Carrying our Cross

by Steve Ray on July 2, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006
We had breakfast at the Notre Dame Center and were on the bus at 8 AM. This group was very prompt and which allowed me to give them several hours of free time at the end of each day in Jerusalem. I decided go to Mount Scopus before starting on the Mount of Olives. Mount Scopus is north of the Old City and the Mount of Olives is on the east of Old Jerusalem.

We stopped at my favorite lookout point where I can give a quick overview of the story of salvation where I started our documentary on David/Solomon. Looking over the Jordan Valley and mountains of Moab (Jordan) beyond, I help everyone understand the story in context.

After our salvation story overview, we drove to the Mount of Olives and stopped at the Chapel of the Ascension which is actually a Moslem property. I gave a short talk on the Ascension and then on to my friend Mazen’s shop next door.

(By the way, do you know the difference between the Ascension and the Assumption? If not, and you want to know, write me at

Why go to Mazen’s “Mount of Olives Bazaar"? Three reasons: 1) they have good products, especially the best selection and prices for Dead Sea mineral products; 2) they have helped me so often with my Footprints of God videos; and most importantly 3) they provide a camel for everyone to ride! What fun everyone had. You will see the pictures soon posted on my site

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem is famous and most everyone has seen the pictures of crowds strolling down the steep hill carrying Palm branches. We shuffled down the steep hill seeing where Haggai and Malachi were buried and shortly came to Dominus Flavit where our Lord wept over Jerusalem. Soon we were at the Grotto of the Arrest at Gethsemane. Mass was in the Church of All Nations and we all sat around the huge rock where Jesus wept drops of blood while his disciples slept.

We then walked around the Garden of Gethsemane where some of the Olive trees are over 2,000 years old. I think a lot of pilgrims were very moved at the Garden of Gethsemane and I reminded them to think of Mel Gibson’s movie – and discussed why Jesus may have suffered more pain here than he did on the Cross.

Lunch was eaten on the Promenade which is one of the very best views of Jerusalem – high above the city from the south. I told the pilgrims this was their final exam as I asked questions, asking them to point out strategic locations. Looking over the city as if it were in our hands, I gave an overview of the Passion of Jesus in preparation for our afternoon Stations of the Cross.

After lunch we started from Herod’s Gate and walked to the beginning of the Via Dolorosa to follow the footprints of Our Lord from the trial of Pilate in the Antonia Fortress to the Cross and the Tomb. We carried crosses though the crowded, busy streets. It was very similar to the time of Jesus with people buying and selling and us pushing our way through the noisy narrow streets. Very few pilgrims walked this sorrowful way without tears in their eyes.

Everyone had time to enter the tomb to pray and then Janet and I gave the pilgrims a tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. From 3 PM on everyone had free to visit the Old City, pray at the Tomb or take a nap.

My “man in Israel,” Raji Khoury, treated the pilgrims to dinner at the Seven Arches with huge windows. We ate dinner, gave a few farewell speeches and watched the sun set on the Old City of Jerusalem.