Pilgrimages

A One-Hour Jaunt through the Rosary Sites

by Steve Ray on October 21, 2014

I recently did a one-hour radio show with Dina Maria Hale, host of KBVM in Portland Oregon. The title was “Mysteries of the Rosary: Then & Now.”

We wanted to give everyone an idea of what the places were like at the time of Mary and Jesus, and what they are like today. We also peppered it with interesting biblical and historical insights. 

Hope you enjoy the show. Have you prayed the Gospel today? You can listen to it here: 

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The last day was a banner day. We started out with Mass at Notre Dame and then a visit to the Israel Museum and then drove down to the Judean wilderness. We went to the authentic baptismal site of Jesus before having lunch in Jericho.

Then on to came to Qumran where we discussed the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls before swimming in the Dead Sea and riding the camels.

The second video today shows our final dinner farewells and the bus leaving for the airport and the final sharings. We did not have one complaint but 1000 complements and we take that as a great blessing and tribute to teamwork.

Final Dinner and Farewells.

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Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

by Steve Ray on October 13, 2014

It is often asked: how do we know these are the real sites where Jesus and Mary lived and walked. The earliest Christians realized the importance of these sites and immediately viewed them as sites to be remembered and venerated. Small chapels were built and pilgrims came from around the world to visit these spots and to pray.

The spot marking the place where Jesus was bornthese spots and to pray.

 When Christianity became legalized, churches were built on these sites. Tradition, archaeology and the ancient witness confirms the authenticity of the sites. Below is a few examples relating to Bethlehem.

 In a very enlightening side note, Bethlehem was mentioned by St. John Chrysostom in his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, written in ad 370: “. . . Since that birth [of Jesus], men come from the ends of the earth to see the manger, and the site of the shed.”

 The early Christians remembered and preserved the location and pilgrims like you visited even in the first centuries. Emperor Hadrian built pagan shrines over the holy places in 135 AD. He thought the memory of the sites and associated faith would be obliterated forever. But then Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity. His mother St. Queen Helena went to Israel, asked the locals where Jesus was born, where he was crucified…

Church of Nativity 100 years ago

They pointed to the shrines and showed her what they all still remembered well. Queen Helena knocked down the pagan shrines and what did she find? The remains of early Christian veneration. She built a huge church over the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, another over the place of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and a large church over the cave on the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended into heaven.

There is a saying, “The water is cooler and clearer the nearer you get to the source.” Many of the Fathers of the Church – very close to the events mentioned in the Bible – speak with great certainty about the sites in the Holy Land. 

 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “The cave-stable is mentioned by Justin Martyr, Origen, and Jerome. After the Romans conquered Bethlehem anew (AD 135) the site of the Nativity was desecrated, probably under Hadrian (117–138; cf. Jerome Epistle 58.3). Jerome lived for thirty-three years in Bethlehem (AD 387–420). Here he helped found and direct pilgrim hospices, convents for women, and a monastery.”

 The Tyndale Bible Dictionary says, “The birth of Jesus possibly took place in a cave in the rocks outside the town. The early Christian writer Justin Martyr 9100–165) thought so, as did Origen (c. 185–254) some years later. Origen frequently resided in the Holy Land and wrote, ‘In Bethlehem you are shown the cave where he was born, and within the cave the manger where he was wrapped in swaddling clothes.’

Emperor Constantine and his mother Queen Helena

“Jerome later described the grotto over which the Emperor Constantine had built a basilica. In excavations in 1934–35, evidence indicated a second period of building in the reign of Justinian (ad 527–565), when Constantine’s basilica was extended beyond its original proportions. Steps lead down to the grotto, the rectangular shape of which suggests that Constantine’s builders reshaped the original. But there is no description of the grotto prior to the construction of Constantine’s basilica.”

 These places were remembered! We’ve known their locations for two thousand years. 

 Another Example: The Cave of Machpelah

The Cave of Machpelah was bought by Abraham about 1850 BC as a tomb in which to bury his wife Sarah. It now contains the remains of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. It is now in Hebron, the city of Abraham. However, Abraham never owned any other land in Canaan before he died.

The Machpelah Cave over Sarah's tomb built 2,000 years ago

Abraham’s descendants were in bondage in Egypt for four hundred years. For an additional forty years they wandered in the wilderness. It was remembered in Genesis 49 – over 400 years later – when the Israelites returned from Egypt. The city of Hebron was built around Abraham’s tomb and King Herod build a huge monument over the graves of Abraham and his family which still stands today in the heart of Hebron. 

Abraham bought a plot of land called the Cave of Machpelah (Gen 35:16–20; 48:7; 1 Sam 10:2). Even today, the Cave of Machpelah is known and can be visited in Hebron. Visiting this site you see a place known for four thousand years!

Another Example: Rachel’s Tomb

 Notice a case in which we can see how important holy sites were and how they were carefully remembered. The Tomb of Rachel can be visited today in Bethlehem even though she was buried there about 3,800 years ago! 

