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Am I (becoming) a grumpy old man???

RuralVic

New Member
I've just come back from doing the Porto to Santiago camino, followed by on to Finisterre and all in all it was an excellent experience, BUT I found myself wondering whether the welcome of the church(es) to pilgrims was as it might be.

In my mind I found myself contrasting the welcome that visitors get to cathedrals I know in the UK with that offered by the cathedral in SDC. UK cathedrals frequently have "welcomers" - lay people, often retired, whose role is to greet people arriving and offer them a little basic information or answer straightforward questions. There was no such welcome In SDC, the building was left to speak for itself - which is fine for those who know what they're seeing & where they're going but not so good for those who are less informed. And the only notices in the cathedrals we a list of "NO"s, NO flash photography, No use of tripods (why ever not - they're hardly going to disturb someone's prayer?!?) NO mobile phones, NO...

And in the Pilgrim Office (why on earth is it UPSTAIRS - after people have walked 200+km, why not make it easier for them and have it downstairs?) when I found it - I didn't know which door of the cathedral it was next to - there seemed little or no interest in whether I had had a good journey, why I'd done the journey... It was just fill the form in and leave a donation. I had been going to ask whether I, as a non-catholic, could receive Communion at the pilgrim mass the next day but didn't bother to ask as I doubted that the girl in the office could cope with the question. I hoped to see someone in the Cathedral that I could ask, but in spite of spending a lot of time in it, saw no one I felt confident to ask. The only option would have been to ask at one of the confessionals but that's not what they're there for.

On further reflection I found myself thinking about the churches along the camino. The vast majority were firmly locked & so no opportunity to go in to pray/look. It seemed ironic as a number seemed to have been built along the camino for the use of pilgrims, but the pilgrims are locked out. In Tui I arrived at siesta time and so the Cathedral was closed :( - that would be unthinkable in the UK.

I found myself contrasting all that with the welcome given to walkers by one church in this country where there is tea, coffee and a kettle left out for visitors to use.

So does the church need to up its game and think about the needs of pilgrims, or am I (becoming) a grumpy old man? :?:
 
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sillydoll

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2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Last year, the Archdiocese advised that information pamphlets listing activities and services available to pilgrims, presently available only in Spanish, would be translated into English, German, Italian Portuguese and French. These were to be handed to pilgrims when they received the Compostela.
The pamphlet informs about the Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9:00 p.m. Pilgrims reunion at the Cathedral; about the “Santiago Sepulcher in History” conferences; about the informal “dialogue” meetings with pilgrims and about the “Spirituality” meetings at the church of Saint Francis at 4:30 p.m.

Rosina reported in July that:
The Tourism and Information Department in Santiago has announced new forms of recognition to be afforded to Compostela earning pilgrims. Upon presentation of the Compostela at a tourist and information office, and a picture ID, such pilgrims will be granted the right to attend museums for free and to go in tours organized by Roxoi to visit places heretofore out of bounds to ordinary tourists, like workshops in art centers, inner courts and salons of major government buildings, etc.

... and, regarding the pilgrim office (Dean's House)

"The refurbishing of the Dean's House will include rest areas for pilgrims in the courtyard, storage facilities for bikes, backpacks, and so on, an information desk on the ground floor and bathrooms."

So, it seems that quite a few improvements are on the cards and are being planned for the 2010 Holy Year.

Protestants and communion on the camino - has been discussed before:

miscellaneous-topics/topic3715.html
 
D

Deleted member 397

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I can sympathise to some extent. I think the authorities in sdc could do more for the tens of thousands of pilgrims who contribute an enormous amount financially to the city and it's good to hear the proposals Sil has mentioned. I always thought that the pilgrim office and tourist office-which is usually the next stop could be in the same building and would it be so hard to have info on the cathedral's services/history and the other museums available in the pilgrim office.?
As for churches being locked; I would guess that it's because of the threat of vandalism or tramps using them as places to sleep. I do recall one isolated church on the Le Puy that I stopped in and was a memorable point on the camino-very simple,cool and peaceful but other much larger churches were closed.
As for becoming a grumpy old man-don't fight it, look on it as 'providing balance'
 

RuralVic

New Member
sillydoll said:
Protestants and communion on the camino - has been discussed before:
I wasn't particularly wanting to start a conversation about protestants and communion. I have no difficulty in receiving communion in a catholic church but I am always conscious that I am a guest and don't want to abuse the host's hospitality. So if I am in a situation where it is likely to occur I like to ask before receiving. Sometimes the answer is "yes", sometimes "no" and I can live with either. My point was there was no one in SDC that I felt it appropriate to have that conversations with.

omar504 said:
As for churches being locked; I would guess that it's because of the threat of vandalism or tramps using them as places to sleep. I do recall one isolated church on the Le Puy that I stopped in and was a memorable point on the camino-very simple,cool and peaceful but other much larger churches were closed.
In the UK there are more thefts & damage from locked rather than unlocked churches. In fact I was at one time vicar of a church left open during the day and locked at night. Thieves came at night and broke a window to steal a table! Another church I was very glad to find we were providing hospitality to a tramp. I gave him a sleeping bag.
 

KiwiNomad06

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I am a 'lapsed Catholic'. I guess that somewhere in all my walking I vaguely hoped I might reach some sort of 'conclusion' about where I 'fitted' in/out of church, but basically I wasn't expecting much. So any good experiences of "church" became a bonus. There were a few of these, but they were mostly in France, and I guess for me, often involved music.

In Le Puy they have a pilgrim's blessing after the early Mass each morning, and it is usually conducted by the Bishop. I found this to be a very special occasion. We all moved to stand in front of the statue of St James, and before the blessing, the Bishop went around the group, and got everyone to say their name and where they were from. As it turned out I was the only English speaker there that morning, and the Bishop switched to English for me and talked warmly about the increasing number of pilgrims he had noticed coming from New Zealand. I did indeed feel very 'blessed' after this blessing, and felt as if I walked the whole way from Le Puy to Santiago under some sort of 'protection'.

There were some other special church experiences for me. At Conques and in Moissac the music sounded superb and I was glad to be present for vespers etc. In Granon in Spain I was so glad I stayed in the parish albergue, where I felt very welcomed and 'at home'. (And there was no pressure to attend Mass or prayers or anything.) And in Carrion de los Condes the Augustinian sisters gave us an especially warm welcome, and I enjoyed joining in with their evening singing.

Mostly in France the churches along the Le Puy route were open during the day. Often these were small Romanesque ones, and in them I felt that I was joining the pilgrims from centuries before. Quite often pilgrims would stop for a short time of prayer in such French churches, and often those who walked in Spain as well as France spoke of how much they 'missed' this opportunity in Spain. For myself, I guess I found it hard to 'like' the ornate gilt Baroque kind of decoration in Spanish churches anyway, even when they were open.

But even though I wasn't expecting much, I guess I was still 'disappointed' in Santiago. At the "pilgrim's Mass" it seemed like there was little attempt to acknowledge the presence of pilgrims from all over the world, who spoke varied languages. I guess I was expecting something more like what I had encountered in Lourdes. There, although the dominant language is clearly French, they make real attempts to include the languages of other pilgrims present (eg in the evening rosary procession, they have some prayers led by members of the day's pilgrim groups, so you might hear some Vietnamese, Korean, English, Portuguese, etc.)

