lundi 7 octobre 2013

Nouvelles de la Terre Sainte

Mise à jour samedi le 12 octobre, 2013 - de l'Hôtel Marina Tel-Aviv

 Enfin, voici un hôtel où on peut écrire en français, mais malheureusement je n'ai que peu de temps pour écrire... mais au moins ce sera un commencement... et commençons par corriger ce bon français ce qui suit....

Mise a jour vendredi le 11 octobre, 2013 - de l’Hôtel Royal Plaza a Tibériade

C'est définitif... les hôtels en Israël n'admettent que l'anglais et l’hébreu comme langues de travail sur les ordis... et puisque c'est vraiment trop pénible écrire en français sans accents je devrai attendre de trouver mieux en Grèce, sur le bateau, ou a Rome, ou tout simplement attendre mon retour a la maison pour entamer mon journal de pèlerinage... désolé....

lundi le 7 octobre, 2013 - de l'Hotel Olive Tree a Jerusalem

Voila que je lance mes réflexions... croyez le ou non, mais l’Hôtel Olive Tree a mis une restriction sur leurs ordis - on ne peut utiliser que l'anglais et l’hébreu... pas de français, pas d'accents... je vais attendre de trouver un ordi plus civilise... pour continuer....

En principe vous pourrez écouter aux homélies qui suivent en cliquant les liens... si toutefois vous ne pouvez pas avec le bouton gauche, essayez celui de droite et voyez les options qu'on vous offrira.... Si vous avez toujours des problèmes, écrivez-moi un courriel et je verrai ce que je pourrai faire pour vous aider.... ministry@fathergilles.net

I am editing this text already published to "In the Breaking of the Bread" and am attempting to upload my homilies.... We'll see whether my attempts will be successful.... You can attempt to listen to my recorded homilies by clicking on the hot links in the body of the text... hopefully you won't be asked to give a password.... If left clicking doesn't work, try right clicking and see your options in the drop down menu.... If you have trouble, please let me know by sending me an email at ministry@fathergilles.net  Good luck and enjoy.... Peace be with you, fellow pilgrim... and all glory to the Lord....

version anglaise, jeudi le 3 octobre, 2013

Bonjour de l'Hôtel Ritz à Jérusalem...

Enfin! J'ai pu rejoindre l'Internet... à Bethléem pour une raison je ne pouvais atteindre mon compte courriel ni celui de mon blogue, et par la suite j'ai manqué de temps.  Quand notre guide originelle eût des empêchements de santé, elle nous obtint des guides pour la remplacer. Nous sommes heureux d'avoir pu accueillir Joseph, et nous avons eu de la peine de devoir le voir nous quitter aujourd'hui, le 3 octobre, pour aller recevoir un autre groupe - un grand pèlerinage de 180, 4 autocars, et un évêque - et nous allons rencontrer notre nouveau Guide demain, Loic. Alors, en plus de remplir le rôle d'animateur spirituel, j'ai dû aussi remplir celui de chef de pèlerinage, un rôle complémentaire à ceux de Guide et de Chauffeur.

...à suivre....

It has been a challenge but very interesting for me to perform the extra function. One result though is that I haven't had much time for myself nor even to post news for the folks back at St Luke. A year and a half ago, this pilgrimage came into being as a good way to launch the Parish's 50th anniversary year. It is unlikely that I would have been on this pilgrimage otherwise. That being said, it has been a wonderful pilgrimage... all 33 of us are in agreement about this.
JOUR UN - Wednesday, September 25 - flight from Dorval to Zurich, then Zurich to Tel-Aviv....

Three or more of our pilgrims, for one reason or another, made separate travel arrangements; so when we met at PET Airport in Dorval, we were not 33 but more like 28 or so.... Thea met us and brought travel bags for those who live far from Montreal and had not been able to come to the "pre-departure meeting" a few weeks earlier. We could tell Thea very much regretted not coming with us, having prepared our pilgrimage for us.... The adventure was on and I shared with everyone a word about already having entered into pilgrimage. An essential quality or condition for a pilgrimage is an attitude of acceptance, a willingness to leave behind all that is familiar and to go into the unfamiliar and unknown, a readiness to be pulled beyond one's comfort zone, and to be disturbed by others, to be open to fellow pilgrims and allow ourselves to be touched by them, notice their needs as well as our own, and to do what we can to serve them, to assist and encourage; as well as to be helped by others.

