Thursday, July 14, 2005

There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale

The White Phantom is back in action! As I have promised, I will tell all about the Holy Land, Carducci’s, & the nunvent. Because of the length of it all, I’m going to do it in 3 (fairly lengthy) posts. So be prepared, the WP is taking over 8 O’Clock Chaplet!
I flew out to Virginia on June 19th. Katie & I are getting pretty good at this routine. :) I got to hang out with my “Virginia family” for a couple of days. Kevin decided I live on a rhubarb farm. The next day we picked up Shannon & her brother Alex. Ya’ll have all seen me really excited, so you have an idea of what I might have been doing. The alarm rang at 3:00 am the next morning. I fairly leaped out of bed yelling, “We’re going to the Holy Land!” Shannon looked at me sleepily & blinked at me. I was almost literally bouncing off the walls as I packed my final things. The 6 pilgrims, Katie’s mom, & sister piled into the van & headed for St. Veronica’s for Mass. As we were kneeling, praying & waiting for Mass to start, I looked around the church and saw many pilgrims that I knew & a few new faces. There was 1 guy 2 pews in front of me that looked very familiar. I could only see the back of his head, but there was something about the way his hair came to a point on the right side that seem irritatingly familiar. It was probably a good 5 or 8 minutes before he turned his head slightly & I realized it was Sam! In all the hustle & bustle, I forgot he was coming! After Mass, we said good bye to our families (or pseudo families) & headed for Dulles. Fr. Buckner informed us on the ride over that we’d all have a number for the trip & we’d be counting off everywhere we go. I was number 8.
The plane ride was fairly uneventful. The planes were really nice, much better than the puddle jumpers I’m used to. Total flight time was about 11 hours, with a two hour layover in London. We made it through customs just fine, but we were delayed at the baggage claim. There were two pilgrims who didn’t have luggage. One was a guy named Ben & the other was yours truly! Oi. It was then on to Jaffa for Mass. We then went on to the Knights Palace in Jerusalem, where we would be spending the next 3 days. We “freshened up” (Fr. Buckner loved this phrase & used it often.) & took a nap & then walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for the procession. We then got to spend some time in the Tomb. Yes, it really was empty!
The next day was a day of “mountains.” We went to Mt. Scopus, the Mt of Olives, & Mt Zion. Now I would classify the Blue Ridge Mountains as mountains, but these things were definitely hills. Oh well. At the Mt of Olives, we saw the sight of the Ascension & the Church of the Pater Noster. We saw the Mt of Evil Council (heh heh heh), the Valley of Gehenna (the Kedron Valley), the Valley of Judgement, & the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden was absolutely amazing. It’s usually locked, but Fr Buckner talked to a friar & got us in! After this, chronological order goes out the window, so there is no real order to what comes next.
We spent two more days in Jerusalem doing various things. We went to Bethlehem & saw the cave where Jesus was born. It’s actually more like a cave type deal than the kind of stable we would think of. We renewed our Baptismal vows in the Jordan River. We then trekked up to Nazareth & spent 3 days there. We went to Cana & saw where Jesus turned water into wine. We saw well where Mary was when she first heard the voice of Gabriel & then the spot in her house where the Annunciation happened. The Church of the Annunciation is a Catholic Church (though Shannon & I have our doubts) but there is a Greek Orthodox Church right next door. We went in there & Fr. Buckner explained a bunch of fun stuff. The thing I thought was great, was that they were chanting Psalm 117 in Greek! Sam & I quietly sang along in English. We then went up “to the hill country” to see the spot of the Visitation. At the Church of the Visitation, there were pictures of great Marian champions & great Marian feats, like the Lepanto. One of the people on the wall was Bl Dun Scotus. Quiz for all you who had Father’s class, who was he & what did he do? We went to the Sea of Galilee & had a boat ride there. We saw the Church of the Primacy of Peter. More stuff from Father’s class. I want Bible verses! Our guide (program animator?) took us to an uber high cliff overlooking the Sea of Galilee & the Valley of Armageddon. We were able to see the cliff that Jesus drove the possessed swine to their death. On the way back we stopped in Jericho. I thought of good ol’ Sydney. A man was giving camel rides & a bunch of people tried it. Sam & I rode the camel while Katie took pictures & Shannon looked at us disgustedly. It was really weird & the camel smelt really bad. It could’ve used some Febreeze. (I thought of Sydney again! J/K!!)
It was then back to Jerusalem. We saw the Church of Dominus Flevit & had Mass there. This was where Jesus wept over the destruction of Jerusalem. Then next morning we had Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, like, in the Tomb. That was undescribable. We saw the Wailing Wall. Shannon & I had to walk through 85-100 armed Israeli army people (M-16s) just to use the bathroom. *shudder* We saw the Dome of the Rock, but weren’t able to go in. No skin off my nose. The next day we did the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. I could have a million posts on that alone. Wow. Oh! And we went to Mt Tabor & saw the site of the Transfiguration. How could I forget that? There is so much more, these are but brief highlights.

