Navarre boasts some of the Iberian Peninsula’s most beautiful landscapes, and Navarre holds special significance within Jesuit spirituality and history: St. Francis Xavier, Ignatius’s closest companion and one of the founding Jesuits, was born in Navarre.
Navarre is site of one of the most dramatic incidents in Ignatius’s own life. As a young man, Ignatius served as courtier and soldier who sought to win glory as a military man. In 1521, French troops invaded Navarre, supported by many in Navarre who, proud of their long, independent history, sought to carve out greater independence from the King of Castile (ruler of the kingdom that, over time, came to dominate the land we today call Spain). Ignatius of Loyola led a futile defense of the citadel at Pamplona, was wounded by cannon shot, and was transported back to his home. During his long convalescence, he underwent a profound conversion; no longer interested in military and courtly glory, he began to wonder how he might imitate the great saints in serving Jesus.
We start out from the Pilgrims’ Hostel, taking the Calle de las Pozas toward the Plaza de España, and from there toward the Plaza Chica and the Calle Araciel y Castejón. We come out by the Puerta de Castejón and follow the Avenida de Navarra. We find the statue of the two pilgrims: the young Ignatian and the old Jacobean.
We leave Alfaro by highway LR-288, which leads us directly to the next town, Castejón, which is in the Autonomous Community of Navarre. The train line runs beside us, on our left. We cross the roundabout of N-113 road and enter Castejón, straight ahead on Calle de San José.
We pass through Castejón, almost in a straight line, first by Calle de San José and then by Calle de Sarasate. Going straight ahead, we reach the end of town and on our left we see an incline towards the bridge over the railroad tracks. We walk towards the bridge but we do not cross; instead, we turn down the road to the right that leads parallel to the train tracks.
We keep following the train line, which runs parallel to the road on the left. A kilometre further on, we cross under AP-15 highway. We can’t get lost if we keep following the train line. At 5.5 kilometres from the highway bridge, our road passes over the train line. Here we have to decide if we will take the shorter route (2 kilometres less, but over pavement) or the more picturesque one (farm road near the Ebro River). The asphalt option is clear, and there’s no way to get lost on it: just keep going straight until reaching Tudela. The other option, which passes near the Ebro and also near a place known as Sotos de Ebro, crosses other dirt pathways, so we should pay attention to in order not to lose our way.
Undoubtedly, the dirt road leads to the best views of the River Ebro that we find on our Ignatian Way. The road that we have to follow to our left is found easily after crossing the bridge over the train line: we follow a steep curve to our left, which sends us back in the opposite direction from the one we were taking on the asphalt road. So we leave the main road, and the dirt road takes us around a wide turn to the right and brings us close to the Ebro River. Having reached the river, we keep it on our left and follow it downstream. The road has turnoffs and alternative routes, which lead to the fields irrigated by the Ebro. We continue straight, staying close to the river and walking parallel to it. We pass behind some houses that are on our right. At the next junction continue straight ahead. We arrive at some abandoned corrals on our left. Continue straight ahead. At the next junction we turn to our left. We see the city of Tudela in the distance. We arrive at some warehouses and meet the same road that we left a few kilometres before.
Once we reach the asphalt road, we follow it to our left. We will find ourselves with the train line on our right and the Ebro River on our left. We will soon pass a small dam on the river. Some 300 meters beyond the dam, we take a dirt road to our left; this continues parallel to the road. Using this route, we spare ourselves walking on pavement with cars nearby. This path leads us directly to the entrance of Tudela, always in parallel with the road.
We enter Tudela, where we find awaiting us the Romanesque church of Santa Magdalena. Following the Calle del Portal, we approach the Cathedral, the city hall, and the tourism office. The Pilgrims’ Hostel is found about 1.2 kilometres outside the city, following the Avenida de Zaragoza and the Calle de la Caridad.
Taxis Javier Gil . Tel: 626 310 612
Taxis La Esperanza . Tel: 678 617 029
Taxi . Tel: 636 471 672
City Hall . Tel.: 948 417 100
Hostal Remigio . (next to the Plaza of Los Fueros: discount for pilgrims). Tel.: 948 820 850.
Hotel AC Ciudad de Tudela*** . Calle de la Misericordia. Tel.: 948 402 440.
Hotel Ñ Tudela Momentos de Navarra*** . Mañeru, s/n. Tel.: 948 413 413.
Hotel Santamaría*** . San Marcial, 14. Tel.: 948 821 200.
Hotel Tudela Bardenas*** . Avenida de Zaragoza, 60. Tel.: 948 410 802.
Youth Hostel . Call and make reservation. C/ Camino Caritat, 17. Tel.: 616 931 104 / 948 402 779.
CASTEJÓN: An important railroad junction, the city has a museum dedicated to railroads. Also, the modern church of St. Francis Xavier (1944) reminds us that we are now in Navarre, the kingdom in which that Jesuit saint left a profound mark, expressed in the many churches dedicated to him. The town offers the possibility of restaurants, drugstores, clinic, supermarkets, and banks. City hall phone number: 984 844 002.
TUDELA: Capital of Ribera de Navarra, it was established in the year 802 by the Muslims and is one of the most important cities of Muslim origin on the peninsula. Worth a visit, the Cathedral (Romanesque style in transition to Gothic) was built in 1168 on the site of the principal mosque; it has recently been restored. Passing around the back of it, we will find the famous Gate of Judgment. In the Plaza de los Fueros (1687) we find the 16th-century city hall. A walk toward the Ebro River will take us to the bridge, which has its origins in the 9th century. Many historical and monumental buildings are within easy reach of the pilgrim, such as the church of St. Mary Magdalene (12th century), near the Ebro. It would be very useful to visit the tourism office (Plaza de los Fueros Tel: 948 848 058. The city has a bicycle repair shop, restaurants, pharmacies, health centre, supermarkets, banks, and tourism office.