JOUR DEUX - Thursday, September 26 - arrival in Tel-Aviv and transfer to Bethlehem...

We arrived at the Shepherd Hotel in Bethlehem today, Thursday. We lost some time at the airport and could not go to the Shepherds' Fields, but we arrived in time to settle in and gather for our first celebration of the Holy Eucharist, followed by supper together. We celebrated our first Mass at the hotel before supper and were then able to get some rest at the beginning of our journey. Some - including me - went for a walk in the neighborhood.... 

version anglaise, vendredi, le 27 septembre, 2013 

JOUR TROIS - Friday, September 27, 2013

I got to sleep late after putting order in my things and preparing material for today... however, I slept well and entered into the day with enthusiasm. Joseph is an interesting guide and a very kind man, a family man recently married and a father.

Well, here we are on the second night of our pilgrimage to the Holy Land.... We had been "on the journey" for about 12 hours with a transfer in Zurich, and after a good night's sleep, we began our first full day after breakfast today with our tour of the "Shepherds's Fields". and then we went by bus not too far away to the center of Bethlehem where we celebrated our second Mass in both languages in the Chapel of St Helen, with more pilgrims becoming comfortable with participating.... We then visited the Catholic Chapel connected to the site and then queued up to visit the Grotto of the Nativity, the key attraction of this Church of the Nativity, the oldest functioning church in the world or certainly in the Holy Land.

We were scheduled to celebrate the Liturgy in the Shepherds' Fields in a grotto much like the one where Jesus was born... but in the end we were nevertheless all touched to actually stand in the Shepherds' Fields where the shepherds received the apparition and message of angels about Jesus' Birth... realizing also how humble was that birth.... The Shepherds' Field Chapel had beautiful frescoes portraying the different scenes of that first Christmas night.... We sang familiar Christmas hymns at our Liturgy for a few days and many found that these hymns have now received a completely new set of images, thoughts, and feelings by association....

When I gave the homily and we celebrated the Liturgy in the St Helen Chapel within the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem itself... it was like stepping back in time almost two millennia... we saw in the main church mosaic floors from the very first church erected by the Byzantines, the Eastern Christians during the time of Constantine, the Eastern Emperor who ruled from Constantinople and whose wife St Helen busied herself with expeditions to uncover the places Jesus had walked, preached, and worked miracles in order to preserve them and erect churches there for the use of pilgrims.

We had lunch in the Shepherds' Fields "under the tent" Bedouin style, a tradition preserved. 0 and much valued by Palestinians today, giving us a real glimpse and taste of the world in which Jesus was born. Then we visited the Herodion, one of the fortresses of that nasty King Herod the Great... which gave us a very worldly take on those mysterious and saving events marking the incarnation and the manifestation of God among us, Emmanuel.... We went as a group to the central gift shop supplied with wonderful artifacts by some 50 Christian Palestinian families... we all found lovely treasures to bring home... while at the same time supporting these wonderfully courageous Christians who remain here with their families despite the troubles they have experienced over the last few generations. We also had a pleasant stay at Shepherd Hotel....

