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in this vale of tears

13 Jun

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At the “gate” in the Israeli- built wall that separates Bethlehem and Beit Jala from Jerusalem, there are 71 vertical sections of concrete, I counted them, between the opening in the wall and the Monastery of Emmanuel over the rise in the hill, where there is an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the corner of the wall where it meets the entrance to the monastery. On the 35-minute walk from Manger Square in Bethlehem to the icon, I prayed the rosary, using the “Mysteries of Deliverance” that I made up along the way: the Flight into Egypt, the Cure of the Gerasene Demoniac, the Healing of the Man with the Withered Hand in Capernaeum, the Raising and Calling Forth and Untying of Lazarus in Bethany, and the Plea of the Good Thief and the Promise of His Savior on the Cross. At the icon, I sang the Sàlve Regina and prayed the Hail Holy Queen. “In hac lacrimarum valle … in this vale of tears … after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” I wrote my name on wall at the icon, “Abuna Rob,” and tapped each of the 71 sections of the wall, as I counted them and hoped that they would eventually be torn down.

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