The Pilgrim's Lady of Olatz

We rode our tour bus up to the little church on the hill above Loyola's castle. Inigo used to climb that hill as a boy to pray before his "Lady of Olatz".

That was the first holy place of our pilgrimage, 20 to 30 October. We had celebrated our first Mass together at the airport before getting on the plane. A few of us knew one another but most of the twenty-eight were meeting for the first time. So at Mass, after we'd thought about "what I hope from this pilgrimage," we strangers sought each other out and began to be friends in the Lord. It really didn't take long.

Our flight was direct, DFW to Madrid and then on to Burgos. The assigned seats were a grace. They helped us feel like pilgrims are supposed to feel: intimately acquainted with discomfort and inconvenience. So we felt we were good pilgrims. And we prayed for the airline, obeying Jesus' mandate to"pray for those who persecute you." Some of us felt that - in those seats -  the bit about turning the other cheek might have been more apropos (Matt. 5:39, 44).

Anyhow, the trip seemed worthwhile when we got to little church of Our Lady of Olatz and celebrated the second Mass of our pilgrimage. Then we prayed a while.  We weren't like Inigo, the boy. We were  like the Ignatius who came back from Paris. He was by then a man who knew well what had shaped him and what had disfigured him. He surely limped up that hill again to pray before his Lady - our Lady - of Olatz.

As he had, we also thought about "the forces and events at work on us" as we were growing up. He'd had a fierce struggle with scruples and would face the temptation to perfectionitis all his life. Most of us are familiar with it that one - the reverse side of negative self-image.

Of course perfect is the enemy of the good. We ignatians realize that progress is the friend of the good.  As he had to, we have to accept the discomfort and inconvenience of not being perfect. Of being unfinished. Of being on pilgrimage -- all the rest of our lives.

So that first evening, we sang "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," had our first pilgrim dinner, and went to bed. But first we said Night Prayer.

So that first evening, we sang "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," had our first pilgrim dinner, and went to bed. But first we said Night Prayer.