While this is not your standard Rhythms of Habit email, I wanted to send out a quick note today about St. James of Jerusalem, along with a request.
Please send me your questions about the Church Calendar! It has been a joy hearing from many of you as you enter more deeply into following the church calendar, and I would love to know what questions you have along the way. Simply reply to this email, with your questions and I will do my best to get them in the queue. (Up next: Liturgical Colors!)
A Note about St. James
St. James of Jerusalem was the brother of our Lord, a critical early leader in the Church, and the first of the Apostles to be martyred. He wrote the Epistle of St. James, and was considered “a pillar” among the Apostles.
But today’s note is not so much about James himself, but rather a practice that has emerged in his honor over the centuries.
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage across much of Western Europe that ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella. It is here that (at least some of) the remains of St. James are buried.
The whole concept of a pilgrimage deserves its own book, as does the Camino itself. But I mention them here in Rhythms of Habit today for one particular reason: my wife recently returned from her own two week pilgrimage on the Camino, which means that James and the pilgrimage in his honor have been on our minds much of the past several months.I hope my wife (who probably reads these emails??) will one day write about her own experience on the Camino, but in the meantime you can click here to read how I tried to adopt a pilgrim mindset while caring for our kids at home in her absence.
So on this day set aside to commemorate St. James of Jerusalem, I leave you with two things: a prayer of thanksgiving for the life and work of James, and a habit to adopt.
O gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that you will pour out upon the leaders of your Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Habit to Adopt: Pilgrimage
At its core, a pilgrimage is an intentional walk for a specific purpose. It can be a retracing of significant moments in the life of Christ—like the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem—or a walk around your block for the purpose of praying about an upcoming decision.
A pilgrimage is a practical means of using time and place to honor important intentions.
Here is a largely practical example from my own life: I have started to park my car farther away from the entrance to my school in order to have three or four minutes of silence before and after work. Sometimes this silence is simply enjoyed as a moment where I am not needed ... and other times it is spent praying. And, of course, plenty of times it is spent thinking about the weekend’s schedule or the latest Tottenham match.
But this tiny pilgrimage, experienced over the course of many months and years, is no doubt shaping me and my interactions with those I care for.
So, talk to my wife if you want to hear more about the Camino! But also look for ways to take your own tiny pilgrimages here and now.