September 22, 1013
We finished our camino yesterday, as we went to the end of the earth at Finisterre. This morning we just had a short two-hour tour of the Old Town of Santiago de Compostela, with the Cathedral at the center. But the Lord continues to speak. So here we are again with more principles. Jesus sent out the Twelve, and later seventy others. So I round out the instructions on “How to Survive as a Servant Leader, and Even Thrive” with 7 additional principles, making a total of 70.
Principle #64: Live a pure life. On the top of one building, there is a statue of Atlas carrying the globe. The legend here is that if a virgin passes by, Atlas will drop the globe. But as of now the globe is still there on his shoulders. That would be funny if it was not so tragic. But that is a reality in Europe, where sex between consenting unmarried adults, and even teen-agers, is common. Faith in Jesus means to live pure, but for the world, the norm is licentious sex. You need to be pure–chaste in your marital relationship, clean of mind and heart, holy in all your intentions. Remember: you are Christ to others. You do his work, you carry his name, you witness to him, you are his ambassador. You need to pursue righteousness if you are to be a vessel for lofty use, dedicated and beneficial to the Master.
Principle #65: Realize that many in the world are lost and sick, needing a physician. In the Old Town there are very many farmacias (pharmacies), some not very far from each other. Asked why, our guide said, “because we are sick people.” I don’t know if she was kidding, but she touched on an unfortunate truth. People in the world are far from God, many even rejecting Him. Many Catholics are lapsed and nominal in their faith. They all need the healing hand of the Great Physician. They need to be brought back to God and back to the Church. This is your task. By evangelizing those in the world, and by taking care of those already in the community, you share in the healing and salvation that happens to those who respond. Like Jesus, look with pity on the crowd, who are like sheep without a shepherd. Go and participate in the harvest.
Principle #66: Walk the narrow road of righteousness. The Old Town is quaint, with its many ruas (streets) paved in stone. There is one particular way that is the narrowest in the town. It is called Ruela de Entrerruas(small way among the other ways). While many were walking along the ruas, there was no one passing through the ruela. In the world, many are also walking on the wide road, while very few go on the narrow road. The former often leads to destruction, while the latter is what leads to God and to heaven. You must not flow with the crowd in the world. You live a counter-culture. You are to be holy, that is, set apart. Do not take the comfortable path, and know that if you do what is right, you will be opposed and oppressed. Do not try to please the crowd, but only the Lord.
Principle #67: In this spiritual war, you have the angels and saints fighting with you and for you. Galicia had been conquered and was under the Moors for a century. During one particular trying time, the Christians, living under the Moors, were being persecuted and they cried out to St James for help. Legend has it that Santiago came down from heaven on a white horse with a sword and decimated 300,000 Moors in one hour. Thus one prominent depiction of St James is him riding on a white horse holding a sword. He is “Matamoros” (killer of the Moors). At the end of time, the King of kings together with the armies of heaven will also come mounted on white horses, and out of the Lord’s mouth will come a sharp sword to strike the nations. Christians are in warfare, both human and spiritual. Christians in Muslim lands are persecuted and killed. Evangelizers are assaulted by the devil’s forces. You as servant leader are at the forefront of this war. You face strong evil forces. But you have Jesus, the stronger man. And you have the angels and saints in heaven. Do not be afraid. The victory is already yours.
Principle #68: Look to the greatness of the Church manifested in its great celebrations. There are holy years declared for Santiago de Compostela. If July 25, the Feast of St James, falls on a Sunday, that year is declared a holy year. The next one is in 2021. Then the holy door to the Cathedral is opened on Dec 31, 2020, and kept open all year 2021. In the Philippines, the year 2021 is also very significant. It is going to be the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the nation. Our Church is 2,000 years old, founded by Jesus himself. Celebrate such spiritual grandeur. And work such that the celebration would truly be well deserved and significant. What good is a holy year if God’s people are not holy? What blessing will 500 years of faith be if Filipinos are lacking in true faith? Work such that God’s people grow in holiness, and really have something to celebrate.
Principle #69: Receive the empowerment of the Spirit in your life and service. At the end of today’s Pilgrims’ Mass, just as when we attended last Friday, a huge censer with incense was swung over the people. The censer is called botafumeiro (expel smoke). It is an incredible sight (see the movie The Way). The fire in the censer can be seen and smoke fills the church. Spectacle of fire and smoke signify the presence of Almighty God, as at Mount Sinai. Fire came down on the disciples as tongues on the day of Pentecost. Incense exalts and venerates. The people, especially the peregrinos, were greatly blessed at this Mass. You too, with your baptism in the Spirit, have been empowered. God is with you. Jesus is the one who sends you forth. You are to be his witness. Go with confidence in the power of the Almighty.
Principle #70: Do the work of an evangelizer with faith that works wonders. At the Cathedral, there is a sign on the Ano de la Fe (Year of Faith) and a particular door called Puerta de la Fe (Door of Faith). Under that sign it says, everyone is invited to enter. We are in the Year of Faith and the call to the New Evangelization has been sounded by the Catholic Church. There are many lapsed Catholics whose faith needs to be renewed. Then there is the missio ad gentes. CFC-FFL is an evangelistic and missionary community. This is our reason for being. You must press on with the work of evangelization. You have already entered that wonderful door of new life in Jesus. Invite many others to do so as well.
Well, my wife Gerry and I are off in a few hours, on our way back to Manila. The Camino de Santiago is done. I miss it already. There were very many challenges, and I rejoice in how the Lord helped me endure (thanks again for all your prayers), and how He taught many things to me …. and to you.
I look forward to my continuing walk, with the Lord and with His people. There will be many challenges, but these should only serve to energize you even more. You are God’s servant leader. Be deserving of that great privilege.
BUEN CAMINO! God bless you all.