¿Qué hay de nuevo?
Bienvenidos al website de los amigos del P. Agustín
Carolyn Kenney wrote an e-mail everyday to her family and friends about her personal view and impressions of the Holy Sites that we visited. I am very thankful to her for sharing with us her personal diary.
March 25, 2008
We are here at the breathtaking Sea of Galilee. It is Tuesday night about 9 pm
and we had a long flight from Boston. We are tired, but did sleep somewhat on the flights. Everyone in the group is very nice. Tomorrow we are going to Nazareth and Cana along with a few other places. It is very warm! I feel good – a little tired - but good. We have the same guide and bus driver as last year. They are great and glad to see those of us who came here last year. We are looking forward to the sunrise tomorrow on the Sea of Galilee!
March 26, 2008
We had another great day! The weather is beautiful. This morning, I fell - bruised my left knee and have a cut on my right elbow. Everyone is great about it and very concerned and helpful. We went to Bethsaida and Kursi this morning right near the Sea of Galilee. We then visited Cana where six married couples renewed their vows; we had a beautiful mass at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
Father Augustine asked me to do the second reading which went well. The altar was situated directly in front of the site where the angel appeared to Mary and asked her to become the Mother of Jesus. We also visited Mary’s Well in Nazareth today which is very pretty. We got back early tonight, sat outside and talked. It's now time for supper.
Full day tomorrow around the Sea of Galilee - mass in Capernaum!
March 27, 2008
Today was a beautiful day. The weather was just right - not too hot and not too cold. We started the day at Mensa Christi, the Church of St. Peter's Primacy. It is a very small chapel situated on the Sea of Galilee. Here Jesus appeared to the Apostles after the Resurrection. He asked Peter three times, Do you love me? It is a beautiful bible story. There are 3-4 heart-shaped stones right beside the church which is situated directly on the Sea of Galilee; what a tremendous view!
We continued on to Capernaum, the village where Jesus lived for three years. The home of Peter's mother-in-law is here and this is where Jesus stayed when in Capernaum. Here also he performed numerous cures, including Peter's mother-in-law. This village is also situated right on the Sea of Galilee. Father Augustine celebrated a beautiful mass in the church here. It is built above the home mentioned. In the middle of the floor, directly in front of the altar, you can look down and see the home! There is a peaceful, calm air about the whole area of Galilee!
We continued on to the Mount of Beatitudes where we spent a half hour walking the grounds. At this spot, Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. The church is situated on a small mountain and overlooks the Sea of Galilee with a breathtaking view! The flowers are in bloom and the grounds are beautiful. Lunch was held at a restaurant right on the Sea of Galilee - the same place as last year. Many in the group had fish with the head on. I, however, had chicken!! We walked along the shore after lunch, enjoyed the view and collected some rocks from the Sea.
We then continued on for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, which was a lot of fun! It is a great group of people, both Spanish and Irish. We then stopped for a little shopping and returned to the hotel for supper.
I remember you all every day at mass! Tomorrow we are going to Haifa and Mount Carmel. Tomorrow night some of us are getting a mud massage! I'm not sure about that one!
March 28, 2008
Today was a filling day! This morning, on our way to Caesarea Philippi, we drove through the Golan Heights. Anton, our guide, explained the wars fought by Israel and Syria in 1967 and 1973. He is very interesting and full of knowledge. He used to be a teacher (professor) and knows much! I find him interesting!
At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked the apostles, "Who do you say I am?" Peter replied, "You are Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus said, “You are the Rock and on this rock I will build my church." Here also the Banias River begins, which is one of three sources of the Jordan River. I filled some water bottles to be blessed later and used as holy water.
We then drove to Mount Carmel where Father Augustine celebrated another beautiful mass – this time outdoors. The air was slightly cool with a gentle breeze. It was nice to be outside. The view from Mount Carmel is breathtaking and you can see Mount Tabor and Nazareth among many other places.
We drove through Haifa which is a modern city (200 years old) and is situated on the Mediterranean Sea. We then continued on to Nazareth where we visited some excavations of 1st century home and tombs. Anton believes the home located in these ruins is that of the Holy Family because underneath the home is a 1st century tomb. The tomb is said to be that of St. Joseph, the Righteous One. This was very interesting and I am glad we went to see it!!
