Jul 25, 2010

Fiesta de Santiago - Año Santo Jacobeo 2010

On the western ecclesiastical calendar, July 25 is the feast of St. James the Apostle, son of Zebedee.  Any year that his feast falls on a Sunday is considered a year of jubilee, a holy year -- Año Santo.  For this reason, millions of people have gathered in Spain, in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

Earlier this year, I followed the pilgrim's path to Santiago.  I have not written much about my experiences along the Way, other than a few notes here on this blog.  This is mainly because I'm too lazy and ill-disciplined to marshal my thoughts and impose structure on them, but it is also because there is a lot to say about the journey along the Camino.  I have posted some photos on Flickr.

In the Orthodox Church, we commemorate this great saint on April 30.  Today is not a liturgically significant day for me, but today my heart is in Spain, in Santiago de Compostela -- and with the many wonderful people I met as I walked west towards the See.

In France, it was possible to go into a church, buy a candle and leave it lit.  In Spain, these flickering representations of prayer have been replaced with small bulbs which light up when a coin is deposited.  The larger the denomination of the coin, the longer the "candle" stays lit.  (Liturgical docetism, I call it.)  By the time I got to Santiago, I had resigned myself to this sad state of affairs, but I still bought a candle in the cathedral gift shop.  (Signs were prominently posted in several languages announcing that these candles could not be lit inside the church.)  I will bring this candle to church with me today, and as I light it I will remember my fellow pilgrims, as well as all those who helped me along the way.

The feast of St. James will not fall on a Sunday again until 2021.  I would consider it a great blessing to be there again at that time.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
James 4:13-15

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