One of the first things I learned this morning as we left Cahors and headed for Lauzeret is that today is the feast day of St. Benedict. Our tour leader, Peter Sills, is an authority on Benedict and has been to St Paul's twice to give lectures on the Benedictine Rule.
Lauzerte is a major halt on the pilgrim way. It is one of the most beautiful villages in France. We came here to visit the church of Saint-Barthelemy. While there we celebrated Choir Eucharist.
After our time in Lauzerte we departed for Moissac to visit the Cloister of the Abbey Church. The Abbey and its Cloister is one of the major Romanesque sites of France. The cloister is on a grand scale and contains the oldest and largest collection of carved capitals still in their original place.
After spending time looking at the carved capitals and being struck by not only their beauty but also their age, we received a lecture about the ornate carving above the entrance to the cathedral. Most such carvings of these pilgrim churches are about "the last judgment." This one has a very different theme.
After this, we went into the cathedral and experienced a sung vesper service by the Ely Cathedral choir.
We have visited today two of the major places pilgrims stopped for their rest and physical healing, if necessary, on their way to Santiago.
So, this is some description of the way we have travelled today and some images to give you an idea of what we are seeing. The first place would have been a good day's walk from where we slept last night. The next one, four or five more days. However, as I said yesterday, the first pilgrims took longer to savor their journey.
I'll have more to say about Benedict later. He lived five hundred years before the pilgrimage to Santiago was instigated. At the time of Benedict, pilgrimages were made to Jerusalem and then, Rome.
Benedict asked those who joined the community he founded to take certain vows. Usually, people think of these vows as being vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Not so for Benedict. What he asked for was that people who joined his order take the vows of -
Silence. This is easy enough to understand. If we are called on to speak the truth, it is often easier just to say notiong.
Obedience. Those who joined the order were to obey the "rule" and be obedient to the Abbot.
Stability. This means sticking with the order and not running off to find another if the going gets rough.
Openness. We can easily, once we think we have "the truth," become closed to new ideas and insights.
Silence. Obedience. Stability. Openness.
If you take up these pilgrim vows, and our world as well as our lives would be better if we did, when someone asks you how your spiritual life is going, you can say, "So-so."