Among the many revered Christian sights and settings that Fr John and Irene Organ got to see on their five-week visit to the Holy Land this past summer, the monastery Mar Saba (Arabic for St Saba) was especially arresting.
Mar Saba is the greatest of the ancient monasteries dotting the wilderness of the Judean desert. Founded in the fifth century by St Saba a Turkish monk, it offers an enduring reminder of the age-old tradition of people leaving behind worldly distractions and seeking God in the solitude of the desert.
Mar Saba clings to one side of the Kidron Valley — the uninhabitable valley that begins between the Temple Mount and Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and runs eastward to the Dead Sea. Its remote location some fifteen kilometres east from Bethlehem is accessed by a steep road.
This desert monastery proved a highlight of their visit as these Facebook postings by Irene readily attest. Besides being an absolute test of Fr John’s fear of heights, Mar Saba fueled his commitment to design and lead a spiritual sojourn here at home in St Martin’s with early September offering the most timely and favourable window.
Experiencing God is the theme set for this weeklong spiritual timeout, which will take place at St Martin’s over five evening sessions from 7 to 8 pm commencing Monday, September 11 through to Friday, September 15. Each session will present participants with a familiar biblical story and from there move on to explore how the presence of God is experienced in our lives. Fr John is hopeful participants will commit to attending all or as many of the sessions as possible since the presentations and ensuing conversation promise to be inspirational and rewarding in their own right.