I guess that if anything, the Camino showed me I am unlikely to ever be anything much other than a very 'fringe' Catholic, and that my connnection with the church is really only a 'cultural' one. But I also realised that if the church really means anything for me, it has to do with 'people'. So in a sense I walked as part of a 'church', in a community with the people I walked with. And an experience I do treasure from Santiago was a wonderful hug I received in the Cathedral itself. I was surprised to find that a Frenchman I had come across walking was in fact a deacon, and when I met him after the Mass, his embrace 'included' me in the church.

Maybe I am not grumpy about what I experienced in church along the Camino as I wasn't expecting much. I guess I would be grumpy too if I was more serious about actually being a member of the church.
Margaret
 
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sillydoll

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In Italy, where there are insufficient priests to care for every parish, many are 'circuit' priests - conducting mass in one village on a particular day and in another the next. We found the same thing in Spain. Often there is mass only on Friday or on Saturday and not at all during the week. These churches remain locked up until the priest arrives.
 

KiwiNomad06

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sillydoll said:
In Italy, where there are insufficient priests to care for every parish, many are 'circuit' priests - conducting mass in one village on a particular day and in another the next. We found the same thing in Spain. Often there is mass only on Friday or on Saturday and not at all during the week. These churches remain locked up until the priest arrives.

In France the issue was probably even more marked, and in the rural areas we passed through on the Le Puy route, it was nothing to see a sign up indicating that the priest was covering ten or more parishes. Thus many of the smaller churches rarely had a Mass held there at all. But the bishops in the dioceses along the Le Puy route had apparently decided that they thought the churches should be open for pilgrims anyway. It seemed that a local person often had the key and opened the church up daily. In one very rural gite we stayed in, there was a sign up telling pilgrims where the key was hidden so that we could use it and go inside the church.
Margaret
 

Rebekah Scott

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I live in a camino village on the Meseta, and our church is locked throughout the week. It´s open on Sundays for Mass, but even though dozens of pilgrims pass on Sunday mornings, very few ever stop to join the worship, even when offered a warm invitation. I can count on my fingers the number of times anyone´s shown an interest in seeing inside during the week.

It wasn´t always that way, back when there were more people living here who could keep an eye on the place -- the church was open during daytime hours. Then came the day two local men saw someone carting our 17th-century St. Roch out the front door and loading him into a van, in broad daylight!

Next door in San Nicolas de Real Camino, the church was robbed last year of two columns that hold up the front of a chapel retablo. Theft of the statuary and artwork is a growing problem in Castilla Leon, and rural, isolated churches are a prime target.

But more philosophically, I do not believe the Camino is a product for pilgrim consumption, and I don´t believe the churches along the Way owe the pilgrim anything more than they offer the locals. Monastic houses may follow different paths, but parishes exist not as pilgrim conveniences or tourist attractions, but as servants of the local community -- they are there for people who live in the neighborhood. Pilgrims are a part of the vibe, but they are not often seen as contributors to the life of the town... and when you share a priest with five other parishes and also have a store to run, a field to plow, or babies to tend to, passing curiosity-seekers (or even sincere worshipers) are not high on the priority list.

Here in Moratinos one of the local ladies keeps the church keys, and if anyone wants to see inside they can track her down and she´ll happily open it up. It´s a system used all over the camino, the most useable solution in depopulated towns. Those who stay in town, or want to worship at the church, are happily accommodated. A group of French pilgrims traveling with a priest last summer were given a royal treatment, and most of the town turned out to hear them sing a Tuesday night Mass.

To twist JFK out of context: Ask not what the Camino can do for you, but what you can do for the Camino!
 

ksam

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Rebekah...YES!! WE are the guests...and it's true how few take advantage of what IS offered. When we stayed in .... heck...senior moment here...Where St. James boat landed and was tied up...My friend and I were the ONLY ones of all those staying in the refurbished convent to attend mass! That's out of 15 people. And one of us a convert! Gee there's a surprise!

A sometimes grumpy old lady (or so my kids & hubby tell me!)

Karin
 
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D

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larryflo-yes "it is what it is".... but does that mean it's above criticism?
 

larryflo

Member
Omar,

In my humble opinion nothing and/or nobody is above or beneath criticism, even grumpy old men. Again, in my humble opinion the Camino de Santiago de Compostela is a privilege that very few of us are afforded. One can note the short comings, but how can one criticize them on anything more than a personal level? The Camino owes us nothing. We owe it respect.
 
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I would say that Ruralvic would qualify as a semi-grump. I have noted a distinct improvement in how the ecclesiastical authorities are handling the Camino since my first walk in 2002.

Note, however, that we are dealing with 3-4 different scenarioes here. First, there are the village churches in the pueblos along the Camino, usually sharing a priest with another settlement (or two or three). As others noted, keys are usually available upon enquiry, but I found that most of these churches were open during the day, and even in smaller places, there were usually services in the evening. As I mentioned on another thread, relatively few pilgrims availed themselves of the opportunity to attend services and, often enough, I was one of a very few-- usually, the priest would summon us up for a pilgrims' blessing, sometimes in several different languages (I know of few Anglican churches where we could count on blessings in 6-7 languages). Generally, we were welcomed by other worshippers, who would sometimes come up afterward to speak with us and wish us well.

In towns and smaller cities, churches were usually open for fixed hours. Again, I don't see a problem here, given the difficulties which we seem to have these days with art theft.

Santiago itself and the Cathedral is worth a thread in itself. It is a most singular event and pilgrims' response to the spectacle range from despair to ecstacy. I have no solution.

Ruralvic should not expect a kettle at the back of the church.... this is not a culture where fair-trade teabags are provided after matins--- head to the café and a shot of orujo with your coffee, like all good Christians!
 
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sillydoll

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Unlike many Cathedrals in Europe (Britain included) at least one doesn't have to pay to enter Santiago's cathedral.
Most of the great cathedrals on the Camino Frances were built as pilgrim churches and I realise that they need revenue for their upkeep. But, allowing for time travel, I wonder whether Jesus or his disciples would have been able to pay to enter them if they were to walk the camino today?
Burgos cathedral gave me the creeps! In 2002 we stayed close to a tourist group and at one of the ornately gilded altars, the guide proudly claimed that the gold used to decorate it was some of the first gold brought back from South America by the conquistadors. Aggghhhhh............!
Perhaps I am just a grumpy old woman!
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
An interesting discussion in the long winter months in the cyber albergue.

As has been mentioned in previous posts - churches are there in most villages along the pilgrimage routes. In many places they are the focal point of village life. Even in the most remote parishes at funerals for example it is as if the whole village draws together. At times I too have wondered whether these churches do enough to welcome pilgrims - and then I started to look around and realised that very few pilgrims actually go along to church. I imply no criticism, I am simply stating what I see to be the case. But it is also my experience that parish life is alive and well in Spain. Here is a post of mine from earlier in the year:

"Although not wishing to be controversial I agree with this and perhaps we should simply ask ourselves, " what would the Master say...?"

I've also been impressed that Church attendance all over Spain seems to be alive and well in comparison to other places. Of course in small rural villages it seems to be only a few older women who are attending - exactly the same as in the UK! However on the Via de la Plata and subsequently the Camino Ingles I regulary found evening Mass often with singing. And whilst my first hand knowledge of the Camino Frances is as yet restricted I found:

About 60 people in the parish church of San Esteban in Zubiri

At least 100 people singing heartily at Mass in Puente la Reina

A full church of San Nicolas in Pamplona on All Saints day

30 people or so gathering for mass at the Monstaerio of Irache when I passed and similarly at the Church of St Andrew in Villamayor

Then there is the Pilgrims Mass and blessing in many languages from an extremely friendly priest in the Church of Holy Mary in Los Arcos

In Santo Domingo de la Calzada there were enough people for the responses to be heard above the sound of the cockerel!

