Travel

Click on the image below for a visual potpourri of our St. Paul cruises. Join us!

For more info, visit our Travel Site at www.FootprintsOfGod.com or contact: 

Susan Reinhardt (313) 565-8888, ext. 161, or by e-mail at SReinhardt@CTSCentral.net 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Debunking the Myth of Total Security

Last week, someone asked me whether I thought it was safe to travel to Izmir, Turkey. Thanks to my line of work, these kinds of questions no longer surprise me. People have been asking me such things for almost as long as I can remember. And since I have gained visibility through my work as Stratfor’s lead terrorism and security analyst and as the author of a book on travel security, the inquiries have become only more frequent.  

  
Most of the time, I don’t mind offering travel security advice. By Dave Grossman’s model of human nature, I am a sheepdog-type person (as opposed to a sheep or wolf), naturally predisposed to protect people. Moreover, I appreciate people’s efforts to understand the environment they are going to visit. After all, foreknowledge goes a long way toward avoiding unpleasant surprises.

But I suspect that my responses to these kinds of questions often surprise the people asking, especially those who seem to just want an empty reassurance that their trip will be a safe one. This is because in reality, no place is truly safe from every possible threat; the idea of total security is a myth. Risk is inherent in every single thing we do — or don’t do. I incurred a risk when I got out of bed this morning, another when I exercised and countless more during my commute. Although obviously some activities are riskier than others, none of our actions are completely risk-free. Even if I were to live isolated in a hermetically sealed bubble, there would still be risks to my health (and sanity).

And, of course, the same goes for travel.

Understanding Risks and Threats

Rather than give a patent yes or no ruling on the safety of a particular trip, such as the trip to Izmir, I prefer to outline the various dangers that lurk in a given locale and help prospective travelers to contextualize them. In fact, the article I wrote a few weeks ago describing the diverse terrorist threats in Turkey adapted some of the information I have supplied the many other people to ask me about traveling to Turkey in the past couple months. Some, but not all.

People tend to fixate on the highly publicized terrorist threat that groups such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons and the Islamic State pose in Turkey. By its nature, with its spectacular, made-for-media events and the type of coverage it attracts, terrorism seems a far more common and deadly occurrence than it is. Indeed, terrorism-related deaths overshadow the larger number of deaths that result from other causes each year. But in truth, other dangers present a far more likely risk to a traveler in Turkey than terrorism does. These include fires, natural disasters, accidents and disease.

Now, this is usually where people roll their eyes, not considering fire or natural disaster to be a viable threat. But the numbers don’t lie: The World Health Organization estimates that 195,000 people die each year from fire. By contrast, figures from the U.S. Department of State’s global terrorism database indicate that from 2005-2014, only 17,615 have died from terrorism. Furthermore, some 228,000 people were killed on a single day from the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami that ripped through many parts of Asia on Dec. 26, 2004.

Beyond natural disaster, statistics also suggest that far fewer people die from terrorism than from automobile accidents, criminal homicide or drowning. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs broke down the causes of death for Americans traveling abroad, reflected in the graphic below. According to the data, Americans traveling overseas are over 10 times more likely to die in a transportation accident than in a terrorist attack.

  
So terrorism is but one of the threats — and a statistically improbable one at that — that travelers must hazard if they wish to venture overseas. To travel safely abroad, myriad other potential threats must be understood and avoided.

And many of these risks are not confined to overseas environments. According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 130,000 accidental deaths (of which 33,000 were traffic accidents and 30,000 accidental falls) along with 16,000 homicide deaths in the United States in 2013. The same year saw 21 deaths by terrorism inside the United States.

The bottom line is that there simply is no such thing as absolute safety and security. And since more people die from household accidents every year than from terrorism or criminal homicide, holing up inside your home is no guarantee of safety.

With that cheerful reality in mind, are we supposed to curl up in a fetal position? No, because even that behavior bears risks! How then are we supposed to live in a world where absolute security is merely a myth at home, at work or on vacation? We must mindfully and intentionally face the risks.

Facing Risks

The first step in avoiding or mitigating the impact of potential threats is to be educated about them. People simply cannot account for what they do not perceive. Situational awareness can be a very useful tool in protecting people from any number of threats, from being hit by a car while crossing the street to suffering a criminal assault or terrorist attack.

Though the risk of getting hit while crossing the street may seem laughable, it is a real problem. When I first moved to Australia, I had to make a conscious effort to look right and not left any time I crossed the street. Later, when I was an agent with the State Department, a colleague was struck crossing Virginia Avenue and went down hard on the pavement in a flurry of classified documents that he’d been carrying.

