Saturday, February 14, 2009

Marian Shrines in Holy Land - click for link to previous post


Behold what romance it holds! It was the theatre of the prophet's contest, at its foot the priests of Baal were slain. Sisera kept his nine hundred chariots of iron nearby, and Saul could have seen it chariots of iron nearby, and Saul could have seen it that day on Mt Gilboa when he "leaned upon his spear, and the chariots and the horsemen followed hard after him. "

View of Mt Gilboa

Achab, that wicked king, must have known Carmel well, and Elias ran before his chariot thence all the way across the plain to Jezreel. 

Valley of Jezreel with Mt Tabor

Our Lord Himself must have often have stood to admire Carmel as He porceeded from Galilee to Jerusalem. This way have come Paul, ships of Tyre, Crusaders. Richard Coeur de Lion must have walked the deck with Queen Berengaria, when they, too were at anchor beneath it in Acre Bay;

Richard the Lionheart

Queen Berengaria of Navarre, Richard's wife.

View of Acre Bay

of which (the Acre Bay) Deborah the prophetess did sing in far-off days: "Asher dwelt at the shore of the sea and abideth by its bays." It was Jeremias who declaimed that most enchanting and symbolic expression, "Carmel by the Sea"

Michelangelo's "Prophet Jeremiah" - Sistine Chapel fresco

Look away to the north - across the bay from Haifa is Acre itself white in the sun: at night this scene is exquisite: farther on is the Ladder of Tyre

and the climbing heights of the Lebanon.

To the northeast lie the hills of Galilee,

and within them cupped the little town of Nazareth; behind, guardian-like, is the snow topped Hermon

the Old Man Mountain, as the Arab called it. East streches the mighty rolling plain of Esdraelon

across which have fought and bled the soldiers of every great empire of the past. At the end of the plain rises Thabor, majestic, alone.

To the south, down by the sea is Athlit, where stands the ruins of the Castra Peligrinorum of the Crusaders

Away to the west is the Mediterranean, the Middle Sea.

Memories rush upon us now. To stand there at eventide - an hour of calm and mystery; nature is not merely a vision but a mystic language: it moves the hardest spirit to tenderness, to sweetness and to virtue. The great sun is sinking on to the western world and with it go our thoughts to places and persons dear but distant. As the shadows of evening softly fall and all is husband in silence we enter Carmel's shrine and kneel before the sweet image of Mary who looks down benignly upon us from her altar throne. Prayer, silent, sincere, ardent prayer beyond all words; prayer, sanctifying and consoling. A smile from the virgin....

Ave Maria! 'tis the hour of prayer!
Ave Maria! 'tis hour of love!
Ave Maria! may our spirits dare
Look up to thine and to thy Son's above!
Ave maria!