Monday, June 26: Galilee to Jerusalem
Mea culpa! It has been a few days since I have updated everyone on our progress! When you are running around leading 50 people through crowded streets and holy sites in the heat all day and then having dinner – and then evening events or planning – the tendency is to collapse!
102 degrees! That is hot, especially when it is also very humid! People asked “What is the temperature today?” I said, “39 degrees.” They all looked at me like I was crazy. “Oh,” I said, “that is Celsius, it is actually 102 Fahrenheit.” No complaints from the pilgrims though – only excitement, enthusiasm and the joy of the Lord.
We started out the day Monday boarding a boat to sail the Sea of Galilee. We sang worship songs, prayed and enjoyed the view along the shore where Jesus lived. Every one really enjoyed getting the perspective of Jesus’ stomping grounds from the middle of the sea. After that we saw the 2,000 year old fishing boat that was discovered in the mud along the shore at Nof Ginosar. This could possibly be the boat Peter owned and from which Jesus preached and where he fell asleep.
Fr. Gerald Gawronski, or dear friend, celebrated a wonderful Mass at Capernaum above the ruins of the House of Peter. I talked about all the miracles that took place there and then we entered the remains of the ancient synagogue where Jesus proclaimed we had to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood. I taught the pilgrims how to defend the Eucharist while standing in the very site where Jesus explained it two thousand years ago.
Then around the northern tip of the sea, across the Jordan River, past Bethsaida, and then arrived at Kursi where Jesus healed the Gadarene by casting his demons into the herd of pigs who rushed into the sea. After that we eat St. Peter’s Fish in En Gev. Great lunch!
Between lunch and the Baptismal site I talked about why Catholics are the REAL "born agains" and how to explain and defend the Catholic position on Baptism and being born again. After renewing our Baptismal Vows in the Jordan River we proceeded down the Jordan Valley – the West Bank on our right and the country of Jordan on our left. After two hours or so we turned right up toward Jerusalem. The Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea is 1,400 feet below sea level and Jerusalem rises 4,400 feet above the Dead Sea. Up, up, up as your ears pop.
Bedouin camps, camels and sheep can be seen all along the way. We arrived at our hotel to settle in for dinner and then I took everyone to the roof of the Notre Dame to give them a 45 minute overview of the Bible and to give them a perspective of things we will see over the next few days here in Jerusalem.
I have a great group. My daughter Emily is here to help and my wife Janet is like always, the mother hen taking care of everyone. Dee McNoskey is our escort and she is doing a great job helping everyone and Fr. Gerald is marvelous. Our local guide Amer is the best and everyone appreciates his experience, and that he is a practicing Roman Catholic, and a very strong and humble personality. He is very easy to work with.
I will try to add more later when I again come up for a few minutes from air.
(I am writing this on Wednesday and will catch up soon. But just so you know we are now in Jerusalem — yesterday (Tuesday) having Mass on Calvary, visiting Bethlehem and Ein Kerem which is the birthplace of John the Baptist and the place of the Visitation. Today, Wednesday, we spent the day at the Western Wall, Mass at St. Ann's where Mary was born and visting four sites on Mount Zion: Church of Dormitian, the Upper Room, David's Tomb, and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu where St. Peter denied Jesus and where Jesus was in prison over Holy Thursday night.)