We have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem
March 6, 2020
“I rejoiced when I heard them say, ‘We will go up to the house of the Lord.’
And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem.”
It is in the words of the great Psalm 121 that pilgrims address the Holy City, when from afar they gaze upon the hills on which stand the majestic stone walls of Jerusalem. It was after reciting this psalm that pilgrims from around the globe would descend from their horses and,kneeling in the dust, recollect themselves in fervent prayer and supplication. One’s arrival in Jerusalem merits this gradual preparation of the spirit, a vigil of recollection, and a pilgrimage of conversion.
It was in this spirit that our group of seminarian-pilgrims ascended the hills leading to Jerusalem on that Ash Wednesday morning. Although, we traveled by bus instead of by foot or horse; much to some of our disappointment. How fitting that we should ascend the Mount of this Holy City on the very day that the faithful throughout the world “ascend” the beginning of Lent. Truly, our current pilgrimage to Jerusalem alongside the Church’s annual pilgrimage through the season of Lent are types of our earthly pilgrimage; moving towards that Heavenly Jerusalem. This pilgrimage has been a microcosm of our lives where everything will happen along the route:emotions, challenges, conversion, learning, growth, supplications, frustrations, and encounters. A pilgrimage is a deliberate journey towards an end. A pilgrimage is life reduced to its essence and thus enriched, condensed, and concentrated.
And so it is Jerusalem, the Holy City, towards which we have traveled: a city holy for the Jews, holy for the Muslims, but in a special manner it is the holy city of the Christians for its earth was bathed in the Blood of our Savior. Here He manifested His eternal truths; here he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life;” here He promulgated the new commandment of love; here, in the Upper Room, He instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist; here He prayed in Gethsemane; here from the Praetorium to Calvary He underwent his dolorous passion; here on the cross He died; here after three days he arose; and here He ascended into Heaven.
Truly, Jerusalem is the Holy City, and as such, from the dawn of Christianity until our present day, to the hills of Zion came pilgrims from every land; enduring fatigue and discomfort in a spirit of repentance, conversion, and devotion just to kiss the rock of Golgotha and the stone of the Sepulchre, to bedew with tears of contrition and love the land that felt the footsteps of our Savior. In a similar way we must, together, approach this season of Lent. We should approach our pilgrimages not as other things in life, but in a spirit of devotion. Let us approach this city, the coming Easter morning, and our Heavenly homeland as Christians; with faith in our souls, prayer on our lips, and Christ Jesus in our hearts.
Brother Nathan Ford
Canons Regular of St. John Cantius