Friday, April 1, 2011

Yesterday's Blog Continued

I finished Wednesday's blog but really had to get some sleep so I am hoping to do Thursday and Friday now. So let's see - where was I Thursday?

Thursday morning started with a bus ride up to the Mount of Olives. There are many passages in the gospels that speak of Jesus going to this high hill facing the old city of Jerusalem. Here is a view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives.

A view to the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Dominating the view since the 12th century is the Dome of the Rock. This Muslim shrine is built over the very place where the Jewish temples - the first built by Solomon in the 10th century BC and the rebuilt temple after the return of the Babylonian exiles in the 6th century BC. On the slope of the mount directly below is the Jewish cemetery for over 2000 years old. The tradition is that at the end of time, the dead will rise and go up to the temple to greet the Messiah. Because the Jewish law prohibits Jews from entering a cemetery without becoming unclean, the Muslims built their cemetery directly across the path of the Jews who hope to move to the temple one day. It is yet another one of the antagonist acts that Jews and Muslims do.
Fr. Joe Porpiglia presiding at Mass for us at the church of the "Pater Noster". This church commemorates Jesus giving the Our Father to the church.
Concelebrants at the Pater Noster Church
The courtyard chapel in front of the Pater Noster Church. Like so many others, this church is built over the ruins of two earlier churches. This church is unique in that it has as its primary decorations, large tiled panels with the Lord's Prayer written in over 400 languages.
The Russian Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside.
Olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is definitive location of the place where Jesus prayed at the last hours after the Last Supper and his arrest. Most of the Mount of Olives was olive orchards. These are the oldest trees - estimated at 2000 years old. Olive trees do not die. They simply sprout new branches from what looks like a dried up old trunk.
Beside the Garden of Gethsemane, there is the Church of Gethsemane, or also known as the Church of all Nations. It is another Barluzzi church. The beautiful mosaic on the front gable is continued inside. The windows are filled with purple and blue glass, making the interior very somber. Pictures were impossible. In front of the altar is the rock slab that is believed to be the place where Jesus prayed to his Father to "...take this cup away from me."
We continued to walk down the valley to our bus. We then went up the other side near the temple mount. There we began the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross through the streets of Jerusalem. I do not have pictures of all the stations. The prayers we were using were so beautiful. I was concentrating on the prayer and did not always remember to take the picture.

Station 1: Jesus is condemned to Death: This station takes place at the publoic square which is now occupied by the church of St. Anne. It is a wonderful church with beautiful acoustics. We chanted the Salve Regina there.
The simple gothic church of St. Anne.
Statue of St. Anne and Mary in the curch of St. Anne.
Station 2. Jesus is given his cross. This tiny chapel - 20 of us were standing room only - is typical of many of the stations. They are no more than stall along the sides of the street. In many cases, they are not open and pilgrims pray right in the middle of street.  
Typical scene along the Via Dolorosa
Station 3: Jesus falls for the first time.
Station 5: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.
Station 7: Jesus falls for the second Time. This little chapel in a Franciscan convent is tucked away around a narrow stairway where there is an ancient Roman column still standing. Tradition says that Jesus' death notice was posted there, hence Judgement Gate.
Station 8: Jesus greets the women of Jerusalem. This station is mounted is a small stone disk with a Latin Cross on the wall of a Greek monastery.
Station 9: Jesus falls for the third time. As we approach the  dobule domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, another Roman column marks the place where Jesus falls again under the weight of the cross.
Stations 10 - 14: The last stations are prayed inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. However, the church is filled with tourists jostling through the Holy Places. Fr. Wensing brought us up to the roof of the basilica to stnd oer the whole place. There we prayed the last 5 stations: 10 - Jesus is stripped of this garments; 11 - Jesus is nailed to the cross; 12- Jesus dies on the cross; 13 - Jesus is taken down from the cross; 14 - Jesus is laid in the tomb. The little shack on the roof of the basilica which you see in this picture is the residence of the Coptic Patriarch. He is the leader of Egypt's christians.
The main entrance of the Church of the Holy Seupulchre. The church is owned by 5 different Christian Groups - Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Coptics, Byzantine, and Armenian. The history is so antagonistic that none of them have the keys to the church. They were given to an Muslim family who have opened and closed the church daily for 6 hundred years.
There will be book with the history of the Holy Sepulchre when I get back. Actually I have books from pratically every church and place I have visited. These will be set up in the narthex upon my return for everyone to look at.

