Tuesday, 25 September 2007


Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham

Feast Day: 24th September


Mass Homily for 25th Sunday Yr.3.


The essential lesson of the parable of the unjust steward is that we should know how to cultivate friends for ourselves who will be able to intercede for us before the Lord when we are in need of his mercy. Jesus’ lesson is stark and simple. He doesn’t elaborate on how we are to cultivate these friends beyond telling us one of the ways viz to be generous with our money in helping others.

But there are, of course, many other ways we can help our neighbour in his need. We can be generous with our time, and our compassion, for instance. Especially can we help others with our prayers. And so often it is the only thing we can do for them.

For so many people religion is just a matter of treating others as one would have others treat oneself. That includes a bit of alms giving of course, but the concept of prayer doesn’t even enter into their heads.

St Paul, however, in today’s first reading instructs the new Bishop Timothy on this very important aspect of the life of the Church. He tells him that: first of all, prayers must be offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority.

Paul teaches here that the Church must not only teach her children to pray but must recognise herself as the officially appointed Mediator and Organ of Prayer for the intentions of all of God’s People.

There is much more to prayer than just entering into our chamber and praying in secret, praiseworthy and recommended by the Lord himself though that be. But this same Lord also said that where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

I would like to use this teaching of St Paul to take a closer look at the place of the monastic life in the Church. The whole Church is, of course, a praying Church. But how many individual members of the Church play much of a role in this praying-life of the Church? Therefore it is most fitting and most spiritually beautiful that the Church search among her children for those who will dedicate their whole lives in a very special way to a life of prayer, of thanksgiving and of intercession. The Church finds such souls in those who feel called to the monastic life particularly. She commissions them to undertake the solemn obligation of the daily choral Office in her name and on behalf of all her children.

This is a great calling indeed and is well described in that lovely hymn we have at Thursday Vespers. I will just conclude by reading it for you.

The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended.

The darkness falls at thy behest;
To thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank thee that thy Church unsleeping
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping
And rests not now by day or night,

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord! Thy throne shall never
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away
Thy Kingdom stands and grows for ever
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.

In listing the intentions for which the Church must pray, Paul mentions particularly “Kings and those in authority”. We might be tempted to think: “What good are my prayers going to be when it comes to influencing men in positions like Vladimir Putin of Russia or George Bush of the United States”? But our faith must persuade us that the world is not governed by Putin or Bush. Even such powerful men are merely pawns in a hidden struggle between the evil powers of the upper air, as Paul terms it, and God’s own angels of light.

God bless.

Fr Raymond

Sunday, 23 September 2007

MASS of Healing for the Elderly

End of Harvest.

It is the first day of Autumn. The 23rd of September is Equinox - equal hours of day and night. Now the days get shorter until the Winter Solstice.
The barley harvest is in.
Br. Aidan is happy that the calving is almost over. This year just a few sets of twin calves.
Autumn skies can be astonishing. In the dusk, during Compline, as I look through the windows there appear fast flitting streaks against the sky. I am assured they are bats on the evening flights.

Saint Gregory the Great (1972)
Walter Scott Avenue, Edinburgh
MASS of Healing for the Elderly.
St. Gregory’s – Group of the elderly and house bound. Three times a year the SVDP organise an event for the Seniors of the Parish. On 23rd September they came to Nunraw. They asked to
Sacrament of Anointing. “They must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray for him” (James 4.14. In the Catholic Church we recognise this anointing in the name of the Lord as “the sacrament of the sick”. It is not always clear what is meant by a Mass of Healing. Someone who focuses very clearly on the perception and purpose of Mass with the Anointing of the Sick is Fr. Jim McManus. He refers to one person's testimony to healing through the Sacrament. “All I remember clearly is Jim saying he would use the prayers of the anointing of the Sick and anoint me and that is simply what he did”. She makes it very clear that the healing came through the sacrament of anointing. (Healing in the Spirit, DLT 1994, p. 133). The folk from St. Gregory’s had come for a Mass of Healing in this sense, to have a Mass of Healing, i.e. a Mass with the Anointing of the Sick.
The other outward sign of their determination was their expert use of the aids and supports they had for the journey.

Even keeping on the one level at the Abbey Church, and the Guesthouse, Tea Room and Shop it was quite an obstacle exercise with the number of the wheel-chair and Zimmer equipped persons. There was no hurry. They took their stride, so to speak, the for the Mass and anointing, the time for negotiating steps and doors, and the enjoying of tea and shopping at leisure. You could not ask for a more cheerful people making little of their various kinds of disability and age.

St. Gregory's is now part of a Cluster of Churches.
The structure and a brief history of the Cluster of the four churches in the south of Edinburgh. Cluster History The Inch was originally part of St John Vianney's and St Columba's Parishes and after years of celebrating Sunday Mass in the Liberton annexe school in Walter Scott Avenue we purchased the former Scout Hall and became our own parish in 1972. In September 2003 the Parish entered into a clustering arrangement with St John Vianney's Gilmerton and St Catherine's Gracemount. Follwed by the addition of St Ninian’s to form the cluster as it is today

Thursday, 20 September 2007

No Man is an Island - Abbot Raymond

24th Sunday Ordinary Time
Abbot Raymond’s Homily in Community
No Man is an Island

God’s revelation to us of just who he is and just what he is; his revelation of his love and mercy; his revelation of his promises; of the destiny he holds out to us; all these things took a long, long time, not because of any inadequacy on God’s part but because of our hardness of heart, our dullness of understanding. Inevitably then this long drawn out process of revelation meant that things would become clearer as time went on and we would be led gradually, bit by bit, to an ever fuller understanding of God’s message.
This means that whatever is revealed in the Old Testament will always be put more clearly and more strongly in the New. Take for example the increasing revelation of God’s mercy: It goes from the deliverance of the innocent Maid Susannah in the Old Testament to the deliverance of the guilty adulteress in the Gospels. It goes from the "eye for eye and tooth for tooth" in the OT to the "love your enemies" of the NT, and so on. Always there is a progression, an advance in our understanding of God and the things of the spirit. It is all the more surprising then, in today’s readings, to find that the Old Testament seems to give us a stronger and clearer and richer and fuller picture of God’s patience and mercy than we find in the Gospel story.
The Gospel story tells us about God’s mercy for this or that individual; the lost sheep, the prodigal son etc. But the OT story is about the forgiveness of a whole wayward people, a whole nation. It speaks about God’s patience and loving forgiveness for a whole people; a people for whom he had done such amazing signs and wonders; it speaks about their incredible forgetfulness of all he had just done for them. It shows their ingratitude; their downright apostasy, worshipping a golden calf; hailing it as their deliverer.
The OT story also reveals a dimension of this mercy that was, perhaps, much better appreciated in the OT than in the NT:
The Israelite felt a great security in the fact that he belonged to God’s chosen people. He felt that, no matter how he sinned he had a special call on God’s mercy that others didn’t have…..he was one of God’s favourite people.
Equally, of course, he realised that ‘noblesse oblige’ and he had a greater obligation to keep God’s Laws; Laws which had been specially assigned to his people; Laws in which they glorified. But nevertheless, he knew that if he should sin, he had a special call on God’s loving forgiveness.
Today it is we who are God’s chosen people. It is we to whom he has entrusted the fullness of knowledge of his Laws and Promises. It is we who belong to his One True Church and who are specially obliged to holiness. But, should we sin, have we lost this sense of trust and confidence in God’s mercy that comes from belonging to his chosen people. Must we look back in envy at that ‘sense of belonging to his people’ which was, and still is, so much a mark of the true Israelite?
Truly for the Israelite "No Man is and Island"
However, as Christians of the NT we have this great advantage over our OT brothers: As we stand shoulder to shoulder with God’s people we know that the ultimate cause of our confidence is that we stand shoulder to shoulder with that Greatest One of our Brothers, with him who said to his heavenly Father "Behold, I and the Brethren thou hast given me!"

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Chronicle Today 18 September 2007

Chronicle Today 18 September 2007

Morning at Lauds “To him who conquers I will give the morning star, and I will confess his name before my Father “Ant Song of Zach).

During the dawn, the Morning Star was Venus, so my brother, Fr. Nivard, was able to tell me. The star was brilliant. He said that through his telescope in his monastery in Cameroon, Venus appears as big as the Moon. That was the view across the Lammermuir Hills to the East. At Vespers that same evening, as I looked out the Church Window looking West on the enclosure I was riveted by the sight of a beautiful Roe-dear grazing peacefully near the Memorial Grove of the Atlas Martyrs.

Stigmata of Francis.

Yesterday, according to my sister Patricia it was the Franciscan Memorial of the vision of St. Francis about to receive the Stigmata on Mount Alvernia. Traditionally it was the day on which the FMMs celebrated their Clothing as Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. It was Sr Patricia’s Golden Anniversary of the occasion.

“The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, [1906], at sacred-texts.com” provides the moving background of Francis’ Forty Days Fast beginning on the Feast of the Assumption ending at Michaelmass in THE SECOND CONSIDERATION OF THE MOST HOLY STIGMATA.

“Thereafter, when the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady drew nigh, St. Francis sought to find a fitting spot, more secret and remote, wherein in greater solitude he might keep the forty days’ fast of St. Michael the Archangel,”

Prior’s Driving Test.

A first requirement of Fr. Mark, now the Bursar as well as Prior, was to be able to do shopping, bring Brothers to various medical appointments, etc. This morning at Mass a special prayer was voiced that he would succeed in gaining his Driving Licence. This was his second attempt. Charles reminded us that St Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of teacher, had said, if a student failed the third time he could be regarded as unfit for the task. So we were on tenterhooks waiting for the outcome. Mark was deposited at the test venue and then had to make his own way back by public transport. He might have been thinking, before, that this might be his only means of transport in the future. Eventually, as the grapevine spread the news, there was rejoicing. We were even anticipating a special supper to mark the event. Some splendid Pizzas were prepared. Entering the kitchen I instinctively opened the windows to let out the smoke.. Displayed for our delicate palates were the shrivelled up burnt offerings of what had been large Pizzas. A day to remember!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Dom Basil Pennington ocso

Dom Basil Pennington OCSO

NOT Amazon Review. The limits of an Amazon Review meant severe reduction in summarizing Fr. Basil’s account of his trip(s) to the Holy Land. Personal reminiscences became redundant. This fuller version of the Review follows from the
Nunraw Chronicle 4-7 Sept 1982.

4th Saturday – Fr. Basil Pennington arrived in here for lunch, he is staying for 2 or 3 days.
6th Monday – He took the Community Mass, celebrating that of
Labour Day. . . He has a lot to give: the brethren have enjoyed his talks very much; Spencer’s Cottage program, Spiritual Paternity and Maternity, Opus Dei, the Constitutions, Contemplation,, Centring Prayer, Cistercian Fathers –on all of which he spoke, informatively and entertainingly.
Fr. Basil took the community Mass again on the 7th for Vocations. He left us shortly after breakfast. His visit was better than any Retreat, it was like a breath of fresh air for many of us.”


Fr. Basil Pennington; at Nunraw 4th-7th of September 1982; standing under the inn sign “The Pennington Arms” in the town of Ravensglass, Cumbria, not very far from the Pennington seat at Muncaster Castle.


Journey in a Holy Land

A Spiritual Journal

M. Basil Pennington 2006 ISBN 1-55725-473-7

I was attracted by the title of this book, as I am by any book about the Holy Land.
From Nunraw to Latroun
In the 80s, early one morning I can see Basil Pennington and myself climbing over the railings at Melrose Abbey. The ancient ruins is in the care of Scottish Heritage. It was like Basil to be jumping fences. At that early hour the grounds men were not pleased to see us intruders. It would have been pointless to tell them that we Cistercian monks had more right than anyone to be there. We were in a hurry. Basil had come to give a course on Centring Prayer to our monks – something of a coals-to-Newcastle for contemplatives - during which he himself dozed off. Otherwise his talks on the Order were “like a breath of fresh air”. I was driving him in a search for his forebears, the Penningtons, in the L
ake District, Cumbria. When we got to the village of Pennington, true to character, Basil had to go straight to the Lord of the Manor at Muncaster Castle. Disappointingly his Lordship was away.

But that was typical of the direct simplicity of Basil on his many searches on many journeys, without which he would never have travelled so far. His “Journey in a Holy Land” was no different, nor was his genre of writing in all his books any different from the subtitle, “A Spiritual Journal”.

On the cover blurb he is described as “a monk of Spencer Abbey, Mass., who was perhaps the most widely travelled Cistercian monk in history”, an attribute not much favoured in monastic eyes. Our paths crossed in other unforeseen places as, e.g., at a Centenary Symposium in the Augustianum in Rome in the 90s.

En Route to his “Journey in a Holy Land” he tells how he was jetted into Istanbul where he had to give a practical session on Centring Prayer and later gave a paper on monasticism which, he says, “proved to be a rather unique contribution”.

The book itself consists of his day to day jottings about the Holy Places he has visited, his reflections and considerable passages from the Scriptures seemingly aimed for the use of participants in guided Pilgrimages. He sets off from Tel Aviv and Joppa up the coast to Caesarea and Lavra Netova. The pace seems rushed but the choice of this very remote monastery, Lavra Netova, indicates the bent of his interest. Here, he says, he felt he was on Mount Athos again.

Spiritual Journal or Holy Baedeker
At one point in the book, his musings focus on his monastic obedience and on whether he is called to the desert vocation. Most of those who knew him would smile at the thought. His actual lone ranger travels have a hermit on the move quality. To have the hermit and the lone ranger cohabit in the community could only be possible with a discerning Abbot and a humble and open hearted monk. That personal monastic inner search fits in oddly with his long travelogue but that is the nature of the book. As the journey proceeds, apart from the Pilgrimage framework, his momentum springs from his own inner reflections on his many interests as well as from the Scriptural, archaeological and religious terrain that he encounters. As the publishers explains, “When Pennington died June 3 2005 from injuries suffered in an auto accident, the manuscript of what has become his last book was found on his desk”. His journal is based on his first trip, but also incorporates three later tours. One can surmise that if he had had the opportunity, the author might have applied his undoubted editorial and organisational skills to more consistency. At times the narrative seems disjointed, jumping from the catching of a plane at Tel Aviv back to attending Vespers at the monastery. His observations, at time general, at times personal, at times of the tourist guide, at times of the monk, fall into the frame of his journeys elsewhere: India, China, Mount Athos, and suffer a levelling effect in the process. Because he touches lightly on so many Holy Places, he can also be out of touch at other levels.

Sacramentality of the Land Called Holy

He unerringly finds the trail to the very remote monastery of Lavra Netova. He does not mention the significance of the founder, Father Ya'aqov Willebrands drawn from the Dutch Trappist monastery of Zundert to dedicate his life in the land of Palestine. His aspiration of 1945, after hearing of the horrors of the Shoah, was realized eventually in 1961. “I want to share the adventure of the Jews returning to their old homeland. I will go to Palestine." From that moment the idea awoke: "I must go in his place, preferably with a group of monks from our abbey". (Typicon of the Lavra Netofa).

Here the insertion in the Melkite Church, love of the Jewish people and a sense of the quasi-sacramentality of the “The Land called Holy”, (Wilken, “Palestine in Christian History and Thought”), gives dimensions of the reality missed by the passing Pilgrim.

On the hills above Haifa he encountered a nun from Salt Lake City Carmel. He asked her why she, as an archaeologist, became a Carmelite. She said she had studied archaeology and that so confirmed the Bible for her that she wanted to get as close as possible to God. In his role as observer, Basil was not one to get his hands dirty, so to speak, at that earthly level.

Nor does he pay much attention to Geographical details. It is difficult to visualize the location he is describing. Way back in the Lake District, I took a photo of him standing under the inn sign of the Pennington Arms. He was holding his camera. He was never without it on his travels. He would be the first to say the virtue of a camera is that it is pointing away from yourself. The book is not enhanced by some unflattering black and white pictures centres on the author – the publisher’s choice?. The next Edition could be transformed from the collection of his own colour photos.

Even so his narrative can be graphic, as, e.g., talking through the Stations of the Cross. He does not give Scriptural exegesis, but describes the “powerful experience of the crowding through the streets getting jostled this way and that in the Via Dolorosa, rather than distracting from prayer only made it more real”.

Some times the narrative is leisurely, dwelling on Christ’s mysteries. At other times it is cumulative; piling one disparate thing after another in the manner of a journalist hard pressed by his Editor, or compressing the information of many Guidebooks into smaller bites.

Latroun Abbey
At last he comes to visit his Trappist Brothers at Latroun Abbey. Here his flair for detail shows. Although his style is marked by the absence of dates one can work out, from the Blessing of Abbot Paul, that he visited Latroun in 1985. His account is very full and he makes this monastery the last stage of his journey. Ten years later I made an extended Sabbatical stay at Latroun Abbey and found the same welcoming spirit and benefited even more than Basil, I think, by being able to get more rooted in the Holy Land. (See my “Monastic Presence in the Holy Land Today”, Benedictine Yearbook UK 2005, pp. 27-31. Also “Holy Land Chronicle”, Link: nunraw.org.uk).

Unique Experience

At the end of his journey he comments that the visit to the Holy Land has been a unique experience and then adds, with the self effacing asides that pepper his reflections, that in conjunction with too many other experiences some of its impact will be lost. At heart he reveals a simple Catholic love and dedication. I like his musing as he commutes between Tabgha, the place of the multiplication of the loaves and at Capernaum as ponders the words of Jesus in the synagogue John 6, “Your forefathers ate manna and died, but those who feed on this bread will live for ever”. He prays, “How often have I eat this divine manna, yet I still hunger for it! It is daily bread and I hope I shall never have to live through a day without it”.

His publishers have simply taken the manuscript “Journey in a Holy Land” where it is at. And at that cut off point, it may be that we get the truest picture of Basil.

The understanding of that picture is something else. Essential to the book is the Preface by Dom Thomas Keating, a former Abbot of Basil. Dom Thomas was able to give utterance to words that transformed the tragedy of Basil’s accident and the agony of his last days. “Basil invites us into the depths of purification, which is especially intense for very talented people, but which frees their gifts and enables their fullest possible expression in what we call eternal life and resurrection”.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows
Abbot Raymond's talk at Guesthouse 15th Aug 2007

Mother of the Maccabees

The Mother of Jesus invites us all to help her to accompany her Divine Son on his way to Calvary. She wants to reveal to us the sentiments that were in her heart. And we should be very eager to enter into them and share them with her.

Some of these sentiments are obvious. For instance, the sentiments we find expressed in that wonderful hymn, the Stabat Mater .

"At the Cross, her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Oh how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed.......etc

These sentiments of grief, pain and compassion are all familiar to us as is her sense of appreciation of his work of atonement and redemption by his Cross. But there is another sentiment of great importance which we must become aware of and participate in, and this sentiment is not so obvious.

The Old Testament prepares us for this understanding of the heart of Mary on the way to Calvary by giving us the story of the Mother of the Maccabee Martyrs of ancient Israel, (cf. 2 Mac 7:1-41). In this story she is a prototype and foreshadowing of Mary accompanying the passion of her Son, (cf. Lk 2:35; Jn 19:26-27).

The Mother of the Maccabees was made to witness her seven sons being tortured to death for their faith, one after another, before her very eyes, from the eldest down to the youngest. They had their tongues cut out, their scalps torn off, their hands and feet cut off and, through it all, the brave Mother stood encouraging them to be faithful no matter what they had to suffer.

In this we can understand that one of the most important sentiments of Mary on the way to Calvary was one of encouragement for her Son to carry on bravely to the end. When Jesus would fall, far from Mary asking the soldiers to leave him be as he had already suffered enough; instead she was in her heart praying that he would have the courage and the strength to rise again and carryon to the bitter end. In her heart she was praying "Rise up Jesus! Rise up in the strength of your love for us! Rise up Jesus, keep going for the sake of our great need for your sacrifice! Rise up again Jesus! What will happen to us if you fail to go through with it?" These sentiments of encouragement are, I am sure, a great support to Jesus in his Passion.

The Seven Sorrows:

1 * at the prophecy of Simeon;
2 * at the flight into Egypt;
3 * having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem;
4 * meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
5 * standing at the foot of the Cross;
6 * Jesus being taken from the Cross;
7 * at the burial of Christ.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Holy Name of Mary FEEDBACK

Holy Name of Mary Feedback:

One rather robust feedback from SMP.
“Just read your holy writ. Can you beef it up a bit and give me something I can use for the winter Jottings (Newsletter)?”

In reply I suggested:
“Talking of BEEFING IT UP, the weB Log is only for sensitive souls, rather than for the knock-about of a Newsletter.
Anyway see what you make of some of the FEEDBACK I have had”.

Brian had come to the Guesthouse from Hull. “Thank you for the Homily”, he said speaking from beside his over powered BMW motorcycle. “That is what I have been trying to do all my life, keeping it simple”. His story was that from childhood he wanted to have a motorcycle. His mother was dead against it. He looked after her to the great age of 90. From the legacy she left he was able to get a superb motorcycle and has travelled the country – at times with his wife on the pillion!

Email from Jane MacM . . .: Thank you for your lovely Blog on the Holy Name of Mary.

Another Email response was more reflective:

Dear Father Donald,
I love your introduction to the "memorial of the Most Holy Name of the Virgin" that you will be celebrating on 12 September. I knew nothing of this, either from my St Paul Liturgical Calendar, or from the Divine Office Proper of Saints. I have found a very brief mention in the 'Benedictine Daily Prayer - A Short Breviary' ["Holy Name of Mary, optional memorial, from the Common of the Blessed Virgin".

And I enjoyed your directional pointer...leading us.

"....it can be seen as a revolutionary feminist Proclamation... Elizabeth the expectant mother of John the Baptist, Mary the expectant mother of Jesus, leading us, in the most human approach, the birth of the Child Jesus, to the greatest Mystery, to the Incarnate the Son of God."
I hardly dare comment (!), but would love to say...

And that is 'as God intended'... the women in the Gospel present to the world (of men) moments of great import, Mary, Elizabeth, Magdalene. They leave the men to run hither and thither on hearing, undertaking great deeds... and the women say little: they do not need to, for they have said it all.

The prayer of the Mass is quite beautiful...for tomorrow - Thank you.

And so is "There is only the NOW of the Divine Presence".

Yours….. WW

Subject: Re: [Dom Donald's Blog] The Holy Name of Mary
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 20:18:27 +0100

It was wonderful to read what you wrote about Mary our Mother. I love to meditate on the Visitation of Our Lady, meeting her cousin. The meeting is so beautiful it draws you in. In fact It's almost tangible.

What exactly is a blog Father Donald? I can see that you have one, and I presume that the information I receive when it comes from you, and addressed to you, has been written on your blog. Forgive my stupidity but I know I' get a straight answer from you. I'm waiting patiently now for my new computer and hpefully that will be me settled for a while, developing a little more knowledge in this very technological world we live in.

Answer suggested by fellow writer; A
"Blog" is a reflective journal in which all are invited to share. (WeB Log = Blog for short).

Chronicle Holy Land Sabbatical 2003

Holy Land Sojourn

Latroun Abbey

Chronicle 1

Donald McGlynn
Tuesday (Mardi) 23rd Sept, first anniversary of St. Padre Pio.
Neve Shalom
In the afternoon Abbot Paul took me for a drive through the farm/property. This is very extensive, some 240 hectares, and serves various functions. In a very dry land, the terrain looks very poor to the eye of the green field expectations of Scotland. In fact the land is the backbone of a very successful production of wine and olive oil. The construction of the present monastery commenced in 1926. The site was only too well chosen for its location of solitude and prominence at that time. Unfortunately, although it has become a great landmark and can be viewed from many sides, it is now also at the junction of two major motorways, Latroun Junction. “If only …” is an old afterthought for many monasteries. Here likewise, Abbot Paul points to quiet spots in the property which would now be more favourable for silence and solitude. But then the style of building would now be different also. Out of site of the monastery but still close enough there is a hermitage which can be used for one night. There are also  the old Crusade stables now restored by the German Lutheran Community now more suited to a simplified monastery. I was introduced to the community there by Fr. Rene and we received a great welcome. The ‘Fraternity’ is well concealed in the hilly brush land but the noise from the motorway junction is the same. This evening, if it bothered me, the noise is multiplied by some celebration of the local army camp. The disco sounds reverberate through the house. One good point is that the Service station is very convenient for petrol and diesel.
Next call on the conducted tour of the Abbot, within the property, enviable for its height and quietness, is the amazing interfaith village of Neve Shalom. The community of Jews, Christians and Muslims, some 40 families, was founded by a French Dominican 40 years ago, and is a very rare example of the Faiths living and working and living together. The land was given by Latroun, each family was given a plot on which to design and build their own home. The population varies. It has been up to 150 families. Kibbutzim villages are settled everywhere. In the near distance I could see a cluster of endlessly low long structures. Paul identified them for me as a Kibbutzim  poultry farm. Fr. Pierre had the Liturgical books bound in one of these Kibbutzim. But I diverge. The Liturgical Books of the Community are completely revised and form a first class one volume Office Book. When I congratulated Fr. Pierre he said it took him six years on his own to produce the text, music (and small graphics) on foolscap pages. It was an immense work and his only regret, as is the regret of the Abbot of Septfons, the Fr. Immediate, that there has not been collaboration on the project. There is a small manual edition also reproduced to the same high quality. Pierre already has the proofs in hand to produce the Lent section of the Office.
Needless to say the work is fully computerised. The major contribution to the technology is the application for editing and inserting music, staves, notes bars, the works – even to the extent of typing, playing, printing all in one operation. The application is called “Music Time”. Pierre has become quite expert with this in normal music script. He finds the Gregorian Chant application more difficult.
The principles are the same, it is only a question of learning the system. You can guess that we were on the same wavelength of computers here.
End of digression. Back to my archaeological discoveries . . .
In this one, not well known location of Latroun, the evidence of everything from archaeological antiquities to ultra modern dwellings and motorways, stands up and hits you with all too immediate impact. Jerome Murphy O’Connor (The Holy Land, Oxford Press), for example, dismisses the Crusader Castle overlooking the monastery with a few lines and does not seem to have noted the underground and over-ground features all around. How could he? The monks are surrounded by stones about which archaeological study has not yet been made. I suggested that the Lutheran Fraternity might have received Israel funds for the remarkable work of restoration they have made of the Crusader Stables in the grounds. Not a bit of it. Israel would be loath to support this kind of initiative. Voluntary and financial support was given from Germany. Nothing has been done to the Castle apart from the addition of an Israel victory memorial.
In this situation it is hard to disentangle the manifold overlapping of past and present, battles past and wars very recent, in this restricted area. The Jordanians have left their trenches around the Castle. Gun fire and bombs were all around the monastery although it was never hit, The subterranean tunnels of the monastery gave good bomb shelter and enabled the work of the community to be unterupted. This was the 1967/68 War – I have not yet disentangled the story myself. I suppose one can say the monks have been very fortunate but sadly most (all) of their Arab neighbours were deported, their villages raised to the ground, and the neighbourhood now replaced by Aijalon (Canada) Park, a recreational area. But it is not a matter of scratching just yesterday’s surface. The spot is identified with the reference of the Book of Joshua, 10:12, the Vale of Aijalon where “The sun stood still over Gibeon and the moon too”. Abbot Paul, an addict of Palestinian archaeology, is to take me round these near by sites. According to the Abbot, the Official archaeologist of the immediate locality lists over 1000 sites of this nature. The adjoining site of Emmaus, (French say E-mouse), is obviously better known. It is full of Byzantine and Crusader history and excavations. Above it is a large modern building now in the  care of the Community of the Beatitudes. This contains a very impressive museum of mosaics. What interested me more, I have to confess, was to find Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a beautiful setting. One of the Beatitude Brothers was keeping ‘watch’. This is a mixed Charismatic “Community of the Beatitudes” well established in France sine 1973. It is made up of lay people, priests, families, nuns and monks and welcomes pilgrims from all over. 
 ...Back to the Latroun farm tour, the time machine goes back 3000 years.
I had been reading James Mitchener’s blockbuster novel “The Source” the account of a fictional archaeological dig in Akko.  Although nothing to do with it, “The Source” was the name of the next item on the tour Dom Paul wanted to show me. This took us down to the lower valley, as our track, an ancient Roman road to Jerusalem ran parallel and below the highly Macadamised motorway. Here, in the lowland fields, were laid out with vines and olive trees. Some of the olive trees are 400 years old, some of the vines just one year old. At centre of all this was a small concrete hut. This is the so called “SOURCE”. It is a deep well going back 3000, three thousand years.  Through various trepidations the well was in ruins. At the time of the coming of the monks it belonged to two villages and the monastery. The monks had it repaired and modernised with an agreement to provide water for everyone. This took place “before the war” after which, sadly all the Jordanians were banished.
But going back further to biblical times this well, spring, source, belonged to the tribe of Judah in the disposition of lands to the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Dom Paul has just given me chapter and verse for this “tell”, hillock, which is at the origin, so to speak, of Latroun’s present footprint in geography and history.  [Note: BIR HELOU –Latroun. Cf. Joshua 15:60. “Kiriath-Baal, that is Kiriath-Jearim, and Rabbah”. ‘Ha-Rabba’ is the tell, or hillock, which is close to the monastery and which is the ruins  of  “Ha-Rabbat”. In Arabic the tell is called “Al Khirbet” – ruins. Significantly my dictionary defines a TELL as an artificial hill formed from ruins of an ancient town.
Here among the vines and olive plantation, the ancient well leads to a long underground water tunnel. The water is not drinkable but is the centre of very efficient irrigation system. Higher on the hill there is a more  modern water tank and also an Israeli water works.
 - - I have not yet got to the bottom of Mitchener’s SOURCE story but I suspect that once more FACT is an even better example of such a water SOURCE as that to be found the heart of Latroun.
To my unenlightened eye, these dried out old hills and fields and rocky heights look so unprepossessing, not to speak of the burned out patches of frequent fires. It is something of a mind bender to discover that literally you cannot turn a stone in the land without uncovering layers of layers of history. If this is only a taste of it for a first time visitor, what will I feel like after lectures in detail on the best know Biblical sites listed for my course, Jordan River, Nazareth, Sea of Galiliee, Holy Sepulchre, Judea Wilderness (Masada, Qumran), Negev & Sinai etc.

