Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today is Saturday.  Believe it or not today was a full day.  We had Class in the morning to filll out the discussion on Islam. Finally figured out some of the differences between their own groups.  The presenter was an Arab who leaves in Jerusalem but teaches in Bethlehem. So he has to go through the checkpoint each day.  He received his Masters and Doctorate degrees at Catholic Universities in the US.  Had lunch and went to a Russian Orthodox Monastery just up the street.  Very interesting! We saw 5 buses but no people. We thought they would be in Church. How foolish. That's because there is a very nice cafeteria next to the church, and they were all eating.  Another reason, though.   It even has a full bar. Here in the old Arab section, there is no alcohol for sale at the Arab stores because of the Moslem law. Then at 3:00 pm, we had a class on Jesus' Discourse of the Bread of Life at the Capernaum Synagogue.  This is in preparation of our journey to Galilee.  After that we had some nuts & bolts of what to get ready for the trip.  At 5:30, there is evening prayer.  Supper at 6:00.  Eucharist for Sunday at 7:30, followed by a farewell party for one of the Scholars who has been here for 7 months.  Tomorrow is free so I'll be able to do more exploring.  Have more for you tomorrow and pictures.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Today we had an introductory class on Islam. No converts but found it to be very interesting. Tomorrow we will have the second class.  It should be interesting because we can ask all kind of questions, religious or political.  After the class a few of us went on the Way of the Cross.  I led our group.  Going there on the bus, we were diverted around the city.  The Israeli Police and Military were puttting up road blocks in one the Arab parts of town.  It took us a lot longer to get there because of the road closings.  I guess there was to be some sort of demostration.  Most probably for the press, since it was all staged.  The Way of the Cross was almost empty.  Had our prayers and was able to make all of the 15 Stations.  The 15th Stationis the resurrection.  I remembered all of you at his station.  It was very nice to walk the Way of Christ almost 2000 years ago.  Here are some pictures along the way.  The first is Jesus carrying his cross.  The second is actual pavement from the First Century.  Christ could have possibly used this pavement to carry his cross.  Something else.  More tomorrow.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Today we had a very long day but really good.  We went to Masada where a group of Jewish people fled when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70 AD.  It is on top of a high flat top hill.  King Herod used it first as a Summer Palace.  Rome finally conquered it and the Jews committed suicide rather than become Roman slaves.  The went to the Dead Sea and most of the group floated in it.  Because of the high salt level, it is very strange to float.  You can start floating in about 5 inches of water.  Then we went to what is called "David's Stream" in Ein Gedi. King David used this hideaway.  It is in the middle of the desert but there are perpetual springs that have enough water to have water falls and streams.  It is quite a hike up a mountain.  We swam in a few of the pools formed by the stream. Now I  know the inspiration for the 23rd psalm.  And then we went to Qumran.  This is the place where they discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Quite an eventful day.  But I learned a lot.  The Photos are: one of the waterfalls and myself ( you have to look at it sideways)and the second is facing the Dead Sea in the distance.  You can see that it is still a desert even with a stream going through it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today we spent most of the time in class.  We had our morning lecture on Judaism in the morning.  I celebrated Mass for the community at 11:45 AM.  Had Lunch.  They fixed falafels.  They were really good. Then I met with one of the Directors for advise on how to get to St. Catherine's Monastery or Mt. Sinai, Egypt where Moses got the 10 Commandments.  And also how to get to Petra, the city carved out of stone in Jordan.  Then there was a lecture by a Scholar in Study from India on the history of the Early Church after the Apostle's death.  We always have evening prayer at 5:30. Supper at 6:00.  Then there was a talk on the politics of Bethlehem.  But tomorrow we are away all day.  I'll write more about that tomorrow when we get back.  The first picture is of the Western or Wailing Wall.  The is where the Jewish faithful go to pray.  You can see them standing in front of the Wall at the bottom.  You can see how immense the wall is.  The Second picture is from the southern wall and a lot closer.  I keep forgetting to mention that if a square shows up instead of a picture, click on it.  And if a picture shows up, you can click on it and the picture will be full size.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Today was another new adventure.  We went to the Armenian & then Jewish Quarter.  Learned about the history of Jerusalem.  How small the town was for centuries.  Year 1800 only 12,000 people.  1900 80,000, butt a lot of the Europeans.  Saw how the the "old city" is divided into 4 areas.  Walked into the Jewish Quarter.  It was basically destroyed in the 1967 War and now is re-built.  The Main Synagogue was just finished. Went through the Roman built area Cardo (heart of the City). Stopped at a promenade overlooking the City and just a few steps further was the Wailing or Western Wall of the Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in the Year 70 AD.  This is the most sacred section to the Jewish people.  But we went to an archaelogical dig to the south.  This was even better than going to the Wall.  Since 1970, they have been digging away at the temple.  They have unearthed the steps that Jesus and the people of his time actually walked on leaving the temple , the walkway around the temple.   Even the Money Changer's and Animal Seller's booths .  I have added the pictures of the steps and the booths. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today, we met with a Jewish Professor who spoke about the Bible and the Talmud.  She told about the difference between the order of our Old Testament and their Tanak.  She went through how they interpret their scripture.  Either line by line or word by word.  And they have commentaries that are centuries old that they refer to. She used as an example Cain and Abel. I lead evening prayer again this evening.    Then my duties are done for the month. We have another session this evening. The pictures today are of the city of Jerusalem.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

For Sunday Mass, we went to one of the sites of Emmaus.  Along the way, Christ revealed all the scriptures and finally through the breaking of the bread, the 2 disciples recognized him.  The church was a French Benedictine Monastery.  There are two churches in Abu Gosh.  We only went to the one.  The other sits on a hill.  Most probably it is the one in the Book of Samuel where the Philistines brought back the 10 Commandments and was kept there for 20 years until the Temple was built by King David.  The Tabernacle in this Church is built on the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (the 10 Commandments).  That is the first picture.  This Church was built during the Crusades, in the 1300's.  Left in ruins and eventually restored.  The second picture is of the sanctuary.