Bonjurno……..I’m out of here (but not yet).
Practicing for the next stop, ROME. We leave tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM, but I am getting ahead of myself again.
This is Sunday morning and we got up again at 5:30 to get to the 7:30 mass on the Mount of Olives. We weren’t sure how long it would take to get a cab. Everyone passed on breakfast, as I had 2 cans of tuna on the counter as well as the peanut butter. Now I know how to get out of cooking!
We went to the Pater Noster Church, which was closed on Sunday, but the Carmelite Nuns had Mass in their chapel there.
They are cloistered, so we were in the side section of the chapel with three other people and we made it just in time. We brought our readings with us, so Mass in French was beautiful and meaningful. After we lit candles and prayed for your intentions, we were locked in and finally found our way out.
We went up the hill to the Dome of the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. In the rock there, it is said that the imprint is from the foot of Our Lord. Pretty awesome thought, as we all had the chance to lay our hands upon it in reverence to our Lord.
From there we proceeded down the mountain to the next stop, Dominus Flevit Church, where Jesus wept over the fate and future destruction of Jerusalem. This little teardrop-shaped church (the shape recalls Christ’s grief), offers a panoramic view of Jerusalem and is halfway down the Mount. This event took place on the first Palm Sunday, during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when crowds threw their cloaks and palms on the road in front of him and shouted “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord”. Walking down this Mount was no easy task….at least we were smart enough to start at the top.
After leaving, further down we came to the spot where Jesus had to wake the three Apostles, Peter, James and John, as they fell asleep out of grief while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just a short walk away. The Garden area is still well preserved and the olive trees date back to the12th century, but all eight trees are possible descendants of one that was in the Garden at the time of Christ and that tree would have been 2300 years old. The historian Flavis Josephus reports that all the trees were cut down by the Romans for their siege equipment before they captured and destroyed the city in A.D. 70.
We went into the tomb at The Church of all Nations where the rock that Jesus is believed to have prayed on the night before he was crucified where his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. We got to venerate the stone. Surreal and beautiful!!!
Access to the rest of the grotto was closed, but we did get a picture. We back-tracked from there to the Church of the Assumption and the tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Off to the right not far from the tomb and next to the closed area of Gethsemane is a chapel where Judas betrayed Jesus and he was taken away. We did that first, since I thought we would spend some time in the church with Our Blessed Mother.
As we entered the tomb of Mary, I didn’t know how I would feel. I brought an extra handkerchief just in case. We climbed down the 50 steps into the crypt area, which has three altars, all small and with many depictions of the life of Jesus Mary and Joseph. A niche altar half way down is dedicated to Anne and Joachim, Mary’s parents. The large crypt that remains at the bottom, containing the empty tomb, is all that remains of a 5th century church, making it possibly the oldest near-completed religious building in Jerusalem.
The tomb resembles the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was laid to rest. There is a small opening for both entry and exit. Inside the crypt, cut mostly into solid rock, is dark. The smell of incense fills the air and the ceiling is blackened by centuries of candle smoke. To the right of the tomb as you enter is a small alcove seat. (I think it’s for the Angel that protects the holy site). After kneeling and praying I asked him to move and sat there with my right hand on the small edicule and contemplated the life of the Blessed Mother. Like Her Son’s crypt, this was not a sad place, for her body remained there only the same amount time as Jesus laid in the tomb and the body was then assumed into heaven the same hour as the Resurrection of Jesus. (From The Mystical City of God) There was a great peace there and I could have stayed for hours. More people came so we went over to 4 chairs that were waiting for us and prayed the Rosary. What better place than this?
We climbed back up and tried to get a cab for the short ride to Mount Zion, two miles away. Neither of the two taxi’s sitting there wanted to take us. Finally, this one driver got us a cab and as we got in he said 60 shekels for a normal 20 shekel ride. I told the driver 20, he said 50, and I said I will report you and he said 25. I said OK…..he said don’t be so nervous. I said you shouldn’t try to rip people off. He said don’t be so nervous. He took us to the cenacle and asked if he should wait and we negotiated him waiting and taking us back to the apartment. 100 shekels ($25) not bad, this ain’t New York.
The cenacle is a building outside the Zion gate and is accessed by a neighboring building, up an enclosed staircase and across an open terrace………..and is almost empty of adornment and furnishing. In the cenacle two major events in the history of The Church took place: the last Supper and the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. It is close to the Church of Dormition, where the Blessed Mother died or “fell asleep” as the name suggests. The cenacle is not universally accepted as the site of the upper room. Now, I believe that they should be one and the same, since in the Mystical City of God, that is how it is explained by the Blessed mother herself. So we missed the cenacle and went to the church.
Below the main church is the room where the Blessed Mother stayed and used during the last supper and waited for the Resurrection of Her Son. She spent all but 2 years of the 22 years she remained on earth in this place. It was here that Jesus appeared to her after His Resurrection and here where she prepared the Apostles for the coming of the Holy Spirit. ( I am sure some of our priest friends may not agree, so I suggest you read the book and decide for yourself.)
Again, this was a special place, and during our visit a woman with an angelic voice sang the “Ave Maria”. Everyone had tears flowing; it was so beautiful and appropriate. We lit candles and prayed for all our intentions and left wondering if our driver had waited for us or gave up without any money. But he was there and got us close to our apartment.
Today was Jerusalem day (national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in the aftermath of the June 1967) and the streets were closing and traffic was impossible but we made it back and for dinner.
Sam and Johna went to our favorite restaurant and got 2 pizzas. We dined in, watched all the youth march by and went to bed early for tomorrow’s adventure.
Editor’s note: We have put these photos of the parade in here because of the importance of the Jews re-claiming Jerusalem and its relation to prophecy.
Now it’s time to write up my trip report for the day….hope you are enjoying traveling with us.
We are keeping all of you in our prayers.
(Thanks Fr. Eamon for the heads up)
May God Bless all of you and the grace and peace of Christ rest in your heart.
Susan & Tom and the Kids
MY FATHER, IF IT BE POSSIBLE, LET THIS CUP PASS FROM ME: NEVERTHELESS NOT
AS I WILL, BUT AS THOU WILT.
O Jesus, in deepest night and agony, You spoke these words of trust and
surrender to God, the Father in Gethsemane. In love and gratitude, I want
to say in times of fear and distress, “My Father, I do not understand You,
but I Trust In You.”