Tag Archives: pilgrimage

“starring” the prayers of others

24 Jul

Before we left on pilgrimage we gathered prayer petitions from parishioners, families, students, friends, co-workers and classmates. Yes, I said “classmates.” One of our pilgrims is a student in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program of our Archdiocese. From her classmates she collected a huge stack of prayers, many of which were written in Vietnamese.

Mary Jo, a teacher at our SASEAS School, and her daughter Bridget, just weeks away from her wedding, cut and pasted all the prayers on heavy paper and created a real work of art.

All the prayers were folded into a book that was easy to pack and carry.

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The book opened up into a star shape that could rest right on the corner of the altar whenever we prayed.

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Cathy, the lay ministry student, kept the prayers with her at all times. Here she touches the prayers to the rock of Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, joining the cries of many to the cry of Jesus to his Father.

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The prayers rested during Mass on the altar over the stone of the holy (and empty) tomb of Jesus.

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The prayers were with us as we celebrated Mass with the local Christians in the olive grove of the Cremisan Valley near Beit Jala (Bethlehem).

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On the Sea of Galilee we celebrated Mass at an outdoor altar on the edge of the water near the home of Peter and Andrew in Capernaeum. We opened up the prayers to God there as well.

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And the prayers were with us for the last time at Mass on the Mount of Beatitudes.

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We left all the prayers that we brought with the Sisters who live in the convent on the Mount of Beatitudes. Cathy and I were just starting to explain to one of the Sisters what we wanted to do, when she scooped them out of Cathy’s hands, “Tell the people that the Sisters will continue to pray for their intentions.” Sister knew what we wanted – and what our parishioners, families, students, friends, co-workers and classmates wanted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

celebrating Jesus in green, red and white

23 Jul

One of the good things about “having a priest” on a pilgrimage is that you get to celebrate Mass every day. One of the good things about “being a priest” on pilgrimage is that I get to celebrate Mass every day, each time at a site that was significant in the life of Jesus or is significant to the local Catholics today, and thus are significant to us.

The color was green when I concelebrated with Father Ibrahim, the parish priest of Beit Jala (Bethlehem) and Father Faysal, the General Director of the Latin Patriarchate Schools of Palestine and Israel.

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At Capernaum along the Sea of Galilee we celebrated in red, in honor of the Apostles Peter and Andrew.

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In the olive grove of the Cremisan Valley, Father Ibrahim and I wore white vestments.

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In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, if we had been on Mount Calvary, I would have worn red. But since we had Mass at the Holy Tomb, the color was Easter white.

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At the Milk Grotto shrine in Bethlehem the color was, well, you can see for yourself.

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her three children

20 Jul

It seemed that, while on pilgrimage, Michelle was always remembering her three children, and was always missing them. She often reminded the rest of us that she had three children, and was constantly reminding God, too. 

Whenever she was standing quiet, we figured she was thinking of her three children, missing them, and praying for them.

While at the Sea of Galilee, I handed her three stones, of three different sizes, one for each of her children: small, medium and large; youngest, middle and oldest. I suggested that she hold the stones, one by one, as he held her children in her heart, one by one. Start with the smallest stone, I suggested, while praying for your youngest child. Hold the smallest in your hand, tell God what your prayer is for your youngest, then toss the stone into the sea. Then take up the medium sized stone and your medium sized child; make the prayer and toss the stone. And finally, the largest and the oldest.

The four photos below capture the stages: the stone, the wind up, the toss and the ripple.

It made me wonder if the four photos capture the stages of our prayer. Do they represent four parts of prayer, or four movements in prayer, or  four things that are necessary for prayer, or four things that make a prayer a prayer and not just a thought? What do you think?

I have given each photo a caption, from the point of view of the stone. What caption would you give them, if the photos were not about the stone, but about the prayer?

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Part 1: the stone (notice the white bird flying near the water)

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Part 2: the wind up

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Part 3: the toss

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Part 4: the ripple

 

 

no longer a reluctant pilgrim

4 Jun

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Until my somewhat reluctant pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1994, I had absolutely no interest or desire to go the Holy Land. Now I cannot seem to get enough. Tomorrow I begin my 15th pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the second time accompanying HOPE teacher-pilgrims.

Three teachers from my St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School are going on this pilgrimage, which totally delights me. To know that they are partnering with three teachers from my beloved Latin Patriarchate School Beit Jala gives me HOPE that our partnering with the Catholic parish and school in Beit Jala will continue, even when I retire from being the pastor of St. Andrew next year.

At 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 28, there was a school Mass for the 6th, 7th and 8th graders, the students that Mrs. Bohlen, Miss Petrozzi and Mrs. Taylor teach. At that Mass I  asked the students to send their teachers off with a blessing and a prayer, reminding them that their teachers are taking their prayer petitions with them to the Holy Land. That Mass was offered for the repose of the soul of Jabra Na’eem Sema’an, a twelfth grade student at the Beit Jala school. Jabra died just a few months before his graduation, after having made the best of his learning and his life, although he was afflicted with muscular-dystrophy since an early age, and spent his school days in a wheel chair. There will be an empty chair at his graduation. We live streamed the Mass, so that George Abu Dayyeh, his grandfather and also a teacher at the school, could hear one of our students try to pronounce Jabra’s name in the general intercessions.

