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Unlikely spiritual pilgrim walks 70 miles from frat house to shrine
Though he's not Catholic, Andrew Domini walked for two days to reach a Catholic shrine in Indiana.
April 14th, 2012
01:10 AM ET

Unlikely spiritual pilgrim walks 70 miles from frat house to shrine

By Jen Christensen, CNN

Andrew Domini’s feet were blistered and bloodied. He could barely walk by the time he finally made it to a pink marble church and crawled the last 90 feet to a quiet shrine tucked into the corner.

As he paused a couple of weeks ago in front of the wooden coffin that held the remains of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and prayed, the 19-year-old said he finally felt at peace.

Domini had walked nearly 70 miles, becoming an unlikely spiritual pilgrim. But the religious shrine wasn’t in Rome, Jerusalem or some other officially holy city. It was in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

And Domini’s spiritual quest had begun in the most modern of ways: flipping channels on the couch.

“I was watching ‘Law and Order’ reruns one Sunday, but there was a commercial,” Domini said. “So I grabbed the remote and landed on CNN, and there was this sister talking about this saint and what she meant to her.”

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“There was this regular kind of guy with eye problems who prayed to Mother Guerin and was cured - that made me stop,” Domini said. “By the end of the program I knew exactly what I needed to do.”

An aging friend of Domini’s who lives nearby in Crawfordsville, Indiana, had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer six months earlier.

“He wasn’t doing well, and he’s the kind of guy who gives so much and doesn’t expect anything in return,” Domini said. “I wanted to do something for him.”

Without telling his friend, Domini - who isn’t Catholic and said he has tried out different churches but considers himself more spiritual than religious - said he decided to take a long walk in search of spiritual assistance.

The TV program that had caught Domini’s attention was "CNN Presents," which aired the story of Mother Theodore Guerin, who arrived from France with a small group of religious sisters in what was then hostile anti-Catholic territory in Indiana in 1840.

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Bringing almost nothing with them, the sisters quickly built a community that would improve the lives of hundreds of Hoosiers. Guerin built eight schools, three orphanages and founded the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

Today, the congregation includes more than 350 women who educate and care for thousands all over the world.

After nearly 100 years of trying, the sisters finally got the Vatican to recognize Guerin as a saint - the Roman Catholic Church’s highest honor - in 2006.

“I wasn’t even raised Catholic,” Domini said. “But after seeing the show and after hearing about her journey here and what she did, I knew I had to go.”

Domini, who is taking a break from his second year at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, could have driven but said he “wanted to walk.”

“I wanted it to be a sacrifice,” he said.

So walk he did. After mapping out his journey online, he threw a candy bar, a lighter (he couldn't find a flashlight), change of shirt and socks and some money into his backpack.

He left his Wabash College fraternity house around 5 a.m., walking without headphones or company and trying to think only of his friend.

“I wasn’t lonely at all. I was actually fascinated by how things kept working out,” Domini said. “I trusted in providence like Mother Guerin talked about.”

The first day he made it some 30 miles, walking along highways and country roads.

The trek was mostly quiet and uneventful, though a state trooper stopped Domini about 15 miles outside of town. Domini gave the officer his name and explained his pilgrimage, and the trooper sent him on his way, with encouragement.

“The only real hazard was the trucks,” Domini said. “They would come so close I would have to jump off into the grass, and they were so loud sometimes it was hard to think.”

It was also hard to find lodging that first night. “I asked for sanctuary at a couple of churches, but they told me they couldn’t do that,” Domini said.

Eventually he found a couch at a student union building in Greencastle. After security asked him to leave, he tried a park bench and then a couch inside an abandoned bank building.

The next day, he walked 12 more miles. By that time his feet were blistered and bleeding.

But a couple saw him on the side of the road and asked if he needed a ride. They happened to be heading in his direction and dropped him just outside Terre Haute. He went about 10 miles in the car before walking the last couple of miles to St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

“As I stepped on the grounds, it all felt so peaceful,” he said.

After praying at the shrine for his friend, he visited the Sisters of Providence’s welcome center, watching a video about the Saint Mother Theodore’s life.

The small museum is filled with earthly reminders of Guerin’s humanity: her tiny shoes, a sewing basket, her wooden writing desk.

Domini was particularly taken with a quote of Guerin’s: “What have we to do in order to become saints? Nothing more than we do every day. Only do it for the love of God.”

