Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Hi to all:

I will write some thoughts soon of the trip. I got home early Sunday morning and had a good sleep. Still getting over the jet lag as I have only once before travelled to Europe. It was a wonderful trip in many ways.

Fr. Mike

Friday, 10 February 2012

Greeting to all:

It is Friday afternoon as I write this post to you. This morning we went to the Church of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary just outside the old city for our last Eucharistic celebration together. It is a beautiful church where it is believed that Mary after the resurrection of Jesus spent her last days and died here. We have had some free time after mass and soon will have our closing ceremony and our farewell dinner.

To recap the last couple of days on Wednesday we went to Ain Karen to the Basilica of the Visitation and  Basilica of St. John the Baptist. This was where Elizabeth lived during her pregency with John the Baptist. Mary came to visit her cousin from Nazareth and it sure is in the hill country as the town is built on a hill. I was the homilist for the day so it was extra special for me. After mass we walked to where John the Baptist was born in the lower part of the Basilica. So often it is the case that these holy places like the churches are in areas where there is just Arabs living so there is no people who come to the churches except pilgrims like ourselves and there are sure a lot of people that come. As I have mentioned this is January and February the raining season and usually it is quieter with less pilgrims, however there sure has been many groups that we have seen on our journey. We visited the National Museum of Israel and the two exhibits that are noted is model of the Old City of Jerusalem at the time of the second temple and the building where the scrolls of Qumran are kept. That afternoon and early evening we had two conferences.

Thursday was a light day as we went to celebrate mass at Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives and than we had a free day to tour, visit sites to  shop and to rest. Our last conference was on pastoral charity.

Tomorrow we are on our way back home. Our flight is not till 12:30 p.m. and just heard that there is no taxi to take us around 8:30 a.m. so we are leaving really early at 6:45 a.m. so we will be spending more time than we thought at the airport in Tel Aviv.

I will write some reflections and attach pictures later on this evening.

Fr. Mike

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Hello again to all:

It has been a few days since my last post on Saturday. It is Wednesday evening now and a few days with many experiences have happen since Saturday. Firstly I have been under the weather so have not had the energy for a new post later at night or early morning as that seems to be the time that I have found for a new post.

Sunday was a day of rest with no schedule so I went with some of the fellows to a Maronite mass in the old city. It was a compound tucked away a chapel on the second floor. The liturgy we could follow as they had some order of the service in English as it was mostly in Arabic, some french and the archbishop spoke in English a couple of times. The liturgy was somewhat different with the order of the mass and they had a cantor a woman in a side room who canted parts of the mass and people responded with singing. That afternoon our Victoria crew Fr. Stephen and John, myself and a fellow from Washington D.C. went on the light rail system to the Holocaust museum for a few hours. It was intense to see some of the pictures the films and memories of what happened in many parts of Europe prior and during WWII.

On Monday we headed to Qubeibeh in Samaria (palestinian area) where the Emmaus story took place. It was a round about way we had to go on the secondary roads through Ramallah. Once you are in the Samarian zone you sure see the difference as it looks so much poorer the communities. If there are Jewish communities they are on the tops of the hills as this is hill country and they are gated and wired protected communities. The father at the church in Emmaus said you are brave to come here as seldom pilgrims these days. Our next stop was through Nablus to Sebastia as we were heading north through the hill county. We stopped in Nablus on the way back and visited Jacobs Well in a beautiful church. The icons were amazing to see. After returning to Notre Dame we had a conference and dinner and called it a night.

Yesterday was a trip to the Judean desert with a stop on the way in Bethany to see the tomb of Lazarus and celebrate mass in the church. We continued on to Qumran which is heading south along the Dead Sea  where the Dead Sea scrolls were found in some caves in the mountains besides the lake in 1947.  It was fascinating to see the site of the Essene community and how they lived. On down the road we went to Masada. It is a well know site and spectacular  as it sits on a plateau of one of the mountain tops. The fortress was built by King Herod. During the second temple period the Jews revolted against the Romans and they than destroyed the Kingdom of Judah and this fortress was the last bastion of Jews to fall to the Romans. Fr. Kelly one of the fathers who lives here was saying one time while visiting Masada while coming down on the tram a Israeli government official was saying to him that now the government is somewhat sorry that they have chosen Masada as a symbol for the people for in the end after killing those that were left including woman and children the ten men left choose lots and one killed the 9 and than the sword on himself so when the Romans entered the fortress there was no one alive. It is the idea of suicide rather than surrendering. We than stopped a bit further down the lake and some of us took a dip in the Dead Sea where one floats and would never sink. The salt was sure hard on the eyes and water not too warm till one was used to it. It was a full day and today we visited Ain Karen known for the Visitation when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and the birthplace of John the Baptist. I will write more about yesterday tomorrow and post some pictures too as I am retiring for the night.

