Sunday is often called ‘little Easter’ as we celebrate the Lord’s Day and his resurrection from the dead. It was wonderful to be celebrating this Sunday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. We walked to the church through the Old City and gathered with sufficient time to visit Golgotha before Mass: 'We adore Thee O Christ and we praise Thee, because by your holy cross you have remembered the world'. Praying before the Crucifix pilgrims remembered the Lord’s merciful love poured out for us on the Cross and the many crosses which people bear in their lives. Later in the afternoon we walked the Via Dolorosa and made the Stations of the Cross following in the footsteps of Jesus. We prayed for the needs of the world in the light of the gift of God’s mercy.
In the homily I focused on the mystery of the gift of faith and the challenge of living Christian faith in 'darkness and the shadow of death'. We prayed particularly for the people we had met on the pilgrimage and family members. Following Mass there was an opportunity to explore the church and visit chapels and shrines. A magnificent procession of the Armenian Patriarch was seen by many as they celebrated the finding of the True Cross. Gifts of basil were give freely to those present.
We then walked through crowds to the Austrian Hospice for lunch. From the roof there are fine views over the Old City to the Temple Mount, Ecce Homo, the domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Damascus Gate. Evocative names recalling complex historical traditions.
Stones upon stones, traditions built on traditions. The free time in the afternoon provided a fascinating time to explore and discover some of the hidden secrets of the Old City.
This evening we will have a presentation from Jim Quinn of the Friends of the Holy Land, and hear of their many works to support projects and people. This talk will be another reminder that the pilgrimage is not only a visit to historical sites of faith but to stimulate solidarity in the Body of Christ and walk with Christians in this land.