Our first day in Bethlehem

On 21th January, the postulants Andrea (Costa Rican), Lúcia (Brazilian), Nancy (Costa Rican) and a friend of Sion Andreas from Austria went to Bethlehem.

First, we went to a big and beautiful Carmelite Monastery where Sister Mary of Jesus the Crucified lived many years ago. She was known as the little Arab, or Lilly of Palestine, was beatified by Pope John Paul II and was canonized on 17th May 2015 by Pope Francis. We had the opportunity to know how her room was and we put on one coat for prayer remembering her and all her working. The convent had a wonderful garden and a beautiful chapel where we sang together “The Magnificat.” It was a beautiful experience and gave us energy and strength to our ways.

Then, we went to L’Arche Bethlehem which is a project of the International Federation of L’Arche Communities where the men and women who live with an intellectual disability share a common culture of the Heart. We shared with them one delicious lunch and we had good laughs and enjoyed together. We could not speak in Arabic, but we spoke with our gestures. They had a lot of creativity and abilities to make felted-wool ornaments, nativity sets and other gifts.

Finally, we went to The Milk Grotto Church. There was a beautiful picture where Virgin Mary was feeding Jesus. We did memorize when our mothers fed us and blessed God for each moment we lived. It was a lovely experience and we felt all love of Mary to us in our live. “As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.”(Lc. 2, 19.)

Also, we went to the Basilica of Nativity. There were a lot of people and we went down the stairs to the famous star. It was a wonderful moment, because we felt that people had a lot devotion and faith. We did memorize when Virgin Mary and Joseph were with Jesus: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours. Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us. So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.”(Lc. 2,11-16.)

We are quite happy and with a lot of hope knowing the Holy Land and the diversity of cultures and traditions. We thank God for this beautiful day and all gifts that He gives us every day in this Holy Land. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, he has set them free”(Lc. 1, 68.)

Andrea Chacón Carmona, Postulant NDS.