‘nuf the noo - I suspend operations to see if I can obtain access to a printer – I will not burden you with the technical hitches of being away from base.   Love, Donald
Holy Land Chronicle 2
September 30, 2003
Dom Raymond  Email Tuesday, September 30, 2003  
Thank you for your news of Cardinal O’Brien. I have his Email address and will try to send him a message. When I shared the good news with the Latroun Brethren, they asked me if Keith Patrick was the only one – just shows how myopic one can be on one’s own interest. I assured them there must be other Cardinal’s just appointed. No doubt I will hear. Is there word of the new Scottish Bishops?
I have not received anything from Fr. Mark but I have been OFFLINE myself for these few days. The good news, for his benefit, is that there are three problems which I have solved.
1. I do not have a Virus, the AntiVirus, “Grisoft”, installed by Gordon Fraser, on the computers is also in my Laptop.
2. In the Windows Menus I found an ACCESSORY, System Restore, which has put everything back to rights on the portable.
3. In the same Windows I have found a change of FONT which can toggle back and forth from Hebrew or whatever other Font one wishes. So ‘forward’ to my Hebrew tutorials.
4. Meanwhile help has come from other helpful friends to amend gobbledegook in some systems. One was good enough to convert and correct format. Another advised me that the way to avoid such gobbledegook is to SAVE AS TEXT – this means sacrificing layout. Also using attachments avoids the problem.
Memos and News too much to record:
On Saturday the Abbot of Mt deCats arrived with Mother Trees (Teresa) of Klaarland, friend of other Meetings, and Sr. Martha enroute to Lebanon. They spent 4 nights to meet the Latroun community. Dom Guillaume is going for a new deal for the monks of St. Saviour. The Sisters for the projected Foundation in Lebanon.
Dom. Guillaume is on his way to Lebanon to act as Delegate from the Founder Dom Paul of Latroun. Until the next General Chapter he will be making a monthly (?) visit to guide the lot of this thriving foundation in the Melkite diocese of Jounieh (See Elenchus No 97). The idea is to have a fully integrated Melkite Rite monastery.
Everyone seems thrilled with the project with all the consultation etc going well between the different communities. On the side, one of the problems is Formation in Lebanon. The Brothers cannot get Israel to Latroun Visas so for the present they have to go to Mt deCats for the Formation programme there.

Regarding the Klaarland project for Lebanon, you may remember that following the Algeria Martyrs crisis, the Abbot General had volunteers from monks and nuns to fill the gaps, so to speak. To begin with there was Algeria itself but this was impossible for the Sisters. Then for various reasons suggestions of Morocco and Tunisia faded out and the group still waiting at Klaarland, including Sr. Martha form Valsarena, Italy, has focused on Lebanon. They have been setting about the language and cultural  challenge in real earnest. No location has been chosen but I would guess that once the intial decisions are made things will go faster than they think. Klaaland has 40 in the community and their resources are good.

On Monday, Fr. Moise, a Jesuit of Marseille, on a year’s Sabbatical at Latroun, drove the two Sisters and myself, courtesy of the Abbot. on a round trip of The Galilee – hitting the highlights of the best of the Holy Land. An incredible journey compared to the months or years it would have taken the Pilgrims of old to cover.
I had better save the details for the official excursions. On this first experience how ordinary and convivial were the various encounters with such different peoples. Politics seem so remote. The only NEWS I had was from the Community Bulletin Board. This has a  typed account of the 27 Israeli Airmen who refuse to bomb civilian targets or to carry military personnel on killing missions. I think they are been pilloried as deserters.
On the other hand we found ourselves on a peak overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Arbel in Tiberias area.  Among the few visitors to our picnic site a couple of nice young lads asked us if we had bread because they had everything but forgot the bread. This led to a lovely encounter. I will keep the container of Peanuts one of them gave me. They were two soldiers on their 3 year military service out for a trek. I happened to ask about their training, e.g. would they get COMPUTER TRAINING. Bull’s eye, that is their department, Intelligence  Service. Photos were taken, we offered a lift and so ended a multi national encounter of pure peace.
Here ends the ramblings of the moment.
Love to all.
Palm Sunday

Chronicle 3
04 October 2003
Abu Gosh – OSB Olivetans
(860 words plus Insert of new Bishop Zenit News 1906 Date: 2003-08-19).
Hebrew-Speaking Israeli Catholics to Get an Auxiliary Bishop
Abbot Was Baptized at Age 23
News of John Paul II's appointment of an auxiliary bishop of the Latin patriarch for Hebrew-speaking Catholics has stirred considerable public interest in the Holy Land.   The unprecedented assignment was announced by the Vatican press office last Thursday and entrusted to Father Jean-Baptiste Gourion, abbot of St. Mary of the Resurrection Monastery, of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation in Abu Gosh, a peaceful Israeli village where a Hebrew-speaking Christian community resides.  
Born in 1934 in Oran, Algeria, and baptized at age 23, Gourion entered the Abbey of Bec in France and in 1976 was sent with two men religious to Abu Gosh to found the monastery.  
In 1990, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, named him episcopal vicar and president of St. James' Work of Jerusalem, for the pastoral care of the Hebrew-speaking Christian community. 
"Our community is small, born from the creation of the state of Israel, made up of Christians who were not of Arab formation or culture, and who stayed in Israel," Father Gourion explained. "There were, for example, mixed marriages, persons who had converted to Christianity, persons who worked in the Israeli environment."   The future bishop told Vatican Radio that the Pope made this decision because "there is a need to offer an ecclesial structure" for these Catholics, who are not of Arab culture or tradition, as is the case of the majority of the faithful who belong to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.   According to Father Gourion, in some countries the press has referred to a conflict between Arab and Hebrew-speaking Catholics which, in fact, does not exist.  "It is an artificial creation," he said. "It has related events which in reality  are not related in themselves. Thus, they have placed me in opposition to the  patriarch, giving this assignment a political interpretation."   "It is, however, a pastoral measure of the Holy Father," he clarified. "It is obvious that the Arab and Hebrew culture are two different worlds, but all remains here."  
Father Gourion explained that with this appointment the Pope also hopes to  promote good relations with the Jewish world.  email this article  

JERUSALEM, NOV. 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Patriarch Michel  Sabbah of Jerusalem consecrated Auxiliary Bishop Jean  Baptiste Gourion Sunday, to tend to the pastoral needs  of Hebrew-Israeli Catholics.  Born in Algeria (1934) to a Jewish family, Bishop  Gourion was baptized at 23 in France. He entered the  Benedictine Abbey of Bec (once home to the famous  medieval writer and teacher of epistemic "hyper  realism," Lanfranc, a disciple of St. Anselm of  Canterbury). In 1976, Gourion became superior of an  Olivetan Benedictine monastery in Abu Gosh, a peaceful  Hebrew-speaking Israeli village. There may be some  400 Hebrew Catholics in the State of Israel today. The  overwhelming majority of Christians in the Holy Land are  Palestinians of Arab origin. Arab citizens of the State  of Israel are known as "Arab Israeli's."  The new  bishop's consecration begins a "new phase" in  Catholic-Jewish dialogue. It is an episcopal office  without precedent. There is said to be an even greater of number ‘Christians’ among Russian immigrants, those Jews related to Russian Orthodox or other Christian Churches. This is another pastoral challenge to the Church in Israel. 
Abu Gosh once the haunt of the Beduin Chief and his four sons who for 60 years extorted protection money from 18th century pilgrims to Jerusalem now the Olivetan monastery of St. Mary of the Resurrection.
It was a busy morning for the monks and for that very reason we were immediately at home. For some reason Br. Antoine was assigned to show us the historical features of the place. This may have been because Br. Antoine is from Congo. He has been 14 years is Israel before a time at BEC. Historically, the Church is an architectural gem of the Crusaders standing solid because of its own impregnable  design. Going deeper, archaeologically, there are the remains of a spring of immemorial vintage built around the lower foundation of a Roman castle of the first century.
In the Church we joined the dual community, 10 monks, 13 nuns, for Mass at 11.30 a.m. – all in Gregorian Chant. By good timing, I presume, the Mussein is not heard at this time. A lofty minaret dwarfs the monastery.
The Sisters have their own regime across the enclosure. They produce vestments as part of their work. In the workshops of the monks I later found Br. Antoine busy in the pottery enterprise. Lunch lived up to Benedictine tradition but, as distinct from wine at Latroun, cool clear water was the drink. The meal was followed by a community gathering over tea or coffee. I commented to the Bishop Elect, John-Baptiste on a wall painting in the community room, wondering if it was of the See of Galilee. No, it was a picture of his native town in Algeria called Oran. This was a surprising association with the Dominican Bishop Claverie who was martyred at the time of the Atlas Martyrs. And he died in Oran. Mgr Claverie is included among the memorial rocks of the Atlas Martyrs erected at Latroun. Another rock is dedicated to Cardinal Duval who was said to have died of a broken heart at the news of the Brothers of Tibhirine. (I was puzzled to see a stone for Archbishop Tissier of Algiers there, but I was assured that he is still alive).
Joining in the party  with the monks was a layman who is Music Director of the Jewish Orchestra of Jerusalem. He organises performances for places like the Church of the Arc of the Covenant, and had such a performance at the large hall at Latroun. He would want to have it in the Church at Latroun but Abbot Paul won’t have it except in the auditorium. Also among the guests was a young Israeli soldier staying in the community for the first time.
In the midst of the 1947 conflicts Abu Gosh was in danger of being destroyed by the Israeli army. Fortunately this was avoided and Abu Gosh became the first  Arab-Israel village. Groups of young Israelis come for cultural meetings with the monks. Hebrew seems to be the chosen interest of the community rather than Arabic. There is a large very modern library with an up to date Hebrew section. For more specialised studies the Institute Biblique is not far away at Jerusalem. On the mechanical side the library is one of those designed on smooth running blocks of shelves which can be moved at a touch. Ideal for preserving books, for security and for fire safety - just the thing for the Nunraw library as planned in the past.
We did not get much chance to meet the Sisters in their extremely traditional Benedictine habit, apart from Sr Elizabath from Congo in a flamboyant African habit of her own design. I had a few words with Sr. McKenna who joined the community from Canada.
The monks have produced a very high quality brochure of Abu Gosh which the Abbot kindly presented to us. It is extremely polished and professional. I remarked to Frère Noel, on the way home, that it is time to design a new booklet for Latroun also. The last edition seems to have been about 1960 and marks the incredible changes of every kind in the recent years.
Abu Gosh is only 15 or 20 minutes drive from Latroun. The story of the course of  the Ark of the Covenant at Abu Gosh  goes a step further back to Bethshemesh which is even closer to Latroun. It was from here that the Philistines begged of the Israelites to come and take the Ark away with them. 1 Sam. 6:20- 7:1, “from Beth-Shemesh to the house of Aminadab at Kiriath-Jearim”.
And it was to this location that Fr. Rene drove Dom Simon and myself on Wednesday 1st October. Wheels turning within wheels, it so happens that the Prior of the new style Carthusian Monastery, Père Reginald, at Beth Shemesh was a monk with Dom Simon for twelve years at Septfont.

Mar Saba
Chronicle 4
7th October 2003
Ecce Homo
Dear Dom Raymond - Chronicle 4 sees me lodged at “Sojourn in the Land of the Bible, Centre for Biblical Formation 41 Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem”
Dear Dom Raymond,
Chronicle 4 – Just the contrary of what one might expect on a Sabbatical ‘retreat’, it is more a case of trying to catch up with events as they flow all too rapidly. In the course of four days we have covered a lot of ground, most of which is concentrated on the 2000 hectares which is the area of Old City Jerusalem.
There are 18 of us enrolled here, compared with 26 on the previous year and a regular 45 students before that without any advertising of the Centre. In fact there are other students and groups present but not on the scale of the normal complement before the inafada.
The welcome to our Sojourn in the Land of the Bible on 7th October, began our Orientation Week. After the first four days, this ‘Orientation’ proves to be something of an understatement. It has lead us from Ecce Homo, the centre run by the Sisters of Sion, itself a unique point of vantage in the heart of the Holy City, through the “Horizons of Jerusalem”, a conducted bus tour to identify the outstanding view points. This made very good sense because it was preceded by a very professional lecture on a thematic outline of the Biblical history associated with the immediately visible physical sites. Bringing us right down to earth, our guide/lecturer, Raphael Carse, took us along Route 1, a dual carriageway circling the city wall. The significance of this wide thoroughfare, Route 1, is that it constituted the boundary and ‘no-man’s-land’ separating Israel and Jordan, between 1948 and the six day war of 1967 when the Israelis began their (present) occupation of the Old City. The walls of the Sion Gate, immediately in front of the Dormition Basilica and Abbey, (Benedictine), show the marks of the bullets on the wall when the Israel’s took the city by storm by two gates. To give them some credit the military had decided not to use artillery., With this occupation by the Israelis, the term is used bitterly by the Palestinians, the interior barricades and check points were removed. So, at least, people pass through all the narrow streets unimpeded.
Our “Horizons” trip began from St. Stephen’s. the Lion’s Gate, which is our most convenient exit directly from Via Dolorosa and we drove clock wise round the city heading towards Mount  Scopus, the highest point of view and next to Mount of Olives the second highest point.  The views, together with the commentary on foot and on the bus, gave us an invaluable grasp of how it all fits together and labelled, as it were, with the Biblical references; Mount Scopus – 2712 ft,(Josephus , Wrts 2:19,; 9:478) Mount of Olives 2640 ft.,(2 Sam 15:30, etc) Mount Moriah, Temple Mount 2427 ft., (2 Chr 3:1) Visibility was clear and it has been ‘shirt sleeves’ weather up to the present (10th October). Between 10 am and 12.30 we got these magnificent views with every landmark clear from all angels before taking a break for a picnic lunch. Even the site for this was beautifully chosen. We branched off from the UN building, formerly the British Mandate headquarters, and found ourselves at a leisure spot looking directly across the Kidron Valley at the Golden Dome on the Rock. We were prepared to eat our lunch outside but the restaurant keeper made us most welcome in the shade. In fact the visitors are so scarce, with US and UK issuing warnings against travel to Israel that the ordinary traders everywhere around Jerusalem are desperate from the dearth of tourists.
To go back - we made our first stop at the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. This University was set up by Jews from overseas in the 1920s before the subsequent troubles. When Jordan still held east Jerusalem, the Hebrew University became an isolated Israel enclave, until the Six Day war brought the whole area under the West Bank – Israel Palestinian Authority. The University has a high standing. I have been reading the second book by Fr. Elias Chacour, “We Belong to the Land”. One of the things his Bishop did was to send him, as a new Melkite Catholic priest, to qualify at the Hebrew University, and I learn that Elias Chacourt  has succeeded in setting up a Palestinian University in Galilee at Ibillin. His life is dedicated to reconciliation of Jews, Muslims and Christians. That is another story, somewhat filled out for us by a very fine lecture on the following day, given by the Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi on the political situation of the Church in Jerusalem.
From our vantage point  on Mount Scopus, Raphael Carse, an American who is a graduate of the Hebrew University and has spent 30 years as writer and guide in Jerusalem, explained the whole sweep in of landscape from the skyline to the north dominated by large mosque marking the  burial place of the Prophet Samuel. Previously this mosque was shared by Jews and Muslims, but not any more. Muslims are not allowed to use it. Previous generations of Jews, Muslims (and Christians) held it sacred as the burial place of Samuel at Rama. (1Sam 25:1). It is also the scene of the defining event of Solomon’s reign, his prayer for wisdom (2 Chr 1; 3-12).
In the opposite skyline away to the south, towards Bethlehem, another peak dominates but it is in fact an artificial construction, the Herodian, set up as a Palace by Herod the Great, the richest man ever known, and apart from his attempted suicide, it was to be his mausoleum.
Coming closer to hand, from the Hebrew University we moved over the nearby crest to look east. The view was almost a shock. Just turning our back on the fascinating view of Jerusalem and looking down we experience the most dramatic  change of scene. We were looking down to the River Jordan and hills of the Judea Desert. It was scene of utter wilderness. Beneath us we could see a small Bedouin camp with some sheep and to the untrained eye not a sign of vegetation could be seen. Tragically, the social landscape here is even more dramatic. On the top of high hills a  number of Jewish Settlements have been set up. There can be no natural resources, the settlers  therefore depend completely on Jerusalem for employment and the social framework of their lives. They are provided with modern highways to commute to the city. The Settlements take some 80% of the available water. The surviving Palestinian villagers are not allowed to use the modern motorways and are not allowed entry or employment in Jerusalem. The policy and implementation  of this situation is in violation of all international agreements. That was the shocking scene before our very eyes – a living drama revealed to us from just this one glimpse of the stark contrast of the Holy Land. The physical explanation is much easier to understand as a matter of geography or topography. The prevailing winds bring the rain from the west,  from the Mediterranean. The land rising gradually to  Jerusalem receives sufficient rain, then suddenly there is a drop to the Jordan valley and rainfall evaporates away to two inches per annum. According to ecologists even the water level of the Dead Sea is falling seriously  as a result also of the Settlements exploiting water that should come from the River Jordan. So much for any thought of a comfortable morning’s sight seeing. Painful realities jostle with Biblical associations to rack one’s emotions. It is so true, everything is connected - we finding ourselves sandwiched between ancient history and wisdom on the one hand, and the painful realities of unsolvable problems on the ground of today.
We skirted the great Augusta Victoria Hospital set up by the wife of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the drive took us on round to a spot on Mount of Olives. This did not give us occasion for  visits to the important sites on the Mount of Olive but only served as a ‘horizons’ view of the Old City from another angle, including our distance view of the Ecce Homo dome in Via Dolorosa. Our driver for the morning was Abbu Elias, a Muslim. He had difficulty negotiating the traffic jams through the Muslim village on the Mount of Olives. We stopped for our picnic. In the course of chatting with the driver, Abbu Elias, he pointed back towards the site of his own village, near the Victoria Hospital, He explained that the number of Arab children has doubled or trebled. The school is completely inadequate. When appealed to for more school space, the Israel Municipality which provides normal schools for Jewish children, had a ready response. “You have an increased number of school children. Fine. All you need do is have the overcrowded classrooms work in relay”, So, apart from the difficulty in educating the Palestinian children, the social and family life is disrupted in every way.
The bus part of our trip ended at Sion Gate. Missing the Cenacle and the Dormition we were to experience  a walk through the lanes and alleys of the Old City. This meant walking through the Armenian Quarter. Why do the Armenians get a full quarter slice of the not so large loaf of the Old City? Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion at the beginning of the 4th Century. There followed a great flow of Armenians to Jerusalem. In the 7th century there is record of  seventy monasteries. It has also been the most persecuted Christian nation. At the heart of this Quarter is the Cathedral of St. James the Lesser, first Bishop of Jerusalem. We could make our first visit only as far as the porch but Raphael was eloquent in praising the singing of Armenian Vespers at 3 o’clock each evening. I can interpolate from here, regarding further details, because that is exactly what I did the next evening, discovering without planning, that half a dozen other students of the course had the same inspiration. On the walls around the Quarter we had noticed placards headed with “Armenian Genocide”. When Hitler started his holocaust, he was questioned about his Nazi policy. His reply was, “Look at the Armenians and who will remembers them? It made us wonder. So at the end of Vespers when the rows of Armenian seminarians were leaving in silence I stopped one of them for a word. Because of their history they are said to be very closed and self contained, that even the homes of the people are inward looking but beautiful, I was not sure of intruding. The young Armenian seminarian I spoke to, in fact, was able to speak English. He is one of the Deacons and we learned a lot from him. He answered our first question about the Armenian Genocide. This was in 1915 when the Turks massacred almost two million Armenians. He told us a the lovely story of the fate of the Armenian Church when Jerusalem fell to Suleiman in 1187. When the Sultan, (excuse lack of precision here), entered the city, he saw the cupola of St. James and took it to be a mosque and went into worship there. He discovered his mistake. The people begged him not to destroy the Church. He said he was on his way to Syria, He would light a lamp in the Church and he had all the doors locked saying that that when he returned, if the light had died out the Church would have be destroyed like all the rest. When he returned a long time later the lamp was still alight and the Cathedral of St. James still stands in all its glory. In the words of Jerome Murphy O’Connor,  “In the sharp contrast to the sombre weariness of the Holy Sepulchre, this church mirrors the life and vigour of a colourful and unified people”. Very close to our Ecce Home centre there is an Armenian Hospice. A question about this also added a new angle to the situation. The Armenia of that Quarter is Orthodox. The hospice and other Patriarchate in Via Dolorosa is part of the Latin Rite.
Our walk continued with quite a zigzag of streets through the Armenian Quarter, a roof top promenade taking in the immediate views of the Holy Sepulchre and the Christian Quarter, and the Jewish Quarter leading to our final stand in front of the Western Wall. From there a very convenient path  takes us back directly to Ecce Homo.   At this very location one can appreciate how fortunate we are in this unique place at the heart of the Holy City. There are very attractive alternatives but I don’t think any of them equal this place set up by the convert Jews, the Ratisbonne brothers who also founded the Sisters of Sion who have preserved and enhanced this convent site for so long.
If I find myself unable to unpack all we learned from our day on the “Horizons of Jerusalem”, it is very clear that even months in the Holy Land will prove that one can never make a package out of all it has to offer.
At 6.30 this morning, Saturday, Dermot (Kiltegan) and I decided to walk on the outside of the Old Wall perimeter from the Damascus Gate to the Dung Gate. That was the easy part and took only half an hour. But to get from there through the streets to Ecce Homo took the better part of half an hour and only got us back in time for breakfast.
In brief, for the rest of these preliminary days we had the very weighty Catholic and Jewish perspective  of the Holy land given by Archbishop Pietro Sambi and  Rabbi Levi Kelman with two lectures on Thursday.
On Friday we had our first taste of the real pedagogic Jesuit  “Introduction to Reading the Bible”, by David Neuhaus, S.J. Being of a Jewish family in South Africa he attended Jesuit school and became interest in Catholicism. His parents were concerned and sent him to Israel for a Jewish education. His parents, Jews, have been visiting Israel and in fact joined us in class to hear their son lecturing for us. Needless to say they were made very welcome by the members of the group. David will be one of our regular professors.
More involved in the current political and social situation, Bernard Sabella, gave us the views of a Palestinian Catholic. He is Palestinian. He is not a convert. He did not come from either Jewish or Muslim religion. He did not come from overseas. He was born and lives in Palestine as all his forebears have done since the time of Jesus. Highly qualified he is a graduate in Sociology in the Hebrew University.
And Bernard, like all the other speakers, is highly qualified and articulate in his own field and shares the common factor of being active in interfaith and reconciliation concerns for the peoples of the Holy Land.
Extra to the menu for this introductory week, preparation for the Sabbath and the Feast of Tabernacle (Booths), another Rabbi, Ophir Yarden gave us an active Jewish Rabbi’s teaching on the observance of the Sabbath, timed to mark the beginning of Sabbath with two candles. . This was in the classroom but he proceeded to take us to the Western Wall to show us the Jews gathering for the feast. And on the spot, with Jews in the very traditional Jewish garb, originating largely from early Polish style, black cloths with long coats if not tails, and black hats, milling around, he explained that the great variety of garbs only reflected the many strands of Judaism which are as numerous as the Christian denominations. As we talked Jews kept coming and going in great numbers, women included for their own section of the Western (Weeping) Wall, and will continue ech day of the week of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles has a joyful spirit as distinct from the penitential Yom Kippur of the previous week. A Jewish colleague in Jewish attire came over to greet Rabbi Ophir and offered us all his friendly blessing.
This leaves me with no space to speak of the members of the group on the course. Suffice to say that of a group of eighteen we come from ten nationalities, from five continents. And we would all, including the Sisters and staff who do such a good job, ask you to keep us in your kind prayers.
With love
PS. Working on the hoof, so to speak, please ignore the typos and mistakes.

 Lavra Netofa
Chronicle 5
21st October 2003
Ecce Homo - Commencemment
Dear Dom Raymond,
Chronicle 5
(Begun) Sunday 12th October 2003 was the formal celebration of Commencement for the Course. The Professors, Sisters of Sion, and other Staff were invited to our Sunday Mass in the Basilica of the Ecce Homo Church rather than in our usual Chapel in a transept tribune higher up.
It is hard to appreciate that we are actually residing here on the spot, “at a place known as the stone pavement which in Hebrew is Gabbatha” Jn. 19:13. It is one thing to be a tourist but to be a resident in the multi-level, multi-age historic site is something else. There are four main strata, the Cisatern, the Lithostrotos (Pavement), the Basilica and the terrace roof viewing terrace. In between there are 19 broken levels – an architect’s nightmare. The name “Ecce Homo” refers to Jn. 19.5 “Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and purple robe. Pilate said to them: “BEHOLD THE MAN”, (Ecce Homo). The Basilica was built by Alphonse Ratisbonne after his discovery  of the ruins in 1857. Underneath is the “pavement”, LITHOSTROTOS. This extends next door to the Chapel of the Condemnation. This was erected by the Franciscans. The Franciscan Biblical Institute fills the courtyard at the opposite end of which is the Church of the Flagellation. To go next door to say a prayer I find myself on the First of the Stations of the Cross beginning here in the Via Dolorosa. I will send you a copy of the leaflet on the Ecce Homo Basilica. But two anecdotes will not appear on the leaflet. Leo XIII obtained the status of Basilica  from Alphonse Ratisbonne in order that  his foundation would remain preserved for the future – this is a condition for a basilica and, no doubt, now for building regulations in the Old City today – nothing must be changed. Another anecdote in the annals of the Sisters of Sion is that their neighbouring Franciscan archaeologists discovered, in the course of digging, that they also hit the ‘pavement’. They went deeper and further and found the “Struthion Pool”. Legend has it that the Convent was already using it for swimming, and that the Mother Superior promptly made sure that the opening was very promptly built up the opening again. To this day they have not yet agreed to combine the parts and open the full remains of the lithostrotos to the public. We can smile but this only illustrates how closely related these historic sites are connected. One of the Sisters will give us a full historical account of the Sisters of Sion, and later of the Cistern, the Pavement and the Arch, although there is an excellent exhibition where pilgrims are given a guided presentation – one afternoon I eavesdropped on a priest from the Pontifical Biblical Commission conducting a group just below. The full details of Herod the Great’s (around 30 BC) part in all this are fully documented.
Alphonse Ratisbonne is the brother of the Jewish family, who had a miraculous conversion at St. Andrea del Fratte in Rome and went on to dedicate his life to Our Lady of Sion in Jerusalem. St. Andrea del Fratte is the Rome Church for Scots. It became Cardinal Gray’s Titular Church. I wonder if Has Eminence of Edinburgh has been given the same Church.

One of the Sisters on the Course is a Franciscan Missionary of Mary. She is Sr. Keiko Kataoka from Japan who was a Novice when my Sister Noreen was Novice Mistress. On Sunday evening we went to visit the Convent not far from the Damascus Gate.  Of course having so many family connections I was made very much at home. I hope my visit did not disturb the peace of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which takes place during three hours in the morning and in the afternoon. This cannot be easy since there are elderly sisters needing care and nursing. They are a fairly large community. They can receive 50 pilgrims but at this time not many can come. They have seen this situation change so often that they do not worry about it. Sr. Paschale, Superior, was most hospitable. Sr Leiko, Japanese, has been in Jerusalem for 25 years. She attended the recent Solemn Profession at Latroun. Sr Felicity, (England) and Sr Emmanuele could make up for my limits in French. From the terrace Sr. Keiko was able to show me the city from another angle. On the Old City side, St. Saviour and the Franciscan complex seems to be on the highest ground actually overlooking the Holy Sepulchre level. In the opposite direction, across the street from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Convent is the Dominican Church and Ecole Biblique. We paid a visit to the very large Church, St. Stephens. There was no Dominican in sight but I hope to visit there again.

It is the time of Succoth, the seven day celebration of Tabernacles, (Booths), the seasonal harvest thanksgiving time to include prayer for the rains of late Autumn. Jewish events, especially at the Western Wall abound –in spite of Israeli check points, it seems to on our walking path for other things as well.
I had the unusual experience of meeting the Mayor of Jerusalem in a ceremonial Succoth Booth in the Citadel of David. The Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary had invitations to this special event and Sr. Keiko made sure I received one. Sr. Emmanuele explained that Mayor Lupolianski, recently in that Office, is someone who is very sensitive to the issues in the city regarding human rights. The invitation was for two persons. Sr. Raymonde Maisonneuve, CSC, Canadian Sister working in Peru, a member of the course came along.
For the occasion, the Citadel of David, the best museum, seemed to be free and open to all. We met other friends on this happy social occasion. Then as we browsed around we found extraordinary exhibition presentations in every odd part of the cellars, the towers and  ramparts. The points of access were not clear but fortunately Sr. Raymonde had no inhibitions in opening every door in our path. She actually has Jewish relations whom she hopes to meet in Haifa
This unofficial tour of the Tower of David Museum resonated with much of the contents of Tuesday’s class, “The Land of the Bible” by Allan Rabinowitz. The familiar historical geography of the Fertile Crescent is something one has a vague notion about but it makes a great difference to have one who is a master of the subject. In our context of Study in the Lands of the Bible there is an emphasis on the physicality and the precise identification of Biblical texts with the actual locations, so the paths traced by the Children of Israel, make the whole thing very real. Rabinowitz, accepts, as do all his colleagues, that  we may end by feeling confused by the history and geography and even by the spiritual content, but his presentation certainly gives us the solid framework. In his next sessions he is going on to the Israelite and Philistine divide by the ‘spine’ of the hills in Palestine. Even now pieces of the great jigsaw puzzle begin to fall into place.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we take a trip into the Galilee. This is introduced by Raphael Carse who will take us the Nazareth with the leading texts:
Mk 16 1:8, “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth . . . He is going ahead of you into Galilee”.
Mt.  21 10, “This is the Prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee”.
Every word here can be unpacked into volumes of significance, as Raphael ably demonstrated. I am looking forward to his commentary at the actual places on the ground. One of the priests in the Course finds Raphael to be the most skilful in presentation and exposition. He has all the skills of communication. I find that all the ‘Professors’ have something distinctive to contribute.
But Galilee,  (A Glimpse of Galilee including  Jordan River, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee),will be special and there should be more say about the experience.
Now I have got as far as Sunday 19 th Oct so I will try to FAST BACK on events in reverse order.
Holy Sepulchre
Steps outside lead to the authentic  rock of Golgotha. Chapel used for Eucharistic Adoration

On Sunday morning, with the weather still pleasantly  warm and without rain so far, (the concluding part of the Feast of Tabernacles, Succoth, is a ceremonial , in earnest, whacking on the ground with willows praying for rain), I rambled along the Stations of the Cross route to the Holy Sepulchre. It was before 6.30 a.m. In the Franciscan (OFM) Chapel a Friar was preparing to say Mass. I asked to Concelebrate and was made very welcome. At other times, before the intafada, priests had to book ahead of time to reserve a place.  The Mass was in Italian but I was invited to read the Gospel in English, and even said one of the Eucharistic Prayers in Italian. I offered the Mass especially for the community of Nunraw.
This is a mere Chapel, the Chapel of the Apparition based on an ancient tradition that Jesus first appeared to Mary here after His Resurrection. This is also the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and a quiet place for prayer in the normal bustling of crowds of visitors. Another place for quiet prayer is right down two more levels to the place where St. Helena discovered the True Cross. The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre does not correspond to any idea of a CHURCH that one can think of. It is an interminable maze of Chapels and Shrines, each being the treasured foothold claimed by the  whole gamut of Orthodox and Catholic Churches. A centre point to it all could be identified in omphalos, (navel) of the Orthodox Cathedral which the Greeks regard as the centre of the world.

