by John Carlin
This is John Carlin reporting on Day 22 of our Holy Land/ Rome Pilgrimage. It has been amazing experience so far getting to spend time with our Lord in the places He spent so much of His time during His earthly life.
Today, we spent the morning praying with the story of Jesus' Agony in the Garden. We drove over to the Mount of Olives which is right across from Jerusalem with the Kidron valley in between. It was Jerusalem day today, commemorating the reunification of Israel, so there was more traffic and tourists and youth groups out then normal but nothing our bus driver couldn't handle! We made it to the Mt. of Olives in time to have Mass at the Gethsemane Grotto celebrated by Fr. Burr.
There are a couple of churches around Gethsemane, each marking different sites. The Grotto where we had Mass marks the place where Jesus would meet with His disciples to pray and where He asked them to wait while He went farther to pray with Peter, James, and John. It is also the place where, upon returning to His disciples, Jesus was betrayed by Judas. It was very moving for me praying at this place. The disciples spent so much time there resting and praying with the Lord it felt like a little adoration chapel. The Grotto is so simple, like the cave in Bethlehem where He was born. There are remnants of frescos on the rock walls which had adorned the small crusader church before the Basilica was rebuilt, but these have long been worn away. Only stars which look like little crosses remain all over the low ceiling, giving the humble place the feel of night.
Somehow, it was more fitting that the native rock was all that adorned the walls; you could look at the rock and know that Jesus saw that same sight. The olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane have a similar quality. Biologists estimate that the roots of the trees are at least 2000 years old! These trees also stood as a silent witness to Jesus' Agony and His earthly life.
After Mass, some of us walked down along the Kidron valley while others visited the tomb of the Blessed Mother ("I thought she was Assumed into Heaven?!" you may be asking: look it up). Then it was back on the bus to get ready for tomorrow: Mass at Holy Sepulchre! (Only in the Holy Land).
While we have all enjoyed the Holy Land very much, we are also getting excited to go to Rome: good food (pasta!), beautiful churches, and maybe see the Pope or at least see Tim DuBois. Four days and counting!
God bless to everyone back home!
John CarlinJohn Carlin is a second-year theologian studying for the Archdiocese of Detroit.