One site I hope to visit is the archeological remains of the town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee, the birthplace of Mary “of Magdala,” that is, Mary Magdalene.

One hope I take is that I can feel myself being mothered by Isabelle, my earthly and deceased mother, and by Mary, the Blessed Mother.

I look forwarded to handing to Father Ibrahim Shomali, the pastor of the Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Beit Jala, the gift that my parishioners are giving to him for his school children. I look forward to celebrating Mass at the empty tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, encouraging my pilgrims to “name your dead – and – listen to hear your own name spoken by Jesus, as Mary of Magdala heard Jesus call her by name on the morning of his resurrection.” I look forward to leaving something behind in the tomb of Lazarus, as I imagine hearing the voice of Jesus calling me by name and calling me out of that thing that holds me back and has had me tied up as if in burial cloths, hoping that Jesus resuscitates me into a different way of living, in the same way that he resuscitated Lazarus.

Here at “With Open Doors” I will post photos and words, as I make pilgrimage with our teacher-pilgrims.

bless Sharon John, Abby William and Christy Earl

31 May

On May 28 at our St. Andrew-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School Mass for the 6th, 7th and 8th graders, we blessed three of our teachers who are making pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

blessing of teachers

We give you thanks for those who teach us along the way.

We give you thanks, O God, for those who teach us about you.

We give you thanks, O God, for those who teach us about right and wrong, and what it means to be Christian and what it means to be Catholic.

We give you thanks, O God, for these women who are spiritual mothers to all of their students.

And as they set out on their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, O God, we ask that you bless Sharon John, Abby William and Christy Earl. Keep them healthy. Keep them safe.

On this pilgrimage, O God, may they keep hope within themselves and be hope for someone else.

Draw them ever and ever more closer to yourself, O God, through your son, Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit. We give you praise now and forever. Amen.

an orphan priest

23 May

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When I make pilgrimage to the Holy Land in June, I will take this photo with me, and will try to remember to pull it out and look at it at any pilgrimage site at which Mary is remembered or at any personal time that I think of Mary.

With this photo I will carry one of me and my mother, Isabelle, standing together at the ambo at St. Andrew, on what occasion I do not remember.

In a recent talk to seminarians, Pope Francis urged them to seek the help of the Virgin Mary if they feel spiritually troubled.

“First of all go to the Mantle of Mary and wait until there is a bit of calm. Some of you will tell me…in this time of so many modern goods – psychiatry, psychology – in this time of turbulence, I think it would be better to see a psychiatrist to get help. But – do not dismiss this – but first go to your Mother, because a priest who forgets the Virgin Mary, especially in times of turbulence, is missing something. He is an orphan priest, the one who forgets his Mother.”

At the time of my mother’s death in 2006, it dawned on me that I was an orphan. I have never forgotten that – and I have never forgotten her. I still miss her at times, times when I least expect it.

A Mexican nun told me at the time of my mother’s death that I now have two mothers in heaven. She really meant it. Honestly, I still do not feel it.

I will take the photos with me, the one above and this one:

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with “Jesus” and @JamesMartinSJ – in Milford

8 Apr

Jesuit Renewal Center James Martin book

We are with “Jesus” at a “Jesuit retreat house near Cincinnati, Ohio” (page 226 of “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” by Father James Martin, S.J.) – our Milford.

he had to be burped

13 Mar

In his “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” Father James Martin, S.J., writes that there are ten things you need to know about Jesus:

1. Jesus really was human.
2. Jesus really was divine.
3. Jesus came from a tiny town.
4. Jesus learned.
5. Jesus worked hard.
6. Jesus had friends.
7. Jesus didn’t expect everyone to understand him.
8. Jesus needed time alone.
9. Jesus didn’t want to die.
10. Jesus really rose from the dead.

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You are most welcome

31 Dec

While on pilgrimage in the Holy Land in June 2012 with a group of teachers from various schools in our Archdiocese of Cincinnati we celebrated an outdoor Mass in Cremisan Valley in an olive grove. It was then that we met Deacon Sleiman (Solomon), a student at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary who is serving as deacon at Annunciation Church in Beit Jala.

In his car Deacon Solomon led our bus on its way through the village of Beit Jala, up over the hill and around the winding roads, to the Cremisan Valley. In the open trunk of his car, he brought along an altar table, and inside the car he had everything we needed for Mass. He was the perfect host and gentleman. He is, in the words of one of our pilgrim-teachers, a holy man – and he will be a good and holy priest.

As you see him and hear him in this YouTube video, enjoy his smile and his obvious love for the Church. We can assure  y0u that he means it when he says, “You are most welcome to be here with us in our Annunication Church in Beit Jala.”