And this was at a time when generally I was the only other pilgrim there since there were so few around."

I've also found priests and people to be generally friendly whenever I have gone to speak to them. Sellos from Parish churches can be memorable.

But WE have to reach out. I suspect that local churches have seen pilgrims walk past for many hundreds of years - we shouldn't complain if they are diffident about us. It is up to us to call in, talk to them, make a contribution if appropriate.

I must say I have ALWAYS been welcomed in rural Spain - with some unforgettable moments - being applauded by the congregation in a little village on the Camino Ingles on a Sunday mroning when the priest asked us to give the Saint a hug for all of them, playing the organ in Puente la Reina and recording the congregation's impressive singing...

However it is true that for many people our arrival in Santiago can be disappointing. First of all I think this might start with that very unenviable "end of camino" feeling. Walking into the Cathedral marks the end of the journey but also our impending re-engagement with the reality of the rest of our lives. Soon we won't again see the people every day we have come to know or perhaps we will miss the solitude of the route and then quickly we are swept up in the business of this Cathedral city.

I think we have to remember that of the millions of visitors to Santiago every year only around 100,000 of us are walking pilgrims who have travelled at least that last 100 kms. Others are pilgrims by bus and many more are simply tourists. And they have all been arriving for centuries. So it is disappointing but perhaps inevitable that not only were there are no trumpets when I arrived it was in fact obvious to me that no one was particularly interested! I think that for many, many pilgrims 24 hours or so in Santiago can be quite a solitary experience and let's hope that in time a decent meeting place for pilgrims will be established - although the Cafe Souso serves that purpose quite well.

But there is no place which has a message board and no easy way of finding people you have lost touch with. I know that the pilgrims office is looking at some of this.

But the Pilgrims Office itself is run largely by volunteers - only one or two people are paid. So let's not be too critical of people who give up their own time to serve the pilgrim community. Although I would have been happier if someone had said " well done" or "congratulations". But they sit there hour after hour dealing with lines of pilgrims arriving from morning to dusk. Let's not be too harsh.

The Cathedral is one of the busiest I have ever visited. In marshalling the great numbers who visit there need to be rules etc. Cathedrals tend to be " Do Not" places - Do not touch....do not enter... etc. This is simply because of the numbers and also the behaviour of the few.

Less than 10 years ago there was often no music at the Pilgrims' Mass and certainly no singing. Sister Maria Jesus volunteered to sing and she has been doing it every day since then in addition to her other responsbilities.

But the Cathedral authorities depend on the income from pilgrims of course but look around the pilgrims Mass, pilgrims (as we would recognise them) are largely outnumbered by tourists. They too need to be catered for.

People in the Cathedral seem to be ambivalent. For example they appear uncomfortable with the fact that it is possible to "hire" the botafumeiro and some would rather keep it for truly religious feasts, high days and holidays. But the reality is that other times of the year we wouldn't see it if groups of american tourists didn't pay for the extra staff to fly it!

Cathedrals are rich in tradition and perhaps also stubborness to change. My own view is that they could do more to welcome pilgrims at the Mass. I think that Pilgrims who have walked should be asked to stand at the beginning and welcomed and congratulated...but there again do we deserve that more than someone who has travelled by bus and has perhaps had an equally spiritual pilgrimage?

Sorry this post is so long...but to echo some of the other sentiments on this subject, I was very struck when I spoke to the musicians in the Cathedral and also to the volunteers in the Pilgrim Office. They weren't complaining at all but the reality is only a small minority of pilgrims ever say thank you! Now that might be a start for all of us.

Abrazos

John
 

jl

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Less than 10 years ago there was often no music at the Pilgrims' Mass and certainly no singing. Sister Maria Jesus volunteered to sing and she has been doing it every day since then in addition to her other responsbilities.

and doesn't she do a wonderful job! So gentle, so controlled yet so sweet!
 

RuralVic

New Member
Interesting discussion & thanks for the contributions.

Just a few comments on what's been said.

The camino is the camino and doesn't owe us anything.
Yes, of course, and my original comments weren't mean to be taken as complaints, more as observations as to how the camino might improve. In my work I'm very happy for others to suggest to me ways I might do things differently or better. My comments were made in that spirit.
I hope that by walking the camino I was giving something back to it and the communities along it. More often than not I would eat meals in cafes/bars (rather than preparing my own) as a way of putting money onto the local economy. On occasions with a choice between a pension or an alburgue I would opt for the pension again as away of supporting the local economy (or at least that was my excuse for the greater comfort!!). After walking through villages with houses standing empty and depopulation an evident problem, I was glad to see in I think it was Olvieroa (on the way to Finisterre) with both an alburgue and a pension that the local economy was clearly thriving based on the pilgrim/tourist/walker trade. That village had people, jobs, bars... Though once again, the church appeared to have missed out with the door shut & no sign of life. Just a few people puting flowers in the adjacent cemetery.

Church security in remote rural areas
This is a problem not just in Portugal & Spain, but also in the UK.
The experience in the UK is locked churches have more thefts from them than unlocked. Indeed one church I was vicar of was left unlocked by day and locked at night. It was at night when the building was locked that thieves broke a window and stole furniture!
Having a sign up "The key is available from..." is no guarantee of security. I knew one church where the thieves collected the key from the local Post Office, returned it an hour later with profuse thanks. It was on the Sunday three days later that someone realised the thieves had filled a van. The best security for a church is people using it, and pilgrims dropping in might help deter thieves.
Another question raised by church security is about what we value. Another church I was vicar of had a mediaeval bishop's chair stolen from it. It was around the same time as a church in south London had a deranged sword wielding nutter attacking the congregation on a Sunday morning (you may remember, quick thinking by the organist resulted in an organ pipe being used to parry the sword and the nutter was restrained before he actually killed anyone though there were serious injuries.) When interviewed by the local media about the theft of our chair, I said the sword attack on people put it into perspective. I have long been struck by the story of St Vincent who, when asked by the authorities to bring out the church's treasure brought out the lame, the blind, the elderly.... After the theft of the chair we burnt deep into the wood of any moveable furniture the name of the church. Not only did this make it more easily traceable in the event of theft, but it reduced its financial value (and thus made it less attractive to thieves) without affecting its usefulness to us.

I suppose part of what gets to me is that if a church building is in some sense "God's house" what does it say (to locals, pilgrims, tourists...) if the building is locked and with no sign of life? Does it send out a message that God's not here?

Incidentally at one stage I was walking with a guy from Austria. He too expressed surprise at the churches being locked.

Charging for cathedral entry in the UK
I suppose because I am used to going into cathedrals in the UK I never notice the donation requests - or perhaps I'm mean as well as grumpy!!!
 

Rambler

Active Member
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This is a very interesting discussion. There are so many aspects to this that make it a difficult issue to address fully.

My experience this summer on the Camino Frances was one of very sporadic church availability during the day, but almost every evening we were able to go to mass at the local church. Only in Mazarife did we never find the church open at all.
It was actually sadder to me to see the lack of religious interest by most of the pilgrims. There were 6-8 individuals that we regularly saw in mass each evening, but this was a small number compared to the hundreds of pilgrims that were traveling the Way. At most masses they offered a pilgrim blessing and in Triacastela, the priest went out of his way to make the mass all about the pilgrims and to include every language spoken there in his mass. He also spent alot of time with my daughter and showed his true desire to make a difference in pilgrims' lives.

