Home / News & Events

Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Deluxe Burgundy Leather

The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul is... Read more


Buy Now

A mural of the burial of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A Holy Land Pilgrimage: Pt. 9 — Transformed by Love

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter


[+] Enlarge Image

Inside this window is the staircase built to climb up to Calvary.

[+] Enlarge Image

The entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

[+] Enlarge Image

The entrance to the staircase which climbs up to Calvary.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Roman Catholic chapel on Calvary.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Greek Orthodox sanctuary on Calvary, where Jesus was crucified. The hole in which His Cross was placed to stand is under the altar.

[+] Enlarge Image

Venerating and praying where Jesus was crucified. His Blood and Water poured upon this very ground.

[+] Enlarge Image

This is where Jesus' Body was laid to be anointed and wrapped for burial.

[+] Enlarge Image

This mural is located between the place of Calvary and the tomb of Jesus, commemorating His Crucifixion, anointing for burial, and burial itself.

[+] Enlarge Image

"The Edicule" — the structure that preserves Christ's tomb.

[+] Enlarge Image

The tomb of Christ.

[+] Enlarge Image

Holy Mass in the tomb of Christ.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Armenian Catholic shrine behind the tomb of Christ.

[+] Enlarge Image

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the day.

By Melanie Williams (Mar 30, 2018)
From Oct. 26 - Nov. 5, 2017, staff writer Melanie Williams went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today, in the final part of an nine-part weekly series journey with her through the Church of the Holy Sepluchre, where Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ crucified, died, and was buried. Part of this article was originally featured in our Spring Marian Helper Magazine.

A pilgrimage to the Holy Land and a visit to the real Calvary enrolled me in the school of the Lord, and He has been teaching me how to better suffer ever since. As we have journeyed through Lent together walking in the footsteps of our Lord in this series, I would like to share some of the fruits of this school and encourage you to open your hearts to Jesus, our Teacher and Divine Bridegroom, even as He calls you to suffer alongside Him.

Now I need to admit that I don't know how to suffer well. Suffering is something, naturally, which I have never wanted, nor have I ever enjoyed experiencing it. I don't know anyone who does. But, due to humanity's Fall and the effects of original sin, suffering is part of every human life. So how do we make the best of it?

Simple: We accompany Jesus on the Way of the Cross.

And by God's Providence, I was able to do that by retracing Christ's own steps. Now, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land was a blessing in itself — to walk where Jesus walked, to pray where He prayed. Little did I know that, through such a great blessing, He was inviting me closer to His Heart through a spiritual journey along the Via Dolorosa.

The Via Dolorosa ("the painful way") in Jerusalem is the exact road on which Jesus carried His Cross to Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins. We journeyed together on this road in part eight of this series.

Each of us, in our own lives, has a Via Dolorosa on which we walk the Way of the Cross with our Lord. Why are we on this "painful" and sorrowful way, and where are we heading? These are questions that often plague my heart when I face a bitter cross.

As I walked the Via Dolorosa on my pilgrimage in Jerusalem, I was expecting to be shaken or moved in some special way. To be honest, the first through ninth stations which I previously shared with you, located along the street leading to Calvary and the tomb, were quiet, solemn, and beautiful, but I experienced no interior flashing lights or "Aha" moments. It wasn't until I entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for the 10th through 15th stations — specifically those dealing with the Crucifixion, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus — that the Lord spoke deeply to my heart and Our Lady taught me how to hope in the darkness of suffering.

Throughout the week of my pilgrimage, the words of Jesus to St. Faustina had been echoing in my heart: "The bride must resemble her Betrothed" (Diary, 268). But what did this mean in my life? As I awoke the morning we were to walk the Via Dolorosa and I went out into the dark streets of Jerusalem, His words came to my heart again: "Melanie, the bride must resemble her Bridegroom."

Our group prayed at each station along the street, and as I said, it was solemn and beautiful. Over the past 2,000 years, the city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt nine times. So the streets aren't the exact pavement upon which Jesus walked, but due to the churches that have been built and rebuilt by Christians since the time of the apostles, each station is accurately placed where each event happened to Jesus.

As we entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I began to tremble, knowing full well I was on holy ground. In this massive church are two of the holiest sites on earth: Calvary and the tomb of Jesus.