The Anglicans are permitted a complimentary use of the little Greek Orthodox Chapel in the west courtyard. The Lutherans, on the other hand, have had a massive Church almost adjoining the Holy Sepulchre. It was built by the Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1889.That marked a turning point in the flow Christian denominations wanting to establish their presence in the Holy Land. The Church of Scotland has always been to the fore in the Holy Land although I have not yet visited the Scots Church of St. Andrew. Earlier, the Nuncio had pointed out to us that whereas the attitude of Protestants had been that of disapproval of Greek and Latin ceremonial in the early 19th century this has changed dramatically.  The tower of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Redeemer looms high above the domes of the Church of the Resurrection, the name used  very properly by the Orthodox for the Holy Sepulchre – it is a dominating landmark which dwarfs even the neighbouring mosques, one of which is also on the doorstep of the Basilica. If this sounds convoluted, the actual sites and the creeds are even more complex. When the Nuncio, Pietro Sambi, spoke to us he explained that while there are 13 traditional Churches in Jerusalem, of which 6 are Catholic and 5 Oriental, there are now, in contrast, at least 40 Denominations. We have had an in house example of this in our own situation. There has been a Messianic group of 30 Americans staying with us at Ecce Homo since I came. They came to be here for Succoth, feast of Tabernacle, for the Coming of the Messiah, as they predicted, on the exact spot of the Mt of Olives which can be seen from our windows. They, from toddlers to granny  in a wheel chair, spent each evening on the top terrace of Ecce Homo playing and singing charismatic music at which they were actually very good. But they were very serious and only began to thaw out. They left us last evening disappointed that the Lord did not arrive on cue but not discouraged and they plan to come again for next Succoth. Later we had, as guests, some 20 Menonites from America.

For thirty years now there has been great collaboration between the 13 traditional Churches and the 40 Denominations. Joint statements are forged together on major issue. Only 2% of Israel is made up of Christians. Their Vote counts for nothing in politics but the support of World Christians can have some influence. Recently the Nuncio was able to intervene favourably on behalf of a Convent being blocked off by the awful Israeli Bethlehem Wall.

Some of our group went to Notre Dame for the Filipino Mass. Notre Dame is another landmark of a Statue of Our Lady flanked by two towers. It looks straight into one of my windows from the other side of the city wall. We were informed that the Nuncio will be coming to that Church on Wednesday to mark the Holy Father’s Silver Jubilee as Pope.

I had time on Saturday morning to do some laundry and get a medical check up. With some technical help from our second generation handyman, Issa, (Arabic = Jesus), his  elderly father now works in Reception, I managed the washing alright! There is a great spirit among workers, staff, community and visitors. They include Muslims, Catholic, Melchites etc.

The visit to the Community Medical Centre was equally useful. The lady Arab Doctor was extremely efficient. I returned in two hours for the results and was given a very precise diagnosis – all satisfactory within my customary regime. The staff there were equally friendly and efficient, and the charges quite reasonable. Insurance should refund it when I get home.

That evening two of us went to find St. Saviour’s Church and monastery in St. Francis Street. It was closed for the siesta. Oddly, it is not mentioned in the Guide books, perhaps because it is more of a place of intense practical activity by the Franciscans and not a historical monument. They formed a Province in Palestine in 1217. They were officially appointed the Custodians or Guardians  of the Holy Places by Clement VI in 1342 and after many expulsions and exiles are still maintaining their special role. The Franciscan Superior in Jerusalem ranks on a par with the Patriarchs and Archbishop. The Monastery of St. Saviour is the Grand Seminary, the Custodial Infirmary and the Latin Parish, but above all it is the Curia of the Holy Land Custodians. As a Province, the Franciscans must be the largest Province in their Order. The Directory lists 95 Friars at St. Saviour, 18 at the Friary of the Flagellation, the Franciscan Biblical, Institute next door to us, and thirty other communities. At the regular Friday Way of the Cross in Via Dolorosa, Franciscans were everywhere. I would say they are living up to their reputation as Custodian of the Holy Places. Italian and Arabic are the languages they speak.

Passing along the route of the Stations of the Cross, it was interesting to find the Little Sisters of Charles de Foucauld very touchingly located at the 6th Station; “Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus”. Just like any other stall along the narrow stepped street it is the shop for the sale of Icons and cards and a vaulted Crusader Chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved for quiet prayer. The work of the Little Sisters of Jesus puts in concrete terms the story of the woman who offered to wipe Jesus’ face with her head cloth on which the verum ikon, (the true image) was imprinted.

The “field work” on Wednesday was our “Glimpse of Galilee” trip – only a glimpse because we are to return to the Sea of Galilee for a two night sojourn. On this occasion we had more than enough to assimilate getting our feet into the Jordan at the place of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, and a visit to Nazareth and to Tabgha, the site of the Multiplication of the Loaves. At Tiberias there is a purpose built visitors centre for ‘baptism in the Jordan. Our theologian guide gave us very up to date treatise on sacramental theology in the context of Jordan bank. We enjoyed an improvised Baptismal renewal ceremony with shoes off and the crunch of sharp pebbles. The facilities are there for full immersion as well.
At Tabgha, there is a small community of Olivetan Benedictines, a branch from the Dormition Abbey, at Tabgha. There are two Benedictine Sisters from the Filipinos in our group, Sr. Elisa and Sr. Emma, and they actually have a small community of Sisters at Tabgha helping the monks with their Guesthouse, and hostels for the handicapped and for youth. Again they are looking for better times with the return of Pilgrims/Tourists. We were given of welcome access down to the shore to spend quiet time with the Jesus of the Multiplication of the Loaves. Some far seeing Benedictine Superior has a policy of sending two of the Sisters to Jerusalem on a regular basis.

Early morning, late afternoon, there is always something new on the horizon to keep us on our toes. At the same time, for our regular course we have  very well prepared lectures between 8.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. This means in practice that I cannot hope to unpack too much of it in too little time.

The ‘physicality’ of this course is its special feature. It is amazing how so much of the Bible takes on new dimensions simply by being in the places identified. The study of St. John, for example shows that John is the most accurate of the Evangelist on the geography, Jewish Feasts, and religious practices. During the past week we have been in and out of the area of the Western Wall for the Feast of Succoth - Shelters (Jerusalem Bible). I got a great lift to find that Chapters 7, 8 and 9 of John begins with the busy Succoth celebrations in the Temple and goes on the Mt of Olives and the Pool of Siloam, (healing of man born blind). Every step is within minutes of our Centre. The Pool of Siloam is part of the amazing water system from the Kidron Valley. I had only a quick look at a magnificent model reproduction of the system at David’s Tower Museum but hope to examine it more closely. This discovery of the underground system was discovered by a British engineer, Charles Warren in the 19th century. The same Charles Warren, back from military service, was assigned investigation of serial killer<Jack the Ripper. Maybe archaeology and criminology have something in common.

That is a Word Count of 3000 words and events have already gone away ahead of me.
Please excuse the delay. There has been an hiatus in communications because of the delay in new computers and Internet connection. Israel is reputes to be very advanced technologically. This does not apply to the Old City in Jerusalem. The technicians are reluctant to come inside the Old City to supply or to service the facilities newly provided by the Sisters for the Biblical Students. Today, at last, (27th October), we are Online.
On the other hand, the group now has a passion for learning Hebrew so I do not know if I will have time for chronicling events.
Meanwhile best regards and love top all.
God bless.
Chronicle 6
03 November 2003
Weekend back at Latroun
Chronicle 6 of “Sojourn in the Land of the Bible, Centre for Biblical Formation 41 Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem”
Dear Dom Raymond,
Chronicle 6 –           
In this upside down Chronicle, I have to begin at the end, that is from my return from the weekend at Latroun. If you remember, there was a television company which contacted us at Latroun in September wanting to include Emmaus in a documentary on the coming  Easter, 2004. Well I did my star turn, even if the presenters for the series were in fact two attractive young ladies whose normal occupation is opera singing. It had to be for English viewers and Abbot Paul was apparently enthusiastic for the project. All went well until  something of a stalemate arose – no women in the enclosure, and enclosure included the main target of interest which is the winery. There was no problem with the male production team but with out the role of presenters by the two young ladies it seemed to be an impasse. In the end, as the best compromise, I noticed that we could get a good side view of the cloisters from the Church steps. So making sure that the girls did not cross the line we managed the interview there. Also since we could not get into the highly mechanised wine and olive oil factory we had a wine tasting session in the “boutique”, the shop.
For the interview, only that morning, I had rooted out a very telling piece of confirmation of the earliest veneration of Emmaus as the sacred spot where Jesus met the two disciples on the day of his resurrection. Even my notes have gone to Josephine, the team secretary. The Map of Madaba, near Amman in Jordan, is the earliest known map of the Middle East, circa 595 AD. It consisted of a very large  mosaic made of coloured pieces. It is an illustrated pictorial map, parts of it destroyed, but Jerusalem of that period, for example is well preserved AND SO TOO IS EMMAUS. In the famous Map of Madaba Emmaus in the guise of the Greek letters of NIKOPOLIS features bright and clear.. In other words veneration of Emmaus as the place of Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples was well established by this time. There was not scope to quote even earlier references, Josephus, Jerome, Eusebius, destruction by the Persians and again by the Arab invasion of the 7th century.
The main message was that until the time of the Crusaders none of the alternative sites had been heard of, Abu Gosh, El Quibeibah, Qalunieh. The Benedictines at Abu Gosh have their version, a Franciscan scholar makes a case for El Qarab, Qalunieh has disappeared in the Six Day War. These alleged sites are closer to Jerusalem, but if the distance walked by the disciples is the only factor for consideration I thought of how in penal days,  in Scotland, people thought nothing of walking surprising distances for Mass. In pre-automobile days people walked much farther distances.
Whatever the geography of the matter, the important thing is the encounter with Jesus and in that meeting there is an even richer understanding when it is understood in the tradition of Torah practice. The familiar conclusion is that after breaking bread they recognised him. The significance is even more powerful in Luke 24, 32, that their hearts burned when Jesus spoke to them and explained the Scriptures to them, something in line with the Jewish devotion to the Torah or, as we would call it, the sacramental power of the Word.
(As other background to this, we had an extra-curricular session with a group, Bet Kol, who share the Scriptures on a regular basis. There is a course of readings of the Torah designed on an annual cycle, not unlike our own series of Readings for Office and Mass. It is a wonderful catechesis in Lectio Divina. Excuse another diversion; - there is an association known as Bat Kol Institute Extended Community devoted to this method of reading the 5 Books of Moses (the Torah). The Institute organises summer schools for overseas students who only have to pay their travel, everything else is provided in keep and tuition and field trips. A couple of the Group came to give us a demonstration. I arrived to hear the main speaker and I was convinced he was a Jew immersed in the Torah tradition and spoke with great enthusiasm for sharing the Scriptures. In fact he turned out to be a Christian Brother, Retired Head of a big School in New York, Jack Driscoll by name, an engaging exponent of the Bat Kol. On the above point of Luke  24: the Emmaus walk on Easter Sunday afternoon, for example, he happened give a good idea of the essential method. On that occasion, maybe the disciples felt an association of ideas with the ‘Last Supper’ or were reminded of the multiplication of the loaves. “But it was in the opening of the Scriptures that their depression on the road, (“with their faces downcast”, was lifted. Jack expressed it all more dramatically.  The Sabbath observance and the Torah readings seem to be the main focus. There is a Website for Bat Kol which I will have to follow).
Incidentally one of  the classes I missed yesterday was on Jewish Rabbinism by a Ophir Yardin. It is great to get some of the Jewish teaching from Jewish speakers. The course on Jewish life and practice is but sampling of the vast teaching whci is showing little sign of dying out – just the opposite. But last night I  had an even closer encounter with the Rabbinic Judaism of a different kind. At Latroun the Brothers of Jesus, the Lutheran fraternity settled in the Crusader Stables  in the Trappist property, were celebrating their 30th anniversary and we were all invited. Abbot Paul had a key address and ended on a spontaneous note on how the TWO disciples were united in coming to know the Lord, “wherever two are gathered in my name”, as summing up the great Ecumenical relationship of the communities not merely of friends.  but of BROTHERS.
There were endless speeches, mostly in German, but right at the tail end an Israeli spoke in English. It was hard to place him but in fact he was a MESSIANIC JEW and had a rousing message of  Messianic renewal appearing in all the bodies of believers in the Messiah – not the Messiah to come but already with us. There are some 6,000 of these Messianic Jews in Israel. They are not very enamoured of the Christian Church but they do accept the Messiah as having come in Jesus Christ. That is the merest sample of strange and wonderful variety of groups appearing out of nowhere.
Concluding my filming  role, masquerading as an expert on the Latroun wines, we toasted a wonderful sample of Latroun MUSCAT.
One can always learn new tricks. So while at it, I got a bottle of the best wine available, Latroun MERLOT 1999. I have brought this with me to take as a present to the Abbot, (Archimandrite), of St. Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai. On Saturday 8th November we will be setting out for the Negev and Sinai. This four nights on Mt. Sinai will be the highlight of our excursions – if we succeed in getting through all the bureaucratic obstacles.  The Sisters of Ecce Home have been struggling to get through all the red tape to obtain the necessary Visas etc. We have been warned about sleeping rough in anticipation of a winter climate. Up to this moment, 3rd November, the weather has been extremely hot.
Abbot Christopher of Glenstall, also on the Ecce Homo Course, accompanied me for the weekend at Latroun. Since it was All Saints and All Souls it was a very opportune time for a break. Christopher was immensely impressed by the hospitality of the monks at Latroun. He got back to Jerusalem in time for the classes. I am afraid I have suffered a gap in today’s output of very concentrated lectures.      
To get some shape into this Chronicle, I guess the days for FIELD WORK, (Excursion) each Wednesday are the best markers.
On Wednesday  27th Oct, our theme was “Jesus the Pilgrim”. Starting off from Lion’s Gate, (St.Stephen’s Gate, near where he was stoned. - there is a Shrine of St. Stephen in the Latroun region which is supposed to have been the Jewish school of Gamalial, teacher of Paul and also, it is said, teacher of Stephen!), we went by bus to the west of the city where there is a complete scale model of the Jerusalem of the 2nd Temple period. During the years that the Arabs occupied the city the Israel’s had to be content with this extraordinary model reproduction to examine the old city and for guided tours for children. It is a beautiful piece of work and excellent as a visual aid supplementing the detailed topographical and historical details. One can almost feel the illusion of now grasping the nature of Jerusalem.
The aim was to introduce us to the Holy City and then begin to walk the actual streets from the South Temple Wall through the Jewish section and on to the Holy Sepulchre. So we abandoned the bus at Sion Gate and our long-legged guide, Raphael, strode along the city wall as far as the Tanner Gate and Dung Gate. There was once a road built by Queen Eudoxia at the Tanners Gate leading from a Church at the Poll of Siloam and some of the paving is still there but the road as such is cut short at that point. The main Dung Gate leads in to a very highly developed Archaeological Garden. The main interest for us here was the approach to the South Wall of what was the Temple and more specifically to the entrances through which Mary and Joseph would have passed. This wall now built solid from the stones of Herod’s Temple and later constructions of the Crusaders gives some idea of the steps ascending to the Temple. On the side of these stairs the baths for purification, such as Mary would have performed, are clearly seen.

That was as strenuous a mornings exploring as one could ask for so we stopped right in the middle of the Jewish section where there was a convenient spot to eat our packed lunch. I can tell we are learning to become as mobile as the best itinerants. These are fun explorations but for that very reason marvellous means of invaluable learning.
I have always been interested in maps. A large area of the Jewish Section was excavated years ago and a whole Roman style town was found here. It has been restored as the Cardo, a high quality shopping street. This Cardo forms the main artery leading to the Holy Sepulchre. On one of the Roman walls there is an exact reproduction of the Jerusalem part of the Madaba Map (6th Century) with the main Holy Places clearly portrayed in colour Mosaic. This was obviously where the Guide was taking us as we went through the Souk towards the Holy Sepulchre. Rather oddly our introduction to the Holy Sepulchre began in an former sweet shop among other market booths. The guide obviously knew something others had missed. In the back of the shop were the remains of Crusade and earlier stones and pillars. This where the massive Constantine  buildings began. From there we went over the roof of the Ethiopian Chapel which lies directly above the spot of the Chapel  of St. Helena. A community of very poor Ethiopian monks live on the roof as well. The celebration of the Ethiopian Easter, a week after the Romans, begins at this point and is something not to be missed – if I am still around. In a book sent to me by William, just in time for my journey, there are unique cutaways and floorplans which give a clearer idea of how it all fits together. Can you visualize us winding our way through these ancient hidden approaches to bring us to the key spots of the very complex Church of the Holy Sepulchre, more correctly called the Church of the Resurrection? There was very good logic in the path of steps and stairs. At the lowest level is the ancient quarry where St. Helena is said to have discovered the true Cross. 22 steps higher, the Armenian Chapel of St. Helena is the oldest intact part of the original Constantine Basilica AD 330. The dome in the ceiling is the cupola peaking up in the Ethiopian monastery where we started. Upwards and onwards we touched on the natural Rock of Calvary, Chapel of Adam, Golgotha and at the main entrance the Anointing Stone backed by a great mural of the Crucifixion with the skull representing Adam, the Anointing of Jesus, and the placing in the tomb. Significant at this point is the tradition of the Orthodox in venerating the Anointing Stone. For the Orthodox this is the important goal of their pilgrimage, usually for elderly people who, traditionally bring the shroud with which they wish to be buried. It is a wonderful symbolic appreciation and an excellent catechesis or kerygma of participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Finally, but bypassing countless other significant accretions,  we arrived at Christ’s Tomb, the most sacred site for Christians, where Christ’s body is believed to have been laid.
In the spirit of our ‘exploration’ we had time for pauses for prayer and reflection and we ended our day in the poorest most neglected Chapel just behind the Tomb of Christ. This was the Syrian Chapel. And in this desolate little sanctuary we gathered and we passed around some Resurrection Thoughts read verse by verse among us. And then we dispersed to our own thoughts and the assimilation of the un-assimilateable.
Before going on to the next day of ‘field work’ 29th October another diversion occurs to me. The German Benedictines have a notable presence in Jerusalem in the monastery of Mount Sion and Church of the Dormition. Since 1987 they have sponsored the Mount Zion Award for Jewish Arab relations. An open invitation to Ecce Homo, brought by Abbot Christopher, Glenstall, to attend this significant Peace Award. It was late evening but we now walk the dark alleys and Souqs through the Old City with great aplomb. The Presentation took place in the Church of the Dormition. The great and the good were there but son also was a large contingent of youth both Jewish and Arab. Abbot Benedikt spoke in carefully articulated English, the dignitaries in Hebrew and Arabic and, interestingly, the young recipients spoke in English. The joint Award was made to an Israel girl, 22, and a Palestinian youth, 23. They received the Award in recognition of their collaboration in with young people working for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. The most enthusiastic applause came from the young people. Everybody acknowledged the desperate need for some change in the present crisis.
That the situation has not improved politically was evident in the only opportunity permitted to us to visit Bethlehem. There was a Celebration of the Olive Festival recently and only on this one day was the check point open. That is if you can call “OPEN” having to leave one mini-bus, negotiate a no-man’s land and get a taxi, at exorbitant charges, to Manger Square. The Olive Festival was a very brave effort by the local people and they contributed joyfully with the  singing and dancing and stalls for various charities. But one could sense the ominous presence overshadowing it all and the tangible intimidation of the Israelis and the obscenity of the Bethlehem Wall.
Now let me see if I can recall the events of our Excursion of 29th October. Some may find this journal interesting but I  have to confess my selfish motive in having some record for myself of the extraordinary array experience in the Land of Jesus.
In fact, now being on the eve of our big Expedtion, three nights in the Negev and Mount Sinai, I will have to telescope the account of the visit to the Chagal Windows to the west of the city, the Israel Museum in the upmarket parkland area where the Knesset, Israeli Parliament, is located, and the final sobering tour of the Holocaust Memorial complex.
All three sites, guided this time by Alan Rabinowitz, the expert on “The Land of the Bible” embraced blend of Biblical and contemporary culture. He has a course of ten hours of lectures in the programme.  The contemporary element took us into the art of the Chagall Windows, and into the horrors of Israel memories of the Holocaust. The latter is overdone and could have equally well convey the message of man’s cruelty to man in the very moving memorial to the 1.5 million children who suffered death at the hands of the Nazis. Something similar could be said of the very positive cultural contribution of the Chagal Windows. These are a story within a story of Jews coming to terms with their past, ancient and present. Mark Chagall, a Russian-born Jewish artist (1887-1985) came from a very poor family. His passion for art lead him to a career which defied all the obstacles to international fame. He had only one visit to Israel after WW2 but that affected his whole life. He created the 12 Windows for the Synagogue of the Hadassah Hospital. This is a very successful hospital founded by an Association of American Jewish Women. The Hospital commissioned Mark Chagall for the work which he consequently donated. The Windows evoke all that is implied in this whole situation. The Windows are massive and each represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel. There are no human figures in the Rabbinic tradition. Each of the tribes is represented by a symbol, a precious stone and a social role. I could not resist obtaining a set of reproduction from the shop. They make a good visual aid to the history of the Twelve Tribes. This busy shop, incidentally, is inside a working hospital, which in turn is inside a security check area.
That was a fine preliminary to a tour of the Israel Museum which we visited next. This was to take us through as many of the Epochs of Biblical history as time would allow and gives great background for the lectures of Alan Rabinowitz. The Museum is a magnificent collection. All the exhibits and presentations are state-of-the art productions. Again we had the usual check points before entry, but we also had useful students. On our route we passed the Church of St. Andrew where a famous discovery occurred in the find of the earliest inscription so far known. It is in the Israel Museum and consists of a broach with the Shema Blessing engraved.  Along the route we also passed through the so called German Colony. Unfortunately this colony gradually disappeared in the anti WW2 of the British Mandate. This same area is now well known for the bombing of Jews in one of the Cafes not many years ago. In reaction, the restaurant-café was rebuilt within the year and remains one of the trendiest eating places.
These meanderings will have to be interrupted until the return from Mt. Sinai - not that I am expecting to quite equal the delivery service of Moses from there. Some of the techno skilled members of the party are combining their production of digital photographs into a CD Rom discs. This will something for Christmas mail not far from now.
Meanwhile my very best wishes to all.
Yours devotedly,
Donald McGlynn
PS. Again, please don’t expect a seamlessly drafted Chronicle 6. In the situation we are learning to improvise as we go.

Chronicle 7
19th November 2003
Chronicle 7 of “Sojourn in the Land of the Bible, Centre for Biblical Formation 41 Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem”
“The Judean Wilderness Experience”
Wadi Kelt – Massada - Qumran 5 Nov 03
Dear Dom Raymond,
Excursion, “The Judean Wilderness Experience”, began with 6.00 am departure from out side Lion’s  Gate (St. Stephen’s). Guide and Commentator, Raphael H. Carse
Half an hour later we were in the Judean Desert at the  Wadi Kelt view point. That is all the time it takes between the city of Jerusalem and the Judean Wilderness the contrast is as extreme as that. The theme for this ‘field day’ began with an excellent on site exposition of  the Wilderness contrast of the Jerusalem urban context to the west and the Jericho oasis town community to the east. A series of springs provides water carried by an underground aqueduct to Jericho. In between there is nothing but the arid waste of rolling hills where we meditated on “THE TESTING OF JESUS – AND HIS RESPONSE”. (Sadly the overlay of current affairs of all of this is the ever present Israel – Palestinian conflict. Jericho is virtually a prison for the natives of that historical city).
In the light of our special focus on the Land of the Bible, the DESERT is a place of refuge and a place of testing. We can follow in the footsteps of Jesus seeing him first in the whole spectrum of the city urban society of Jerusalem on the one hand , and the counter-city society of the desert on the other. As if on cue, the sound of the goat bell of an approaching Bedouin shepherd taking his animals over the bare slopes illustrated the kind of background that Jesus knew so well.
The description of Rachel was quite moving in this setting. Rachel’s place in Hebrew affection holds a place corresponding to that of Mary in the New Testament. In explaining the question of the “Tomb of Rachel”, Raphael filled in the details of the shrine beside Bethlehem. This particular shrine was set up by Montefiore in 19th Century, based on the connection with Bethlehem “the place of bread”. This is a common name and the consensus on the location of where Rachel was actually buried seems to point rather to the area where we were standing, in Benjamin country. The account from Genesis (see Gen, 48:7) further records the REJECTION suffered by Rachel, the element of REJECTION as part of this desert experience. This is the desert land allocated to the tribe of Benjamin. With these links in mind we were directed to wander off for our own meditation.
We took our individual desert walks in silence and when we gathered again, we enjoyed a very memorable meditation on the Jesus wilderness experience in St. Luke given by Raphael Carse. In Luke the threads of Bread. Kingdom and Temple were beautifully explained , bearing in mind that the final answer is not in Luke 4 but in Luke 22. This brought us a very fresh theological commentary on St Luke’s purpose and intention of NARRATIVE, rather than journal or video presentation. Luke had a very structured narrative method based on  CHIASM. A story begins with a young man setting forth on his career, then going through struggle until the final return home much the wiser. The pattern is similar in the ‘chiastic’ nature of Luke’s account of the “testing, the temptation of Jesus.
In this desert testing, three threads are entwined; BREAD, KINGDOM, TEMPLE. The test is in Jesus making himself the centre of feeding and nourishing (Bread), or in assuming authority to himself, (Kingdom), the desire for immortality, invulnerability, (Temple). The answer is not in Luke Chapter 4 but in Chapter 22.  Satan appears in  4.13 and he reappears in 22.3.
Luke picks up threads of the story and resolves the test of BREAD in the self giving of Jesus, of KINGDOM in teaching the disciple to serve, of the TEMPLE not in the power of an Angel but in embracing human weakness and mortality. Jesus became the Temple of Acceptance.
Guide Raphael obviously loves Luke’s theology, (so far I find Luke difficult especially in the pre-Advent ultimatums and apocalyptic passages), and has given much thought to it. His commentary is an incentive to study it further. For our Desert ‘experience’ it was the highlight of the day (Ref. Luke 4 and Luke 22) – before we went on to Massada and Qumran.).
The route south along the Dead Sea to Massada brought us to the top of that great rock fortress, by cable card,-  no one volunteered to take the Snake Path -, before 8 o’clock on a sun drenched morning. For our purpose, although Massada is not strictly speaking a Biblical site, it provides the basis of a great exposition of the whole political, economic, demographic scene of which Herod the Great, he of the slaughter of the Innocents notoriety, is the key figure. Three hours was not sufficient for more than glimpse of the wonders of that incredible place which disappeared from the pages of history for centuries and still remains a mystery for the most part. Books on the subject are plentiful.
Herod the Great, the mad and cruel, gets much coverage as the central figure in the imagery of the Kingdom for the Gospels. The massive Massada, (In Ecce Homo we are part of the foundations of Herod’s Antonia Fortress), is but one example of the madness, the excess and the success of the Man whom even the Roman Emperor envied for his wealth and power. He died in 4 BCE and his sons were unable to keep up the political momentum. The secret of Herod the Great’s place in history is the convergence of race, religion, geography, politics, all of which can be woven together into a useful guided tour centred on Massada. I see that there is a copy of Paul Johnson’s, “History of the Jews” in the Ecce Homo library. But our guide made a fair attempt at a synthesis of putting Herod into context as a major backdrop to the Gospels. Herod was not a Roman. He was of mixed race, of a marriage an Idumaean and an Nabataean, the regions we could see in the distance. Herod converted to Judaism and indeed he seems to have cobbled together marriages out of religion, out of trade routes, and the whole entangled wed of his genius. Herod was perfectly placed for his role as a Client Ruler in the Roman Empire and is the only one to have been given the title of ‘Rex Judaeorum’, (“King of the Judeans” as given by the Emperor in Rome), apart from the title appended to the Cross of Jesus on Calvary.
After this introduction  to the history experience on the craggy cliffs of Massada I shall find unfathomed links in the literature of both Bible the writers of the time, of Josephus etc. Strangely, it was only in 1838 that the explorer Edward Robinson got on to the trail of the vanished Massada and it was not until 1830 that a major survey of the whole site commenced.
Ein Gedi.
Carrying the water bottle seems obligatory in all these excursions to avoid dehydration, and heat was still intense.
Ein Gedi, on the shore of the Dead Sea, gave us a convenient stopping place for our picnic lunch, or even more interestingly for our swim in the buoyancy in the salt sea. Did you know that the word SALARY comes from here? Apparently first century Roman soldiers were paid their wages in a measure salt. The Dead See provided trade also in the bitumen, tar, that floated to the surface and was valuable for the caulking of ships. Today the export of phosphates from the Dead Sea is an international trade using Israel’s port of Eilat in the Gulf of Agaba. Another mark of our global village is the number of car carry trucks trundling through the desert to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This is the route by which thousands of Japanese cars are exported through Eilat at the Gulf of Agaba.
I enjoyed the dip in the Dead Sea, and the strange experience at all those feet below sea level, the lowest point, (1200 ft.) in the surface of the globe. Later I remembered we forgot to look out for the mud baths which are supposed to be very beneficial for skin complaints, like psoriasis. I remembered Nivard’s problem. In the gift shop there was a great variety of mineral and herbal cures. I found a small bottle of the related cure but also discovered the cost of $50 was not worth it.
As the name indicates, Ein Gedi, is an oasis which like so many oases is an EYE, (EIN) of the desert. The Biblical associations recall the encounter between David and Saul, 1 Sam 24), and again Solomon’s ‘Song of Songs’ (1:14). After centuries of obscurity Ein Gedi has surfaced again in post 1949 Israel kibbutz and tourist prosperity.
We proceeded north along the Dead Sea shore to the place of greatest Biblical importance and interest in this part of the Judean Desert, QUMRAN. Writing, lectures and exhibitions have probably provided more than enough coverage on the subject for monks. The only  thing to be added was visiting the actual site and hearing again the main story, of the Qumran discoveries (1947) and academic tussles over the texts, which actually reads like a thriller. The caves, now officially numbered – Q1, Q2 etc., were pointed out to us. At the time the site was under Jordan control and Fr. De Vaux and his team jealously kept their finds to themselves. Recent researchers, with more access, come to other conclusions but what cannot be doubted is the vast amount of authenticated texts of the earliest Scriptue sources. Raphael recommended that we read the best selling account of the Qumran Scrolls, ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ (Penguin).
Remembering the purpose of our “Judean Wilderness Reflection”, we were able to relax and relish an hour on our own amid the scene of mountains and caves which were the home of the Essenes. A time for quiet prayer.

