Farewell to the Holy Sepulchre

Monday 7th July 2014

This morning I got up early again and made my way up the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre


Again, the Franciscan Brother who is the sacristan accommodated me. This hospitality is quite astonishing!

By the way, that is not a slur on Franciscans, but simply noting that being accommodated in this way was well and truly outside the system! Normally one is required to make a prior booking with the Pilgrim Office to offer Mass in the Church. Times and places are limited for offering Mass, by the number of altars in the Church, and by the number of churches who claim them at set times! Sometimes, when a pilgrim group is only in Jerusalem for a few days, the booking is done months in advance. So opportunities can be few and far between. When pilgrim numbers are very high, it often happens that all the available altars in the Church are completely booked up for the entire time that a priest is in Jerusalem, so he misses out on celebrating the Eucharist in the Church (though of course may attend masses, and perhaps even concelebrate with another priest if time, language and circumstances allow – but according to protocols, even the number of concelebrants should be booked in advance!). For the sake of order, without a booking, it is not possible to celebrate the Eucharist, as our group found out when there had been a bureaucratic mix-up. However, here I was, three days in a row, without any booking, and there happened to be a vacant spot in the timetable for a Mass on Calvary!!! Thanks be to God!! And may God bless the accommodating Franciscan sacristan!!

Pilgrim having celebrated the Eucharist at the 11th Station of the Cross, Jesus is nailed to the cross, Calvary,  Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Pilgrim having celebrated the Eucharist at the 11th Station of the Cross, Jesus is nailed to the cross, Calvary, Church of the Holy Sepulchre


As on the other occasions, I offered the Eucharist for family, friends, relatives, confreres and colleagues. I offered it in a particular way for myself too. It was a re-dedication of my life, echoing the words that Jesus uttered on this spot, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. It was a re-dedication of my priesthood, echoing the words of the consecration, “this is my body given for you (for God, for Jesus, for the church, for the people, for the life of the world); this is my blood poured out for you).

As I reflected in the previous post, in this spot, the Paschal Mystery revealed the fullness of death-dealing sin and life-giving resurrection.

The Aedicule, the Chapel which, according to tradition, contains the tomb in which the dead body of Jesus was buried and from which he was raised, Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Aedicule, the Chapel which, according to tradition, contains the tomb in which the dead body of Jesus was buried and from which he was raised, Church of the Holy Sepulchre


I go forth from this place in the power of the Spirit, renewed! In my ministry and relationships, may I live out more deeply my having been conformed to Christ the High Priest. Amen!

Shalom, Peace, Salaam!!!

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