It's a bright sunny mornig in Jerusalem as I write these words, and it is "shabat" (sabbath) in the city. All is peaceful. Let me straight for The Highlight: Holy Mass at the Holy Sepulchre. I celebrated the Mass of the Triumph of the Cross on the place where Jesus was nailed to the cross, and about 7 steps from where the cross He was raised up on the cross. What a totally incomparable experience. I prayed for my parents, all my siblings (plus spouses a kids!) and for myself and my priesthood.
I had heard that the shrine of the holy sepulchre was crazy, with all the various religious groups vying for space and time, but for me the sheer overwhelming power and peace of the place trumped all that human pettiness. I was amazed how much prayer happens here. It is a gushing fountain prayer. Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation as a penitant at the sepulchre, and just as I emerged, evening vespers erupted at the tomb in an explosion of voices and organ tones. It was quite memorable, to say the least. What an amazing grace to come to the site of Calvary--on a Friday eveining, no less--and to share in the graces that flow from it.
Yesterday also had a trip to the site of the vistation and the birthplace of John the Baptist. I chuckled to myself as I read aloud to the group the story of Zechariah's muteness and recovery, as my own voice was functioning at a minimal level due to a thoat problem. Boy, the Holy Spirit sure knows how to make the scriptures come alive!
Blog readers, you're all in my prayers.