Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Homily Podcast

Categories

Tags

Can I Be Anglican?

Posted: July 5th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Don’t panic. I’m not thinking about becoming Anglican and getting married and then converting back to Catholicism. N.B. That’s against Canon Law and doesn’t work. However, the possibility of converting to Anglicanism and then converting back to Catholicism became a little more enticing today for a different reason.

As you may know, Pope Benedict has recently created a process by which Anglicans can become Catholics and keep their liturgy and other practices that are important to their heritage. It’s called the Anglican Ordinariate and you can Google it for more info. Well…today the Holy See approved some of the “new” liturgical books that the “Anglican Catholics” will get to use. Basically, it’s the Book of Common Prayer as a basis. In addition to the beautiful English texts which our Anglican Catholic brothers and sisters now get to use, they were also allowed to use “their” calendar. See the full article here, but this paragraph caught my eye:

The Holy See has already approved a liturgical calendar for the ordinariates that includes Sundays after Epiphany and Trinity Sunday (rather than Sundays of Ordinary Time), Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays (before Lent), the Pentecost Octave, and Rogation and Ember Days. The use of the Revised Standard Version lectionary is permitted during Mass.

Now forgive me if I and all other liturgical geeks (that’s at least a dozen people) let out a collective “Hey, wait a minute!” For those not familiar with the history of liturgical changes made after Vatican II, one of the very sad things that happened was that the liturgical calendar was severely altered, leaving most liturgical geeks still in mourning (that would be at least 7 people). Now all of the sudden the Anglican Catholics get to use “our” traditional calendar because it’s their “heritage?” Let them have their married priests, but this is no fair.

Why can’t I use the Catholic->Anglican->Catholic calendar? (E.F. I know…I want English) If the Holy See allows this exception for one group, what’s next? Pretty soon they’ll be letting the Anglican Catholics celebrate Ascension Thursday on Thursday.

Archbishop Naumann’s Address to the Rally for Religious Freedom

Posted: July 2nd, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

We had a missionary preaching all the Masses at the parish this weekend, so no homily from Shawn the Baptist this week. However, for your reading pleasure I have something better this week. The following address was given by Archbishop Joseph Naumann on Friday at the Rally for Religious Freedom in Topeka. Enjoy.

Address
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Religious Freedom Rally
Topeka, Kansas
June 29, 2012

Quo Vadis? These Latin words translate into English: Where are you going? This phrase, made famous from a scene described in the apocryphal Acts of St. Peter, has become part of popular Christian legend in which Peter, fleeing Rome at the time of Nero’s persecution encounters the Risen Jesus. Peter asks Jesus: “Quo Vadis?” Where are you going? Jesus replies: I am going to Rome to be crucified.

This encounter reminds Peter of his cowardly denial of Jesus during His passion and crucifixion. Peter realizes that he is committing the same mistake again by abandoning the living Jesus in His Church at the hour of crisis. Peter turns around and returns to Rome where he is martyred.

Today in the Catholic Church’s calendar, we celebrate the Feast of the Great Apostles, Peter and Paul. I imagine Our Lord is asking the question of us and our country that Peter posed to him: Quo Vadis? Where are you  going America?

Where are you going America, when our own federal government attempts to limit severely religious freedom, the first constitutional right in our nation’s Bill of Rights? Quo Vadis America, when the current administration  attempts to narrow religious liberty to include only the freedom to worship? Where are your going America, when our government considers women’s fertility as a disease to be suppressed and pregnancy as a disease to be prevented? Quo Vadis America, when this Administration defines a religious entity so narrowly that Mother Theresa and her Missionaries of Charity would not qualify?

Americans have always understood the free exercise of religion to be the first and most precious right. Religious liberty for Americans always included, not only the right to worship, but also the right to live according to our conscience.

The arbitrary Mandates, promulgated by the Department of the Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Reform Act, are perhaps the most egregious threat to religious liberty in our nation’s history. The President’s so-called accommodations have changed and corrected nothing.

This Administration has deceptively attempted to portray the HHS Mandates as an essential measure in the provision of health care for women, feigning the existence of a crisis regarding the availability of contraception and abortion inducing drugs. They have attempted to demonize anyone who objects to this encroachment on religious liberty and conscience rights as waging a war against women.

The reality is that we are gathered here today to just maintain the status quo, not to advance any agenda. It is the Administration who has chosen to pick this fight at this particular time. It is they who are waging a war against women and men of Faith.

