Monday, July 21, 2008

Here in Israel...

I'm trying to work myself down to going to sleep. I guess I still haven't quite acclimated, which was the purported intent in arriving early. Anyhoo, I have to get to work tomorrow and for the next three days. However, today I spent in Galilee.

Yes, it's something to walk in the place where Jesus, Peter, James, and John called home. On the drive up, we passed the fortress of Megiddo. It's been conquered 25 or 26 times in the last 3000 years. It stands at a crossroad between Egypt and Mesopotamia, so it's been a prized location for a long time. We (that is, Christians), know it as Armegeddon, the location of the last battle.

We stopped in Nazareth to take a break and do a little shopping. A tip for those of you heading to Israel for a pilgrimage--icons and sacramentals are a heck of a lot cheaper in Galilee than in the Old City. I saw some of the same icons for $5.00 USD that were priced $18.00 USD in shops in the Old City. My recommendation is that you take tours in chronological order: Bethlheme, then Galilee, then the Old City. Definitely go with a tour to Bethlehem. Travel in and out is pretty restricted. Last time, even with a local non-Palestinian guide, we had to scramble to catch shuttles to avoid the lines at the check point. I expect that a licensed tour could drive right through at the checkpoint, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, after the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph, we boardded the bus and headed for Capurnaum. Did you know that Capurnaum is owned by the Catholic Church? Indeed it is. Galilee is hot at this time of year (July 21). Make sure to wear a hat and bring sunscreen. By the way, when you go to sacred sites here, you need to dress modestly. Cover shoulders and knees. You will be corrected if you don't do so.

I really have to go to bed. Haven't worked out since last Thursday, and those of you who know me know that is highly irregular and potentially dangerous.

God bless,


Sunday, July 20, 2008

What is currently up

So I'm in Israel again, and I made a pilgrimage tob the Old City again to see some old sites and a few new ones.

Oddly, Israel has many of the very attributes I find oppressive: heat, dust, and in many places, trash and grafitti.

I have always been a coastal-weather person and never looked at a trip to Israel as something desirable. However, this place has a strange (maybe I should say, peculiar) attraction. After you walk through ruins that predate most civilization, you begin to appreciate just how far we've come. After you see the dramatic differences in how people live here in the Holy Land, you realize just how far we have to go. Being a Catholic Christian, I have sympathies on both sides, but they're motivated not by nationality but by a sense of mercy and justice. I pray for peace for all parties in this conflict.

Anyhoo, here I am, and I'm posting again. I'm heading to Galilee in the morning. After today's self-directed tour, a guided tour will be welcome. I'll post pictures soon.

Yes, I'm going to start posting again. I have to admit that I grew frustrated with the lack of comments (not so much traffic). I see blogs as a way to promote dialogue, so I felt I was failing in my efforts here. However, I've received some of the kindest comments from people whom I esteem greatly. Truly, I might not get a lot of traffic, but I get really quality traffic. Thank you who stop by to read now and then.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bleg for Bethlehem's Salesians

Greetings. I'm taking a brief break from me blogging hiatus to let you know what's up. First, I'm heading to Israel again next week for business. Please pray for a safe trip for me. Second, I've been accepted into the aspirancy phase of our diocesan deacon formation program. I could use you prayer for that as well.

And now, the bleg for Bethlehem. While I was traveling last, I met a Salesian priest, Fr. Jacques Amateis, who teaches at the Salesian Technical School in Bethlehem. You can read a bit about it here. He asked if I knew how one goes about raising funds in the U.S. for such missions. I didn't know, but I told him I'd find out.

Well, I found just such a means: the Salesian Missions site. I contacted Br. Emile Dube there, and he arranged a mission code for the Salesian Technical School.

The Salesians believe that the way to reform is through education, and they put that belief into practice. If you have the means, please consider making a donation to them. You can send a check to:

Salesian Missions
2 Lefevre Lane
New Rochelle, NY 10802-0030

Please put Code AX in the memo section of your check.

You can also donate online or by phone at 1.888.608.2327.