The Way of St. James: Suffering, Prayer, Service, and Joy

As many of my readers know, I have not been writing or on social media much over the past week or so due to a serious accident which my friend Thomas Peters, a.k.a. the American Papist, suffered last Tuesday.  I know many of you have sent prayers and encouragement for him and his family, and they are deeply grateful for your support.  You can follow his progress and learn of ways you can help, both spiritually and materially, by bookmarking and regularly visiting the Update and Information Center for the Recovery of Thomas Peters.

What many of my readers may not know is that you probably would not be reading this blog right now, following me on social media, listening to me on podcasts, or seeing me on TV/speaking publicly, if it were not for Mr. Peters’ initial encouragement and promotion of my efforts.  It was he who persuaded me to start this blog, whose 5th year anniversary is coming very soon.  And on that point, don’t forget that you still have time to enter the blog birthday contest for a special thank-you prize for being my readers.

However if I know Mr. Peters at all, he would not only expect me to get back to doing what I do in new media, but I guarantee you that today in particular, if he could, he would be blogging about the horrific train crash that occurred last night just outside the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  What you probably will not be made aware of by most of the (alleged) mainstream media is that today is the Feast of St. James the Apostle, who is buried in the city of Santiago and is the Patron Saint of Spain.  Because his feast day is a holiday, it is reasonable to assume that a number of those killed on last night’s train were pilgrims, who were traveling to Santiago to take part in today’s annual celebrations at the magnificent Cathedral-Basilica of St. James, inside which his tomb stands.

Even when we ourselves are going through a trial, there are always others who are suffering, and who need our support.  As we were reminded this morning in the readings at mass, Christ told St. James and his brother St. John specifically, as well as the other Apostles, that their first concern must be one of service, not of preeminence:

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

(St. Matthew 20: 25-28)

The famous Camino de Santiago or “Way of St. James”, the ancient pilgrimage route to the shrine at Santiago, is a long and often difficult road, and in his own life Mr. Peters is going to have to walk a path marked by similar difficulties.  It will not be easy, and he will need much support.  Yet the same is also true for all those suffering today as a result of last night’s accident in Spain, so let us continue to remember them as well.

In the end, the true Way of St. James is not a road, but rather a path marked by suffering, prayer, and service.  As we make our way along that path, we are called to fearlessly spread the Gospel through both our words and through our actions toward others.  And just as the actual Way of St. James leads to a spot known as Mount Joy, where one can see the many spires of the Cathedral for the first time after an arduous journey, so too the way trod by St. James and the Apostles is one which, if we choose to follow it, will lead us to the joy of eternal life with Christ.

Santiago

Cathedral-Basilica of St. James the Apostle
Santiago de Compostela, Spain

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3 thoughts on “The Way of St. James: Suffering, Prayer, Service, and Joy

  1. What a shock that on the day before the Feast of St. James there be such a terrible accident. Speaking as a secular Jew who will be walking the Camino de Santiago next month, the beauty of the Way is that there are people of various religious backgrounds who walk it to find God in their own way, for the challenge of the walk itself, or for the cultural immersion it offers.

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  2. I have a great longing to walk the Way, and you’re telling me I can do it without ever leaving home. Mind blown! But seriously, that was just beautiful and moved me to tears. Continuing to pray for Thomas and his complete recovery. God bless.

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  3. “In the end, the true Way of St. James is not a road, but rather a path marked by suffering, prayer, and service.” Many thanks for this post.

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