Sunday, 7 June 2015

More Chartres Reflections

One of the many great things about the Chartres pilgrimage is that three days away from ordinary life, with none of the usual distractions, provides a great opportunity to reflect.

Given the nature of the pilgrimage, which is arduous by most modern standards, it is perhaps not surprising that one reflects on the link between discomfort and the spiritual life.

Why is it good to make oneself uncomfortable? I am sure that I say more recollected rosaries in a warm church, or at home, than I do during the ninth hour of a ten hour march.  I am sure that I am more attentive at many Masses than at the final Mass in Chartres Cathedral, when exhaustion catches up with me.

And yet, both theory and experience teach us that mortification of the senses is essential to the spiritual life.

In the first instance, of course, it is simply a matter of the Imitation of Christ. Particularly walking through the countryside, and sleeping in a field (albeit under canvas) is immediately reminiscent of Our Lord's journeyings and nights spent (for example) in the Garden of Olives.

But there is something else, too. It so easy, when comfortable, to accommodate oneself, bit by bit, to the world; to feel at home there. The world, the flesh... the devil...

The rigours and discomforts of a pilgrimage scrape away that veneer of comfort, so that afterwards:

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods. 


Ttony said...

There's also the pilgrimage as walking towards our meeting with God at our judgement. Walter Raleigh rather than TSE:

Give me my scallop shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope’s true gauge,
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.

Ben Trovato said...

Thanks, Ttony: I hadn't known that one!