Holy Land Pilgrimage

The Third Joyful Mystery

January 23, 2018

A couple days ago, after a morning of classes, we had some free time, so a couple other seminarians and I decided to walk over to the Church of the Nativity to pray, thinking that it would not be crowded. Sure enough, as we entered the church we noticed several large tourist groups in the church waiting in a line to the spot where Christ was born. We decided to wait in line in between two of the big groups. One group was made of about 75 Americans from Memphis, Tennessee, and the other group was about 100 people from Poland.

When we made it down into the grotto where Christ was born, we decided to head towards the back of the room just to spend some time in prayer and watch as the people came down to venerate the star which marks the very spot Jesus was born. I decided to pray the Rosary and it was the day to pray the Joyful mysteries. As I was praying, I came to the third Joyful mystery: The Birth of Jesus. When I came to this mystery, it hit me that I was standing around the area that this mystery actually took place, the place where God incarnate came into this world as a little baby. I took this realization as an opportunity to soak in the reality and mystery of the Christmas event.

During our half hour of prayer next to the place of Christ’s birth, we watched as American and Polish pilgrims were kissing and praying at the spot Christ was born. It was a special time to watch Christians from all around the world expressing their faith. I have been back to this spot several times now, but the gravity of the Incarnation especially hit me during this moment of grace.

By Tom Heathershaw, Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa.
Photos by the author.

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