Mindset is another important factor in dealing with risks, not only in overcoming denial that threats exist and supplying the basis for proper situational awareness but also in determining one’s sheer will to survive. Another crucial aspect of mindset is the willingness to modify behavior to reduce overall risk. Whether this means not going outside without mosquito repellant, not driving after dark or on certain roads, or not eating certain foods, the willingness to alter behavior to avoid or minimize risk can be a lifesaver. 

In December 2013, an American teacher working in Benghazi, Libya, was assassinated while running along the side of the road. Despite the demonstrably hostile environment in which he lived, he refused to give up running on the road. Of course, even in the United States he could have been struck by a vehicle and killed while running. But as an obvious Westerner in Benghazi, his running was much more dangerous. Simply put, some threats demand sacrifices to minimize risk. 

And this brings us back to the people who asked about their upcoming trip to Izmir. I didn’t tell them not to go. Instead, I informed them of the risks, advising them to keep a low profile, practice sound situational awareness and avoid tourist sites, Turkish government buildings and other likely targets for terrorist attack. Properly informed and prepared for the environment, they will assume yet another of life’s many risks and go on their trip, as planned. Though absolute security is a myth, not all risk is insurmountable.

{ 0 comments }

Jostling through the crowds Paul and Luke pushed their way to the ramp. The wooden cargo ship was ready to leave Caesarea and they had gathered the last of their supplies. They pressed the silver denarii into the hands of the sailer at the dock. They were allowed onto the ship.

They rushed to the far side of the salty deck to claim their few square feet of living space where they would live, sleep and eat for the next seven days. The set up a leather tent covering, put their blankets under the tarp and stashed their food and meager supplies in the corner. They were ready to go!

Traveling by ship in the first century was rugged and grueling. Ships did not have cabins for travelers. They purchased space on the deck — the lower part of the ship was for the huge cargos, usually grain from Egypt, marble from Greece or lumber from Lebanon.

However, this was certainly the quickest way to get through the Roman Empire by voyaging the shipping lanes of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though Rome had built over 250,000 miles of primary roads the time and labor to walk around the sea was rugged, dangerous and timely.

How do you think Mary traveled from Israel (Judea) to Ephesus with St. John? It would have been almost impossible to travel by land so she must have suffered much on the deck of one of these cargo ships. Mary was tough!

Ships were not reliable like the luxurious cruise ships today where pilgrims sip a glass of wine on the deck looking out over the waves only imagining the grueling voyage of St. Paul and the other early Christians. To get a sense of this rugged reality we suggest our pilgrims go out on the deck of our cruise ship in the middle of a windy wavy night. Imagining living on the deck of the ship, covered with the salty spray and using the side of the ship for a toilet is not the way modern people would want to travel.

Even though we can only use our imagination to “experience” the travels of St. Paul as he spread the Gospel around the Mediterranean, our pilgrims traveling with us through the Great Sea of biblical times still get to walk in Paul’s footprints through the cities he walked. We even walk on the actual roads with the stones laid over 2,000 year ago.

Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing will be joining me, Steve Ray of Footprints of God Pilgrimages and Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio as we conduct a “Seminar at Sea.” We will voyage the same sea routes that Paul journeyed and visit the cities where he lived and founded the local churches. 

The names of these cities will be familiar to everyone — Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessaloniki and many more.

We will study what he said and did in each site as well as celebrate Mass in the most amazing locations. Some of the Masses will be set in local cathedrals while others outdoors in historic locations mentioned in the Bible.

Our Seminar at Sea will provide pilgrims with spiritual talks on St. Paul, Evangelism and the Family. This is a cruise, a pilgrimage, a seminar—and a biblical adventure. Steve arranged the itinerary with the cruise company to visit only biblical, early Catholic sites. You will have time to explore and pray in eight locations deeply rich with our Catholic heritage.

Steve teaching in ancient Roman theatre

You will visit the cities where St. Paul wrote his inspired letters and other cities to which they were written. You will walk the same roads, sit in ancient theaters where he taught, discover how true and accurate the Bible is, and draw closer to Our Lord.

But Paul is not the only saint we will discover. The Apostle St. John was the bishop of Ephesus and we will pray at his tomb. Mary lived for a while in Ephesus with St. John and we will have Mass at Mary’s House. St. John was exiled on the Greek Island of Patmos because of his testimony to Jesus.

We will stop at this beautiful Greek Island to celebrate Mass at the cave where St. John lived and where he received the profound revelation which became the last book on the New Testament. From here he also saw the heavenly vision of Mary, the Queen of Heaven (Rev 12:1).

Mass at the holiest biblical sites

It is not too late to join us. We leave October 28, 2016 and return to the USA from the cruise on November 7. For those who want to join our post-cruise extension to Rome, we will tour the most important sites in the Eternal City from November 7 – 10, 2016. 

To learn more visit Steve Ray’s website www.FootprintsOfGod.com. For a printable brochure click here. Or you can call Susan at Corporate Travel at (313) 565-8888, ext. 161 or write her at SReinhardt@CTSCentral.net

We hope you can join us, Al Kresta and Bishop Boyea as we voyage and walk in the footprints of St. Paul.

