Join Kathleen Nichols from the Holy Land as she guides a reflection on prayer from Jerusalem
Today, Magdala announced the release of its Lenten Virtual Pilgrimage of Prayer Through Jerusalem. The ongoing conflict in the Holy Land continues to prevent pilgrims from visiting Jerusalem this Lent. Uneasy local Christians still don’t travel far from home, forgoing visits to pray at the Holy Sepulcher or the Mount of Olives. The holy sites in Jerusalem remain mostly empty.
Kathleen Nichols, Director of Magdala Media’s English team, explained that the Pilgrimage of Prayer will allow people from all over the world to visit Jerusalem virtually this Lent. “Jerusalem resonates in hearts around the world. It is recognized as one of the holiest cities in the world. In Jerusalem, every stone, mountaintop, and olive tree has a story to tell!”
The daily 20-minute program will take virtual pilgrims to well-known holy sites, including Calvary, Jesus’ tomb, Mount Zion, Gethsemane, the Western Wall, and the Way of the Cross. Kathleen offers a reflection on Christian prayer from these and many other hidden monasteries and Churches in the Old City that most visitors have never seen.
“Prayer in Jerusalem can powerfully turn our hearts back to the Lord, and this is the purpose of Lent. It was witness to the main events of Salvation History, chosen by God as his dwelling place, and the site of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection,” says pilgrim leader Nichols.
“Shofars, bells, and muezzin sound out daily reminders of God’s presence, and what most lifts our hearts to the Lord are the voices of Jerusalem’s Christian communities at prayer,” says Nichols. From the city where Jesus taught the Our Father, virtual pilgrims will join local Christians praying it in Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Armenian, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, and even Ethiopian Ge’ez, the languages of Christian Jerusalem.
The staff at Magdala feel blessed to help bring the Holy Land to people’s homes and hearts this Lent.
The Virtual Pilgrimage of Prayer through Jerusalem, starts on Monday, February 12th with an introductory talk in preparation for Ash Wednesday.
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are my Creator and Redeemer and that you know all things. Though none of my sins is hidden from you, I know that you still love me unconditionally and are waiting for me to repent and turn to you so that you can forgive me and wash me clean once more. Thank you for loving me infinitely. I offer you my weak love in return.
Petition: Lord, help me to overcome my fallen nature and to put you first in my life.
“Nothing That Enters One From Outside Can Defile That Person”: “The Kingdom of God,” as Christ tells us in the Gospel, “is within you.” Consequently, all that wars against the Kingdom is also within us. Number 405 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that original sin is a “deprivation of original holiness and justice.” It states that human nature has been “wounded in the natural powers proper to it,” and that it is subject to “ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin—an inclination to evil that is called ‘concupiscence.’” This concupiscence causes all sorts of disordered tendencies to surface from within us. These disordered tendencies—if accepted—are, as our Lord tells us, what defiles a man. Our holiness and purification must start from within (in ordering our thoughts and desires according to the Gospel standard) and rise to the surface in concrete deeds of goodness (in words and actions). Where does concupiscence do the most damage in my life?
“The Things That Come Out From Within Are What Defile”: Sin and death entered the world through the disobedience of the Adam. But, “if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ” (Rm 5:17). It is true that death and sin strive to reign in us due to our concupiscence, but it is not less true that we have at our disposal all the means necessary to root sin out from our hearts and live a new life in Christ. Christ has already conquered sin and death. With his grace we can conquer them within our hearts. Without ever looking back we must start out on this path, the path of the reign of Christ within us. Am I sincerely striving to overcome concupiscence in my life?
“Anyone Who Has Ears To Hear Ought To Hear”: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” This is a familiar theme in the Liturgy due to the fact that throughout the centuries, people have often closed their hearts to the message of the Gospel and to their own greatest good. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31), the rich man petitions Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead so that he can warn his brothers about the fate that awaits them due to their materialistic, self-centered way of life. The rich man is told that they have the Law and the Prophets, to which he replies that if only someone would return from the dead, the brothers would believe. He is told that even then people would not believe. I cannot permit my heart to be hardened against God’s saving Word! But to remain open, my heart needs to be detached from the pleasures and easy way of living that make me deaf to Christ’s gentle instructions.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, open my ears and lift the veil from my eyes so that I will allow your Kingdom to reign in my heart. Free me from loving anything more than you. Free me to allow you to make demands in my life, demands which are proof of your love. Help me, Lord, to live Christian charity so that I will not be caught off guard on the Day of Judgment.
Resolution: I will foster goodness in my thoughts and desires, and I will deny entrance to anything that would drive Jesus away.
Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.
In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.
Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.
From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.
Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!