Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Young Pilgrim's Tale

I embarked on a 60 miles pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham from the 26th-28th of August and the next few paragraphs say it all

We arrived from London to Ely on the 25th of August. the women were entitled to a large hall where they could sleep and the men were to camp at the field of a farm house. I had never camped before so I decided to join them and it was quite nice! I chose a lovely spot under the tree and I assembled my first ever tent with the help of a great friend I met that day. The other days  I slept in the halls but camping was my best sleeping experience!
I actually kept a diary of the events that occurred and what I learned from it all so here is a bit of the pilgrimage from my perspective.

 Morning of the Pilgrimage:

"It's raining outside and it's quite cool. Really enjoyed my sleep even if I was almost awake every hour (due to excitement lol) the pilgrimage starts today and I think it would be really cool!
Found a few insects in my tent though, just remembered I did leave it open for a while...
Its actually not bad to camp at all! its really cool especially if you want to write a book or be closer to nature. it was a good experience"

N.B: the dinner that night was superb, for the Africans like me that have probably never tasted melted Butter on boiled Potato, you should try it! its delightful!
The calmness of the environment struck me, I think its a good idea for us to take some time off the noise of the city and spend time somewhere really quiet and peaceful, there you calm your heart and might even hear God speak to you or inspire you to write a beautiful piece.

Day One of the Walk (about 22 Miles)

"Today was mad!!! we had mass at st Ethrelda's  Catholic Church in Ely before we embarked on our journey. It poured and poured but it was really cool! walked for miles though but it was worth it. Passed lovely farmlands and saw beautiful Swans!"

N.B: I'm not exactly a fan of walking, I'd rather drive in a nice car with comfortable seats but in order to challenge myself  I went on this walk. It seemed difficult at first but after the first few hours  I  found myself carrying on and then the thought of walking such a distance left my mind and was replaced by the intention it was for which was a huge motivation! I wore trekkers instead of boots but it suited me quite well! God probably gave us more penance by sending the rain but I liked it in a twisted kind of way ( I'm sure I'm on my own with this one lol), it felt like I was in a scene of  The Lord of the Rings! I also got my very first pilgrim staff!

Day Two of the Walk (about 22 Miles)

 Today wasn't as wet as yesterday but the weather was playing tricks on us with sunny spells, rainy pours and droplets. same walking as yesterday but saw more animals. the scenery was really beautiful! we sang the Rosary  with lovely tunes and prayed some prayers.We visited a 500 year old mansion where priests were hidden in tiny holes in those days and we prayed the Dies Irae (one of my favourite Catholic chants) at a probable grave site then we walked some more. We had a lovely dinner of Shepherd's Pie and venerated the true Cross of Jesus which one of the very fortunate pilgrims had (God bless him!)

N.B: we stopped at intervals to eat and rest, this made it quite easy to walk for more miles (obviously) and also to meet other pilgrims which were very nice.  The chaplain Fr Bede Roe was wonderful! he heard confessions and spiritual direction, he also led the rosary and was a great friend to all. Wish more priests could be like him!  the hiding places created for the priests was moving, it showed  how Catholics suffered for the love of God and the faith.
The pilgrimage consisted of both old and young people and I realised that nothing is really difficult to do with the help of God because seeing children and old people walking this walk made me realise that I have been quite lazy spiritually!

Day Three of the Walk (about 11 Miles and The Holy Mile at Walsingham)

This seemed like a piece f cake judging from how long we walked the previous days. The Sun was out and there were a few rain droplets. we finally reached our destination where we paid a visit to the Slipper Chapel, had mass and walked the Holy Mile.

