Tonight I decided to make a vigil at the Holy Sepulcher. The church closes at 7:00, but you can arrange with the Franciscans to be locked in for the night and make a vigil. Things are normally so busy at the Holy Sepulcher that I was really looking forward to the opportunity to be alone and have quiet. At 7:00 there were 4 of us that wanted to stay. The door actually gets locked from the outside, so you really are locked in. Somewhat ironically/sadly, a Muslim family is entrusted with the keys because the Catholics, Orthodox, Armenians, Copts, and Syrians don’t trust each other to have the keys.
It turns out that on Saturday night, the overnight vigil ends by midnight because that is when they start celebrating Sunday Mass. I still had some wonderful prayer time. I spent a couple hours on Calvary praying there and then a couple more in the empty tomb. As I was praying in the tomb I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before. Most everything in there is written in Greek which means that I have to go get a dictionary and translate it later. However, as I was kneeling down praying I saw some Latin written on the base of a picture. It said, “Surrexit Non Est Hic Ecce Locus Ubi Posuerunt Eum”… “He has risen. He is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.” I was reminded once again of the powerful witness of the empty tomb. “He is not here!” I prayed for all my family and friends who have died and prayed that one day I will be able to join the saints in heaven. I also prayed that I will be a good witness to the resurrection as a priest, especially through the witness of a celibate life devoted wholly to God. There is a definite power in this place. As I prayed there one scripture passage kept coming to my mind. “I seek to know Jesus Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection”. May we all come to know Jesus and this power.