Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am writing this on Thursday July 1, earlier than usual.  I had been trying to make arrangements to go to Petra.  It all finally fell into place last night.  Sometimes the most simplest things here become really complicated.  So right now, I'm getting ready to drive south to the very tip of Israel. The city is Eilat. Then on Friday, a professor from St. Joseph College, Maine and I will go to Petra. It's the city that is carved out of rock. If you remember the first Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's in the opening scene going through a canyon and coming upon this preserved ruins. It was lost until the mid 1800's. It now one of the Seven Wonders of the New World. Then on Saturday, we go to the Red Sea. And on Sunday we come back to Jerusalem. So it should be a great few days. I'm not sure if I will have internet service, so it might be a few days before I post again.
Today is a day of saying goodbyes to people as they leave Tantur. They are either leaving by taxi or sherut (a shared van that picks up or delivers 10 people to or from the airport).  The Sheruts have a good system.  You tell them when your flight leaves and they tell you when you will be picked up.  They are very reliable and very nice.  So today, I went with a small group that is still here to have Mass at the Church of St. Anne - the mother of Mary.  This was Joachim's and Anne's home and Mary was born here.  A Priest received a new assignment while here & it is the Shrine of St. Anne in Scranton, PA.  He arranged a Mass time to end his time here and start his new time in his new assignment. Five of us went along.  The Church was built by the Crusaders, so it is quite old. Tonight, I have to vacate my room, so I'm starting to pack and get ready to move.  Here are some pictures of the Church.  The first one is the statue of St. Anne & Mary. The second is part of the cave/home that Anne & Joachim lived.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today we went to Ein Karem.  This is the town of Zecharia, Elizabeth & John the Baptist.  It is still a village.  In this village are 2 major Churches that commenorate the time that Elizabeth and Mary met.  They were both pregnant with children that had great promise.  They both had miraculous conceptions.  The one Church, The Visitation, is on top of a big hill. And the other, The Chuch of the Birth of John the Baptist, is in town.  After touring the sites, we had a time for reflection of the month long program.  After that was a closing prayer service.  Everyone seems tired and starting to think about packing to go home.  We have two more functions this afternoon and evening.  The pictures are of The Church of the Visitation and the hill country of Judah.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Had problems with the internet service here, so I am a little late in posting on the Blog. We had a class at a Russian Orthodox Church up the road from us. We all walked there. The Rector gave the talk on the Churches of Jerusalem in particular the Orthodox. It was interesting to see the comparisons of the Catholic and Protestant Churches in America to these. Then this afternoon, I took three others, who heard of my trip to Bethany, back to Bethany. The bus stop is not marked very well, but all the Palestinians on the bus, helped us to get off at the right place. We had lunch and had something comparable to an Arab “Subway”. Very good. It is wonderful at the tomb of Lazarus. The three were amazed how peaceful the site was in comparison to other sites that we had visited. And how much was there. There wasn’t any rush but it took over two hours to get back. Scripture says that Jesus walked to Bethany. He probably made it faster than we did because of the traffic congestion, construction and checkpoint. Here are some pictures of Lazarus’ tomb.  The first one is the entrance to the tomb. The second is the tomb.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Today is Sunday, so we are taking it easy.  Three of us went to St. Catherine's Church in Bethlehem for Mass.  After that we walked to The Milk Grotto for a visit.  I had been there before but I didn't ever see the new Church that is behind the cave grotto.  It is very beautiful. They also have a panorama of Bethlehem from their back door. Coming back, you have to go through the New Wall & Checkpoint.  Usually U. S. Citizens can just walk through.  Today, they wanted to see the stamp from the Airport.  Something must be going on to have more security.  This afternoon, a few of us are going to Mount Zion area to spend the afternoon. If you have ever watched the Mass on Christmas Eve from Bethlehem, the first picture is the statue that is carried in procession.  The second is from the New Milk Grotto Church.  The stain glass window depicts Jesus in red carrying his cross and the eclipse of the sun when He died.