At the museum, Sister Jan Craven, who now runs the shrine, approached Domini.

“I swooped him under my wing to find out what brought him here,” Craven said.

Since CNN’s program on Mother Guerin ran last month, Craven said her workload has tripled as she’s received hundreds of calls, e-mails and letters. One couple from New England made a detour on their drive home from Florida.

“Another lady from Vegas called and asked me to send her everything I’ve got on Mother Theodore,” Craven said.

Craven said that many of Guerin’s new fans ask for help for sick friends, for lost jobs, for peace. Like Domini, many aren’t Catholic.

“I tell them I don’t think God is Catholic, and they look at me like I’m nuts,” Craven said. “God is much bigger than any one religion.”

When Craven asked Domini if he had anything to eat, he told her he’d been fasting. She took him to the dining hall to eat with the sisters and offered him a room in the men’s wing of the facility.

“I warned him he was going to be doted on by a lot of grandma-types,” Craven said.

Domini spent two days with the sisters, who told him about what Saint Guerin had meant to them and about their service.

“We’ve been told by a lot of people that when they come onto the grounds, they feel a real sense of peace that we are this oasis in this modern jungle,” Craven said. “We feel this, but because we live here sometimes we need a reminder. Andrew did just that.”

At the end of his stay, the sisters gave Domini some books, prayer cards and notes and asked him to come back soon.

Domini hadn’t been able to tell his friend, Fred Lewis, about his walk until Thursday. Lewis, in his 60s, had been too ill to receive visitors but was well enough Thursday to drive to see Domini after reading about his pilgrimage in a local newspaper.

Lewis still looked unwell, Domini said, but he thinks the trek was nonetheless worthwhile.

“I’ve been inspired,” Domini said. “I trusted in Providence to get me through this just like (Mother Guerin) did with her journey.

“We are here to make the world a better place,” he said, “just like the sisters do every day.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Journeys

soundoff (843 Responses)
  1. Rainer Braendlein

    Bigotry (a real burden for the mankind)

    All false religions are bigoted. The members of false religions, at least those of them, which take seriously their religion, love only members of their own religion or people, which they want to convert.

    This nasty behaviour you find among Catholics, Muslims, Anabaptists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, false Protestants, etc..

    The problem is that the false religions see Grace as their PROPERTY. As soon as you have joined their religion you participate in infinite Grace, which dispenses you from correct behaviour in daily life.

    Let us take the Islam as an example:

    Sura Al-Fatiha (Sura 1):

    1 In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
    2 Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
    3 The Beneficent, the Merciful.
    4 Master of the Day of Judgment,
    5 Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.
    6 Show us the straight path,
    7 The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.

    The first Sura sounds even Christian (Allah is called merciful), but let us consider that this is not the only Sura of the Koran.

    The whole context of the Koran makes it clear that the first Sura is related only to Muslim believers. Allah is merciful and gracious only towards Muslims or people, which want to convert to Islam.

    This bigotry could be endured, if Islam would mean love and righteousness in daily life (a true Christian shall be full of love and righteousness to everybody independent from belief, color, nationality, status, etc. in daily life). Regretably a good Muslim is yet a Muslim, which keeps the 5 pillars of Islam, independent from practical love and righteousness:

    – Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad;
    – Establishment of the daily prayers;
    – Concern for and almsgiving to the needy;
    – Self-purification through fasting; and
    – The pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.

    The 5 pillars of Islam have not much to do with rightousness, excepted almsgiving (whereby, I would like to know, if a Muslim would give alms to a poor Christian, or if he would regard his poverty as a curse of Allah?).

    The mean trick of all these is that you become a participant of grace yet by keeping the 5 pillars, independent from your daily behaviour. You may think like this (if you are a Muslim): I have tried to convert my workmate to Islam, but he refuses. He is now under the wrath of Allah, who will throw him into hell finally. Why should I love this nasty disbeliever, which is not loved by Allah? Why should I give him any good hints and advices? Why should I talk with him? Why should I be concerned about his security? Why should I help him, if he is in need? Allah doesn't love this infidel individual, hence I am allowed to hate him too.

    The same att-itude have got Catholics, Anabaptist, Mormons, etc..

    They keep certain rituals of their believe and by that they are participants of infinite Grace, which allows them to treat their infidel fellow human beings, which they regard as disbelievers, very ill. They feel not obliged to show love and rightousness to their fellow human beings.