Why was there no discussion of these Mandates during the months of debate over health care reform? Why was none of this specified in the more than 2,000 pages of legislative text? Does anyone really think there is a crisis regarding the availability of contraception? For Americans, who desire contraception as a lifestyle choice, it is readily available and inexpensive. The federal government already spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually to give away free contraceptives to the poor.

The HHS Mandates are not about access to contraceptives. They are about the federal government saying to people of Faith that it is not enough that you live in a culture where contraceptives are readily available, where tax dollars are already used to provide them, where they are given out in some public schools to minors without parental permission. Now we – your government – are going to force you (the Catholic Church or any Church or individual Christian or person of Faith who finds contraception and abortion morally offensive) to participate in the provision of them.

Regardless, of one’s personal belief about contraception as a life-style choice, every American should be outraged at this assault on religious freedom. For if the federal government can do this to Americans, who believe contraception and abortion to be evil, then what prevents this same government from coercing other Americans to violate their deeply held moral convictions on any other matter.

The HHS Mandates are by no means the only threat to Religious Liberty in our nation. Several states no longer permit Catholic Charities to provide adoption or foster care services. Similarly, Catholic Social Agencies, who have longed distinguished themselves in their service to victims of sex-trafficking, are now being denied federal contracts because of our refusal to provide contraceptives and refer for abortion.

We are so blest as Americans. The United States historically has been a beacon of hope for the entire world on matters of religious freedom and conscience protection. Many individuals in our nation’s history have made heroic sacrifices in order to defend these precious liberties. They endured much more than standing for a couple of hours in this severe summer heat. We must not fail at this moment to exercise our citizenship and
make certain that our voice is heard.

Where is America going? Perhaps, the more important question is: Where, as Americans, are we going to permit it to go? Your presence here today demonstrates your desire to turn America around, to return it to the principles upon which it was founded and which made it great. You are here today because you want to protect and restore our first and most precious liberty.

Let the cry go forth from Topeka, Kansas to the President, to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to the Congress, to the Supreme Court, we will not accept, we will not acquiesce, we will not tolerate our liberties to be diminished or robbed from us. We will pray; we will advocate; we will vote; and we will never, never, never give up our religious liberty and conscience rights! Thank you and God bless!

Quo Vadis America – Rally for Religious Freedom

Posted: June 29th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Statehouse Rally for Religious Freedom

Today was an incredible day for the Catholic Church in America and especially here in our great state of Kansas. As soon as the HHS mandate was created, Archbishop Naumann sought to have some kind of national event to oppose this unjust law. Finding that no “national” event was planned, Archbishop decided we would create our own right here in Kansas. Today that vision came true as thousands of people from all over Kansas gathered in Topeka at the state capitol to peaceably assemble in opposition to the HHS mandate. Governor Brownback pointed out that today’s event was the largest rally ever held on the lawn of the Statehouse.

Governor Brownback Speaks

The 100+ temperatures no doubt kept many away, but also strengthened the witness of those that were able to brave the heat. “We’re not going away” as Archbishop Naumann put it so forcefully. In his talk, the Archbishop chose to focus on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul today and a story of St. Peter encountering Jesus on the road outside of Rome. Upon seeing the Lord heading into Rome from which St. Peter was trying to escape, Peter famously asked Jesus, “Quo Vadis” – “Where are you going?” Jesus indicated to Peter that he was going to Rome to give his life again for his people since Peter would not.

Archbishop took these famous words and posed them as a question to America. “Quo vadis America?” – “Where are you going?” In so many ways it seems that we have lost the vision of the founders that created our country. Many seemingly no longer believe in the values that have made us who we are. Who would have thought 200 years ago that we would become a country hostile to religion? The very reason for the existence of our country is inseparably intertwined with freedom of religion.Where are we going? If something is not done to reverse our present course then our country will not long survive.

Archbishop Naumann Speaks

For this reason, today’s rally was not just a fight for religious freedom, but a fight for the very soul of our nation. Throughout our history, Catholics have made this country great. Perhaps it now falls to us especially to play a key role in saving our nation.

Yet we are not alone in this fight. This isn’t just an attack on the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is simply the most visible target of the anti-religious forces at work in our society and government. The HHS mandate is an attack on all people of faith in our country and all those who believe in the founding principles established in our Constitution. It was such a blessing today to see so many of the rest of our Christian brothers and sisters gathered together in solidarity. One of the keynote speakers was a Baptist pastor and I was surrounded by many non-Catholics. I pray that this will be a great cause for working and praying together.