Mount Sinai
8/11 Nov. Major Excursion – Negev & Sinai
Ascending the Holy Mountain was our goal for the major excursion of our Ecce Home Course.
We were to set off at 3.30 am, making Beersheba our first stop for the Negev at an early hour, too early to get the reception centre open on the Sabbath without some delay. Two hours allowed us time to view the extensive archaeological site and to absorb the very full Biblical History of Beersheba and the Negev leading into the story of Mt. Sinai.
A travelling seminar or a mobile retreat is one way of describing our peak excursion of the Pilgrimage to Mount Sinai. Rather than trace our journey step by step I will just hang things on to the celebration of the Masses en route.
Saturday 8th Nov. In the Negev via Beer Sheba, Arad, Arava, Eilat, Border Crossing to Egypt at Taba. Meet Egypt Guide, Dr. Rabia Tewfik.
Made Camp. Celebrated Mass at Sundown. Dom Christopher presided assisted for the Liturgy by the small group of volunteers on the theme, “Rejection – Moses Flees into the Desert”.
The overall spiritual trip was meticulously planned:
Day 1 Sat. 8th Nov. Theme “Rejection – Moses flees into the desert”. Exod 2: 11-15. Eucharistic Celebration at Sundown. Torch light for readings. 
Day 2. Sunday 9th Nov. Theme “Refuge – Moses is given refuge in the rock”. Exod 33: 18-23. Dawn Mass Fr. Tony Gill.
Day 3 Monday 10th Nov. Theme “Radiance – Face of Moses radiant” Exod 34: 29-35 Dawn Mass, Sunrise of Mt. Sinai,  Fr. Christophe, (Poland), Homily – Donald.
Day 4. Tuesday 11th Nov. Theme “Restoration - Death of Moses” Morning Eucharist at Sunrise on shore of Red Sea. Fr. Dermot  Connolly, Homily, Fr. Eamon Gowing.
A fifth reflection on the Theme “Resistance – Moses at the Waters of Meribah” by Guide Raphael Carse was to be one of the stages, in fact it came later on the homeward bus and served to summarise the Wilderness Journey. This departure from the programme was occasioned by the emergency evacuation from the summit of Mt. Sinai of Sr. Rosalie who sustained a broken leg.
Sunday 9th November – The Pilgrims Way.
Sunday on our Jeep Safari was like no other Sunday I ever knew. Spending the night un der the stars, in the cold of the desert, the cul de sac valley and the monumental rocks shone in the light of the full moon. Everyone must have slept later and missed the eclipse of the moon and only awoke to see it reduced and shaded in the low horizon. But the stars continued to shine bright and in slow motion light began show from the east until the sun rose to flood our little valley in the desert. While all eyes were on the rising sun I looked back into the encampment where the Bedouin drivers had already lit a morning fire. As I looked  into this enlarged cul de sac the high rocks took on every hew of colour like a great basilica and in the shade the camp fire sparkled like a welcoming sanctuary lamp. The name of this wonderful desert site is Beir Sagheir. We could not find it on the map but one of the group was keen enough to get the name from Dr. Rabia.
For the Mass we had the bare essentials, just managing to balance the paten and chalice on a convenient rock. Fr. Tony presided with the small group who prepared the Liturgy following the overall theme of the days of Pilgrimage. The theme for our Dawn Mass on that Sunday morning was on Moses finding refuge in the rock, Exodus 33, 18-23. Tony, Fr. Anthony Gill, Kiltegan Father, put the .words of the Reading into context and into action by sending everyone off to find their own cleft in the rock, “I will put you in a cleft of the rock . . .”, there to ponder and pray before continuing the offering of the Mass.
Meanwhile the drivers were preparing our camp breakfast – but we had guests. When we got to our solitude at dusk on the previous evening, not having seen sight of even the smallest settlement, a group of Bedouin women appeared as if from nowhere. The sat on the sand to spread out trinkets and anything they possessed for trade. They disappeared again quite discreetly when we were having camp supper round the fire. After our Mass and breakfast there the ladies were again reinforced by the babes and children. It was a lovely encounter of happy faces and quite a bit of unspecified purchases, gifts and bartering. You would have to love them all, Muslim drivers, guides, Bedouin families, - they all showed such gentleness and respect to each other. That was the pattern. Wherever we stopped Bedouins seemed to appear from nowhere until we were looking for them and the children. We had food that seemed to collect with every precautionary next stage. It was not needed but when we came to look for our Bedouin children friends they were no where in sight. In the end we confided the package to our Egyptian Guide, Dr. Rabia for distribution. Dr. Rabia is a Medical Doctor who has been working as Sinai Guide for twenty years.
It was just as well that this system of having one Guide on the Israel side and a second FOR Egypt. This is probably unavoidable because of the complexities of the Border Crossing between Israel and Egypt. The insufferable red tape of the Israelis can take up to two hours. At the Egyptian side, on the other hand, the police were so easy going that one of them was more concerned with reading and reciting his Koran.
In fact, two guides proved to be indispensable in the emergency when Sr. Rosalie, the Director of the Ecce Homo Programme, sustained a broken leg on the final stretch to the summit of Mt. Sinai. Rafael, our Ecce Homo Guide and the most agile of us all, accompanied Sr. Rosalie from the “mountain rescue” on Camel and on trough the Border Crossing, made more readily open in the circumstances, and by ambulance to hospital to Jerusalem.  At that point we were more than relieved to know that Dr. Rabia had everything in hand for our own return from Sinai.
The above crisis occurred  later after the journey by jeep through the Ancient Way of the Pilgrim. We seemed to have arrived in the centre of Sinai as we drove along a wide smooth sandy sweep of land with rocky heights to right and left. Far from being the middle of nowhere this was once a main thoroughfare of the Ancient Pilgrim Way to Mt. Sinai. A special landmark is the “Stone of Inscriptions”. As clear as the day they were inscribed on the rock, at head height, are the Byzantine and Chaldean crosses engraved there by the Christian Pilgrims, the authentic graffiti of history. We could easily visualize the caravans of Pilgrims who traversed this way for hundreds of years. But even more intimately expressive of that ancient devotion and dedication was something which seemed like an aside. Just concealed and above the main track was a narrow path leading to an enclosed view point looking down on an amazing little oasis, Ain Hudra. As the name indicates it is one of the classic “eyes” of the desert. It was once a little monastery, one of dozens which once peopled the Sinai desert, which is still part of the St. Catherine’s monastery and maintained the monks by a Muslim family. We could only observe this idyllic scene from above. Just over the edge there seemed to be a footpath leading down but just we noticed it, there appeared two camels carrying their burdens up the winding path from below. Up they came at an impossible angle and passed through us with regal disdain to go a little further to rest. It was an unforgettable sight, which linked together a whole host of time challenging preconceptions. Or to put it more positively it was a moment which prompts the mind and heart to recall the forgotten splendours of the human spirit in this land. We can regard ourselves as very small in the timeless expanse of the cultures and peoples of Sinai. The Christian Pilgrim Way to Sinai has its twin counterpart further north in the Muslim Pilgrim way from Egypt, across the Sinai peninsula, to Mecca.
Later Fr. Dermot gave a moving account of his impression of this visit to Ain Hudra. Like him I experience the same sensation of the actuality and presence of this geographical spot, so well documented and concrete and evoking the memory of those hundreds of pilgrims. The finishing touch was the plodding appearance of the camels, still moving at the same patient and persevering pace of the ancient travellers. In contrast to our speeding along in jeeps here was the pace of life that seemed everlasting, and which gave Dermot the lesson, as he said, of the pace he would happily follow.
As if to keep widening our perceptions, the so called empty wilderness  brought us to another place where we were humbled in the dimension of time. We came to dozens of small circular buildings remote from any related civilization and could hardly fathom their use or meaning. It is called Nawami. Ancient civilizations very sensibly regarded their mortal remains as far more important that our passing lives. They regarded temporary structures of wood or earth sufficient for their needs but the abode of the dead had to be as permanent as possible – as in these structures. These strange buildings are in fact the bronze age remains of a large cemetery. In other words they predate the periods of the Biblical peoples. And, if I am not mistaken, their style and intent does not differ much from similar bronze age remains in Scotland and Ireland. It is a small world, small in space, small in time!
Day 3 Monday 10th Nov. Theme “Radiance – Face of Moses radiant” Exod 34: 29-35 Dawn Mass, Sunrise of Mt. Sinai,  Fr. Christophe, (Poland), Homily – Donald.
Arrived at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the evening about 5.00 pm. (Our Ancient Pilgrim’s Way was interrupted at a place called Barka where we had an hour’s wilderness prayer, walking or sitting, while the drivers got a great lunch ready for us. At this time of day we were glad to get into the shade because the heat was quite intense).
At the large Guesthouse of St. Catherine we were allocated rooms in pairs. While I waited my turn for the shower, very welcome after a night in the sands, I explored the monastery and regardless of information to the contrary found myself at home inside the Church, and met three or four of the monks who were most amiable. In the late evening  the tourists had disappeared and everything had looked shut up. But I found a small opening which is in fact the main entrance. In previous generations this opening was placed high above and could only be negotiated by a pulley system of lifting people up.
In the deepening dusk I found mmyself inside the timeless aura of the Church with its forest of hanging lamps and the ever vigilant Icons in every niche and cranny. A group of lately arrived Russians were being guided through the Chapels and receiving the great privilege of seeing the tomb of St. Catherine opened. In the difficulty of the Russian language I felt that the four orthodoc monks I met were relieved to hear my English (odd world). Somehow  I felt very much at home, wandering unhindered on my own. There was a formal guided tour later by the Guide, Dr. Rabia, on the following day.
There was time to recover from the early morning journey and to prepare for the 7500 feet, (3 hours for the able bodied), climb to the summit of the Holy Mountain, Gebal Musa, with a 3.30 a.m. departure. During the whole journey, the briefings, both spiritual and practical, for all the stages of our progress were excellent. We foregathered before supper for the appropriate guidance. Guide Raphael began off with a moving passage from the travels of Egeria her emotional response to every p-art of the pilgrimage. Unfortunately the coffee shop where we sat was next to a coffee shop and at that moment an Arab family decided to show off their new infant to the shopkeepers and more or less drowned us with their loud  voices. Raphael struggled on through Egeria until at last the visitors faded into the Sinai silence.
We were well geared up for the great ascent. The experience is always quite unigue and unpredictable. It was so in my case. With my usual nonchalance I enjoyed every step of the journey. It was expected that it would be cold on the mountain and it was, but this was something different. In the early hours I was physically shivering. The prospect of 3 o’clock rising, and not feeling well made me resistant to this whole crazy venture. Significantly one of the Themes was on “Resistance” and I certainly got that feeling. ‘Dom Christopher was there to chivvy me through, but it was an unusual problem. The worst was yet to come. A large pilgrim party started off before us. How crazy can people be? And where did all the people going up and down the climb come from? The same group had obviously commandeered all the camels. Off our party started and for some strange reason the guides set off a killing pace. After a few hundred yards I was fagged out. Sr. Raymonde was in similar straits so we decided to rest. After a while two camels appeared on their return journey so providence decreed we should continue with this doubtful help. The camel ride up the mountain was even worse. I thought I would never make it. The camel was biased to the outer edge  of the path overlooking endless space, the saddle was cramped and every bone of my body was shaken.
Eventually we got to the camel terminus and staggered on up to Elijah’s Hollow. At this point there was a helping anchor man/woman of the marking the path to the cliff where everyone waited for the rising of the sun – such was the collaboration of the group.
Then as we gazed on the sun rising above the mountains, I had suddenly forgotten about all my woes and silent whinges and can only wonder how the little devils of ‘resistance’ had been so busy.
We celebrated Mass on our usual very precarious altar. Our little group had prepared the Liturgy and the Homily fell to me. The congregation made a captive audience in more sense than one. It was great moment for each one of us.
We had our packed breakfast as the valiant ones prepared for the final ‘assault’ to the summit. It must be said that St. Catherine’s supplied our back packs with breakfast fit for a couple of days, (In the end I saved it for the Bedouin children). We were overlooking the Chapel of Elijah’s Valley and here we had the parting of the ways. Most of the group decided to climb to the top. The rest of us, timid souls, elected to walk down in order to be in time for the Tour of the Church and Library of the monastery.
Then tragedy struck. We had hardly parted when the main group came trooping after us escorting Sr. Rosalie who had slipped and broken her leg. The camel men who are accustomed to this situation had splints to hand. Rosalie did not want all the fuss but her leg was bandaged into the splints and she was mounted on a camel for the descent. It was amazing how the rescue went at a fast pace, a taxi was waiting at St. Catherine’s to take her to the Border Crossing. An ambulance took her on to Jerusalem. She was accompanied all the way by Sr. Helen, (the Provincial on Sabbatical from Australia) and by the Guide, Raphael. He later returned to meet the party at the Border Crossing for our return journey. The patient had a very serious breakage. (At the time of writing she is back from hospital and will be six weeks in crutches).
As Rosalie insisted, the rest of the pilgrimage proceeded in good order.
Our own departure from St. Catherine’s was less eventful.  The visit to the Museum  included the exhibition of some wonderfully restored Icons. We were given special access to the Chapel of the Burning Bush, somewhat to the chagrin of some German visitor barred from entry. And in the little yard where the “Burning Bush” of tradition still flourishes  every camera was at the ready – elsewhere photographing was strictly excluded. I did not forget and the precious gift of Latroun wine disappeared into the folds  of the robe of one of the monks.

Our three jeeps, with roof racks heaped with sleeping bags, baggage and catering materials, set off for one more desert stop and prayer. Dr. Rabia is a Muslim so Dom Christopher lead with reading and reflection and others contributed. We had a contemplative walk on our own, and true to form, the drivers had afternoon tea laid on before the end of our desert safari. We were to discover later that the jeeps and their team of drivers had finished their part and were somewhat surprised to find a large bus waiting for us next morning at the Red Sea hotel where we spent the night. 

Day 4. Tuesday 11th Nov. Theme “Restoration - Death of Moses” Morning Eucharist at Sunrise on shore of Red Sea. Fr. Dermot  Connolly, Homily, Fr. Eamon Gowing.
Fr. Dermot and his small group had set about the preparation of this final Liturgy in earnest.
We were to gather to watch the rising of the sun by first greeting each one in silence according as they encountered one another. We sat with bated breath watching the sun come up on the Red Sea with the ever fresh sensation of its wonder. Eamon gave a summary of the reflections we had shared and others added their piece.
In the midst of this solemn celebration a large camel appeared along the beach with its driver. We waved him away but Raymonde has the good grace to call him to come back later. And this became quite a parting party for those who had not ridden on a camel. We had a great photo-call for those who wished to be pictured for posterity. At a dollar a time, the driver was only too delighted but the camel was getting a bit browned off having to raise its great bulk up and down so often.
And so back to the Border Crossing and the dreadful Israeli Passport people.
It gave us, UK, Irish and Canadian people, no joy at all  to be waived through security while our companions with Passports from Poland, Romania, Check Slovakia and Asia were given endless hassle. One of the happier aspects of the Sinai Peninsula had been the absence of the Army. Under one of the International Agreements between Egypt and Israel this area, within Sinai, is a demilitarised zone.
Raphael Carse reappeared at this point and he was able to be of some help with the bureaucracy. We set off from Ailat, famous for its corral reefs and underwater sports and the viewing of the marine life and were not diverted into that bustling tourist and industrial city.
The drive home was far from being vacant. Raphael was asked about the talk he had prepared for that missing reflection on the Theme of “Resistance”.  The acoustics of the bus were excellent. We heard another brilliant commentary on the spirituality of Moses. And I found Moses career, explained in this way, to be almost autobiographical for the time of ‘retirement’.
- Moses died when God kissed him.
- He was blessed of all human beings.
- And HE (God?) buried Moses. No one else knew where he was buried.
- God called Moses to Himself by his “MOUTH” as in the Hebrew. The interpretation of the Rabbinic Sages is that by “MOUTH” is meant a “KISS”.
- It was really the time for Moses to die – the Lord was saying, ‘you have been active on my behalf, now you are entirely for Me, now I want your prayer.
- it was time for the end of activity, the time to just be in prayer until the moment of being called by God, CALLED BY THE Mouth of God, i.e. by the Kiss of God.
- Moses had been show the ends of his land but he was not to enter into that land. God call was not the denial of a finite gift but the the promise of Himself in the Kiss of His mouth.
In the end, the Lord had made Moses, through his chequered career, for Himself alone.
There is a meditation in Carlo Carretto’s “Letters from the Desert” which expresses this same sentiment of final yielding up everything in the discovery that God only wants our loss of all in order to receive all. “This meeting between God’s totality and man’s nothingness is the greatest wonder of creation. It is the most beautiful betrothal because its bond is a love which gives itself freely and a love which accepts.  The acceptance of truth comes from humility, and that is why without humility there is no truth, and without truth no humility. . .
“God has made me understand this, little by little. . . If I had made the step while still learning catechism I should have gained forty years. …
“Within myself I feel the inability to perform an act of perfect love. . .  Thousands of years may pass and my position will not change. But . . . what is impossible for me, is possible for God”.
As we approached our final run to Jerusalem, we listened to the reading of the SONGS OF ASCENTS (Ps 121 et seq.), we could look back over our journey, not so much geographically as spiritually, and look forward in the certainty of enjoying another step of faith, moving onwards towards God.

Chronicle 8
24th November 2003
Abbot Raymond - Chronicle 8 of “Sojourn in the Land of the Bible, Centre for Biblical Formation 41 Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem”
Dear Dom Raymond,
I don’t know when I shall catch up with the Chronicle. It just about came to an untimely end, (cheers), on Mt. Tabor, 24 Nov. When we returned to the bottom of the Mountain of the Transfiguration and drove off I suddenly discovered my note-book missing. I would have let it pass, but everyone wanted to help get it back. Between mobile phones and taxis back up the hairpin bends I retrieved the notebook in record time, 10 minutes. Actually that was my third ascent to the Mountain of the Transfiguration. It must be a record and should symbolise something. Perhaps Moses and Elijah had some message in my undecipherable notes.
29th Nov. Paul McSherry and a group of 20 Knights of the Holy Sepulchre from Scotland arrived here for the Lithostrotos tour at Ecce Homo. You may be sure that the Knights will have their story and digital photos of the occasion for their diaries.
So events race ahead of the time available. Plans are already being plotted for the Christmas break, especially centred on Bethlehem - some will stay overnight. Happily I will make my Cistercian Christmas & New Year at Latroun Abbey.
Meanwhile, let me see if I can uncover some things from that ‘precious’ notebook’]
Emmaus Nikopolis – Latroun. We had hardly arrived back from Mt Sinai when Wednesday, 19th November was prescribed as a 'field day' at Caesarea Maritime and Aphek. Since, the next day, Thursday was free of classes there was a free trip, by popular demand to, Latroun and Emmaus. There was no official guide so that role was imposed on me.
Actually Latroun Abbey was the happiest of the trips. It was more than the usual archaeological and biblical visit because we were meeting the people on the ground, both the community of the Beatitudes at Emmaus and at Latroun – and in fact it was also our closest encounter with an actual “dig”. There were to be no packed lunches on this trip. Abbot Paul had promised to provide lunch for the 17 who came. (Abbot Paul was actually in France and Prior Rene did the honours).  And the monks gave the visitors their very best, (including a crate of special wine at the end - when I was not looking. I got detained inside the monastery).
At Emmaus, the occasion was also a winner. Br. Anton, (Beatitudes Community), on his mobile phone and was extremely good with a very detailed history of Emmaus and also of the Community of Beatitudes. And then the occasion received a whole new dimension from a volunteer lady who was busy in a nearby hole in the basilica ruins uncovering more ancient mosaics. It was in fact the first site where we met someone actually carrying out archaeological work
Billy Green will be interest in this because while we all gathered round this hole in the ground the good lady proceeded to describe not only what she was doing but the amazing story of Blessed Miriam, the Arab Little Flower. Blessed Miriam could neither read or write but was an extraordinary visionary whose prophesies were later confirmed at various times and are still finding confirmation. (A sister companion  of Blessed Myriam, beatified 1983, took down all her sayings). I have found accounts of her life on the Web because everyone is suddenly interested. (See copy of an eleven page biography in attachment. Book: Mariam “The Little Arab”, A. Brunot, The Carmel of Maria Regina, 87609 Green Hill Road, Eugene, Oregon.).  Blessed Myriam’s visions also included Emmaus. The archaeologist  lady and her husband are dedicated to the work there, in their own work camp, (have been going back to it for 20 years.), and are animated also by their great devotion to Blessed Miriam. I had been making the case for the priority of Emmaus against the three alternative sites which came much later, Abu Gosh, El Qubeibah, and Qalunieh. Now it seems that we have the visionary, Blessed  Miriam, on our side, on the trail for proof of the authenticity of the site. This will be clinched if the table at which Jesus broke bread  with the disciples, Mensa Christi, is uncovered , i.e. the stone table legs which are supposed to have been engraved and concealed in subsequent persecutions. The enthusiastic lady asked our prayers for the success of her quest. One of the other residents of Ecce Home has worked at the site and has provided the name and address of the archaeology couple for future reference,
The experience of this encounter and Latroun hospitality was therefore very different from the usual trips and I am sure it was unforgettable for the friends from Ecce Homo. We had our Mass in the Crypt of the Abbey, (Homily, see footnote), timed nicely to let us attend the Midday Office and then a lunch with Latroun wine. At Via Dolorosa the drink never varies from pure Palestinian WATER. Following the lunch we gathered in the lounge for a surprise coffee and a chat with the Prior. One of the missionaries has been working in Peru so we asked to see the Novice, Br. Joseph, who is from that country. Joseph was in the Peruvian Navy. He gave us a simple account of his story in fairly good English. I think he has more difficulty in the learning the French as it is spoken in the community. The more energetic then climbed to the ruined Crusader Castle (Toron). Meanwhile Fr. Basil (80), the Guestmaster, was plying the visitors from the wine sampling counter, as I learned later. This evening, Friday I was supposed to visit a family just beyond the Old City, but I postponed it because we have been in the maelstrom of the final days of Ramadan and felt it better not to get caught in the crowds. I will see them after the Galilee excursion. Last evening a Guest for Ecce Homo, Francoise, was brought from the airport and deposited at Damascus Gate. The Old City is closed to all Ramada traffic. She had to walk through the Souqs (market alley ways) to Via Dolorosa against the tide of cheerful Ramadan Muslims, carrying her two cases. She made it – somehow!
Saturday, the Sabbath, is usually the quietest day to get around some of the Holy places. The Mount of Olives in Kidron Valley is outside the Old City. St. Peter in Gallicantu, near Sion Gate is next to Dominus Flevit, high away opposite from Lion Gate, but there the proximity ends in the prospect of long walks and long climbs up to the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene and the Church of Gethsemane, i.e. the Church of All Nations. It was all quite exhausting but unforgettable. On the return through Via Dolorosa I had my first experience of a pick pocket. It made me feel like I ma now built in with the stones. In the busy Ramadan marketing morning I felt my purse being filched. I grabbed the arm of this burley Arab thief. Caught red handed he pretended it was a boy who stole it. The said boy was only a toddler! When he saw I meant business, the purse appeared from nowhere. The pick pocket fellow handed it over saying I had to thank him for getting it back for me. The hankie which was with the purse was not returned but who is complaining?
Sunday, Christ the King is Ecce Homo’s special Feast so we will be having the Patriarch or the Nuncio or high heed’yin to Preside for the celebration.        
In the afternoon I got the news of Fr. Michael’s death. May he rest in peace.
By chance on the Periodicals shelf Library here at Ecce I found Bible Today for Sept/Oct 2001 with striking photos of St. Catherine’s and Mt. Sinai. Only one article was on the Ascent. But the following article was, to my surprise, on “The Bible on the Web”. It has very use full Internet Addresses on Biblical Subjects.
Also circulating here  there is an excellent “National Geographical Magazine” on “Abraham – Father of Three Faiths” December 2001.
- - - - - - -- - - - - --  -  -
CAESEREA -APHEK 19th November.
I would have thought this was one for the guide books but in fact it was well worth the trip. The most memorable part of it was our self produced enactment of Paul’s Trial before Claudius Lysias at Caesarea’ Acts 23 with our own all star cast of Felix, Claudius, Paul, Centurions etc by members of the cast. The stage for our performance was the famous Roman amphitheatre.
This learning experienced gave us insights to the development of theatre of Greece and Rome and therefore gave us some of the background with which Jesus was not unfamiliar and which Paul knew well.
The ruins of this ‘wonder of the world’ are the magnificent harbour constructed by Herod the Great. Flavius Josephus waxes eloquent on how this harbour designed for a hundred ships defied and laws nature on this coast line. There were even methods of underwater concrete making unheard of in more recent times.
In an aside, answering our questions, the professional Guide, Raphael had to admit that he was not fully abreast of the newest discoveries. There are regular meetings of all the professional Guides to be kept up to date by the Israel Tourist Board. (Another example of this is the revised version of the water system in the City of David, Spring of Gihon and Pool of Siloam).
There was a great pervasive Hellenisation, 332-37BC, system in the middle east set in train by Alexander climaxing in the Herodian 37-4 BC period to. There are shifts of people and culture as e.g. the Jewish people continuing into the Rabbinic streams running parallel to the new Christian religion and the pre-Islam Arab people. It is worth identifying all these peoples, Idumaian, Philistines, Phoenicians, Greeks, Roman, in their time and place in the land and recognising that the Jewish people were already influenced more that the Bible admits by their Canaanite neighbours. In this vortex Josephus has much to contribute. Something  very important in studies of ‘the Historical Jesus’.
The Caesarea exploration for example led us back Aphek to cross the trail of St. Paul who was being taken under arrest for trial, Acts 23: 23-35. Aphek is the old (or new) Antipatris and carries a plethora of Biblical references indicating how central it was in the east west topographical battles of Israelites and Philistines. I thought we could have seen more and learned more but we were on the eve of final Ramadan celebrations and it was necessary to get back to Jerusalem before traffic got jammed.
Note Saturday 6th Dec 2003. The dynamic of this Chronicle has changed – from ongoing diary to the pursuit of all the events that have raced away ahead. Perhaps I will try to simply headline the happenings that have passed on.
Or maybe jump the gun to the present moment of our Sojourn in the Holy Land.
The rains have begun in earnest. No one is complaining since the rains are a month late. The whole country depends on the heaven sent water at this season to provide for the whole year.
In the heavy rain, I eventually walked to East Jerusalem, quite near, to visit the family of someone attached to the British Consulate. Having spent some six years in Amman, Jordan, they have now been in Jerusalem for some time. Having avoided a formal evening gathering, I was very happy to visit in the afternoon and meet the children, Benedict (7), Laura (6), Sebastian (5) and Oliver (1). I have to say that Benedict slaughtered me at Chess. His father knows a great deal about that other chess game, the politics of Israel and the Palestinians, but just as mystified as everyone else as far as a solution is concerned. He was not optimistic about the new Geneva proposed Peace Accord.
- - - - - - -- - - -
I had the advantage of a previous day at the Shrine of Our Lady of the New Covenant and at the Olivetan Benedictine monastery at Abu Gosh. Now some of the Group are keen to go there also and have just set off for the Sunday Mass. This of course again raised the question of the true location of “Emmaus”. The Abbot, now Bishop Jean-Baptist Gurion serving the Hebrew speaking Christians, has a wonderful address, reprinted in the Monastery Brochure of 1995, summarising the extraordinary combination of Biblical associations with this place, Quiriath Yearim, the Ark of the Covenant, Emaus, Church, Place of Pilgrimage, I summarised the address from the French for the benefit of those going to the place.
After nineteen years living here, Abbot Jean Baptist is steeped in the traditions and of course shows a certain bias for the claim of Abu Gosh to be Emmaus. This does not detract from his lyrical account of the links between these holy places and their spiritual significance.
First there is the Church on the flank of the holy hill at the summit of which is the sanctuary of Our Lady of the New Covenant. Quiriath Yearim, (1 Chron, 13: 5-8) is where the Arc of the Covenant, rejected by the Philistines, sent away  by the people of Beit Shemesh, kept in the House of Aminadab, (1 Sam 7:1), during twenty years, until David, the messianic king par excellence, came to fetch it, dancing all the way to Jerusalem. (Beit Shemesh is half way between Latroun and Abu Gosh which is 15 minutes from Jerusalem.).
“The Ark of the Covenant is the sign and place of the FIRST STRUCTURED (structurante) PRESENCE of God in the history of Israel.
This Ark given at Sinai to Moses is the sign of the presence of God during its exodus and installation in Canaan.
What did it contain?  The Tablets of the Law – Word of God – the 10 Written Words – the holy seed of the Holy Book.
It also contained, or strictly associated as witness of tradition, the Manna, the holy nourishment if the people sanctified by the Presence.
The Rod of Aaron which blossomed and represented the priestly authority.
- all encased in gold as it is quoted in Hebrews 9, 4.
“This is the ALPHA of God’s presence”.
So also the PRESENCE is central to the Emmaus story. The fact that Abbot Jean-Baptist may have got the location wrong does not alter the eloquence of his reflection on the encounter of the two disciples meeting Jesus after the Resurrection. When Jesus spoke with the disciples he began with Moses and ran through all the prophets interpreting them in the Scriptures as a whole. Lk. 24, 27. So their sad hearts revive to life and burned within them.
The sharing of bread, the recognition of the Lord, their witness to the Resurrection.
The Rod (Branch) of the Cross flowering and bearing fruit.
The Staff of Pilgrims is also that of the Pilgrim Church
The “way of Emmaus” is also that of the Church of this day – the place of encounter, of the PRESNCE, place of the Word actualised, viaticum for the journey, the place of our complete healing “It is the OMEGA of the structured presence of God in the world”.
In the Abbot’s ‘litany’ of links;
The Shekhina / Jesus Christ risen.
The Tablets / Word actualised.
The Manna / The Bread Broken.
The Rod that blossomed / the Cross, the Staff of pilgrims, the pastoral staff.
David, the messianic king / Jesus the Messiah, son of David.
“And that Ark of the Covenant is for us the Virgin Mary who carries the Living Word.
“The Alpha and the Omega of the presence of God in his People meet together in  the same place.
- - - - - - -
Paul VI, in Marialis Cultus (1974) also links these parallels between the Old and the New Testaments very precisely. David cried out as the Ark was being taken to Jerusalem, “How can the aArk of Yahweh came to me?” And Elizabeth cried out as Mary came to her, “How is this to me that the the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  As David danced before the Ark, so the child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy”. And as the Ark  was left at the house of Aminadab for three months by David, bringing it a blessing,  so Mary brought blessing to the house of Zachary and Elizabeth. Mary is indeed the ‘Mother of my Lord’, an honorific title of the Old Testament by virtue of her being the Ark of the New Covenant”.
This latter quote is from a booklet of the Sisters at the Shrine of Quiriath Yearim which is the result of collaboration between the foundress,  Sr Josephine and the famous Dominican biblical scholar, , Marie-Joseph Lagrange, OP. Sr. Josephine is another example of holy women who have made their mark in the Holy Land, such as Blessed Myriam, the Little Arab, and the holy Russian Orthodox nun whose incorrupt remains are to be seen at the Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives. The golden onions  of the Russian Church can be seen from outside my window at Ecce Home.
For the sake of feminists we could say the ladies are holding their own, that they are even cornering the market of Holy Persons in Israel in recent generations.
This might offset the impression that the male academics, Rabbinical Experts, Christian Scripture and Theology Scholars rule the roost.
But to keep the balance, in addition to the Biography of Blessed Myriam I add an attachment of an Article by Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ. David is the outstanding lecturer of the course. He is a South African Jewish convert. He looks very youthful. His lectures are concentrated gold of biblical teaching. The article in on ‘Getting to know St. Paul’. David’s present Course is on the Minor Prophets - which means the Minor Prophets in all Scripture, the New Testament included. Next Semester he will be doing the Suffering Servant in Isaiah and possible I might catch some of that before I have to leave at the end of April.
Thinking of Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, is a good time to wish you all a happy feast of the Immaculate Conception and to wish all the blessings of Advent.
With kind greetings.
Donald McGlynn
- - - -- - - - - - -- - - -- - - -
[FOOTNOTE: Homily at Latroun Thursday 20th Nov. 03.
[As guide for the Ecce Homo Group I had to stand in as proxy-guest master, so to speak, and celebrant of the Mass. The mid-day Office, Terce & Sext was due at 11.40 a.m. so we got to the Crypt of the monastery in good time after the neighbouring Emmaus visit. The Gospel of the day was the Weeping over Jerusalem, Lk.19: 41-44. At another time on the Mount of Olives, the Friar at the door gave me copies of the now very familiar window showing through the window, the silhouette of the Host and Chalice looking over the Old City of Jerusalem.]
St. Luke tends to put things in a single-issue style, to put us up against the wall with an ultimate verdict. It would be well to be attuned to the fourth Gospel, to the Jesus of St. John’s Gospel to fill out the picture. 
Jesus was not emotional in the sense, for example, that Egeria is as we read the travelogue of her journey to St. Catherine’s Monastery and Mount Sinai.
DOMINUS FLEVIT, Jesus wept: something came to a head in Jesus as he looked over Jerusalem. With his sensitivity, which is the sensitivity of a completely responsive human heart – something moved him deeply. At that moment St. Luke’s view somehow reduces the focus to two things,
1.       the fact that Jesus wept.
2.        that the picture frame is like so much of what we have been hearing about the political issue of the Jews and Romans and the destruction of Jerusalem.
DOMINUS FLEVIT, Jesus Wept, The Church known by that name on the Mount of Olives represents that time very well. But the sensitive heart of Jesus was moved at a much deeper, a much wider level than that scene which might be reduced to a very simplistic dramatization. But Dominus Flevit – the tears of Jesus welled up at that moment not only because he looked over Jerusalem but because he looked back over His time from  His Birth to His Death The narrative of all his sayings and doings are multiplied from, for example, his first meeting with His disciples to his meeting with the disciples at Emmaus. It is all there in the Gospel, and St. Luke spotlights a very small part of it and it would make one sad, even despairing in that description of Jesus weeping  over the ‘doomed’ city.
From another point of view, this is precisely where Jesus reveals much more to us than just our entanglement with current affairs – where Jesus’ sentiments go beyond the media or television approach to those events.
Earlier I was saying that we need to be attuned to the Jesus of St. John’s Gospel.
DOMINUS FLEVIT, Jesus wept, - the tears of Jesus represent the unfathomable sensitivity of a fully human person in response to all that those persons he came to save.
But because of that very sensitivity to suffering, sinful man, Jesus, as we read in every word of St. John’s Gospel, was entirely sensitive to the Father, to the Father’s love. Sensitive to every word of assurance that He and the Father are One, AND THAT He calls each one of us into the heart of that love, that “all may be one”.
DOMINUS FLEVIT, Jesus wept, even in those human tears, there are divine tears expressing His love of the Father.
And therefore, precisely because He weeps for His weak, vulnerable friends, He multiples His love to the full measure of His Passion and Death, and ultimately to the full measure of His Resurrection, His Glory, and to the saving triumph over sorrow and tears.
The Icon of the Jesus of Sinai attempts to portray this mystery of tears on the one hand and of joy on the face of Jesus on the other.
May God use our hearts, not just to portray but to embody and to know that sensitivity of tears and of joy. Amen.

