Today we spent the morning in Abu Ghosh at the Crusader Emmaus. The church is home to French Benedictines, and they have done an amazing job with the church and the surrounding gardens. It is one of the most beautiful places in the Holy Land.
Inside the church we were afforded the wonderful opportunity to celebrate a mass, and due to the fantastic acoustic, the mass was truly beautiful. Chanting the Our Father, as well as other parts of the mass, was an ethereal experience.
The Emmaus story is that wonderful post-resurrection story where Jesus greets some of his followers walking along a road. During the mass, we heard the story, and the homily related how this story is an example of the first Eucharist. The followers of Jesus hear the scriptures and then they break the bread together. When they break the bread their eyes are opened, and they see the Risen Christ. For those of us on the pilgrimage, it was also a mass that opened our eyes to see the Christ. Being at the end of our pilgrimage, we realized how much the eyes of our faith had been opened on this journey. We now can see Christ in new and different ways than before we entered this sacred land, and this is a true blessing.
For Father Lillie, it was also a special day, for this was the place where he did his retreat prior to his ordination to the priesthood, and he was able to celebrate the mass.
After the mass, we presented our guide, Canon Iyad Qumri, with a variety of gifts thanking him for his wonderful guidance these past two weeks.
Now we are preparing to make the long trip home. It has been a wonderful time, but we are also looking forward to returning home.