By Kristie Infantine (guest writer)
“When you pray, move your feet”
This African proverb was the theme of a Gonzaga University retreat called Pilgrimage. On this September retreat we walked 11 drizzly miles through Idaho to the Mission of the Sacred Heart. Chilly as it was, we were pilgrims with a purpose.
A pilgrim is a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons. I believe we are all pilgrims, journeying toward Heaven. God is always seeking us, but getting to Him is our pilgrimage.
As pilgrims we are restless. We are always searching. As Saint Augustine prayed, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Our lives are comprised of different twists, turns, and adventures along the way to the pearly white gates. You may even make literal pilgrimages along the Camino or to a mission like I recently did.
Come October 27th, I will have been married to my amazing wife for 2 months and in that relationship for more than 8 years. I am by no means an expert on marriage or relationships. I’m still navigating the waters of cohabiting the same bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom and since getting married, I am learning all the things I am doing wrong, (marriage can be good at that). But there is one thing I have learned and come to embrace and that is the fact there is no way we would have come this far without God.
Relationships are extraordinarily hard; it’s so hard in fact that conventional outlets today tell you it’s more natural to sleep with multiple partners like animals do than it is to love and stay loyal to one person. But just because relationships are challenging doesn’t mean it’s wrong, actually, it’s because they are so challenging that they are so rewarding and fulfilling. God and relationships is a large topic but I just want to go over 3 things that really helped my wife and I get to where we are today.
Our son just recently had his first birthday. What a blessing and miracle he has been to both Liz’s and my life. Weirdly enough, the first year went by both fast and slow. So much happened within only a year that at times it felt like time was moving too slow; however, when I look at Ben and see how much he’s developed I realize how quickly his baby phase moved. It’s crazy to me to think that he is technically not an infant anymore; rather, he is much more a little boy. What a paradox it is to witness in joy his growth and progress yet to also be sadden at how quickly the time that he is small passes.
As Benjamin’s brain becomes more and more a sponge, absorbing every bit of information to learn about his world, I have been reflecting on the example I am setting for him, especially in regards to our faith. Let me explain.
God’s timing can certainly be funny sometimes. Usually we’re asked to be patient, trusting that He is working on something amazing for us. We pray, we wait, we wonder if He’s listening and subconsciously stare at the sky in search for the answers. This waiting can take months, years even, before we encounter a glimmer of hope that something good is about to happen.
But sometimes, and it’s happened to me quite a few times lately, God answers our prayers immediately. When this happens, you can’t help but stop in your tracks, wondering how or why this is happening to you, but the first and only thing you should do when God immediately comes to your aid is say “thank you.”
For whatever reason, I’ve always disliked the phrases “me-time,” “self-care,” “you deserve it,” etc. Maybe it just always felt fluffy and kind of high maintenance/annoying/selfish. But recently I’ve come to understand that there’s a message in there that contains real truth. All of that “me” stuff I think can be selfish, if it ends with “me.” But if caring for ourselves is for the purpose of being able to then give most fully of ourselves to God and others, then it’s not only cool but very necessary.
I recently had a conversation with someone about the image of the “Wounded Healer” (a book by Henri Nouwen- that I haven’t read- story of my life). The Wounded Healer in this parable is a man who, in ministering to a colony of lepers (also- why does every story like this involve lepers? Maybe we should be more diverse and inclusive in our disease choices) gets leprosy (or already has leprosy, the details are fuzzy) himself. He continues to try to minister to the plague victims (just had to switch it up) but his own wounds are getting in the way. Rather than continue ineffectively, he steps away, tends to and binds up his own wounds, and then returns with an increased capacity for healing in his ministry.
By Valentino Rinaldi (Guest Writer)
I found “Words of Witness” by chance, or I probably found this blog because I was supposed to find it, as many other things happened in my life. Recently, I have been reading articles of young adults around the world sharing their valuable experiences. For this reason, I decided to briefly describe here my own experience and share what Saint Brigid Parish looks like from a foreigner’s point of view. I describe my first impressions, how they changed with time and how they affected my relationship with God.
During the past months I have had the honor of meeting different young adults. I have been an active part of the Bible Study groups, going to Sunday masses and attending many events such as bonfires, hikes, dinner socials, Neighbors in Need, and so on. For those I have not yet met, my name is Valentino (or Val). For the ones who already know me, yes, I am the Italian guy!
If a fortune teller had predicted my life a few years ago, I would have struggled to believe it. But yes, today I live in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California, United States of America. And I know it may sound like nothing incredible for some of you, but it is for me!