Following the Old Path

Photographs seem to be out of the question right now. I will try to figure this out when I get to a place with better wifi connections. For some reason, the blog does not give me a photo option. I figure it is better and less stressful to write without photos than to not write at all.

Yesterday seemed to have a theme to the day. I noticed several quotes about pilgrimages. The first was a welcome sign to Cave of St. Ignatius: “Every pilgrimage poses a challenge for our inner being.” This pilgrimage has been about paying homage to a saint who also had ill health–I had heard liver but here they have said gallbladder and gallstones brought on by the severe penances he carried out during his transformation. He soon learned that God required none of these actions–only love and surrender. God’s graces were not earned but freely given. Nothing that we can do will stop the flow of love that God has for us. While we may not feel worthy of such a gift–we are. St. Ignatius knew this. I am learning time and again to know this as the ultimate truth and to desire to love too beyond that which I am capable of. Once we understand, that love pours out of us to those around us and those most in need of it.

I have had a couple of interesting interactions here in Catalona as I have struggled with the language which will change once again to a different language once I head north later today. The Spanish used here is different than in Centrsl Smerica and so my ear is having trouble tuning in. I am making an effort to use Spanish words, despite not having resurrected what little I knew prior to coming. In a conversation with the receptionist at the hotel desk as I checked out, he clarified that I had only had one supper. I had in fact had two, plus a tea the second night. He raised his eyebrows at me and then set about updating my bill. In the end, he did not charge me for the tea, saying it was on the house, because I had been so forthcoming with the truth. I suppose I could have feigned not understanding and saved myself some money but it was not until he brought it up that I even considered that I could have been dishonest in such a holy place.

The other day as I took the train to Manresa from Montserrat, a man befriended me and as we tried to have a conversation I found myself lost, understanding only a few thoughts. He decided to change to English after I confessed I was not understanding much about the language referendum nor the architecture in Spain. Even in my mother tongue, I still had a challenge comprehending his complex concepts and missed what should have been my train stop as we engaged in conversation. There were three stops, only one minute apart each, so the error was not a catastrophe and in reality, I thought I needed to go one more so was grateful that he mentioned I should get off when he did. He put me safely in a taxi in which the driver knew exactly where the cave of St. Ignatius was and took me to the exact door I needed. It is humbling for me to not be fluent in a language and I am very aware how privileged-thinking plays a part in my interactions. This morning the man at the ticket counter suggested that I speak in English. His English, like many, was so much better than my Spanish. My inner being is being challenged in many ways. These are some of the tangible ways but there are also spiritual movements spinning around too.

This brings me to the second quote I came across: “All those are wise, who by following the old path, learn how to travel new ways.” Last night, as I had done the night before too, I went down to the Cave after supper to pray. This time I prayed for me. That morning I had done my prayer time in the cave and contemplated a little on the nativity. I am unsure why I chose that except there is a beautiful image of St. Ignatius praying before Mary, who is holding the baby Jesus. I used this as my entry point into a contemplation. In my prayer time, I held the Babe who rested his head on my breast and whose tiny hand grasped my finger tightly. In this moment of intimacy, he smiled up at me, content. I have held countless babies in this position, but was, nonetheless deeply moved that Christ found serenity in my arms. In the evening, I prayed the Take and Receive prayer, placing all I have and possess into Christ’s adult hands. This Savious knows well the struggles of a human life, of an impending death, and the joy of the Resurrection. I can trust this One.

I celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday yesterday in the church where St. Ignatius prayed daily while in Manresa. On this pilgrimage, I have already walked through two doors or mercy, one in Montserrat and the other in Manresa. I pray that I may walk in these old paths wisely, learning how to walk the remainder of my life in a new way, with a new spirit and a new heart. This will be the challenge for me.



Reflection Questions

What old path might you consider walking to learn something new?
How is your inner being challenged?


Ancient One, reveal to us the secrets of the old paths. With each step of our pilgrimage, may we throw off all that weighs us down and open ourselves to the graces of the Trinity and the Holy Mother. Free us so that we may be your instruments of peace, joy and mercy. Amen.

About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
This entry was posted in #Consolation, #prayer, #Travel, #YearofMercy, Catholic, Christian, Faith, Ignatian, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Following the Old Path

  1. Karen Wheadon says:


    I can relate to the challenges of communicating in a foreign country. We have had many challenges in this area during our travels in SEA. It has caused Randy frustration. For me it has been challenging at times as even for those who can speak some English, accents can make their English difficult to understand on both sides:). But, I am also a thinker and problem solver who can work within context, helping me get the gist of what I need to know:)

    I can also relate to photo challenges in a different way. We are now down to 2 devices for taking photos. Randy’s iPod touch is in bottom of River in northern Lao and 2 days ago our little pocket camera is now toast, lens stopped functioning, so now in garbage. Randy’s cheap phone also took a hit and smashed face, not functioning well….so now down to my iPad and his barely functioning phone:)

    Your post spoke to me personally today……learning how to travel an old path in new ways…such powerful words for me to think about.

    Happy to hear that your inner being is being challenged both tangibly and spiritually. You wouldn’t want it any other way:)

    Take care, be safe Love, Karen xoxo

    Sent from my iPad


    • sstyves says:

      Karen, I couldn’t help but think how as Canadians we travel all over the world, expecting people to speak some English and we learn a few words of their language too. However when I think of all the visitors that come to Canada who do not speak English or French, they must be completely lost. English is a privileged language. Luckily, both you and I can resort to jesters and making ourselves understood because of the gift of sign language. Yesterday I woman was trying to make me understand The concept of the gate opening for the train at 5:40. She explained it this way: small (in Spanish) cinqo y grande ocho – I got it! It was funny! We laughed. Small hand on 5; big hand on 8. She was so brilliant! I think of all the times we have tried to explain something in English to a Deaf student who finally gets it in ASL. The light goes on!

      I’m sure that after travelling all these months, you’ll be glad to get back home too. You’ve seen and done some spectacular stuff but NL is also a place of sanctuary for both you and Randy. Where to next year?

  2. Monica says:

    I look forward each night to reading these posts of your trip to Spain. How inspiring to be walking in the footsteps of St. Ignatius. The photographs that you’ve been able to attach to previous posts are so beautiful. I hope to one day visit these sites as well. Take care and best wishes.

  3. sstyves says:

    Not sure if I’ll always be able to post, Monica, but I’ll try my best. I’ll insert photos when I return home hopefully. I think the parish should undertake a pilgrimage one year. Some places are not that easily accessible though with more planning I could have maybe figured things out differently. Montserrat and Manresa are very accessible via Barcelona. You’d love it for sure. Hugs.

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