Friday, November 16, 2018

2018 Holy Land Pilgrimage Recap - Day #5

Today our pilgrimage takes us to Mount Tabor - Bethlehem - Jerusalem.  At Mount Tabor we had to disembark the large bus and transfer to smaller vans in order to reach the top of the mountain as the road was too narrow and winding for the larger bus. It was at Mount Tabor where Jesus was Transfigured.

 Church of  the Transfiguration 

 Church of Transfiguration 

Above Altar 

 View From Top of Mount Tabor 

Next stop - Shepherds Field where the Angels appeared to shepherds  tending their flocks

 Entrance to Shepherds Field


 Holy Mass in the Cave 

 Ceiling in Church Nearby

 Church at Shepherds Field

Having heard the proclamation that a special child had been born - like the shepherds - we headed to Bethlehem to view the birthplace for ourselves.  Once at the Church of the Nativity we had to crouch down in order to enter.  The original entrance - which was large - had been walled in to restrict entrance by only humans - thus preventing soldiers on horse back from entering this Holy Place. 

 Watch Your Head - Even Short People Have To Bow Low 

Since we were visiting at the "High Season" there was a huge crowd inside.  We had to wait in a circular line for almost two hours before entering the lower crypt. In the meantime an Orthodox couple entered the church for their wedding along with priest and entire wedding party.  The wedding was over before we had progressed even half way to the entrance.

 Priest with wedding party

Finally - after a very long wait - we came to the entrance down a steep set of small stairs leading to the Star of Jesus. 

 Asian Pilgrims Entering Before Our Group 

Because this was High Season - we could not linger at this site.  We had just enough time for each individual to reverence the spot where Jesus was born - indicated by the large bronze star surrounding the opening to the rock below.  Pilgrims will reverence by bowing and kneeling - some touching the Star - some kissing - some placing their hand inside the opening. All forms very acceptable. 

Reverencing the Star of Jesus

Reverencing the Star of Jesus

 Crypt Area - Star of Jesus on Left - Location of Manger Under the Gold Banner

By the time we had all had a chance to view and reverence the Star of Jesus it was dark and the end of another fruitful day of pilgrimage. 

Returning to pilgrimage hotel - time to relax and eat

Many people think that a pilgrimage is a simple bus trip to different locations - to view places and articles of interest.  It is more than that - Morning Prayer - Rosaries Prayed - Divine Mercy Chaplets shared - Daily Holy Mass - waiting in line patiently while others do the same as you.  At the end of each day - very rewarding.

Praying Our Way Through Israel 
Deacon Dale