I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Saturday, July 5, 2014

That's Because It's Friday...Sunday's a comin' (Friday, 6/27)

Friday, 6/27/14

Last night, it felt so good to clean off after having spent time in the Dead Sea. (But what an experience that was – we actually floated!)

A small contingent of my fellow pilgrims ate dinner early and then went to the German Quarter to watch the USA v Germany soccer match. (A few of us got there in time for a beer and the second half.)

After the game was over – we lost 0-1 but that’s okay because we move on to Round 2 anyways! – our group split up. Some went back to the hotel, and some stayed to talk, Fr. Ken included – it’s so great to see him come out and be with us. He is a wonderful listener, and he is full of stories, wisdom, and humor.

I wanted to try to write down a few things here before I forget – we talked about why we came on this trip (of which there were many varied reasons!), the meaning between literal and biblical, places to see in Jerusalem, the gift of St. Francis of the stable scene and Stations of the Cross, and more. My head/brain would not shut off last night when I got back, so I couldn’t fall asleep.

I spoke about how I came because I really grew in my own faith this year by teaching middle school religion and how I came because I wanted to be better so, in turn, I could be better for my students. Selfish, I know – to which Joanne responded, “That is the least selfish thing I’ve heard.” I guess I hadn’t thought about it like that.

Well, I guess we need to get to breakfast. I will try to fill in more later…

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Finally remembered to thank Fr. Ken today. He responded, “It’s been my pleasure.”

I honestly wish I would have gotten up last night to write down my thoughts because I know I’ve already forgotten many of them – from things like ideas in the classroom (names on shards of pottery/slips of paper to reenact Masada, etc.) to thoughts on how it will be like to pray the Stations of the Cross and sing Christmas carols with my students next year, etc. Wow…

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Afternoon reflection:

Back from a pretty hectic day – yet, even in all of the busy-ness, there were moments of peace & reflection…

We started at St. Anne’s Church, the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. It was also the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the crippled man. It was beautiful, inside and out. (Plus, it hadn’t gotten too hot yet.)

We then began the Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) – it was quite different than I expected it, and we didn’t really pray the stations because we had only time to stop briefly at each one before moving on. When we got to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we did the last 5 stations after Mass. (More on that later…)

In following in the footsteps of Jesus, we remembered Jesus’ death an passion: “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”

[We started our journey at 9 a.m. and today is Friday. (Pause for effect.) When we left the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it was about noon. Pretty cool (biblical) timing, eh?]

When we arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (which is MASSIVE!), Youssef reminded us that the Greeks call it Anastasis, meaning “Resurrection” because they want to remember the tomb is empty. (Fr. James Martin had pointed that out in his book too.)

When we went down to Mass, we had to wait a few minutes because there was a group ahead of us. We held Mass in the Crusader Chapel. (Marisa was very happy about that.)

As we began, Fr. Ken made a few connections – the Holy Sepulchre is under constant repair, which gives hope because we are under constant repair too. He reminded us that we are all Simon, helping to carry each other’s crosses. And, we are all Veronica, wiping each other’s faces. All are such beautiful images! Way to go, Fr. Ken!

As he read the Gospel (readings from Easter Sunday today!), he emphasized THIS tomb, reminding us that we were where Jesus died and rose from the cross to save us.

By this point in the trip, I think it’s important to note that I had been feeling as far from a pilgrim as possible – I was completely a tourist today, pushing through the streets, taking pictures, etc. So maybe the beauty and weight of everything related to Jesus’ passion hit me at once, but as we sang “You Are Mine” at the Preparation of the Gifts, I started to cry. And we’re talking big drops, snot and all. (At least I was quiet about it.) I continued to cry through most of the Eucharistic Prayer as Fr. Ken read the words of sacrifice of the Mass. It was all just so real, so amazing. Jesus died for us. We belong to Him. (Best moment of the trip so far!)

After Mass, we rushed to the line for the empty tomb of Christ – it was a long line but only a short visit inside the small room. We also touched the stone of Holy Unction (where they laid Jesus to prepare Him for burial) and the stone on which Jesus’ cross stood.

Later at lunch (falafel, yet again – but I’m definitely not complaining – it was delicious!), I couldn’t help but realize that we are all here on the same trip – we are not only experience the same things as each other but also the same things as millions of pilgrims for thousands of years. And yet, it is a different experience for each of us as well. Everyone has found different parts moving or meaningful or memorable. Pretty cool if you think about it…

Post-lunch, we went to the Wailing Wall – I had a few additional intentions to lift up in prayer this time…

Then, we all split up. I ended up with Kelsey, Kim, and Marisa (and later Linda and her dad) on a trip in search of ice cream, which we eventually found. (And it was delicious and refreshing!) Good conversation, shade…yes…

And our day is not over – tonight we head back to Bethlehem for a farewell dinner (Mary is leaving early). Our itinerary says it will be in a Bedouin tent-style, so we’ll see what that means…

But, all-in-all, today was a very good day. I rarely have those moments when I am truly moved to tears (though I always want them!), and that happened today. God is so good, often coming to us when we least expect it…

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