Monday, November 3, 2014

Istanbul, or rather for Christians – Constantinople is where we toured today. We started at the gym of the city called Hagia Sophia. This magnificent edifice was the most beautiful and largest church in the world for 1000 years before St. Peter’s was built in Rome.

The Muslims took it over and defaced all the Christian art and turned it into a mosque. It is now a museum. It is a little depressing and heartbreaking to walk through this beautiful building and think of what it was like in its glory days when people entered it and thought they had just arrived at heaven. No wonder the pagans rushed to join the church to be part of this glorious people of God.

Next we visited the Church of Irene which means in Greek the Church of Divine Peace. This is the oldest church in Constantinople built by Emperor Constantine and it was never turned into a mosque although today it is a museum. This was the church where the 2nd Ecumenical Council of the church took place.

Next we went into the Blue Mosque and saw what it was like inside a mosque as we listened to the eerie call to prayer (listen for yourself if it’s not eerie as you listen to it). I often say to Americans who hear this call to prayer of the Muslims from the minarets of the mosque, “I hope you like it because it is coming to a town near you.”

We also visited the exotic Spice Market and had Mass at the Cathedral of Istanbul called the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Lunch was at the Hamdi restaurant which served a wide selection of traditional Turkish foods. Everyone loved it. Enjoy the movie!

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To Philippi with St. Paul, Day 8

by Steve Ray on November 3, 2014

Today was a blockbuster day following St. Paul as he entered Europe for the first time. Kavala, the city on the coast of the Aegean Sea used to be called Neapolis during Paul’s time.

We arrived and boarded our buses and drove through Kavala seeing the mosaic of Paul receiving a vision from the Macedonian man who begged him to come across the seas and bring the good news to Macedonia and Greece.

Our boat was docked in the same place Paul’s was 2000 years ago and we drove to Philippi and we relived Paul’s visit there. We saw the prison where Paul and Silas were kept and I gave my talk “What must I do to be saved?” In the ancient Roman theater.

We also walked on the old Roman Road between Kavala and Philippi. It was a highlight for people as they walked on the same stone road that Paul walk done with the sandals.

When we got back to the ship we started our Seminar at Sea with my talk talk “St. Paul, His Life and Teachings.”

Tonight was formal night in the dining hall and everyone dressed up in their finest and had a very elegant meal. After that many gathered to pray the rosary and to meditate and discuss on the sites that we saw today. Enjoy the movie!

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