That being said, I was disappointed to see the lack of participation in Spain in the Catholic Church. Coming from the US, we have a more active parish, but also a younger level of participation. The generations of the 70s till now seem to have turned their back on the church a bit in Spain and maybe broader than that in Europe. (This is my viewpoint, I hope I am wrong.)

My 16 year old daughter met almost no one her own age in church, which is sad. Had a Spanish girl come to Atlanta to mass, she would have found 20-30 youth her own age attending on a Sunday.

And if the church is not attended, it is also not getting financial support. And it has to rely on governmental subsidy to maintain the cathedrals and infrastructure that is the European Church. And it has to rely on older clergy because there is little new blood coming in to share the liturgy.

All issues Benedict XVI has on his shoulders.

"The Camino owes us nothing...", I agree, but maybe we pilgrims owe it something. Would you go on the Camino if it were never a religious pilgrimage? Would you go if all the churches were torn down? Would you go if all the alberges run by religious orders closed?

I could walk 500 miles from my house any time, but I don't because it would be boring and have no purpose.

Maybe we should lobby for pilgrims to be more active in the local churches while on the Camino. I mean, attend mass, daily, while you walk. It might help all of us to make the local churches feel more valued, more connected.
If I were a local priest that opened his church at 8am every morning to have 1000 pilgrims walk right by with three stopping in my church, one to take a quick photo, one to use the bathroom, and one to get directions, I would be a little depressed.

But then again, maybe I am just grumpy. I am getting older...

Rambler
 
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Anonymous

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Rambler said:
It was actually sadder to me to see the lack of religious interest by most of the pilgrims. There were 6-8 individuals that we regularly saw in mass each evening, but this was a small number compared to the hundreds of pilgrims that were traveling the Way..

Yes, Rambler, you are right to put it that way. This topic is going right to the heart of some very obvious contradictions on the Camino, and it is very interesting to read.

From the moment pilgrims encounter the first little village church with locked doors, there is a kind of self-righteous protest, as if the act of walking or cycling the Camino involved some automatic right of access to look at a church that one had no intention of worshipping in. And when the churches are open for Mass on Sunday, just watch all those pilgrims walk straight past! At Hornillos on a busy Sunday on the Camino, as all the world seemed to be racing towards Santiago for the July 25th feast, with hundreds on the Meseta path, I was the only pilgrim at the mid-morning Mass.

Rambler said:
At most masses they offered a pilgrim blessing and in Triacastela, the priest went out of his way to make the mass all about the pilgrims and to include every language spoken there in his mass.

And so many places have priests who put great energy into welcoming the pilgrims in this way, yet it is such a very small aspect of their pastoral responsibility. We should feel very grateful they even notice the pilgrims! The job of a rural priest with many parishes is quite arduous, and in many of these country areas in Spain the shortage of clergy is now acute.

I agree with every word of John's very comprehensive contribution above, and I have very little to add to this thread - surprisingly :D - except to say that I'm glad to see religion is not entirely marginalised from the pilgrimage, or indeed this Forum...! :shock:

Gareth
 

RuralVic

New Member
Rambler said:
The generations of the 70s till now seem to have turned their back on the church a bit in Spain and maybe broader than that in Europe. (This is my viewpoint, I hope I am wrong.)
Unfortunately in this part of Europe (the UK) you're right. In my mid 50s I am frequently one of the younger people in churches. The paradox - and I guess this relates to the question as to why pilgrims don't involve themselves in camino churches as they might- is that while there is a decline in "religion" there is an upsurge in "spirituality". "Religion" is seen as intolerant, judgemental, narrow minded,imposed from above, causing wars, divisive, restrictive and BAD. "Spirituality" is seen as self developing, fulfilling, open minded, emerging from below, unifying, peace bringing and GOOD. One person I met on the camino was most interested in the spirit of water and would have been unconcerned about locked churches but not happy that the river next to the albergue in Porrinho wasn't suitable to bathe in!! Her knowledge of Christian environmental theology was very thin.
So maybe the question for the camino's churches is one that faces many of us. How do you engage with people who have rejected religion but still see themselves as spiritual?

Rambler said:
And if the church is not attended, it is also not getting financial support. And it has to rely on governmental subsidy to maintain the cathedrals and infrastructure that is the European Church.
I know it's not the same in all European countries, but in the UK there is no governmental subsidy to support Cathedrals - or any other church or religious buildings.


Gareth said:
The job of a rural priest with many parishes is quite arduous, and in many of these country areas in Spain the shortage of clergy is now acute.

I've never said anything about the job of the rural priest and I would hope that we could distinguish that from the job of the rural church.
 

Rambler

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As to financial support of religious infrastructure in Spain, my wife's relatives there have told us that the government does pay for restoration and support of many of the church buildings. Remember that the Catholic Church and the Spanish Government have a long history of working together, so it is a bit more normal than in other European countries. But I also know that it is a controversy there because it is becoming a bigger portion of the state budget each year as the buildings grow older.
In a country with tourism as a primary industry, I am sure that the churches and cathedrals are viewed as critical to maintaining the tourists' interest. So the government sees this as an investment in continued tourism.

How sad that these buildings built on the faith of our ancestors cannot be maintained on our faith.

I will not even start on the subject of religiousity and spirituality!! :evil: We aren't supposed to discuss that or sex or politics, right?

Rambler
 
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KiwiNomad06

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RuralVic said:
[How do you engage with people who have rejected religion but still see themselves as spiritual?

You just meet us as human beings along the way.

I stopped being a churchgoer a long time ago, and only a few things along the Chemin/Camino challenged me at all to re-think that. One of the 'thought-provokers' was a Frenchman I met for a few days in the area of Granon/Burgos, then again in Santiago. He was clearly a very prayerful man, and I noticed him praying, though he did not make it obvious. Talking to him, it was clear that prayer, and seeing God's hand in all that happened in his days, was an integral part of the way he lived. He was kind, and was the sort of person who brought others together. I was amazed to see him acting as a deacon in the Mass at Santiago. Meeting someone like him along the Camino has made me reflect a little more on 'Church'.
Margaret
 
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Rambler said:
Remember that the Catholic Church and the Spanish Government have a long history of working together

<Gareth falls backwards off chair> Excuse me...? <Picks himself up off the floor>

:roll:
 

Rebekah Scott

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Spaniards´ relationship with the Catholic church is a very rocky and complicated one. The Catholic church -- particularly in the North of Spain, along the Camino Frances, was almost totally complicit in the Franco-era fascist government. If you didn´t go to church, your kids didn´t get medical care... that sort of thing. The Cross of Santiago became a fascist symbol. The first real push for Spaniards to follow the Camino came from the Franco government -- you can still see the granite markers all along the N120. (you were to drive it, not walk.)

Many contemporary Spaniards now view the church with suspicion and hostility, and consider it an overfunded, outdated tool of the ruling class. (they still want church weddings and funerals, however, and they strive to send their kids to private Catholic schools!)

The closure of many parishes and shrines is seen as "good riddance" in some circles -- and pilgrims are seen as particularly eccentric and pinch-penny tourists.
 
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Rebekah Scott said:
Spaniards´ relationship with the Catholic church is a very rocky and complicated one. ... Many contemporary Spaniards now view the church with suspicion and hostility
Indeed, and it is strange having experienced the Camino in the period of the Franco regime, as I mentioned in an earlier contribution. What you say is quite right, Reb, and the political history is another significant element in the complex relationship between the Catholic church and the Camino.

