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The Church of the Pater Noster

It is believed to be here that Jesus taught his disciples the Pater Noster (Our Father) prayer.

The layout of the Church of Pater Noster

Throughout the church and courtyard are lovely tiles which translate the Lord's Prayer into many languages... 

Visiting Bethlehem: Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Looking up at the dome of the church at Shepherd's Field

Rough translation... I haven't studied French for many years and would welcome a better rendering of the legend on this plaque at Shepherd's Field:

          Who would be sad now? The creche is home to an infant who is the light of the world,       who takes the sin of the world.

Inside the grotto at Shepherd's Field. In this cave, the shepherds would keep their sheep while watching to ensure their safety at night.

A window in the Church of the Nativity

The star pictured here lies over the place of Jesus' birth. 
Worshipers kneel down and touch this spot in a moment of prayer

The Birth of Jesus, from the Gospel of Luke

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Merry Christmas, and God bless you!

Dominus Flevit: The Lord Wept

Dominus Flevit

This beautiful church, shaped like a teardrop, is on the Mount of Olives, on the "Palm Sunday Road". It is believed to be the location where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem at the start of his final week. In Luke 19:41-42, we read "As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes."

Just beside the church is found a tree full of thorns. After his arrest, a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus' head. The thorns on this tree were several inches long and very sharp. It is hard to imagine how painful this would have been.

The city of Jerusalem, viewed from the Palm Sunday Road just below Dominus Flevit.

A huge Jewish cemetery lies beside the Palm Sunday Road. Some of the gravesites there are thousands of years old; it is believed that King David's son Absolom is one of the notables buried there. For Jews, it is a truly holy site; it is believed that the dead here will be first to be raised when the Messiah comes. According to this web site, "Among the many legends surrounding this sacred mountain, it is said that in the End of Days people will tunnel underground from all over the world to rise up here."


The Church of the Transfiguration

Approaching the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, in lower Galilee

The beautiful altar of the Church

Less than a week after we visited this beautiful church, it was robbed and vandalized; multiple chalices were stolen, icons were damaged, and a donation box was robbed.

How very sad.

Ein Karem: the birthplace of St. John the Baptist

"There are two churches of St John the Baptist in the town. Best-known is the Catholic Church of the Nativity of St John, identifiable by its tall tower topped by a round spire. It is also called “St John in the mountains”, a reference to the “hill country” of the Scripture.

"The church combines remnants of many periods. An early church on this site was used by Muslim villagers for their livestock before the Franciscans recovered it in the 17th century. The Franciscans built the present church with the help of the Spanish monarchy. The high altar is dedicated to St John. To the right is Elizabeth’s altar. To the left are steps leading down to a natural grotto — identified as John’s birthplace and believed to be part of his parents’ home.

"A chapel beneath the porch contains two tombs. An inscription in a mosaic panel reads, in Greek, “Hail martyrs of God”. Whom it refers to is unknown.

"The other church, built in 1894, is Eastern Orthodox."

Quote from this link.

Approaching the Church of Saint John the Baptist

The main altar of the church

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

I hope you find many reasons to be thankful today!


Cana is a small town in Galilee where Jesus performed his first public miracles, recorded in the Gospel of John 2:1-11. Jesus was attending a wedding feast with his mother and his disciples when the hosts ran out of wine. At his mother's urging, Jesus changed water in jars used for ceremonial washing into wine. Today there is a small church known as the Franciscan Wedding Chapel where this miracle is said to have taken place.
The Franciscan Wedding Chapel

The altar of the church

Couples in our group were able to renew their wedding vows in this lovely church.

Beneath the church is a jar believed to be one of the six mentioned in John's Gospel.

Would you care to purchase some Cana wedding wine? Several shops near the church will gladly sell you some!

Haifa, Israel

In Israel, I saw people from all over the world and heard people speaking what seemed like every language under the sun.
Israel attracts people from all over the globe, as this sign seems to indicate!

I knew that Israel was an important center of three of the world's major religions, but was unaware of its significance to the Bahá’í Faith.
The temple pictured here is an important spiritual center of the Bahai faith.
According to Wikipedia, "the World Centre is the holiest site of pilgrimage for the members of the Bahá'í faith, 
as well as the faith's central administrative center".
All along the hill leading to the temple are beautiful gardens.

In Haifa, Israel's third largest city, we saw our first evidence of respectful coexistence between people of different faiths. We arrived in Israel just hours before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, began at sunset.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for Jews. Beginning at sundown, observant Jews in Israel fast completely until the sun sets the following day. They will not drive or perform any sort of work. Even the airport and other forms of public transportation shut down in Israel, as did the television stations. Muslims and Christians respect the holiness of this day and do not drive or conduct business in the Jewish quarters. Once the sun set and Yom Kippur began, we were virtually the only vehicle on the road.

I was struck for the first time by how much we've lost the sense of holiness in our country.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy - Ex. 20:8

A dream of a lifetime

I've always dreamed of going to Israel, but to actually have that dream come true is something I'll always remember. Over the next few weeks, I'll share some of the things we saw there.

The Sea of Galilee, viewed from the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus is said to have taught the Beatitudes to his disciples. Matthew 5:1-12

The Church of the Beatitudes, a small but lovely church.

Looking at the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes

A Franciscan nun discourages her faithful canine companions from entering the Church of the Beatitudes.

Moonrise over the Church of the Beatitudes