God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

A Season Of Great Adventure

The Grotto of Betrayal, Gethsemane,  Photo by Ori~  Via, Wikimedia

The Grotto of Betrayal, Gethsemane, Photo by Ori~ Via, Wikimedia

“I’m going to make this Lent the best one of my life”, I have been saying to myself these days.  Maybe, it’s because of the memories of my 1995 pilgrimage to Jerusalem in January of that year.  Of all my trips to the Holy City that one turned out to be one of the most exciting and exhilarating, perhaps, because of my living at the First Station of the Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa (the Sorrowful Way.)

Frequently, during my nine day stay, I took a three block walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  In the Church, I sat and thought of Jesus sweating Blood on these very grounds, as he saw all the sins of time to come.  Because of the purple glass windows, a darkness fills the interior of the Church, no matter how bright the sun might be outside.  I saw in this gloom, something of the despondency and despair that comes into my spirit when I sin.

  My prayers begged Christ to give me a horror of sin!  I need this Season of Lent, with its prayers and sacrifices, to strengthen my spirit.  Sin can easily slip into my life if I do not build up my defenses.  As I look back over my life, I realize that I was the happiest during times of Lent.  My extra prayers and little sacrifices, my desire to make myself a better person, brought a supreme peace into my Lenten days.

One morning, during my 1995 trip, I offered Mass in the Grotto of Betrayal, really, a cave cut out of solid rock, close to the main Church at Gethsemane.  Behind the altar, a large oil painting showed Christ just after Judas had betrayed Him with a kiss.  That morning, I said to myself, “How sad Jesus looks.  Will I too, betray Him in the days to come?  What a tragedy if I carelessly allow sin to enter my life.”  I need Lent to see the beauty of the Life of Christ and grow in love for Him.

My living quarters on the Via Dolorosa were just a 100 yards from the Chapel of the Scourging.  Sometimes, I sat up at night in bed and thought of the sacred place I was living in.  With whips, soldiers turned the back of the Savior into a bloody welter of flesh and exposed bones, all this, in atonement for the sins of the flesh.  St. Paul said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Lent will help me be heroic in resisting evil which surrounds me.

Each day in Jerusalem, I looked over my second floor balcony to the Via Dolorosa below, only nine paces wide, and saw Christ starting His journey of three blocks to Calvary, holding on to His heavy Cross.  From this experience in Jerusalem, I will never be quite the same again.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

February 21, 2015 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , ,


  1. love reading about your visits to the Holy Land.

    Comment by barttimm | February 21, 2015 | Reply

  2. Hi Fr. George! What rich memories you have of your many trips to the Holy Land! How I wish that I could have accompanied you on one of those trips… but, as usual, your wonderfully descriptive writings take me there – thank you for sharing these memories with us! I, too, have tried to immerse myself more fully into this year’s Lenten journey. I think I told you, that I received a gift from my friend, Liz – a delightful book called “Jesus Calling” – it is a daily reflection but it is written in the form of Jesus as first person, talking directly to me. It can be read over and over, as there is no year – only month and day. Each day’s message is so great and makes you think and bring the Lord closer. I’m thoroughly enjoying this gift! (Liz is one of the many friends that I have given your book to – and she reads a story every morning and carries your message with her throughout her day. She works as a social worker in the Palliative care department of my hospital.)

    The other book that I am using on this Lenten journey is the delightful book from http://www.littlebooks.org and it is the Little Black Book – a daily scripture reading with reflection and also tidbits of information. I learn something from that book every day. (they also have the Little White book for the Easter season and the Little Blue book for Advent).

    I realized (way to late in my life) that the more I put INTO Lent, the more that I get out of it! How I wish that I could impart that knowledge on the younger people in my life – but, as I probably wouldn’t have listened to an elder when I was young, they would not listen to me. But, luckily, I found this rich gift of faith before it was ‘too late’. Thanks be to God and the Holy Spirit for leading me to you – which led me to a very full and rich Catholic faith – fuller than I have ever experienced. Thank YOU, Fr. George, you have given me a gift that matches no other!!

    Stay warm and know that I am praying for you daily, my dear friend! I love you and looking forward to seeing you at Easter!


    Comment by nancywest22 | February 21, 2015 | Reply

  3. That is probably the best thing about lent, the reminder of the suffering and pain Christ endured for us, and that our journey no matter how difficult or easy will end with the splendor of being with him, because of the sacrifices he made we get to share the glory, may we always be grateful to Christ and to you for your devotion to him and your life lessons to grow in faith. Thank you
    love Deb

    Comment by Anonymous | February 23, 2015 | Reply

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