We had Mass this morning at the St. Catherine’s Catholic Church which is connected to the Church of the Nativity. This church functions as a parish church here in Bethlehem and so the Mass was in Arabic. I was hoping for some Latin at some point so I could pray along, but the only words I could recognize were the Kyrie and Hosanna. After Mass the priest met with us to talk about the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscan order has been taking care of all the holy Christian shrines ever since the time of Francis. It seems that his peaceful nature made him acceptable to both Christians and Muslims. After this talk I went down to the cave of the nativity and spend about 2 hours just sitting by the manger and praying. It’s such a luxury to be able to have time to do that here. We’re not tourists that have to run on to “see” the next thing right away. For a while it was just me down in the cave praying. We’re starting to see other pilgrims starting to arrive now so I imagine things are going to start to get busier. All the merchants and shop keepers are really counting on many people coming for Christmas. The whole economy here is dependent on tourism and recent times have been tough. I pray that many pilgrims will come.
St. Catherine’s Catholic Church