{ 0 comments }

Augustine’s Comment on Travel; Popes and Saints on Pilgrimages

January 30, 2016

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” –St. Augustine Pope Paul VI referred to the Holy Land as the “5th Gospel” implying that a pilgrimage rounds out and compliments the Scripture for fuller understanding.  “A long procession of people…have gone in search of the ‘footprints’ of God [...]

Read the full article →

Womb 2 Tomb; Bethlehem 2 Jerusalem; Biking on Christmas thru the Holy Land

December 26, 2015

I am back in Israel now! Greetings from the Land! I posted this blog a year ago — but I am posting it again so you can see Bethlehem from a unique perspective, from my bike. I think you will enjoy this fun and educational adventure riding through Bethlehem and Jerusalem today. We are in [...]

Read the full article →

Our Vibrant Catholic Youth Conference here on Malta!

October 11, 2015

We are just finishing up our 10 days here on Malta with the Catholic Youth Conference here.  I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing the vibrancy of the young people here on the island of Malta. It certainly encouraged Janet and I. We thought it might encourage and bless you as well.  Let’s [...]

Read the full article →

On our Way Guadalupe…

August 28, 2015

A lot of our pilgrims have asked us about Guadalupe as a pilgrimage destination. Janet and I are on our way down now to investigate hotels, agents and guides, restaurants and sites. We are going to make this pilgrimage more than just a few days at Guadalupe. We’re also going to include some wonderful cultural [...]

Read the full article →

3.3 million visitors to Israel in 2014: Statistics of Travel and Safety, Countries of Origin and Sites Visitied

January 5, 2015

Since we, and our thousands of pilgrims, travel to Israel many times a year, I thought these statistics were very interesting. Of all 3.3 million in 2014 not one was hurt or in danger. The media makes it sound like Israel is dangerous. The facts and statistics on the group prove they are wrong. We [...]

Read the full article →

“11 Must-see Churches in Rome” Steve Ray quoted in Fox News Article

October 24, 2014

Since we leave for Rome today to pick up our 80 pilgrims for a pilgrimage through Italy, Greece and Turkey, I thought I would post this article so you can see some of the churches we will visit.  Here is the portion of the article in which I contributed. Teresa Tomeo also shares her favorite [...]

Read the full article →

Dangerous Camels and the Mess they Leave Behind

July 7, 2014

Dangerous living the Bible in the lands of the Bible. This is a fun 30-second video of me messing with the camel in Haran Turkey where Abraham lived for a while before leaving for Canaan. It is also where Isaac got his wife Rebekah and where Jacob lived for twenty years. They all had camels [...]

Read the full article →

One Thing I Know About Abraham: He was Sweaty all the Time!

June 15, 2014

We flew from Israel to Istanbul and then from Istanbul Urfa. We then boarded the van for the one hour drive to Haran. It was 100° and the van didn’t have air-conditioning or windows that opened. It was a stifling trip but paid off with what we found.  Haran is mentioned 19 times in the [...]

Read the full article →

Here is a YouTube Video of my Show with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN

May 24, 2014

I sure hated the suit and tie – first time in a decade I put those things on, but other than that it was fun. It was a last minute thing. They said, “Quick, get a flight, we have a hotel, take a taxi to the NBC studios in Washington DC and be there by [...]

Read the full article →

My Bike Ride from Tiberias to Magdala along the Shore of Galilee

May 8, 2014

Our group just arrived in Galilee and I jumped on my bike and took off for exercise and adventure. The Legionaries are building a “Spirituality Center”, whatever that is, at Magdala so I am off to check it out. I’ve been told they built a Protestant chapel there so I have to see this with [...]

Read the full article →

11 Must See Churches in Rome: Steve Ray and Teresa Tomeo Interveiwed by Fox News Travel

May 6, 2014

Here are a list of great churches to see in Rome that are usually off the radar screen. Murals of torture and martyrdom, tombs of the Apostolic Fathers and much more. Enjoy the article at http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2014/04/24/11-must-see-churches-in-rome/

Read the full article →

Great Start for Canonization Pilgrimage

April 25, 2014

Rome is packed with people! Buses are pouring in from every direction. I think the educated estimate is there will be 2 million people here for the canonization on Sunday. Our group arrived this morning and everyone is in good spirits and excited. We had a great start for the day with Mass at St. [...]

Read the full article →

Video of Pre-Canonization Rome

April 23, 2014

Janet and I arrived a few days early in Rome before our group. There will be 63 pilgrims arriving on Friday. We like to make sure everything is in order and ready for their arrival. And it is! We decided to take a walk around the walls of the Vatican and get a feel for [...]

Read the full article →