Saturday, June 19, 2010

Today we had another class on the Koran.  It was conducted by a professor from Notre Dame who is here with his Graduate Students.  He talked about how the Koran developed from just being spoken to a written book over the centuries. But it still has to be spoken out loud. An interesting fact was that they study the Koran in the public schools.  And most have it memorized by the age of 11 or 12.  Our group is resting up and doing laundry after the trip to Galilee.  It was pretty intense. but tonight a few of us are going to be locked up in the Holy Sepulcher when it closes at 8:00 pm.  I'm only staying till about 11:45pm.  Apparently they trust us in there.  Most probably there will be others there.  it usually does not open until 6:00am.  But the various Religions start around midnight getting their Sunday Prayers and Masses done before the tourists come.  It should be interesting.  Hope it's not too spooky. I'll let you know how it went tomorrow.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Today was mostly a travel day. But first we went to Tel Dan. It is a nature preserve where the Jordan River begins. After all the desert we went through, all of a sudden here is this lush oasis. The water really does flow from the rocks. It becomes a pretty large stream as it goes down the hill. Then went to Banias or Caesarea Philippi. This the place that Jesus asked the apostles”Who do you think that I am? That’s because this is the place where many gods were worshiped, especially the god Pan. He is the god of nature. Then had a falafel for lunch at a Druze Restaurant and then went to the border of Syria. There is a DMZ area with an United Nations compound right in the middle. This is the Golan Heights. Also much fighting and arguing over this area, basically because of the water.  Went by many large military camps, seemed to be all prepared for battle. Then back on the road all the way to Jerusalem. The picture is the start of the Jordan River and of the UN compound.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Had another great day. First went to Caesarea by the Sea. What a great reconstruction of so many eras. Mostly Herod the Great. Saw the Hippodrome or the race track. Saw many other reconstructed sites all along the Med. Sea. Then we went to the Roman Aqueduct. An amazing site. Quite a feat of engineering by the Romans to bring water from the rivers and mountains to Caesarea. From there we went to Mt. Carmel. This is where Elijah defeated the god Baal by lighting his sacrifice without any help. Magnificent view from the top. Could see a huge Israeli military airport that isn’t on any map. The jets were screaming by while we were there. Had lunch at a Druze restaurant. Had Schwarma. Very good. Then on to Meggido. First, they uncovered a typical tomb of the 1st Century right by the highway.  Typical of what Christ's tomb may have looked like.  There have been 25 different eras of people over 7,000 years. Walked the tel. Went down to walls through a water tunnel dug by hand to get water to the people inside the walls when the city was undersiege. Amazing how they did this without modern technology.  The first picture is of Mt. Carmel and then of the tomb by the road.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today was another busy day.  We started in Tiberias with some ruins of a synagogue with Christian influences. Stopped at one of the Baptismal sites.  There is another that just opened near Jericho which hopefully we will be able to see.  We went by bus to Beit She'an.  A remarkable reconstruction of ruins from the 4th century.  The place was huge.  The town was destroyed by a massive earthquake.  This earthquake destroyed many other sites throughout Israel.  But much has been excavated and restored, including a main shopping area and an amphitheater.  At one time it could have sat 4,000 people.  Just amazing to see what they could build out of stone with simple tools.  It was at the crossroads of two important routes.  Then we had the best lunch at a Circassian Village.  They are kind of a Cossack tribe from Russia.  They migrated to Israel years ago.  The food was delicious and plenty of it.  Then off to a little Church in Nain, where Jesus raised a young boy who died.  His mother was a widow and she had no one else to support her.. Then nearby was Mt. Tabor where Christ showed himself as God to three apostles.  Going up the Mount was a lot of fun in a special taxi with all the switchbacks. It was the most peaceful place. The pictures are of the Church at Nain and the second is the inside of the Church of the Transfiguration (Mt. Tabor). Write more tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Had another great day.  Started off with an Israeli Breakfast.  All kinds of food and fresh fruits.  We first went to the Mount of the Beatitudes.  Spent an hour there learning about the site and then I spent a long time reading the teachings of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. Got on the bus and went to a new site, Kursi.  This where Jesus drove the legion of demons from the possessed man and drove them into wild pigs in the area.  We also went to the site of the multiplication of the loaves. They are building a new Benedictine Monastery on the site of the old one.  Then we went to the other site at Tabgha, The Primacy of Peter, where Jesus fixed breakfast for the Apostles after the Resurrection and named Peter as first Pope. We walked down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Then we had lunch.  We had St. Peter's Fish.  It a whole fish fixed and served with all the extras.  It's actually Talapia.  After that we went to Capernaum and saw Peter's Home and the Church over it and the ruins of the site where Jesus taught in the synagogue.  Then off to a Kibbutz and took a ride on the sea on what they call Jesus Boats.  Saw a first Century Boat that they have discovered since the Sea is shrinking.  Quite a memorable day.  Above are pictures of the Site where Jesus used a rock for breakfast, the Table of the Lord. And a scene from the Mount of the Beatitudes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Today was an amazing day.  We left Tantur at 7:00AM.  As I said yesterday, there was a mixup with the schedule, so we went all day and barely got to the hotel for supper.  We went to Cana, the place where Jesus had his first miracle.  Also walked by Nathaniel Barthomew's Church over his home.  Only opened one day a year, on his feast day.  Then went to Nazareth for the rest of the day.  Traffic was terrible.  We went to the Nazareth Village first.  I thought that it would be a real fake, but it was very interesting and extremely  informative.  We had a picnic lunch right there in the shade.  Then we went to the Basilica of the Annunciation.  Our tour guide for the week is fantastic.  So knowlegable about Nazareth.  She grew up here and seems to have a large family and a lot of friends.  We went into the lower Church and walked right into the home of Mary where the Angel Gabriel asked her to be the Mother of God.  Went to the Second floor and then went to St. Joseph' Church where it is beleived that the Holy Family lived there.  Came down to the remains of the first churches that were built there.  Then we went to the synagogue where Jesus proclaimed that He Is The One.  Went to Mary's Spring & St. Gabriel Orthodox Church.  Walked through the markets and went to a Roman Bath from the 1st Century.  Then something very unique.  Went to the Rosary Sister's convent.   Under their property, was remains that belonged to a "Very Respectful" person.  After year's of exploration, they have discovered among other things a tomb, with a stone that covers the opening.  Nazareth is a city of caves.  So many of the homes could have been connected.  This site is very, very close to Mary's home, so it could possibly be St. Joseph's tomb.  Had a wonderful dinner and now am getting ready to go to bed.  The pictures are of basically the kitchen of Mary in the Churh of the Annunciation.  And a picture of the tomb & the stone that covered the tomb at the Rosary Sisters.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today is Sunday.  Went to Church at St. Mark Church.  This is also one of the Last Supper sites.   The other one is just a room.  So this is nice to celebrate a Mass at the Site.  Then I walked into the newer part of the City.  It was just like going back to the States. Except when you went into the Mall, you had to empty your pockets and got through a metal detector.  Walked around for quite awhile and just watched people.  Very interesting, since this is the first day of the work week for them.  They really observe Sabbath on Friday night and Sat. It is really quiet all over the place.  The Pictures are of the Shopping Mall I found (Nautica is the second store) and also right next door is the Old City Walls.  Quite a contrast.  Tonight I pack for 5 days in the Sea of Galilee area.  But first we go to the Mediterranean Sea and Caesarea and Haifa.  But we just had a change of plans, so we go first to Nazareth.  That's even better.  See you tomorrow.