“A pilgrim preaches the gospel, but in order to preach it he has to live it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. For what is he really about, that pilgrim of mine? He is preaching the gospel with his life and so his pilgrimage has to reflect his life…

It is a strange pilgrimage. It is utterly unhurried. It is a pilgrimage whose only goal is the heart of God. It’s not a pilgrimage to shrines. It’s not a pilgrimage of seeing countries like so many young people have done lately. No. It’s a pilgrimage that has one precious thing besides its poverty. It hold a key, and every day that key goes a little deeper into the heart of God until one day–click!–it will be open and man and God will be one. That kind of pilgrimage creates peace in order to give it to others, since  man is in search of God and in search of peace from the raucous noise of the modern technological society.

It’s a strange thing that the pilgrim who walks has the ability to stand still long enough to allow a neighbor to catch up with him…

Maybe it will take him weeks. Maybe he appears to settle there wherever he is, but he never settles. He is always on the march. His particular task finished, he moves on again. There is no settling down for such a pilgrim. Sometimes it may take him years to do what God asks of him…

The pilgrim, being human, sometimes likes the spot where he has been placed. He wants to stay there. He wants to make a flower garden of that spot. Suddenly he hears, ‘Friend, come on higher!’ and the pilgrim turns his face and sees the mountain of the Lord. There is snow up there. He can hear the cold wind and he clutches the key that was given to him by the resurrected Christ to go higher, to enter a little deeper into God’s heart, to enter a little more into sobornost, to do his will better, faster, more joyfully as a voyager. It’s not easy, for the voice keeps repeating, ‘Friend, come on higher!’ ”

–from Strannik: The Call to Pilgrimage for Western Man, by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

9 Replies to “COME HIGHER, FRIEND!”

  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!! Heather, Thanks!


  2. I started reading Catherine Doherty 2 years ago. I'm still in reading Poustinia. This is a beautiful excerpt. I find her thoughts compel me to move into authentic living. They're not easy. But there is a peace that arrives at the heart when you're pursuing it.

  3. Sophia, thanks, and for your comment awhile back as well about great fathers…and Kathy, I find myself going back again and again to Catherine Doherty. I have been carrying around a dog-eared copy of Strannik for I don't know how long, and while doing a 40-day silent retreat last year, kept Poustinia very close at hand…She's one of those folks who make me realize, one more time, No, I'm not crazy…out-of-step in certain ways, granted, but not ENTIRELY crazy…

  4. My Catherine Doherty book is I Live on an Island, divided into four chapters, one for each of the seasons …

  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    Hi Heather, No, you're NOT crazy and given so much crazy (as in confusing…I don't believe in real crazyness…there's always a reason) stuff around us, I'd say it's good to be out-of-step with a lot of it. The hardest part, aside from the loneliness, methinks, is finding the solid ground on which to balance our steps. You seem to be finding your way there by writing and finding strength in nourishing your faith…much like Catherine D. did.


  6. I am currently reading Redeemed and am really enjoying it and decided to check out your blog. I was psyched to see Catherine Doherty. My conversion was up in Combermere. Although I am more of a reader than a writer (nice way of saying lurker) someone sent me a link to a homily on the Samaritan woman. There was an uncanny parallel with your writing. I thought you might like it. It is by fr peter cameron


  7. Heather,
    I was first introduced to the writing of Catherine Doherty in our "conversion year" via a blogger who turned out to be, at the time, a member of Madonna House living in community. I read Poustinia and so wished I could travel to the other side of our province to visit the Mother house. Then I found out that there was a missionary field house of the Madonna House Apostolate roughly one a half major city blocks from my house! It was something of a turning point in realizing one (of many) reasons why it could be God who had placed us in this city where we knew no one and didn't really want to live. I called them up. On a Wednesday during Lent I made my first Poustinia and in the total silence of 24 hours with only the gospel of Matthew to read I met the Lord in a new way.

    Your post pricks at my conscience though because I haven't been back often in the past five years. What's wrong with me? How blessed am I to have this place on my doorstep. Maybe reading your post is the Lord calling me to get back out of step again.

    P.S. The books arrived. I'm several chapters into *Parched* now.

  8. Betsy, I finally got a chance to look at the Fr. Cameron video–I was so touched by the part where he talks about telling all our sins…"Okay, are you done? Okay, are there more? Okay, you've told all the big ones and all the small ones?"…and the response is not You are bad, you are doomed. The response is Okay, your are loved…

    Owen, yeah, maybe no accident you landed in a city where you didn't really want to live and knew no-one and yet….poustinia! Right down the street, right in your heart…hope you're enjoying Parched…

  9. Heather,
    I am enjoying Parched. About 3/4 through now. There are a few places that were killer spot-on for me, nothing to do with being an alcoholic but attitudinal stuff just the same. Would love to share some brief thoughts but e-mail but don't want to presume or impose.