Saturday, June 5, 2010

Today is Saturday.  Jerusalem is quiet.  It's the sabbath.  Traffic is down to almost nothing.  Tomorrow everything will be back to normal.  I went to the Church of the Dormition.  The place were Mary fell asleep.  Very Peaceful.  Jus around the corner is the Upper Room.  It's probably the most disappointing place in the Holy Land.  Then went to King David's Tomb.  One problem.  David's body is not there.  It has not been found yet in the City of David.  But then I searched and searched for St. Mark's Church. It belongs the Syrian Orthodox Church and they claim it as the place of the Last Supper.  It is a much more believeable site than the one that is visted by the tourists.  It is also said to have been the home of Mary, the mother of James.  The Pictures above are of Mary lying in sleep.  The statue is made of red maghogany with ivory face and hands.  This a German church so German Mary's are always dressed in red rather than our blue and white.  The the next is a mosaic of Jesus holding the baby Mary as she is new into the Kingdom while laying asleep amidst the apostles.  The opposite of when Mary held Jesus when he was new on earth.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Just got back from the trip to Bethlehem.  Wonderful.  It was not as crowded as usual.  First we went to the Herodium. The Summer home of Herod the Great. It almost looks like a volcano.  They think that they have found the tomb of Herod.  Very interesting.  Then we went to the Shepherd's Field.  So peaceful.  Could see some caves and learned a little about shepherds.  You have to wait for Good Shepherd Sunday.  Then to Nativity Square. Went directly to the cave. Nobody in line.  Spent a long time there.  It was very inspiring. Tried to think of some new decorating scheme for Church next Christmas but didn't have any luck.  Went to the cave where St. Jerome translated the bible from many languages into Latin, which was the main language of that time.  Went to the Milk Grotto.  One of my favorite spots.  Went through the area where the Palestinians buy their regular market items.  Very different.  Got lost and eventually found the way back to the checkpoint. 

One interesting event.  I was walking along the Mosque area and a car pulls up and asks if I'm from Indiana.  Of course, I was wearing the IU hat the faculty & students gave me.  They also were from Evansville.  The Duncans from the East Side.  Small world.!

The picture with the star is the believed birth place of Christ.   The second picture is a statue in the Milk Grotto. This is the place where Joseph had his dream to go to Egypt to escape Herod.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Found out that the noise last night was fireworks from a wedding celebration.  Had a great day.  Our conference was on Honor & Shame as related to Gospel stories and even present time and the significance of meals to the Palestinian culture.  I and Priest of the Passionist Order, Fr. Jim Price went on a trip in the afternoon to re-trace our steps of yesterday.  Just to make sure that we can go from the Mount of Olives to the Via Dolorosa  and get out to the the Jaffa Gate. We actually were able to see more today than we did yesterday.  The pictures are an overview of the Old City of Jerusalem.  The Dome of the Rock is in the center.  This is the place where Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed and where Mohammed ascended into Heaven.  It is a Moslem Shrine.  The second picture is the birthplace of Mary.  Once again in a cave/home. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Today our little group went on a bus trip to the Mount of Olives.  We basically walked the Palm Sunday Route.  We stopped at the Our Father Church which is built over caves that Jesus lived in when in Jerusalem.  This is also where he taught the Apostles how to pray.  Went to the place where Jesus wept over the city.  Went to Gethsemane (means olive press) prayed over the Rock of the Agony.  Then proceeded into the Old City and walked the Way of the Cross.  A very spiritual day in every sense.  We really did not have enough time to do the way of the Cross well so I'll come back. Above are pictures of the Pater Noster (Our Father) Church and Olives trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Some trees are said to be off shoots of the trees that were there when Christ prayed.  They live for a thousand years.  Nor sure what is going on now but there was a lot of gun fire and a little while later there are all kinds of sirens.  Probably a protest to the attacking of the supply boats to Gaza.  I'm very, very far away from Gaza, but close to Bethlehem.  Most probably nothing. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Today was the first official day of school.  First we had Orientation.  Some of the History of Tantur was explained.  We had an official tour of the building.  Also a deeper explanation of the present day wall separating Israel & Palestine.  In the afternoon we all took a bus/walking tour of the Old City.  We had stops so we could see the Old City from a distance and then closer all the time.  We eventually stopped at St. Peter's Church in Gallicantu.  This site remembers the betrayal of Jesus by Peter.  Also the place where Jesus was held after being captured.  There are steps from the Roman Era where Jesus most probably made his way to the Last Supper, back to the Garden of Gethsemane, back to Caiaphas' House and then onto Pilate for Judgement.  Had Supper and then immediately had an introduction session to the rest of the group. Many of the group have an interesting background.  Today, we only had 15, 4 have not shown up or not coming.  The pictures today show Peter denying Jesus and also the steps that Jesus walked.

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31st is the feast of the Visitation.  Of course, I had to go to the site of the Visitation and the Birthplace  of St. John the Baptist.  Both are located in a town on the outskirts of Jerusalem name Ein Karem.  I took 4 others along with me.  The place to pick up the Israeli Bus is very complicated but after we found the right bus we were in business.  You have to walk up a hill to the Church of the Visitation.  There were many Franciscans celbrating the Feast there.  It is very inspiring to see the Words that Mary spoke to Elizabeth printed on tile in so many languages.  Two women with miraculous pregnancies greeting each other.  Then we went back down the hill and up a little one to the Church of the Birthplace of John the Baptist. In the Scripture it says, Mary went into the hill Country.  Boy, is that ever right.  The school packed a lunch for us and we ate it in this quaint little town and returned late in the afternoon.  We had evening prayer to start off the session and then a wonderful meal.  Tomorrow starts the formal part of our program.  So that means it will cut into my wandering around time. Above are pictures of the birth site of St. John the Baptist and the well where Mary & Elizabeth met each other.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Had another interesting day.  Some of the group from Notre Dame decided to go to Mass at a Melkite Catholic Churchin Bethlehem. So I joined them.  Haven't been to that rie since St. Meinrad. They are Greek Orthodox but in union with Rome.  The schedule was wrong on the bulletin board.  After going through the new wall separating the Israelis frome the Palestines and vice versa, we came in on the end of Mass.  We had a tour through this very small church with exquisite paintings in the icon style.  The painter was from Romania.  Had a brief explanation and then walked 40 minutes to the Church of St. Catherine.  This Mass was in Arabic. Very interesting.  Amazing how many people were in attendance.  This is the Church where the Christmas Eve Mass is televised around the World.  So it is a very large size church.  It was packed. Men, women and children were all in attendance and participated.  Even sang one of "Jennifer's" Alleluias.  There were 3 masses before this one. After lunch, went back to the old city and walked around through the Jaffa Gate and then went into the new shopping mall right by the Old City.  What a contrast!  The pictures are of the front of the School where I am, Tantur which means Hilltop.  The next is the view of the new wall and checkpoint from the School. If you click on the picture, you  will see the wall & checkpoint much clearer.  Tomorrow is the Feast of the Visitation.  I am orgainizing a little tour  of three or four to go there.  Hopefully I won't get everyone lost.

Congratulations to Coach Tracy Archuleta on winning the Division II  NCAA Baseball Championship.    You and your team had a great year.