Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Faith Matters - DIY Pilgrimage

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Faith Matters - DIY Pilgrimage

    As we return to the College for the final time in 2018 we enter our final journey for the year. For some it is the last part of a six year journey from which they will embark on new academic or employment ‘journeys’ as they finish their final year. For a third of our Year 9 students their camp experience will include journeys with that will challenge them physically and mentally as they rock climb and hike around the Grampians.

    The other groups will also be challenged as they kayak and mountain bike across the state. At the College we also think about staff members Alicia Deak and Caleb Ryan as they complete a Camino across Spain. Journeys are often more than getting from one place to another. Often journeys challenge us and we grow because of this experience. When this happens we have completed a pilgrimage.

    Pilgrimages have been a central component of faith for people over many thousands of years. Pilgrims generally travel light, pray often, reflect upon life and God, have a destination that offers a deeper connection with God and an open heart. Pilgrimages allow people to escape the ordinary and experience the extraordinary.

    Although we may not all be able to participate in the pilgrimages at this time we can engage in pilgrimage in our daily life and in doing so experience a closer relationship and understanding of God.

    D.I.Y. Pilgrimage Guide

    1. Get outside – make a decision to break out and experience the beautiful gift of nature that we are so fortunate to have. You might head to a beach, a dedicated path or simply walk out the door and keep walking.

    2. Get moving – experiencing movement through activity brings us to a deeper awareness of the magnificence of our bodies. This perfection is often something that we overlook. However, as God knitted you together in your mothers womb (Psalm 139:13), He was well aware of the complexity and perfection needed so that your body might do all that is required.

    3. Clear your mind – make an attempt to remove distraction. You will find that this will take some effort. We are so ‘busy’ that we do not often stop. But to truly seek God we need to ‘be still’ (Psalm 46:10) and take time to listen for the movements of God in and around us.

    4. Be open-minded – As you journey try to do away with what you think God will ‘be’. You may find that God offers himself in a moment of beauty, such as a sunset. He may offer himself as that small inner voice or movement that offers a connection or insight through your conscience. He may simply offer you peace.

    5. Reflect – When your journey ends, whether it is long or short, take the time to reflect and offer thanks. In doing so you make good your relationship with God and will be encouraged to journey again.

    St Ignatius of Loyola was a great pilgrim. After his recuperation he traveled across Spain to Manresa. This journey changed him and opened his heart to God. This journey changed his inner nature, the exclusion of what was ordinary and a commitment to seeking God changed Ignatius’ outlook and allowed God to be better witnessed.

    At the conclusion of his pilgrimage across Spain, he spent nine months at Manresa where he committed himself completely to seeking God. Forsaking everything else, he was able to ‘find God’ and most significantly personally experience God.  During this time he reflected upon his experiences deeply and recorded ‘The Spiritual Exercises’, which we continue to practice today. 

    I believe his most profound understanding from this period was Ignatius’ understanding of ‘God in all things’. With this thought in mind we are inspired to look at all we encounter with the expectation that we will see God. This leads us to bring peace to all whom we meet and enables us to live every moment in silent but prodigious prayer.

    I hope that this week you might be inspired to enter into a DIY pilgrimage of your own.

    Yours in Christ,

    Brendan Nicholls  Liturgy Coordinator 

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