JOUR QUATRE We then spent a day and night in Jericho... the oasis where Elisha purified a water source.... Our visit began as we celebrated Mass at the Parish of the Good Shepherd, a Franciscan church but in the upper room of their school where we had air condition... this was a Saturday Mass and the next day we celebrated there our Sunday Mass very meaningful... from where we drove and took a nature walk in En-Gedi, the mythical, ancient, and famous oasis of legend, where we walked a hiking path to two cascades 5 to 10 meters high.... We found children and young parents wading in the pools and under the cascades cooling off... it was a balmy 33 degrees Celsius... so we had to sip water from our bottles almost constantly... having topped them off at the "trough" from water taps brought in from the upper springs... water so pure and fresh as to feel tasty.... It is really quite unsettling in a refreshing way to be in a world so different from our own.... Then we went by bus to nearby Qumran where in 1947 a shepherd boy found large earthenware pots in which were stored Biblical and other scrolls from before the time of Jesus. Until then, fervent Jews and rabbis maintained for centuries that chapters 52-53 of Isaiah had been "injected" dishonestly by Christians and the the Jews no longer had access to the full ancient text of the prophet. Now a scroll containing an almost complete text of Isaiah proved this contention totally false because the text of Isaiah from before Jesus is almost entirely word for word identical with current Hebrew Isaiah texts. We had lunch in a wonderful 'buffet style' restaurant at Qumran and, once refreshed and having shopped a little in the adjoining souvenir shop, we went on to the Dead Sea for a swim - actually it was more of a 'float' since no one can really swim in water containing 37% mineral salts... the water is so heavy that one floats without effort. I literally 'sat down' in the water with my fanny submerged and my shoulders and head above water, along with my feet up in the air... quite strange and wonderful.... There is a state rule and warning not to remain in the water for longer than 20 minutes at a time due to the corrosive effects of the salty water. We had to remove any silver jewelry lest it turn black. I think I got out after about 15 minutes when my body's natural orifices began to feel the sting of the salty water. There were open air showers nearby to wash off the heavy brine which leave one's skin soft and there's a tradition of mutual help at the showers because the water only flows when someone pulls down on a chain... there were 4 top spouts and one lower one at each of the two stations. On the way down and back up from the water we passed by the "Lowest Bar on Earth" and then went to the upper showers to wash and change.... There was something about the whole day that felt so therapeutic... beginning with Holy Mass, the very hot sun everywhere which we especially felt during our nature walk in En-Gedi and at Qumran... both very memorable, the wholesome lunch, and the healing salty waters of the Dead Sea.

JOUR CINQ We began this day, Sunday, by driving to the actual site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. This may sound routine but is unusual because since the Six-Day War in 1967 the site had been closed by the Israeli military for the very good reason that the other side of the Jordan River was the Kingdom of Jordan. Given the political situation of the young State of Israel, keeping that site open was not a very good security move. Israel changed its policy and opened up the site in 2012 after visits by two reigning popes: John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We prepared ourselves, waited for another group to finish, and then waded down a few steps into the Jordan... wooded steps continuing into the water from concrete steps up above.... A few took the last step down, more of a 'leap' bringing them into waist-high water. The rest of us were content to stand in water to our knees and there we renewed our Baptism promises, a meaningful experience for all which brought tears to some.... From there we went back to Jericho where by cable car we went up the Mount of Temptation to which summit Satan brought Jesus to tempt Him... walking then up many stairs to a Greek Orthodox monastery commemorating Jesus' temptation up there and we stopped to pray and chat with the monk... A sense of community was already manifesting itself as we began to attend to one another, accompany and assist one another in the blazing heat....

version anglaise, samedi, le 5 octobre, 2013

We went back to the Good Shepherd Parish where we once again celebrated the Liturgy, this time the Sunday Liturgy but with texts provided by the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land in link with each of the holy sites, here, with Jericho.... Here is my homily for our Sunday Mass...

After lunch we went to see in a central part of downtown Jericho a large Sycamore tree a few centuries old that is called for pilgrims the Zacchaeus Tree because it evokes that Gospel scene where he wanted to see Jesus and the Lord invited Himself to the tax collector's home for supper, and the man experienced a life changing conversion. This tree is far too big for anyone to climb up it, but it is a striking image. We saw the spring which the prophet Elisha had made sweet again after it had been poisoned by enemies and the townspeople asked the prophet to intercede with the Lord for them. We then traveled to our Kibbutz Holiday Village Ma'Agan, a lovely site on the Sea of Galilee... the kind of place you would want to vacation in with your whole family... lovely huge pool for swimming lengths, a children's pool with cascades, and an infant wading pool where parents can supervise, as well as a lakeside waterfront....

