|Church of Calvary - the rock in which the Cross was placed.|
5:15 am wake up call.
When they told us that the afternoon before, we all thought it was a joke...but our tour guide wasn’t quite laughing.
However, I would have woken up at any time for the morning we had. Early morning, we made our way to the Holy Sepulchre.
This daily Mass was probably the most significant Mass we celebrated on this pilgrimage. We were blessed and honoured to say Mass right next to the place where our Lord was crucified to save us from our sins.
The Mass was beautiful and because it was so early in the morning, it was quiet and not so crowded. After Mass, we lined up to touch the rock in which the cross our Lord carried was positioned. It was covered in a glass casing with an altar above it.
Underneath the altar, there was a hole where you could put your hand through and feel the actual rectangular space in the rock where the cross was placed.
Walking away, I was just in absolute awe that this is where Christ died. Closing my eyes I tried to remove the people, the walls, and the noise. Here our Lord Jesus Christ died, so we might live!
Following this, we all went back downstairs and lined up to visit the tomb which Jesus was placed in after he was taken down from the cross. A structure was built around the tomb so people went in a few at a time only for about 10 seconds. Also in there behind an icon of our lady is part of the wall of the original tomb. Nearby was the slab of rock on which Jesus’ body was placed to be covered in oils before being put in the tomb.
We then headed back to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast we visited the Church of St Anne, built over the birthplace of the Virgin Mary and the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralysed man. The other special part of the day was ‘The Way of the Cross’.
It’s one thing to do the way of the Cross at church, moving from picture to picture, but none of that compares to walking the actual path Jesus staggered along carrying the cross on which he was going to be crucified! It was so special; the surroundings (besides people in the markets trying to sell you things) really set me in the path Jesus was walking. I was tripping over my own feet and the uneven rocks; I can’t even imagine how Jesus found the strength to carry his cross to Calvary.
Harvest Pilgrimages provided a special group farewell dinner by taking us out to an Armenian Restaurant. Upon arriving back to the hotel, we said goodbye to those who were leaving on different flights to different locations.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Harvest Pilgrimages for putting together a memorable life experience, Fr Warren for being a wonderful Chaplain, all those pilgrims I journeyed alongside and the Parramatta Diocesan Office for allowing me to share this amazing and Holy experience