    How works a true Christian, in contrast:

    A Christian knows that at Judgement Day he will get judget according to his works. Only if he has lived a life of love and rightousness he will finally enter heaven. A Christian loves everybody, independent form belief, color, nationality, status, etc.. He loves people, even if they are no Christians and even if they don't want to become Christians. A true Christian doesn't regard God's Grace as his property, but shares it with his fellow human beings. The Christian sees always himself as that one, who is required by God to behave correctly. A Christian oversees the sins of his fellow human beings and behaves friendly and kindly despite their sins (of course, if people harm one another, the Christian has to intervene and to stop the wrongdoer).

    Yet a true Christians will hold on to the truth and confess it to everybody:

    The gospel: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    The man, who believes that and gets baptized (or remembers his infant baptism), will receive the power of the Holy Spirit to love his fellow human beings and to behave righteous.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  2. Rainer Braendlein

    God's Gospel of his Son Jesus Christ:

    God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    Believe that and get baptized (if you have yet received infant baptism, just remember your infant baptism and don't get rebaptized).

    Christ's atonement is so great, because it was a divine person, who died for us. Jesus Christ was God and man at the same time. Jesus Christ was the eternal Son of God, who came down from heaven and lived a sinless life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus remained with God even in the garden Gethsemane expecting the terrible crucifixion. Jesus is the firstborn of a new mankind, which always stays in God in contrast to Adam and his descendants (the ordinary, current mankind), which always forsake God.

    Jesus was confirmed as Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. He got not punished for own sins, but for our sins. His execution was not legitimate and God finally repealed the false sentence. The mankind falsely gave Jesus a cross, but God gave him the throne of the universe.

    The false doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church:

    Catholics presume they could add on something to Christ's atonement or complete it by their good deeds. That is a complete nonsense. Let us regard that a person of the eternal Trinity, a divine person, suffered for us and how shall we human, sinful, mortal wrecks add on something to that? That is impossible.

    There is no need for praying a rosary, veneration of saints, becoming a monk, buying indulgence, fasting, almsgiving, etc., in order to gain God's forgiveness.

    If we have sinned, we shall regard again and regard again Christ's atonement and ask him for forgiveness. We may even practice privat confession in the presence of a Christian brother.

    Our first baptism remains always valid and we can return to it every time, also if we have committed sins.

    The Roman Catholic infant baptism is valid, but if someone wants to live according to his baptism, which is a divine call for discipleship, he should leave the Roman Church, which has corrupted by papacy and become a real Christian (www.confessingchurch.wordpress.com).

    A real Christian lives a life of practical righteousness and spiritual love to his fellow human beings by the power of the Eternal Spirit. The love fullfills the law, that means the 10 commandments and the whole Torah. The life of a true Christian is not in conflict with the law, because he is led by the Legislator.

    April 16, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  3. Rainer Braendlein

    We should wonder sometimes, why at all the Reformation took place in Europe. The Reformation was an epochal event, which changed Europe completely up to now.

    One of the reasons, why Prof. Dr. Martin Luther (University of Wittenberg/Germany) started the Reformation, was the wicked papacy.

    According to the Bible actually Jesus Christ himself shall be the invisible head of the Church. This office the pope has stolen. One could remark, let the pope just be the highest human secretary of the Church and Christ still may be the invisible head. Papacy could be endured, if the pope would really be merely the highest human administrator of the Church organisation.

    Yet in fact the pope is the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church and this cannot be tolerated.

    What is the problem about that?

    The first Christian Church was the Church of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Church). It was a really good and Christian Church, where people could find health for soul and body. This Church consisted mainly ot the Churches of Italy, Egypt, Greece, Palestine and Syria. Clerics of these Churches met sometimes on free international (ecu-menical) Councils, where they freely discussed complicated matters of the doctrine. The ecu-menical Councils were not predetermined by a lousy pope, but let by the Holy Spirit. The outcome of such Councils was indeed the divine decision and these decisions are still valid today after so many centuries.

    Nothing is more blasphemous than a predetermined council, because it is pure hypocrisy. Imagine Obama would predetermine all decisions of the Congress and the Senate. It would be ridiculous, if they would still meet. Predetermined councils are a lie in itself, because they conceal the absolut power of the "pope-rat(z)". All Catholics are ruled by one ridiculous individual from Bavaria, which doesn't understand the Bible.

