These words were spoken by Fr. Juan Solana LC, in an introduction to the Holy Sepulchre where we spent the night. It was somewhat of a calming talk, after the hectic and scary beginning to our night. Fr. Daniel had told our group (almost everyone went) that we would probably have a difficult time getting in to the Holy Sepulchre, but he had talked to a monk, and we hoped it would run smoothly. It seemed that God wanted a little more sacrifice and a lot more “Hail Mary’s” before we got what we wanted.
The Greek Orthodox, the Armenians, Coptics and Catholics were all squished outside of the closed doors of the Holy Sepulchre, and there was tension in the air. Our group got almost to the front and was ready to throw up elbows so we could get in. We were determined, united and full of a need. I have to say it was terrifying. We got in one at a time, amidst a yelling crowd and hands that grabbed you back. Fr. Daniel stood by the door grabbing us by the hand and yanking us in like a saving grace. All I know is that I must have counted the group at least 4 times after we were all in safe and sound, just to make sure we were all out of the chaos. I must say our boys were so amazing tonight, keeping the girls safe and sound, acting like trained body guards. It turned out we were one of two groups let in. It was actually a moving experience to see so many people want to experience and know Christ at Calvary.
Now once again, this is a big group of people all together in one place. The Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Coptics have control over the spot where Jesus was crucified, so their chapel is there. The Catholics have control of the place where Jesus was nailed to the cross, so their chapel is at that spot. And they’re right next to each other.
(Our chaperone) Mrs. Krogh, and (my classmates) Jackie, Lu, Aaron and I were praying in our chapel while the Greek Orthdox were having their Holy Thursday service in theirs, filled with song. It was beautiful, deep and rich, and set the background music of the first couple hours of our night.
While we are here, we have been able to receive confession, walk the stations, visit Jesus’ tomb, and pray wherever we want. Joshua, Ryan and I got to pray together in the tomb and it was powerful to say the least. The tomb itself is finely adorned and many people just wanted to be near to it. Michelle has been wandering through the halls, praying a rosary. Angela and I were interpreting an old painting, only to figure out that it was Jesus being taken down from the cross. Jeremy was all over the place, while Miss (Valerie) Fifelski and Mary Jo spent their time in the chapel downstairs.
Fr. Daniel was always there to remind us, “Go see the tomb one more time!” or “Just go in there, don’t wait!” I’ve spotted Daman, Chris and Kersten sitting by Calvary, deep in thought and prayer. Jackie and I have found each other a bunch of times just to say hi and smile, but she has been praying very hard for all her intentions. Kimmy was just on her way to the rock of Calvary the last time I saw her. Noah was walking around everywhere, praying. Ben was actually able to touch the rock during the Greek Orthodox ceremony, and shared light with one of the celebrators when Ben did not have any light to read his Bible. Becca and Christina were in an intense conversation when I last saw them and Shannon and Loui were deep in prayer.
Each of us had a different experience, but we had moments together as a group. One thing we all had in common was the cold temperature of the Sepluchre, and the cold kept us all awake, almost as if Jesus was sending it so we would stay awake with him on such a sad, solemn night. We also were kept awake by the Armenian, Coptic and Greek Orthodox cleaning and chanting. We had to move from our spots, sleep without blankets and bunch together for heat, but we all had a good time. I hope that anyone reading this has a chance to visit the Holy Sepulchre because it is something you won’t forget. All I can say is after a crazy day, sleepless and prayer-filled night, I’m gonna sleep well on the plane tonight!