Fr Stephen’s trip to the Holy Land
Dear Friends, I’m praying for you all very much here in the Holy Land. There are twenty three priests and one deacon on our pilgrimage, from all over the UK – a wonderful group of people. It’s incredible to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, to see the very hills and fields that he saw, and the descendents of the sheep and goats that he frolicked with….
I’m writing this post in the hotel lobby before supper looking down over the Sea of Galilee, with the lights from the eastern shore glittering in darkness on the other side.
My highlights so far: Celebrating Mass on the shore of the lake where Jesus cooked breakfast for his disciples after his Resurrection and where he asked St Peter three times if he loved him. Seeing the house of St Peter in Capernaum where Jesus lived for so many months when he ministered in Galilee. Praying in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth where Mary said yes to the angel and where the Word came to live amongst us. And just wandering over the Mount of the Beatitudes imagining the many times Jesus must have sat there with his disciples and friends taking, listening, laughing, just wasting time together. And the hummus! But I won’t bore you with a description of every delicious meal I’ve had…
I offered Mass for all the students at our universities on the Mount of the Transfiguration this afternoon, and I will offer Mass for all the staff at our universities at Bethany tomorrow. I’m praying for you all very much. Please pray for me and our group, and the people of this beautiful land!
See you next week. Fr Stephen.
PS. Photos: (above) the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of the Beatitudes, (below) the inside of the Church of the Annunciation with the cave where the Angel Gabriel greeted the Virgin Mary just behind the altar, and the Church of the Transfiguration.
[Part 2] Dear Friends. We are very near the end of our pilgrimage and fly back late Monday evening. It has been an amazing time. All of you from the chaplaincy and from the different colleges have been very much in my prayers. I have been thinking of you all and carrying your intentions in my heart.
I won’t write a big post here (we can save the details for the next 52 homilies) but just a note about the three photos below: (i) meeting parishioners after Mass this morning in the Arabic speaking Catholic parish of Bet Sahour, very near to Bethlehem, (ii) standing in the River Jordan with fellow pilgrims at the spot where Jesus was baptised by John – just after I had seen a man baptising himself by full immersion while simultaneously filming the event with a selfie-stick held above the water!! (iii) a sycamore tree in Jericho – the inspiration for our Sycamore course – perhaps not exactly the one that Zachaeus climbed up to see Jesus, but certainly very similar to it! I tried to pinch some leaves as a souvenir but it had a big fence round it.
I’m back in London on Monday evening so I look forward to seeing you this week, or at least next Sunday, to tell you all my stories…
Best wishes. Fr Stephen