Traversing the rocky and slighy grassy hills about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, our big maroon bus lumbered it's way into the ancient city of David, Bethlehem. Like just about every other place we've see, it was amazing. First we had mass in the so called shepherds cave, where tradition says the shepherds lived who say the angels announce Jesus' birth. We celebrated the mass of midnight for Christmas eve (it's a permissible option at these pilgrimage sites). How strange that here in this little cave--this forgotten nook, this meaningless cranny--the good news of the incarnation came. It was beautiful. Everyone kept saying afterword that it felt more like Christmas than Christmas. I think I agree.
Next came the church of the nativity in bethlehem, where we venerated and prayed by the cave where Mary gave birth and laid her Son in a
Then back to jerusalem and to the place where Mary is said to have fallen asleep at the end of her life, and then to the ancient jail cell where Jesus was held for a few hours over night. It is essentially a hole in the ground into which He was lowered. Now there is a side entrance. I had the chance opportunity to be alone in prayer in there for just a few seconds, which was an amazing privilege. As I imagined the stark reality of what Jesus allowed himself to go through when he did not have to in the least, it was impossible not to full a great deal of gratitude and just plain awe.
Tonight we had dinner with retired bishop of jerusalem. We regaled us with stories and spiritual fervorini, but I just kept thinking about how I'm not getting over my cold very well, even though I promised myself to tell everyone I feel much better each day. Some pilgrim I am!
So two more days of touring pilgrimage sites, and then a free day in Jerusalem, then we fly home. I'm already super excited about praying the triduum this year, especially the passion narratives. You're all in my prayers. Thanks for checking in.