Fr. Mike

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Good Evening to all:

This morning was an early morning as we celebrated mass at 5:00 a.m. at the Holy Sepulcher in the  tomb of Jesus. It was a tight squeeze with over 30 of us. The Franciscans have the church from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the pilgrim groups who are celebrating mass. After breakfast the english group first had a tour of the museum of the Shroud of Turin. If you ever come to Jerusalem you have to see the exhibit as it is amazing that is right here at the Notre Dame Center where we are staying. Today we had a conference on Mary in the life of the priest. The conferences are an hour long usually. Themes we have had are The cross in the life of a priest, conference on the Eucharist as some examples. This afternoon we went to see the Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem who gave talk on Christianity in the Holy Land. He started with the history of Christianity to the present day an informative talk to listen to. The english group went for a walk to Jewish quarter in the Old City this afternoon. There are a few of us that have colds and mine has acted up and more are getting sick so not a good sign. Tomorrow is a free day which is great for those who have been on tours know they can be busy. I will send some pictures with this post.

On Thursday we started the Sacred Triduum where we followed Jesus to his death and resurrection visiting holy places on the path to his death. The pictures are not in order. The first is from Bethpage when he rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Second is the Garden of Getsemani, Third is the Russian Orthodox Monastery of Mary Magdalene and the last is a view from the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu looking towards the wall and one can see the temple square with the golden dome.

Until next time  Fr.Mike

Friday, 3 February 2012

Here are some more pictures with the first from mass at the Jordan River, second from the Basilicia of St. Joseph's in Nazareth, third from Capernaum, and the last from the Mount of the Beatitudes. 

Fr. Mike

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Here are some pictures that I promised to send the other day.  Fr. Mike

The first is the Jordan River, second Mount Tabor Church of the Transfiguration and the last is a side chapel.
Hello to all:

Today is Thursday February 2 early afternoon. It has been a couple of days since my last post. On Monday we were in Nazareth for the day and later on in Cana on the way back to Tiberias. I have found it amazing with the number of pilgrims that are here in the Holy Land even now in January as this month and February are the two winter rainy months and cooler. As we travel to the holy sites one see's the same groups and buses that are touring at the same time. There are many languages that one hears people talking and english is not usually one of them. Our group as I mentioned is spanish speaking as the majority. Often Fr. Adam our tour guide gives the information in both languages and Fr. Edward will give the translation for the homily given by the spanish speaking priests.

Back to the Galilee part of our pilgrimage. On Tuesday we went to the sanctuary of Peter's Primacy and celebrated mass outside. The Franciscans often look after the Holy Sites and one will see the fellows with brown albs. The next stop was Capernaum where Jesus spent a lot of his time here as Galilee was the main base for his ministry. The site is has the remains of the temple and where the houses were of the people who lived in the town and it was impressive in seeing the site. After Capernaum we stopped at the Magdala project. If one goes online you can see the discovery of a 1st century synagogue that was discovered when preparing the site for the center construction. To see a active site where they are digging and finding treasures was interesting to see. Next stop was Tabgha where there was the multiplication of the loaves and fish to feed the people. Again to see in person where these miracles took place is special. We stopped at the Mount of Beatitudes which is a mountain and still below sea level as the Galilee region is all below sea level. Beautiful grounds with all the trees and plants which I knew it would be from seeing Elizabeth DVD she had from her trip to the Holy Land. It was cloudy with some sun so we did not see to much of the lake. One could hear fighter jets overhead as they daily are in the air for Syria is above the Golan Heights across the lake and over the mountains to the north west is Lebanon.

That was Tuesday a lighter day it seemed and yesterday Wednesday we had a longer day as we headed to   Haifa and Mount Carmel and than down the coast and back to Jerusalem. I do promise to send some pictures from the last few days soon.

Fr. Mike