Chronicle 9
Sabbatical in the Holy Land
Monday, 26 January 2004
 “Sojourn in the Land of the Bible”, Centre for Biblical Formation 41 Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem”.
Dear Raymond,
For your interest, and that of friends, the following is a little highlight very much in harmony with the experience at Via Dolorosa.
Sojourn in the Land of the Bible – a Highlight
22nd Jan. 2004            to Group on the Course of Biblical Formation, Srs. of Sion Centre
Visit of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.
A year ago Cardinal Martini made Jerusalem his place of retirement after reaching the age term of 75 years.
Now resident at the Jesuit House of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, he very graciously came to speak to the students of the Course at Ecce Homo. This was a special highlight for us.
I will note some of the things that impressed me from his talk and replies to our questions. Many of his books on what can only be called a life long 'Biblical apostolate' are available although, as he commented, he has not read them. They were produce from tapes of talks, especially those directed to young people in Milan. (But see, e.g.
Ministers of the Gospel – talks on St. Paul. Publ. S. Paul
L’Eglise pour le Monde – on texts of Vat. II. Ed. S. Paul
La Femme de la Reconciliation – talks to young people. Ed. S. Paul.
Voici Votre Roi – the Spiritual Exercises in the Light of St. John. Cerf).
Very convenient for me is the finding of an Internet translation of an address which Cardinal Martini gave to the Italian Hierarchy. (“He Explained the Scriptures to Us”, Italian Hierarchy May 1997).  The copy which follows will be the best means of expressing the ‘prophetic’ role of one so much at the heart of the Church.
To begin with I will give some of the personal account given by the Cardinal. He was asked by our Director, Sr. Rosalie, NDS, why he choose to make Jerusalem his home and to explain the difference reading of the Bible in Jerusalem makes.
Applying the words of an old Indian Sage to his own time of life first, the Cardinal gave us the four stages of life, 1. the period of learning, 2. the time of teaching, 3. the time to retire into the woods, to be in solitude and 4. the time of the beggar, dependence on others.
His early training as a Jesuit was in the Bible, in textual criticism and the ancient manuscripts - learning.
There followed twenty years in teaching.
The next twenty years he was Bishop of Milan and gave his highest priority to Praying with the Bible – especially in the amazingly successful project involving young people in thousands.
Now in the third period, (retiring to the woods), he has chosen Jerusalem as his place of silence and prayer. A number of his addresses were collected in a book, “Vers Jerusalem”, trs. “Towards Jerusalem”.
His fourth period (mendicant or beggar) will be to deepen that direct relation with the Word and with the person of Jesus.
Summarising his reasons or motives he described them as “Anthropological” in the sense that Jerusalem is the centre of the World. This is where all the problems of the world are most focused. It is mainly the problem of Humanity – how to live together while being so different, without division, with an acceptance that is not mere tolerance.
- ISRAEL is quite unique. Its like has never happened in the history of the world, - language, culture, religion, sovereignty etc. It is the place to be aware of how near God is to us, to sense the sacredness of the place, to feel it as a stimulus.
- The presence of many religions is a context of humanity, with so many historical and Salvific reasons. .
SPIRITUAL MOTIVES – this is the best place for prayer, for peace, for the unity of people. Intercession; to give many hours to intercession. Etymologically, ‘intercession’ means to “Walk in the middle of many”, without diverting from the way. As in Hebrews, Jesus is ALWAYS making intercession for us.
As formerly in Milano, he thinks of his role as ‘sentinel’ of prayer keeping all his people in mind, - the Watchman of prayer on the walls of Sion, citing Isaiah, “Watchman what of the night?”
It is the place and the role of participation of suffering.
He said, You may ask my response to the question. “Why my choice of this place?” Here it is possible to look to all the world. It is a place of study, a reminder of Scripture.
These are three priorities: First priority, Prayer and Silence, to live in God’s presence, avoiding committees, interviews etc. It is more important to be in this place
Second priority, the study of the Bible, of the text, working still on critical editions.
Third priority, giving help with special Retreats, (about to give a Biblical Retreat to the Bishops of Hungary), and guiding Lectio. Fourth point, to learn modern Hebrew.
A final question: what difference is there in reading the Bible in Jerusalem?
- Reading the Bible should be the same wherever you are, but here, in Jerusalem,  there is a deeper sense of the Bible, the Holy Places, the atmosphere.
- There is greater hope here in the Bible, remembering the promises to Jerusalem. The Crucifixion contains all the crimes of humanity and obliges us to hope. Hope is of things not seen. Read the Bible with great hope looking to the final, eschatological reading of Scripture.
The Cardinal’s personal account of his experience with young people in the vast diocese of Milan is very moving. His primary aim began simply to put young people before the TEXTS of the Bible.. Twenty four years ago some young people asked him, “teach us to pray the Bible”. 200 came to the first encounter, then instead of the number tapering away it increased by hundreds then to thousands, 4,500 and more. This was proof that the Bible can speak.
The following address given to the Italian Bishops speaks of “a School of the Word” indicating the manner in which the Cardinal initiated and successfully set up hundreds of these forums for people young and old. He points out to the Bishops that the stereo type of Homily is not what is needed, (it has its proper place). Direct encounter with the word leads to the insight of that moment when the Text speaks to me.
He evidently held dear the SAMUEL groups which followed from his work. These groups were so named in a project of vocation discernment. The idea originated at a pilgrimage at Montserrat. Young people would spend a full week learning how the Bible can penetrate there life. They committed themselves for one year to discern their vocation. Its effectiveness was realized in the number of people being able to discern their own special calling in life, (in contrast to so much indecision in society).
The above notes can hardly express all that Cardinal Martini conveyed to us in a short talk. The following document gives a fuller record.
The man himself embodies the spirit of a life dedicated to the Word and to the person of Jesus. This good Pastor encapsulates that very simple message to young people and to the Church a direct meeting with the text of Scripture and the inner relationship with the Lord Jesus.
. . . . but see his own words in the attached address. (“He Explained the Scriptures to Us”, Italian Hierarchy May 1997). Chronicle 9b (appendix)

Chronicle 10
from Holy Land

  Abbot Raymond, Nunraw. – includes copies to friends
Dear Raymond,
Greetings from an Internet Café at New Gate, Old City, Jerusalem.
[Not having my usual freedom for Email, please excuse this miscellany of notes COPIED to other friends too - just to indicate my thanks for other messages which I have not been able to acknowledge at the moment].
At the end of my Course in Via Dolorosa, I think this Final Conclusion and Acknowledgement to the Sisters of Sion for their Biblical Formation Programme should come first. Beautiful summaries and tributes were contributed by the students. Rather than customary compliments, my acknowledgement is really a message for those  who could very well take advantage of such a heaven sent blessing. It is also so important that this special apostolate continue:-
“Come and see”, was Jesus reply to the disciples who asked Him where he stayed.
I came, in ways unforeseen, to the Centre of Biblical Formation, Ecce Homo.
“Come and see” is an invitation of ever greater daily urgency in Jerusalem. So many are turned away by other voices than that of the Spirit prompting those who come to make their way to the Land of the Bible. The few still come - undaunted by impressions of danger, but there could be so many more.
The challenge of the negative media of Israel should never deter. Much more to the point is the challenge of actually experiencing the physicality of the Holy Land, hearing the words uttered in the places where Jesus spoke, seeing the life He lived.
With or without the fears and threats in international travel, this haven of hospitality provided by the Sisters of Sion in Via Dolorosa, in their Centre of Biblical  Formation is of immense value. So many would love and gain from the experience.
My appreciation and gratitude to them can best be expressed by encouraging and urging others not to miss this wonderful of opportunity of formation and development. In the context of the Scriptures and of the land of Jesus, this is a privileged place for the closest encounter with the Word of God and with the person of Jesus.
“Come”, yes, “Come and see”, are the words which call me, and continue to resound through other competing voices. No other invitation, certainly not the impressions of groundless apprehension given to the general public, would have brought me to the discovery of Ecce Homo - a true centre of close encounter with Jesus in his own Land.
Signed: Donald McGlynn, Ecce Homo, Jan 2004

I am now based at Latroun - with a couple of jaunts each week for courses at Jerusalem, one at Ecce Homo, (Pontifical Biblical Institute Professor), and one at Ecole Biblique with Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, OP,

Sunday, 15th Feb., was the Annual Mass of Saint Maron in Jerusalem. Abbot Paul suggested I attend and represent Latroun to the Maronite Exarch Patriarch, Paul Sayah (excellent English). The important link here is that the Cistercian Foundation in Lebanon is following the Maronite Rite in its Liturgy. If all goes well this Foundation should be made into a Simple Priory at the next General Chapter.
It so happened that there was snow in Jerusalem that night. We parked the car in the Latin Patriarchate and then had to walk through Jaffa Gate area in slushy-snow lanes under cascades of falling thawing rain. (The Sisters from India, Claire and Auxilia, and the Filipines, Emma and Elisa, now departed, were so keen to see the snow which did not come in time for them. Elsewhere there was enough, snow on the banks, for Israel children, in the usual Orthodox Jewish clothing to be throwing snow balls with the best of them. Large black hats are ‘de rigueur’ for the men – so ‘de rigueur’ in fact that they use a plastic covering for the hat to protect it from rain or snow. Snow did not fall on the lower ground towards Latroun and Tel Aviv).
We will also be having a St. Maron Mass in our Oriental style crypt (Iconostasis and Lamps) on Saturday for the benefit of the Maronite Catholics from Haifa. (Christians are now less than 2% of Israel. We value the few we have).
Other Guests, at Latroun just now, include Fr. Howard of Guadalupe (80+) and two Juniors from Sept Fons. One of the Juniors, Br. John de la Croix, is giving Lessons in the Chant. He seems to be a gifted musician. The other Brother is one of the young monks from the Foundation in Czechoslovakia, (Foundation N. 99), Br. Procope. They will be taken on a trip to Bethlehem tomorrow. With mixed nationalities, I wonder how they will manage the check points for access. Bethlehem was under curfew for days after a recent suicide bombing. The three of them, Fr. Howard and the two Juniors, are setting out for Sept Fons next week.
There are always Guests here making for a Holy Land retreat inspite of everything. I am looking forward to Peter McFadyen coming for his Lent time visit.

Last week I gave a couple of talks on the usual kind of subject, ‘about your monastery of Nunraw’ etc. But last evening I spoke on the topic specifically of the Biblical Formation Course at Ecce Homo. This I did  with the assistance of an interpreter. But what can you do with FOUR MONTH’S of priceless gleanings from Scripture Teaching, Rabbinical Studies, Expeditions and the ‘social life’ of the remarkable group of students? No way could I get that two pints into a half pint pot. Having found a well equipped book binding room at the top of the monastery I was able to make a collection of the heaps of course notes, handouts, etc, glued them together and trimmed  the edges. It makes a handsome tome of two inches thickness and gives a wonderful illusion of having it all on record for future reference.
The effort of trying to make a talk out of so much interesting stuff  only goes to show how much could, or may still be chronicled from the wonderful seminars and expeditions. In order to complete the Programme, these Expeditions seemed to come fast and furious at the end under threat of snow, security blocks, and the conclusion of the Semester.

But to be more particular, the Mount of Olives has become a centre-of-gravity-place for me. It contains a whole concentration of the beautiful elements of Jesus life. From my window in Via Dolorosa, the highest point on the skyline is the bell tower of the Ascension. Below it, on our side, are all the associated sites of Gethsemane. Beyond it, on the far away side, looking to the Judean desert, are Bethphage and Bethany. It is an extremely small area and all of it was within Jesus’ walking distance, and therefore within an almost tangible sense of His presence.
Nowhere was this more real to me than on the only remaining piece of wasteland, ‘no-man’s’ land, on the Mount of Olives that I could see.  It lies between Gethsemane and Atur. At the six o’clock Mass in Gethsemane one morning I met three Sisters of the Little Family of the Resurrection, contemplative Sisters all in white, the Superior Italian and the other young ones from India. In order to reach their convent, the road lead up the way, not quite vertically although it felt like it. Then the Sisters followed a very rough footpath through a wild open side of the hill until eventually coming to the rickety gate hanging on its hinges at their convent. I was to say Mass for them later, getting there in the dark of the morning. Later in the day, in the same wild spot I found a Bedouin family had camped with their sheep and goats. Then out of that group of shepherds and their flock came a little Polish nun, Sr. Christina (Polish), with two little children from the nearby orphanage. I guessed she had been smuggling some food to the Bedouins. I could hardly believe all of this happening totally to my amazement - the appearance of ‘no bodys’ in a ‘no place’, unknown people (like myself) in an unknown place. It conveyed the real Mt. of Olives to me more vividly than the nicely tended olive trees of the Basilica or the beautifully kept gardens of Saint Mary Magdalene’s Church and the other well known shrines. These great  Gospel Sites all have wonderful and moving histories, but I shall cherish my own unwritten (not the full picture), secret, history of meeting Jesus in his little, hidden, unknown friends (children, Bedouins, little Sisters) on the same bare and rough and poor hillside. All I can say is, thank you, Jesus, for keeping this little space of place and time for me in this quiet and expressive way, in your own Garden of Memory.

It is difficult to either list so much of interest or to merely generalise, so I have tried instead to give this one concrete and personal  focal point from my experience of the Land of the Bible.

I continue tomorrow on a lower key with one of the two weekly classes.
Meanwhile, on this occasion at New Gate, I will take advantage of checking Email and thanking you for your news.
In Christ’s love,

PS. Raymond, my Rosary-Bead making is progressing at a steady rate. If you remember, Fr. Benedict, back home, never got round to passing on the art to his successors, although he was very good at it. It was a great standby for him in sleepless nights.
Benedict had the necessary tools for making the Rosaries and had some stock of beads, crosses and link medals, - and lots of wire.
If you cannot find anything or information about suppliers, Harry Dittrich has books on Handicraft suppliers of all sorts and he may be able to help.
The beads from Bethlehem olive tree wood make wonderful Rosaries – I have just made some samples. One can also use the actual pips from the Bethlehem Olives or others, e.g. Latroun olives.
My apprentice-tutor is a delightful senior brother, Frère Benoit, 84, from Lebanon.

Chronicle 11
Saturday, 13 March 2004
Yesterday, was a glorious day and needs must that I bestir myself to welcome the new group coming from the Biblical Formation Centre. I enjoyed the walk to Emmaus which is only 800 metres along the road. The bus from Jerusalem arrived on cue at 9 o’clock. The program was very full:
Ecce Homo Group Latroun Friday 12 March 2004.
Sr. Rosalie, Director of Ecce Homo Biblical Formation Centre – requested visit to Latroun Abbey. Estimated number 15.
Outline of day’s Excursion from Lions Gate
8.30 a.m.           Depart Lions Gate.
9.00 a.m. approx. arrive Emmaus. (Br. Anton, Beatitudes Community, Emmaus, gave guided commentary on previous occasion. Visit Beatitudes Chapel).
11.00 a.m. approx. Latroun Abbey – Mass in Crypt. Celebrant Fr. Donald.
11.40 Midday Office in the Church
12.00 Midday – Lunch in guesthouse.
etc. etc. Visit Boutique –wine shop. Audio-visual of monastery. Climb to the Crusade Castle for the energetic.
2.30 / 3.00 pm quick visit to Neve Shalom, Oasis of Peace, Interfaith Community
Depart for Jerusalem.
I was pleased to see Sr. Rosalie, now almost fully recovered from the broken leg she sustained on the climb to Mount Sinai in November.
Most of the Beatitudes Community in Emmaus had gone to Nazareth for the day so Br. Claude took the guided tour of the Emmaus site, museum and Chapel - and he did well in English. The group wanted to know more about the Beatitudes also. They were founded by a Protestant Minister and his wife who became Catholic and another couple in 1973 out of charismatic renewal. It is a very flourishing ‘Order’ with full formal and final recognition by Rome in 2003. The members include priests, Brothers, Sisters, families with children and single lay people. They are very innovative. Prayer for the Jewish people and for Ecumenism is expressed in their spirituality and practice, incorporating, e.g., features from Sabbath observance and also Byzantine liturgy. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is a regular practice in their beautiful Chapel. Formation of newer members includes a year in Israel for the experience of the Holy Land, learning Hebrew and for some staying a few months in some kibbutz. The Beatitudes Community came here in 1993.
Br. Claude’s commentary on Emmaus was great for me because I could fill in the gaps from my earlier visits. One interesting detail from the Six Days War, 1967 (?). is that the place was saved from the bombs on the strength of the UNO flag flying over the buildings to indicate that at that time the place was under the United Nations peace keeping inter Israel-Jordanian (dis)agreement. Latroun Abbey and Emmaus share the same stretch of road which marked the battle line of the conflict. If Latroun Abbey was also saved from bombardment it was for other reasons. See later.
St. Myriam on the Trail.
We did not meet the archaeologist couple on this day but they are still working. The exciting day will be during this month when a professional water-diviner is to search for AND FIND the lost spring which was obviously part of the Baptistery from the Byzantine basilica, the foundations of which were concealed in rubble in the time of St. Myriam.
You may recall the connection with the visionary Saint Myriam, ‘The Little Arab’, (mirror image of ‘The Little Flower’). I had been unable to find the English version of  her life story. Br. Claude had a copy in stock and, know what, I had no dollars so he gave it to me out of the goodness of his heart.
Saint Myriam also speaks of the existence, (or commemoration) of the table where Jesus and Cleophas and his friend dined together at Emmaus. The devoted archaeologists are looking also to the day of that great discovery of the table, ‘mensa Christi’. They probably have the Mryiam writings and can check the full text. (St Myriam did not write. Other Sisters wrote down her locutions and other words). The quotation from this brief ‘life’  reports that, “Transported and moved, she turned to her sisters, who were out of breath, and said to them in a loud voice, ‘This is truly the place where our Lord ate with His disciples’,” i.e. Emmaus.
Myriam was not the only pilgrim who passed this way. Her predecessors include Josephus in the first century, and later Jerome and Eusebius in the 300s. Ironically, times and cultures intermingle and overlap. In front of me in the Refectory of Latroun Abbey is a black marble plaque engraved in white outline. It is a triptych of the Emmaus scene with Cleophas’ name on the halo, the sacrifice of Isaac on the left and Calvary on the right. This work of art was produced by a Russian Jew and presented to the monks ate Latroun.
Visit Latroun
Arrival at the monastery of Latroun was a novel experience for the group. Nine nationalities this time, Koreans in the majority of three, two from Singapore, two from Ireland, one from China, one from Canada, one from Austria, one from Brazil, one from Spain, (none from US!).
I had the Mass in the crypt, and since Gethsemane has been much in my thoughts I took tha theme of the Agony in the Garden. A marvellous article by Fr. Jerry Murphy-O’Connor has been a great find but you can guess how futile it is to try to compress something like that in a Homily. Anyway see my puny effort, and for good measure I am attaching a copy of the article from the glossy, state of the art, periodical “Bible Review”. The attractive format gives one the illusion that it is easy reading but it is well worth the effort..
At the end of the Mass it was beautiful, I thought, to take the group from the crypt to the upper Church in time for part of the Midday Office. The Sister from China had been to Lantao, Hong Kong, but I don’t think any of the others had been to a Trappist Monastery before so this was a new experience.
Trappist or no, the monks show themselves at their best in their hospitality. The lunch was on-the-house. Coffee in the lounge became a wonderful encounter and sharing. Fr. Basil (80), Guestmaster, kept renewing our glasses with the choicest liquor, Soleil de Latroun (Sunshine of Latroun). He is a real endearing guestmaster. He went school with the Jesuits in Beirut and entered Latroun in 1946. His answers to questions about the troubles (wars) were fascinating and served to fill some gaps for me, and no doubt also for Peter McFadyen who helps in the Guesthouse - and he (Peter) made the best Turkish coffee. Fr. Basil spoke with great warmth about an elderly, but very fresh, Jew who is Accountant to the Community. This individual was a Commander in the Israel Army when the monastery came under fire in the Six Day War. Most Israelis would not know what a monastery is and simply took the buildings as hiding Palestinian/Jordanian forces. The monks took refuge in the crypt and the underground that leads to the wine production plant. When this Israel Commander friend heard of the shells and bombs he created mayhem with the local forces to have the firing stopped. He used to bring supplies to the monks every day with his own transport. He still comes on a daily basis. According to Basil, this Jewish friend and great helper is a monk at heart.
One keeps encountering these wonderful examples of people who transcend the chauvinistic attitudes so widely assumed by others.
British Mandate Barracks
Facing us ‘across the street’, as it were, is the old British Mandate Barracks. Basil recalls from that period, how some of the British Officers became great friends too. That old fortress has since been transformed into the “Armored Corps Museum”. Note the American spelling although everything else is in Hebrew. Dominating the parade ground is a huge Shearman Tank on a high pedestal. Surrounding it is great collection of tanks and military accoutrements like mobile hydraulically controlled bridges, bulldozers of US, UK, French Russian vintage, possibly all obsolete.
Although I was given a very warm welcome at the Museum, courtesy of Latroun no doubt, I never encountered anything so chauvinistic and obsessive. There was a Video which showed nothing but mighty tanks racing over the desert and well decorated soldiers speaking in Hebrew of their exploits.
When I inquired about the library and archives of the British Mandate period I got blank looks. I was even asked what date was that and had to quote 1948 for end the of British Mandate. The attendant could only point to shelves of books, most in Hebrew, to the glory of the Israeli State, and did not seem to know anything more.
The complex also boasts and education department – no doubt for the indoctrination of the young soldiers and school parties who come for graduation ceremonies and great displays. All for the glory of the State of Israel.
That is just the other side of the coin.
People, like our Accountant friend, obviously sees things from a wider perspective.

Israeli – Building Construction. Modin dormitory city.
Excuse this diversion. It will not prevent me from visiting Mini Israel which is a miniature model of the State of Israel. It is a theme park of 100s of model buildings, 1,000s of scaled figurines etc. Since it is also more or less within the property of Latroun, there are the best of relations with the monks. Latroun Junction is in fact a remarkable collection of interesting locations that never ceases to amaze. These are well spread out so there is no sense of crowding. One dreads what an Israeli development might create. The Mini Israel includes a unit that demonstrates a do-it-yourself kit for constructing a kibbutz. About five miles away is the dormitory town of Modin which is an extravaganza of reinforced concrete structures which is completely new. [Modin, in Judea, the ancestral home of the family also called Hasmoneans or Maccabees (1 Macc 2:17, 70). I will need to find if there are Biblical remains in this modern concrete jungle.] Commuters jam the motor ways East and West, to Jerusalem and to Tel Aviv during rush hour.
Dominating the hill of Modin is a cluster of high rise buildings in a circle which are bridged together by more apartments on top. Considering that there were major earth tremors in the Dead Sea area of the continental rift valley last month one wonders about the longevity of these buildings. The Domincan Director of Ecole Biblique, comes to speak to the Latroun community. I was with him on the drive through Modin one day and we could not help remarking on the apparent transitory-ness of it all. I could not help feeling that this concrete ant hill will be a dilapidated slum in a hundred years time. The population trend is that of the ending of mass Jewish immigrations with a decreasing birth rate on the one hand, and increasing population and birth rate among Muslims on the other. Sadly it will be too late to remedy the present exodus of Christians from the State of Israel.

After the lunch at Latroun, and meeting with the Prior and Guestmaster the group were to see the Latroun VIDEO (English available), strategically showing in the Boutique = Wine Shop. One of the visitors was celebrating her birthday so the occasion was marked with an appropriate select of Latroun wine..
Neve Shalom – Oasis of Peace
To round off the day, Peter and I joined the coach for a visit to Neve Shalom, (Arabic, Wahat al-Salem), OASIS OF PEACE. The Prior and Guestmaster had to hurry to Choir for the Office of None. (The monastic version of “the show must go on”). The Arab driver, Abulia, was with us for lunch. It was the Muslim holy day, Friday. I don’t know if that was the reason he did not take wine. He has a family of four teenagers at school and university. He has been driving tourists for 20 years. He has visited Paris and Rome and Naples and knows a lot of the priests. Abulia had Neve Shalom many years ago and it was he who went to the Reception centre to find the information and then led us to the House of Silence, Beit Dumia, of the community. This piece of land, named Neve Shalom, was donated by the monastery for the creation of this interfaith village. The idea was conceived by a Dominican Brother, Bruno Hussar, of establishing an ordinary village community of Jewish, Christian and Muslim people working and living together. There are about 50 Primary School children but the roll call is 300. Children are brought from a wider area, including even some from Jerusalem. The education programme has been developed specifically for learning in a shared Jewish Muslim context. In the village an old white long haired dog (Yorkshire sheepdog?) attached itself to us and accompanied us all during our visit so that I was able to comment, “Even the animals here are friendly”. The village is on a hillock opposite the monastery. There is a hotel, a reception office, a school, a sports centre, an auditorium, a bingo hall, (I don’t know what they call it but it serves for fund raising), a swimming pool and a Prayer Centre, ‘House of Silence’,  Education, health services are shared by the three faiths but what was to happen for worship. The solution was the erection of a unique dome shaped building which has no furnishing except some prayer stools and prayer mats. There are no religious marking to distinguish Synagogue, Church or Mosque. A pathway leads through trees and shrubs with signs of “Place of Silence” posted discreetly. It was so very prayerful that everyone spontaneously adopted their own choice of prayer posture as we looked through the large window with a view of the glorious lands cape looking across the olive trees and vineyards to the Templar Crusader Castle, the monastery and the plain of Ayalon (Philistine country), - breath taking and soul uplifting! (Later, Br. Bernard, assistant librarian, produced copies of the Neve Shalom Newsletter which provides fuller information, e.g., “The inspiration for the place is biblical passage, ‘For You silence is praise’ Ps. 65”. The foundation was  made in 1970 on 50 acres of land leased by Latroun monastery. Fr. Hussar died in 1997 and is buried in the cemetery of Neve Shalom. His autobiography, “When the Cloud Lifted” is available at the village reception in several languages. (English; Veritas, ISBN 1 85390 048 6). Articles of the Newsletter include titles such as “From Belfast to Jerusalem” and indicate a very active international interest and participation in reconciliation of peoples. One volunteer at Reception told me that she is returning to Switzerland to work for fund raising for the Oasis of Peace Project, Neve Shalom.
After departing from Neve Shalom the visiting Group began their return to Jerusalem. I can tell you the day was an extremely happy occasion for the guests, and indeed for us all, - and most rewarding.

