The next day we went to the burning hot, ancient city of Petra where, after a long walk, we celebrated Holy Mass in a simple chapel – almost out in the open – with great joy. The chief celebrant was Bishop Anil Couto. The journey back to the bus park was hard work for some, especially if they had the courage to take a buggy ride! Some who had been here before, and knew better, rode a horse.
Holy Mass at the Byzantine Church in Petra, Jordan
The Imam, the Buddhist leader and the Hindu leader during the Liturgy
It is likely that this is the area visited by St. Paul after his escape from Damascus. What must it have been like then?
The next day we left Petra and returned to Amman. On the way we went to Mount Nebo from where Moses had seen the Promised Land (Deut 32: 48-52) and where he died (Deut 34: 1-5).
There we celebrated the Orthodox Liturgy. The main celebrant was Father Hernando Garcia Garcia.
After the Mass the bishops and priests were joined by our Moslem, Buddhist and Hindu friends for a photograph.
Clergy with Vassula after the Liturgy, Mt. Nebo
Bishop Anil Couto, icons were blessed after the Liturgy (left), Mt. Nebo Church (right)
What is the spiritual meaning of this visit to Mt. Nebo? Isn’t it something to do with looking again at our calling, trusting in the promises of the Lord, understanding that, unlike Moses, we are being called to go on into the Promised Land of UNITY? The Lord called us to look in faith at what is ahead of us. The prophecies of Holy Scripture are being fulfilled before our eyes and we must go forward in HOPE and TRUST, following the New Moses, JESUS CHRIST, The Way, The Truth and The Life.
View from Mt. Nebo overlooking the Promised Land
Mt. Aaron in the Mt. Nebo region
The farewell dinner buffet was held at the Hotel Marriott in Amman. It is always sad to say goodbye after we have spent so many challenging and grace-filled days together. But “goodbye” often contains the hope of “until next time” – in Greece, perhaps. Such a farewell meal is also a meal of thanksgiving for all that God has allowed us to share together.
For those who were left, which was a sizeable number, there was a visit to Gerasa, or Jerash, which has wrongly been associated with a place where Jesus performed an exorcism (Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39). St. Matthew’s Gospel places that event at Gadara. That is the more likely location since there seems to be no lake in the area of Gerasa, and, as we know the “Gadarene swine” ran over a cliff into the sea (Matt 8: 28-34), which sea was most probably the Sea of Galilee. However, Jerash was important for other reasons and the Roman ruins are some of the best in the world although there is little dating from pre-Christian times.
Jerash, Jordan, with the Imam
The Liturgy of the day took place at the Anglican Church in Amman. The celebrant was Bishop Orlando Guerrero. We were welcomed very warmly by members of this community. A homily was given by Canon Samir J. Habiby. This was a wonderful and important occasion; the Holy Spirit was most certainly in our midst.
With Thanksgiving and Hope.
For the vast majority, the Pilgrimage was over. Only a few were left, and they departed a day later
This was a difficult and also eventful pilgrimage. There were some challenging moments and some moving experiences. During the Pilgrimage, especially in the hotels at the evening get-togethers, different people shared their insights into the messages and spoke of their hopes for unity and renewal. Some of those who shared impressed us with their courage and devotion. There was also a sense of fun from time to time and plenty of laughter. There were also a few tears; tears of joy and tears of pain. Many of us will not quickly forget the moving healing service with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, led by Henri Le May and Father Raphael. Did healing take place? When Christ is present there is always healing. Perhaps we will have to wait for some to share the joy of their healing before we really understand how blessed we were on that evening.
One of the most important blessings of any True Life in God Pilgrimage is the presence and participation of Vassula. Christ has chosen her to be our special guiding light. She did not fail us.
Patriarch Gregorios and Vassula, Jordan
From the beginning, the Mother of Jesus was present, and Mary remained with us, encouraging us, especially through the Rosary, and like a mother, helped us remain childlike when the journey was hard.
The Lord Jesus, of course, was everywhere: "We, Us!" on the buses, in the dining rooms, in the private conversations, with those who laughed and with those who cried. Above all, we are called to loving intimacy with Him. This call was repeated and renewed on our 2005 Pilgrimage. Without this intimacy we cannot advance, for without Christ there is no True Life in God.
Reverend Father John Abberton