Thursday, 10 July 2014

Blessed are... those who were here

Our last full day in the Holy land was spent on and around the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We made first for the Domus Galilaeae, or House of Galilee, a sight new to us. This is a brand new spiritual centre built on top of the Mount of Beatitudes by the Neo-catechumenates.
It comprises a study centre, convention centre, library, chapel (left), seminary and much more, all housed in a building of stunning modern architecture. We had a 30 minute guided tour from an enthusiastic young Colombian seminarian. Many noticed to what a high quality finish it has been built, with many interesting features. There was a lot to talk about, some finding it extravagant, our guide finding it a bit too Jewish-influenced, but most just amazed. It was my idea to visit the Domus, to remind everyone that the Holy Land is not just about holy places from the past.
Here young men come from across the country and across the world for study and spirituality - the Church of today and tomorrow. The Neo-Catechumenate is not everybody's cup of tea, as it were, but it is present in about 40,000 communities in 900 dioceses in the world. It was a fascinating beginning to the day - and, I found, an inspiring one. Pictured right is the bronze Sermon on the Mount on top of the oratory that has been built for the local Church. Many of our group were very inspired by this group.

We now moved down to the flat area t the foot of the Mount to the spot marking the Feeding of the Five Thousand, at the Church of the Loaves and Fishes. Here in a beautiful Abbey built by German monks we can see the ancient mosaic set into the floor which gives the place its name (left). 
Lastly we went back up the slope of the Mount of Beatitudes to the place where tradition says the Sermon on the Mount was given. here we celebrated another outdoors Mass overlooking my beloved Sea of Galilee. As we heard the immortal opening words of Matthew chapter 5 we renewed our determination to follow the words of Our Lord in our daily lives. We enjoyed lunch at the cool, clean convent attached to the shrine, and returned, inspired, as we were every day, by the sights and sounds of another wonderful day. The picture shows the Church of the Beatitudes with the sea of Galilee just visible in the background.

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