Holy Land Pilgrimage

Mountain Top Living

November 25, 2021

Our loving savior Jesus Christ is so good to us! The gifts we have seen grow in seminary—fraternity, knowledge, and joy—have continued to flourish in a number of ways on this pilgrimage. The hospitality we receive at our guest house, the education of our pilgrimage guide, and the laughter shared among both friends and strangers have all been signs that this trip is not just your typical road-trip, but truly a pilgrimage; a trip doused in the waters of the Holy Spirit, abundantly filling us with faith, hope, and love.

This blessed work of the Spirit especially became evident to me with our recent visit to the Church of the Transfiguration, located at the top of Mount Tabor. We sang Missa de Angelis mass parts (a personal favorite from my days at Saint John Vianney College Seminary) and “Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” as a communion meditation hymn. The long echo of the almost-empty Church of the Transfiguration made our voices bounce off the walls and reverberate to a beautiful chorus. During the Gospel, when Deacon Juan Carlos read from Mark 9, “Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them up THIS mountain apart by themselves,” I could feel the difference of our location and I felt my heart jump a bit. We were listening to Him, we were seeing Him transfigured, we were seeing the fullness of His glory in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. We were seeing the face of the Father in the gift of the Son, sent among us for the forgiveness of sins. We continued to be faithful disciples, approaching the Lord, remembering His Words, “doing this in memory of me.” The mountain top experience doesn’t draw us away from the day-to-day experience; it opens our eyes to the wonder of what has already been present for a while and will continue to be present to us. The daily mass schedule of seminary when I first entered was admittedly tiresome. Now it is everything. And by my experience on Mount Tabor, I can see it is the very Transfiguration itself, the very mountain-top experience we as disciples need to carry on to Calvary.

As we took some time to pray, I turned to the Second Reading from the Divine Office from the Feast of the Transfiguration. I will let Anastasius of Sinai close this reflection out, having much weightier and more universal words than I.

“It is indeed good to be here, as you have said, Peter. It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here forever. What greater happiness or higher honor could we have than to be with God, to be made like him and to live in his light? Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into his divine image, we also should cry out with joy: It is good for us to be here.”

Deacon David Sacha
Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan

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