Thursday, August 30, 2012

Holy Land Report #11

Day 7 - Our final day of pilgrimage. Today we headed to Ein Karem where we visited the Church of St. John - a short walk later we arrived at the Church of the Visitation where we celebrated Holy Mass, Then we went to Yad Vashem - the Jewish Holocaust Memorial and finally ended our pilgrimage at Emmaus - a fitting place as we walk this journey seeking a better understanding of Jesus and the road that God calls us to walk as modern day disciples.

Arriving in Ein Karem it was a short uphill walk to the Church of St.John. 

Gated Entrance

St John Church

St. John Interior

Grotto of John's Birth

Just as we saw in Bethlehem and at Calvary - the place where St John was born is marked with a metallic star anchored to the ground under an altar.
Reverencing the Star

Moving on from the Church of St John we then began our journey up the side of the mountain to the Church of the Visitation. 
Ein Karem

Deacons Walking to Church of Visitation

Pilgrims On Way To Church of Visitation

Church of the Visitation

Outside the Church

Lower Church

Lower Church

The Upper Church

This was possibly the most challenging walk of the pilgrimage. It is up a mountain side and a bit lengthy. On the way one pilgrim asked who could make such a walk - they were feeling challenged - another replied - a pregnant girl - upon which another person asked - who?  Saint Mary came the reply - as yes - but she was only 15 years old!  Once inside we celebrated Holy Mass.
Deacon Jerry Homily

 Deacon Dale - Father Matt - Deacon Jerry

 Chaplain Arlene with Fransciscan Monk

Next stop - Emmaus - approximately 7 miles northwest of present Jerusalem. How we felt as we too journeyed towards Emmaus - were our hearts not burning inside us?
Road To Emmaus

 Emmaus - Abu Ghosh, near Kiryat Yearim

 Inside Abu Ghosh - Emmaus

 Abu Ghoush - Emmaus

 Abu Ghoush Benedictine Monastary - Emmaus

The last stop of our final day was a visit to Yad Vashem - the Jewish Holocaust Memorial - the second most visited site in Jerusalem after the Western Wall.  What can one say about Yad Vashem - or Auschweitz - or Birkenau?  Not much - I have visited all three sites multiple times each and the inhumanity represented in each place is incomprehensible - maybe one day all crime against fellow humans will cease - we can only pray that it does.
 Yad Vashem Entrance

 Yad Vashem

 Yad Vashem

Preparing to return home - we checked our luggage and in the very early hours of that last morning we celebrated Holy Mass - one last time in Israel at our hotel before boarding our bus for our ride to Tel Aviv and home.
Deacon Jerry - Father Matt - Deacon Dale

This was a fantastic pilgrimage - for most a once in a lifetime experience - for myself & my wife - for Deacon Jerry & his wife - for Father Matt - we all hope and pray that we can do it again in 2014 and beyond.

Deacon Dale