    At a predetermined council the bishops only gather to let sth. through on the nod. How shall the Holy Spirit influence such a council of hypocrisy? It is impossible. The Spirit is completely extinguished on such a council.

    The real Church is a spiritual body in a real sense. No human being is able to lead this spiritual organism, but merely Christ or the Spirit, which are powerful, divine persons.

    Hence, it is clear that the Roman Catholic Church had to corrupt totally in the course of history, because a human dwarf (the pope) tried to lead her and failed totally lacking any divine abilities to lead Christ's body. The RCC has become a pi-sspot of heresies.

    In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we condemn the Roman Catholic Church. There, you can find no health, but merely damnation. She has become the cursed harlot of the Revelation, which will finally get destroyed by the Most High.

    Dear Catholic, Muslim, Mormon, Rebaptizer, etc. forsake your false cult, church or religion and join the loveable, meek and humble Jesus from Nazareth, become a Protestant Christian.

    Here is my love in Christ: In contrast to the pope Luther teached the true gospel. What is that?

    Luther once was a Roman Catholic Abbot (even a supervisor of several monasteries). As a child Luther got baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. He never got baptized again.

    The Roman Catholic Church had added on someting to the baptism: Righteousness by good works. This was totally wrong and Luther rejected that doctrine. Luther started to reform the RCC. The congregations of the RCC, which accepted Luther's reform, became the Evangelical Church of Germany. Luther teached that a believer shall always live a life of righteousness by the power of his first baptism (mostly infant baptism) and if he has sinned again the believer shall exercise privat confession and return to his first baptism, but not try to get righteousness by good works (to say a rosary, to do a pilgrimage, buy indulgence and the like).

    What happens at baptism?

    God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification. We get metaphysically connected with Christ's death and resurrection by baptism (look Romans 6). In a narrower sense we can only believe in Christ in connection with the sacramental baptism. At baptism we die and resurrect with Jesus. Our sins get atoned by his death and we get a new life of righteousness by his resurrection. This is the true and powerful faith, which restores sinners. After baptism we are dead for the sin and in Christ. We have died and resurrected together with him. Day by day we overcome our sinful body by the power of baptism. We daily invite Jesus to be our meek and humble ruler.

    This is the doctrine on baptism by Luther, St. Paul, Bonhoeffer and the Early Church.

    April 16, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    April 16, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes otherwise intelligent and rational people into believing they can talk to an imaginary super friend.

      April 16, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • just sayin

      When an atheist steals (which is an atheist trait) the name atheism is not healthy for children and other living things a wonderful Truth is proclaimed. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!!.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • just sayin

      Yes it do. God bless

      April 16, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Jesus

      “Yes it do.”

      More lies and desperation proving my post correct. What an idiot.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • otto

      "When an atheist steals (which is an atheist trait) the name atheism is not healthy"

      Are you going to provide any proof that atheists steal because they are atheists or just make more claims bereft of truth.

      Here I can do it too, 'Christians diddle little boys and girls (which is a christian trait).'

      Now show why my statement is unfair but yours is true. Bet you can't do it.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  5. Maryam

    Reading the comments on here feels like going through an angry third graders notebook.

    Rather than making me want to start name calling, like the same individuals keep doing (does anyone here have a job?), the made me interested in learning more about Mother Theodore Guerin.

    April 16, 2012 at 6:39 am |
  6. Christianity is not healthy for firs and spruces

    Axes kill things.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  7. The Central Scrutinizer

    He walked 70 miles? Big Deal! When I was a kid, we had to walk 80 miles to school every morning and 80 miles back. Both uphill carrying stone tablets because we couldn’t afford paper. Then it was time for chores, like plowing the North 40. We got up before we went to bed and had to sleep in a cardboard box in the middle of the street and hunt squirrels for our meals with a sling shot. And you know what? We LIKED it. We LOVED it. We were lucky to have it so good. 70 miles? Blisters? We didn’t even have shoes! Give me a break.

    It was really bad in the winter. The snow was 30 feet deep. I lost one toe to frost-bite every winter for ten years. I had to wear my older sister's hand-me-down dresses because my Mother's arthritis was so bad she could not sew any boys’ clothes. That is why I had to fight the class bully every day. Sometimes when there were no squirrels, we had to eat rocks for dinner. That was very difficult with no teeth (from the fights with the bully). And you know what? I liked it! I loved it! I was lucky to have it. These kids today!