This is a view of the Mediterranean from Jaffa.

O Jerusalem.

The Christendom Group in front of Jerusalem.

Katie, Erin, & Kevin in front of Jerusalem.

Shannon & her brother Alex in front of Jerusalem.

3444444444!!!!! This was the first of many attempts to kill Sean. Usually done by Ed & Thomas, as shown here. Oi, the freshman class is going to be a violent one!

The lot of us in front of Jerusalem.

The cave of the Pater Noster.

From the Church of the Pater Noster. Can anyone translate these? :)

The Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane means olive press. These are the same olive trees...

Ed & then Shannon & I in front of the Sea of Galilee.

The rock that Jesus served breakfast to the apostles on. In the Church of the Primacy of Peter. That's Sam & Thomas.

Statue of Peter at the Church of the Primacy of Peter. Peach, I thought of you!

View from the Mt. of Beatitudes.

Kevin enjoying the view from the cliff overlooking the Valley of Armagedon & the Sea of Galilee. Sparky & Ed are listening to Fr. Buckner.

Ed & Sparky sharing a "special moment" on the cliff.

More pilgrims on the cliff.

The 7th station on the Via Dolorosa.

The entrance to the tomb of Christ.

Sparky leading (or attempting to lead) a rousing round of "Lean on Me" on the bus.

The Church of the Visitation.

The well that Mary most likely greeted Elizabeth at.

All the girls with a nun on the top of Mt. Tabor. Yes, this is a vocation picture!

Shannon happy to be able to lay down in Nazareth.

Shannon after waking up on the plane.

Patrick sleeping on the plane.

Johnny just waking up on the plane.

Sparky sleeping in the London airport. Eric & Nick in the background.


  1. JMJ WOW! WOW! DOUBLE WOW! and HOLY MAN! I'm so going to the Holy Land someday...yup that will be my next mission;-)

  2. Whoa. Sounds like you saw everything. You'd better have more photos than just the one's you've posted so far. Israel look beautiful.

    Where you able to get any sunsets or sunrises? I imagine that they must be beautiful.

    What does 3444444444 mean?

    Does that white fence go all the way around the Garden?

  3. Yes, more photos are coming. Unfortunetly, I don't have that many, but I'm planning on hitting up some people with digital cameras.
    As far as 3444444444, that's a joke about the counting off. Sean's (not CO) number was 34 & he always yelled it really funny & that was always his "dying wail."

  4. JMJ
    Well, well, well, you thought of me only when it came to a smelly camel and a city that came tumbling down, huh? Gee! Love you to WP! JK---I'm so glad ya'll had a wonderful time! We're so glad you made it back safe and not, well, dead, to put it quite bluntly. I'm curious, how was it with security and all because of the bombings and such? I must say, WP, I really missed your bloogs--you better write a few more lengthy ones because I want to know details and not just any old details, add some similies and metaphors in't wait to see you in the fall my dear! I'm so excited to have you as a roomie! It's going to be awesome!

  5. Wow... You must have had a good time!

  6. Katie Fitz1:45 PM

    Hi guys :)

    Hey there, #8. I have digital photos of which I can send you copies. However, I'm not quite sure how to email them yet . . . will figure that out.

    Love, #11

  7. Yeah. The Phantom's back. Oh, and the thing with the caption: "From the Church of the Pater Noster. Can anyone translate these? :)" That's just the Our Father, in Latin. Hence the Church of the Pater Noster.

  8. Okay smarty pants! I was talking about the Our Father in Spanish & Portuges. I think we all got that it's the Our Father, I just wanted to test ya'll on your languages! :P