Holy Land Pilgrimage

Deep Calls to Deep

February 28, 2019

Lines—long lines of pilgrims from all over the world, file past and venerate the sites of Our Lord’s Death and Resurrection. At first, such congestion, which is characteristic of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, can be quite distracting to the pilgrim who wants to pray in a recollected way. In one way, perhaps the nature of the Sepulchre calls the pilgrim to a different type of prayer, a deeper recollection of the mysteries of our salvation. For, surrounded by noise, the pilgrim must seek to descend into the depths of his own soul, meditating upon the love of Our God, His Sacrifice for us, and the promise of eternal life offered to us in the Resurrection. As the pilgrim goes into the inner silence of his heart, he is yet again, distracted however. “Well, let’s try again,” he says to himself.

Eventually, after several attempts of seeking this greater interior recollection with varying degrees of success, the pilgrim may find himself ready to complain, at least interiorly, about the noisy and bustling state of the Sepulchre. But wait…At this moment, by God’s grace, the pilgrim realizes that in a certain sense, his prayers are not necessarily about himself and how he desires to pray. As the seminarian pilgrim looks around at the mass of humanity gathered in the Speulchre Church, deep contemplative thoughts escape him.

But, by God’s enlightening touch, his vision is made clearer. Like Our Lord’s heart was opened on the Cross, the seminarian finds his heart opened in charity as he begins to pray like a priest. Namely, he begins to say simple prayers of adoration to God which the other, bustling pilgrims who themselves are distracted, would otherwise say. He offers up prayers of thanksgiving, for both the faith, the salvation, and graces that have been given to us all—prayers of thanksgiving that the other pilgrims would offer if they were not having to navigate busy lines. The seminarian pleads for the forgiveness of his sins and the sins of all of the pilgrims, who would form more perfect acts of contrition, if they could only concentrate more deeply, instead of having to worry about spending only a couple of seconds at Calvary or in the Tomb so that other pilgrims can venerate the sites. Finally, the future priest finds himself asking that God hear the pleas of his gathered children, pleas that they would offer if only they had not forgotten them, as their tour guide ushers them out of the church and onto another site.

Andrew Buchanan

Diocese of Joliet

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