Camino de Santiago - page 13
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A Pilgrim's Progress: Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, on the Camino de Santiago – 2018 - page 13
Happy Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta! Here in Europe - since she was declared co-patroness of Europe by St. John Paul II - her memorial is celebrated as a feast.
We got up threw our things together - we had to be out by 9am - and headed through the maze of the seminary in search of the exit. We made it into the crisp damp morning air and hired a cab to take us to the hotel. Yes, I said hotel! Jocelyn Raad and Lisa Blanton were joining us late this afternoon -- They were coming from France where they had traveled to a few days before to go to Lourdes, Notre Dame, and Sacre Cour -- they got us some rooms at Hotel Praza Quintana. Only a stones throw from the Cathedral.
Of course we got there early, it was about 9:15 am, the receptionist allowed us to store our things but couldn't check in till 3 or 2:30 at the earliest.
What to do? Go to the English mass at 10am! We go the Blessed Sacrament Chapel with plenty of time to pray and prepare. Mass starts and it is in Spanish...the English mass was in the Chapel of La Soledad!
Mass over....now what? Hmm.....we decided on chocolate con churros for breakfast! We had to celebrate Teresa Benedicta! After the churros...now what? I knew there were nuns in Santiago - 'let's go visit them or at least say "Hi" to the prioress'. We also decided to take them some pastries to celebrate Teresa Benedicta. So next on the list...find a pastry shop. We stood in line, asked for help from an over-busy attendant...that adventure done...we head out in search of our nuns with gifts of pastries and cookies.
We found a monastery of Poor Claires and right across the street Deacon Ron sees a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We get to the 'turn' (if you've never visited cloistered nuns, the 'turn' is like a big lazy suzan, where you place your gifts, etc., and it is turned into the cloister)- the nuns stop attending the turn from 1 - 3, its 12::30, so I ring the bell and hope for the best. Some other people start to show up as well. They also ring the bell. We wait. The portress comes to the turn - I identify myself and place the pastries in the turn. She tells me to wait while she attends to the others.
In a few minutes sister calls me back and passes a key to me through the turn. Mother would like for us to go to the parlor (speakroom). We get to the parlor and wait. The door to the double grill opens and we see a gathering community. We spent a lovely time visiting with the community for about 30 minutes but seemed like only seconds. They asked lots of questions about our Camino trip.
Then I told Mother that we hoped to concelebrate the next day at the Cathedral. Mother said - "Do not worry the sisters that are sacristans at the Cathedral are our neighbors - I'll call them and tell them to expect you and the deacons."
We left very happy with our visit. This was the first time for Peter and Ron to visit with our nuns. Friars in Burgos, nuns in Campostela - unfortunately we didn't have a chance to visit our nuns in Burgos.
We got back to the hotel and waited to check-in. We check-in, each room has a full-sized bed, bathroom, t.v., and AC!!After praising God for the amenities we fall into our 'let's do laundry' mode. We decide to go to the laundry together - we visit with an Italian dad and son who are at the laundromat as well. They are part of a larger group finishing the Camino. During the dry cycle Jocelyn and Lisa arrive at the hotel and Peter leaves to take them the room keys. We get back visit with them and the trip to France - then they suggest going to the evening pilgrim's mass at 7:30. So back to the Cathedral for another mass. At this mass they used the Botofumiero - the large thurible - after the closing prayer and before the final blessing. We all were amazed at the skill of the 'official' thurifiers! The botofumiero almost touched the ceilings in the side naves!! After the incensing we had the final blessing.
Immediately after mass I grabbed Deacon Ron and told him to take the girls to the crypt before the lines get long again - he dutifully escorted them to the crypt to pray before the relics of St. James.
Our sacred duties accomplished we went in search of dinner. After the breaking of bread we went to the hotel and slept a deep, comfortable and peaceful sleep. Thank you Lord!!!
We got up early with the intention of getting in some tours before the noon pilgrim mass. The Cathedral opens at 7:30-ish. If you want to get in and pray before the relics of St. James and enjoy the beauty of each side altar then try to get there early. Before the pure 'tourists' get there.
For many people El Camino is not motivated by a 'religious' reason. For many it is a personal challenge or a 'walking vacation' equal to walking the Appalachian trail, many are not Catholic or hold to any real 'tradition'. Strange.
Anyway after a quick breakfast we head out towards the Cathedral, as I said only a stone's throw from the hotel.
We ask all around and are told we have to go to the museum office. It opens at 9 a.m.. - so we wait...at two different doors because there are two different museums. They open... we ask about tours of the Cathedral...they only do tours of the roof - the next English one might be at 10am, the other office is only the museum part. We had heard of 'package' tours where the Cathedral, the old town, and the museum were included.
We walk to the pilgrim office for info. They have no idea but they get us a phone number to call. Peter calls and sets up a tentative tour for the afternoon. We go back to the hotel to regroup. We are told there is a 'freetour' office that we go in search of - its closed.
By this time it's getting close to 10:30 and we need to get to the Cathedral early to get a pew. We go to the Cathedral get in-line, find a pew and I use this time for my morning silent prayer.
At 11:40 we head to the sacristy, I pull out my copy of the letter to the Archdiocese but sister waves it away saying "Mother Prioress called us - we are expecting you." I suppose the word of a Prioress carries more weight than an 'official letter' - sister shows us where the albs are and then into the main sacristy where i sign my name in the registry. Many clerics are vesting in red for St. Lawrence - 5 deacons and 9 concelebrating priests plus the two main celebrants and then in walks the Archbishop Julian and the rector.
After the Archbishop vests we process out and into the cathedral and up and into the main altar - Deacons Ron and Peter sit immediate to the gospel side of the altar. Because of the number of priests three of us go up another level of stairs into the canon's choir near the image of St. James.
The rector, a very pastoral and gentle man, made sure that Deacons Peter and Ron help with the preparation of the altar and the distribution of communion. At the end of mass and before the final blessing they once again prepared and used the botofumiero! I couldn't take any pictures because I was on the altar, but I did take the opportunity to take a closer picture of St. James!
After the incensing and final prayer we processed out and back into the sacristy, unvested and headed out to take-in more of the Cathedral at a more leisurely pace. Ron and Lisa went up to give St. James a hug before the line got too long and pray once again before the relics of St. James.
Very happy with our visit to the Cathedral - we went home for a siesta and went out for dinner and called it a day.
Thank you Lord for all the blessings known and unknown.