.- St. James reminds us to be faithful to our apostolic tradition as Christians, the Archbishop of Santiago of Compostela said on Sunday as tens of thousands of pilgrims, the Monarchs of Spain and many members of the Church hierarchy flocked to the famous shrine of St. James for his feast day.
With the feast day falling on Sunday, 2010 is being celebrated as a jubilee year for pilgrims. Over 100,000 pilgrims a year walk great distances along the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) to reach the saint's tomb.
The Eucharistic celebration in the Basilica of St. James on Sunday was concelebrated by more than 30 bishops, including Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela Julian Barrio.
During Archbishop Barrio's homily, he said that the solemnity of the patron saint of Spain, "motivates us to be conscious of our Christian condition, commending ourselves to his patronage in order to be faithful to the apostolic tradition that lays the foundations for our faith, revitalizing our identity ... "
Emphasizing the necessity of allowing God to be present in one's life, he said "man is a pilgrim open to the transcendent, capable of transforming society through the love of God poured out in his heart."
Over the past two millenia, Archbishop Barrio noted "there has never been a lack of tests for Christians," and that St. James openly professed his faith amidst persecution. However, he cautioned, "in spite of the suffering (persecutions) cause, they do not consititute the most serious danger for the Church.
"She suffers, in fact, the greatest damage from what contaminates the faith and the Christian life of her members and communities, eroding the integrity of the mystic Body, weakening her capacity of prophecy and witness, tarnishing the beauty of her face."
Underscoring that Christian commitment needs to continue today in spite of pessimism and the temptation to give up earthly responsibilities, he said, "we must not ignore the necessities of the faith."
Living in a world where "wheat and chaff" grow together, "the effort to reduce evil must be persistent, knowing that the offering of the Gospel is a humanizing route for the future," the archbishop said.
Pope Benedict XVI also remembered the feast day after Sunday's Angelus, recalling the "deep" roots of the tradition of venerating St. James and saying he hoped to make his own pilgrimage there in November. "Following the footsteps of St. James," he prayed, "let us continue the journey of our lives while bearing constant witness of faith, hope and charity."