More Surprises – Spring of St. Sabas
I shall have to return to see “The Pluralistic Spiritual Centre” at Neve Shalom under construction, but my own discoveries continue at this very spot on learning of the association of St. Sabas with this place. In the course of lectures and expeditions we were introduced to the wonders of the Judean Desert Monasteries, e.g. St. George’s on the Wadi Qilt, St Gerasimo, east of Jericho, Mar Sabas etc. What was my surprise to discover that Saint Sabas left his very successful laura at Mar Sabas, south of Bethlehem, because of rebellious monks settled  at Nikopolis, the Byzantine name of Emmaus/Latroun, first as a hermit then as abba of the laura/monastery at this very place of Neve Shalom. Fr. Rene (Prior} is going to take me down to the spring which supplied the monks with water. I have still to find if anything remains of the buildings. But how amazing! Even the Latroun booklet, printed in 1960s has no mention of this particular monastic settlement. It is also interesting that Murphy-O’Connor’s encyclopaedic “Holy Land”, (Oxford), shows a great partiality to the monastic sites which, owing to researches by young Israeli archaeologists, identifies at least 73 such ‘Judean Desert Monasteries’. This site, within the immediate environs of Latroun, is not actually in the Desert since the bulk of the hermitages, monasteries and lauras are within the confines of the extreme Judean Desert. St. Sabas (439-532) founded eight monasteries in the Judean Desert and two outside the desert. (If I had looked in our library at Nunraw I would have found most of this monastic lore in our precious, dust free, shelves!)
{Judean Monasteries: References from Murphy-O’Connor, HOLY LAND, Oxford, pp246
Chitty, D.J., The Desert a City,(Oxford, Blackwell, 1966). Page 111.
Price, R.M. (Trans), Lives of the Monks of Palestine by Cyril of Scythopolis, 525-58). (Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, 1991), see pp 130-131)
Hirschfeld, Y., The Judean Desert Monasteries in the Byzantine Period (New Haven: Yale 1992, see pp.246-247).
The three great monastic Judean founders were; Chariton c.AD 330, Euthymius (376-473) and Sabas (439-532) }.

Bible Land Pilgrims
Meanwhile, my Biblical Studies are really getting to me so that I have not had much time to add more on the expeditions. The personal experience is fine bu,t ever since the first pilgrims to the Holy Land, there is a whole literature of written accounts by famous writers, including the Church historian and Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea.  He lived down the road from Latroun, as it were, and wrote his Onomasticon (an alphabetic list of biblical places with descriptions of their history and geography -Tour Operators are still doing the same) at some point between 324 and 336. I was going to refer to the famous Egeria as leading the band of women pilgrims but immediately St. Helena comes to mind. It was Sr. Keiko, FMM, who pointed out to me that St. Helena hailed from York and that is where Constantine’s had his title of Emperor declared.  (I need to check this interesting item for ‘trivial pursuits’ of random knowledge).
 When St. Jerome first arrived, 386 AD., he rhapsodised about his early arrival in Jerusalem and settled in Bethlehem and later explained how small the place is from Jerusalem to Jaffa on the coast and later advised people on the priority on inner conversion. “I am ashamed”, he says in one of his numerous incisive letters, “to tell the size of the Promised Land; it seems to me almost to the pagans opportunity to blaspheme. From Joppa to our little town of Bethlehem the distance is only 46 miles (about 60km); then going forward one meets terrible desert” . (the Judean Desert). There is no end to the multi faceted Bible Land in all its different epochs.
Br. Bernard has just passed on to me another example of this long line of ‘foot loose and fancy free’ happy pilgrims; Chateaubriand’s Itinerary from Paris to Jerusalem. Chateaubriand  made his famous journey in 1806, and in fact it was a harrowing journey in those early nineteenth days. (“After weighing it in the balance for a long time, I decided to describe the main stations of Jerusalem, because of the following considerations. 1st No one reads the ancient pilgrimages to Jerusalem any more . . .; 2nd The Church of the Holy Sepulchre does not exist any more; it was burned to the ground in ashes since my return from Judea; I am, so to speak,  the last voyager  to have seen it, and for that reason I am even its last historian.”, 1872 Edition, p. 261. It is fascinating to compare this book with today’s guide books).
The times have changed. It seems that the more every sacred site is destroyed and rebuilt the more the memory is enshrined. Perhaps before long a whole virtual reality reproduction of the Holy Land will be produced as another tool of consolidating the places of commemoration. Christ’s words, “Do this in MEMORY of me” have ever more manifold levels of reality.

Revue Biblique
The community of Latroun is very obliging. Fr. Augustine, ordained last summer, librarian, did his studies at Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem. (Doctoral Thesis; Les Metamorphosis de L’Esprit – Mt: 10:12 . . by Paul Tavardon, ocso, 2002, ISBN 2 85021 142 7). Latroun follows the same library system and Augustine tells me that he has a CD Rom disk copy of the Ecole’s catalogue. For research purposes this can be used at home for references and perhaps save the trouble of going to Jerusalem. The prestigious Revue Biblique is the favourite baby of the Dominicans in Jerusalem. Strangely, the Latroun library does not subscribe to it – since 1996. It is just too expensive, they say. Anyway it is dull looking academic periodical. There is no excuse these days for not using  modern presentation in printing. Still less excuse for being deliberately ‘academic’ in the stuffy sense. Still it goes without saying that the Revue Biblique is indispensable for the experts. A Biblical periodical with a similar name, Bible Review, can in fact  produce very good articles but in the most attractive format. It is published in America. It is economical and would make a valuable addition to our Nunraw library. I see there is a similar beautifully produced, colour, state of the art, Bible magazine published in France, Le Monde de La Bible (Histoire, Art, Archelogie). It appears on the Chapter Room display table.
On Thursday evening, prior to their visit to Latroun, some of the Group from Ecce Homo attended a special lecture given by Cardinal Martini at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. I would have liked to be there but I had my scouts and someone is getting me a copy of the lecture or a tape. As you can see there is never any lack of interesting events in the very small Catholic community in Israel.
Sunday, 3rd of Lent.
The Choir for Concelebration today was very full. Nine or ten Assumptionists from the community of St. Peter in Gallcantu came for their day’s Recollection at Latroun. We had a fine Homily by Fr. Augustine. He shows the fruitful results of his two years study at the Ecole Biblique. As the youngest priest, he has a great delivery. 
Junior Seminar in Holy Land. This evening I had a brilliant inspiration. Dom Bernardo is good on having ‘vision’ for the future. I was browsing through the Minutes of the Regional Meeting, passed on to me from Fr. Pierre. There was news of the new secretary of Formation and of the Juniors’ Course. Best wishes to Fr. Augustine, Mellifont, for his new charge. It is difficult to find good courses for Formation. I hope Fr. Laurence is keeping better. Maybe he also would benefit from the Holy Land Sojourn. For of us in the twilight zone, 65 seems the normal borderline for seniors attempting the demanding  excursions. But in fact everyone is extremely well cared for.
The Sisters of Sion are starting a new initiative. The Biblical Formation program is excellent  but for most busy teachers, catechists, and others searching for a suitable course, the four (or eight) month session is too long. But for a ONE MONTH seminar, School Head teachers might provide ‘in-training’ breaks for teachers, parish assistants etc., or it might be convenient during vacation time for most people who want more than the typical tourist package.. This project is going forward and will be designed with the usual highly qualified lectures and aimed to integrate the teaching with the guided Biblical places. For more Information: see the Sisters of Sion Email biblprog@netvision.net.il, and Website, www.sion.org 
It strikes me that this would be an ideal format for a Juniors’ Formation Seminar to take place in Jerusalem. It is a brilliant idea, I thought, and I was not deflated to learn that Abbot Paul has been advocating this kind of thing for the ‘French’ Regions. Latroun would welcome the idea of Juniors coming to have a Seminar here.  In a totally altruistic way, of course, I would be happy to act as ‘tour’ Guide for such a one month Seminar! I also need to keep up the impetus of my beginnings in Hebrew and in Biblical study. I feel, like Jeremiah, that “I am only a child” in this very fertile field of Biblical Formation. Although a Juniors’ Seminar might take place in the monastery at Latroun itself, there is, in fact, great expertise of this kind from a number of similar Biblical Programs in Jerusalem which would be more professional, - Dormition Abbey (OSB, German), Ecole Biblque (French), Tantur (English), Ecce Homo (2 stream, English and French), St. Anne’s (White Fathers, French/English?), Flagellation (Franciscan Bib. Institute, Italian), Collegeville (US brings its own to some Jerusalem base). All of these Institutions are only too delighted to welcome any groups because of the empty accommodation still resulting from the Intefada. Among the countries still sending lots of visitors is Nigeria. There seems to hordes of Nigerians on the Via Dolorosa and elsewhere in the Holy Places. Ironically this follows from a Government decision to finance Muslim pilgrims to MECCA. So, what is sauce for the goose . . . The Nigerian Government has to provide the same privilege to Christian Pilgrims. We meet lots of Anglicans also. There might be an opportunity here for our Cistercian Brethren in Nigeria.
Phew! How did I get myself into a brain storm on these matters?
Alex returned on Sunday. He had completed his Postulancy and went away to make his decision. The community tailor has, in fact, already, made the Novice’s habit. Alex is from Jaffa and is therefore the only Israeli citizen. His native tongue is Arabic but he says his Hebrew is better. He gives classes for Hebrew to some of the brethren.
Br. Jose-Marie, from Peru, received the community votes and will be making his Simple Profession in April.
One aspirant has been here for some time. He is Fr. Emil, in the 30s I think, who was a missionary in Sierra Leone.
Another aspirant, Benigne, is of a Bedouin family from Jordan. At present he is in Sept-Fons.
Yesterday the Prior asked me to reply to a Vocations inquiry in an English Email from Croatia. The inquirer wanted to know of any monasteries in the Holy Land. In the reply I had to point out that the community is French speaking. There are the two Benedictine monasteries of Jerusalem, Dormition (OSB, German), Abu-Gosh (Olivetan, French).
Abbot Christopher, while he was here was immensely impressed by the community of the Dormition, Mt. Sion. Under  the present Abbot, the number of Juniors and Novices gives great life to the place. Abu-Gosh is doing well also in the dual community of monks and nuns. Recently, their Abbot was high-jacked to become the first Hebrew Bishop since the time of Eusebius(?).
We need an English speaking Cistercian foundation in the Holy Land, male or female.
Even for the Dominicans and Ecole Biblique, Murhy-O’Connot says the use of French is a nonsense. Everybody from the taxi drivers to the President can speak English.

So much for today’s musings. By the way, the various Chronicles (1-10) are on the www.nunraw.org website (thanks to Liam’s work). Liam would be grateful for additions for the HOME NEWS PAGE from Nunraw. I notice that the Regional Meeting, also, is always pressing for contributions for the Regional Newsletter. And to keep the circulation going, FEEDBACK IS ALWAYS WELCOME.
This ‘Chronicle’ is already too long, and there is also a couple of ATTACHMENTS, “Gethsemane – Lent Homily” and the heavy weight article, “What Happened at Gethsemane”, which you can either conveniently ignore or get your sleeves rolled up for a good exercise of exegesis.

I trust you are well.
Keep me in your prayers.
Best wishes for a Holy Lent and for, (as I notice the Calendar), St. Patrick and St. Joseph.

View from Mt of Olives


Chronicle 12

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2004
Dear Raymond,
It is hard to realise that we are beginning the month of April.
I am enjoying every minute of the Sabbatical in the Holy Land.
Concerts of Candle Light and Monastery Wine: There is a poster in the Abbey Shop advertising a Concert of Irish & Scottish Music on 3rd. April. It will be in the auditorium above the ‘Boutique’ (Wine Shop). Perhaps this a delayed performance from St. Patrick’s Day. This group, from Tel Aviv I think, is presenting its own CD on this occasion. There is also an advert for the Passover Festival of Series of Classical Music accompanied by the Jerusalem Festival Orchestra. Latroun is a regular venue for these events, not that the monks have much to do with these events of Candle Light and Monastery Wine! It gives some idea of the very active cultural programme of the country.
Note on an early morning trip from Latroun to the Holy Sepulchre:
After Mass – had a  snack, lost my glasses
Between the bus drive and the long Mass I felt some refreshment was in order. I started with good Arab home baked croissant at the nearest food counter right on the souq, (Souq Khan as-Zeit), behind the Holy Sepulchre, decided to have tea and ended at a table of the back ‘tea-room’ that I had not noticed in all the times I passed the door. The bakery was upstairs and everyone was most hospitable. In the days of Constantine this would have actually been a part of the original building of the Basilica. Across the narrow alleyway I wandered up steps into more of this maze leading to the 9th Station, Coptic Patriarchate, Ethiopian monastery, but at this point I realized my spectacles were missing. Could I remember how to retrace my steps? I reached the ‘tea-room’ again and to have surprise the shopkeepers had my specs waiting for me.
Regular lecture at Ecole Biblique
I could now get to Bible School (École Biblique) for the lecture which had been my only reason for coming. And that too was part of a very rewarding day. Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Conner’s course takes a lot of concentration. At this point he was contributing something original on Galatians. Just to remind my self, two very distinctive  features of the Christology of Galatians are, 1. The earliest references to Christ’s self-sacrifice are to be found in Galatians, and there is no reason to think that Paul borrowed from anyone. . . . It became Paul’s key to understanding what made Jesus Christ unique as a human being). 2. Nothing remotely similar to ‘a series of texts expressing union of the believers with Christ and among themselves’ id to be found in the kerygma that Paul inherited nor in the Thessalonian letters. Moreover, in contrast to the crucifixion of Christ, there is no hint that Paul thought of Christ in this way prior to writing Galatians. In consequence, the factors that forced Paul to develop this insight are probably to be found in the situation that he had to confront in Galatia. (see article, Murphy-O’Connor, The origins of Paul’s Christology, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Suppl. Ser. Sheffield Acad. Press, pp. 113-139, 2003. www.continuumbooks.com).

Emmanuel Sisters at Bethlehem
Not long ago I was confronted by two different worlds.
Fares, former student of the Diocesan Seminary at Beit Jela, Bethlehem, was driving Br. Oliver for a dental appointment in Jerusalem, and myself for a visit to the Library of Ecole Biblique for a full briefing on the library set up. He had also to run a small errand to the Emmanuel Convent at Bethlehem, (a ten minutes drive from the Old City to Bethlehem). Olivier remained at the dentist, and after leaving the world of academic seclusion of the Dominicans (not forgetting for Fr. Murphy-O’Connor for St. Patrick’s Day), we took the least obstructed road to Bethlehem - a place that is unbelievable. My Passport usually counts for more than the driver's but when I showed that at the check point I was asked for my Visa as well. I had to explain that I had left it at Latroun, so – OK - very dismissively, they waved us through.
We took the road leading directly to the convent gate. On the left was a massive wall under construction under police guard. The police wanted to turn us back but the workers waived us on, the police man yielded. Another 100 further yards there was a massive bulldozer blocking the way and beyond that a trench had been dug right in front of the Sisters' entrance. Only a narrow heap in the middle of the trench allowed, regardless  us, regardless of life or limb, to climb across AND SO TO A WARM WELCOME BY THE SISTERS.
The community came from Algeria. They knew the Atlas monks well but left with the general expulsion of the time. Latroun has been a good support. They are contemplatives with an enclosure now doubly enclosed. They use the Byzantine liturgy and have a beautiful Church and lovely Blessed Sacrament Chapel suitably integrated with a grand Iconostasis.
Life goes on. No one is blaze but, as in the community at Latroun, those who have made their home here never think of divorcing them themselves from the situation, still less of the kind of travel anxieties of those from outside. In fact at present there is “full house” at Ecce Home, with both an English and a French Group. I was invited to come for a Sabbath Seder Meal with the new group. We were joined by a similar group from St. Ann’s, White Fathers. In my own case, the previous group had been taken into the family homes of one Synagogue to experience the normal Sabbath. Yehuda, the father is an expert book binder so we became buddies to the extent that he came to visit me at the Abbey of Latroun. He was, of course, duly impressed when I showed him the books, and very taken with the underground passage, 500-600 yards to the wine making plant.
Sunday, 21 March 2004 
There were two Solemn Professions of the Benedictines at Dormition Abbey today, Fr. Elias and Brother Samuel, so that gives me some place to start. Being something of a spare wheel here at Latroun Abbey, the Prior asked me to go with him and the Novice, Br. Jose-Marie, as representatives of the community. This is all in the spirit of monastic solidarity. The Catholic  Church is so small now in the Holy Land that in fact there is a very intense community spirit among all the Religious.
Dormition Abbey
“With confidence in the assistance of the Lord we will vow stability, a monastic way of life and obedience in the community of brothers of Hagia Maria, Sion Abbey, Jerusalem”. These were the words of the Invitation to the ceremony of Solemn Profession and, as one would expect, the making of the these final vows received every honour of observance. At the appropriate moment, for example, a very large parchment already written by the candidates was produced, to be signed on the altar with great solemnity, counter signed by the Abbot in Mitre and Crosier and duly presented to each of the Brothers as witnesses. The choreography of all this was not complete until the final procession when two Brothers came from the back with a large, metal bound, archives chest. This was opened on the altar. The Abbot raised the schedules of Profession and deposited them in the chest. The chest was then solemnly carried away at the front of the recessional exit. (-the schedule of profession cannot be returned but must be kept in the monastery - Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 58) I describe this colourful part of the ceremony only to give an idea of the ‘pomp and state’ of the whole Mass and Profession which took two hours and forty minutes. The monk representatives from Latroun were greatly impressed. For me the novelty was fine, but I felt that the time and motion could have been more economically ordered. Perhaps, because I could not understand a word of the German, my imagination was more directed to the visual staging of things. The only English was the second Reading, read by one of the Filipino Sisters from the Annexe Foundation at Tabga on the Sea of Galilee.
The community is strongly re-enforced by the presence of the members of the Studium who take part in all ceremonies. These are Biblical Students, (Greek and Hebrew presumed before acceptance), male and female, Catholic and Protestant. The very accomplished young organist originally came with one of these groups and ended up joining the community.
The very fraternal gathering afterwards led to a happy afternoon inside the Abbey. The Sacristan/MC of the community is Br. Joseph. He made his Solemn Profession a year ago. He had once tried his vocation with the Trappists at Mariwald, and later was a nurse for three years.  His counterpart as Sacristan at Latroun is Br. Jose-Marie (Peru). The encounter between the two, ended up with Br. Joseph producing a very thick ring binder of all his directions for ceremonies. To these he added a CD Rom disk of forms used for regular daily, weekly, monthly programs  which he generously  offered to lend to Br. Jose-Marie. Out of his own lips, he admitted that he was Germanic in getting these things ‘properly’ organised.
Happily Br. Joseph was also our main host to visit the house and garden. His English is good.
One of the first things the present Abbot did in the community was to fit out a private Oratory for the monks, as distinct from the very public Church and Crypt, glorious as these truly are. Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament is in a slender stand of twelve leaves/branches with the Host exposed at the top. A very unusual style of Reservation. The Abbot’s underlying policy seems to have been a gradual deepening of the monastic aspect of the community which previously felt the consequences being an important centre of pilgrimage.
A monastery garden/cemetery is always a great place to learn the community history. I saw the grave of Fr. Bargil Pixner. Fr. Pixner is known for his two-volume work, ‘With Jesus through Galilee according to the Fifth Gospel”, in which it is the land in its archaeological aspect which speaks as the “fifth Gospel”. ‘With Jesus in Jerusalem –his first and last days in Judea’. It does not follow that other archaeologists agree with his colourful accounts.
Fr. Pixner, Ausrtrian/German, started off as a Mill Hill Missionary in the Phillipines. He eventually joined this Benedictine community. I notice from the autobiography of Bruno Hussar that he was one of the three who celebrated the first Mass at Neve Shalon in 1970. He spent the rest of his life doing the archaeology of Mt. Sion, here in Jerusalem and, in his later years, at Tabga in Galilee. Before he died in 2002 he asked to be buried in the grave of an older generation monk-archaeologist whom he admired, Fr. Mauritius Giesler. Following another piece of detective work on my own, I learned from Br. Joseph that the older archaeologist, Fr. Mauritius, had uncovered remains of a Byzantine Church on the site connected with the Rabbinic school of Gamaliel who taught Paul and his younger colleague St. Stephen. (Act 22:3  "I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cili'cia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gama'li-el, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as you all are this day). It makes one cringe to think of Paul’s part in the stoning of a younger school friend, Stephen, – something that in turn underlines just how radical and marvellous Paul s conversion had to be.  That Church dedicated to St. Stephen is at Bet Jemal near Beth Shemish, not far from Latroun. Fr. Rene is going to take me there for an on site confirmation of these things. You can see I am getting into the spirit of discovery in this Land of the Bible.
(Poor Stephen has got knocked about a bit in the various accounts. The site of his being stoned is disputed. Was it at Lion’s Gate, also called St. Stephen’s Gate, or was it at Ecole Biblique, the Church of which was dedicated to St. Stephen centuries before the Dominicans arrived? Now more attention is given there to the tomb of Fr. Joseph Lagrange O.P. whose ‘cause’ for beatification has been advanced in recent years).
The luminaries of the deceased in Dormition Abbey cemetery are but part of the great story of this many splendoured Church, sponsored by the Emperor Wilhelm II (1898), but reaching back to the magnificent Byzantine Church, “the Church of  Mount Zion, Mother of All the Churches”.
Thanks to Br. Joseph, and the conversation we could get the sense of another happy and lively community.
On another day, early in the morning, I was in the Crypt of Mary’s Dormition. The only visitors were some senior looking Ethiopian priests or monks. A little while later I was talking with Br. Joseph when he said , ‘come and see this unusual sight’. The group of Ethiopians had stopped at two ancient stones built into the side of the present Basilica and we joined them. Apparently they are old friends and make this pilgrimage regularly. They have a special devotion to Our Lady of Zion. Br Joseph explained these were the earliest remains from the oldest site of the Dormition. He was quite excited to share this with me because it is not known to many people.
Dom Denis Huerre, OSB, of Pierre-qui-Vire
One of the visiting monks at Dormition has been Dom Denis Huerre, OSB, of Pierre-qui-Vire, formerly Abbot President of the Subiaco Congregation. At the age of 88 he has been here to give talks. In fact, I am pleased to learn that he will stop overnight at Latroun for Mass and to give a talk to the community before his departure from Tel Aviv. We had his book, “To Our Brothers”, his biannual letters 1980-1988, read at Nunraw not long ago.
Later at Latroun, his introductory words were about how surprised he was at so little sign of any trouble during his visit. To him it seemed there were more signs of trouble in Europe and elsewhere than in the Holy Land. His talk to the community had all the engaging charm of a Benedictine octogenarian Abbot. He took for his talk just about the most difficult question possible for monks, “What is contemplation?” And he made it as simple and as clear as an novice could  understand. In his Homily (5th Sun. Lent) he spoke of the three tableaux of the Readings all climaxing with the powerful word “GO” as in Jesus speaking to the sinful woman, “Go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8;11).
A Swedish monk at Dormition Abbey is from St. Benoit sur Loire. Of course he maintains that is where the relic of St. Benedict’s head is kept. Today, 21st March, was the Translation of St. Benedict but since this is a Sunday in Lent the Feast is being kept at Dormition tomorrow. Like good Trappists we continue with the Ferias of Lent. The Swedish monk is also studying at Ecole Biblique and I learned from him that Murphy-O’Connor has a regular course on the topography of Jerusalem. This is too good an opportunity to miss if I can learn more on this front. For example, the Holy Sepulchre alone is a great mystery and there is an inexhaustible store of modern findings uncovered in rescuing the place from collapse.

Neve Shalom, Oasis of Peace.
Yesterday I walked by the field tracks over to Neve Shalom. There I obtained English copies of the autobiography of the Founder of this united Jewish, Christian, Muslim village, Fr. Bruno Hussar, OP. It is the wonderful story of Jew become Catholic and priest, then founder of this unique interfaith village where Jews, Christians and Muslims live and work together. The book is published by Veritas, When the Cloud Lifted, the testimony of an Israeli priest, by Bruno Hussar, ISBN 185390 0486. (Web: www.oasisofpeace.org Email afnswas@oasisofpeace.org ). Here are a couple of excerpts from his book, one about his attendance at UNO and one illustrating his understanding of Torah and Sacrament.
FOUR IDENTITIES. (Chap. 1). “New York, end of June 1967. An extraordinary General Meeting of the United Nations of the powers opposed to Israel was convoked immediately after the Six Days War . . . I was the last to speak, and I said, “Should I not have come from Jerusalem for this Meeting? I present myself: I am a Catholic priest, I am Jewish, I am an Israeli citizen, I was born in Egypt where I lived for eighteen years. I feel in myself four identities: I am truly Christian and a priest, I am truly Jewish, I am truly Israeli and I feel that I am, even if not truly Egyptian, at least very close to Arabs whom I know and love.
. . . I must keep each of these identities which are all good and God-given.
. . . This account allows me to show  how difficult it is for me personally to answer the question I put to myself, “What do I live for?”
These people exist today as a people because a great many of them faithfully and unfailingly listened to that Word, studied it and put it into practice. (p.1 ff.)
I will tell you something that happened to me later on in Jerusalem at the beginning of the sixties. It took place on Simhat Torah (Rejoice in the Torah), a festival that ends the annual cycle of the reading of the Pentateuch. This festival is celebrated not only in the synagogues (and, today, at the Western Wall), but also in t the streets, with lively dancing round the scrolls of the Torah.
I was on my way to pray and join in the general rejoicing in a little synagogue of hasidim. After the usual prayers, the doors of the cupboard where the Torah was kept were opened and the sacred scrolls were taken out. Then began an extraordinary scene: the whole congregation started to sing and dance in a circle, each one putting his hands on the shoulders of the person in front. In the middle of the circle, four or five 'pious ones' clasped the scrolls of the Torah, surmounted with crowns and bells, while they , danced to the same rhythm. From time to time, someone broke from the circle to replace one of the scrollbearers.
I looked at the eyes of those men, many of whom were old, and they shone with childlike joy. Sometimes it seemed the scrollbearer was in ecstasy. Those who passed the sacred parchment touched it, then put their fingers to their lips and kissed them. Religious enthusiasm was at its height.
That scene and the feelings in which I was caught up were not altogether new to me. Some years before, when I was finishing my theological studies, I had taken part with my brother Dominicans in a procession of the Blessed Sacrament in the park at Saulchoir .I still remember my feelings of overwhelming joy. And in the little synagogue, I thought: didn't the priest who then carried the Holy Sacrament feel the same kind of joy as these 'pious ones' who danced as they held the scroll of the Torah in their arms? And weren't the feelings of the religious who walked in procession like those experienced by the Jews dancing in a circle? What was the cause of this similarity?
And this answer came into my mind. The hasid who carries the Torah and the priest who carries the Holy Sacrament are both doing the same thing -I hardly dare to put it into words, it is so tremendous -in their hands they hold the Word of God! In one case, it is the Word of God on Mount Sinai, which was written down as the Torah and has lived ever since in the hearts of the Jewish people; in the other, it is tne Sacrament of the same unique Word of God which was made man in the womb of a daughter of Israel and lives on in the heart of the Church.
That same Word: which was before all beginning: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' That which was also at the beginning of time: 'In the beginning God created heaven, and earth ...And God said... 'He spoke, and it was done.' This same Word was revealed to men in the gift of the Torah and, later, in the gift of the only Son: 'Before Abraham was, I AM!
This extraordinary closeness to the God who speaks to men is a source of matchless joy. At the deepest level, Jew' and Christian have a common veneration and love for the Word of God. They both know they are called to listen to that Word, to meditate on it inwardly, to dedicate their lives to abetter understanding of it and to its service. Both wait impatiently for the full realisation of God's promises: MARANA THA! When the Word has been listened to for a long time and followed, and fully revealed to Jews and Christians in the clear Light of God, when the Messiah comes called by the Jews and 'the Son of Man comes in glory' , then surely the barriers that now separate these sons of God will fall and they will welcome him with one voice crying: 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. . . . .
On the strength of Fr. Bruno’s linking of the Exposition of the Torah Scrolls with the Exposition of the Holy Sacrament, I called in at the Messianic Bookshop at Jaffa Gate and acquired a miniature of  the large Scrolls one sees displayed by the dancing Synagogues, so to speak, at the Western Wall.

The most illuminating text on the destiny of Israel with relation to that of the Church is contained in Romans, Chapters 9 -11 (especially 11). With regard to Israel, Paul speaks of a temporary setting aside, to allow the pagans to gain access to the treasures of faith, of a regrafting of Israel on to the original tree from which it was temporarily severed; of' a mysterious dialectic between disobedience and mercy; of the 'wholeness' which Israel will obtain by 'jealousy' ; of the final fulfilment that this 'wholeness' will mean for the world. This will be such a great source of joy that Paul compares it with life springing from death!
An illuminating text but, like everything concerned with faith, surrounded with darkness. You have to be resigned to not understanding everything, certain only that the destiny of Israel is of a special kind. Like that of the Church, it is in the hands of God. The two are intimately linked in his loving design.”
This key reference of Romans 9-11 actually leads me into the lush pastures of the Course I am following with Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ. –“Old and New Testaments and the Unity of the Message of Jesus Christ”, - but that is a rich field still to be grazed. ROOT AND BRANCH - to borrow the image of the OLIVE TREE used by the Apostle Paul (Rm 11,16-24), ‘the unity of the branches must be matched with the unity of the root, aiming to recover the unity of the tree in togetherness – the Church with its root, the Jewish people’.

