A Refueling and Spiritual Quest.
Where do you go when you need to recharge? For me, I go as far away as I can in search of the most exotic locations and wildlife that the world has to offer. Once I arrive, I simply marvel, rest, and try to soak in the sheer grandeur and exquisite beauty of God’s incredible design. Join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, the old stomping grounds of Charles Darwin and current home to giant tortoises, blue footed boobies and salt water iguanas. Oh, the adventure of it all! My plane leaves on Tuesday, therefore, look for some amazing spiritualsafariguide.com guest blog posts over the next several weeks. Enjoy and God Bless!
God saw that it was good and rested. Made in God’s image, we too are called to create, play our role in salvation history, and rest in God after our good works are done. Jesus, Himself, during His three-year ministry here on earth, encouraged His disciples to make time for rest and rejuvenation.
The apostles returned to Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and what they had taught. He said to them, “Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little.” So Jesus and the apostles went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place, (Mark 6:30 and 32).
So off we go to the mountain tops of Peru, and the pacific coastline of Ecuador, in search of rest, relaxation, and divine inspiration.
The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for, (Catechism of the Catholic Church-CCC, #27).
Most archaeologist believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti between 1438-1472. It was abandoned, about 100 years later, as a result of the Spanish Conquest. Unlike many ancient Inca settlements, Machu Picchu remained unknown to the outside world until 1911, when it was discovered by an American historian named Hiram Bingham. Among its most important structures is the upper level Temple of the Sun and Inti Watana Stone, or “hitching post of the sun”. Dedicated to Inti, their sun-god and greatest deity, the ritual stone was built to secure the sun’s location during its annual pathway in the sky. Although little information points to the practice of human sacrifice, strong archeological evidence points to Inca animal, liquid and dirt sacrifices to their gods.
In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being, (CCC, #28).
Today, more than 80% of Peru’s population is considered Roman Catholic. Although many practices of their Spanish conquerors were undoubtedly unjust, the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection eventually filled the hearts and minds of a people in search of the light of God’s love. Ironically, many churches and religious convents were built atop many abandoned sites once dedicated to Inti, the god of the sun. Pictured below in the Convent of Santa Catalina in Cusco, Peru. Built by Dominican nuns in 1605, its current structure replaced the century old “acllahuasi”, a home for virginal young women dedicated to serving the Inca ruler.
Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith. The proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason, (CCC, #35).
The above quote, taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, bridges humanity’s “mountain top” search for God and its scientific or intellectual striving for divine understanding. Therefore, let us leave the Peruvian Mountains and head west, towards the Galapagos islands, located 563 miles east of the Ecuadorian coast. This volcanic island chain is best known for its vast number of endemic species studied by the world-renowned scientist, Charles Darwin. Known as the father of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Darwin gathered data and collected samples from this island chain during his historic voyage aboard the Beagle. Today, the Galapagos Islands and their surrounding waters form Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Its 21 islands, 107 rock inlets, and prolific ocean waters support a wide array of unique wildlife including Galapagos fur seals, marine iguanas, sea lions, whales, sea turtles, penguins, flamingos, blue and red-footed boobies, dolphins and giant land tortoises.
But what of evolution? In regards to faith and science, the Catholic Church teaches:
“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made then what they are,” (CCC, #159).
Therefore, I bid you a found farewell, (chao and adios), as I begin my quest for divine inspiration in the awe-inspiring mountain tops of Peru, bountiful waters of Galapagos, and celebration of the Mass in the beautiful Cathedrals of Peru and Ecuador. Hope you enjoy our spiritualsafariguide.com guest blog posts over the next few weeks. As they say in Peru, “Ivaya con Dios,” (Go With God). Amen
Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen
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