Pilgrimpace's Blog

the accidental pilgrim 2

A final quote from Maggi Dawn’s The Accidental Pilgrim:

Anthony the Great, sometimes called ‘the father of monks’, set the example here.  He went to live in complete solitude in the desert in about AD 285 and attracted plenty of followers.  After twenty years in the desert, he left his hermitage to act as spiritual father to a group of coenobites.  Five years later he again retreated into solitude, where he remained until he died at the grand old age of 105 – except for two occasions when he visited Alexandria, once to encourage Christians who were under persecution there, and again in 338 when Athanasius called on Anthony to help him stand up against the heretical teachings of Arius – thereby making it clear by his actions that pilgrimage is not just for the pilgrim, but for the wider world, the ‘other’.

St Anthony

St Anthony

I find this extremely helpful for my own reflecting.  Pilgrimage is – and has got to be -so much more than an escape from everyday life (although it does contain the refreshing and vacational contents of this).  I have been granted a month’s study leave early next year to do some thinking about the connections between estates ministry, pilgrimage and the Spanish Carmelite Mystics.  I’m really looking forward to this (as well as the short retreat and pilgrimage in Spain that is being planned as part of it) and to what will be revealed, the connections that will be revealed and made clearer.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read The Life of St Anthony by St Athanasius, I really recommend it – one of the people I most admire who is engaged in outer estate ministry sees it as being central to this particular expression of priesthood.


4 Comments so far
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Will look for this and/or add it to my list. I’m currently having great fun with The Ascent to Truth by Thomas Merton (which is Merton on mysticism and most specifically St. John of the Cross, to any reading this not familiar with it). Thomas Merton on anything is a contemplative read. Your study leave sounds very interexting indeed. My own self would never want to be a Carmelite (I’m too Ignatian), but I sure love reading their writings.

Comment by Val

thanks Val – yes the Merton book is very good, isn’t it? It is on my pile of books to read again


Comment by pilgrimpace

It really is, and I have also been slogging through C.S. Lewis’ Miracles concurrent with reading this volume of Merton in preparation to re-examine The Dark Night of the Soul. What strikes me is that Merton can squarely cover some of the same ground C.S. Lewis has covered in various works in a span that took Lewis seven or eight chapters…in about two chapters.

Comment by Val

Thanks Val. You might want to look at Peter Tyler’s ‘St John of the Cross’ and Iain Matthew’s ‘The Impact of God’ – both very helpful and accessible studies of John.


Comment by pilgrimpace

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