In the summer of 2007, walking from SJPP to Santiago, I had to stay in Samos for three days; not in the refugio but in the monastery itself, as I had tendon problems and was 'signed off' by the local doctor and ordered to rest. I spent the evenings in a local bar chatting with the locals. One evening, a man who was celebrating his birthday with his family - sons, daughters, grandchildren - told me, almost spitting the words out, "We hate that place, those monks!"

I was quite shocked at the strength of his attack and I asked why. So he told me.

"In those days after the war (i.e. the Spanish Civil War) we were starving. We had no food. Our children were starving. We knew how well the monks lived in Samos because so many of our people were employed to work in the monastery and serve the monks and do their labouring work. They had food, they drank wine, but we had nothing. Give us food, we asked: our children are starving. And they said, 'You should have thought about that before you supported the communists.' So they enjoyed it, seeing us punished and our children starving."

Maybe the story was exaggerated. Maybe not. All that really mattered, clearly, was the perception. Everyone in the bar nodded in agreement. From a Catholic point of view, the argument was lost many years ago; and there will be stories like that in many other places. Spain is a country where you find great differences in perceptions and political or religious associations, not just between one region and another, but between one town or village and another.

To expect a unified approach to pilgrims would be unrealistic, unless - and this is possibly the way things will go - the road to Santiago becomes a more commercially oriented enterprise. If all that unites pilgrims and their hosts is the fact of the road itself, as an enjoyable outing divorced from its religious roots, it will inevitably fall victim to the commercial imperative. This is already a discernible shift in emphasis and you can see it all the way along the Camino.

Gareth
 

RuralVic

New Member
Gareth Thomas said:
Indeed, and it is strange having experienced the Camino in the period of the Franco regime, as I mentioned in an earlier contribution. What you say is quite right, Reb, and the political history is another significant element in the complex relationship between the Catholic church and the Camino.

Gareth

I think this points to a tension that arguably it goes back longer than that & indeed to the conversion of Constantine. If the church and state become too closely identified with each other then the danger that the church becomes a legitimizer of an illegitimate state is immense. Church/Christian values get compromised and the gospel of love gets lost. Someone in this thread has already referred to conquistadores' gold. I was struck by the way that the cathedral in SDC treated the shrine to St James "Matamoros" - "Slayer of the moors". The statue of him on his horse wielding a large sword was heavily decorated round the base with flowers in an attempt to disguise that his horse was trampling three or four heathens and his sword was going to finish off any the horse didn't mutilate.

That's a long way from the "meet us as fellow human beings" advocated by Kiwinomad06
 
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KiwiNomad06

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RuralVic said:
That's a long way from the "meet us as fellow human beings" advocated by Kiwinomad06

My comment was directed specifically to your comment about how to treat some of your fellow walkers along the way. It had nothing to do with the way the Church hierarchy might choose to do things in Santiago.
Margaret
 

lckgj

Active Member
There is a book I have been meaning to recommend to forum readers for some time and this thread has reminded me to do it...
It is "Ghosts of Spain" by Giles Tremlett. It is subtitled "Travels through a Country's Hidden Past".
Part of the blurb on the jacket reads "Spaniards are reputed to be amongst Europe's most forthright people. So why have they kept silent about the terrors of their Civil War and the rule of General Franco? This apparent "pact of forgetting" inspired writer Giles Tremlett to embark on a journey around Spain..."
The book covers a greater range of Spanish history than this snippet suggests and it does touch on the relationship between politics and the church. There is also mention of the camino and a whole chapter on Galicia. There is also enough humour (in appropriate places!) for it not to be too arduous a read.
I can't say I now completely understand Spanish political history, but I do have a better idea of why it is so complicated! I would be interested to hear if anyone else has read this book. You can read the Guardian review of the book here.. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/ma ... ianreview9

Whilst I am also on the subject I would also recommend CJ Sansum's "Winter in Madrid". Set in 1940 it is a sort of political thriller - not usually my kind of thing, but I felt better informed about a period of Spanish history by the end. Read a better review than I could write here http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/reviews/Wint ... adrid.html.
Happy reading!
Laura
 
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RuralVic said:
I was struck by the way that the cathedral in SDC treated the shrine to St James "Matamoros" .... trampling three or four heathens and his sword was going to finish off any the horse didn't mutilate.

It is always interesting to see and hear people's reactions to the Matamoros imagery. When you look at the Matamoros in the local context of Catholic imagery, its kitsch appearance is no worse than some of those statues of Our Lady of Sorrows with five iron swords stuck through her heart, and the excessively bloody images of Our Lord that you find all over Spain. To the northern European visual sensibility the 'grossness' has to be read in cultural context, but it also belongs to another time: it does not reflect today's Catholicism, even of the more traditionalist kind that you are likely to encounter in Spain.

Yet, when you think about it, it really isn't just a 'Spanish thing', for I've seen some pretty crude paintings in England of the reformation martyrs of both sides. While I was staying at the Carthusian Monastery of Parkminster, the novice master took me into the Chapter House to see the paintings on the walls of the Tyburn martyrs. They are so horrible that they turned my stomach and I honestly wish I had never seen them! "Isn't it time that this stuff was put away?" I asked. He smiled and replied, "Oh no, not at all: they have just been restored by experts at great expense."

Uncomfortable history is all around us. The Matamoros imagery is shocking but it goes with the territory and, like it or not, a historical faith ties us to the history of the way faith has been lived through the centuries. Certainly the racist overtones of the Matamoros are a real danger in our time: and perhaps the act of covering the offended parties with flowers - as you mention in the case of that statue - is just a failed attempt at sensible compromise. It fails because the flowers draw even more attention to what the flowers are meant to hide!

The difficulties that these reminders bring into interfaith dialogue are also obvious. There is an important dialogue with Moslems currently taking place here in Rome and sometimes it can be forgotten that - for all the silliness and bigotry at grass roots level on all sides - there are often tremendous leaps in understanding taking place at the top level, by people whispering significant agreements that cannot, in the real world, be loudly proclaimed. The Matamoros myth comes down to us from the medieval world of northern Spain, but we have to remember that Islamic scholars in the medieval south of Spain at the same time were quietly giving back to Christians the lost works of Aristotle which would inspire Aquinas and a whole new understanding of Christian faith that is still alive and well in the present day.

One interpretation of the rise of Compostela is that the Christians at that historical point needed to make themselves a shrine to rival Mecca, for political and military reasons as much as anything to do with faith. The only sensible approach to the Matamoros symbolism must be to remember it is forever locked into that particular time and it cannot simply be whitewashed out of the picture. It remains nevertheless an awkward image to deal with.

When flowers are strewn around the base of a statue to hide the trampled 'Moors', it is perhaps hiding an awful truth from our gaze because the ambiguities are too complex for us moderns who live in a world of soundbites and carefully crafted unambiguous political statements.

Gareth
 

sillydoll

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The real irony is that when Mexico fought to obtain its independence from Spain in 1810, Sant’ Iago was exalted as Santiago Mataespañois - the slayer of Spaniards! - as did an indigenous uprising in 19th-century Peru.
There is a mid-19thC silver statue of Santiago Mataespañois in the Museum of Pilgrimages in Santiago de Compostela.

http://www.aug.edu/augusta/iconography/ ... tiago.html

In Mexico City there is a carving from the altarpiece of the Church of Santiago Tlatelolco showing him as Santiago Mataindios - the Indian-slayer.

You can see the altarpiece of Santiago Mataindios here (click on the photo to enlarge it)

http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/be ... 00004.html

Footnote: Perhaps Santiago became a grumpy old man??
 

