I came across this diary entry of mine from 2009, when we spent the Holy Week and Easter on Malta:
We have been to seven altars and one Mass, and I feel I cannot get enough, almost like I stayed too short a while, like I should have sat until midnight... The travel routine of wine and cheese and meat pies is broken by the spirit of pilgrimage, it seems, all too easily. It matters where you go, and it matters how you go.
Malta is a blessing. It feels like being on a pilgrimage from day one. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is a pilgrimage you embark on without knowing it... Perhaps it's the place. Perhaps it's St.Paul's prayers...
How can I explain and convey what I saw and felt. The Altar of Repose at St.Dominic's, with two angels on both sides of it. One on the right, holding a cup, another on the left, holding stalks of wheat and red and white grapes. Is it the over-exposure to visual impressions that does it to you? Jesus reposing. Grapes not yet vine. Wheat not yet bread. I will feed you with the finest wheat. For grapes to become vine our Saviour has to drink the cup.
If it is so, if indeed re-living His mysteries when He was human helps us to contemplate God, because they are at the same time completed and forever re-lived (because Jesus is both God who lives outside time, and man) - if it is so, could it be that this surreal wake was seen by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and somehow helped Him? I felt it did, in a way that cannot be explained, in a way that even cannot be understood by those partaking.
Streets filled with people, rosaries, praying aloud around the altars, old men and young, children and babies, women and girls... Someone starts to laugh when saying a rosary - this happens to me too often when I do it with my husband... Surely crowds seated before the Host enclosed on the most intricately decorated altars - surely these crowds that fill the streets, going from church to church, surely they want to be with Jesus? While the disciples were sleeping, could Jesus then see that all these crowds would want to be with Him? Perhaps it was those people who gave Him strength?
It was certainly those people who gave me faith. It seems this kind of faith is contagious. Problems at home seem surreal and far away. Buying clothes seems ridiculous - I already have more than enough. Placing Passion figures and crucifixes with a lance and a sponge in windows requires an attitude of placing one's faith before all else. Even subconsciously. As soon as you decide there are more important things, you won't do it. You won't walk a two-and-a-half-hour way of the cross to St. Paul's grotto, even in a Pauline year (are we supposed to get a plenary indulgence.
The many churches of Valletta are crowded and will probably be until midnight. People pray aloud before the Sacrament. May this never change.