Christmas in Bethlehem


Today may be All Souls Day where you live, but in the Holy Land it was Christmas. For our pilgrim group, that is.

We spent the day in Bethlehem, second in line at the Church of the Nativity (behind a group of mostly young Russian widows whose husbands were killed in a mining accident – pray for them as they continue their Holy Land pilgrimage). Some groups wait up to three hours in line just to spend a few minutes at the grotto where Jesus was born and where he was laid in the manger. The birthplace itself is inside a small cave. Pilgrims kneel down and kiss the spot where God in His Fullness first touched the earth. (Click here for today’s photos.)

We were able to celebrate Christmas Mass in the active parish nextdoor to the Nativity, St. Catherine. For some reason, I was chosen to process in before Father and our deacons, holding a life-sized figure of the Christ child. Before the final blessing, I held the figurine in front of the altar so that our group was able to venerate (kiss, touch, etc.) it as a sweet sign of love for the Christ Child.

It’s interesting how all pilgrims – even you who are reading this and spiritually journeying with us – are chosen by God to experience certain special pilgrimage moments. For me, holding the Christ Child figure was one of these. My name being Angela Marie (essentially “Angel of Mary”), it was like God had ‘chosen’ this role for me. As I stood there in front of the altar and saw my fellow pilgrims show their affection for the Baby Jesus, I was reminded that I am called to do this every day; to offer the “Good News” (as the angels put it) that this Messiah is “for all people.”

The day was so full, and I only have four minutes left on my Internet card here in our Jerusalem hotel. But let this be a reminder for you: does your life reflect your baptismal call to offer the Messiah to all peoples?

Merry Christmas, friends. Goodnight from Jerusalem.


About Angela Sealana (Santana)

Angela is Ministry Coordinator for The Pilgrim Center of Hope. The Pilgrim Log is the blog of the Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry, providing weekly spiritual reflections to help you journey toward a deeper relationship with Christ. Learn more about the Pilgrim Center of Hope by visiting

2 responses »

  1. Thank you for all you have given to us. As I sit here reading, crying while you are so far away, we can feel your soul. God's blessings are yours! <

  2. Wish my family could be there with my beautiful parents Tom & Barbara Bir at the sites of inspiration for Handel's Messiah (“the Annointed” of God).Thank you for sharing this day with us all as we can join you in the unfolding of the Old Testament prophecies that proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, assuring “the desire of all nations shall come in.” When I reflect on what it must be like to experience the site of Christ's birth, I can hear Handel's Messiah: “For Unto Us a Child is born!” and continuing through “And He shall purify” Israel (Mal. 3:3) to the final Amen and fullfillment of Christ's work on earth.The profecy: “He will illuminate them with the glorious light of Truth (Micah 4:1-4). As a result, “the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” As you traveled throughout Isreal at these sites, did you hear the many songs from the Messiah? What joy for us to share in the greatness in Christ “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”.Yet all of it began there at that Holy site of Christ's birth when the Angel said: “Fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a saviour which is Christ the Lord.” “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill towards men” (Luke 2:10-14).”Wonderful, Counsellor, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!”Amen!When George Frederic Handel had just finished writing the movement that would take its place in history as the Hallelujah Chorus, his servant reported that tears were streaming down his face and he cried out: “I did think i did see all Heaven before me, the the great God Himself.!”Celine Bir-olvera

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