Thursday, May 8, 2014

Can't Rain On Our Pilgrimage, by Tony Smela

Today was a sad day for all of us.  Today we had to say goodbye to the Bridgettine Sisters who had welcomed us into their home for the last week.  Perhaps an anecdote is needed to illustrate their incredible hospitality towards us.

During dinner on Tuesday, Marcus stood up and announced to everyone that my birthday was the other day.  Everyone sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, and I thought that was the end of that.  Unbeknownst to me, the sisters were busy conspiring in the other room.

After dinner, the sisters generally have a small dessert for us, and that night they had fruit for us.  But we noticed that they were taking longer than usual to bring out the dessert.  Something was up.

When they arrived, they didn't have fruit, but ice cream!  And one of the bowls was decorated with roses and had a lit candle in it!  They heard Marcus announce my birthday and quickly got ice cream for all of us!  It was a beautiful gesture of hospitality that the sisters showed.

The front of the Bridgettine Sisters Home In Jerusalem

So, at 7am, in a torrential downpour, we had to say goodbye to the Bridgettine Sisters.  We then headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Msgr. Trapp celebrated Mass on Cavalry for us.  The re-presentation of His sacrifice at the place where all of our sins were nailed to the cross.

After that, we jumped in line to be able to pray inside the Holy Sepulcher tomb.  Once we finally got into the tomb, we were able to spend about 20 seconds each on the place where he rose from the dead.  Within an hour, we were praying through the Paschal mystery of his death at Calvary and resurrection at the tomb.

All of this before 9am.

By 9:30 we were well on our way to the Archeological Gardens that surround the southern wall of the Temple Mount.  Archeologists have excavated much of that area to reveal the first century roads and walls.  These were the very roads and walls that Jesus walked on and saw (Insert joke about Michigan roads).  We climbed to the point on the southern wall where there used to be three doors in the first century.  You can still see the arches, but the doors have been filled in.  Most likely, these were the three doors that the Holy Family would have gone through for the presentation of Jesus to the Temple, and this would be the doors where Mary and Joseph would have gone through to find Jesus teaching in the Temple area.  We stopped here and prayed those two decades of the Rosary.

After that, we had some time to wander the city before we were to meet up by the Jaffa Gate and head to our new home for the next ten days.  And now, at 3:38pm I sit here at our new home in Kiriat Yaerim, about 6 miles outside of Jerusalem.

Thank you for your prayers, and know of our prayers for you!

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