Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ad Cenaculum, by Mark Livingston

Greetings from Jerusalem! (actually, Kiryat Yearim, 1 Samuel 7:1-2)

Today (5/17) was another great day on pilgrimage!  We started the day out with Mass at a beautiful Church near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City, Ad Cenaculum (Latin:  "to/toward the cenacle" or upper room), a Franciscan owned and operated Church in the Holy City.  While this church is likely not the site of the actual upper room, it faces the likely location less than 10 yards away toward the east.  The actual upper room has been under construction/ remodeling/
upgrading since we arrived in preparation for Pope Francis' visit on May 25th or 26th (we'll just miss him!), so we have not had the opportunity to see it -- bummer!

Today's homily at Ad Cenaculum was a very special grace for me.  Msgr. Trapp was the main celebrant and after having heard the Gospel of Mark proclaimed by Fr. Battersby (the apostles in the upper room), Msgr. gave the homily.  He keyed in on three important aspects of this site:  (1) the sacramental aspect of the Eucharist in the Last Supper, (2) the origin of the priesthood and (3) the site of Pentecost.  "Sacrament" was the main theme that stuck with me.  Just as we must present the right material (bread and wine) for the sacrament of the Eucharist, so we have to present our authentic selves as the necessary material to become living sacraments for God, especially as his (God-willing) future priests.  He urged us to shed our masks with each other and with God and to become more humble and authentic.  Only if we present ourselves as we really are and see ourselves as God sees us will we present the necessary "material" to become the living sacraments (signs) of God's love for us and the world.

This reflection stuck with me the rest of the day, especially in prayer at the Latin Patriarchate Cathedral
The Latin Patriarchate Cathedral
(pics attached) in prayer.  How can I be more authentically myself with God and my brothers?  What masks still need to be shed?  In which areas must I humble myself more?

Our next stop was to one of the oldest Christian communities in the Holy Land:  The Syriac Church.  There, we met one of the priests, who presented a bit of the history of the Syriac Church and allowed us to view the church, take pictures with him and pray.  A particular treat was praying before an ancient picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus, reported in tradition to have been painted by St. Luke, to which many miraculous healings have been attributed.  We prayed for our benefactors, loved ones and friends, especially those who are sick and in need of healing.

The Syriac Church
Since this was our last day in the Holy City, we had the opportunity to re-visit any site we personally to see.  About six or seven of us returned to the Holy Sepulcher to pray at Calvary one last time and then were off for some Jerusalem falafel and
a visit to the Latin Patriarchate Cathedral for more prayer before catching the bus to our guesthouse at about noon.  We spent the remainder of the afternoon in reflection on the presentation and finding in the Temple -- a beautiful afternoon.
The Blessed Virgin Mary
and the Child Jesus
Some in our group were pretty exhausted today, after having spent the prior night adoring the Lord in the Holy Sepulcre all night!  Msgr. Trapp mentioned that this had never occurred before with any of his prior pilgrim groups, so it was a special blessing for some in our group to intercede for each of you overnight in the site of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection.  Know of our prayers for each of you and your families.  My particular intention today was for all of my benefactors and friends, especially the Sacred Heart Family, my former work colleagues, godsons, friends, cousins and sick family members.

God bless each of you!  Thank you for your prayers for me and for all of us!


  1. Thank you, Mark for your inspiring words and your wonderful description of your pilgrimage. Really look forward to the postings from the men, and pray that God touches each of you in a special way on your journey.

  2. Mark,
    It sounds as if visiting the numerous shrines and holy places has had a profound effect on you and your fellow seminarians. Your tracing of the footsteps of Christ will help you to create your own paths to him in your priestly pursuit. We hope the remainder of your trip is a blessed one, for you and your classmates. Karen & I are anxious to talk with you in depth about the trip.