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The Church of the Holy Sepulcher – The Empty Tomb

Join Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox for a spiritual pilgrimage to the holiest site for all Christians, the Tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. This has been identified as an area of abandoned stone quarries just outside the city walls of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. During this program, Deacon Tom and Mary Jane will discuss:

  • Who built the church?
  • How do we know this is an authentic site?
  • What is it like inside the tomb?
  • Much, much more!

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Jewel for the Journey:

Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. – Pope Francis


A Closer Look at Holy Sepulcher Church and The Empty Tomb:


Where is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?

When I First Kissed the Empty Tomb

Looking into the inner chamber of the Tomb of Christ in the modern day; on the right is the place where his Body was laid

We are in the Easter Season – the Catholic Church’s 50-day liturgical season. It’s a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and it’s my favorite season in the Church’s calendar year. The scripture readings proclaimed every day during Mass are about Jesus’ resurrection, his apparitions before his ascension to heaven, his promises, and the beginning of the early Church. It also reminds me of the Holy Land.

When Tom and I first traveled to Jerusalem several years ago, we were searching to learn more about the land of the Bible, about the land where Jesus walked. While in Jerusalem, we were able to attend Mass in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher that is built over the Tomb of Christ, Calvary, and the surrounding area. After Mass, we had the opportunity to enter a large marble edifice built over the ancient tomb of Jesus. Upon entering, there is a small chamber called the Chamber of the Angel, where the angel stood and addressed Mary Magdalene and the others, “He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6). Then you must bow very low to enter a smaller area where five persons can fit in tightly. To your right, you see the place where the body of Jesus was placed, wrapped in linen cloth.

Edifice surrounding the Tomb of Christ

Here is where Jesus was raised from the dead, where the resurrection occurred! You can imagine the feelings we felt as we touched this place, and recalled the Gospel stories in our minds. We knelt and kissed where his body laid, we placed our arms on this stone slab, and thanked God for this moment! We thanked God for allowing us to kiss his empty tomb. I remember thinking, “Lord, you know we are here!” It was as if time stood still for us both, recalling what occurred there 2,000 years ago! What indeed occurred there affected us and millions of others.

Even after visiting the Holy Land numerous times, leading pilgrims on pilgrimages; our time spent in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher is always a highlight, as it would be for any Christian! Our pilgrim groups have Mass in the Tomb, we read the resurrection story from the Gospel, we pray, and we receive Eucharist in the Tomb. After leaving the Tomb, we are filled with great joy, with peace. Does it remain with us? Yes! If we continue to follow him in our daily lives.

When I am distraught, or experiencing a trial; I remember my time in the empty Tomb! I will call upon the Risen Lord and recall my time in his empty tomb and other sites in the Holy Land where he lived.

Whenever you need to be reminded of his presence under dire circumstances, think about your favorite scripture story, or a spiritual experience that reminds you of his presence.


Mary Jane Fox, D.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with her husband, Deacon Tom Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Mary Jane is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

The Empty Tomb – Jerusalem

Take a journey to the Holy Land with Deacon Tom & Mary Jane Fox to the holiest site for all Christians, the Tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. This program will include:

  • A discussion of all Scriptural references to the burial and resurrection of Jesus recorded in the New Testament
  • The history of the area where Christ was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead
  • A virtual tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was built over these holy sites
  • Insights from 56 trips to this sacred destination in the Holy Land

Jewel for the Journey:
Only one secret: The closer we come to Jesus, the better we will know his thirst. – St. Mother Teresa

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Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org for more information.

Mary of Magdala at Christ’s Tomb

When you read or hear the Scriptures about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, do you imagine what the disciples must have thought or how they felt when they saw the empty Tomb of Christ? Or what about Mary Magdalene who was one of his followers and witnessed the crucifixion?

She is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts in relation to the resurrection of Jesus. How interesting! The four do not mention that the apostles or other disciples were the first to see the empty tomb where the body of Jesus was placed after his crucifixion. They were informed later by Mary of Magdala and the women with her. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke; we learn that Mary Magdalene and women with her discover the empty tomb and see angel(s) informing them that the Lord Jesus had been raised. He is not there.