Tomorrow we are on our way to the Dead Sea. We will spend one night there and continue on to Jerusalem.
March 29, 2008
Today we renewed our baptismal promises at the Jordan River, followed by a beautiful mass on the top of Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
The church is fantastic with a stunning altar in the lower middle of the church. We had to leave our bus at the bottom of the mountain and take smaller taxis to the top. It was very rocky with trees and bushes. The three apostles - Peter, James and John, must have been exhausted when they arrived at the top. We saw the rock which is believed Jesus stood on when He was transfigured!!! The view from the top is fantastic with magnificent views of the land for miles and miles.
We then continued on our way, stopping at a church in a small village. The church no longer has Christians attending, or any priests. It is not kept up by any religious order. Instead, a Muslim family lives adjacent to the church. They keep it locked and open it when pilgrims come to see the church. It was in this village that Jesus cured the only son of a widow. The son had died and Jesus brought him back to life. The Muslim family is so kind, yet so poor. We took a collection for them. The children (three girls and a boy) were very nice. I got a great picture of the younger boy with his grandfather. To think a Muslim family keeps this holy site open and kept up is very touching.
We then continued to Jericho where we ate lunch, did a little shopping and went in a cable car near the top of the Mount of Temptations to a monastery. Unfortunately, the monastery was closed today. Jesus came to this mountain after being baptized by John in the Jordan River. Here the devil tempted Him. It is extremely rocky and amazing to think Jesus climbed up to the top. In fact, Jesus and His Apostles did a LOT of walking throughout this beautiful land! They certainly got enough exercise.
We then drove to the Dead Sea and our hotel. We just finished supper which was very nice!! Tomorrow some of us may go to the Dead Sea before breakfast. We leave at 10:00 a.m. for Jerusalem.
March 30, 2008
Today was another full day in the Holy Land! We drove from the Dead Sea to
Jerusalem. On the way, we stopped at En Gedi where David wrote many of the Psalms. Also King Saul followed David here to kill him, but did not succeed.
We passed Masada as well, which is another historical sight. We did not stop, but some of us were there last year when we came to the Holy Land.
After stopping for lunch and a little shopping, we continued on to see where the
Dead Sea scrolls were found. This was very interesting and well worth coming to visit. The Dead Sea scrolls were found in some caves around 1947; they were written in the year 69 AD. Leaving this area, our guide, Anton, said "You must read. When you read, it's a good thing. When you don't read, it's not a good sign." I happen to know a great devotional book to read if anyone is interested called “Meditations of the Heart” by Carolyn Kenney.
We had mass at the Church of Dominus Flevit overlooking Jerusalem. What a magnificent and moving view of the Dome of the Rock! Our mass was held in a small chapel with a stunning window with the Eucharist and chalice in the middle. This chapel is on the Mount of Olives where many incidents in the life of Jesus took place such as: The Ascension, When he gave the Our Father to the Apostles, When Jesus wept over Jerusalem and also they say the 2nd coming of Jesus will happen here.
We then did some shopping at a beautiful store in Shepherd's Field, adjacent to Bethlehem! The wood carvings in this store are beautiful! I bought a medium-sized statue of the Good Shepherd - Jesus with five sheep. It is hand-carved from one piece of wood and well worth the money.
Our hotel is very nice and we just had a delicious supper. The hotel is very close to the Old City. Tomorrow is another full day. We must now unpack for five days.
This land is so rich in history!! One thing I have noticed is that there are people from ALL over the world. Many people are interested in coming to Israel. Their religious and political history is so different from ours. It is an experience well worth taking!
March 31, 2008
Today was a very moving day in Bethlehem! We began the day in the Church of the Nativity visiting the holy site of the birth of Jesus. It was extremely crowded, but a moving experience to see the place of Our Lord's birth. We later had mass at the Milk Grotto which is a cave where the Holy Family stopped on their flight to Egypt. Here the Blessed Mother breast-fed the baby Jesus. Tradition says some milk dropped on the ground, thereby causing the rocks to turn to a white powder. Today the powder is taken and when mixed with water or milk, some prayers are said. It has been known that numerous miracles - many births of babies - have occurred.