RuralVic

New Member
Gareth Thomas said:
Uncomfortable history is all around us.... like it or not, a historical faith ties us to the history of the way faith has been lived through the centuries.

Gareth

Absolutely. Interestingly there was the same/similar statue in the church in Padron, unadorned to hide the Moors. To me, that was an expression of how things were done at that time. The thoughts that went through my mind were not primarily of revulsion, but wondering what it is that we now regard as honourable that in 1,000 years will seem to be repulsive, reflecting on the similarities between Matamoros and Bin Laden (both being religiously motivated bringers of destruction) and how easy it is for religion to get things wrong (and the awful consequences when it does) in the pursuit of power and influence. Of course it's not a Spanish thing. It's a human thing and this grumpy old man has a matamoros lurking deep within. That's why we need to remember - as a warning to ourselves.

Thanks, Sillydoll for the Mataespanios & Mataindios pictures & information. I didn't know about that.

Thanks Laura for the book suggestions. I haven't read them but will look out for them. For a good novel that helps understand the Spanish Civil War I found "The Return" by Victoria Hislop very readable and it certainly enlarged my understanding.
 
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RuralVic said:
the church becomes a legitimizer of an illegitimate state . . . Church/Christian values get compromised
yes, but what are "Christian values"? The Spanish Church saw Franco's regime as legitimate. They both, and the many Spaniards who supported them, saw themselves as defending traditional Christian values against Communism: communist = atheist = enemy. Franco deliberately drew analogies with the medieval crusades against the Moslems, calling himself el Caudillo de la Ultima Cruzada, amongst other things. The communists were the modern infidels, and it was the role of good Christians to defend Spain against them, just as they did in medieval Spain against Islamic infidels. Closely tied in with that was the cult of Santiago, important in the medieval fight - matamoros, etc - and invoked in Franco's fight, by reinvigorating the Ofrenda Nacional, for example, or, as Rebekah says, by fostering pilgrimage to Santiago. That in turn meant that those on the political left saw the Church and the cult of Santiago as enemies. 20 years ago, it was not unknown (at least in the larger towns) for pilgrims to be jeered or insulted: pilgrim = churchgoer = Franco-supporter = enemy.

That anti-clericalism has faded (quite apart from anything else, those with memories of the Franco years are dying off), but where I see the problem with the Spanish Church is that, whilst Spain has changed hugely in the last 30 years, the Church hasn't. Consequently, it's losing influence and becoming increasingly irrelevant. At the last election, for example, it ranted away about the Socialist government, but this had no discernible effect. As Rambler observes, this irrelevance is particularly true for younger Spaniards: the terms "Church" and "being cool" simply do not go together.
 
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RuralVic said:
It's a human thing and this grumpy old man has a matamoros lurking deep within.

Hmm. Is this a cue for a new spirituality workshop? "Embrace Your Inner Matamoros". :D

Gareth
 

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Thanks for this thread, which I am finding extremely useful as I spiritually prepare for my Camino (from Valencia) next year.

I'm wondering about how all that has been said fits in with the penitential aspects of pilgrimage, which I guess can also be extended to penitence for the mistakes and sins of the Church as well as to those of the individual. I'm also influenced by Gerry Hughes pilgrimage for peace, and certainly will be praying for relations between Christians and Muslims as I walk,

Andy
 

andy.d

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Sorry - forgot to add that for understanding Spain it might be good to read Antony Beevor's excellent history of the Civil War "The Battle of Spain".

Andy
 

RuralVic

New Member
Peter Robins said:
yes, but what are "Christian values"?....

where I see the problem with the Spanish Church is that, whilst Spain has changed hugely in the last 30 years, the Church hasn't. Consequently, it's losing influence and becoming increasingly irrelevant. At the last election, for example, it ranted away about the Socialist government, but this had no discernible effect. As Rambler observes, this irrelevance is particularly true for younger Spaniards: the terms "Church" and "being cool" simply do not go together.


Yes, of course. For me, "Christian values" are about compassion, love of neighbour, inclusion of the marginalised & weak, care for creation.... But they're my understanding of "Christian values" and I dare say that in time to come someone else may look at those values with the same incredulity that I now look at Santiago Matamoros' Christian values. That's part of why statues/memorials to Matamoros, the Tyburn martyrs etc need to be preserved - as a reminder to us that our view can only be provisional

As for the Church and the younger generation, I would guess that while many of them see church as uncool, they still see themselves as spiritual. I've just finished reading a book that argues (among other things) that there is a genetic disposition to spirituality. I'm in the middle of another that argues that it's hardwired in to the function of our brains. That won't go away because the Church supported Franco. It's just a question of how it expresses itself.
 
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Peter Robins said:
The Spanish Church saw Franco's regime as legitimate.

As did the British government, it should be remembered. So, it was not just the Catholic church who supported him as a good bet against communism. A British Dragon Rapide aircraft piloted by an MI6 agent, with his wife also an agent as passenger, took off from Croydon aerodrome in June 1936 to fly Franco from the Canaries to Morocco to begin his Spanish army revolt against the elected Republican government. Evidently there were vested interests in England that also saw Franco as their saviour.*

Peter Robins said:
those with memories of the Franco years are dying off

The generation that remembers the regime is not fading away all that quickly. The regime only ended in the 1970s: it is not that long ago and those who remember these things are not just the elderly. Many people who are still in their forties in Spain will remember their secondary school education during the last years of Franco. There was always a portrait of the Generalissimo above the teacher's desk and a darkly repressive Catholic input into the curriculum. The fascist hymn, "Cara al Sol" was still sung on occasions and if you wanted to use the local youth club snooker and table tennis facilities, you had to be in the OJE, the 'mildly' fascist version of the boy scouts (which eventually led into the 'proper' fascist youth section of the Falange). At school we had a uniformed army officer teaching us history: a veteran of the Civil War, Capitan Nuñez.

Nuñez used to take us all for small arms training on the Saturday morning para-military outings, not unlike the ACF or ATC at school in England, but the difference was that he would also drill our squad for marching alongside the statue of the Virgin Mary on feast days together with the rest of the various uniformed brigades, although it was very rare that adult falangists were seen in uniform then: they knew their days were numbered and they were not popular. That is precisely the kind of association people remember when they hold the Catholic church alongside the trappings of falangism in their minds. And it is exactly on that kind of uniformed jaunt - with red beret and yoke and arrows insignia that I first walked the Camino during a summer camp, back in July 1966. So you are quite right that the association of Camino and regime are still there in people's minds.

I have no reason for embarrassment at belonging to the OJE: as an English ex-pat teenager in a Spanish school I was simply joining in the only youth activity that the school offered. It was the equivalent of the Scouts at home. I learned about the politics a few years after. On the other hand, the Catholic church in Spain has every reason to be embarrassed by its past association with the regime, but there is little sign of remorse. A whole new era after Vatican II has opened the windows to the Holy Spirit but the Spanish church has largely failed to notice. Far from it: the Spanish church seems to be given tacit encouragement from elsewhere to remember its past with pride! The creation of the Spanish Civil War 'martyrs' recently was a divisive and pointless act. As a Catholic I found that distasteful, and as one who has watched with admiration the rapid building of a democratic Spain over these last thirty years, I saw it as badly judged - to say the least - to heap honours on the church's support for a failed and despised ideology. There are currents of change within the Catholic church in Spain but that is a hard battle

Gareth

*By the way, my source for this is uncontroversial: Hugh Thomas, the fairly conservative historian of the Spanish Civil War.
 

