Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today we went out into the Judean Desert to to experience the silence of the Desert.  Also to give you a feel of why people went out to the Desert to pray.  Then off to Jericho.  Jericho is one of oldest continously inhabited cities in the world.  Over 10,000 years old.  It is in Palestine.  It is mentioned in the Old Testament many times, but is also the site of the Three Temptations of Christ by the Devil.  There is a Russian Orthodox Monastery built right into the side of the mountain to commenorate the site.  It is high on the Mount of Temptation.  We took the "longest cable car beneath sea level" to the top. It is a very unique place. They have a  cave where Elijah spent some time and also they say that they have a stone where Jesus sat for the temptation.  You can see the Dead Sea from the top and also the Countries of Jordan & Israel besides Palestine.  Then we went to Hiram's Palace.  This is where the Tree of Life Mosaic is located.  I always thought it was a Christian symbol, but it is in the Bath House.  Then we went to see a Sycamore Tree, because Zaccheaus lived in Jericho.  That's the story of Jesus calling him down to eat supper with him.  After that, we went to another Russian Orthodox Monastery called St. Geronimus.  After the visit we returned to school. They were having roadblocks in front of school stopping cars and checking papers/passports.  Since this is the Sabbath the vast majority of the people driving where Palestinians. The pictures are of the mosaic, The Tree of Life and the Temptation Monastery built into the side of the Mount.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Today we had a lecture on Desert Monasticism. This basically is about Monks who have gone out into the desert to be hermits for awhile and loved the desert so much that they set up monasteries. Most of them are very small places but seem to survive. These is to get us ready for a trip to Jericho on Saturday. In the afternoon the whole group went to Bethany where there is a Passionist Order House. One of our group is a Passionist Priest from Scranton PA.. We saw their place. They say that this was the site of Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s home. But now the new Wall separating Israel from Palestine runs right through their property and separates them from Bethany. It’s a real shame. It makes it very difficult for their ministry. There is also a convent of Comboni Missionary Sisters next door. They run a Pre-school for 3 - 5 year olds. The children have to walk through the New Wall to go to School. They put in a small door for them to get through but not their parents. The Israeli Police even showed up when we walked very close to the wall to get a better look. The pictures are of Martha & Jesus and a picture of the New Israeli wall dividing Bethany. The Vatican had to intervene so that they could keep their ruins of Bethany on their side of the Wall.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today was a day off.  Nothing scheduled.  4 of us went to Yad Vashem which is the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.  Very moving.  Especially the Children's Memorial.  We spent all morning there.  Then we went to the Armenian Section of the Old City.  Had lunch and went to St. James Cathedral.  But it was closed for repairs.  Decided to go on the Way of the Cross again.  Took our time, got into the chapel of the 7th Station, Jesus Falls the Second Time.  Never has been opened before.  Then I went back to the Franciscan's procession around the Holy Sepulcher.  Very impressive.  Ate in the Old City & went back for Mass in the Resurrection Chapel with the Mexican Seminarians From Holy Cross Seminary, Notre Dame. 

After Mass started talking to a Franciscan who took us to their living quarters in the Holy Sepulcher.  They actually live in the Church.  Once it is locked at 8:00 PM, they cannot get out or in. A different perspective from their rooms.  Took the bus back to School and am writing the Blog at 10:00 PM.  Very full day.  The pictures are from Yad Vashem.  The first is of the Cattle Car that took the Jews to the Concentration Camps.  It is built on a steel bridge that goes nowhere.  Very Symbolic.  The next is of some statuary on the grounds.  You are not allowed to take pictures in the museum, so these are all outside.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Today we had a lecture on the topic of Jesus and his Cultural Milieu.  The main focus was on the Sacred and the Profane. Also about impurity both Ritual & Moral.  It's amazing how many of the Scripture Stories deal with some sort of impurity.  In the afternoon, I went into Bethlehem.  I'm really beginning to like Bethlehem more and more.  Even though it is a real hassle going through the Checkpoint and all the people trying to sell you things.  There was a small group of Africans trying to maneuver through. They did not know English or Arabic, so they couldn't read the signs and were really.  I helprd them through and they found their guide on the other side.  Had a relaxing stroll through the town. Tonight we get to go to experience the evening prayer at a Mosque.  Here are some pictures of the inside of St. Catherine's Church and a close up of the the stain glass window.  It's a Franciscan Church, so I doubt if Sts. Francis & Anthony were there at Christ's birth.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today there was a lecture on the Jewish Perspective on the Scriptures (primarily the first 5 books).  Basically they look at the covenant and law.  The way they study or refelect on scripture is word by word and question each word as to the meaning.  Where we look at the passage and see how we can either put ourself into that place or how that pasage is relevant to today.  Now I can understand why the Jewish people question everything.  This afternoon, I caught two buses and went to Bethany.  This is the place where Lazarus, Jesus' friend, was raised from the dead.  I use that passage a lot in funerals.  Also the home of Martha and Mary where Jesus spent a lot of time.  This is really one of my favorite spots in the Holy Land.  The Church is meant to resemble a mausoleum but with the Easter Light of Christ streaming into the Church.  You would not even know that you are in Palestine, this area is so removed from the city.   The pictures are of the inside of the Church and the surrounding garden.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today we went to the desert. I’m glad I went but it wasn’t as interesting as the other trips we took. We took time to explore the area where Abraham lived and moved around. We actually walked about 20- 25 minutes into the desert. We read some scripture passages concerning the desert and water. Then we had silence and listened to the Desert. I had no idea how much you could hear. There were birds and small animals. No wonder Moses, Elijah, Jesus spent 40 days/years in the desert. Then we went to Beersheba.. This is the town where Abraham took Isaac to be sarificed. Isaac lived his whole life and this is where Jacob came to on the way to Egypt to be reunited with his son Joseph. This is also the place where God spoke to all of them and then not until Moses in the Desert at the burning bush. The pictures are of the Desert where we stopped to meditate and some camels along the way

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another interesting day.  Spent the night locked in the Holy Sepulcher.  Was very peaceful.  I actually worked on the 7th part of my Intro into Scripture. It was peaceful until the doors were opened for the Greek Orthodox to begin their services.  People swarmed in like it was the sales after Thanksgiving.  Just chaos.  And when we were leaving at 12:30 there were groups after groups filing into the corridors leading to the Church.  Came back to the Church for Mass in the Resurrection Chapel.  Our group was joined by other pilgrims.  Nice Celebration.  I remembered all the parishioners of Resurrection. But I especially remembered Matt Rexing at the mass.  My deepest sympathy to his parents.  Five of us went for coffee after the Mass and two hadn't done all the Stations, so we did a reverse order to all of them.  In the afternoon, nine of us went to Hebron.  This is the place where the Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Joseph are buried or in a mausoleum type.  This is a site that is holy to the Moslems, Jews and Christians.  But the Israelis occupy it in the middle of a Palestinian Area.  That causes great tension.  There are guards everywhere.  For years, tourists couldn't go there.  But it is safe now.  The Jews can't enter where the moslems enter, the Christians have to enter with the Jews.  It is such a mess.  Coming back the Israelis wouldn't allow us to enter Jerusalem through the Tunnel Checkpoint because we had been to Hebron.  We had to go to the Bethlehem Checkpoint.  It all worked out.  The first picture is of me. I heard rumors saying that I was really in Vegas and just posting the blog from there because I wasn't in any of the pictures.  Here is an Easter Candle Holder that wasn't being used, so I smuggled it out of the Church for Resurrection.  Just kidding.   With a candle in proportion, this would be taller than our Church.  The other picture is the tomb of Abraham.