Rachel's Tomb 100 years ago in Bethlehem

Jacob buried Rachel in Bethlehem and the location of the tomb was still known 800 years later when Israel returned from Egypt and after they lived in the land for over 350 years. Wouldn’t expect them to forgot its location over the subsequent eight hundred centuries? It is still there today and we filmed there for our David DVD. Notice the biblical verses below:

 “So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (Genesis 35:19) 

“And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day” (Genesis 35:20) 

Eight Hundred years later, “[Samuel said to Saul]  When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah” (1 Samuel 10:2).

 These are just a few examples from the Old Testament to show how these holy sites were venerated and remembered. The same can be said from the New Testament. Holy people have always remembered the holy sites.

 How much more so for Jesus the Son of God who became flesh! We can be very confident that the holy sites we see today, were the holy sites of old—the very places where God and the saints walked and where we can walk today.

Join us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and I will be your guide. Visit Footprints of God Pilgrimages.

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Video Fixed – Legatus Holy Land Pilgrimage Day 4: Capernaum, Up to Jerusalem

October 12, 2014

Sorry the wrong video uploaded last night. It was only 50 seconds, just a segment of our dinner. Now we have the whole video up – almost 15 minutes of the entire day including Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee and the drive up to Jerusalem. Enjoy today’s video.

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Christmas in Bethlehem, Sign up Now, Safe and Quiet in the Holy Land

October 11, 2014

Now that things have quieted down in Israel, many people are again looking for a good trip to the Holy Land. And do we have the trips for you! Work and school schedules a problem — no problem! We have a convenient pilgrimage planned over the Christmas break — from the day after Christmas until [...]

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Legatus Holy Land Day 3: Beatitudes, Banias, Galilee and more

October 11, 2014

This is a banner day! Everyone is starting to bond and become friends even if they didn’t know each other when we started. There are several common bonds: 1. The Catholic faith, 2. All members of Legatus, 3. They’re all in business people who understand reason and relationships and fun and punctuality. Today was a [...]

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Legatus Arrived Safely and Well in Israel

October 9, 2014

It was great to see all of them get off the plane tired yet with anxious smiles on their face. Tom Monaghan was among them. We got them all on the bus and headed up to Galilee. We are now all settled in to the Gai Beach Hotel after Mass and a great  barbecue on [...]

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“My First Confession”: Hilarious! Irish Storytelling at its Best!

October 5, 2014

Not only Irish storytelling at its best, but also Batt Burns at his best. After dinner tonight we all went up to a private room and Pat Burns entertained us for an hour. He had us with tears in her eyes both from laughter and from sadness which is what a good storyteller can do. [...]

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Safe, Quiet, Beautiful and Deeply Spiritual: Join us in the Holy Land over Christmas Break!

September 29, 2014

“Safe?”  Yup! “But what about Gaza and ISIS?” Gaza is quiet and ISIS has nothing to do with Israel. Israel is quiet, safe and inviting. Even all the bishops of the Holy Land said last week, “that pilgrims return without fear to the Holy Land. In fact, the pilgrims’ itinerary was always and is still [...]

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Holy Land Bishops Say Israel is and has been Safe for Pilgrims

September 20, 2014

Catholic Bishops of Holy Land Give 6-Point Evaluation of Current Events and Say Pope’s Visit Was a Pastoral and Ecumenical Success BETHLEHEM, September 19, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Here is a statement from the ordinary session of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, which met this week in Bethlehem. The Heads of Catholic [...]

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Is the Holy Land Safe? Depends on who you go with! Here are some opinions LIVE from the Land

September 8, 2014

I will not tell you it is safe to go to the Holy Land. I will let the pilgrims who just went with me tell you. Also, find out how I found Amer our guide and why I know our groups are in the best hands possible in the Holy Land.

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Camels, Dead Sea, Jericho, Qumran, Jesus’ Jerusalem, Authentic Baptismal Site and more

September 8, 2014

Day 8 of our pilgrimage. Always exciting. Enjoy.  

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Agony in the Garden, Prayer at Western Wall, Kibbutz Lunch, Upper Room, Bishop of Jerusalem and more

September 7, 2014

Another astounding day. We have to admit that we love the emptiness – 90% of groups canceled their trips to the Holy Land so we have no lines, no crowds, no pushing and shoving. My people were smart to trust me. It is quiet and safe and we are having a great time – the [...]

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Carrying our Cross to Calvary and the Tomb for Mass and much more

September 6, 2014

We started at 5:30 AM today to walk the Stations of the Cross before Jerusalem wakes up and the streets are jammed. We also have Mass at the Tomb at 7:30 so this give us time to walk to Calvary, tour the Holy Sepulchre and be seated for the High Mass with the Franciscans at [...]

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Dancing with Young Christian Arabs in Bethlehem

September 5, 2014

Wow, what a fun time!

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All Day in Bethlehem – “The House of Bread”

September 5, 2014

Enjoy today’s video and join us virtually for a pilgrimage through Bethlehem. More dancing to be added later :-)

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