The altar on Calvary is built on top of the spot where Jesus' Cross went into the ground. I had the opportunity to kneel underneath the altar and place my hand down into the hole that had held the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I thought of His Precious Blood and Water that had gushed forth from His side and poured down into this very spot. I also thought, in almost a single instant, of everything that He has done for me in my life, of the times in which He has been faithful to me in my trials, sufferings, temptations, and sins. I wanted to completely pour myself out for Him there, ask His forgiveness for my sins, and renew my commitment to live for Him alone. I looked up and noticed that directly in front of me was an icon of Jesus, the Divine Bridegroom. I knew He was calling me to become one with Him — as He had said: to be the bride who resembles the Bridegroom. I knew at that moment more than ever before that the Via Dolorosa of my life is my path to union with Him and the path to eternal life in Heaven.

As I connected this experience to the Mass that we had celebrated in the tomb of Jesus just before we visited Calvary, I discerned once again that the suffering of this world will lead to a resurrection into eternal life.

The Mass was quiet and small, but was nevertheless one of the most powerful liturgies I have ever attended. It was All Souls Day, and we celebrated it in the tomb of our Lord.

Our pilgrimage director, one of the Marian Fathers, confected the Blessed Sacrament — the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ — upon the very altar under which He was buried and resurrected. In this liturgy, as in every liturgy, we remember the Passion and Death of our Lord, and profess the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I saw that every death comes with the promise of the Resurrection, in our own Via Dolorosas as well as in Christ's Way of the Cross.

We give up the things of this earth; we suffer the effects of sickness, emotional pain, and even physical death; but this is not the end.

We are living for Heaven. Why do we suffer? Why do we need to learn how to suffer well? Why did Jesus tell St. Faustina that He is going to teach her how to suffer? So that we might learn to be like Him — our Bridegroom, who loved even in the midst of suffering — and so inherit eternal life. By learning to keep our hearts open to God and others in the midst of suffering, we are transformed by the fire of Divine Love. This fire can be painful, but it divinizes us and makes us like Him.

The Lord brought this even further home as we walked to Calvary after Mass. We passed by a mural of the burial of Jesus, behind a slab of rock on which, tradition holds, Jesus was placed while our Blessed Mother and others quickly anointed and wrapped Him for burial before sundown, when the Sabbath would begin. As I prayed there, I reflected upon what it must have been like for Our Lady on the Via Dolorosa. She saw her Son scourged, mocked, tortured, beaten, crucified, and buried.

As I gazed upon the image of Our Lady, the anguish in her face struck me to the heart. Through the tenderness with which she places her face upon that of her beloved Son and the look in her eyes, you can see that she was in terrible, unimaginable pain. But she never let her heart be shut off from others by this suffering. She opened her heart and allowed it to be pierced, just like Jesus, the Divine Bridegroom, had done.

His Heart was pierced with a lance, and from it poured forth Blood and Water. As St. Catherine of Siena wrote many times, from His side came fire and Blood — the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit and the life-giving Blood of Christ.

As the Bride of Christ, the Church, we are all also called to learn how to keep our hearts open in the midst of suffering. Yes, as I said, sometimes suffering does feel like a sword piercing our hearts, but we can imitate our Savior. Out of our hearts can flow "blood and water" in reparation for our own sins and those of the world. And by that I mean the fire of Divine Love can transform our hearts to love like Him. Out of this suffering we (and others) can be born into eternal life.

As Jesus told St. Faustina, "Know, too, that the darkness about which you complain I first endured in the Garden of Olives when My Soul was crushed in mortal anguish. I am giving you a share in those sufferings because of My special love for you and in view of the high degree of holiness I am intending for you in heaven. A suffering soul
is closest to My Heart" (Diary, 1487).

Our Lady was the first to accompany Jesus in His sorrowful Passion. She had to let go completely and leave her Son there in the darkness of the tomb. Can you imagine?

The only light left was the hope and faith still burning in her Heart — her trust in the Father that everything that was happening was according to His will.

It was that light of faith and hope in Mary's Heart that burned throughout that Sabbath when she could do nothing but wait and pray. In our sufferings, we, too, wait with Mary for the final coming of Jesus when all suffering will cease and the Father will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

This Good Friday walk with Mary on the Way of the Cross. Enter into the school of Jesus and allow Him to teach you how to suffer. Wait in hope with Our Lady when pain and darkness grips your heart like the darkness of Holy Saturday. Allow Jesus to transform you through suffering, so that you, His bride, will resemble the Bridegroom for all eternity in Heaven. Truly, that is a cause for great rejoicing on Easter Sunday.

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter


Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Jo Brennan - Apr 5, 2018

I was blessed to be in Holy Land over Holy Week and Easter just last week. Touching the place where Christ was crucified is so overwhelming, thinking of all He did for me, for us! Very powerful!

Sammie Wood - Mar 30, 2018

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing with all of us!