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May I suggest that these interesting religious-political posts find a home under a different forum heading? I'm sure the same subjects will be raised again and again in the future and who will ever be able to find them under the Subject: Am I becoming a grumpy old man?
 

sillydoll

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I'm wondering about how all that has been said fits in with the penitential aspects of pilgrimage, which I guess can also be extended to penitence for the mistakes and sins of the Church as well as to those of the individual.

Derek Lomax (CSJ) mentioned this incident in one of his conference papers.

"No doubt most pilgrims went enthusiastically, for a mixture of religious and other motives. But the penitential pilgrimage also existed in Medieval England, as for example when John Pecham, Archbishop of Canterbury visited the diocese of Chichester in 1283. In the parish of Hamme he discovered that the parish priest, Roger, had been fornicating with various women, repenting and then fornicating again. The Archbishop ordered him, as a punishment, to go as a pilgrim to three shrines overseas: in the first year to Santiago, in the second to Rome and in the third to Cologne. During his absence his parish would be cared for by Ralph, rector of the neighbouring village of Barewe, whom Roger would have to pay 100 shillings a year for his trouble. The incident is recorded not in the royal archives but in the Archbishop's registers, and no doubt many similar ones could be found by systematic search though the innumerable Episcopal registers which survive from medieval England. It is a curious example of the use of pilgrimage as punishment for offences against cannon law and it was to become more frequent in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as the pilgrimage, like most religious activities was taken over by the process of regulation and bureaucratization which dominated the church at that time."
 

Rebekah Scott

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Fascinating stuff. I wonder how many blue-eyed children the passionate Padre Roger left along his Caminos?

It is good to see all these issues aired in an English-language environment! I am forever interested in the views of my neighbors, the "salt of the earth" farmers who live in my Camino village. They are quite friendly with pilgrims, happily offering them water and advice, and a hearty "buen camino" when they shuffle off. (They also happily show the pilgs the way to MY house when they need more than that...but that´s why we´re here, eh?)

The locals deeply love and respect the parish priest. They shower him with gifts, but they give almost nothing in offerings on special Missions Sundays or Diocesan appeals. The hierarchy, they tell me, gets a cut of their income taxes, and doesn´t need any more of their hard-earned money. The bishop´s driving a late-model Volvo. Our Don Santiago, on the other hand, drives a second-hand Renault between his five parishes on Sundays, and works part-time at a garden center to support himself and his old mother. The higher-ups are thieves and politicians. The parish guys are not just endangered species, they are precious, saints even.

...And when I volunteered to be hospitalera at the Madres Benedictinas convent in Sahagun, and then the abadesa came to our house for the Housewarming party... madre mia! The neighbors all were totally polite to her face, but afterward I was roundly warned to NOT be too friendly with "those black crows." "They´ll shake your hand, and pick your pocket at the same time," one of them told me. " "They´ll give you those homemade biscuits now, but you´ll pay for them a dozen times over later on!" And so I learn.

And later still, an aged friend in Sahagun told me that Benedictine confessors during the Civil War years routinely violated the seal of confession and denounced parishioners to the Falange or Guardia Civil. Her own uncle was found shot in a ditch, a day after his yearly confessional visit. Ugly stuff. There´s a dark side, even to the camino.
 

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sillydoll said:
"No doubt most pilgrims went enthusiastically, for a mixture of religious and other motives. But the penitential pilgrimage also existed in Medieval England

I don't have Walter Starkie to hand, but my memory is that he writes of penitential pilgrimage as being a major motive in the medieval period.

thanks,

Andy
 
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Rebekah Scott said:
The higher-ups are thieves and politicians.
"You might say that. I couldn't possibly comment."
Rebekah Scott said:
Benedictine confessors during the Civil War years routinely violated the seal of confession and denounced parishioners to the Falange or Guardia Civil. Her own uncle was found shot in a ditch, a day after his yearly confessional visit.
That is truly terrifying, on many levels.

You know the reality, Reb, and the way it impinges on everyday life many years later. I remember when we looked at that old ammunition box in your bodega and wondered about it... So many strange dark secrets.

I know the reality too. I remember the shots ringing out from an army barracks early one morning in 1964, and we found out later they had discovered someone who had been in hiding since 1939 and shot him in a corner of the parade square by firing squad. (It was not long after the Franco propaganda poster campaign "25 Años de Paz", twenty-five years of peace.*)

And yet it needs to be emphasised most strongly, now that we have aired this subject here: for the sake of those unfamiliar with this territory. Do not ever ask questions about it. If people want to share some of it (and they rarely do, but it sometimes happens), be good listeners but don't encourage more than they want to share, for it is usually terrible stuff indeed.

Gareth

*Correction... I changed that from "30 Años de Paz" (as I obviously remembered that wrongly and was counting from 1936.) And it must have been 1964 that I am remembering - as the year was counted from 1939.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Quote from Gareth:
Do not ever ask questions about it. If people want to share some of it (and they rarely do, but it sometimes happens), be good listeners but don't encourage more than they want to share, for it is usually terrible stuff indeed.

This is certainly true. And it is a courtesy not to try to ferret out secrets from a war where brothers fought against brothers. But, there is emerging an opening in this "conspiracy of silence" and the Spanish people are now being encouraged to re-claim their dead folk as many know exactly where and how these terrible atrocities took place. There are government initiatives now to encourage an opening up on a past which is, while certainly not forgotten, very much the past. I have lived in Spain for almost 13 years now and have never found a people more united than the Spanish, politics notwithstanding...especially when we won the European Cup: what a magic night that was for Spain!
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
I could never get any stories or information from my father who was a lieutenant in the Republican army and was severely wounded. He refused even to share with my mom what he saw. It was during one of my Caminos that I got a few stories out of 2 uncles that had some information about dad. Yeah, I cannot imagine the atrocities he saw in his very young (17 to 20) years.

I had the pleasant surprise of walking by a building that holds records of the Spanish Civil War while walking into Salamanca. I went in and was escorted upstairs and I asked to see any records they had of dad's and yep.... 3 documents showing his military training and academy training. That connection was special. They photocopied them for me and I have them home now. It meant a lot to me to see his name there. Although it was explained to me that the government would not allow an n and a p to be side by side so my (Catalan) last name Sanpere was changed to Sampere. Funny.
I believe that the descendants of that generation are now wanting to hear about it as I did. It is part of our history.
I know this is off topic. Sorry
 
Gareth Thomas said:
As did the British government, it should be remembered
not officially until 1939, along with the US and France among others. When he became pope in 1939, Pius XII also invoked St James in his congratulatory message: "As a pledge of the bountiful grace which you will receive from the Immaculate Virgin and the apostle James, patrons of Spain, and which you will merit from the great Spanish saints, we give to you, our dear sons of Catholic Spain, to the Head of the State and his illustrious Government, to the zealous Episcopate and its self-denying clergy, to the heroic combatants and to all the faithful, our apostolic benediction", along with a lot of other gushing prose about "the gift of peace and victory, with which God has chosen to crown the Christian heroism of your faith".

The mass pilgrimage to Santiago, organised by Accion Catolica in 1948, was essentially an "official" pilgrimage, part of the regime's sponsorship of Santiago.

More Civil War stories on the Beeb http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7068051.stm as part of their coverage of the beatification last year. I suspect many younger Spaniards would agree with Diego, quoted at the end: "I don't care about the Civil War! I'm thinking about the future."
 
