CAMINO IGNACIANO – a personal reflection

“So What? What Now?”

A Personal Reflection on the Camino Ignaciano Experience

(For pictures and more of this most excellent experience, visit our ‘postcard‘.)


Our Camino – and Caminantes

Our version of the Camino Ignaciano was modified to welcome and embrace the diversity of physical capacity of our ‘caminantes’. We had children, tweens, and seniors; so we happily accommodated them. Thirty six individuals, mostly Cuban-Americans from Miami – and three of us from Washington, D.C.

We were also truly blessed with the spiritual direction of two amazing Jesuits; one young and one old. Both shared wonderful reflections along the way – and in their homilies of our daily mass.

And then there was Fermin, our guide. A Basque to the core. Beautifully simple man with a truly loveable personality. He tried to keep us on time. Ha! Not sure he had ever dealt with Cubanos de Miami before… But we compromised: We were late to (almost) everything; he (usually) adjusted 🙂

We walked each morning. Ate long (and very good!) lunches. Visited holy sites in the late afternoon. Had daily mass. And stayed in decent, comfortable establishments.

When not walking we traveled in a comfortable bus. When we walked we often had a ‘rescue’ van waiting at certain intervals for those that simply could not go on.



The focus of the Camino Ignaciano is on St. Ignatius’ journey of conversion. From a noble family man in Loyola, to the enlightened author of the Spiritual Exercises in Manresa…

From a life of attachment to a live of detachment… From finding God in the books of the life of the Saints while recuperating from a battle wound to finding God in all things as he became an indigent and gave up all his possessions – including his sword at Montserrat.


Historical Context

The Camino dives deep into the soul of Ignatius. His agonies and temptations. The gory details of the times – a hard life difficult to imagine in the comfort of today’s ‘first world’.

Ignatius time was a time of constant war, decapitation, dog-eat-dog fierce survival of the fittest… It was also a time where faith and prayer demanded extremes (by today standards), including self flagellation; foregoing eating and bathing; and renouncing many things of this world.


Today’s Ignatius

It is easy to do the Camino and stay on the historical Ignatius. A relic from the past. A museum piece… This would be a big ‘lost opportunity’! In doing the Camino, I was constantly challenging myself to pray through the ‘So what? What now?’… That is, what does this mean for me today?

It was refreshing to see in all churches visited information for today’s parishioners focusing on what the Jesuits are doing locally and throughout the world. Ignatius’ conversion would have been for nought if today’s Jesuits were idle conformist… And, conformist they are definitively not! (Including our awesome Pope Francis.)


Universality of the Experience

When looking at Montserrat’s unique rock formation from the cave in Manresa it is not difficult to imagine the gurus of the time flocking to Montserrat to connect with the Higher Power. This is – after all – a universal happening. Throughout the world those seeking stronger connection with ‘god(s)’ always go ‘to the mountain top’.

I respect these other seekers of other faith traditions. And – not but – this one happens to be my heritage – the one that I grew up with; the one that speaks to me.


Mother Mary

A big part that spoke to me in the Camino is the prevalence of Mary.  As a devout lover of the Virgen de la Caridad – Cuba’s Virgencita – it was easy for me to relate to the ever-presence of the Virgin in all the churches… And to have ‘touched’ the Moreneta – the Virgin of Montserrat, the same Virgin Ignatius touched – well, wow!

While it may be difficult for non-Catholics to relate to our love for the Virgin Mary, to us it is very special… Impossible to explain; best to experience… Maybe through a Hail Mary or singing beautiful songs like the Ave Maria – and letting go; letting God.


Jesus = Pray + Service

Celebrating the Eucharist every day at a different chapel along the way was way special too… And, to see one of the Chalice that St. Ignatius himself used. Wow again!…

Here again non-Catholics may be challenged. And Catholics should be challenged as well. Since the Eucharist is Jesus, our partaking of it engulfs us in Jesus. Therefore, Jesuses we must be. Pray on, yes. And act we must. Like Jesus. In prayer and service.


Contemplatives in Action

As if experiencing St. Ignatius was not enough, we were also blessed with visiting Javier, where St. Francisco Javier was born; and, Verdú, St. Peter Claver’s hometown.

These two amazing Jesuits personified the love of Christ in their mission work. Javier went East to Japan and India (Goa); Claver became the Apostle of the Slaves, renowned in many places including Columbia… Both a great example of contemplatives in action…


The Camino in Daily Living

So What? What Now?… How do we bring the experience of the Camino to daily living?… Maybe as Ignatius did we need to simply ‘go back to basics’; shed our first world self-imposed extra baggage; and, live life more simply, more focused on service, and less planned or worried… Let go. Let God. (And, don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good!)




Primary Practices:

  • Find God in all things.
  • Do everything as if all depends on you, knowing all depends on God.
  • Love all creation – including self.


Practical Practices:

  • Daily examen of conscience.
  • Weekly Mass.
  • Annual spiritual exercises.


People Practices:

  • Serve the poor.
  • Acquaint the affluent.
  • Welcome all.


Do Not Practices:

  • Do not be attached to anything, physical or psychological.
  • Do not be pre-occupied with process or product.
  • Do not be worried or afraid.


Do Practices:

  • Empathy and Caring.
  • Mercy and Forgiveness.
  • Service and Love.

(For pictures and more of this most excellent experience, visit our ‘postcard‘.)