At first glance, the artificial flowers, the items piled up at the shrine look almost "kitschy", gaudy... but as with anything, if you take the time to look deeper you see clearer. Each item is a concrete memorial of the prayers of the people.
“In the Name of...”, make a simple intention, then:
- Wash the hands to the wrists saying: “May these hands be instruments of peace.”
- Then cup a handful of water to the lips with the right hand, rinsing the mouth three times saying: “May this mouth speak only the pleasing words, the healing words, the truthful words.”
- Then lightly sniff water into the nose three times, which has a remarkable brightening effect on the senses. Begin this stage by saying: “May I long for the sweet fragrance of His presence”, then sniff the water into the nose.
- Next wash the whole face and eyes saying: “May this face shine with the light of His countenance. May these eyes behold the hand of the Creator everywhere they look.”
- Clean the ears by inserting the tips of the index fingers, wetted with water, into the ears twisting them around and in the folds of the ears then next pass the thumb behind the ears from the bottom, upwards and then over the nape of the neck saying: “May these ears be attentive to the resonance of His Word; may this neck bend in humility to the One.
- Wash feet (right foot first) up to the ankles, making sure that no parts of the feet are left dry. “May these feet walk on holy ground.”
The purpose of washing each of these parts of the body is that it gives you time, bit by bit, part by part, to move your awareness away from the world and toward God. It is to remind you of the need for inward impurity to be removed, a washing the self of the self (Ps. 51:2,7; Jn. 4:10-14; Jn. 3:3; Gal. 2:20).
Time to say within your heart:
I am now going to establish a connection with God
I am going to turn toward God.
I am going to hand over my cares and my love to God.
As you make your way up the stairs you pass a Nativity Shrine, a Bathtub Mary
and small grottos. This is not a perfectly groomed, sterile, disinfected, well marketed tourist spot. This is a place that wreaks of humanity: its flaws, its strengths, positives, negatives -all coming together offering it all to God for His Will to be done.