Perera shares the joy of a memorable pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Journey of life and faith
On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in October this year I was fortunate
to visit a number of places associated with the birth of Christ.
in Amman we crossed the border to Israel and proceeded to Tiberias.
The next day we toured Tiberias, starting with a beautiful mass
at Mt. Tabor – The Mount of the Transfiguration. We had a
lovely boat ride on the Sea of Galilee which took around 1½
hours, during which time we prayed and sang hymns.
we crossed the Sea of Galilee we went to Capernaum, which is called
the ‘Town of Jesus’. We visited the ancient synagogue
there and saw St. Peter’s house. Then we visited the Church
of Primacy, the Church of Multiplication, and the Mount of Beatitudes.
In the afternoon we visited Nazareth and spent a wonderful hour
at the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph.
next morning we went on to Jerusalem, visiting Mount Carmel and
the cave of Elijah, the prophet en-route. There was a beautiful
mass in Cana of Galilee.
in Jerusalem in the evening, we were immediately taken to the Church
of All Nations. This was the hallowed spot where Christ wept in
the Garden of Gethsemane. We were also taken inside the garden which
was in a separate enclosure adjacent to the church where the entire
group remained in silent meditation for about half an hour.
the church, the four priests in our group led us into a beautiful
hour of prayer and praise. I have been three times earlier to the
Holy Land but this opportunity for greater prayer and meditation
had not been given to the group.
Bethlehem our next stop, we visited the Church of the Nativity which
is the birthplace of Jesus Christ. We had a beautiful mass there
in the evening at the Shepherd’s cave. This was at the place
where the Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds to announce
to them the birth of Christ. Next we visited the birthplace and
Church of St. John the Baptist and the Basilica of the Visitation.
The next morning we enjoyed the panoramic view of the old city from
the Mount of Olives, visited the place where Jesus Christ ascended
to heaven and the Church of Dominus Flevit (the place where Jesus
wept over Jerusalem).
organizers had taken the trouble of bringing palm leaves from Sri
Lanka and we carried these leaves from the Mount of Olives to the
Garden of Gethsemane in the same route that Christ himself took
on Palm Sunday.
After this for the second time we arrived at the Church of All Nations
where Holy Mass was celebrated by the four priests who accompanied
us. It was a beautiful celebration and our minds went back to the
time that Christ wept on his own in deep agony before his crucifixion.
we visited the Church of St. Peter in Galicantu (the place where
Peter wept). We were taken to the dungeon where Jesus was kept before
he was taken to trial. In the early afternoon we visited the Church
of Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant.
next morning, the penultimate day prior to our departure was the
highlight of our grand tour of Jerusalem. Visiting St. Stephen’s
Gate (the place where St. Stephen was stoned), the pool of Bethesda,
and the Church of St. Anne, we retraced the steps of Jesus Christ
himself on the walk along the Via Dolorosa with stops at all stations.
At each station we had a short reflection on that particular station.
This was truly a Way of the Cross with a difference.
We ended the Way of the Cross at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
the very spot where Christ was crucified. We were given another
hour in that church by the organizers for our private meditation.
next day some of the group went over to Egypt whilst the rest of
us took a coach to Amman in Jordan. In a fitting finale to our grand
tour of the Holy Land the entire group was taken to the Church of
Pater Noster where we parted company with the other group.
Our tour was arranged by Quest Destinations (Pvt) Ltd., and we had
with us Brother Lalith from the Community of the Risen Lord (an
arm of the Catholic Charismatic movement) together with a large
number of his members and four priests, Frs. Lalith, Priyantha,
Chaminda and Jayalath.
morning whilst we were in Jerusalem, our tour leader Lalanie had
made arrangements for those who were fit and able to attend Holy
Mass at 5. a.m. in Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This was a privilege that had not been accorded to us on any of
our previous tours. This was truly a pilgrimage, a journey of life
and of faith.