Holy Land – Prayer and Reflections on Vocations in Cana and Nazareth


Fr. Ed Riley is Dean of Men and Director of Pastoral Formation at St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston. He is one of 29 priests joining Cardinal Seán O’Malley for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land between April 8 and April 15. We’ve asked him to share his experiences on their first full day in the Holy Land.

Listen to Cardinal Seán’s homily for the Feast of the Annunciation from Mass at the Domus Galilaeae on April 8:

By Fr. Ed Riley

April 9

Our day began waking up at the Domus Galilaeae, a place for pilgrims operated by the NeoCatechumenal Way and overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee. I could almost see Jesus preaching His famous Sermon on the Mount to thousands of people: young and old, rich or poor, healthy or sick. In fact, this is where Jesus spent so much of His ministry, including where he called his first apostles, Peter, Andrew, James and John, to be “fishers of men.”




And as a current member of the faculty at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, I could not help but spend much time early in the morning praying for each of our own seminarians. Several had already requested I pray for their vocation here asking the Lord Jesus to strengthen them and guide them.




Our afternoon took us through the area of Cana to Nazareth, the place where Mary and Joseph grew up, although to my surprise there is no exact known place for the first public miracle of Jesus turning water into wine, I found myself praying for the over 140 couples I’ve had the privilege to marry and for the marriages of many family and friends. It was also the desire to pray to Jesus, Mary & Joseph to give strength and healing to any separated or divorced couples, knowing how painful such situations often remain.



And, if that was not special enough, to actually kneel before the place where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the Annunciation of our very salvation through her yes to be the Mother of God, I could not but help pray for so many young wives I know who desire to be with child and for Our Lady to comfort them.


Finally, standing in the house of the Holy Family gave me great reason to not only selfishly pray for my own 30 nieces and nephews, my seven Godchildren, and the numerous families I have met through my time in three parishes, I offered prayers to St. Joseph for a great number of fathers who are unemployed and trying so hard to support their own families. What a beautiful day! What an awesome day! What a privileged day!



We’ve included below several videos from today’s pilgrim sites, including a reflection from Fr. Paul Soper on the Basilica of the Annunciation; the priests singing the Ave Maria before the site of the Annunciation; and then praying the Rosary on their bus back from Mount Carmel with Cardinal Seán.

Cardinal Seán and a group of 29 priests of the Archdiocese of Boston have traveled on an Easter pilgrimage to the Holy Land this week, and they’re bringing the readers of TheGoodCatholicLife.com blog along with them.

All this week, our colleague George Martell is traveling with the pilgrimage, embedded with the Cardinal and his priests so we can bring you photos, blogs, videos, and audio reports from the Holy Land from the pilgrims at such places as the Basilica of the Annunciation, Mount Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Transfiguration, Qumran, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Upper Room, and more. This once in a lifetime opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus with Cardinal Seán and the Archdiocese’s priests as an Easter retreat experience.

Please stay tuned to www.thegoodcatholiclife.com, as well as www.BostonCatholicPhotos.com and www.YouTube.com/BostonCatholic and our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/bostoncatholic and Twitter account: www.twitter.com/bostoncatholic for the latest updates from the Holy Land.

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