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Their faces were downcast. The intense celebrations of Passover led up to the drama of the Crucifixion, the suffering of the one in whom they'd put their trust. Now, a long walk to sort out the aftermath in their hearts.
We set out on that peaceful nature path following the intensity of our time in Jerusalem, departing from the crowded chaos of the Holy City. We walked on Shabbat, on the eve of Corpus Christi, a day when we process with the Blessed Sacrament around the Holy Site. Before that procession with the Presence, we walked along, passing by the ancient fortress ruins in the forest, stopping periodically for moments of Scripture reading and journaling. Finally we drew near, joining the springs and canals of Emmaus (which means spring of waters) that line the final kilometers of the trail. We searched our hearts for a burning desire for that Body of Christ.
We arrived at Emmaus tired, but excited to meet the Lord in a new way at Emmaus! After a festive vespers and dinner, we left in procession, led by servers carrying torches, bringing the Blessed Sacrament down to the ruins of the Byzantine basilica. On the spot where Cleopas’ house once located, the altar was decorated and illuminated. Father exposed the Sacrament, and we chanted the Office of Readings to begin the night of adoration. We each took turns an hour before the Lord, candles flickering on the altar and in the crevices of the massive stone apse. Here, in the stillness of the night, we could feel the subtle miracle taking place in our hearts.
On Sunday, after Mass and lunch we went out to the site for the solemn procession. Fr. Franz exposed the sacrament, and then everyone followed behind him as we walked down to the ancient ruins of Emmaus. The first station that had been prepared with an altar was at one of the 1st century Jewish tombs. Here we celebrated Christ’s glorious Resurrection from the dead with prayer and a reflection from Pope Benedict VXI to help us enter into this mystery of great love.
Next, we processed to the ruins of the Basilica, which was where the two disciples in the Gospel story of Emmaus came to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. So as we adored Christ on the altar at this station, and with Pope John XXIII, we reflected on the importance of how the Word of God was made flesh in Christ Jesus, and how we need to recognize Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharist.
For the last station, we made our way back up the hill and stopped at the final altar at the courtyard well to adore our Lord. We listened to a reflection from Pope Francis, and then all got on our knees as Fr. Franz brought us face to face with the Eucharist. We were all singing praise and definitely felt the power of the Holy Spirit with us.
What a beautiful gift it was to walk with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist in a place where his own feet walked here on earth!
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