JOUR SIX Today we went from our lovely Kibbutz oasis home to Nazareth, beginning with a visit to a humble convent where Sœur Joséphine spoke to us about Brother and later Father Charles de Foucauld, who stayed at their convent in Nazareth from 1897 to 1900. A devout young man, he was searching for his vocation, having a deep sense of calling from God but having a hard time finding his place on Earth. He had been to several Trappist monasteries, or would in subsequent years, but all of them found him too strict, sending him to a stricter monastery than themselves; however, in the end, no Trappists could find him suitable to their way of life. So it is that he came to live as a hermit among the Touareg nomadic people of northern Africa, where he lived among them by choice as a brother, without revealing that he was a Christian and without making any effort to convert them. He preached the Gospel by his life and in the end was martyred, killed by an overzealous bunch of young men. Sister Josephine challenged us to take in the example of Brother Charles, who gave no thought to what he would say or do but simply tried to be a good neighbor to people, loving them as best he could. She encouraged us to be instruments in the hands of the Lord Jesus, light to our neighbor's feet.... At 96, she is a vibrant example of what she shared with us....

From there we went to the Church of the Annunciation which, like most churches in the Holy Land had at its base an original church erected by the Byzantines - Emperor Constantine and his wife Helen who lived and ruled the Roman Empire out of Constantinople - a beginning of growth and divergence between West (Rome) and East (Byzantium or Constantinople). In 614 the Syrians wiped out the Byzantines and destroyed all the churches. They made a bit of a comeback but were knocked down again in 637, this time by the Muslim invasion which spread across northern Africa, the Middle East, then Eastern and Central Europe until they were stopped by Charles Martel in France in 800 AD. In 1099 the Crusaders took back the Holy Land and began to reconstruct the churches, only to lose the Holy Land to Saladin in 1187 or thereabouts. However, under the Ottoman Muslims - later known as the Turks - Franciscans were allowed to make pilgrimages and over time to repair and even rebuild some sites. Most churches have been rebuilt in the 1900's. It was touching to visit here where Mary received the Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel and where she would have come to draw water, and where she lived with Joseph and in time the boy Jesus, the Holy Family....

We visited the Church of St Joseph where a group of Mexican priests and seminarians were singing a lovely Mass, the local market, synagogue, Church of St Gabriel, and the Mount of Precipice, where the townspeople had tried to throw Jesus off the cliff to his death after he proclaimed his person as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies... we had lunch and celebrated Holy Mass in the Cana Wedding Church kept by lovely Sisters.... During the Liturgy we called on the Lord to bless our married couples and it was lovely for me to offer a homily for the occasion and for this day in our pilgrimage....

JOUR SEPT 


version anglaise, lundi, le 7 octobre, 2013  


We began our day on the Mount of the Beatitudes where we received background information from Joseph, and then we had time to enter into the church to explore, stop and pray, rest... and walk the grounds. At an agreed time we returned to the bus and Omar took us a short distance to the beginning of the "Pilgrims' Walk" going all the way down to the Church of the Primacy of St Peter.

Thea's inspiration for this walk is that each pilgrim at the start pick up a pebble or stone, or more, representing a particular burden or intention, a person, or an issue or need in our lives, something that weighs on our mind, heart, soul, or body, and that we carry it or them throughout the walk, walking prayerfully, and mindfully, in view of putting it or them into God's hands at the end of the walk and releasing the pebble or stone, either dropping it outside the Church of the Primacy, or flinging it or them into the Sea of Galilee. It is an exercise of our trust in the Lord and our willingness to allow Him to act as He wishes regarding those specific burdens and, ultimately, in our whole life.

After about 30 to 40 minutes of walking under the blazing sun, we stopped under the shade of a little tree, just big enough to shelter us all, where we sat down together - much as Jesus would have with his Apostles and Disciples - and read alternatively in English and French the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters five to seven, with moments of reflective silence here and there.... As it turned out, the reading was a deeply moving experience for many of us, as was the walk itself. Any number of things happened to us as individuals, in small groups, and as a whole company that in effect made the walk a parable, or image of our whole life as a pilgrim walk. Many manifested caring hearts for others on the way and both giver and receiver were blessed.

Upon arriving at the Church of the Primacy of Peter, where Jesus served breakfast to some of the Apostles who had been fishing and didn't catch anything until Jesus suggested they cast the net on the other side of the boat, was the place where Jesus restored Peter's dignity which he had lost by denying Jesus on Holy Thursday night. We either dropped our pebbles on the ground or flung them into the Sea of Galilee, and some of us took off our shoes and socks and waded into the sea. It was a timeless and memorable moment, as had been the Pilgrim Walk itself. We prayed in the small church and lingered under the trees, listening to the colorful songs of the local birds. Their joy seemed to be or to echo our joy at being there and we could have stayed for hours....

