Saturday, September 8, 2007

Day Seven – Final Day of Pilgrimage before Egypt

by Steve Ray on September 8, 2007

 To see the whole pilgrimage with all the videos click here 
Visit > The Pilgrimages > Virtual Pilgrimages > September 2007 Holy Land & Egypt Pilgrimage

People like to have some extra free time to absorb the Holy City of Jerusalem or take other adventures—or to catch up on sleep. So we always add a “free day” at the end of the Holy Land pilgrimage. But for those who want to see more sites and have planned adventures, we offer an option trip to Qumran where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls and then to Masada where the Jews made their last stand against Rome in 72 AD. It is along the Dead Sea deep in the arid Judean Wilderness.

It is a stunning site and present day pilgrims have the great advantage of a cable car to take them up and down. Next we went to JerichoJericho is an important biblical city which Joshua conquered by marching around the city blowing trumpets. Jesus visited Jericho many times and we saw the Sycamore Tree of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:4) and the Mount of Temptation where Satan took Jesus to show him the kingdoms of the world (Mt 4). It is also on the road to Jericho where the parable of the Good Samaritan took place.Jericho is in the Palestinian West Bank and we have to cross the checkpoint (like at Bethlehem) to get in and out. Jericho is the oldest inhabited city in the world AND the lowest city in the world. It is about 1,400 feet below sea level. The lunch in Jericho is a treat. The restaurant is also a shop and has one of the largest selections of Dead Sea products. Those who will not go to Egypt with us tomorrow had a chance to ride a camel.


After lunch we took a short tour of the city, mainly to see the Sycamore Tree associated with the short man Zacchaeus mentioned in Luke 19:1-10.After lunch we did what everyone was waiting for – swimming, or should I say, bobbing and floating in the Dead Sea. The temperature was over 100 degrees and every one that joined the trip (a little over ½ of the pilgrims) had a great time floating in the water with their heads, arms and feet sticking up in the air as they each bobbed in the water, unable to sink. A great time was had by all. 

We arrived back in time to give them an hour or two free before Mass. Only about eight pilgrims stayed back, including Fr. Bernie and Fr. Steve since I had taken them on this trip a year and a half ago, so they already saw these places. The few who stayed back visited the Old City, prayed at the Holy Sepulchre, etc. 

We celebrated Mass at the Notre Dame Center, all the religious items and gifts were blessed by the priests. We all hit the sack. About eight people fly home tomorrow. The rest, including Janet and I, Dee McNosky our escort and the two good Fathers will board our bus at 7:30 AM to head for Egypt.

I hope to have internet access from Egypt, but in Egypt you just can’t count on such things—VERY different from modern Israel. Even if I am unable to upload videos, I will still try to give a short report so you can know how our trip to Egypt is going. Pray for us and we will pray for all those who read this blog.


What’s So Special about Holy Ground?

by Steve Ray on September 8, 2007

So what is so special about Holy Ground? The dirt and rocks look like any other dirt and rocks. But there is something very different about the land which is why pilgrims have traversed the world, endured much hardship, and fought to be here. Take a look at my article “Holy Ground, Holy Places.”

011 Capernaum2ba sm.jpgThis picture shows me teaching my pilgrims at one of my favorite places on the whole planet. I would rather pray here than sunbath on white sand beaches (which I’ve done), or deep sea dive in the clearest South Sea Oceans (which I’ve done) or just about anything else. I love to stand here and share with others at the very place Jesus said:

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56, RSVCE).

For a larger image, click here or on the picture.

I am standing with my pilgrims in the remains of the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus gave his teaching recorded in John 6. It is my favorite place in the world to teach and defend the Eucharist. Read my article here and see why Holy Ground, Holy Places are special and sacramental and holy.