After an hour or so visiting the various altar and shrines of the Holy Sepulchre Basilica, a group of us returned to the NOtre Dame Center through the Christian Quarter of the Old City. I knew that on Friday, I would havse the afternoon, so I was scoping out some shops that I hoped to return to. When we got back to the center, I learned that the roof obervation deck was open. So I took advantage of it to get some of the good views of the Old City. The city walls are directly across the street from the center.

View of the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives from the roof of the Notre Dame Center.
The New Gate: (It's a mere 300 years old.) Across the street from the Notre Dame Center. It opens up into the Christian Quarter.
We enjoyed dinner in the Notre Dame Center Dining Room shortly after visiting the roof. After dinner a group of us walked a few blocks to a newly renovated area of Jerusalem with a bit night life. There are nice stores, restaurants, and pubs along a wide street that has been converted to a pedestrian only area. about 11 of us sat at an open street pub, enjoyed a few drinks and chatted with some interesting people, including our waitress, who was born in Israel, moved to Pennsylvanial when she was 9, and returned to Israel recently.

A leisurely walk home, and to our rooms to prepare for our last full day in the Holy Land.

Friday, April 1, 2011.

Our day started with a walk through the Christian Quarter towards the Jewish Quarter. As we walked along the narrow streets, Rami, our guide pointed out his high school, LaSalle Academy run by the Brothers of Christian Instruction. A little farther along, we came upon the Greek Catholic Patriarchate. Rami asked us if we wanted to see his church. Of course we said yes. WHAT A TREAT. One would think he was in a Greek Orthodox Church, but Rami belongs to the Greek Catholic Church, which is union with Rome. Here are a few pictures of his parish church.

All the walls, arches, and ceilings are painted frescoes. Beautiful Icons. The iconostasis, the screen which encloses the sanctuary is magnificent. In his tradition, the curtain of the iconostasis is opened during Mass.
A close-up view of the iconostasis with Rami showing us the entrance. He couldnot enter. Only priests can enter this space. The opening in the center with the low doors is what is opened during the celebration of the Mass. The readings, homily are given in front of the screen, and the priest enters the sanctuary or the Eucharistic prayer, and comes back in ront for the distribution of Holy Communion.

I thought that the fresco of the Triumphant Entry to Jerusalem would be appropriate after Wednesday night.

Even the ceiling is completely painted with frescos.

The dome
If you got this far in the blog, come back later. I just got a knock at the door because "It's 5 o'clock"
I'll be back to complete Friday's blog a bit later.

Buon appetito.

Our next stop was the Western Wall. This is the Foundation wall of the Temple, all that remains of the Jewish temple. This is one of the holiest places for Jews in the world. We entered the area and had ample time for prayer. One of the practices is to place a slip of paper into the cracks of the wall as a prayer intention. I took one of my "business" cards for St. John Neumann parish and wrote two intentions on it: For all the people at St. John Neumann Parish and for peace in this land. I stood at the Western Wall for about 20 minutes to voice these prayers before God.
The Jewish men praying before the Western Wall. The women have their own location to the right.
The men in prayer before the western wall.
After leaving the western wall we walked toward the Zion Gate. This was a site of a major military conbattle between the Israelis and the Jordanians in the 1968 war. Notice the bullet holes still in the stones on the Zion Gate. This gate opens up into the Jewish Quarter.
Approaching the Church of the Dormition. This is the church that memorializes the death of Mary, Her death was not like other deaths. Because whe was without sin, her body was takne up into heaven. Giod did not allow corruption to touch her body, the text we read in the Mass for the Immaculate Conception.
In the crypt, the tomb of Mary.
In the crypt chapel, the mosaic of Mary the teacher of the apostles.
On the way to the next church, the statue of King David near his tomb.
Mosaics honoring Mary as Queen of Heaven.
Celebrating Mass in the Crypt of St. Peter in Gallicante, St. Peter in denial.
The altar of Mary Magdalene.

Peter eing asked by Jesus three time, "Do you love me?"
Peter denying Jesus three times.
Peter weeping after his denial of Jesus.

The eterior of the church of Peter in Gallicantu, (Peter in tears.)
Steps climbing to the House of Caiaphas, the High Priest. Jesus would have had to walk up these steps and he was accused and tried.
From the church of Peter in Gallicantu, we were bused back to the Notre Dame Center. After lunch, I went to my room to do preliminary preparations to leave tomorrow. I also napped for an hour. Then I sat down to beginthis blog posting. Then I went into the old city to make a few purchases. After shopping I returned and did the first part of this blog. There will be more to come.