Then we walked uphill to the road and back down again on the adjacent property to visit the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes - Tabgha - a bigger church with a courtyard garden and pool with fish in it - where we lingered in prayer for a while. There were some beautiful high relief sculptures of scenes in Jesus' life and ministry on the heavy bronze doors, and one was particularly moving for a few of us, the scene of Jesus healing the blind man....

It was after 1:00 pm when we headed off for lunch at a huge restaurant in Capernaum where we were encouraged to have "St Peter's Fish" and most of us did. It was an enjoyable lunch surrounded by a large crowd that swelled and shifted, giving us a glimpse of what it must have been like to be among the crowds following Jesus when He multiplied the loaves and fishes to alleviate their hunger and provide them a much needed moment of rest to refresh them....

Then we drove a short distance to the site of the synagogue from just after the time of Jesus - probably built on the site of a previous one - next to the ruins of the multi-generational house of Simon Peter's mother-in-law, where there was a beautiful and light-filled chapel, big enough to seat a few hundred worshipers. In the very middle was a glass floor sectioned off by a banister revealing the ruins below from Jesus' day. We had a lovely Liturgy during which we were invited to come forward to touch the Altar and deposit there our offering of ourselves, our lives, and intentions to the Lord, as well as an offering - if we wished - for the church. The Filipino sister asked that a special intention of hers be included and offered to the Lord, and it was. The church was remarkably constructed with full length and high windows all around, allowing everyone luminous views of the surrounding area... nature, the ruins of buildings that are witnesses of Jesus' day.... We spent some time exploring the ruins after Mass, walking or sitting reflectively, resting, taking photos.... Then we returned to our Kibbutz refuge for a swim - those who wished - a rest, dinner, and a relaxing evening....

JOUR HUIT
- Mercredi, le 2 octobre, 2013

Today our pilgrimage brought us to Chorazin, the site of the ruins of that city, one of the three cities Jesus declared cursed or dead for having refused the receive the gift of salvation from God in Him: Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin. After walking around looking for an appropriate place to celebrate the Liturgy, we settled on a large stone table with stone benches near the parking lot and reception booth. There were two tables with stone benches in proximity enabling our whole group to find a seat in the shade of a large tree, since though only morning, the sun was already blazing hot....

There was something special about celebrating the Holy Mass there in the open, under the shade of a large tree, in the presence of all these ruins where Jesus had once trod, praying for the human ruins of our day, both those familiar to us and those throughout the world.... After Mass, some sat reflectively, taking a snack, while most of the group went with Joseph to explore the ruins....

Then we drove to Banias in the Golan where we saw two of the sources of the Jordan River and came to Caesaria Philippi, where Peter made his profession of faith and Jesus confirmed his faith and entrusted to him the keys of the kingdom.... Both Chorazin and Banias are national parks of Israel, and we walked about examining the crystal clear water in the pools fed by one of those springs. We ate outside in the shade at a nearby local Jewish restaurant and then drove the long way back to Kinneret, where we saw a brief video on the finding and restoration of a fisherman's boat from the time of Jesus, an ancient boat. One of our pilgrims had a very strong experience and inner confirmation that Jesus had indeed been in that boat and that the Lord had wanted it to be found and brought out of the mud that year when a severe drought had so lowered the water level of the Sea of Galilee so that it might become visible on display for all humanity to see.

From there we boarded a large wooden motorized boat, much larger than Peter's fishing boat, and cruised to Tiberias. About half way there, the captain stopped the boat and cut the engine, and we read in both languages two passages concerning Jesus and the Sea of Galilee: the calming of the storm, and Jesus walking on the water and Peter going out to Him. The boat's "second" offered some friendly entertainment to Jewish music and even a little group dancing....

JOUR NEUF - Jeudi, le 3 octobre, 2013  

       Homily  

JOUR DIX - Vendredi, le 4 octobre, 2013

       Homily  

JOUR ONZE - Samedi, le 5 octobre, 2013

       Homily  

JOUR DOUZE - Dimanche, le 6 octobre, 2013

       Homily  

JOUR TREIZE - Lundi, le 7 octobre, 2013

a suivre....