Bishops for Religious FreedomThe Bishops of Kansas in Solidarity for Freedom

Where are you going America? Looking into the future feels a bit like Scrooge being confronted with the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.” The future can look dreadful from here, yet Scrooge himself prayed that these are “but shadows of what might be and not what will be.” Scrooge was given a chance to change, and change he did. Let’s pray that America can do the same, before it’s too late. Days like today give us all great cause for hope. Thanks to all who made the pilgrimage from the 4 corners of the state. The media won’t cover it, but today we showed that we’re not ready to give up on our country. May God multiply our efforts and let us see the fruit of our prayers.

Pictures from the Rally

I Always Wanted to See Paris

Posted: June 19th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

No, I am not blogging this from over the Atlantic. In fact, I am still in the Paris airport, now 5 hours after our scheduled departure with at least 2 more hours to wait. Maybe I should be thankful that we sat in the plane on the tarmac for 5 hours on the trip over. Now I can at least say, “It could be worse…we could be in the plane.”

Long story short, the plane broke, again. After thinking all day that eventually they would fix the plane, they finally gave up and are getting us a new plane. I hope it’s big, with lots of TV’s…and an exercise room…and a chapel…and a pool. This better be the world’s greatest airplane.

Obviously we are not making our connection in Atlanta tonight, so it looks like a hotel…if we actually leave. To everyone down at Boy Scout camp awaiting my arrival…just hold on…I’m coming. St. Joseph Cupertino, patron of those who fly, pray for us.

Delayed in Paris
That’s a 7hr and 45min Delay for Those Scoring at Home

The End of All Things

Posted: June 18th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Well…the end of the pilgrimage anyway. I write this morning sitting in Ben Gurion airport, listing to Abba’s greatest hits…go figure. Our group has split multiple ways now with some of the group currently in the air for home having left at midnight. 24 of us are here this morning having stayed in Tel Aviv last night and having woken up at 4am. For us, it’s Paris, Atlanta, and then home late tonight. A good chunk of the group is going onto Rome for two more weeks. Some are continuing onto France after that. My good friend Terry Sexton is really going whole hog and is doing Rome, France, and then going on to hike a couple weeks of the Camino Santiago after that just to make sure he fully qualifies for the title “pilgrim.”

I thank you all for following the blog on this amazing experience. Hopefully, you can see what a spiritual blessing a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is. Also notice that safety was the furthest thing from our mind here. I pray that perhaps through reading this blog you too will consider a pilgrimage to the land known as “The 5th Gospel.” I guarantee your life will never be the same. From the Holy Land for the last time, this is your friendly neighborhood blogger signing off.

Fr. Shawn the Electronic Angel
Fr. Shawn the Electronic Angel

Note: The blog will remain up “forever” and I encourage you to share it with others. Continue to follow me for weekly homilies and other musings. Note the link at the top entitled “Holy Land Pilgrimage” which details every day of my journey here in the Holy Land for almost 3 months in 2006-2007. God willing there will be many more entries on the Holy Land in the future.

 

Coming Down

Posted: June 18th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

This morning we had another amazing experience in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We celebrated Mass on Mt. Calvary at the Latin altar marking the place where Jesus was nailed to the cross. We know that at every Mas the death of Jesus is made present and the sacrifice of Calvary is renewed. To experience the Mass on Calvary is in a sense to experience it in a way even more real than in the upper room. This is my body given for you. This is my blood poured out for you. It all happened one Friday on this spot 2000 years ago.

Mt. Calvary
Mt. Calvary

One of the many places in the Holy Sepulcher that I find some powerful prayer is at the spot marking the place where our Blessed Mother stood watching Jesus on Calvary. It is slightly below the top of the hill and looking directly up to the cross. Mary could see Jesus clearly and he could see her. This was perhaps the one comfort he had on the cross, looking down and knowing his mother was there and then lovingly entrusting her to John. Through John, Jesus has entrusted the Church to Mary and she to us. Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.

