E1O – 31 Mar 2024

Shells and Surrender

Message by: Fr Richard M Healey

MP3 media (7:30am)

MP3 media (10:30am)

In today’s homily, I shared the profound experience of leading a pilgrimage across Europe, culminating in the Camino de Santiago. Walking this ancient path, we embraced the symbolism of carrying a rock, representing our personal burdens, and a shell, symbolizing our journey towards Christ. At Cruz de Ferro, we left our rocks behind, a ritual of letting go, and surrendering to God’s transformative power. As we prepare for the joy of Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, I invite you all to release your struggles and embrace the freedom found in resurrection life.

RH (00:00:00) – After the World Youth Day in Sydney. I was privileged a few months later to to lead a pilgrimage group through various shrines in in Europe, and one part of the pilgrimage took us from Lourdes, then across the the northern part of the Pyrenees. And then we came into the the western side of the Pyrenees and the Spanish side, and we made our way along the what is called the the path of Saint James, the road to Santiago de Compostela. And it was a beautiful pilgrimage, but most of the time we’re on the coach. And I thought, if you truly go along this ancient pilgrim path, it should be as a pilgrim by foot rather than on a coach. And so a few years later, some of my friends also wanted to do the Camino. So ten years ago now, I did the first section of the pilgrimage, walking from Leon all the way to Santiago de Compostela. It was over 15 days, about 330km that we walked. But a few days into the pilgrimage, we arrived at Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross, and it’s one of those places along the pilgrimage or the Camino to Santiago, that pilgrims have over the years developed the habit of bringing something with them.

RH (00:01:28) – They carried a rock, and so we were invited to to do the same. So we found a rock, and we carried that along with us. And of course, it’s on the top of a mountain. So you’ve got to carry this rock up this mountain. But it can kind of represent just all of the burdens, all of the things, all of those areas of our lives that haven’t quite worked out, all those parts of our existence where we’re just not happy with, with what’s happening, the resentments that we’re carrying, that the fight that we’ve had, that friendship that has gone sour, the relationship with our siblings or our parents, all of the the different wounds that that just shape and characterize all of our lives and people were invited to to then leave those rocks behind there on the pilgrim way and be a little bit lighter as you continue on the your journey to on the, the, the, the Camino. But the other thing that you’re invited to do is to, to carry a shell, to carry one of the, the scallop shells and, I had the, the a couple of months down it.

RH (00:02:36) – I’ve been sent here, over the summer and my predecessor for the Ticino over the four years that he was there, I obviously had an interest in shells. And so he collected all of these shells. But the shell has become a symbol of the Christian life and a symbol of the Camino. It’s quite lovely because in some ways, you see that there is a center point for the shell, that all of the, the scalloped lines kind of extend out of that. And, you know, when you go on a bush walk and you’re looking at the the footprints of the people that have been there before you, one of the things you notice normally in a bush walk is that the footprints go both ways. But on the Camino, one of the things you notice is they’re all in one direction, because everyone’s going the same way. Everyone’s, you know, getting up in the morning and walking further west, walking towards the setting sun, walking towards Christ, walking towards that hope and that fulfillment that we all we all bring, that we all long for, that we all desire.

RH (00:03:39) – And it’s important in the Christian life to have some of those rituals, some of those things that can, you know, mark and shape us and that can help us, you know, in our journey along the way. And a lot of that is going to be in letting go of stuff, in allowing all of those things that we no longer want to mark and shape and characterize our lives, but to be free from those things. So often we just make a new resolution and say, yes, you know, I will no longer commit that particular area of sin that will no longer shape me, that will no longer be the thing that marks my life, and that lasts for a few minutes, or a few hours or a few days before we fall back into that same habit. We continue back along that journey to dysfunction and to wounding and and all of that. Sometimes we need to make that definitive break and ritualized that. Bringing that into an actual practical experience can be a really good way of allowing that to, you know, to remind our bodies, our bodies already know the story.

RH (00:04:51) – Our bodies already have the solution often, but we need to to let that let the spirit do the work within our bodies. So being free from all of that, being a Christian, people, being a people of the resurrection is about first going into those dark places, going with Jesus into that place of death, into that place of stillness and silence, into that place of darkness, in order that we can be set free, in order that we can find the light of Christ. You know, until we let go of things, until we surrender to all of these things, that we don’t want to be part of our lives until we go into that space and just rest and wait in that area and allow God to be there. Part of that journey, part of that pilgrimage, and in that space to find the safety and to find the freedom to be able to say, Lord, this isn’t working. Trying to do this my own way isn’t serving me well. Lord, help me to let go, to surrender these areas of my life, these old relationships, these disappointments that I have.

RH (00:06:08) – The fact that I haven’t made my tens of millions of dollars by this point in my life, the fact that my mortgage is still just crippling me, although whatever those areas are, to take them with us, into that tune, into that space and just to surrender them. It’s a beautiful image that John the the author of the gospel Today, recognizes that the head covering the soldering iron, it’s called in the Greek, it’s only used twice in the Gospels, and it refers to the story of Lazarus, the first to be raised from the dead, and that he’s also his head covering was was wrapped up separately to the rest of his the bodily covering. And the evangelist notices that Jesus’s head covering is also separate. Sometimes we need to break things into smaller units. We can’t try and do the whole thing all at once, and we need to recognize that I can at least do this. If there’s something in your life that you’ve been struggling with, is there something that you’ve been trying to process, maybe even just to start to break it down into smaller units so that you can look at this one particular area and say, well, Lord, I can probably do that.

RH (00:07:26) – I can probably surrender that area of my life, or at least that component, that friendship, that whatever it was, and bring that to you and place that at the on the floor of the tomb, so that on that glorious Easter morning, we can experience that full freedom of resurrection life. We can be changed and transformed. Let’s allow Easter over the next 50 days to be a time of celebration. When we do that work of acknowledging and recognizing where we can’t do it ourselves, surrendering that little by little to God and allowing him then to bring the glory of the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit to both within our lives. Let’s indeed be the people that allow God to do that work, to change us, to transform us so that we can be indeed be the people prepared to encounter the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Scroll to Top