March 5 (Ash Wednesday) – Travel Day 1
4:50 p.m. – 9:20 a.m. Providence, Rhode Island to Newark, Delaware and then on to Tel Aviv, Israel.
I’m excited and distracted. What a gift to start Lent accompanying our Beloved in such a way. “Create in me a clean heart…” (Psalm 51) “Give me back the JOY of your salvation and a willing spirit to SUSTAIN in me.” I praise you, Jesus. I open every part of my being; do as you wish for my soul! Mary, I give you permission to direct me and direct my merits and gratitude.
Day 2 – March 6 (Thursday)
We arrive at Notre Dame at and feel right at home. I slept a lot on the plane. Maritza, my companion, didn’t, so she is sleeping now, and I just finish my rosary on the patio terrace of the apartment the consecrated women use. The members of my group are all in a meeting with the LCs, so it’s a perfect time. Here I am – a 30-minute walk to the Cenacle (upper room)! It took one hour from Tel Aviv to the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center (where we are staying). I meditate on Jesus going “up” to the Holy City. I am too tired to have more “lights,” but I know I am blessed to walk in this land!
On our first day we visit the site of the Annunciation, the miracle at Cana and Mt. Tabor. The words of Mary ring out at the first two places. “I am the Handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to Thy Will” and “Son, they have no wine.” (She always looked after the needs of others.) And, “Do whatever He tells you.” Words to live by.
It’s hard to live Lent when there is so much joy in my heart; when I have the gift to visit Galilee! Lent is about being with Christ and accompanying Him, I know, and I can do that. This pilgrimage makes His intimate, personal love for me manifested in countless ways. Six of the ten days I am able to pray at Calvary. How do I NOT meet His love there? I received Holy Communion twice there; a huge gift for me!
While at Cana, I prayed for the sanctity of marriage, that each spouse can bend when necessary; that each can put the other first.
Imagine what a heavenly relationship marriage can be if the focus is placed much more on the gift of self, of loving, providing for, and serving the other, before our own needs! That’s heroic! That’s the respect, dignity, and delicate love Christ wants each spouse to find in marriage. I’m grateful that my family has been blessed with strong marriages – not without hardships and bumps – but I see the love there. It’s a gift. I prayed also for marriages that have been broken – God’s love can heal, but a broken heart is a deep pain. I pray that there can be openness to accept this suffering; this mystery that touches the lives of so many for a plethora of reasons.
I’m sitting on a wall at the garden, and hundreds of pilgrims pass by. Ancient olive trees are right in front of me. The vendors are working hard, with horns, cameras, clamor – yet the truth is here. Jesus suffered for me, for us – here.
On the bus ride to Galilee, I reflect on the dispositions for a pilgrimage and for life’s journey — be open and attentive to the Holy Spirit, and be flexible. It’s not easy.
Fr. Simon (Devereux) shared with us that he took his new Constitutions to Calvary…..
March 8 (Saturday)
It is Fr. James’ birthday! We visit Cana, enjoy a meditation in the garden on the Mount of Nazareth, and sunshine in Galilee. Today, I renew my vows as a consecrated in Regnum Christi.
March 9 (Sunday)
Today we take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, visit Capernaum and the site where Jesus forgave Peter, and said “Feed my lambs.” The place is called the Primacy of Peter. Our Lord gave Himself and healed here. I get a quiet moment to stick my feet in the Sea of Galilee – a gift. We wander around enjoying our peaceful surroundings. Also, Fr. Juan Solana gives a testimony to us about his own suffering at a certain moment in his vocation. It helped me tremendously to be an open, humble, with a faith-filled unity with my sisters and RC family.
March 10 – Long Day
We are visiting the city of Magdala. I gaze at the sea and enjoy where Jesus walked. Then we go to Bethlehem for shopping – a sacrifice for me! This was a day that stretched me. I gave a lot. One man actually prayed over me! The day was long and I was tired. We celebrate Mass at 9:00 p.m. and I am ready for bed. I thank the Lord for His love towards me.
March 11 (Tuesday) – Bethlehem
The beautiful grace of this day is holding Baby Jesus during Mass
We consecrated are meant to be “Moms!” (spiritually) you know!
We also visit the caves of the shepherds, and feel the tension of the West Bank.
March 12 (Wednesday) – Mass in the Holy Sepulcher
We participate in the Stations of the Cross devotion and have Eucharistic Adoration.
The location of Calvary is empty and I pray for all of you at the place where the Cross was placed – I spent a long time there.
March 13 (Thursday)
We visit Calvary, the site of the Ascension, where Jesus taught the “Our Father,” the Cenacle, and the place of the Visitation. It is a full day packed with activities. The highlight was Mass in Gethsemane. I read the petitions in the main Basilica, in this place that is very close to my heart. I reflect on the moral suffering Christ felt, that overtook Him, and it moves me to accept the moral sufferings in my life. He died and suffered for us, the saved and even the lost. I unite with Him and seek to console Him in my simple, meager, weak way, by giving Him my sins, my nothingness, and dying with Him to be strengthened, to be His handmaid.
Back at the Notre Dame Center, before the tabernacle where He is present and listens and works, I pray for all of you. I remember His action and sacrifice at Calvary. I was at that spot when the priest at the Mass there said, “Through Him, with Him and in Him…all Glory and Honor are yours.”
March 14 (Friday)
What didn’t we do today? Again we go to Calvary and I receive Communion there. We visit the Holy Sepulcher, and get to go through, a little miracle! We visit Bethsaida, where Jesus was with Mary and Martha and Lazarus. We take a camel ride in Jericho. We go to the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and Quoram. And again I’m in Gethsemane in a Holy Hour praying for you and the team members by name. My prayer is dry like the desert, but the experience and the conversions of the pilgrims are transforming.
March 15 (Saturday)
Bonus day! Mass at Calvary at 7:00 a.m., and then breakfast. We pack, and go to the Domus Flevit, the Church where Jesus wept. We see some of the Via Dolorosa, the Western Wall, and then enjoy a good, long lunch with members of the Jerusalem team. They are really “alone,” the four of them, isolated from other RC consecrated women. Their team life is small. Theirs is a special apostolate of instant hospitality and welcome. This is why we wanted to spend time with them. They invited us to everything — Mass, a little shopping, and departure at 7:00 p.m. for our flight.
Good bye to the Holy Land!