Mary's Place at the Foot of Calvary
Mary’s Place at the Foot of Calvary

While the mount of Calvary focuses us on the cross and the pain and suffering of sin, one cannot help but notice how close the tomb is to Calvary and analogously how close Easter is to Good Friday. Coming down from Calvary I went to pray at the tomb and God gave me a big reminder of what John wrote in his Gospel. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” As I went to pray at the tomb I beheld a heavenly ray of light pouring down right onto the entrance of the empty tomb. The tomb is empty; the light shines into the darkness; Jesus has been raised. The entire mystery of our faith is all present right here in this church and received today in the Eucharist. This happens at every Mass! May we never underestimate the many graces available to us each day if we ask.

Light Shines on the Empty Tomb
Light Shines Into the Empty Tomb

After an early lunch came the moment to say goodbye to Jerusalem and start to head “down” and toward home. Before heading for Tel Aviv we were treated to two more important sites. First, we went up the Mount of Olives to the town of Bethany. This is the famous home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the traditional beginning of the annual Palm Sunday procession. One of the sad things about Bethany is that when the Israelis built their separation wall, they literally cut Bethany right in half, including cutting some people’s homes in half. Bethany used to be part of Jerusalem, but now it is cut off and is basically a dump and the procession no longer exists. The one beautiful spot is the church which the Franciscans maintain.

Mary Lazarus Martha
The Famous Residents of Bethany

It was wonderful to have some time for prayer here in this place where Our Lord cautioned Martha about “the one thing necessary” and the need to sit and listen to Jesus. This church is also a witness to the greatest miracle of Jesus, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. There has been a church on this spot since the 4th century and you can still see the remains of the original church. I prayed especially for the victory of life over death. I always have to laugh at the scripture that says that, after Lazarus was raised from the dead, so many people were converting that the Jewish leaders thought about killing Lazarus. Umm…been there done that. See what power there is in the resurrection? When Jesus is Lord even of death, then what have we to be afraid of?

 Jesus Raises Lazarus
Jesus Raises Lazarus

Our final stop was at a town today known as Abu Ghosh. Mike kept it secret what this town was all about until we got there. It turns out that this is firstly the famous Old Testament town of Kiryat Ye’arim where the Ark of the Covenant stayed before there was a temple in Jerusalem. We saw it from the hill in Ein Karen on our first day, so we kind of ended where we started. However, the second famous name for this town in the New Testament is Emmaus. It was here that the disciples were journeying after the resurrection and Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. We got to spend an hour here in prayer in one of the most beautiful churches we’ve seen. It was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century and has survived without renovation since. The acoustics were amazing and I enjoyed singing a hymn to Our Lady, the new Ark of the Covenant. It’s amazing to see how nicely things turn out when you build a church out of stone in a traditional manner. I wonder how many of our churches today will be around in 1000 years? The Crusaders really did some amazing things to restore the sacred sites in the Holy Land which were destroyed by the Muslims. May we have the same love in building up the Church and our churches the way they did.

Crusader Church of Kiryat Ye'arim
The Crusader Church of Kiryat Ye’arim

We finished our day with a special farewell dinner for our group. It’s amazing to see how a group of strangers can become family in just 12 days. Sometimes a pilgrimage helps us to realize what was true all along, that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We found these relationships important not just in our group but with our tour guides, bus drivers, and everyone we met. While it’s sad to see all the division in the Holy Land, I think our pilgrimage shows that we’re really not that far apart from anyone. Some day we will all sit down to dinner as family. Insha’Allah, may it be soon.

Farewell Dinner
A Family Farewell

See More Pictures

A Day with Mary

Posted: June 17th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Today began with a bit of disappointment. We arrived at the Temple Mount for our scheduled tour on top, but found out that the Muslims who control the mount on top declared today a feast day and closed the whole place down without warning. We did, however, get to visit the Western Wall and pray there. This is the famous “wailing wall” which is as close to the destroyed temple as the Jews can get. I said a quick prayer for the return of the Messiah and his acceptance by all Israel as the Scriptures foretell. It was nice to see many of the Jews there saying their morning prayers.

Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock

After some rescheduling, today turned into a day devoted to Mary. We began at Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion. This church is built over the home of the Virgin Mary. The Church teaches that at the end of her earthly life she was taken body and soul to heaven. There is some debate about whether she actually died or not. The term “dormition” therefore means “falling asleep.” We all gathered in the crypt of the church and sang Immaculate Mary in honor of our Blessed Mother. With the great acoustics of the place, I have to admit that we sounded pretty darn good and I think Our Lady was pleased.

