Last Monday, I was invited to a screening of the movie, The Way, starring Martin Sheen and written, produced, and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez. Why was I invited? I wish I could tell you it was because I am an influential member of the Catholic media, or that I was going to have Sheen and/or Estevez on my old radio show (at times I do miss it). Truth be told, my name is still on old contact lists for some media outlets that have Catholic connections, so off to Bensalem, Pennsylvania I went, bringing along my bud, Fr. Guy Selvester.
The movie begins with a father (played by Sheen) being told that his son (played in cameos by Estevez) was killed in a weather-related accident while making the ancient Camino pilgrimage from France and across Spain. Once there to identify and bring his son's body home, Sheen decides to make the pilgrimage himself, bringing his son's cremated remains along on last "father/son" thing they would ever do. Along the way, he meets people who both change him and are changed by him.
No surprise to anyone we're a sedentary society. The same holds true for Catholics, who sit in a car to get to Mass, sit in a pew, and then sit in the car again to go home. This movie reminds us of one of the most ancient and overlooked traditions of our faith: The pilgrimage. Can anything else be more Christlike than to go from town to town, being welcomed into homes and eating what's there? In the Q&A afterwards, Sheen put it this way: "People on pilgrimage tend to overpack, and as they walk, they discard what they find they don't really need. It starts with things, but after a while, they start letting go of feelings: anger, hostility; things they've been carrying for 35 years."
It's a great movie, and I wholeheartedly recommend seeing it. Just be prepared to hear that little voice in you question whether a pilgrimage wouldn't be good for you? I know it did that for me. For more information about the movie and where it is showing, click HERE.