From: Pilgrim Road
In the wilderness the Israelites were constantly doing battle: against external enemies such as the hostile Amalekites, against internal ones such as discouragement and temptations to idolatry. In the Middle Ages a pilgrimage was an arduous and dangerous enterprise – sometimes even fata. Violence was always a possibility, whether from highway robbers, from criminals posing as fellow pilgrims, or from warring armies.
In the deserts of northern Egypt the monastic fathers and mothers used to speak of the spiritual life as “sacred warfare,” in which the enemy was the devil and the battleground the human heart. The meditations this week explore the image of holy combat from various angles.
“Eger” warns us to watch for the enemy within. “Waterloo” asks us to make a healthy critique of the influences in our culture that can weaken our commitment to the gospel. “Arles” and “Toledo” challenge us to free ourselves from those “negligences” that Benedict speaks of in his chapter on Lent. “Fulda” urges us to set about the task right away, since none of us knows how much time we have left on the journey. Finally, “Saint Etienne” encourages us to go about the Christian combat with a spirit of confident optimism.