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Rambler

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
June 2008 Camino Frances with Daughter, 2014 Camino Frances with Son
The Civil War was a brutal one and it should be noted that there was much blood on both sides. The Republicans had begun executing priests and nuns prior to the Civil War beginning, so the Catholic Church was very hard pressed not to support Franco.
My mother in law was a child in Spain during the War and told me of horrible stories about family members being killed because they were related to clergy. She came from a military family that fought on both sides.

Franco is the reason for the comment I made before of the strong relationship between church and state. Though it has lessened since his death, many of the policies providing financial support for the church remain in place today. And I am sure that Spaniards view this critically.

I struggle with all the negative attitudes towards Catholicism, being that I am a practicing Catholic. I cannot turn a blind eye on the abuse of power and corruption that has taken place in the Church over the last 2000 years. It led to the Reformation and the splintering of Christianity. But in today's world there seems to be a bias to see only these parts of the church and not the good that is also being done. The Catholic Church does do alot of good around the world.

Given the new age spirituality that has become so popular and the growth of non-denominational Super-Churches (at least here in the US), I have seen society take an attitude of, "I believe in some kind of higher being, but I want to define it and I want to determine what is right and wrong based on my desires." If a clergyman tells you that you shouldn't do something, and you disagree, you go join a church that says it's OK. I struggle with this too.

We need to focus less on the organization itself and more on the reason it is here.

Rambler
 

RuralVic

New Member
Rambler said:
The Civil War was a brutal one and it should be noted that there was much blood on both sides...

I struggle with all the negative attitudes towards Catholicism,....

Given the new age spirituality that has become so popular and the growth of non-denominational Super-Churches (at least here in the US), I have seen society take an attitude of, "I believe in some kind of higher being, but I want to define it and I want to determine what is right and wrong based on my desires." If a clergyman tells you that you shouldn't do something, and you disagree, you go join a church that says it's OK. I struggle with this too.

We need to focus less on the organization itself and more on the reason it is here.

Rambler

One of the problems with wars, Civil or otherwise, is that they produce winners & losers & that builds up resentment in the vanquished which may become the seeds for future conflicts. The challenge for Spain is how to do the remembering and learn the lessons that avoid the same mistakes again without opening old wounds.

Negative attitudes not just to Catholicism but to Christianity as a whole - I'm Church of England but in the UK it feels as though there is a very negative attitude towards any form of Christianity, though perhaps because Catholicism is seen as alternative to the established church there have been times when it's been seen to be quite trendy to be catholic - especially if you're Tony Blair!!

You're quite right, we need to be positive about the good that Christianity has done and continues to do. We also need to listen to the criticisms, acknowledging when they're true but also to see when they're based on a misunderstanding or caricature of Christianity. I've just been reading a book by someone who lectures "Spirituality" & in it he says, "Feminist students will often describe Christianity as a patriarchal invention....pagan or wicca students will say that religion is partly responsible for the desecration of the earth and the destruction of the environment...esoteric and occult students will say that Christianity lost its spirituality hundreds of years ago..." For me, there are valid response to all those criticisms within Christianity, but (in my experience) they don't feature anywhere near the top of the Churches' agenda. We get too preoccupied with our own internal concerns.

Robert
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
RuralVic said:
I've just been reading a book by someone who lectures "Spirituality" & in it he says, "Feminist students will often describe Christianity as a patriarchal invention....pagan or wicca students will say that religion is partly responsible for the desecration of the earth and the destruction of the environment...esoteric and occult students will say that Christianity lost its spirituality hundreds of years ago..." For me, there are valid response to all those criticisms within Christianity, but (in my experience) they don't feature anywhere near the top of the Churches' agenda. We get too preoccupied with our own internal concerns.

First, a general point. This thread is very compelling. Some people occasionally get irritated on this Forum when issues about pilgrimage 'descend' into religious discussion! Yet it is clear that overtly religious threads always develop fast, and often become very popular. Personally, I do not find this very surprising: pilgrimage connotes a religious intent.

Secondly, your point about the popular culture and its criticisms of Christianity strikes me as the classic Anglican one, of "Why don't people appreciate us any more, for our 'reasonable' approach to life? Maybe if we had more 'spirituality' to offer, we'd win them back. Maybe we have got too involved with our 'internal concerns'."

That is all so familiar! At present I am studying in a Catholic institute in which more than half of us are ex-Anglicans; so we all remember wrestling with those questions. Now the question has for us become a different one: how to evangelise in a postmodern world? How to get on with it. The basic philosophical underpinning has fallen apart; relativism failed to supply the answers; but the Gospel is the same as it was two thousand years ago and the wisdom of the classical thinkers will still be there when the nonsense of postmodern individualism has fizzled out. There's work to be done, and we don't need to worry too much about the 'competition', as there simply isn't any.

That language has to be only a personal standpoint. A position that was thought through and walked through, in fifteen hundred miles from Worcester to Santiago earlier this year. The expression of it has to be more accommodating - of course - and there is a need to recognise that the Christian 'point of view' has to surivive in the world of ideas, in the marketplace. But has it ever failed to do that?

When you say "esoteric and occult students will say that Christianity lost its spirituality hundreds of years ago", you need to come back at them with knowledge, history, philosophy and faith. Maybe you could start with Augustine. But above all, do the unthinkable and go beyond the political correctness, with its mad dogma that all ideas are equal... Start with the point of view that they are WRONG and you are there to CORRECT them. That is where the dialogue begins, for anything else is just shadow play.

Gareth

PS: There will always be those who say that they "prefer their pilgrimage to be more about walking". They would probably be against golf for the same reasons they would be irritated by discussion of religious pilgrimage: it gets in the way of the walk.. :wink: .
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Start with the point of view that they are WRONG and you are there to CORRECT them.

Gareth this reminded me of this fun piece!
Enjoy.

Dr. Schambaugh, of the University of Oklahoma School of Chemical Engineering, Final Exam question for May of 1997. Dr. Schambaugh is known for asking questions such as, "why do airplanes fly?" on his final exams. His one and only final exam question in May 1997 for his Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer II class was:
"Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof."
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:
"First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave.
Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, then you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant. Two options exist:
1. If hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.
2. If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.
So which is it? If we accept the quote given to me by Theresa Manyan during Freshman year, "that it will be a cold night in hell before I sleep with you" and take into account the fact that I still have NOT succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then Option 2 cannot be true...Thus, hell is exothermic."
The student, Tim Graham, got the only A.

 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Fabulous post Sil. But there is a more convincing argument for Option One:

sillydoll said:
1. If hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.
2. If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

For many medieval people and perhaps for some today the point of the pilgrimage was to get a plenary indulgence and have all the time to be spent paying for sins forgiven to date wiped away - "The remission of temporal punishment still due for a sin that has been sacramentally absolved."

Therefore the purpose of the prilgrimage was/is surely to keep souls out of hell - thus according to the theory this increases the rate at which all hell will break loose. This is of course evidenced by being on the Camino Frances at the height of the season when there appear to be more pilgrims than beds :) or indeed the effect I would cause if I ever slept in a bed full of bedbugs. :)

I rest my case!

John
 
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lckgj

Active Member
Brilliant post Sil.
Would love to meet Tim Graham on the camino one day!
Can't wait to share this with a few people, not least my two university student children. It reminded me of a hilarious article in the Times a couple of years ago (cut out and still yellowing under a magnet on my fridge). "How to get a degree in eight minutes flat"
It is a bit long to write out here but can be read here:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 707920.ece
Sorry , way off topic yet again!
Laura
 

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