Dormition of Mary
The Dormition of Mary

From Mount Zion we headed over to the Mount of Olives to get a better view of Jerusalem. We gathered at the church Dominus Flevit which means “The Lord Wept.” It was here that Jesus wept over ancient Jerusalem, knowing that it would soon be destroyed. From here we had a beautiful vantage of the whole city and were able to do our teaching on the temple which we missed. Just as Jesus prophesied, everything in the city was destroyed in 70 AD, including the temple. There is no temple on the temple mount today as the Muslims have built their Dome of the Rock right on top of the old temple. Mike pointed out how this is not a problem for us as Christians as Jesus has fulfilled everything that the temple foreshadowed. What we have every day at Mass is more holy than the temple ever was.

Modern Jerusalem
Modern Jerusalem

We had Mass today at the great crusader church of St. Anne. It is built over the home of Sst. Joachim and Anne and marks the spot of the birth of the Virgin Mary. It’s amazing that this church survived the Muslim destruction, partly because they turned it into a Muslim school. The acoustics here are absolutely amazing and it was wonderful to celebrate the Sunday liturgy with song. I preached on the importance of “going” and not just letting this pilgrimage be a fond memory of happy feelings, but really an experience that demands action and a change of life. This is the good fruit that I pray will come from the seeds planted here.

Church of St. Anne
Church of St. Anne

This evening, Mike gave us a presentation on the Arab/Israeli conflict. Having lived over here for 3 months previously and now for another 10 days you definitely get a different perspective. Before  I came to the Holy Land 5 years ago I didn’t even know what a Palestinian was. The big thing that starts to make people think is when you realize all the Christians are Palestinians. If we support the notion of a strictly Jewish state of Israel, we end up supporting the persecuting and ultimate elimination of all the Christians from the Holy Land. In fact, the Christians have always served as a kind of buffer between the Muslims and Jews. Both of these groups want to the completely eliminate the other from the land while only the Christians wish to see everyone peacefully co-exist. The sad truth is that the Christian presence in the Holy Land has greatly diminished in recent years. If something doesn’t change, there will no longer be Christians living in the land of Jesus. Pray for peace here, and really mean it.

 Golden Gate Where the Messiah Will Return
Golden Gate Where the Messiah Will Return

As I right this blog tonight I’m writing for the last time from Jerusalem. I am currently sitting on the beautiful rooftop of the Notre Dame Center with a perfect breeze blowing through. The Dome of the Rock is right in front of me and I can see the shadowy outlines of the domes of the Holy Sepulcher. We’ve got a few more things to do in Jerusalem tomorrow, including Mass on Calvary, but then it will be time to say goodbye. We will be staying in a hotel in Tel Aviv for those not flying home at midnight tomorrow. Hopefully I will find some internet there. Happy Sunday and Happy Fathers’ Day to all those back home.

Holy Sepulcher from Our Roof
Holy Sepulcher from Our Roof

See More Pictures

The Three Days in One

Posted: June 16th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Today we managed to relive all three days of the Sacred Triduum, but not necessarily in order. We began by getting up early to make the Via Crucis or Way of the Cross. The way is also popularly known here as the Via Dolorosa or “Way of Suffering.” From the early days, pilgrims coming to Jerusalem have wanted to retrace the final days of the life of Christ. While it is beautiful to meditate on the Passion, being able to physically walk in the footsteps of Jesus gives added weight to our meditation. We walked the streets from the court of Pilate up to the hill of Calvary now located in the Holy Sepulcher. As we prayed each station you could feel yourself going up the hill, knowing that you’re approaching Calvary. To think that Jesus carried the cross all this way for us. For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

The Tomb Where They Laid Jesus
The Tomb Where They Laid Jesus

Normally the Stations of the Cross end with the laying of the body of Jesus in the tomb. Today we got a most special opportunity. Our group was privileged to be chosen to celebrate the Latin Mass today with the Franciscan brothers. I got to consecrate the Eucharist on the very place where the body of Jesus was raised from the dead. All of the priests went into the tomb for the consecration and then beautifully came out again bringing our Risen Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ teaching about how a grain of wheat must be planted and die in order to give new life. We priests took ordinary bread and wine into the tomb of Christ, a place where the dead body of Jesus was “planted.” We came out carrying the Lord of life to nourish his people. The Mass was that of Easter morning and I can attest that it definitely felt like Easter.

