Blogs from Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel, Middle East - page 6


Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 24th 2015

Since I last wrote, we have returned from the Galilee. On Monday's return journey, we renewed our baptismal promises at the River Jordan and later visited the Crusader Fortress at Belvoir, the ancient city of Bet She’an and the ruins of Bet Alpha Synagogue. On Tuesday evening a few of us attended a beautiful Yom Kippur service at Hebrew Union College. For the Jewish people, this is the most solemn feast of the liturgical year; I was moved by the presence of G-d among those gathered. Yesterday was a classroom day and in the afternoon I had the opportunity to Skype with some of the sophomores at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay. When I finished these Skype sessions with Mrs. Stanczak’s theology classes, I experienced a natural high. It reminded me how much I truly ... read more
III Station: Jesus Falls the 1st Time
IV Station: Jesus Meets his Mother
VIII Station:  Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 13th 2015

The bright sun bursting through the clouds; the heat of the day just beginning; walking through the hustle and bustle of the marketplace (al suq); carts passing to and fro; people coming and going; toddlers crying; children laughing, calling out, riding bikes; the aroma of freshly ground coffee and the pungent smell of a variety of spices; mountains of candy and trinkets, purses, shoes, souvenirs; vendors shouting, welcoming, “going out of business, everything $1.” We come to the plaza in front of the Holy Sepulchre and the activity lessens, but continues…posing for pictures, gathering in groups, taking videos, saying prayers, suddenly the church bells ring out and fill the air with a melodious tune; the conversations continue in Chinese, Spanish, Czech, Italian, and at least dozen other languages. We move inside the Holy Se ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 12th 2015

After a brief prayer at the Western Wall, I had the opportunity to spend time in quiet prayer and reflection at the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu. (Gallicantu is Latin for cock-crow.) Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!” As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man!” A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you ... read more
Can you hear the cock crowing from atop the church?
Mount of Olives
Mosaic of the Last Supper

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 11th 2015

tears in my eyes...a lump in my throat...a pit in my stomach...anger...sadness...dismay...a few words to describe my physical and emotional state as I walked through the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum earlier today. My heart aches for families torn apart, lives ended prematurely, the unnecessary pain, suffering and murder that occurred throughout Europe all too recently. Perhaps, what pains me the most is that as a human society we are capable of perpetrating and standing by and allowing such evil to occur then and now. Just turn on the news or go online and you will be bombarded with reports of the current refugee crisis, 9/11 remembrances, ISIS attacks, murders throughout our city streets, the state of race relations in the US, just to name a few. We are capable of love, ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 9th 2015

As we continue to search for God among these holy places, I was reminded by a group of pilgrims who were beautifully singing the hymn ubi caritas in the Church of St. Anne that God is all around us. The first line of this hymn is translated, where charity and love are, God is there. In other words, we can bring God’s presence into the world anytime we allow his love and charity to work in, with and through us. This pilgrimage is a wonderful and grace-filled opportunity and we have definitely experienced the presence of God along the way. But, the reality is that we do not need to travel anywhere to find God. God will find us wherever we may be; we simply need to open our hearts and minds to this encounter. Ubi ... read more
St. Anne & Child Mary
Traditional birthplace
Fellow seminarians

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 8th 2015

Our tour guide, Jared, shared the following story with us yesterday...According to a Jewish rabbinical tradition, the city of Jerusalem is named because of two Genesis stories associated with the city. The binding of Isaac takes place on Mount Moriah, which Abraham renames Yahweh-yireh, meaning God will provide (Gen 22:14). The Jerusalem Temple Mount is believed to stand atop Mt. Moriah. The second story is in reference to King Melchizedek of Salem--also believed to be the current city of Jerusalem. "Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine. He was a priest of the Most High. He blessed Abram with these words..." (Gen 14:18-19a); bread and wine sounds a bit familiar doesn't it? In order to honor these two stories, God named the city Yireh-salem, Jerusalem in English. Jared also offered some insight into the ... read more
Sloped wall leading up to likely site of David's palace.
Bar mitzvahs at the Western Wall
Prayer at the Western Wall

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 7th 2015

Having always been very interested in history, I had been looking forward to my trip to Jerusalem for months. It is hard to believe that it has finally happened, and the experience has certainly not disappointed me. Jerusalem is not only the Holy City of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths; it is also a place where time literally seems to have stood still. On many trips to other areas of the world, I was a bit saddened to simply see what amount to replicas of ancient and historic buildings. This was certainly not the case in Jerusalem. I walked down cobblestone streets that really made me feel like I had gone back thousands of years in time. Many of the shops and homes that I had the privilege of seeing were ancient and historic . ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 6th 2015

After a less than peaceful visit to Jerusalem today, I wrote the following prayer... Today my prayer is a prayer for unity, a prayer for greater respect for one another. This prayer comes from a land where that which divides us—religiously, politically, culturally is explicit and palpable. May God Almighty, whom we call Adonai, God, Allah touch our hearts, may He unify our minds and hearts and lead us closer to one another as we journey to unify ourselves with his Eternal Presence. Amen!... read more
Gray Domes of the Holy Sepluchre
Standing atop the Tower of David
A view of modern city of Jerusalem

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 4th 2015

Today we visited churches and holy sites on the Mt. of Olives...I'll let the photos and my captions speak for themselves.... read more
Sky above the rock of the Ascension
We stopped to smell the roses as we entered the Church and Garden of the Our Father.
Onze Vader

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem September 2nd 2015

Having being warned before entering the Holy Sepulcher about the bickering between the various sects of Christianity over this sacred space, I thought to myself, “how unfortunate…” I didn’t experience any of this bickering, but I was humbled by my own reaction as I emerged from venerating the marble slab that commemorates the Tomb of Jesus and the Site of the Resurrection. Within this cramped space, a man was casually chatting on his cell phone. A couple people told him not to do so in this sacred spot. As he continued to talk, I sternly said, “no talking, hang up!” However, as I walked away from this impulsive reaction, I considered why this man may have been on his phone. Was he talking to a sick child or a dying wife? Was he receiving good news? ... read more
Chapel of the Crucifixion
Rock of Holy Unction
Chapel of the Resurrection

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