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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 | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Fell Twice On The Way Of The Cross

In His torturous walk to Golgotha, Jesus fell three times.  Each time someone helped Him to rise and continue on.  Simon of Cyrene picked up the Cross and eased its weight on the shoulders of Christ.  Another helper, Veronica, wiped his brutalized face with her towel.  She didn’t know Him but only saw a man in need of help.

Saint Veronica, by Hans Memling Via Wikipedia

Saint Veronica, by Hans Memling
Via Wikipedia

My first fall took place in the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Only five people can fit into the small chapel of the tomb.  Because of a lack of oxygen, I slumped to the floor in a faint.  With much care, my friends carried me out to fresh air.  On my way back to my Residence, my second fall happened at the V Station.  I hit the street suddenly without warning.  No harm came, only an increase in weakness.

A taxi with the driver waiting for a fare stood only ten yards away.  What a blessing!  Again my friends helped me by putting me into the front seat of the taxi.  The driver drove up the steep, narrow street for a block to my residences at the II Station of the Cross.  The Lord had taken good care of me, with my friends at the tomb, and the taxi cab driver.  I gave him $20.

The address of my residence was Ecce Homo (Behold The Man), Via Dolorosa 41, Jerusalem.  Via Dolorosa means The Sorrowful Way, with reference to the Way of the Cross.  All of us could add those words, Via Dolorosa, to our address, no matter where we live.  Each one of us is carrying a cross; life allows for no exceptions.  The invisible cross might be a sickness, a heartbreak, family situation, fears, worries, or harmful addiction, such as indifference to God, a revengeful spirit.  Many people lack employment.

Plan to be a Simon of Cyrene or a Veronica to people we meet each day.  Give others a spirit of hope by our kindness and loving ways.  I can help others in many different ways – with a smile, a word of advice, an offer of friendship, by sharing a book, listening with a patient ear.  Live out the Via Dolorosa dream.

                        Fr. George Mc Kenna

July 28, 2013 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 4 Comments