The President of the Idente missionaries, Fr. Jesús Fernández Hernández, has sent this beautiful message to the pilgrims of the Idente Route to Santiago. This is celebrated every year by the express wish of the founder of the Idente missionaries, Fernando Rielo, and takes place from 12 to 25 July from Astorga (León) to Santiago de Compostela. On this occasion it has had a beautiful ecumenical aspect by the participation of a group of German pilgrims of the Protestant church of Hoyerswerda.
Dear Missionaries and Friends,
First of all, my affection and prayer go out to each of the pilgrims. This year we are celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of our Road to Santiago. A pilgrimage made by believers and nonbelievers and by those who have truly repented. Of what? Of not having discovered that the most worthwhile and fruitful aspect of personal life is to know we are children of a Heavenly Father who really loves us madly. This Father is called God, a primordial, absolute concept which becomes a word in the varied languages of all nations and cultures in the world. Its content is a reality which has been infused into every human being: the mystical genetic patrimony which makes us all true children of God.
The human being’s life, with this very valuable patrimony, which everyone possesses, is a transition, an exodus, a pilgrimage towards our true home: heaven, represented in the Portico of Glory. The hardships of the pilgrimage have symbolized the way of the cross that every human life travels upon, as testified to by the Founder of the Idente Missionaries, Fernando Rielo: “A way of the cross,” he says, “which can be transformed into a hope-filled itinerary, where service is offered to others, friendship and life are generously shared, people bet everything on respect and dialogue; a way of the cross which can become a journey of admiration, where lovely landscapes are viewed, where the art and culture of past generations can be appreciated, where we are surprised by the kindness and hospitality of people; a way of the cross which commits us to the highest values, where we help others, where we look towards only the good, the peace, and the happiness of our fellows, where we sincerely wish to find the best way to conceive of and live out our destiny; a way of the cross which can be a bumpy ride, where weariness and fatigue, boredom and discouragement, and loneliness and incomprehension appear, but at the same time we have a capacity for response, overcoming, effort, and perseverance—in a word, for exercising our power as sons and daughters of a shared Heavenly Father; a way of the cross whicb arrives at Santiago de Compostela, a city of sculpted crosses with its Portico of Glory, the symbol of human beings who, in taking on the commitment to be holy through an unappealable vocation, bear in their hearts a betrothal to the cross and glory, to suffering and joy, and to death and life.”
This is the true way, which is Christ Himself, that you must follow, in union with Him, on returning to your homes. Only in this manner will you be able to find peace, inner freedom, and happiness. The way of the cross heads towards heaven. Fernando Rielo says that “those who have a true vision of heaven in this life know what they have to do: bear the instinct of effort, of the cross. Those who do not take up their cross cannot attain to this vision. We can affirm that those who have a vision of heavenly things are beyond the reach of any discouragement and remain unalterable in the face of all the episodes they encounter, of whatever kind.”
Christ provides a clear definition of heaven or eternal life: “That they may know You, the only true God, and the one You have sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3). To live in heaven is “to be with Christ,” “to live in Christ,” “to walk with Christ.” By his death and resurrection, He opened heaven for us. Let us not lose this great, unique gift.
Dear pilgrims, the truth is that each of our dimensions constitutes a vast horizon to be discovered. Spiritual life, mystical life, is a universe in itself, an immense world, an enthralling adventure, like your journey following the route of the great pilgrims and penitents over the centuries. Your path to the city of St. James the Apostle has entailed certain risks and demanded a certain boldness. You have not lacked courage.
You may have explored the foundations of a rich inner life sustained by continuous prayer, reading the Gospel, and the state of thanksgiving we receive from the Eucharist.
They say we are people with gashes in our hearts. You probably set out on the road with a certain loneliness, a sense of isolation, fears and some feeling of insecurity or confusion regarding the orientation of your lives. When people gather together not only to travel along an external religious path, but to make a pilgrimage for their souls, they discover those interior lacerations. For this reason an external pilgrimage moves in tandem with an internal one.
I am convinced that each human being suffers differently from other human beings, even if they are part of the same family. And this may be observed in the suffering of broken relationships involving spouses, siblings, and parents and children. But the most beautiful thing is that, in spite of our weaknesses, we have been chosen and blessed by our Heavenly Father.
You have likely had a spiritual or mystical experience during the pilgrimage which has introduced you a little more deeply into the experiential knowledge of the Most Holy Trinity, which is a loving knowledge. Standing before God there is a certain darkness produced by his infinite light, which is too intense for us, and we are left profoundly astonished, in silence. In reality, every relation to God in the silence of our hearts, open to divine love, is true prayer.
Young pilgrims! Be enthusiastic, which is more than being optimistic. Enthusiasm, in Greek etymology, means ‘breath,’ ‘fire,’ or ‘inner rapture induced by the divine.’ Enthusiasm, when authentic, produces peace, balance, and serenity. Enthusiasm pushes us and sweeps us along; it is fascinating and supremely attractive. To possess enthusiasm is to possess youth and a willingness to fight for a better future, feel vitality, dream, emerge from mediocrity and routine, and get the best out of ourselves. Know that Christ is the only one who can truly humanize a society which, without Him, is left drifting. He is the great leader who gives us enthusiasm and creativity in the face of hardships, which are never lacking.
Never get discouraged, dear young people. You are the new heroes of the twenty-first century. Do not think so much about your successes or failures. That is not what is most important. The most important thing is to become close to your brother and friend, Christ. The deeper our roots are in Christ, the longer our branches will grow. Only in this way, in Christ, will we be able to speak with others about friendship and help them effectively. People who pray, who love by silencing all that separates them from the love of the Father, do a great deal of good to humanity. Little streams make mighty rivers.
Those who want to do good will always find the means to do so. Each act of prayer is thus like a star set aflame in a heart somewhere, reaching even the farthest corner of the universe.
Hoping to meet you at some point on the road of life, I embrace and bless you, in the mystical shadow of St. James the Apostle and our Father Founder, and in the presence of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
 Fernando Rielo, Message to the Pilgrims on the Road to Santiago, New York, July 11, 2001.
 Cristo y su sentido de empresa, FFR, Madrid, 2017, p. 102.
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