    The worst part was every night after walking 160 miles, plowing forty acres, chopping the fire wood and eating rocks that made my gums bleed. My parents would come out to the box my sister and I slept in the middle of the road and jump up and down on top of us screaming "Die!" "Die" "Die" with a necklace make out of my dead toes swinging from my mother’s neck. And you know what. We liked it. We loved it. We were lucky to have it so good. These spoiled kids today!

    April 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  8. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    Bottom line: The topic fellow simply wasted his time. He should have spent the time studying!!
    -------------------------------------------------–

    April 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  9. The Catholic Church

    Is a reeking pile of bloody feces.
    And its followers are maggots, eating the feces and telling themselves it's honey.

    April 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  10. Sister Geraldine

    That little s.o.b. drank my cooking wine!!

    April 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    "Lightening the brevities of pranksterisms"

    lol. seriously, when you see a squiggly red line under a word, it means you've misspelled it.

    April 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      @Pipe Dreamer, of course.

      April 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    “I wanted it to be a sacrifice,” he said.

    that statement says it all. somehow suffering and physically abusing yourself brings you closer to the bloodthirsty christian god. it's such a demented cult, christianity. disgusting.

    April 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Rodney McKay

      The young man is trying to come to terms with something bad going on in his life. His religion has very little to do with it other than as a vehicle for expressing pent up emotion (stress, rage, anger, pity, helplessness) that's how he's dealing with this right now. A pilgrimage, a sacrifice, whatever he chooses to call it - let him work it out. If this little walk-about gave him peace, then who are we, atheist or otherwise, to judge?

      April 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i'm not saying he isn't allowed to do anything he wants, but i have the right to give my opinion. and i believe it is mentally unhealthy to want to be a sacrifice.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • ThisIsWhy

      Whatever you have to tell yourself.

      April 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  13. I thought jesus was white

    don't you love the religious who pretend they are atheist and try to con you? The try to get you to read their foolish long posts. Only proves their dishonesty.

    April 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  14. Rodney McKay

    I'm an atheist. There, plain and simple., no apologies, no regrets.

    In my youth, I was outraged over what I considered to be religious propaganda and thought-control; I was both outspoken and a borderline militant opposed to anything having to do with religion and people of faith. Today, I'm still a non-believer but view religion from a much broader and deeper perspective. Time, knowledge, wisdom and life experiences tend to do that to you. I learned the difference between a religious person and a spiritual person, the two aren't always the same. Hang with me on this as I explain.

    Religion is the product of Man and serves a very important role, it's the social "glue" that helps like-minded people hang together as a coherent group, it's a way of giving us strength in numbers to survive in a harsh world. Nothing wrong with that. Religion helps people deal with all the stress and unknown dangers be they man-made or natural. Religion helps people cope with adversity, calamity, fear, danger and all those things that tend to tear societies apart. Religion is about knowing there's a place to go for sanctuary and help; it's also about helping those in need. True, one doesn't have to be religious to do all those things but religion has been around for a very long time and, admittedly, pretty good at doing what it does.

    Spirituality is an experience. You don't have to be religious to have a spiritual experience, but even I have to confess, religion sometimes helps you put that moment of spirituality into some sort of context. A spiritual moment is that occasion when we realize our puny insignificance in the universe; it is the acknowledgement that there are things going that are not only beyond our understanding, but beyond the capability of any human to understand. Science has helped to alleviate some of the mystery; never the less, even String Theory and the search for the Higgs Boson don't even come close to answering many of the "Big" questions. And even if we do understand what causes an aged star to explode and turn into a black-hole, there's something spiritual in actually seeing that process unfold millions of light-years away. Many people, religions and otherwise, go through their entire lives and never experience something spiritual. Religion has nothing to do with it.

    As an atheist, I've come to understand the important role of prayer. True prayer isn't about talking to God, it's about talking to ourselves. Prayer is about seeking within ourselves the power and the strength to do those things the we, or others, have previously deemed to be impossible. Prayer is about identifying and using an inner strength (be it physical or psychological) to help cope with some disaster or calamity that has befallen us. Prayer helps us understand ourselves, it helps us to reach beyond boundaries and become more than what we were. Some folks call it prayer, some call it meditation, either way, it accomplishes the same thing - a good thing.

