Since today is Sabbath, I decided to just relax a little bit. But I did go out for awhile. Almost everything is closed on my street and surrounding areas. It is very relaxed in an eerie sort of way. Becasue where there is conjestion, there is nothing. Where sidewalks are full of people, there are just a few. But it was nice. I went to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Judgement Gate. Jesus went through this gate out of the city on the way to Golgotha. They say next to this gate is the "eye of the needle". That's the gate that Jesus talked about as being so hard to enter. For some it will be this difficult for them to get into the Kingdom. They also have some of the old wall at the time of Christ. The pictures are of these two things. Tonight, I have Mass at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Tonight begins the Sabbath. Once again everything calms down. Most everything is closed and people are at home celebrating the evening meal together. Today as I was I out, I saw Hebrew University from a distance. The Rector at Tantur had mentioned that they had a cross on top of their tower. Sure enough. I guess it's a radio tower or something like that. You would think that they would see that it's a cross and have it changed. Also I don't think that I showed how the walls of Jerusalem are constructed. They are built right into the stones that stick out of the ground. They all become one piece of construction. The walls, that are around Jerusalem now, were built in the 1600's. They are constantly repairing them. Right now there is a big reconstruction effort at the Jaffa Gate. The pictures are of the tower from a distance and the wall.
Today I went to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the largest city in Israel. It's right on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is so different from Jerusalem. It is calm. It has a lot of traffic but not the craziness here. There is an older section of town, Joppa or Yafo. This where Jonah set sail from trying to escape doing what God wanted. He didn't get very far and was returned by the whale. Didn't see any whales but it was beautiful city. It took about a hour by bus from Jerusalem. Coming back from the Bus Station, it took about an hour including waiting for the bus and the traffic. Tomorrow is Friday and thta means getting ready for the Sabbath. So it is even busier in the city. The pictures are of some of the buildings of Tel Aviv.
Had a quiet day. Spent some of the day working on my Scripture Project again. Once again realized that I did not have the right photos for the segment that I'm working on. So off I went to take the right photos. You would think that with all the ones that I have taken, that I would have enough. Good thing that I can just walk out and take some more. I guess it's also a good thing that I can start & finish here and get everything that I need. This evening I went to the Pontifical Biblical Institute for evening Mass. I met Fr. Mark from Nigeria for dinner afterwards. I met him through Tantur. He was on a program from the University of Maryland that was at Tantur for 10 days. He also stayed over. But he is really studying. Right now he is studying Hebrew in an intensive program where else but Hebrew University. He will finish in early September and goes back to teach at a Seminary in Nigeria. Here are a few pictures of today's journey. These are from the 3rd Station. There is a small chapel with this statue of Jesus falling the first time. The second photo is of a closeup of the backgound of the same hsot.
As I was working on my Scripture Study Program this morning, I discovered that I didn't have enough pictures of the Garden of Gethsemane. The Church is closed from 12:30 - 2:30. So I would get ready in the early afternoon and take a bus to the Church. Since there is no bus schedule. I got on the internet and found out the route to take. The one with the most buses is right in front of the apartment. One change, no problem. So I got on Bus #19 & went 8 stops like it said and got off. There was Bus Stop #1. So I got on Bus #1. Wrong. It went in the other direction. It went through the Ultra Orthodox Jewish section and ended up at the Central Bus Station. So I looked all around and found Bus #1 going the other way back to the Old City. All this travel for 6.2 sheckels or $1.30. Got off at the right stop & walked two blocks to the Church. It was empty. I had the Church of The Agony all to myself. So I took a bunch of pictures, said my prayers and started walking around a little bit and then a huge tour group came in. So I left. Walked the Way of the Cross and came back and started working on the program. The pictures are of the rock of the agony or where Jesus prayed that this cup would pass Him by. And second one is of the Olive Trees in the Garden. Some could be off shoots of the ones from the time of Christ
Today was a day of just wandering around the Old City. Went into the Christian Quarter. Went by the Latin Patriarch or Bishop's Headquarters. Then went to a new Church for me, St. Savior. It is a very large Church. All the services there are in Italian or Latin. They also have a School and around the Corner there is a DeSalles High School. Walked down St. Francis Road and surprisingly came into the back of the Holy Sepulcher. Walked into the Moslem Quarter and came upon the Dome of the Rock. Non Muslims cannot go into that area since the Intifada (when Arabs declared a holy war on Israel in 2002). Ariel Sharon walked right into the Dome one day and that really made them mad. On certain days & times you can walk around the Shrine but you cannot go in anymore. This is the place where Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice him to the Lord. Also this is where Mohammed ascended into Heaven. So it is a holy place for Moslems, Jews and Christians. The Jews won't go there because that was also the Temple site. And since they don't know exactly where the Holy of Holies was, they won't step onto the site for fear of walking the place where only on person a year could go into. It's all very territorial. But then I was able to go the Cathredral of St. James. It is only open from 3:00 - 3:30 PM. That's when the Seminarians have their prayer. That's strange because all these tourists come in during that time. It is an Armenian Church. The Armenians have been persecuted almost all of their existence. It is very ornate. This supposedly is the burial place of St. James the Greater and the burial place of the head of St. James the Lesser, the Apostles. The first Church built on this spot was in the 300's. The pictures are of a stone marker in the wall next to the schools in the Christian Quarter. Issa is arabic for Jesus. Maybe we need that motto in Indiana. Notice the hoop attached on one side and the engraved basketball in the other corner. And it looks old. The next is the burial place of St. John the Lesser.
Today, I went to the Jerusalem Mall to buy a few things that I needed for the apartment. Boy, was it crowded. Walked around, looked at all the stores, found what I needed . There are a few things different than our malls. The stores are smaller and more specialized. The other thing is that there is security at the entrances. You need to go through a metal detector & your bags, purse, etc. are searched. It's pretty large with 3 floors. Took my purchases to the apartment and decide I needed to get a better idea on how the buses run. That was a mistake. Took a bus to the Central Bus Station which is fairly new and big. It is one of the largest bus stations in the world. I had been there before but didn't go inside because my transfer was on the outside of the building. Again you have to through security to get in the building. To my surprise, the first two floors are a mall with lots & lots of shops. And people packed in it. It's kind of like Grand Central Station in New York. The busses come to the 3rd floor for arrival & departure which seems strange. I'll figure that out when I take a bus to Joppa and other places. There are about 30 platforms for arrivals & departures. But they didn't have any maps. Only individual bus lines with the stops in hebrew. So that didn't help at all. The bus ride there is always congested because they are building a light rail line through Jerusalem on the busiest street, Jaffa Road. This construction has been going on for 4 years and none of it has been open. The first part that was built is now rusted and grass growing over it. They say it will be open in the Fall, but that will never happen. They seem to be putting more time and money into the stations instead of finishing and opening the rail line in order to get rid of some of the traffic problems. Here are two pictures of the over pass built by the Bus Station. It really looks out of place in Jerusalem. In the second picture, you can see the gridlock, buses and cars all stopped.
I am a Catholic Priest. Usually I am a Pastor of a Parish, but now I am on Sabbatical in the Holy Land. I would like to share with you my journey. I hope it inspires you to become closer to Christ. This is a great adventure for me, so check back & see what I have done each day.