We later had lunch at the home of a Christian (Catholic) Palestinian family living in
Bethlehem. The parents have about 4-5 children, two sons of which are now living in Boston. The mother, Faten, can speak Hebrew, Aramaic, German and English. She was born in Bethlehem, but her parents moved to Germany when she was a young child. Later, they made her return to Israel for an "arranged" marriage. She had only met her husband three times before their marriage! They have now been married about 32 years. She said that when girls marry, they go to the home of their husband's family. When sons marry, they stay with the parents and take care of them in their old age. They have a strong family union.
Faten said that for six years no pilgrims could come to Palestine due to the wars. She said that she is afraid when Christians leave the Holy Land it will become a Disneyland. She wants to build a "bridge" for peace. She is Palestinian by heritage, but her religious roots are Jewish, since Jesus was Jewish.
Faten also said there is a conflict between who wants peace and who doesn't want peace. Everyone should live and let others live. She said that no Israelis can come to Bethlehem and few Palestinians can go to Jerusalem. For instance, that is like myself, living in Wilmington, MA having a Wall put up and not being able to go to Boston! Faten said while the Wall stands between Bethlehem and Jerusalem there will be no reconciliation.
The thirty-five member of our group had a delicious in the home of Faten and her husband. Someone in our group said to us, How many of you would open your homes to strangers? Smiling, Faten answered: You are all my sisters and brothers!
Another member of our group said, "She wants to plant flowers, not thorns." Faten is a very well-spoken woman. It is a shame more people in political power cannot hear her love and concerns. It is difficult for her and her family to live normal lives as we do in America. How blessed we are! Along with our mass, this was the two most moving and blessed experiences of our day - and tour to date!
This afternoon we visited the site where Mary greeted Elizabeth after the Annunciation. We then walked to the birthplace of Saint John the Baptist not too far away. The terraces on the hills are so pretty!
This land has so much to offer us all, no matter where we live and what we do. Our roots are here as well! I wish you all could have heard Faten today! Her words will long echo in my heart and soul.
April 1, 2008
Today we began the day with a walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel. This is a long tunnel built in the year 701 B.C. by King Hezekiah so the people of Jerusalem could obtain water. Pilgrims are able to walk through this narrow, dark tunnel today, which some of us did! The water was up to our ankles, the tunnel was extremely dark and very cold, but we had a great experience and a lot of fun.
We then returned to the hotel, changed and was shortly back on the road again! We drove the short distance to the Wailing Wall, which is extremely interesting. The Jewish temple used to be where the Dome of the Rock is today. It was destroyed in 70 A.D., 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Since then, the Jewish people come to the Wailing Wall (which dates to over 2000 years ago) to weep and hope the Messiah would come and rebuild the Temple. Jewish people do not believe Jesus was the Messiah.
At the Wailing Wall, the men must go on one side and the women on the other side with a partition down the middle. Prayers are written on small pieces of paper by each pilgrim and placed in the cracks of the Wall.
We then visited the Western Wall tunnels, which are situated to the left of the Wailing Wall. This is also extremely interesting. In the time of King Herod, pilgrims would come three times a year to Jerusalem - at Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Over 500,000 people would come and they needed places to stay. So, Herod had slaves build rooms, places to eat, etc. underground - about four floors! Some of this is still visible today, which we were able to see in what is now called the Western Tunnels.
After lunch, mass was celebrated at the Cave of Betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus would come here when He visited Jerusalem. He came here also after the Last Supper and this is where Judas betrayed Him. Anton, our guide, loves this site the most because it is the most authentic. He said that little, if nothing, has changed.
We visited the place where Jesus gave the Our Father to the apostles. It is so peaceful at this holy site. I love it here!
After supper, we visited the Church of All Nations where we had a Holy Hour of Adoration! The rock on which Jesus prayed to His Father prior to His crucifixion is inside the church, which is adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a beautiful hour and I prayed for you all and ALL your intentions! We then saw a tree in the Garden that dates to the time of Jesus - over 2000 years ago. Not all pilgrims are able to have a Holy Hour at this church because it is difficult to make the arrangements, so we were very blessed!
Tomorrow we will say the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. We will also be able to take turns carrying a cross, as did Jesus when He walked this route to Calvary.
April 2, 2008
Today was a very enjoyable day in the Holy Land! We began the day on the Via Dolorosa saying the Stations of the Cross. It was at a time before the shops were open and there were no crowds, so it was very peaceful! Our guide was able to obtain a cross for us to each take turns and carry, which was a moving experience.