New Light on the Empty Tomb
New Light on the Empty Tomb of Christ

Today I was also blessed to discover something I was never able to see before in the Holy Sepulcher. I was in the sacristy before Mass and noticed on the wall a sword hanging in a box. After reading the inscription, I realized that this is the sword of Godfrey of Bouillon. He was the first crusader to breach the walls to reclaim Jerusalem in 1099. In addition to his sword they also have his spur and his famous cross. I was particularly drawn to this cross which has come to be known as the Cross of Jerusalem. Just before I left for the Holy Land, I received official word that I am to become a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher. This is a great honor that some of the current Knights petitioned for me and was then approved in Rome by the Holy See. The order originated with Godfrey and continues today to protect the Holy Land. Normally this means financial help. Priests can’t do much in the way of that, but I’d like to think that my being here and this blog is helping to promote the Holy Land. Hopefully all of you that are reading will realize how important it is to protect and preserve these special places where our Lord lived. Maybe you will be on the next pilgrimage. I pray that I will be a worthy knight with the faith and courage of Godfrey.

Relics of Godfrey of Bouillon
Relics of Godfrey of Bouillon

Just when you think things can’t get any better, Mike pulls another amazing special event. After fighting the zoo of pilgrims all day, tonight we had the opportunity to make a Eucharistic holy hour all by ourselves in the Church of All Nations. You may remember that this is the church in the Garden of Gethsemane. There we prayed and kept watch for an hour just as Jesus had asked the apostles to do. Jesus was right there on the altar, back in the Garden, offering himself for us in all his suffering. I felt I could almost see Jesus there on the rock and wanted to comfort him with my prayer.

The Rock of the Agony
The Rock of Agony

The Church of All Nations
The Church of All Nations

We ended our holy hour and then got a treat I will never forget. The brother that cares for the church allowed us to enter the gate of the actual Garden of Gethsemane and walk around among the olive trees at night. Experts say that at least some of these trees may well be over 2000 years old. I thought looking at them from the outside during the day was amazing. Walking around the garden at night was an unforgettable experience. I almost felt like I was there the night Jesus was arrested. We began our day with the Good Friday procession, celebrated Easter at the empty tomb and then ended up back at Holy Thursday. It might not be the exact order of the Tridumm, but in 1 day today I experienced the 3 days in a powerful way for which I will always be grateful.

 The Garden of Gethsemane at Night
The Garden of Gethsemane at Night

See More Pictures

Holy Thursday Friday

Posted: June 15th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Although today is Friday, we spent the day retracing the footsteps of Jesus on Holy Thursday. We began our day in the Upper Room of the Last Supper known as the Cenacle. It’s amazing to think of the events that took place in this room. We are all familiar with the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Yet Jesus also instituted the priesthood as well as the Sacrament of Penance here, not to mention Pentecost and Confirmation. I found it especially moving as a priest to be in this room where the priesthood was born and where the Sacraments so connected with the priesthood were giving to us.

The Cenacle
The Cenacle

The Scriptures tell us that after finishing the Last Supper in the Cenacle, Jesus and his apostles sang a hymn and then got on a bus and went across the Kidron Valley…no wait…no bus, but they did go across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. We followed this path of Jesus to the Church of All Nations…but we did actually use a bus.

The Church of All Nations
The Church of All Nations

The Church of All Nations (built by donations from all over the world) is built on the site of Jesus’ Agony in the Garden. Outside the church is an enclosed area with olive trees, some of which are 2000 years old and would have been there on that fateful night as silent witnesses to the agony. The central focus inside the church is the Rock of Agony. It was here that Jesus prostrated himself and sweat blood as he courageously made the decision to abandon himself to the Father’s will and undergo his passion. Celebrating Mass at this rock was a very moving experience. Praise Jesus for what he did for our salvation.

The Rock of Agony
The Rock of Agony

From the Church of All Nations we withdrew “about a stone’s throw” to the cave where Jesus left the apostles praying. It was here that they fell asleep and failed to pray as Jesus had instructed. Again and again we seem to be hit with the message that we need to pray. How important it is to spend time talking with the Lord to gain strength. This cave marks the spot where Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest. May we all continue to persevere in prayer so as to avoid falling into the temptation of betraying Jesus as Judas did in this place.

