Nativity Church in the morning
I could start this post with “I wake up early and…”, but in fact I didn’t have to get up early. I got dressed, tried to comb my naughty hair and went out. Which time already? I’ve walked this way many times before. So I walk though still empty market, next to slowly opening little shops, some random people and I get to Church of the Cradle – the Nativity Church in Bethlehem.
Yes, it’s true that there is something pathetic in the thought that Jesus Christ was born here. On that time Bethlehem was a little village and that’s why explorers are sure it happened exactly here. Some places in the Holy Land are just “guessed” or even chosen to be a traditional memory of a biblical event. But not this one. But for me there is something even more magic in this church – Christians pray there without much quarrelling (what unfortunately happens in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem – and in lots of other churches and hearts around the world).
And in the Cave…
This church has a few parts “glued together” and it’s been more than two years it’s under redecoration. It’s perfect because this church didn’t see any renovation for around 500 years. Its heart is the Cave, small, dark and stuffy and in it there is the symbol of Bethlehem – Star and the rock which you can touch.
Who was here knows that almost all the time it’s crowded. Unfortunately it can take away the joy of visiting this place. Well, if you’re coming in a big group of pilgrims it’s hard to avoid this crowd. But if alone or in a small group you can “get up in the early morning” and come for morning Mass. It starts at… who knows? Before the Catholic mass there is the Orthodox one which can be endless. More or less at 8:30 coming to the Cave from the other side (it means from the one which the crowd of pilgrims usually goes out) you can participate in the Mass in Italian. It’s a great opportunity to spend there some time – upstairs there are already groups waiting to enter.
Christmas on every Thursday
What’s interesting, every Thursday in the Cave there is… Christmas – the Mass is celebrated in Latin with all readings and prayers from 25 December. On that day you can also make friends with notes written on four lines (Gregorian notation, before five line staff). Today it’s very rare but somehow still living in Latin Christianity. Don’t worry, there is always someone who knows how to sing those strange notes.
So I sit on the floor and for a moment forget about all the rest. Again I’ll remember Our father in Italian and in the end – as usual – having finished, short priest with his cane will climb the stairs and say appuntamento in paradiso!
See you in Heaven!
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