Barcelona: ending our Camino Ignaciano

It took an hour by bus from Manresa to Barcelona. We stayed in Denit Hotel near the Plaza Catalunya, where protests were taking place. We were there to trace St Ignatius presence there during his grammar studies and labour of love.

We were reviewing and remembering and sharing to conclude the retreat and camino.

Tireless Fr Jose steadfastly diligently conducts his final pilgrimage sharing about St Ignatius
A wefie with St Ignatius
Barcelona has its quirky art in many public places
Graffiti can also be found in side streets and alleys

We had visited various places where Ignatius gave help and received help and hospitality while in Barcelona. Nothing has remained after nearly 500 years.  They could locate the sites, but other buildings have been built over them.

Wefie with the Sagrada Familia in the background
The Passion facade was stark yet striking
The inside of the Sagrada Familia is a fit dwelling place for God and worshippers to meet

We also visited the world famous Catholic minor basilica called Sagrada Familia. It had been under construction since 1882 and is estimated to be completed in 2026- 100 years after Gaudi, the chief architects death. The tour kept me in awe throughout the hour and was worth every cent.

The last supper…this is starters only!

On the final day, we sat outside a cafe in lovely weather, ordered our drinks, and shared where we were and what God has been doing and saying during the retreat before closing in prayer.

Last faith sharing session over coffee (photo by Lance)

After the camino officially ended, we walked around on Sunday afternoon. Over the two days I have witnessed three peaceful demonstrations: one by catalans protesting the jailing of their “independence” leaders; one that supported a unified Spain, and one near the cruise center with Lebanese protesting against mismanagement by their nation’s elected government.

Our hotel was located near Plaza Catalyuna so we had to skirt the protestors on our way home from dinner(photo by Juliana)

Relishing and being present

Its vineyard country we have entered, following one of the journeys of St Ignatius.

Vineyards all around us
The Jesuit priest leading us eating the fruit of the land

We walked 15km on Saturday and about 14km today. The only difference to me was that the former was quieter and hardly anyone crossed paths with us, while today, many who were walking the Camino Santiago walked past us, including locals exercising on Sunday, a few every seven minutes.

The weather was windy, cool and sunny yesterday, but cloudier and less windy today. In both cases a short sleeve T shirt and long pants sufficed. The jackets we wore earlier in the morning had to be removed by 10am because the day grew warmer.

We walked through the town on Sunday
We got our Camino Passport stamped.
Our hotel was formerly the medieval palace of a duke whom Ignatius visited

I felt that two blessings were being granted as I relished the long walks in cool weather and lovely scenery.  It took my mind and heart off church responsibilities and burdens. This disengagement is such a blessing.  Secondly, I also needed to simply rest, eat, exercise and be fully present with the physical world, its sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch. This grounds me in the now, instead of dwelling on the past or the future.

My wife decided to fly off with St Ignatius

Loyola: contemplating the life and work of St Ignatius

When one of our pilgrims had to rush home because of a sudden loss it touched me with an unusual deep sadness. This is not normal. It has to be a grace and a burden from the Lord to uplift her in prayer in the coming days. This is reality and we were reminded that God can be found in all things, and the group spent time in poignant prayer for her and her family.

The vast ornate dome and wall of the Basilica of Loyola
Gazing intently
Listening contemplatively to Fr Jose
Two books that impacted St Ignatius in his convalescence: the life of Christ by Ludolf of Saxony, and the life of the saints
St Ignatius facing St Ignatius

Yesterday, Fr Jose brought us around several historical sites and expounded on the life and work of St Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. Unlike secular tours, it was done from a contemplative stance, from a man steeped with a camino spirit and a life of service as a Jesuit. He also created pockets of silence and prayer at various places and junctures. The two spiritual directors urged us to cultivate a portable inner silence and posture of listening through the day, alert to what awakens and moves us in our affections.

In the night we viewed the second part of a movie on the life of Ignatius.

Today on Friday the 11th of October, we do a full days walk.

I feel blessed and excited.