The moment arrived for the Emmaus pilgrims to backpack through the region of Galilee! Here Jesus spent most of his life, so there was a lot for us to see and do... and pray about! We caught a train through the budding skyscrapers of Tel Aviv, then north along the coast to the port city of Haifa. There we picnicked and slept at a Carmelite parish at the foot of Mt. Carmel and, in the morning, walked the beach to the cave of Elijah. We then caught a public bus to Nazareth, where Christ lived for thirty years!
Fr. Anthony on the shore of Haifa
A twilight picnic in front of the Carmelite church
Our first stop was the Basilica of the Annunciation, which provided a beautiful atmosphere for prayer and reflection. We spent the night in the rugged guesthouse of the Poor Clare sisters, where St. Charles of Foucauld lived for a time. The next day, we visited the excavations of the Tomb of the Just, believed to be St. Joseph’s tomb, under what may be the site of the Holy Family’s home. Then we celebrated Divine Liturgy in a Byzantine church at the synagogue where the Holy Family prayed. It was such a blessing to enter into this mystery of the hidden life at Nazareth through encountering these holy places! Finally, we stopped at the Orthodox site of the Annunciation, a church built upon a running spring. The Orthodox tradition is that the Annunciation happened at the well, whereas the Catholics place the event at the home of Anne and Joachim. Each tradition allowed us to reflect on particular aspects of this mystery, drawing us deeper into the heart of Mary our Mother.
The Basilica of the Annunciation
The Tomb of the Just
We left Nazareth on foot, up and down steep hills, through Arab villages and barren fields, following the yellow arrows of the “Jesus Trail” on our way to Cana. The little holy site was rather crowded, as this is high season for pilgrimages. After tasting the wine, we caught a bus to Tiberius, and stopped at the tomb of Maimonides, a medieval philosopher who is a sort of “Jewish Aquinas.” We bused further to the east side of the Sea of Galilee and pitched camp under the stars, to the lapping sounds of the waves! The next day, we allowed ourselves time both to reflect and to grow in communion with one another through swimming, sharing meals, and giving testimony. Then we continued our hike, arriving that night at another campsite, at the abandoned holy site of the Multiplication for the 4000. Here we celebrated Mass. The next morning, we awoke early for adoration, then climbed the ruins to the boulder decorated with a mosaic of loaves and fishes, a perfect place for us to pray Lauds together.