Here’s the latest dispatch from Kansas City – St. Joseph Vice-Chancellor Dr. Claude Sasso on the Kansas City pilgrimage to the Holy Land being led by Bishop Robert W. Finn:
On Tuesday November 3, 2009, the pilgrims checked out of their Jerusalem hotel and packed for three days in Jordan. We attended Mass at the Chapel of the Latin Patriarchate. This beautiful church had wonderful wall frescoes. In his homily, Bishop Finn said our life is a pilgrimage towards the new eternal Jerusalem. Unlike the attitude of the wedding guests in the Gospel of Luke 14, who gave excuses why they could not come to the banquet, he urged us to thank Almighty God for his blessings and ask him to teach us how to be lifelong pilgrims readying ourselves for the new Jerusalem. Before leaving we were greeted by the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal. We traveled by bus to Jordan finally arriving in Petra in time for a late dinner at our hotel overlooking a scenic view of the Um el-Byara mountains to the West.
On Wednesday, November 4th the pilgrims went for a walking tour of the ancient city of Petra. The ancient city of the Nabateans was built in great sandstone cliffs. They were marvelous architects and the climax of our 1.5 mile walk through beautiful high cliffs on a narrow road was the beautiful royal tomb carved into the great cliffs alongside their amphitheater. The huge royal tomb is called the treasury and is surmounted by great columns with carvings of their gods carved into the “rose red” stone. The Nabateans are mentioned in the Bible (1 Mac 5: 25; 9: 35). According to Arab tradition, Petra is where Moses struck the rock and water flowed from it. Christian inroads were made amongst them in the fourth century nearly 500 years after its establishment as a great trading center. After walking or riding back up the 1.5 mile trail through the cliffs we rested, preparing to set out for Mt. Nebo.
Mt. Nebo is located east of the River Jordan near the northeast corner of the Dead Sea. God directed Moses to come there in the land of Moab to “behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession; and die in the mount . . .” (Dt. 32: 49-50). Moses was thought to have died here at the age of 120 years old, but his exact burial place is not known. Early Christians sought the site and expanded the church there dedicated to Moses. It is also the site of several Byzantine churches whose excavation in the 1970’s revealed exquisite mosaic floors that were well preserved. Bishop Finn led us in the celebration of Mass on the site, which is today maintained by the Franciscans. The pilgrims crowded into the small Church of St. George where Bishop Finn urged us to share in the pilgrimage of faith. He noted that although we don’t see the promised land as Moses and his followers did from this mountain, we maintain the hope of eternal life thorough our faith in the Holy Eucharist.
As the sun was setting the pilgrims stood on Mt Nebo taking pictures of the majestic view of the Dead Sea and the surrounding area. We set out for Amman, the capital of Jordan where we would spend the next two nights.
Pic – Patriarch Fouad Twal