After breakfast, we had a beautiful mass celebrated by Father Agustin in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In this church there is a magnificent crucifix at the exact place of Jesus' crucifixion. We each took turns, knelt down and kissed the place where He died. We walked the short distance to the site of Jesus tomb. There is an original piece of the rock which was in front of His tomb and now encased in a glass case.
We continued on to the Antonia Fortress. King Herod built this and later Pontius Pilate tried Jesus here. We walked on to the Church of the Flaggelation. This is a small chapel in the Old City of Jerusalem. The stained glass windows are stunning!
We continued on a short distance to Bethsaida, which is where Jesus healed the man born blind. There are biblical ruins remaining here which were interesting to see. We stopped at the Church of Saint Anne, also on these grounds. There was a beautiful white marble statue inside of Saint Anne, who was the mother of Mary, with the Blessed Mother as a child. I prayed for a special intention here for two people very dear to me. At mass each day and at all the holy sites, I have been praying for you all and your intentions!
We stopped for lunch at the Sisters of Charity. They served us a delicious dinner beginning with soup. We walked around their grounds and continued on to Emmaeus. After the death of Jesus two disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaeus when a man started talking with them asking what everyone was talking about. Actually, this man was Jesus (beautiful story from the Bible). He stopped to have supper with the two men and at that point they were able to realize it was Jesus. We saw the "rock table" at which they ate. It was so peaceful here with many beautiful flowers!! We could have stayed longer in this holy place.
We had supper at a terrific restaurant in Shepherds Field (a village beside Bethlehem). There was a salad of greens, vegetables, carrots, cabbage and humus followed by two kinds of meat, french fries and onions. Espresso and baklava were served for dessert. A few of our outgoing friends put on Arabic costumes and danced to some music. What a great time we all had!!!!
Tomorrow is our last day in Israel. What a beautiful country and well-worth this visit. I was here last year, but saw many new and exciting and moving holy places. I am very glad I was able to come again. The culture and history of this land is captivating and has so much to offer people from around the world. May you also be blessed to travel in this land one day!
April 3, 2008
Sadly, today was our last day in the Holy Land. We had a half day of sightseeing. There are 700,000 people in Jerusalem, 33% of which are Jewish Orthodox, 33% are Jewish, 33% are Arabs and 1% are Christians. Very interesting statistic!
We had a beautiful mass near the site of the Last Supper. We then visited a "room" near the traditional site of the Last Supper. We had hoped to have mass here, but this place is controlled now by the government, although pilgrims may still visit thank goodness.
We visited the Dormition of Mary which is a beautiful German church built in 1898 where tradition says the Blessed Mother "fell asleep." She was assumed into heaven. It is also believed by others that the Blessed Mother lived in Turkey after the death of Jesus. It is said that Saint John brought her to live there and that is where she was assumed into heaven.
We drove next to the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. This is the site where Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus was scourged here and lowered down into a small enclosure of stone walls. Here He was kept until His walk to Calvary. In this small stone cell, He left His imprint on one of the stone walls, which can still be seen to this day.
We are now busy having lunch, packing and resting before getting up in the early morning hours for Tel Aviv. It has been fun, interesting, educational and fulfilling. Although I came to the Holy Land last year, we visited many new sites this year.
As we all know, there is much to be accomplished throughout this area. I can see the possibility of what could be. I see the possibility of what should be. The Presence of love is here and we must all listen to Him.
Our group of 35 pilgrims arrived in
Boston a few short hours ago very tired, but deeply fulfilled after a blessed trip to the Holy Land. I still expect to look out the window and see the low-lying mountains and terraced hills of Jerusalem.
Israel is a country steeped in religious and political history dating back thousands of years from King David to Solomon to Mohammed, Moses, Isaac, Elijah, John the Baptist and, most importantly, Jesus - the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
I see the possibility of what could be in the country of Israel. I see the possibility of what should be in that country. He, who is the source of life and love, walked that sacred land. He is still there today calling us to come closer to Him.
On Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration of Jesus, a voice was heard from heaven saying, "This is My Beloved Son. Listen to Him." That voice is speaking to us today!
Visit Carolyn Kenney's website; http://www.meditationsoftheheart.com