 Sleeping Apostle Cave of Gethsemane Sleeping Apostle
Sleeping Apostles and the Cave of Gethsemane

Following the path Jesus would have taken after his arrest, this time we actually did walk right back to where we were on Mt. Zion to the house of Caiphas, the high priest. The church marking the spot is today called St. Peter in Gallicantu, or St. Peter at the Cock-crow. The courtyard of the high priest is of course where Peter denied Jesus and the cock crowed just as Jesus had foretold.

St. Peter in Gallicantu
St. Peter in Gallicantu

I used the series of icons in the crypt church in my talk on confession that I gave on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The icons show Peter’s denial, his weeping bitterly, but then his reconciliation with Jesus after the resurrection on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The he power of confession is amazing. Peter has an incredible fall in denying Jesus, just as Judas did. The difference is that Peter got to be reconciled and Judas despaired. We ended out time at St. Peter’s by visiting the Sacred Pit in which Jesus was imprisoned on the night before he died. Thank God for his mercy and the chance to begin again.

The Conversion of St. Peter
The Conversion of St. Peter

Returning to Notre Dame we had our afternoon rest and evening meal and then headed down to the Western Wall for a special treat. Since tomorrow is Saturday, sunset today marks the beginning of the Sabbath or Shabbat as it is called here. Many of the Jews gather at the Western Wall to welcome Shabbat with prayers as well as music and dancing. We went down and watched. It was nice to see everyone having a good time as well as honoring God’s command of rest. We could use more of this. We’re getting up early tomorrow to make the Way of the Cross, so until then, Shabbat Shalom and Good Sabbath.

 Beginning Shabbat at the Western Wall
Beginning Shabbat at the Western Wall

See More Pictures

New and Familiar Blessings

Posted: June 14th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

We ended our time in Galilee today by ascending the famous Mount Tabor. It was on this mountain that Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John. I was blessed to be able to be the main celebrant this morning at Mass. The beautiful and large Church of the Transfiguration made for some great singing. In my homily I reminded all of us of how the apostles saw the glory of God on this mountain. They fell down in fear. At Mass we not only behold the glory of God but are called to receive him into our very bodies, not in fear but in love. Jesus gave the apostles this vision of his glory to give them strength to endure the tough times that lie ahead. May we continue to be grateful to God for all those “transfiguration moments” in our lives. My thoughts this morning concurred with St. Peter, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”

Transfiguration Sanctuary Mount Tabor Church of the Transfiguration
Mt. Tabor and the Church of the Transfiguration 

Despite having lived here for 3 months previously, there are still many places that I haven’t been. Today was a day I was really looking forward to because we were going to some new places for me, most importantly the site of the burial of St. John the Baptist. We don’t know for sure where John was buried, but tradition has long identified the place as Samaria, Herod’s capital of Israel. We visited the ruins of the church containing the original tomb of St. John. His body has since been moved and lost, but being at this spot was a very moving connection with my patron. I got to give a little talk about John and it was amazing to be some of the only pilgrims that ever come to this site. St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

The Tomb of John the Baptist
 The Tomb of John the Baptist

The next site we visited was also new for me. In the city of Nablus one will find Jacob’s well. This is the famous well where Jesus had his encounter with the Samaritan woman. There is one priest who lives there who has taken care of the church for decades. He has personally painted all the icons on the walls of the church and it is truly magnificent. Check out all the pictures below.

Church of Jacob's Well
Church of Jacob’s Well

Of course the highlight of the church of Jacob’s well is…well…the well. This site is actually fairly certain as wells tend not to get destroyed. We got to lower the bucket down and I can attest that the woman in the Scripture was correct; the well is indeed deep. We all got to drink from the well and pray that the life-giving water of God’s grace might increase in us.

Jacob's Well
Jacob’s Well

Finally it was time to make our ascent up to Jerusalem. Obviously this is a moment that most of us have been waiting for. We arrived in time for dinner at the Notre Dame center for Catholic pilgrims. I lived here for 5 weeks while in seminary and it was a little like coming home. The head waiter even remembered me from seminary. Wow! Unlike my previous visit during the winter, this evening is absolutely beautiful and I am currently sitting outside on the roof looking at the Dome of the Rock as I write these words. We made a quick trip to the Holy Sepulcher right before it closed just to show people the way. Tomorrow many of us will be heading down early to pray. Tonight we sleep in Jerusalem. Praise God, it is good to be back!

Dome of the Rock at Night
Dome of the Rock at Night

See More Pictures