The way of the cross, the way of the Lord.

IMG 20170319 WA0011It has been some years since the Claretians started accompanying the Chinese Catholic community of Yokohama, Japan. This year, as part of their Lenten observance, the community organized a pilgrimage to one of the highest peaks of the Kanagawa mountain range, Mount Sannoto (三ノ塔).

On March 18, 2017, around 40 members of the Catholic community, including 7 children –the youngest one being just 5 years old, gathered at the base of Mount Sannoto to begin their Lenten pilgrimage. It was 10 o’clock in the morning, and after a short prayer we started our ascent to the top of the mountain; everyone was joyful. After 2 hours walking, half way up the mountain, we began the way of the cross. It was a moment of deep and prayerful experience for many, and everyone took turns carrying the cross. Singing and praying, step by step, we reached the top of the mountain at 12:45.

IMG 20170319 WA0017There, after a short rest, we celebrated the Eucharist. We felt like Peter, James and John, the three disciples brought by Jesus up the mountain where he was transfigured. Peter wanted to make three tents then, one for the Lord, one for Moses and one for Elijah; we wanted to make not 3, but 40 tents and remain there; it was so good up there!

After the Mass we shared the food we had brought and enjoyed our lunch together. At 14:00 we started our descent and by 15:45 we arrived at the bus station. We had walked a total of 16.05 km, and it took us 6 hours.

After this journey one lay Catholic confided to me, “Father, you have cured my sickness. I am 50 years old and I had never climbed such a high mountain (1,252 m) until today. I’d always been afraid of heights, but today I felt how the Lord accompanied and brought me up the mountain.” Many people shared how their time climbing and praying was a truly blissful experience. They felt the Lord’s call and closeness while walking up the mountain together.

IMG 20170319 WA0012In our life we need to disconnect sometimes from our work and our busy schedule and embrace nature, where we meet God effortlessly. Indeed, no one felt tired that day, be they 5 or 50 years old!

Once in a while we need to challenge ourselves not only by fasting but also by doing something out of the ordinary, so that we can discover that “I can do it” and realize that we can achieve something we thought was beyond our possibilities, and come out stronger.

Our Christian life is just like climbing a mountain; we go up and then down, but the twisted and bumpy path hides each one’s encounter with God. I think that, as Claretian Missionaries, our mission is to accompany and facilitate such an encounter with God.

Caminos de Dios.