to say: Yes, thank you Father. I receive it.

These gifts from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come in many forms ranging from the material (a sorely needed monetary raise), to a loss (a painful experience that through suffering leads to greater freedom), to a beautiful mystical experience of God’s potent love through nature, the Sacraments, or through the extraordinarily love of another human being.

This morning on the Camino, I experienced the most profound and powerful gift God has given His children on earth: Himself in the Eucharist. This morning I went to the Catholic Church in O’Cebreiro, Spain where the Eucharistic Miracle of O’Cebreiro occurred in 1300. In that miracle, a Benedictine priest was celebrating mass and did not believe that the bread and wine he was consecrating truly became the literal Body and Blood of Jesus. That day in 1300, after the priest said the words of consecration, the Eucharistic host changed into the physical manifestation of the Body and Blood of Jesus.

Please read the brief description of the miracle here which was recognized by individuals ranging from Queen Isabella of Spain to Pope Innocent VIII: The Eucharistic Miracle of O’Cebreiro

From Louis Brown - Eucharistic Miracle of O'Cebreiro in SpainThe first lesson for me, in witnessing the relics of this Eucharistic miracle with my own eyes, is that God seeks to give himself literally to me. To paraphrase another spiritual author: “Imagine that: the creator of the universe wants to give Himself to me, the lowly sinner that I am.” He, the author of life, wants to give Himself to me – wants me to receive the Eucharist – so that I may have life in me. Amazing! Truly this is the summit of my life – God desiring to give Himself literally to lowly me.

The second lesson for me in witnessing the Eucharistic miracle? I need to be more receptive to God’s love and let Him love me more. Why? Because that is our purpose: to receive Our Father’s unfailing love. Yes, we must act, we must serve others, we must extend ourselves to be reservoirs of God’s love. However, as children dependent on the gifts of Our Father, our first and primary responsibility is to be still and let Love (God) love us. Everything else that is good in life first flows from letting the Father love us through His Son, Jesus.

So friends today, through prayer, reflection, quiet time, a long hike or run, the Sacrament of Confession, time with friends, work, service to another, or most especially if you are able through attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist, let God love you. He loves you right now. Wherever you are on your journey, whatever you have or have not done, you are lovable. You are good enough because God loves you first. He loves you not because of anything you do but because you exist. Our Lord seeks to give you some type of gift right now. You need only to say: Yes, thank you Father. I receive it.

 

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