    The young man in this story was drifting aimlessly through life without purpose when he realized his friend was dying and nothing could be done to stop it - that was Andrew's moment of spirituality. He wanted to do something for his friend but logically knew the guy was pretty much finished. Therein lies the major philosophical and emotional conflict - I want to do something to help but know that logically no matter what I do, the thing is going to happen regardless. How do I resolve this conflict?

    Andrew's quest wasn't about walking to ta shrine to save a friend, it was about seeking inner strength to deal with his friend's passing. Andrew's spiritual moment turned into a spiritual quest, a journey for the mind as much as was for the soul. The Andrew who arrived at St. Mary's-Of-The-Woods was not the same Andrew sitting at home watching TV. The shrine was immaterial, it could have just as easily been a corn field or an oak tree; he chose this particular place because it fit the context of his religious training and beliefs.

    Andrew has taken a first step at realizing his true inner strengths and the things that can be accomplished with that strength as evidenced by the works Mother Guerin. I hope he follows through and continues on this new path in life.. Wouldn't it be ironic if Andrew figured out a way to raise money to help bright, economically disadvantaged, children get into college and to see one of those kids go on to develop a safe effective method of stopping advanced-staged cancers and repairing the damage?

    I'm an atheist, I believe in the power of inner-strength, the ability to be much more than what we are. But sometimes, it takes a traumatic event - a spiritual event, if you will - to trigger the needed response. If others choose to call this God, that's fine by me as long as the end result is the same. This is why I no longer get into food-fights with believers, it's pointless. Believe what you wish, but don't belittle me or tell me I'm going to Hell for refusing to ride on your bus.

    April 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      When you started using words like spirituality and prayer you lost me.

      April 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      This was a long post, so I only skimmed, but I just want to point out that most of the "food fights" with people who believe is not over the concept of belief. It's rather a defense reaction to people of belief trying to control the lives of others or influence the world to believe like they do. I point to the discussion of birth control, evolution, abortion, and embryonic stem cell research as examples. If religious people just holed up in their communities and didn't stick their noses in anybody's business, I suspect there would be far less food fighting.

      April 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • how to become a good christian:

      what a silly little kid

      April 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Rodney McKay

      Prayer changes YOU, not the things around you. Prayer, clears your mind (just like any other form of meditation), it enables you to see things in a way you did not see before, it enables you to do that which you did not think possible.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things,
      Proven,

      April 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • I thought jesus was white

      yes, praying to a volcano, has identical effects.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      rodney, you attribute way too much to prayer. there is no "power" of prayer. you can set personal affirmations, which can be healthy, but truly believing you are talking to someone that doesn't exist is not healthy.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven
      Powerful

      April 15, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • otto

      A lie told often enough will come to be truth.

      -Joseph Goebbels

      Proven

      Powerfull

      April 15, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • just sayin

      @otto
      How did life work out for your hero joeseph goebbels, otto? God bless

      April 16, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • otto

      just sayin,

      You know the point, repeating the same thing may make people believe something but it does not make it true.

      Putting "God Bless" at the end of a put down does not make you less of an as.shole, actually it makes you a bigger one. I am sure your god would be proud. So when you ask yourself WWJD your answer is to use your god's name in implying I am a nzi sympathizer, no wonder the god of your bible is such a pri.ck.

      just sayin.....GFY

      April 16, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!!..

      April 16, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • just sayin

      Otto you are the one using goebbels not me you brought it up, seig heil otto. God bless

      April 16, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • otto

      just sayin,

      Goebbels ran propoganda and was obviously very good at it, so his take on how to spread lies effectively should be taken seriously and doing so does no mean one agrees with his methods or his message, just that he knew what he was talking about when it comes to spreading lies.

      And repeating over and over that "prayer changes things" is taking a page out his book on how to lie.

      And he was on your side, he was a Christian. Here is another quote from him.

      "Christianity is not a religion for the masses, let alone for all. Cultivated by few and translated into deeds, it is one of the most splendid blossoms that a decent man's soul can develop."

      April 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  16. Pipe-Dreamer

    A Science diddie of a biddie! ,,,,,,

    Here's a weenie of science for ya! Long ago in the ancient timeperiods of Greek and Roman civilizations, there were these Theological Philosophers who made stories as to just exactly what was the smallest things and their roles in the meanings of Life. In their still known to us writings they did write that the smallest things known were the "elemental gods". Todays scientists do scoff at such an idea and they have renamed an old fling to call these "elemental gods as being atoms putting to bed the ancient Theological philosophers' understandings. So much for pragmatisms' lamentations!