However, in the Gospel of John 20:11-18, after Mary of Magdala saw the empty tomb and ran to tell Peter and the apostles, she returned to the tomb and wept. Jesus appears to her, although she thought it was the gardener; she was deep in sorrow.

It wasn’t until she heard her name Mary called out; when she turned and saw Jesus. She then went and told the disciples: I have seen the Lord!

Imagine yourself there with Mary of Magdala, seeing her weep—and then Jesus appears and calls her name. There would be a change in her face; from sadness to an immense joy, seeing her Lord before her! The gaze of the Lord Jesus upon Mary of Magdala transformed her when she first encountered him in Galilee. She was from a predominant fishing village by the Sea of Galilee called Magdala. She was the woman from whom seven demons had gone out (cf. Luke 8:2). Her encounter with him changed her life. She received her dignity as a child of God, began to follow Jesus and provided for him and his apostles out of her resources. Yes, Mary of Magdala met Jesus, believed he was the Messiah, was healed by him, and embraced his teachings. Her fidelity led her to follow Jesus to his death on Calvary.

Mary of Magdala was the first to whom Jesus appeared to after his resurrection, and for this reason she is given the title the Apostle to the Apostles, referenced by Pope John Paul II in his 1988 encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem.

The gaze of Jesus upon Mary of Magdala is a gaze, we too, can experience! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains it well:

Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. […] There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.

Would you like to see the empty tomb? Would you like to experience bending down to enter the tomb where the body of Jesus laid after his crucifixion, the very site where he resurrected? Would you like to sit before this sacred place and ponder what happened here? Would you like to see a prayer area nearby commemorating where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene? I invite you to join us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land! My husband, Deacon Tom, and I are pilgrimage leaders and have been there 56 times. Yes, I have visited the empty tomb, have venerated numerous times and never tire of it. It is sanctified by the Lord; how can one tire from seeing, touching the place where his body laid? Alleluia!


Mary Jane Fox, D.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with her husband, Deacon Tom Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Mary Jane is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.

The Shroud of Turin – A Journey Through the Centuries

Join Deacon Tom & Mary Jane Fox as they take an in-depth look at the Shroud of Turin, a 14-foot by 4-foot linen cloth venerated by millions of Christians, because it is believed to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Considered one of the most sacred religious icons on Earth, the Shroud is the most studied, ancient cloth in history and in the world.

During this program, you will learn why the Shroud is so intensely debated, studied, and venerated. Other questions to be discussed:

  • Who is the man, whose image is imprinted on the Shroud?
  • What can we learn from the Shroud today?

Jewel for the Journey
This face has eyes that are closed, it is the face of one who is dead, and yet mysteriously he is watching us, and in silence he speaks to us. How is this possible?… It is because the Man of the Shroud invites us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love. – Pope Francis in Turin, Italy (2015)

Visit PilgrimCenterofHope.org for more information.

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Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

Come on a journey with Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox to this ancient basilica, shared by many faiths. It encompasses the site of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, anointing, and burial, as well as many other ancient tombs and chapels.

Jewel for the Journey

Pope John Paul II during Mass in the Holy Sepulcher Church in 2000: “From this place, where the Resurrection was first made known to the women and then to the Apostles, I urge all the Church’s members to renew their obedience to the Lord’s command to take the Gospel to all the ends of the earth. At the dawn of a new Millennium, there is a great need to proclaim from the rooftops the Good News that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).”

The Resurrection In the Gospel

What better Pearl to help you delve into the Resurrected Christ in Scripture than . . . well, Scripture? Each of the four gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — include reports of Christ appearing after his resurrection.

These instances are:

Matthew 28
Luke 24
John 20-21
and Mark 16

 

Related Resource: Lectio Divina – Praying with Scripture

The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

Deacon Tom and Mary Jane delve into the Scriptural appearances of Christ to his disciples after the Resurrection.

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