Jesuit Fathers: The parish of Our Lady of Lourdes is staffed by the Jesuit fathers, who will be happy to stamp the pilgrims’ credentials, provided pilgrims arrive during regular hours. Address: Calle de Arcos Escribano, 34. Tel: 948 820 297.
Notes: Remember that the aim of these meditations of week 2 is to see Jesus more clearly, to love Him more deeply and follow him more closely. Let us not forget the “Introductory Prayer,” the ultimate fruit of this entire exercise. Use this prayer of contemplation to enter into the gospel account of the Baptism of Jesus.
Grace: I ask the Father for three things that I need and that only He can give: a more intimate knowledge of Jesus who has become one of us; a more personal experience of His love for me so that I may love Him more tenderly; and a closer union with Jesus in His mission to bring salvation to humankind.
Reflection: Around thirty years of age, Jesus left his work and home to begin his public ministry. Try to imagine what thoughts he might have had.
Jesus’ public life began with a journey, a kind of pilgrimage. He left his home in Nazareth, and traveled south- east to the River Jordan where he was baptized by John the Baptist. John’s ministry was calling sinners to repentance. John was well known and respected: certainly Jesus knew of John’s message as a prophet of God sent to the Jewish people. Jesus knew what John was doing. Ponder the message that Jesus, the sinless one, chooses to launch his ministry by placing himself in solidarity with sinners. The symbolism of these early verses from the gospel summons up a rich imagery of a pilgrimage along a new way of life. John the Baptist’s ministry is introduced with the words of Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” John calls sinners to repentance and to conversion. It is a word with roots that suggest a “turning point.” John is inviting us to turn in a new direction and to follow a new path in life. At some moment, Jesus makes a conscious and deliberate choice to begin his ministry, to change his worldly life in Nazareth; imagine what might have been going through his mind, what he saw around him to make him feel this was the right moment. Consider too how he chooses to begin his ministry, not with a speech or a miracle, but by traveling to be baptized by John. And also consider the experience of Jesus in the Jordan, His discovery, His understanding of the mission which the Father invites Him to carry out fully.
You can beg the Father to place you with Jesus, His Son, in line with John the Baptist. Imagine that you are one of His companions and that you are right behind Him, because you want to know Him better, love Him more and be more faithful in serving Him and humanity. Try to contemplate the gospel scene. What is John telling us?
Romans 6:3-4. Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so that we too might walk in newness of life.
Luke 3:1-22. “Then what are we to do?” At the moment of His baptism by John God’s voice confirms His sonship and His mission.
Matthew 3:13-17. Jesus, having pondered in His heart the mystery of the Fatherhood of God and the mission given Him by the Father, decides to leave Nazareth. I try to be present to Him as He reaches this decision, shares it with His mother, makes His farewells and leaves all that has helped to form Him as an adult and responsible human being. Let us walk with Him towards the Jordan River and stay on the river bank contemplating His baptism. What is it that I hear? What should I understand?
Closing Colloquy: Make a summary of what I have meditated upon during my time of prayer, talking to Jesus as a friend talks to a friend, being candid with him about the items found at this stage of the journey we have done. End with the Our Father.
As a brave and valiant knight, Ignatius does not set limits. If a particular saint was known for a special penance or service to our Lord, Ignatius had to match and surpass it. We have here an inner experience that someone who has been forgiven much may also be prepared to give much in return. The intensity of such effort corresponds to an inner awareness of being truly saved by God’s mercy.
«It will be helpful to recall one event that occurred during this journey as a way of showing just how God directed Ignatius. Although filled with an ardent desire of serving God, his knowledge of spiritual things was still very obscure. He had undertaken extraordinary penances not only to atone for his past sins, but also with the intention of doing something pleasing to his Lord. Indeed he declared that, though filled with the liveliest abhorrence of his past sins, he could not assure himself that they were forgiven.
Yet so intense was his desire to do great things for Christ during his austerities that he did not think of his sins. And when he recalled the penances practiced by the saints, his whole energy was directed to equal or even surpass these holy persons. He found his consolation in this holy ambition since he had no ulterior motive for his penances, knowing very little as yet about humility or charity or patience. He knew still less the value of discretion which regulates the practice of these virtues. To do something great for the glory of his God, to emulate saintly persons in all that they had done before him – this was the sole purpose of Ignatius in his practices of external penance.»
As Fr. J.M. Rambla, S.J. states in his book “The Pilgrim,” the “MORE” (MAGIS) is a keynote of the Ignatian symphony. Love always leads to a dynamic excess without measure. Love does not conform to the cold balance of what is just and right. Love always seeks out the “more,” surrenders “more,” becomes “more,” grows “more.’’ The famous Ignatian motto “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” expresses very well this growing dynamism of committed love. At the same time, Ignatius also recognizes that, during this period of his life, he also lacked the discretion “to regulate and measure these virtues” as he evaluated his great desires. It is this discretion that St.Paul identifies as a virtue which helps us in every circumstance of life to “find God’s will, that is, what is good and pleasing to God, and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). By dint of personal observation and knowledge of God’s presence, Ignatius will learn to live out of such discretion, and thus to transmit it to his fellow Jesuits. The “greater glory of God” will come about with a good dose of “love for God” and decisive action “to serve God.” Ignatius will affirm what Saint Irenaeus said much earlier: “The glory of God is man fully alive!” To this goal Ignatius pledged his life.