N.B: this ended the pilgrimage but it marked the beginning of many things for me. The pilgrimage made me appreciate the Catholic faith even more, it truly shows how we  all are pilgrims in this world on our journey to everlasting life, with Jesus Christ amidst the severe heat and rainfalls of the world that come in form of distractions and temptations. Praying and focusing on our goal keeps us motivated to finish our walk in the right direction. It also shows the beauty of catholic community! knowing you are not alone in this tedious journey to Heaven. I was honoured to ride and walk with special people like  Miss Woolven (the charming Nightingale), Mr Riley, (the fortunate Cross Bearer), Mr Bones/ Catholic Rock star, Mr Sean (the special hobbit) and Mr Smeaton ( the wonderful coordinator) we six make a good couple!

 I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity to experience this and for making it worthwhile. Its a very good idea to add going on a pilgrimage to your itinerary for the year. It might seem tasking but the blessings and graces gained from it will be immeasurable, show a little extra love for Our Lord and challenge yourself, embark on a pilgrimage and watch how it will change your life.
 Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us!

P.S: The Latin Mass Society is giving a very good early booking  offer for the pilgrimage next year, click here for more details

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Is it Worth It?

I'm very hungry at the moment and I see a slightly rotten apple. Its looks very sweet; it is as red as ever and shines with delightful taste. I can't resist looking at it because it looks scrumptous! but wait! I know its rotten and if I have it I'm definitely going to have a tummy ache! I might decide to eat it anyway and endure the coming ache or I might decide not to and look for something else to eat.
Every decision we make  in life always comes with consequences and we do them probably because we are ready to take responsibility for our actions. 
I think there comes a time in life where as young catholics we have have to look inward and motivate ourselves to live the faith. Our environment is a terrible means of motivation, it is very difficult to obey God's commandments in this world. We are filled with distractions from all over; music, fashion, movies and all other forms of entertainment. Some times its difficult to find someone who's trying to live the faith like you and its also difficult for you to live like you, but one thing we could ask ourselves is; is it worth it? following the band wagon? acting as we like? accepting every single thing around us? being dormant?
Every great man or woman in history till date is remembered for something; being different. If they all followed the current we wont hear about them today. They were normal people like you and I with weakness and fears but they caused change! and this was done by standing out and doing ordinary things extraordinarily!
There is one particular thing in vogue now and (according to the world) if you are not part of it you better curl yourself up by the corner of your room and weep! most television programmes, music, fashion and other forms of entertainment slap us hard with sexual content. There is hardly a place you go without something beckoning you to participate, it almost seems like the world is on a mission to drown everyone in the sea of promiscuity. We should ask ourselves; is it worth it? satisfying our carnal nature for a few minutes or hours then facing billions of years in Hell?
Many people come up with varying excuses to justify premarital sex but till now none makes sense! I was told a while ago that sex helps prevent cancer, well... so does eating a healthy meal and going for regular checkups at the hospital. I was also told that there would be no fireworks if one keeps his/her virginity till marriage, well... there will be in heaven coupled with a great reward the person will receive and oh, yeah! there WILL be fireworks! at least in the person's heart and thats good enough.
No one is perfect but we have to strive to do Our Lord's will. Acting in the ways of the world is not worth it because it only brings pain and more pain in Hell, engaging in premarital sex attaches a lot of deadly consequences ranging from serious health risks to a chain of psychological and spiritual consequences that could damage one's life permanently.
Human beings are creative,there are other ways besides sex one can engage in and in the long run these even prove more the level of love couples have for each other because it shows the tremendous respect they have for themselves and that sex does not determine their relationship. This is often the confusion those who engage in premarital sex have, one is never sure what binds them together, two people who were never meant to be create unhealthy sexual bonds for themselves which they cannot let go and so end up entangled in a web of sexual slavery. Abstinence shows the level of maturity and commitment couples have and it shows that we are truly human because human beings are intelligent and do not act solely on instinct, we are capable of self control and discipline with the grace of God.
 A way we could help ourselves is instead of looking for "trouble" in particular places or with particular people we could make good use of our time by doing other things which will gain graces for us. A few years of ridicule and resistance to temptation is always better than loss of friendship with God for a wise man.

P.s: Every night one could say 3 Hail Mary's for Purity and trust me, it works!