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« Senderos » at the Escorial

23/02/2011: Spain

We came, we saw, we settled in

Dear Reader, the capricious compass directed our steps to this corner of the « Sierra del Guadarrama », near the world famous Monastery of the Escorial, not far from the very noble and illustrious city of Madrid. The neighbours tell us that this property we are on is known as Fuensanta. Good auspices, then, for recounting this history which the chronicler, in imitation of the Greek poet, has entitled CHRONICLE OF PERSONS, DEEDS AND DAYS. It is here, kind reader, that our journey begins. I invite you to travel the TRACKS on this day of the Lord and Saint Blaise, Thursday 3 February 2011.

At 8 o’clock in the evening, we gathered in front of the main door of the house, together with the community of Iberica, our hosts, for a simple and warm ceremony of official welcome. With the language of symbols, we wove a garland of song and prayer, which continued at the festal table in the dining room.

The staff, the star, the footprints… indispensible signs for us who, from today, will be pilgrims. For our long journey of five months will be just that, a pilgrimage.

Tourist tracks

From the Escorial extends a wide range of artistic and cultural possibilities. Nearby cities contain treasures of civil and religious art. Our first trip was to Segovia, a clean and beautiful city, as the publicity slogan declares. At 10 o’clock exactly on 5 February, our « guide », Br. Teodoro Barriuso was already waiting for us and he accompanied us the whole day. It all began in a spot laden with memories of the great mystic Saint John of the Cross. We celebrated Mass in the chapel of the convent which preserves his remains. The rocks, river and valley resound with the echo of verses which form the summit of Spanish mystical literature: « Mil gracias derramando pasó por estos sotos con premura » (Scattering myriad graces, he has passed in haste through these groves).

From there, through a maze of narrow and steep streets, we followed our itinerary: the Cathedral, the Alcazar, the Synagogue (now a convent of the Poor Clares) and the emblematic Aqueduct, indispensible rendez-vous for the tourist arriving in the Castillian capital. We were soon going to taste the ineffable suckling-pig immortalised by Don Cándido, « innkeeper major of Castille », as one can read on the monument erected to his memory. It only remained to us to visit the Jewish cemetery, situated on the side of a pine-forest where the Marist school is situated. A privileged viewing point for a panoramic view of the city. On our return to the house by a different route, we were able to enjoy a night view of the city from the Alto del León.

On Sunday, everyone at Mass in the Monastery of the Escorial. Up in the sanctuary, three priests concelebrating; below, the faithful taking part in the Mass. The liturgy of the VISunday features the well known Gospel passage: You are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth… The sun was flooding the skies of  Guadarrama with its light. At the tops of the towers, the storks formed with their necks question marks on the bearing of the winds.

            All that is left is to say who we are and why we are here. We will do it in the words of Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 3: Angel, Gérard, Guillermo (our chaplain), Ismael, Joaci, José Ignacio, José Luis, José Luis, Manuel, Odilmar, Saturnino and Tomás. We are twelve too. And we are here because Jesus wanted to call us, as he did the disciples. In this « hic et nunc » of the TRACKS.

By way of a summary:

Years accumulated 588 (eleven participants). 588 years ago, in 1423, Spain was called « Vasconia », « Castilla », « Aragón » and « Granada ». Jews, Arabs and Christians got on well together.

Median age: 53.45 (better than the median age of the Congregation).

Official languages of the course: the Spanish of Spain and Latin America; the Portuguese of Portugal and Brasil.

Official sponsor of « Senderos »: General Council in Rome

Marist geography: America Central, Brasil (Río Grande do Sul, Centro Norte), Compostela, Cruz del Sur, District of Paraguy, Hermitage, Ibérica, Norandina, Santa María de los Andes.

The sun rises at 8. 15 and sets at 6. 40. Don’t miss the spectacle!

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