Gaudium et Spes is a document that tries to clarify and assert the Church’s place in the modern world. The church leaders were aware that as times changed rapidly, the role of religion changed as well. The Catholic Church needed to reclaim its position and remind the world of the values it stands for. Gaudium speaks about the need for global outreach and the importance of understanding as much about fellow mankind as we possibly can. At first, this does not seem like the type of document that relates to travel writing. Its focus is mainly God, Christianity, and how those two things fit into the modern world. However, upon closer examination, I realized that there are some aspects of the beginning of Gaudium that relate to travel and its value.
In the first paragraph of section three, Gaudium states, “Hence, giving witness and voice to the faith of the whole people of God gathered together by Christ, this council can provide no more eloquent proof of its solidarity with, as well as its respect and love for the entire human family with which it is bound up, than by engaging with it in conversation about these various problems.” The problems that this sentence refers to are, as previously mentioned in the paragraph, those of man’s place in the world and the role of humanity. These are incredibly difficult concepts to grasp for any person, and it is doubtful that anyone will ever truly find the answers. However, the Church aims to help people to discover the answers that they believe to be true and they want to share these truths with everyone. Christianity aims to better the world and help everyone reach heaven, and they do this through outreach and furthering their understanding of other people. This is something that traveling can do as well. Through first hand experience, you can really learn what other cultures believe and value and how to better interact with people from those cultures. Travelling can ultimately further one’s understanding of humanity, which is also a staple of Christianity. You cannot help others if you do not adequately understand their needs, and what better way to comprehend this than by experiencing their situations first-hand? Travelling gives us a way to see the world in the flesh; no camera lens or computer screen needed. Gaudium later states, “We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics.” This is exactly what travelling can teach a person. By diving headfirst into a culture and stepping out of your comfort zone, you can experience humanity as it really is and better understand the people you share this planet with.