Catholic Youth Parramatta

Lisa Live from the Holy Land - Jerusalem, Samaria, Jacob’s Well & Taybeh Village


Lisa Garland from the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta is reporting for us live from the Holy Land, as she undertakes the 'Exodus Journey' Pilgrimage. Led by Rouse Hill's Our Lady of the Angels Parish Priest Fr Warren Edwards, the 20-day biblical pilgrimage from Cairo to Jerusalem is making its way through the desert wilderness of the prophets, culminating in the Holy Land of Jesus.

10 September - Jerusalem

Where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem
Lisa with two fellow pilgrims at the site where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem.

Rock on which Jesus prayed during his Agony
Rock on which Jesus prayed during his Agony.
We had a very full day today, heading first to the Mt of Olives where we visited the Church of the ‘Pater Noster’ commemorating the site where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. On the walls in the garden outside the church they had the Our Father is numerous different languages it was amazing.

We then headed to the site where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. It was an amazing panoramic view of the city, just standing at the edge of the wall, looking out and in a way reliving the hurt Jesus felt being rejected by the people of Jerusalem when he came to save them all.

Our guide also showed us the trees which bore the same thorns used for the crown placed upon Jesus’ head. They were hard and sharp! Even just grabbing the branch to take a photo earned me numerous stabs and a splinter.

At the base of Mt of Olives, we visited the Grotto of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested and the disciples of Jesus slept while he prayed nearby. It was breathtaking with numerous olive trees thousands of years old, I could just picture His disciples kneeling and sleeping at the base of one of the thick olive tree stumps.

For some reason, I also felt annoyed that they could fall asleep when Jesus was going through such a trial. We went “a stone throw away” to the bare rock upon which Jesus prayed after leaving his disciples in the garden before his arrest. The rock was inside the Church of Agony right in front of the altar; here we were blessed by God to have a mass which was just for our pilgrimage group.

It was the best Mass of the entire pilgrimage for me, and for a lot of us it was one of the main highlights. Before heading back to the hotel we visited the Cenacle (room of the Last Supper) at Mt Zion and the Church of Dormition where our Lady was assumed into heaven.

Tonight was a bit different, instead of retiring to our rooms after dinner and a coffee, we headed back to the Garden of Gethsemane for a very memorable Holy Hour where we had Adoration, benediction and a rosary along with silent prayer. We also had an opportunity to wonder around and pray in the garden itself filled with olive trees. An absolutely awe inspiring night!

11 September - Samaria, Jacob’s Well & Taybeh Village

Scale model of Jerusalem
Scale model of Jerusalem.

As we drove to our first destination this morning, we passed through Samaria, Shiloh and the twin peaks of Mt Gerizim and Mt Ebal.

We also picked up the bus driver’s uncle from the side of the road to give us a bit of a guided tour at Jacob’s well. I fall asleep on the bus, wake up, and all of a sudden there’s new guy on the bus!

We arrived at the Church in which Jacob’s well resides. The well is mentioned in the Gospel of St John. Fr Warren read the bible passage in which Jesus met the Samaritan by Jacob’s well:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks this water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Our tour guide Joseph lowered the bucket into the well which was over 100 feet deep then got Fr Warren to wind it back up, Joseph had made it look easy. Voila - water! Much to our delight, we were allowed to drink the water; each person took turns in drinking from a cup filled with the water.

Journeying back to Jerusalem, we stopped at Taybeh, a Christian village on the edge of the Judean Wilderness. Here we were shown an ancient farmer’s house as it would have been in the time of Jesus. It was really cool inside the house (both literally and figuratively), kind of like being taken back in time with the room for animals downstairs, the main floor above with a second hidden room for women when guests were over. We also celebrated daily Mass at the church here followed by a group lunch. On our way home, we stopped by the Israel Museum where we saw a large scale model of the city of Israel as well as the infamous Dead Sea Scrolls.

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