Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A more detailed, photographic, record of time in the Holy Land: Part 1

 I want to make a multi-part post about my pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  It really was an amazing experience that I have yet to fully assimilate, but I apologize for failing to share more sooner; one of the souvenirs that I brought back from the Holy Land is a nasty case of the flu.

Two weeks in the footsteps of the Apostles and the Lord means that you are going to see an awful lot.  Even in one day, the things that you see and the places you go can bring forth emotions from the sorrowful to the sublime.  But whatever it brings out emotionally because of a subjective experience, I can say that without a doubt it is objectively amazing what God has accomplished in these places.

We spent almost the first day of our traveling, with an early wake-up in Columbus, a flight to Newark, and then from Newark to Tel-Aviv and then from there we got on a tour bus, our normal mode of transport while in the Holy Land, and went down to Jaffa.  It is here that we had our first encounter with a scriptural story; one which any fan of hotdogs or bacon or a cheeseburger can be very grateful for, Acts 10:9-16.

It is also the place where Peter raised a woman, Tabitha, from the dead.  Acts 9:36-43.  This was an amazing beginning to an amazing pilgrimage.  Last year I had visited Rome, where Peter ended his ministry, but it was here in Jaffa that I felt like I really started to understand what the Apostles accomplished following God's call.

The picture above and right are the modern Franciscan church.  This will be a common phrase you will read over the next few posts, as the Franciscans have custody of most Catholic shrines in the Holy Land, and have had for the last 700+ years.  But not all of the shrines are modern like the pictures above.

In this picture to the left you see the remains of a Crusade era church.
This is representative of what the Crusaders did during there time in the Holy Land.  They built or rebuilt churches over the sites of great miracles.  Simple places, sometimes small, sometimes quite grand, they would have very thick walls so that they would protect the pilgrims that came from Europe to see with their own eyes the sites of the miracles that they heard about in the pulpit.  It was a tangible connection with the past and was a great reminder of the faith of past Catholics and their willingness to bear up under a great deal of danger. I knew that I would be much safer, that the Holy Land was safer today, than I would have been at the time of the Crusades.

For example I could just stand outside and enjoy this beautiful view of the Mediterranean (below) and meditate on why God chose to make his revelation here.  What is it about this place made it ideal.  I began to suspect very soon that it was the great beauty of the place and its position as a natural crossroads was one reason why and even after one day, I was quite thankful for it.

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