Given that most of our blog posts are about the different sites we've seen, you might think that all we do is go on trips and have a lot of fun. Well, that's mostly true. We do do those things. But another vital, yet less glamorous part of our time is spent in our studies.
It dovetails quite naturally with everything that we have been experiencing. Every day, we are praying with the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours. In one of our classes, we are learning about the history, structure, and poetry of the psalms. It helps us better enter into the mindset that our ancestors had when they wrote them. Walking around Jerusalem and seeing the surrounding areas, we get a deeper sense of how the land impacted how the Israelites prayed.
Every day, we see how ecumenism and interreligious dialogue work (or don't) in life in the Holy Land. Through our readings and our guest lecturers, as well as our trips, we gain insights into and an appreciation for the many different faith traditions that manage to co-exist here..
Finally, as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we also dive into the Gospel of Luke. When we read about Jesus walking from Jericho to Jerusalem, we approach it with a different perspective because we have seen that road. We have stood in some of the places where Jesus worked his many miracles. We have knelt in prayer before his tomb. All of these experiences have enriched our studies, but our studies have also impacted how we approach these sites and events.
When we were in Bethlehem, by happy coincidence we were celebrating the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas while in the chapel of St. Jerome. Both of these men were very well known for their devotion to study and learning. St. Jerome once wrote that "ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ." St. Thomas had a vision in which the Lord wanted to reward him for all the good writing he had done; Thomas responded, "I will have nothing but you, Lord." If we want to grow in love of Christ, we have to grow in our knowledge of him through our studies. Then, hopefully, we can say with St. Paul: "I know him in whom I have believed."