It's my first morning back in the U.S., and I can tell you I am only beginning to comprehend how the pilgrimage in the Holy Land has reshaped not just my priesthood but the most basic parts of my faith, and my understanding of that part of the world. It will be days, weeks and probably years before I fully comprehend its impact.
From the time we boarded the plain in New York the most noticeable group were of course the Hasidic Jews. What most struck me on the flight over was their determination to gather for prayer. It seemed every time they were about to gather in the back of the plane they would be told to sit for one reason or another (it's time to serve dinner, etc.) They were indomitable and eventually an announcement was made that the men would be gathering in the area of the back galley.
And the gathered to worship God, because it is their duty.
I could not help but think, "Would that we Christians had that same relentless zeal to, no matter what else is going on in our lives, stop each day to worship God." As our present translation of the mass says, "It is right to give him thanks and praise."
In our Christian faith it lives on in its most formal sense in the Liturgy of the Hours, but most Catholics think that is for priest and religious alone. The truth is that it has only been slowly over time that marking of the beginning and end of the day with prayer has eroded from Christian practice. Our Jewish and Islamic brothers continue to mark each day with prayer, recognizing that each new day is gift from God. Perhaps we need to join them.