Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Long Road Ahead...and a Little Help From Our Friends, in Heaven and Earth

On pilgrimage I keep learning and re-learning these two lessons: first, the road, the journey, the trek, the pilgrimage is long. Second: because it is long, we can always use the help of our friends, whether on earth or in heaven, e.g., the footsteps of saints before us, as well as those saints among us.

This lesson came to the fore in reading Andrew Sullivan's blog,, and a quote from Tim Russert, who died on Friday, June 13th:

"I’m someone who grew up taught by the Sisters of Mercy and the Jesuits. And both those nuns and those priests taught me, and taught us, my classmates, how to pray--that it simply wasn't the recitation of memorized prayer but meditation and contemplation.

The situation you're talking about is when my wife was in labor for a long time, I walked out of the hospital and walked around the corner and there was a church. And actually, it was a shrine to Saint Elizabeth who is the mother of Mary, the mother of God, which is more than ironic and important.

And so I, constantly, realize it's a long road, it's a long journey, and we can't get there alone. And so I'm very open and find it quite necessary to ask for help and assistance and inspiration. And that comes in a very powerful way in the form of prayer," - Tim Russert, great Catholic.

Russert is correct: we cannot get there to heaven's gates, or realize that the domain of God is breaking into our world through gestures of hospitality and kindness, except with a little assistance and inspiration. Or as my friend Richard Rodriguez would remind me: Me against God is a losing case. We need grace to approach the throne of God...along with the saints, the candles, the incense, the cross on the wall, and the bells tolling and music playing.

Or as the Beatles remind us, "Oh, we get by with a little help from our friends..."

Buen camino!