Members of the UCM from Christ the King and Our Lady Parish reflect on their day in the Holy Land
After an early breakfast we boarded our coaches which took us into the heart of the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall. We witnessed many Bar-Mitzvah Ceremonies taking place by the boys and their families and many were also reading the Torah privately. Some of our Group also prayed at the Wall and placed petitions into the Wall itself. We then walked onto Temple Mount, sacred to both the Muslim and the Jewish faiths. We saw the beautiful mosques including the Golden Dome of the Rock, built on the traditional site where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac by God. From the plateau we had a wonderful view of the Mount of Olives which was breathtaking.
Leaving this area we made our way to the Pool of Bethesda and the church of St. Anne, the traditional birthplace of Our Lady.
We lunched at the Notre Dame Hotel and after being thoroughly refreshed boarded our buses again. We visited important Christian sites such as the Dormition Abbey where Our Lady is said to have fallen into 'eternity sleep,' the Upper Room of the Last Supper and Pentecost. By this time in the day it was very hot but we made our way down to the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. This church was built on the site of the High Priest's House and was where Jesus was taken after his arrest. It is built upon a number of dark cells one of which Christ would have been lowered into. The church is also in the grounds where St Peter denied Jesus three times. This for us was the most moving part of the day. Our clergy celebrated Mass in the church and after Holy Communion led us all down into the Sacred Cell in absolute silence. Once in the lights were switched off and we were left in darkness, with only our own thoughts and feelings to contemplate. We stood silently praying, contemplating with Christ and His sufferings. Once each group went down we all gathered outside in silence for the Final Prayer and Blessing. It was a unique experience which is so hard to describe.
We returned back to the hotel, very tired but so moved by yet another wonderful day.