April 13, 2014
Today marks the first day of travels for our senior class of 2014 in the Holy Land! After 10 hours on a flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv, we’re here! I expected Israel to be beautiful, but I never expected it to be so GREEN! Flowers, grass, palm trees, you name it! Some was growing along the road as we drove the bus back to our hotel in Nazareth.
After a late Palm Sunday Mass, you would think we would call it a day! But Fr. Daniel (Pajerski) encouraged us to go out and explore, and he took us on a tour to the Basilica of the Annunciation. We came in right before closing, and the man in charge instructed us that it was time for prayer and silence. What good advice that turned out to be! In moments of silence, we have more of a chance to hear God! (My classmate Kersten believes that our experience was more powerful because it took place at night, when the Basilica was silent and we were the only ones in there.)
The most amazing thing about the Basilica is that it has two floors. The main floor is the gorgeous present day Basilica, clad in representations of Mary from all different countries, painted and made from stone, glass, metal and wood. Beneath the gorgeous church lays something even more precious and sacred. The lower level is a circular room with a somewhat dilapidated stone house in the middle. The stone Basilica has the phrase “Verbum Caro Factum Est” — which translates to “The Word became Flesh” — engraved on the outside. On the altar, in the snake stone house there is a similar phrase — “Et hic verbum caro factum est.” This sentence was probably the smallest part of the whole display, but it made the most impact. Fr. Daniel explained that the phrase meant “HERE the word became flesh.” And it just hits you. In that very spot!
(My classmates) Becca, Christina and I were all talking about how we were praying the Hail Mary, and the prayer suddenly meant so much more than just words. (My classmate) Lu described the place as where Mary said “yes” to the Lord, and she prayed specifically for the strength to say “Yes” to whatever vocation God wants for her.
My prayers specifically went out to all those couples who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, and for unborn children.
I’ll write more tomorrow and keep you all up to date! Don’t worry parents, siblings and friends, God is with us here! We can all feel it, and we all can’t wait to experience more of Him!