Fr. Bruno’s grave in the cemetery is kept nicely, close to the Doumia, the dome shaped place of silence. Any of the people I met there actually conveyed the spirit of peace of this ’Oasis of Peace’, and were most helpful. The lady in the PR Office was a Volunteer from Switzerland and will be returning to her country to carry on fund raising for the various needs and projects of Neve Shalom.
Nearby, in the village of Neve Shalom, were some tents provided for some visiting group. I got talking with someone who turned out to be the leader of the group, mostly young people from various countries. I was invited to come into the camp for tea. Trying to make sense of their story I learned that John, the leader, late 40s I’d say, came from Holland with a Catholic background. He travelled, became a hippie and eventually came to encounter the Bible, as it were for the first time. His wife, Judy, is Jewish now also Christian and they run a “Shelter Hostel” together  in Eilat on the southern tip of Israel on the Red Sea. It seems to be some kind of  Evangelical Charismatic organisation. The groups are taken to various Biblical camping sites for a month a time for prayer and Bible learning.
Even the example of this one meeting point, with so many associations gives one the impression that Jesus is very active in all sorts of encounters in the Land of the Bible. What a mix of cultures and peoples. Just a couple of miles away is MINI ISRAEL – theme park. Apparently there are 45 similar miniature cities   the world. This one is actually the miniature of a whole country, Israel – itself about the size of Scotland I think. It contains hundreds of precision models of buildings to the scale of 1:25. Most of  the famous sites, Biblical and Modern, without religious discrimination, are represented. I did not know why there was a gap in place of the Jerusalem Holy Sepulchre, a very conspicuous omission.  I asked about it  at Latroun but no one made me any the wiser. Was this some sinister ploy against the Christians? I resisted the temptation to think the worst. Then one day Fr. Pierre was driving me to Jerusalem and he explained the situation. It was not through any fault of the Israelis that the model of Holy Sepulchre did not have its appropriate place. Just the contrary. It was through the inability of the various Churches, the Greeks, the Romans and the Armenians, the big three in particular, to come to any agreement on the subject. This is the case with just about everything to do with the most sacred shrine of Christians, the Holy Sepulchre. In fact there is a very attractive side to the care and attraction of the Israelis at the Mini Israel. Fr. Pierre told me that the chief artist who makes the models refers to Latroun as “our monastery”. He works in one of the Kibbutzim. The first model he designed was of the abbey, and all the others spread out from it. One can look at this precision reproduction of the Abbey and then look across the fence, as it were, and see the real thing on the side of the hill – all quite amazing.
The real Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
The story of the real Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is something else. The place is a maze. I went into the special places and observed the customary traditions. But I decided to get down to it in earnest. So after one of my Biblical classes I returned to the Holy Sepulchre and armed with a drawing with brief comments I went trough the various Chapels and Shrines one by one, numbered from 1 to 33 – and even that leaves out peripheral Churches like the Coptic Patriarchate and others. I also acquired something like the ‘official’ account of the “Status Quo”. Without this detailed history of the relations, agreements, arrangements, regarding the claims which the various Churches have agreed upon each and every part of the Basilica, one might as well relax in the great atmosphere and not try to make sense of it all. Some might feel this is terrible. It is a mess. The edifice within the large dome and containing the actual place of Jesus’ resurrection is falling apart. Next door there is the magnificent Lutheran Church, sponsored by Emperor Wilhelm II, which is a ‘proper’ Church, spotlessly clean and expressing the best of Anglo Teutonic church style. At some point the Franciscans of the Custodia had a similar idea for a clean sweep of the present Basilica in order to replace it with some kind of monolithic structure. Happily, in this at least, they were voted out by the “Status Quo”, the consortium of all the Churches which have their own foothold there from time immemorial. From the time when Pilgrims first began coming to Jerusalem all the various Rites of the Church, in fact, observed their own languages, Rites and customs in total harmony until 1633, i.e. long after the Schism of Catholic and Greek in 1054.
Something will have to be done about the structure enclosing the actual tomb but otherwise there is every reason to cherish all the diversity, ambiguities and strange customs.  Inside the main entrance is the stone bench of the Muslim keepers of the keys. Two families have this right from the time of the Turks. On the day I made my check of all the chapels this bench for the Muslim Porters was occupied by two Israelis police. One was a woman, in uniform, who seemed to be deep in prayer. Nothing can be called strange in this topsy turvey world.
When I had finished my round inside I came out to the Parvis (paradise), the courtyard facing the main entrance and decided to have my midday sandwich. Well why not? The Lord likes to feed the hungry. Sitting there, I observed that at No.9 on the Basilica drawing, Mass was beginning.
12.30 Mass and Exposition.
There are external steps leading up to this glass fronted Chapel. It abuts on to the side of Calvary. It is called “Our Lady of Sorrows”. This is where there is regular Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. A Franciscan said the Mass, facing the altar, no room to face any other way. He used the Latin Missal, the Altar Cards and ended with the Last Gospel and the trimmings concluding with the Prayer to St. Michael in German. Fr. Luke is his name. He is from Sheffield. He joined the Franciscans in Jerusalem. I mentioned my peculiar experience of the missing model of the Holy Sepulchre at Mini Israel and he threw up his hands in despair of the “Status Quo”. “It took them 70 years before they could agree to the essential repairs of the Basilica so what can you expect for the model?” (The Holy Sepulchre was first built by the Emperor Constantine 325 AD. It was destroyed many times and periodically renovated, most recently in 1996) I asked if maybe he could put in a word in the appropriate places to get something moving on the model. It would be the greatest challenge for the model maker and his greatest masterpiece if it went ahead.
The Franciscans have a great printing plant. They produce the Magazine “Holy Land” in at least four languages, English, French, Italian, Spanish. The magazine is a mine of knowledge and information. I was able to obtain the back Issues of several years, and the Editor, Fr. Jago, added our name for future issues. It is a pity that it is not better known. Fr. Luke lamented the lack of better promotion of the magazine by his Franciscan brothers in UK. I have to confess all this chat was in the confined space of the Chapel was not very observant of silence. The attending lady, preparing the candles, must have been getting impatient for Exposition to get under way.
Quiet Morning - and Alert
It was a quiet morning but one keeps catching glimpse of life as it is in the wider Israel. Apparently no Arab under 45 was being allowed through.
In fact it was extremely quiet. I was heading for the bus and home via New Gate. There was hardly anyone  at this entrance to the Old City, except for what looked like a full platoon of young soldiers. They were at ease, sitting against the wall of the Old City. I gave them a smile and the smiled back – just a little exchange of humanity against the background of underlying  apprehensions and the appearance of general alert since the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin. There are no daily papers at the monastery, only the weekly Le Monde and L’Osservatore.   Fr. Pierre, Bursar, usually puts up a Bulletin of latest news on the Community Notice Board. This is very useful for focusing on the essential news, for ‘getting the message’, without ploughing through the press.
On the bus home, fairly crowded, a young man sat down. He looked at me and said, “You must be Moses come down from Sinai to bring peace. I assured him, yes, I had come from Sinai (last November), and each of us has to bring peace. He was pleasantly talkative. He is an non-practicing Jew and works as a flower designed near Jaffa. His parents are from Tunisia. He was born in Israel. Mildly thoughtful about praying to God in his heart, he was quite convinced that killing people only brings more killing, only love begets love. I think he was only expressing the attitude of the average Israeli citizen.

Battle of Latroun 1948
One’s immediate impressions in this extraordinary country  can be fresh,  vivid and fascinating but, with a little time, one learns not to be too quick with hasty conclusions. For example, I shall have to revise my views of the staff at the Museum of the Latroun Armored Corps (British Barracks). The particular soldiers and secretary I asked about the British history seemed to know little except the immediate glories of the Israeli Army exploits. Perhaps one has to ask the right questions. Scratching the surface of the history of modern Israel, there is, in fact, as much documentation on recent history as there is on the Hebrew Bible. Sr. Rosalie lent me a book, “O, Jerusalem”, a 600 page blockbuster, by Collins, Lapierre, 1982, (ISBN 0586 05452-9). In a very popular style it contains a couple of chapters on the ‘Battle of Latroun’ of 1948, pp. 474-488, There was  a ‘Battle of Latroun’ in each of the three Israel Wars but the first one at Latroun was the bloodiest. It was a disaster for the Israeli troops, most of whom were just new arrivals from the immigration ships. They had a few hours of training, hardly equipped and bussed to a point from which they had to approach the Templar Castle above the monastery which was heavily fortified by the Jordanians who held the junction, and had blockaded Jerusalem where the people were desperate for supplies. The task for the soldiers was hopeless from the start but they were compelled on the dictat of Ben Gurion, against all advice, on the grounds that the route must be opened. Many of those soldiers were killed in the wheat fields just beside the monastery. Names of officers from both sides, names of every village and every hillock provide the information which forms the tragic underlay of that scene which today looks the picture of peace and thriving interest, that includes the Abbey, the Beatitudes Community at Emmaus, the Lutheran Community in the ‘Stables’ of the Templar Castle, Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace), Mini Israel, etc. I suppose I shall now have to catch up with the books on the other two Wars. One day I noticed 3 or 4 coaches parked on the quiet lane at the back entrance leading to the old Templar Castle. At that time I thought it strange but now, knowing just how many epochs of interest surround it, I am not surprised that tourist get into this hidden place.
Filming at Latroun.
You may remember my contribution to the film making proposal for the coming Holy Week for which I was conscripted at Latroun – an English company needing anyone able to speak English for the Emmaus connection. An advance copy of the Video came on Thursday. It is entitled, don’t hold your breath, “Opera Babes in Jerusalem”. It will be broadcast in one of the TV Channels in Holy Week or Easter Week. Some people may find it less ambitious than Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” but more creative than “Woman’s Hour”. For popular viewing it uses two attractive young professional opera singers and their accompanying chat and singing to string  together the main points of a Holy Week presentation. There is also a focus on the role of the women participating in the Passion. The producer had not yet heard of Mel Gibson’s script which, I understand, sees everything from Mary’s viewpoint. In the film, the opera girls are most moved by their visit to Calvary in the Holy Sepulchre. They are also impressed by the elderly nun at the Russian Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives. She describes Mary Magdalene’s experience of the Resurrection movingly. This is the Church distinguished by the magnificent  golden globes, (Russian onion shaped). At their foundation the Sisters carried a great Cross on foot from Jaffa harbour to the Mount of Olives. Here, also they keep the tomb of St. Elizabeth, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She became a fervent Orthodox convert. As a member of the Emperor of Russia’s family she was martyred by the communists. The Orthodox Sister in the shop, who provided me with book on the life of St. Elizabeth, came from Ireland, and next to her was a loquacious American Sister.
Back to the film; not to be missed in television production, is the beautiful legend of the ‘Easter Egg’. The story is portrayed in a large painting of Mary Magdalene before the Emperor holding an egg in her hand. The Emperor said he would no more believe in the Resurrection than if the egg in her hand were to turn red, which of course it did on the instant.
As for the Emmaus connection, Latroun was the target, and some film artistic licence was taken in conflating the two, the Abbey and the nearby Emmaus Byzantine archaeological remains. I did my part – the usual few seconds as happens in documentaries. Then I had a shock, at the end. It shows the ’abbot’ raising a ‘toast’ of the best Latroun wine with the two bonnie lassies, and smiles all round. This might make a good-movie clip for future archives.

I had better stop there!
Palm Sunday is looming very near. The Palm Sunday Procession from Bethphage to the Pool of Bethesda (St. Ann’s) begins at 2.30 p.m. which is convenient for the drive from Latroun. The crowds will be trebled this Passion Week because the Calendars of the three Churches, Roman, Orthodox and Armenian, all coincide this years, a rare occurrence.
I would expect a massive and colourful turn out and hope to be there –depending on the measures of the Security Services.
Meanwhile I wish you every blessing during this holy time.
Donald McGlynn


Chronicle 13

Passion Week 2004

To Abbot Raymond, Nunraw.
In my end is my beginning. (Four Quartets)
What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. (Little Gidding)
Ephraim, ‘last retreat’ last Fri-Sat of Lent; Jn 12,32 Transjordan where Baptist had begun, earlier Jn 11,45-57 Jesus town of Ephraim
Jn 11, 54 Ephraim (2)
 (2) The town near the wilderness to which Jesus retired after the raising of Lazarus (Joh_11:54). This probably corresponds to Ephrem of Eusebius, Onomasticon (s.v. “Afra”) 5 Roman miles East of Bethel. This may be the place named along with Bethel by Josephus (BJ, IV, ix, 9). It probably answers to eṭ-Ṭaiyebeh, a large village about 4 miles North of Beitīn. The antiquity of the site is attested by the cisterns and rock tombs. It stands on a high hill with a wide outlook including the plains of Jericho and the Dead Sea. See EPHRON.
Ephraim-TAYBEH TWO BOOKS: The Christian Heritage in the Holy Land, ISBN 1 900269 06 6, 1995, Ed. Anthony O’Mahony, see J. Murphy-O’Conner, “Pre-Constantine Christian Jerusalem” pp. 13-21
Patterns of the Past, Prospects for the Future, ISBN 1 901764 10 9, 1999, Ed. Hummel etc, see J Murphy O’Connaer, “Bringing to Light the Original Holy Sepulchre Church pp. 69-84.
It is no wonder that Ecole Biblique is NOT the full name for the Dominican centre in Jerusalem. The full title is deservedly used, École Biblique et Archéologique Francaise de Jérusalem. (Web: http://ebaf.op.org ).
Note in the former book, a picture of the Holy Sepulchre Palm Sunday Procession c.1899, fig 8. Our Palm Sunday procession, more appropriately was from Bethphage to (the Temple) Bethesda.
I have to hurry if I am to  get through any account of Palm Sunday Chronicle before the Easter celebrations are upon us. There is so much to observe, and a rather resistant sponge of the mind can only absorb so much – no wonder we speak of ‘absorbing’ interest. –
“Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning”. (TS Eliot)

Dear Raymond,
After the Palm Sunday Mass at Latroun, Abbot Paul was proud do show me the mammoth Paschal Candle in the Sacristy in readiness for the Pascal Vigil. It is twelve feet long and six inches long and six inches thick. The decoration is an Icon style painting of the Risen Lord rising above the Tomb, and the figure a young Angel receiving the three women at the Tomb all in rich colours. The hand painting has been done by one of the Sisters of the Beatitudes, Emmaus. The candle was made in the kitchen with nothing more sophisticated than a long piece of plastic pipe.
For the Celebration of Palm Sunday the community gathered among the Olive Trees at the foot of the large stairway to the front door of the Church. I have been in the exegetical frame of mind for some time so I immediately wondered at the pile of Olive Branches from which each one took a “Palm Branch”, There were actually a Palm Trees nearby. I pointed out this oddity to the monk next to me, Br. Olivier, and he seemed to agree that it was strange. The translations, as I checked later, include ‘leafy branches’, ‘greenery’, ‘boughs’, ‘fronds’ etc, but I was to get an exegesis on the hoof, as it were, for this problem in the BETHPHAGE TO BETHSEDA Procession on the Mt. of Olives in the afternoon. I liked the idea of the Olive Branches but wanted to know more about it. The English PALM Sunday seems to be on its own, and is trying to replace it with PASSION Sunday. The French has the Sunday of the Branches and the Passion, and even better, “The Messianic Entry of the Lord to the Temple”. The Grail Psalter, Ps 117:27. refers to a procession with BRANCHES.
It is interesting to see how varied the practices of different communities can be. I was going to say how varied in country and culture but, in fact from that point of view, it is only the language, French, which make the difference for me.
The script for the Procession kept to the pure, unadorned, text, no verbal frills, no Homily.
But there the routine ended and we had a more scenic acting of the drama.
A distinctive element of the Latroun Palm Sunday  celebration is the choice of the second option of the Cistercian Ritual(1982). The main feature of this is the ‘Statio’ of the Adoration of the Cross. A great place to begin is the front of the Church.
The Processional Branches were Blessed on the ground level where a central space among the trees made a good assembly point. With our ‘branches’ waving and voices in full throttle we began our ascent of the long set of 25 stairs.
We approached the large upstanding Cross already placed in front of the main door. Tellingly, the title of our booklet was, “The Messianic Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem”.
For the “Adoration of the Cross”, the Abbot held the Cross, much taller than himself, and the Cantors sang, “Hail, our King, Son of David, Redeemer of the World”, as the community knelt on the steps.
The Cross was then carried by the Abbot followed by the monks, and placed in front of the altar.
The monks placed their Branches at the foot of the Cross where they would remain all day. The Cross would remain at the centre of the action for the whole Holy Week. Throughout, the joy, the glory, even the victory of the Cross seems to be a dominant theme – nothing is veiled. Only later would the figure, on Good Friday, disappear from the same Cross which then remained unadorned until at after the Easter Vigil it would be draped with white linen cloth on the plain wood.
The Passion Sunday Mass then followed the usual pattern with the Abbot and two monks taking the ‘parts’ of the Passion. All very simple and prayerful.
BETHPHAGE, MOUNT OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA. The Palm Sunday Procession, that of Bethphage to Bethesda, was conveniently timed for 2.30 in the afternoon.
Bethpage is not a major place on the Gospel or Pilgrim map. Backtracking a bit, one might begin with Jesus’ “Last Retreat”, withdrawing with the disciples to Epraim-Taybeh, (John 11:54  Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Jews, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called E'phraim; and there he stayed with the disciples).
Since the Procession is what Palm Sunday is all about, I was grateful to the Prior for arranging for some of the community to go to Bethphage. We actually got  to the top of the Mount of Olives when we had to abandon ship, as it were. The traffic had already got jammed with coaches, mini buses and taxis which were not being helped much by the Security Police or soldiers. It was just as easy to walk from this point, down the northern slope to Bethphage. I caught up with my old friends of the Little Sisters of the Resurrection who actually live on the Mt. of Olives. They too were on their way to the spot where Jesus began his “Messianic Entry into Jerusalem”. From then on it was a case of meeting old friends and making new ones. It was possible to visit the Church of Bethphage, in orderly single file, where the focus is on a mounting block which is as big as the average sized donkey. It is best to consider it as the enlarged representation of a more homely action of Jesus gently riding the donkey. The armour clad Crusaders could have used a block this size to mount their battle chargers. Jesus only asked for the colt of an ass. I tend to think that the critics are a bit to sweeping in their disposing of this situation. There is no reason to think that the stone could have well have been a low step embedded in the earth and later exposed fully in view of its significance. There is no doubt about the antiquity of the stone and of the paintings upon it going back to and veneration it received

For example I am trying to make sense of the great Sunday Procession of Branches in relation to the Lazarium. The shrines or Churches of Bethany and Bethphage came later and have their history of destruction by local inhabitants called at different times Saracens, then Turks (since 1533-4), an finally Moors (1586) and Maugrabins (1621), but only the bed rock that takes you to the LAZARIUM, the tomb of Lazarus gets you down to the earthy reality of where Lazarus was raised by Jesus, the event of which was celebrated by the faithful of the Jerusalem Church before the Byzantine Churches of Bethany and of Bethphage and indeed before the coming of Christians of gentile stock, and which is central in the theology of John. The fact is that between TEXT and TOPOGRAPHY there is a vast corpus of doctoral theses  and archaeological tomes on tap from the academic Institutions of Jerusalem, Franciscan Biblical Institute, Ecole Biblique, Pontifical Biblical Commission, and countless new generation Israeli archaelologists. To speak of browsing and surfing the surface of all this material is a great understatement. It does strike me, though, that much of the large scale digging, archaeology, of the Franciscans in the Holy Land is in the recovery of the Christina holy sites of the Byzantine and Crusader periods. But it would not be fair to undervalue their archaeological achievements. The variety of fields of Biblical research by these dedicated Institutions flows into an impressive understanding of the Unity of the Bible. One can admire their industry and perhaps some of it will rub off on less erudite but enthusiastic amateurs.
Today, on Passion Sunday 2004, the most popular Pilgrim event is the great Procession. But in the priorities of the early Pilgrims the LAZARIUM had key place. On an earlier occasion, (that of the Ordination of one of the Franciscans at St. Saviours), I asked Patriarch Michel if there was some special celebration for the Lazarium in the current Pilgrim calendar. He mentioned the Lazarists, (of St. Vincent de Paul), and the fact that the Church in the Holy Land has a Feast of Saint Lazarus but nothing else. By contrast, the account of Egeria describes a very different situation of Solemn Vigil and splendid procession.
The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbat, was already sitting with the other Bishops under a simple canopy at the back steps of the Friary to the rear of Bethphage Church. There was one very narrow point of access but people kept coming and going and in the mysterious way of a peaceful mass movement of humanity, no one felt crowded or crushed. There was some semblance of the order in which we were supposed to process, Sodalities, Parishes, lay people, Religious, Priests. We were standing near a large contingent of Franciscans near the Bishops. Alex, the Postulant, comes from Jaffa and there seemed to be a very large group from his Parish there. He and Br. Olivier tried to keep our group together but in the end I flowed with the stream. I was happy to find myself as a kind of ‘out-rider’. There was plenty of space and a long road over and down the Mount of Olives so I could make my own way forward from one group of singing, branch-waving people to another. At no time did I see either end of the Procession. It just snaked on endlessly up from Bethphage to the crest just between the Carmelite Nuns Church of “Pater Noster” and the Benedictine Convent opposite, and on as we viewed Temple, passing down by Dominus Flevit, the Russian Convent of Saint Magdalen, Gethsemane the sight of the Temple

1.       Bethaage
2.       Bethany
3.       Lazarium Egeria
4.       Importance of Lazarium

Note re Bethany – destruction of these places is attributed to the local inhabitants called at different times Saracens, then Turks (since 1533-4), an finally Moors (1586) and Maugrabins (1621)

Cloister – Latroun Abbey

Chronicle 14

Emmaus Easter Monday 2004

On the strength of the Night Office Reading on Easter Monday, I thought this must be the special day of Latroun, the day of Latronus, the Good Thief. (“The Cross opens to us today the locked paradise. For today God introduces there, the thief. So that He achieves two great wonders; He opens paradise and he brings in the robber. He gives to him His own heritage, He leads him in to the city of his Father. “Today, he says, you will be with me in paradise” John Chrysostom).
Br. Benoit had fuller information on the situation for me. This is also Emmaus Day, recalling the Resurrection meeting of the two disciples with Jesus. What is in a name? Historically there is a whole string of ancient interpretations of the name ending with the decision of a British Cartographer fixing on Latroun. Br. Benoit looks back further than even his 86 years. In the Hebrew the ancient name signified a ‘look out’, a spot from which one could keep guard over a wide vista. The Romans had a fortress here-abouts long before the Crusaders’ Templar Toron (Tower). And before the Jordanians and Israelis were locked together in disputing the same location, evidently, the British made their mark. Maybe that Cartographer who specified Latroun on his Map was a Welsh Methodist from the Rhonda Valley. Due to his training by fundamentalist Christian parents and Churches, on the geography of Israel. Ancient, it is said that, “Lloyd-George’s political advisers were unable to concentrate his mind on the modern map of Palestine during negotiations prior to the Treaty of Versailles, Lloyd-George admitted that he was far more familiar with the cities and regions of Biblical Israel than with the geography of his native Wales ­ or of England itself” (from an essay on the British and Christian Zionism).
So bridging the gap between the Biblical origins and modern history is the Christian tradition in which Latroun is well established. Br. Benoit went on to explain that the Good Thief was named Dismas and lived nearby. His wife was Egyptian and she and the family received the faith as a result of the death of Dismas beside Jesus on the Cross. And complete this setting of the scene, the Church of Latroun is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, the transept on one side is dedicated to St. Dismas, the Good Thief, and the other transept is dedicated to St. Cleophas and his friend, the disciples who joined Jesus at Emmaus, (Lk. 24:18, Jn. 19:25). Since the altars are stripped in good post Vatican II style, it would be nice to replace them with a good icon designed for each transept. The subjects would be very relevant even if the geography and other details may not be all that Canonical. Who is going to quibble about such problems? Certainly not His Beatitude Michel, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. He is coming the this afternoon on his Easter Monday round of the three places commemorating Emmaus, i.e. Emmaus (Latroun), Emmaus Qubeibah (OFM), and Emmaus Abu Gosh (OSB). Cleophas, according to tradition, was martyred for his faith and is also buried here. So I am quite happy with Emmaus-Nikopolus (Latroun), knowing full well that the other locations were only heard of at the time when the Crusaders first brought their own latest Exegetes from Europe.
I heard the French Gospel this morning and it mentioned a 2 hour walk from Jerusalem and that would fit perfectly - not that I intend to test it by walking. (TOB, Ecumenical Bible used in Liturgy  “Ephata – Missal of the Christian Life”, “towards a village called Emmaus, a two hour walk from Jerusalem. Lk. 24:13”. Sadly this favoured version cannot be accepted by the textual critics. )

In the evening of Easter Monday any of the community at Latroun who wished could go along the road to the site of the ancient Byzantine Basilica, to join the Community of the Beatitudes and the Pilgrims for this Easter Evening Mass.
While we waited for transport, Alex and I looked for a CAROB tree I was curious to identify. Sure enough there was one right there and plenty of these evergreen trees here and at Emmaus. And the HUSKS of last year were still to be seen to satisfy my curiosity about Luke  15:16, (And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating but no one would let him have them), to complete a detail of the “Prodigal Son”.It is also recounted of Saint Sabas, when he first came here, to Nikopolus c. 500, that he lived off the husks and leaves of the carob tree.
Titular Bishop of Emmaus. For the Mass, there was plenty of space in the ancient nave but one could only call the congregation a “little flock”. One of the two assistant Bishops, Mgr. Marcuzzo, is based in Nazareth but he is the Titular Bishop of Emmaus. His Homily was beautifully appropriate to the place and to the occasion. He looked out on the plain of Ayalon all around us and recalled the Biblical instance here in which Joshua delayed the sun in order to attain the rout of his enemies, (Jg. 1:35, Jos. 10:12). Bishop Marcuzzo had a lovely thought on,  “Rest here a while with us”, see Lk. 24:29, drawing the parallel of the “SUN” waiting until the Israelites reached their aim, and the “SON” of God in the soul warming account of the encounter with the disciples.
 Incidentally, St. Cleophas’s companion is not left anonymous in the Liturgy of the Holy Land, - The name of St. Simeon appears on the stage at this point in the prayers. When it is said to be apocryphal I begin to see that the word is not entirely negative. Taken in the technical sense of an Apocryphal source it can be understood among other respected traditions.
The evening sun, 5.00 p.m., was so hot that there was a shift of seats to allow the Bishops and Concelebrants to use the shade of the ruins. I watched the Paschal Candle, in the full blaze of sun, gradually bend over in the heat and I felt urged to move it. Eventually it wilted, and fell over - at the point where it was ‘well caught, Sir’ in one hand by one of the Brothers, who had the very ornate Patriarch’s Crosier in his other hand. - This sleepy observer picks up the most peculiar things, - and forgets the impressive things like the music.
The Community of the Beatitudes gave us great singing. The first two Readings were in Arabic, the Gospel in French. At the conclusion all were invited to the Museum for a ‘party’ i.e., refreshments. The mini-bus brought us and the borrowed vestments and altar fittings back home to Latroun, just as the abbey Vespers ended.
Timely Conclusion. On Easter Wednesday Fr. Poffet, O.P. came for the regular Spiritual Visit he makes to the community at Latroun. In his talk he developed the parallelism between the Emmaus encounter and the meeting of Philip with the Ethiopian at Gaza, (Act 8:26ff, The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, 'Set out at noon and go along the road that leads from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.' So he set off on his journey. Now an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem). Both narratives lend themselves to all the elements of a Catechesis, with Jesus on the one hand and Philip on the other ‘explaining the Scriptures’, leading to the Eucharist on the one hand and the Sacrament of Baptism by Philip on the other. Finally, leaving aside how to grapple with the topography of both journeys, Fr. Poffet focused on the theology. Emmaus is wherever Christ meets the Church. In meeting the disciple at Emmaus, and in meeting the Ethiopian through Philip, Christ opens his heart to the faithful, to his Church, wherever His saving risen life is most intimately known. (I hope Fr. Poffet excuses my shorthand version of his talk).

Crusader Castle above abbey

Prior Rene, Fr. Paul (Kenya), Donald

Chronicle 15

Note on:
Feast of Ascension - Ascension Mount of Olives 20th May 2004

Someone asked me to find a stone as a souvenir and I will be only too happy to bring one from on the Mount of Olives.
The best place for me to find a ‘stone from the Holy Land’ is on the neglected, ankle twisting, back breaking, un-surfaced path between Gethsemane and the Benedictine Convent, the middle road. Six months ago, on my first exploration, I gave up that particular climb. On this Ascension Day I made the trek, 500 very steep metres, twice. And taking this precipitous path I discovered the stone marking the original site of Christ’s weeping over Jerusalem, not the very picturesque ‘Dominus Flevit’, built in 1955. In front of the older church of 1891, now the Friary, is the burial place of the heart of the Marquis of Bute, John Crichton Stuart of the Royal Line and therefore serving by proxy the wish of Robert the Bruce whose heart never reached Jerusalem. (The next few days will be my last chance to follow that example). The discovery of these details is fascinating but I miss something like the twenty years Murphy-O’Connor spent on his topographical seminars on Palestine. See his “Holy Land”, or another classic, ‘Guide to the Holy Land 1984’ by Eugene Hoade OFM, writing on the Holy Places since 1942

To celebrate Ascension, and my farewell in a few days time, I attended Vespers at the shrine on the summit of the Mount of Olives, and the dawn Mass next morning.
The Chapel/Mosque/Ombomon (neither Cross or Crescent showing) is owned by the Muslims but on the Annual Feast of the Ascension the Armenian, Coptic, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Syrian Churches are each allowed to hold their Liturgies. The Muslims also recognise Jesus’ Ascension but not His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Vespers extended into a procession, three times round the small octagonal building, and, to everyone’s amazement, we had a shower of rain. The rainy season ended weeks ago.
To attend the Mass, we had to start off at 4.30 am from Via Dolorosa. Not surprisingly, two of the Ecce Homo group felt faint in the confined space and had to go outside. They could then joke that they almost completed the Ascension.

