Catholic Youth Parramatta

Lisa Live from the Holy Land - Mt Carmel, Caesarea & Bethlehem


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.

8 September - Jerusalem via Mt Carmel & Caesarea

Lisa Live
Lisa in front of theatre in town of Caesarea built by Herod the Great.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”

Mt of Beatitudes
Lisa with fellow pilgrim Margaret Edwards at Mt of Beatitudes.
Our early morning began with a visit to the wonderful Mount of Beatitudes.

I’ve heard the Beatitudes loads of times and have always loved the meaning and humility of the words. When we celebrated daily Mass today out in the open under the trees atop the Mount of Beatitudes, it made it that much more wonderful and I felt very humbled to have that opportunity.

Leaving Lake Galilee, we travelled to Mount Carmel at Muhraqa overlooking the Jezreel Valley where Elijah challenged the priests of Baal in a contest of faith. I am aware of orders such as the Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites but to be at the site where the Carmelites were actually established was quite something.

We were also blessed enough to be let into the Carmelite chapel which is usually private and reserved for Carmelites and their families. Here we had an enrolment ceremony.

Continuing our journey to Jerusalem, we stopped by to take a look at an ancient aqueduct on the Mediterranean Sea and chucked our thongs off to put our feet in the water, it was the perfect temperature; I wanted nothing more than to just take a swim!

Our last stop before arriving at our hotel was the crusader port city of Caesarea to see the city built by Herod the Great. At this sight, Cornelius was baptised by Peter, becoming the first gentile convert to Christianity.

There were a bunch of statues such as an oversized foot (really oversized!), tall statues without heads, and a really mini statue without a head, here I put my head on top and took a photo so I had a teeny, tiny body. Finally today, we arrived at our hotel in Jerusalem – the city of our God!

9 September - Bethlehem & Surrounds

Church of the Nativity
'And became man'...the Church of the Nativity.

“If I should get tired and inclined to become short tempered Lord, May I remember – I am a pilgrim not a tourist!”

Birthsite of John the Baptist.
Lisa Garland and Margaret Orton from St Patrick's Parish Blacktown at the site of the birth of John the Baptist.
Chris, our tour coordinator gave us a prayer to say titled “A pilgrim’s prayer” and one of the lines in it was the one quoted above. These 6:30am wake up calls, for breakfast at 7am, to leave at 8am are getting tiring.

My roomy and I have learnt to sleep past the wake up call to 7am, and then have breakfast at 7:30am instead. Often I need to remind myself (or be reminded by others when I complain aloud) that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist indeed!

The air is so much cooler and fresher today in Jerusalem, so refreshing and beautiful.

Our day was meant to begin at the Israel museum where we were going to view the Second Temple scale model of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea Scrolls, but, when we got there early morning, of course it was closed.

Turning around, we headed to Ein Karem where Elizabeth and Zacariah lived and the birthplace of St John the Baptist. Inside the church, we could actually go down and view the spot where St John the Baptist was born, on the site is written "Hic Precursor Domini Natus Est" - "Here was born the precursor of the Lord".

Moving on, we arrived at a site with a large arch reading "Gloria In Excelsius Deo": we were at the Shepherd’s Field to commemorate the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on that first Christmas night. We were also blessed enough to celebrate Mass in the cave where it is thought the shepherds kept their animals.

After saying a desperate prayer in my head, and finding a back way to Bethlehem that required no checkpoint whatsoever, we came to the Church of the Nativity built over the stable where Jesus was born; the Grotto of the Holy Manger. I was so excited at first, to be visiting the spot where our Lord Jesus Christ was born.

Stepping through the doors, the line was beyond long and barely moving, beyond the first door there was another room we had to go through, and beyond that room, one more before we reached the spot where our Lord was born.

There were so many people there and because of this, no one had time to really pray here as we were all getting pushed to move along. This kind of put a dampner on the whole feeling of what I was there to see and wasn’t as excited.

Then I thought, at least I was here, at least I’ve seen the place. Better to have seen it for one second than not at all!

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