    Another tid-bit to ponder upon is the exact size of this "Celestial Cosmos we find ourselves living within. Just how big is it really? Do you agree with our sciences' rather mundane stand that the universe is all there is out there? If you do then you get the booby prize! This Celestial Cosmos is riddled with way more than just our knowable to us universe! The actual size and immensity of the Celestial Cosmos is beyond the "rigormorolled" perceptions of many science ladled folks!

    Another diddy to feast upon is called "Fractal Cosmology" Ever heard about it? Probably not so here is the main jist of it! Fractal Cosmology deals with the very real possibiliy that there are places where there are universes within universes. These places where there are "inner-universes" must and I dare say again, must be sheltered from the outward universes blasts of stellar radiation. What a better place to hide Micro-universes than within all forms of living bodies! Here's the clincher! All Life Forms and Life Formations are all made up of cellularized universes that are living places for the elemental gods' ever so smalled living generations of inward living life forms and life formations! Many verses of the KJVB does back up this diddy of thoughts!

    Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is INSIDE you.

    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building

    April 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      when i read what you write, it's hard not to think you are a 7th grader with bad grammar (and perhaps a head injury). what's worse, you try to sound smart... and fail. your logic full of fallacies. your sentences often don't make any sense at all. you make up words, sounding a bit like don king. you would benefit greatly from a basic writing class. check your local community college.

      April 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's nothing more than a troll. Don't bother with it.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  17. Pipe-Dreamer

    It seems that many folks find it way too easy to make fondling rythms of Joke-stir-isms! Lightening the brevities of pranksterisms is all well and good for one's heart/soul! But too much of a "good- thang" is like Vor commented on, "unhealthiness" for God's sakednesses! Slamming shut one's ownlied door to the ways of redeemerships aplenty seems to be to me and action that goes against the very nurtured way(s) of one's own Acts!

    April 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  18. Those used guys.

    2,999, I took a pass, I can`t stand anchovies. Now if it was spaghetti and meat balls, Arrrgh.

    RAmen...blessigs from the FSM. Peace.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  19. Pipe-Dreamer

    God was once and God is twice while God does everness always without compromizations' endorsements by mere humanists and their humanisms' follies!

    April 15, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • otto

      Arguments that explain everything, answer nothing.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      otto wrote on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm, stating, "Arguments that explain everything, answer nothing."

      Answers to one's Acts are argumentably positioned! Questioning "actions" become lessened and irrelevent as time progresses! Life will be mostly a thing of nature and Godly selectiveness in the timely trials and errors of the humanists' conditionings!

      April 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Those used guys.

      May I suggest that you use a writing technique used by Patrick White in his novel "Eye of the Storm" and refrain from punctuating your comments. ie.

      If you would do this your comments will be even less intelligible than they already are and the reader may simply move on to another comment instead of having to decipher what you mean by what you are trying to say because your thought processes do not seem to be able to keep up with your typing skills and please do not be offended by this unsolicited advice I am just trying to help after all Patrick won a Nobel prize for writing this book that very few know what the hell it is all about and they are making a major movie out of the story that has somewhat to do with a spiitual awakening in a woman in a time of crisis and I could go on but I have to open another beer

      RAmen,,,blessings from the FSM...Peace

      April 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Otto..pipe dreamer, as all of his ilk, have no answers.. they use this non language as way to appear "godly" ..clarity of thought is the last thing that religion needs, so pipe dreamer aids the cause.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • otto

      "Answers to one's Acts are argumentably positioned!"

      Pipe-Dreamer,

      'argumentably' is not a word and this sentence makes no sense. If I knew you I would call a doctor as your nonsense could be a sign of a stroke or mental illness.....I am not even joking.

      April 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  20. otto

    Headline says he walked 70 miles, then when I read the article he got a ride and it ended up being less than 50. More big religious calims and little substance.

    April 15, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Ting

      They forgot to mention that he fed 3,000 people with two slices of pizza.

      April 15, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Reality

      "3000 fed with two slices of pizza."

      The quote of the day!!!!

      Which then begs the question: Was it Papa John's or Pizza Hut pizza??

      April 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      he had coupons?

      April 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • JT

      And shared only one pitcher of beer and got everyone pissed drunk.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.