After the early Mass on Ascension Thursday I went next door, as it were, for breakfast with the Benedictine nuns. Actually I wanted to meet the Prioress to check details of an account of the community of Notre Dame of Calvary. Mother Christine promised to send me some photographs as well. She was very happy with the draft text but then she is French speaking and was therefore most tolerant of my efforts. See COPY of draft document below.

It is always great to get off to an early start in the morning. So in the course of Ascension Day, and in view of farewells in Jerusalem, I managed to visit the monks at Dormition, the Pontifical Biblical Istitute Chapel, the Church of Scotland of St. Andrew, the Skirball Museum (Tel Gezer findings from 3000 BCE. In the Museum, a ceiling to floor colour photo shows the 20 great Stelae, with Latroun Abbey in view in the centre distance), and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who topped a very full morning with a most welcoming community lunch with the Sisters.
My wanderings of the day also included a chance meeting with George the Armenian outside St. James Cathedral in the Armenian Quarter. We had never met. I mentioned that James is my Baptismal name and for some unconnected reason he recommended that I read “The Holy Mountain” by William Dalrymple. Apparently they got acquainted in the course of the writing of that wonderful book so I am commissioned with mutual greetings of William and George.
I was glad to get to Ecce Homo late afternoon for a belated siesta. In the evening there was a scheduled session of “Parashat”, a Rabbinic version of shared Lectionary Readings.
I stayed the night because the final lecture on the Unity of Old and New Testament was to be in the morning.

Vespers of the Ascension at the summit of the Mount of Olives gave me a sense of how the monastic life itself pivots around the Holy Places. On this aspect of things, it was interesting to hear Prioress Christine say how impressed she had once been by a paper given by a Bursar of Stanbrook precisely on the theme of St. Benedict’s sense of the sacredness in the monastic milieu. As one theologian has demonstrated, the growing importance of the Holy Land in Christian thought during the first centuries A.D. was associated with the emergence of a SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY, one that saw the presence of God in his creation, particularly in the land and places made holy by the prophets and, most importantly, by the Incarnation.” Words of Fr. Augustine’s Homily at Latroun brought this though to the specific feast of the Ascension in the Holy Place of Mount of Olives, “To grasp the moment of both the Ascension and the Parousia is to contemplate the mystical ladder seen long ago by the Patriarch Jacob, the mystical ladder which has inspired so many commentators including St. Benedict  in Chapter 7 of his Rule.
I got diverted by interest in the Place where Jesus Wept, Dominus Flevit, but in fact this is the only way of ascent to the Place of the Ascension. There could not be a more dramatic expression of the sorrow of Jesus over the destruction of Jerusalem and the joy and glory of His Ascension. There is a great raising of mind and heart in the vision of St. Stephen, “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Act 7:55  

Travelling  regularly by bus from Latroun to Jerusalem, I met the ordinary Israeli citizen and like the ordinary Palestinian these people  do not want conflict.
I called again at the Church of Scotland of St. Andrew. The Minister was not at home, but the lady looking after the craft shop voiced an encouraging view. She comes from Bethlehem. She said that the ordinary people want to live and work together. It is the political powers who are intransigent in not wanting change.
After many encounters, I shall remember going through the Check Point in the Central Bus Station. The young Security Service policeman wanted to check my Passport. He inspected my ID photo, looked at me, and then he said, “Have a nice day. GOD BLESS YOU!”. - I will take that greeting with me as a special blessing from this land.

Chronicle 16
Ascension 2004

[E-mail from: Abbot Christopher Dillon OSB <christopher@glenstal.org> wrote:
re. Benedictine Convent of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
Dear Donald,
    This last is your best, among all that have been full of interest. Thank you very much for sending them to me. I find your account of the Benedictines, at the top of the Mount of Olives, most evocative. I visited them, on a few occasions, but I never got around to making the degree of contact with them which you have obviously been able to make.
    I hope the return journey will be bearable and your return to Nunraw a blessing for you and the community.
    In the Lord
-----Original Message-----
From: Donald McGlynn [mailto:domdonald@yahoo.co.uk]
Sent: 22 May 2004 18:19
To: Raymond Jaconelli
Subject: Re: Note on Ascension Mount of Olives:]

Frere Benoit, Br Jose-Marie, Latroun

Note on Ascension Mount of Olives
Raymond Jaconelli nunraw_abbot@yahoo.co.uk
Dear Abbot Raymond,
Someone asked me to find a stone as a souvenir and I will be only too happy to bring one from on the Mount of Olives.
The best place for me to find a ‘stone from the Holy Land’ is on the neglected, ankle twisting, back breaking, un-surfaced path between Gethsemane and the Benedictine Convent. Six months ago, on my first exploration, I gave up that particular climb. On this Ascension Day I made the trek, 500 very steep metres, twice. And taking this precipitous path I discovered the stone marking the original original site of Christ’s weeping over Jerusalem, not the very picturesque ‘Dominus Flevit’, built in 1955. (In front of this latter is the burial place of the heart of the Marquis of Bute, John Crichton Stuart of the Royal Line and therefore serving by proxy the wish of Robert the Bruce whose heart never reached Jerusalem. The next few days will be my last chance to follow that example). The discovery of these details is fascinating but I something like the twenty years Murphy-O’Connor spent on his topographical seminars on Palestine.

To celebrate Ascension, and my farewell in a few days time, I attended Vespers at the shrine on the summit of the Mount of Olives, and the dawn Mass next morning.
The Chapel/Mosque/Ombomon (neither Cross or Crescent showing) is owned by the Muslims but on the Annual Feast of the Ascension the Armenian, Coptic, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Syrian Churches are each allowed to hold their Liturgies. The Muslims also recognise Jesus’ Ascension but not His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Vespers extended into a procession, three times round the small octagonal building, and, to everyone’s amazement, we had a shower of rain. The rainy season ended weeks ago.

After the early Mass on Ascension Thursday I went next door, as it were, for breakfast with the Benedictine nuns. Actually I wanted to meet the Prioress to check details of an account of the community of Notre Dame of Calvary. Mother Christine promised to send me some photographs as well. She was very happy with the draft text but then she is French speaking and was therefore most tolerant of my efforts. See COPY of draft document below.

It is always great to get off to an early start in the morning. So in the course of Ascension Day, and in view of farewells in Jerusalem, I managed to visit the monks at Dormition, the Church of Scotland of St. Andrew, and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who topped a very full morning with a most welcoming community lunch with the Sisters.
My wanderings of the day also included a chance meeting with George the Armenian outside St. James Cathedral in the Armenian Quarter. We had never met. I mentioned that James is my Baptismal name and for some unconnected reason he recommended that I read “The Holy Mountain” by William Dalrymple. Apparently they got acquainted in the course of the writing of that wonderful book so I am commissioned with mutual greetings of William and George.
I was glad to get to Ecce Homo late afternoon for a belated siesta. In the evening there was a scheduled session of “Parashat”, a Rabbinic version of shared Lectionary Readings.
I stayed the night because the final lecture on the Unity of Old and New Testament was to be in the morning.

Vespers of the Ascension at the summit of the Mount of Olives gave me a sense of how the monastic life itself pivots around the Holy Places. On this aspect of things, it was interesting to hear Prioress Christine say how impressed she had once been by a paper given by a Bursar of Stanbrook precisely on the theme of St. Benedict’s sense of the sacredness in the monastic milieu. As one theologian has demonstrated, the growing importance of the Holy Land in Christian thought during the first centuries A.D. was associated with the emergence of a SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY, one that saw the presence of God in his creation, particularly in the land and places made holy by the prophets and, most importantly, by the Incarnation.” Words of Fr. Augustine’s Homily at Latroun brought this though to the specific feast of the Ascension in the Holy Place of Mount of Olives, “To grasp the moment of both the Ascension and the Parousia is to contemplate the mystical ladder seen long ago by the Patriarch Jacob, the mystical ladder which has inspired so many commentators including St. Benedict  in Chapter 7 of his Rule.

Among other things, there now remains the important checking of my flight confirmation for the end of the week.
I trust you are well.

With all good wishes in Christ’s love.

Ecce Home Group Visit at Latroun
Sr. Clare, Donald, Sr. Helen

ADDENDUM: Draft copy of response to following question.
State’ of monastic presence in the Holy Land at the present time.
No.2. - Benedictine Convent of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.
The celebration of the CENTENARY of the Benedictine Nuns of the Mount of Olives in 1996 marks both an absence and a presence  - the long absence during centuries of Muslim occupation of Jerusalem, the monastic presence beginning in 1896.
Today’s community on the Mount of Olives therefore has a long heritage of long delayed memories of the Holy Places and of the frustrated aspirations towards a monastic presence in the land of Jesus.
The spirit of that urge to venerate the Holy Places is embodied in the story of the foundation in Jerusalem or, to give the full title, “The Monastery of the Benedictines of Notre Dame of Calvary of the Mount of Olives. The Congregation of Benedictine of Notre Dame of Calvary was established  at Poitiers in 1617.  Almost three centuries (1617-1896) were to elapse between the aspiration of the founders and the realisation of their hope.
The foundation got under way when the first seven Sisters arrived, 12th December 1896. These Sisters came from four communities of the Congregation
At the commencement of the Holy War of the Ottoman Empire and of the 1st World War, 1914, the 17 Nuns of the Mt. of Olives suffered banishment and the interruption of their faithful “watch” on their beloved mountain. A photograph of one of the Sisters looking out from the enclosure to the view of the Mercy Gate of the Jerusalem Wall, onto the Temple Mount, Calvary and the Old City has the appropriate text of Isaiah 62:6:”On your walls, Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen; they will never fall silent, day or night. No peace for you, as you keep Yahweh's attention!”
In 1919 the nuns, now reduced to 11, returned from their four year exile to reoccupy their convent. Today the community is made up of 16 members. The bare statistics of modest numbers conceal over one hundred years of intensive and unique experience of the community and the history of lives enriched by the spirituality doubly blessed by the grace of being rooted in this Holy Place and in the tradition of this Benedictine monastery. If every monastery radiates a presence which is never stereotyped but always a special (com)union of the monastic community with its environment of people, then Notre Dame of Calvary is no exception. The Muslim community are their friends and support in the neighbourhood where there are no Palestinian Christians.
Regardless of the clouds of a much disturbed land, the state of the monastic presence at the present in Jerusalem, represented by this community, is a shining star, made brighter  by its enclosed life, by its littleness in a small community, by its poverty, and by its own industry in Icon production.
Two World Wars have threatened its very existence. During the “Six Day War” of 1967 their home was literally shaken to the foundations as the nuns and other refugees took shelter in underground caves in a bombardment that lasted three days.
The image of this Benedictine community standing firm on the Mount of Olives is an emotional stirring to the heart and is an enduring inspiration of witness to the mind.
Emotion and inspiration apart, Benedictines are nothing if not pragmatic. In order to survive in the material situation the Sisters used to provide services by caring for orphans, gradually extending to other schooling and eventually, in the social and educational context they had to forego this activity. Navigating through the challenges of a hundred years, not to mention the Council of Vat II, Liturgical change and Religious Renewal, the Sisters have found that their lives have reached a balance and a depth that brings them peace and satisfaction.
One practical solution to making a livelihood has been the successful Icon painting workshop. To begin with, three of the nuns were trained by an iconographer, Brother Henri, Little Brothers of Jesus, who came first as guest. Since then this has become the community work adjusted to the talents of each. A nice Benedictine touch to this practice is that prayer in common also can take place together at the particular Hour of the Divine Office. With collaboration from Conception Abbey, US, this enterprise of Icon ‘writing’ extends through the Internet to five continents.
(Email phwebmaster@printeryhouse.org).
Flowing seamlessly from this creative work, a new initiative has developed for the benefit to the community and for the convents of the wider Benedictine community. Information on the various services of monastic hospitality is available but this new initiative seems particularly apt for the times and the place. The Information Folder describes a challenging project; “Welcome to Nuns Worldwide. Aware of the riches of the monastic life in such a place and wishing to respond to the appeal of the Lord, the monastery is open to welcome French speaking nuns following the Rule of Saint Benedict. It offers to them the possibility to share the life of the community (Liturgy, meals and services) while benefiting from one year of Biblical Formation. One year at the sources of the Word with the possibility of initiation into the Art of Icons.” Regrettably, between two intefadas and the misleading mass media image of Jerusalem this possibility has still to be implemented.
But the outward looking spirit, in fact, speaks very accurately of the community’s own outlook for the future. The ‘state’ of their monastic presence at the present time is the occasion of deepening the Biblical roots of the Rule of St. Benedict, of rediscovering Jewish prayer and feasts, the riches of monasticism and of the eastern liturgies . . . .
Countless people still knock at the inconspicuous little door of “Couvent Benedictine” in the narrow street of Raba al-Adawiya, friends, guests, pilgrims, students. The international dimension of this small convent near the summit of the Mount of Olives now brings new support to the community and a welcome to the people of God from all nations.
For monastic hospitality contact: Monastery of the Benedictines, Mount of Olives, POB 19338 Jerusalem, Israel. Tel 97226264954. Fax 97226283768.

Donald McGlynn
Nunraw Abbey, Haddington, Scotland, EH41 4LW
Presently at Latroun Monastery, BP 753, 72100 RAMLEH, Israel
Email: domdonald@yahoo.co.uk

Group from Ecce Homo Centre on visit to Emmaus/Latroun

Editor – Benedictine Yearbook 2005
“The ‘State’ of Monastic Presence in the Holy Land in the Present Time”. 3333 Words
The monastic vocation keeps overflowing the normal boundaries. The Orthodox clergy in Israel are predominantly monastic but, by the same token, they are oriented to be Bishops or Ecclesiastics of some kind. Greek Orthodox monasteries may have only one or two monks acting as care-takers, as at Holy Cross Monastery, Jerusalem, and at Quarantul, the Mount of Temptation, Jericho, St. George’s at Wadi Kelt. The independent Mar Saba Monastery, east of Bethlehem, is about the most active Orthodox monastery with a membership of some twenty monks, but often drawn into service in the Holy Places in Jerusalem.
On the Ecumenical front there are also Lutheran or other communities aiming to live a monastic observance, Taize style, e.g. the Fraternity residing beside Latroun Abbey..
Monastic communities are a minority in this land, just as the Catholic Church itself is a tiny minority relative to the population. In fact monasteries are very few and these are French or German speaking. There is no Anglophone monastic presence in the land where Jesus enjoyed places of retreat as at Bethany and at his last retreat at Taybey/Ephraim.
The representatives of the monastic vocation in Israel consist for the most part of the handful of communities:
1.       Latroun Cistercian (Trappist), OCSO, 1890, 28 monks. French speaking
2.       Benedictines Mount of Olives, 1896, 16 nuns. French speaking.
3.       Mount Zion, Jerusalem, Benedictine, OSB, 1906, originally Beuron Congregation, presently under the Abbot Primate, Rome, 18 monks. German speaking.
4.       Tabgha, Sanctuary of the Multiplication of the Loaves, Simple Priory dependant on Mount Zion Abbey. German speaking.
5.       Tabgha, Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King, 1995, 6 nuns. English speaking.
6.       Abou-Gosh, Olivetan OSB, 1976. 10 monks, 1977, 12 nuns. French speaking.
7.       Beit Jamal (Beit Shemish). Nuns of Bethlehem and the Assumption, (Carthusian style solitude), 1985, 40 nuns. French speaking.
8.       Beit Jamal, Monks of Bethlehem, the Assumption and St. Bruno, (Carthusian style solitude), 1990s. 5 monks. French speaking.
9.        Emmanuele Sisters, Bethlehem, Melkite Rite.
10.   Deir Hanna, (Galilee-Nazareth), Lavra Netofa, autonomus Melkite monastery, 1963, 5(?) monks. Founded by Fr. Jacob Willebrands.
1. Latroun Cistercian (Trappist), OCSO, 1890. The ‘state’ of monastic presence in this context is an all important but elusive element to pin down. There is a valid contribution by each community in the more characteristic role of the monastic community in its own particular environment. Dormition Abbey in the city (albeit the Holy City), for example, is light years different from Latroun Abbey in the sticks, if you can call the Latroun Junction of Motorways ‘in the sticks’. (15/20 mins by bus to Jerusalem).
The ‘state’ of monastic presence in the Holy Land at the present time is remarkable in that it exists at all. Even more remarkable is that it can be recognised by an identity that is so distinctive that we can talk of this ‘monastic presence’.
When Latroun monastery was founded in the Holy Land, it was established in 1890, in the strict Trappist contemplative style. Against clerical advice to settle in more favourable land, the Trappists chose Latroun for its solitude and silence. It took decades to bring the land back to something like the Biblical state ‘land of milk and honey’, or to its present success in wine production. The gardens are beautiful; the birds are vibrant in the lush trees. This idyll is somewhat dented by the advance of Israeli industry to be heard in the unceasing movement of heavy construction trucks and unbroken streams of commuter travel, except for the strict Sabbath on Saturdays.
So how does a Catholic contemplative monastery fit into this vortex of conflicting activity. There are 54 crosses marking the deaths of monks at Latroun since 1894, another 10 died overseas.  In the three Israeli wars only one monk died as a direct casualty of the 1948 War, Br. Theophane, Acolyte, d. 6th July 1948.. The great paradox is the clear, unchanging identity of the Trappist monks seemingly aloof, on the one hand, and the vicissitudes of two world wars followed by almost 60 years Israeli/Palestinian conflict). It was extremely refreshing to listen to the Homily for the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of Latroun given by the Abbot, Dom Paul. This was a normal community talk, unburdened by preoccupations about the State of Israel, and for that very reason, an expression of the understanding the monks have of their own ‘monastic presence’.
Dom Paul said, “In ‘Christianism’, the same word designates the place of worship and the people who are gathered there, they show us by this that the true temple, the true Church, the dwelling of God, is the assembly of the faithful. It is this  which merits in the first place the name of Church and that gives its name to the place where it is brought together. This building, this church is holy because the assembly it contains is holy. God dwells in it in the measure that our faith, our love  our communion inhabit it.
It is not given to all Christian communities to erect beautiful edifices like this one, but everyone ought to build themselves a dwelling made of living stones, of hearts that love and praise God. That is the final consecration of all the work, of all the effort of man. In this sense, also, it is us, by our faith, our love, our fraternal communion, who consecrate this Church.” – words that apply very well, I think, to the spiritual awareness of the monks in this place, at this time of a Holy Land bound by national borders but transcending all nations.
2. Benedictine Convent of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. 1896, 16 nuns.
The celebration of the CENTENARY of the Benedictine Nuns of the Mount of Olives in 1996 marked both an absence and a presence  - the long absence during centuries of Muslim occupation of Jerusalem, the monastic presence beginning in 1896.
The Congregation of Benedictine of Notre Dame of Calvary was established  at Poitiers in 1617.  Almost three centuries (1617-1896) were to elapse between the aspiration of the founders and the realisation of their hope.
Two World Wars have threatened its very existence. During the “Six Day War” of 1967 their home was literally shaken to the foundations as the nuns and other refugees took shelter in underground caves in a bombardment that lasted three days.
The image of this Benedictine community standing firm on the Mount of Olives is an emotional stirring to the heart and is an enduring inspiration of witness to the mind.
Navigating through the challenges of a hundred years, not to mention the Council of Vat II, Liturgical change and Religious Renewal, the Sisters have found that their lives have reached a balance and a depth that brings them peace and satisfaction.
The practical solution to making a livelihood has been the successful Icon painting workshop. To begin with, three of the nuns were trained by an iconographer, Brother Henri, Little Brothers of Jesus, who came first as guest. Since then this has become the community work adjusted to the talents of each. A nice Benedictine touch to this practice is that prayer in common also can take place together at the particular Hour of the Divine Office. With collaboration from Conception Abbey, US, this enterprise extends through the Internet to five continents.
(Email phwebmaster@printeryhouse.org).
For monastic hospitality contact: Monastery of the Benedictines, Mount of Olives, POB 19338 Jerusalem, Israel. Tel 97226264954. Fax 97226283768.
3. Mount Zion, Jerusalem, Benedictine, OSB, 1906, originally Beuron Congregation, presently under the Abbot Primate, Rome, 18 monks. German speaking.
The mantle of care for this Holy Place came to rest on Benedictines of the Beuron Congregation in 1899. In recent years the community has been linked directly to the Benedictine Federation under the Abbot Primate. In August 1995 Abbot Benedikt Lindeman OSB, previously novice master at the Abbey Konigsmünster in Meschede was elected Abbot of Hagia Maria Sion Abbey. The monks prefer this title for their monastery to that of ‘Dormition Abbey.
The advent of Abbot Benedikt, at the early age of 37, has been followed by the entrance of several young men who have joined the community since 1997, and by a new impetus to renewal of monastic style and living in community.
The commitments of the Abbey in this unique location at the Zion Gate of the Old City, cannot avoid being as complex as they are enriching. The present Abbot, Dom Benedikt, re-elected for an eight year period, is an imposing figure and provides a leadership which has enhanced the community spirit, while he meets the unending demands on someone in such key position in the context of Jerusalem, Israel and internationally. His ‘preference’, a great word in St. Benedict’s Rule, can be seen in strong care for the monastic enclosure, so easily encroached upon by the pilgrimage, tourist interest. The Liturgy and Eucharist in the Basilica is endowed with great monastic simplicity and dignity. And for the monk’s own quiet prayer, Abbot Benedikt introduced a private Blessed Sacrament Chapel for the monks alone. The recent Solemn Profession ceremony of two of the monks, Elias and Samuel, was marked by a distinctive expression of the spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict, and an impressive testimony to the identity if the monks.
Tabgha, Sanctuary of the Multiplication of the Loaves,
4. Simple Priory dependant on Mount Zion Abbey.
This clear orientation to the priority of monastic life finds an very powerful extension in the foundation of the Simple Priory of Tabgha, the Sanctuary of the Multiplication of the Loaves. At Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, monks find another haven of monastic presence. With the  genius of St. Benedict always at play, new ways of integrating monastic solitude and prayer with the service of welcoming hospitality, are shown by the monks at Tabgha by caring for the handicapped and young people and organising spiritual exercises.
5. Convent Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King, 1995,
The considerable work of this service to pilgrims, and guests from the many Churches has received the providential collaboration of Benedictine Sisters from the Philippines. A community of the Sisters of Jesus Christ, Eucharistic King has come to form a convent adjoining the monastery. The Sisters make their own irreplaceable monastic presence felt here. In terms of Biblical Formation this collaboration has inspired the opportunity for other Sisters to come to the Holy Land.
A similar opportunity is demonstrated by the Studium programme of Mt. Zion. This enables some 20 German speaking young men and women, Catholic and Protestant to have one year of Biblical and Theological studies in the Holy Land.
The tapestry of enriching levels of monastic presence in the Holy Land is wide and varied. To the seeming variance of interests, there is the binding dimension of a marked Benedictine monastic character. For example, at Mount Zion, there is scope for spiritual concerts. The cultural interest is reinforced by the Ecumenical Interfaith Encounters. And especially dear the heart of the Abbot, I would guess, is the programme of bringing young people from Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds together for projects of reconciliation and collaboration which are highlighted by the Biannual Peace Award celebrated in the Basilica.
Perhaps bringing so many things together, from the deep life-lines of the community to the whole net work of relations centred in Jerusalem is, in the end, best expressed in the one Benedictine word. ‘PAX’, peace.
6. Abu-Gosh, Olivetan OSB, 1976. 10 monks, 1977, 12 nuns.
Benedictine monastery at Abu-Gosh was established in1977. It belongs to the Olivetan Congregation and has the unusual benefit of a dual community of monks and nuns celebrating the Eucharist and main Liturgical Offices together.
The foundation of the present community of Olivetan Benedictine community began in 1976.
The founder, Abbot Grammont of Bec-Hellouin, gave much thought to articulating the aims of the community; “It is not to ‘judaise’ but to recognise the “rock from which we have been hewn, and to give to our Jewish brothers the witness of life truly penetrated by the beautiful prayer from which we have been given the poems, especially in the Psalms”. It is, in fact, a wisdom
This foundation had to take root in the very disturbed ground of the post Six Days War period. It was a busy morning when I visited the community and for that very reason we were immediately at home. For some reason Br. Antoine was assigned to show us the historical features of the place. This may have been because Br. Antoine is from Congo. He has been 14 years is Israel before a time at BEC. Historically, the Church is an architectural gem of the Crusaders standing solid because of its own impregnable  design.
The Sisters have their own regime across the enclosure. They produce vestments as part of their work. In the workshops of the monks I later found Br. Antoine busy in the pottery enterprise
Joining in the community at lunch with the monks was a young Israeli soldier staying in the community for the first time.
In the midst of the 1947 conflicts Abu Gosh was in danger of being destroyed by the Israeli army. Fortunately this was avoided and Abu Gosh became the first  Arab-Israel village. Groups of young Israelis come for cultural meetings with the monks. Hebrew seems to be the chosen interest of the community rather than Arabic. There is a large very modern library with an up to date Hebrew section. For more specialised studies the Institute Biblique is not far away at Jerusalem..
The property actually belongs to France.. The occasional formal visit of the French Consul to his monastic constituents brings the obsessive Israeli Service to provide a body guard. They come as far as the door but at that point the Consul dismisses them saying he is now, “chez nous” in this French sanctuary.
This a tiny cameo of the complexity of life is Israel. It is a meeting point of monastic presence, the State of Israel, foreign diplomacy, people of the three great Faiths. It encapsulates an interesting blend of integration and of separation. With centuries of the genius of St. Benedict holding all things in balance, the present community, of some 10 monks and 12 nuns, has learned to maintain a truly monastic contemplative life.
Relations and collaboration with the other monastic communities in the Holy Land has brought the monks and nuns together in meetings and in projects of mutual help. Formation programs give an added dimension to this wider monastic presence.
7. Beit Jamal (Beit Shemish). Nuns of Bethlehem and the Assumption, (Carthusian style solitude), 1985, 40 nuns. French speaking.
This is a new foundation in the Carthusian tradition in the Holy Land It is established on property belonging to the Salesian (Don Bosco) Congregation.
One cannot help feeling that it is in places like Israel that new life is suddenly appearing.
There are over forty Sisters in this community. And today, after their foundation in 1950, at the time of the definition of the ASSUMPTION, their houses of male and female communities, mostly in France, number some twenty seven. Basically they are a revival of St. Bruno and the tradition of the laura type of community with the one distinctive feature of devotion to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven. Internationally they are known as Monasteries of Monks and Sisters of Bethlehem A very modestly produced booklet gives a masterly précis of  the solitary hermitical vocation.  The Sisters’ CD Rom disk, “A Voice of Deep Silence” consists of their liturgy of Hebrew and Arabic melodies.
They have a thriving shop of their products which is popular with the neighbouring Jewish settlements.
The whole monastery was built be the Sisters themselves. The architecture of the Church is the embodiment of Carthusian simplicity and a great regard for the Jewish tradition. There is another small Chapel where Jews can celebrate the Sabbath but the main Church has nothing but the stalls of the Sisters, no desks, and the altar raised on in a temple like  sanctuary. The apse is bare of any embellishment. There is just one discreet  Icon placed at the top end of stalls.
8. Beit Jamal, Monks of Bethlehem, the Assumption and St. Bruno, (Carthusian style solitude), 1990s. 5 monks. French speaking.
The monks of the Monastery of Our Lady of Maranatha, Tel Gamaliel, Beit Shemesh, came after the well established Sisters nearby.
The Prior, Fr. Reginald, showed how every detail of the place, in principle, is laid out like any Charter House. The monks cells are quite solitary, built in the Arabic hut style. One accepts an enclosure wall but this was a 20-30 foot high Al Catraz of a wall and was surmounted by metal supports of rolls of barbed wire. It is a top security set up, but in fact, the terrain falls away from the hill and from the inside there is little to impede the magnificent view all around. The opposite hilltops are  crowed with the dwellings of hundreds of immigrant Jews from every country. And the signs of industry from kibbutzim down below are all around. The four or five monks have a lovely very simple Chapel. Their liturgical books seem to be in French with a Phonetic Hebrew version above the lines. The main thing was to consider the uniqueness of the situation
9. Emmanuele Sisters at  Bethlehem      
The community came from Algeria. They knew the Atlas monks well but suffered the threatened general expulsion of Religious from Algeria of the time. They are monastic and contemplatives with an enclosure now doubly enclosed by the atrocity of the Israeli walls. They use the Melkite liturgy and have a beautiful Church and lovely Blessed Sacrament Chapel suitably integrated with a grand Iconostasis. To visit the Emmanuele Sisters in Bethlehem is to meet the horrors of Israeli ‘occupation’. We took the road leading directly to the convent gate. On the left was a massive wall under construction under police guard. The police wanted to turn us back but the workers waived us on, the police yielded. Another 100 further yards there was a massive bulldozer blocking the way and beyond that a trench had been dug right in front of the Sisters' entrance. Only a narrow heap in the middle of the trench allowed us, regardless of life or limb, to climb across and gain access, AND SO TO MEET THE WARMEST OF WELCOMES BY THE SISTERS.

Judean Desert (Donald)

10. Deir Hanna, (Galilee-Nazareth), Lavra Netofa, autonomus Melkite monastery, 1963, 5(?) monks. Words from the Typicon of Father Ya'aqov Willebrands  Hegumen of Lavra Netofa give a deep sense of the special vocation to a monastic presence in the Holy Land.
“Lavra Netofa has been established in Eretz Israel, in the heart of Galilee. We are an integral part of the local Catholic Melkite Church which has been in existence here for 2000 years. We share their rich tradition, their joys, their sorrows and their aspirations. We are also the compatriots of those Jews who. after two millennia of exile, have come back to their old homeland. With them we share a spiritual patrimony which is so great that we need their brotherly dialogue to grasp all of its riches. We are all the more impelled to do so for centuries of Christian contempt preceded, and our generation has witnessed, the atrocities of the Shoah. At least since the time of the Crusades, a large part of the Palestinian population are Muslim. They too are well rooted in this country , and share with us a substantial part of God's revelation. They have many beautiful people and rich traditions and deserve our brotherly understanding and love.
To live as a monk or nun in this country seems to require almost a special vocation. Though the constant awareness of the Divine Glory remains our primary aim, we also must be awakened to the complex reality we are facing here. It requires a wide heart and a capacity to listen to all, to rejoice with all and to suffer with all, especially as the Palestinian-Jewish conflict has not yet been solved. It also requires the ability to converse with the local population in their own languages.”