This is part of The Evangelist's ongoing series of reports from diocesan seminarians on their formation for the priesthood. Read previous installments under "specials" at
This is part of The Evangelist's ongoing series of reports from diocesan seminarians on their formation for the priesthood. Read previous installments under "specials" at

As I reflect on my summer following an incredibly difficult year in Rome, the first word that comes into my mind is gratitude — an immense and deep gratitude, a gratitude that colors life with a more vibrant and beautiful hue, a gratitude that can only come from God.

It seems to be centered on my time as a pilgrim, sauntering on the French Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the Way of St. James.

It is not my intention in this article to recount my pilgrimage; I believe to recount such an experience would be impossible, for it would be like attempting to capture an entire life. What I do wish to share, in what will inevitably be poor and unsatisfactory language, is one of the many graces given to me along the Way of St. James, which occurred to me after much prayer and reflection: the indescribable beauty of the tapestry of divine providence.

It is my strong opinion that there are no coincidences in life, and this opinion, particularly after my pilgrimage, has only become stronger. After arriving in Compostela, as I sat in the Cathedral of St. James, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I had experienced. I had just completed a 500-mile pilgrimage to the tomb of St. James, one of Christ’s closest Apostles.

“How did I get here? How is it that I was fortunate enough to meet some of the most beautiful souls I’d ever met, from all over the world? Who am I that such great gifts should be given to me?” These were just a few questions that ran through my mind in that moment of gratitude — and these were the questions that sparked within me a profound meditation on the small, fragile, yet beautiful thread that is my life.

I observed how God has woven it, at times under darker threads, and at other times over lighter threads, into the tapestry of salvation. As I thought about what had to have happened for me to be sitting in that pew, a profound feeling of amazement washed over me.

In that moment, I understood with what care divine providence had to have orchestrated the events of history, both distant and recent, great and small — even to the point of seemingly insignificant moments — while at the same time respecting free choice, in order for me to be sitting there.

After viewing the world through such a beautiful lens, life ceases to be mundane and meaningless. Everything truly becomes a gift. The smallest details in life take on new meaning: the gift of a flower, a mother’s caress, a father’s ear, a silent prayer, a loving look, a soft smile.

Everything becomes a token of God’s love, and it becomes apparent with what immense and tender love God weaves this tapestry.

Overwhelmed with this realization, with this feeling of gratitude, trust and love, I found myself asking Mary how I could thank God, how I could love Him more — because, also in this moment, I felt my total dependence on Him, and my inability to render Him the thanks and love He deserves.

Then the bell tolled for Mass and Our Lady reminded me that God has provided this, too. It is in the holy sacrifice of the Mass that infinite thanksgiving and love is offered up to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament.

Thus, it was in this moment that I witnessed another paradox: He for whom I am most grateful is my only means of thanksgiving. Christ, who is the greatest gift, is the Eucharist. Christ, present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament, fulfills the deepest meaning of the word "Eucharist." It is through Him, with Him and in Him that we give perfect thanks to the Father.

It was there, in the Cathedral of St. James, where I, in unison with thousands of other pilgrims — like the countless pilgrims who had come before us and the countless more who would come after — offered up our praise and thanksgiving to the Father, through the Son, including our little threads with all of their struggles, sins, imperfections and failings in the tapestry of salvation.

In this manner, our pilgrimage ended where, I pray, through the goodness of God, mine and your earthly pilgrimages end: in the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb, when, at last, the tapestry will be finished and revealed in all of its beauty.

(With this column, Mr. Yusko joins the writers of the "Seminarian's Diary" column. A native of Holy Trinity parish in Hudson/Germantown, he is studying for the priesthood for the Albany Diocese at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.)