Holy Land Pilgrimage – August 2014

31 August 2014 to 09 September 2014





Journal

2014-08 Holy Land Pilgrimage

Day 1: Driving up to Galilee

Our Pilgrims arrived and drove up to Galilee. Their families warned them it was dangerous.
They all asked, “Danger, where? This is beautiful!!”
We just finished dinner on the Sea of Galilee, had Mass in a thousand year old church in Tiberias and many are going to bed while others are sipping wine along the shore or walking by the sea. It’s all in the video.
Big day tomorrow: Mount of Transfiguration for Mass, Renewal of wedding vows in Cana, lunch and tour of Nazareth and my talk “A Day in the Life of the Holy Family” and much more.

Day 2: Nazareth, Cana, Transfiguration

Day Two is now complete. Full rich day with great weather and wonderful spiritual blessings (and great food too!)
Started early with a ride up Mount Tabor to have Mass at the site of the Transfiguration. Then to Cana to renew wedding vows and on to an authentic lunch in Nazareth with mezza salads, chicken skewers and beef kabobs.
The Church of the Annunciation is always a favorite, especially praying the First Joyful Mystery where the words were actually spoken! Then we visit the cave where the Holy Family lived and I gave my talk “A Day in the Life of the Holy Family.”
Swimming in the sea too.

Day 3

Today what’s an incredible day of many adventures. We started the day with Mass at the Mount the Beatitudes where Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount. Then we went up to the Golan Heights to visit Caesarea Philippi where Jesus said “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church”. Lunch in the Druze Restaurant and then much more…
Video One: our pilgrimage today through amazing and stunning holy sites.

Day 4: Boat Ride, Eat My Flesh, Eat the Fish, Up to Jerusalem, Exclusive Entry to Christ’s Tomb and more

A whirlwind day with the morning finishing up in Galilee and then after eating St. Peter’s fish in Capernaum we headed south going up to Jerusalem. We stopped at the church of the visitation before arriving at the Notre Dame Hotel.

After checking in we walked over to the Holy Sepulchre inside the old city of Jerusalem. The Franciscans greeted us and we had an exclusive entrance into the tomb of Christ. There was a lot of pomp and circumstance, organ playing and songs in Latin. Everyone got to pray inside the tomb.

After that we went to the top of Calvary and everyone was able to touch the place where Jesus’ cross stood. I reminded them that if they had touched that 2,000 years ago their hands would come up sticky with his blood. It was a marvelous day.

Tomorrow we spend the whole day in Bethlehem ending with dinner in a tent was Arabic dancing.

Day 5: All Day in Bethlehem

Day 6: Carrying our Cross to Calvary and the Tomb for Mass and much more

We started at 5:30 AM today to walk the Stations of the Cross before Jerusalem wakes up and the streets are jammed. We also have Mass at the Tomb at 7:30 so this give us time to walk to Calvary, tour the Holy Sepulchre and be seated for the High Mass with the Franciscans at the Tomb of Christ.

But after breakfast we also visit Pater Noster where Our Lord taught his disciples to pray the Our Father and from where he ascended. We also had pilgrims pray the Our Father in Vietnamese, Spanish, Philippine Tagalog, Latin and Arabic. Very moving.

Then to Peter in Gallicantu where Peter denied Jesus and where Jesus was lowered into the cistern prison over Holy Thursday night. We went into the cistern and read Psalm 88 and prayed. The pilgrims then had lunch at the Notre Dame and scattered for a free afternoon. Some went back to the Holy Sepulchre to pray, others to the Western Wall to see the Jews in their finery on the Sabbath. Others went back to pray the Stations of the Cross again while others took a nap 🙂
At 5:00 PM we all regather for the tour and explanation of the excellent Holy Shroud Exhibit here in the Notre Dame, dinner, a free evening and to bed for another fun and busy and spiritual day tomorrow.

Day 7: Agony in the Garden, Prayer at Western Wall, Kibbutz Lunch, Upper Room, Bishop of Jerusalem

Another astounding day. We have to admit that we love the emptiness – 90% of groups canceled their trips to the Holy Land so we have no lines, no crowds, no pushing and shoving. My people were smart to trust me. It is quiet and safe and we are having a great time – the Holy Land is ours!

I hope you enjoy today’s video starting with a moving Mass at Gethsemane. Did you know that it was here that Jesus suffered more than he did on the cross? Then to the Western Wall to pray at the holiest place for Jews and the place dearly loved by Jesus.

From there to lunch at a Jewish kibbutz (delicious, by the way) and then to Mount Zion to visit the Dormition of Mary and the Upper Room. Why did Luke tell us there were about 120 “names” in the Upper Rome? If you were with us you would know why 🙂

We had time for confessions, a deacon’s meeting, a Catholic Bible software demonstration (www.Verbum.com/SteveRay) and then we went to meet the Bishop of Jerusalem – wonderful. Then dinner and bed.

Day 8: Camels, Dead Sea, Jericho, Qumran, Jesus’ Jerusalem, Authentic Baptismal Site