Notes from Fr. Bolek's Visit to the Holy Land, June 19 to 29
During the latter part of June, Fr. Bolek traveled on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with some parishioners from an Indiana parish. Fr. Bolek offered Holy Mass every day at the different pilgrimage sights of Jesus.
He's written some comments on his travels and the significance of each location.
Day 1 • June 19
Departed U.S.A. on a flight to Israel.
Day 2 • June 20
Arrive in Tel Aviv at the Ben Gurion Airport. The group had Mass at the church that marks the miracles in Jaffa: the visions of St. Peter about all food being clean and the relationship to the prophet Jonah. We were met by our local guide who arranged the schedule of our visits. We stayed overnight at the seaside of Netanya.
Day 3 • June 21
This morning, we left Netanya to head north. We drove along the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea, the capital of the ancient Roman Procurators of Judea (this is where Pilot often lived). Here, St. Peter preached and St. Paul was imprisoned for two years. We also visited the Roman Theater, Crusader’s Moat, and the Byzantine Churches. We than ascended Mt. Carmel, home of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. After Mass we continued on to Tiberias, which was our home for the next three nights.
Day 4 • June 22
Following breakfast, we drove to Cana of Galilee where Jesus, at the request of Mary, performed His first miracle... changing water into wine. It was here also that He blessed marriage and raised it to the dignity of a sacrament. Several couples on the trip renewed their wedding vows as a lasting remembrance of this holy site. From there, we went a short distance to Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus. At the Cave of the Annunciation, we saw the actual room in which Mary said “yes” to the angel Gabriel. From there we visited St. Joseph’s Carpentry Shop for Holy Mass. In the afternoon, we took an excursion to the summit of Mt. Tabor where Jesus transfigured himself and revealed his Divine Glory to the apostles (Matt 17:2).
Day 5 • June 23
This morning, we enjoyed a scenic boat ride across the Sea of Galilee and proceeded to the Church of Peter’s Primacy (John 21:16). Here on the shore of Galilee, Jesus appeared to the Apostles after His Resurrection and confirmed Peter in the role as Vicar of Christ with the words, “Feed My sheep.” The rock emerging from the center of the church is the actual table at which they ate breakfast. We proceeded onto Capernaum which for three years was the center of Jesus’ public ministry. Here our Lord met his first disciples – Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew – and worked many miracles. He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, brought a child back to life, cured a leper, healed the centurion’s servant, cast out a demon from a young boy and healed all that were sick (Matt 8:16). We celebrated Mass, visited the synagogue where Jesus taught, and then drove to Tabgha – the site where Jesus multiplied the Loaves and Fishes and fed over 5000 people (Luke 9:13). Next, we drove to the Mount of Beatitudes the site of the Sermon on the Mount.
Day 6 • June 24
After Mass at the Mount of the Beatitudes, we traveled around the Sea of Galilee and stopped at Kursi. Here Jesus met a possessed man and miraculously cast out a legion of demons into the herd of swine (Luke 8:26). In the afternoon, we headed south through the Judean wilderness to the site of the Baptism of the Lord and renewed our baptismal vows. The Bible tells us that the Children of Israel crossed the River Jordan opposite Jericho when they came into the Promised Land. The prophet Elijah divided its waters and crossed with Elisha on dry land. Naaman the Syrian dipped in the waters seven times and was cured of his leprosy. And Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan (Mark 1:9). Each year, pilgrims from far and wide come to the Place of Baptism to immerse themselves in these holy waters. From here, we went a short drive to Jerusalem and check into our hotel.
Day 7 • June 25
This morning we celebrated an early morning Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (the church that has both the resurrection tomb and Mount Calvary). After Mass, we drove to the top of the Mt. of Olives for a spectacular view of Jerusalem. We visited the Church of Pater Noster where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray the Pater Noster (the Our Father), Ascension Chapel the site where Jesus ascended into Heaven, and then we walked the “Palm Sunday Road” to Dominus Flevit, where Our Lord wept over Jerusalem. Then we proceeded to the Garden of Gethsemane to visit the Church of All Nations for Mass on the Rock of Agony. In the afternoon, we drove through the New City of Jerusalem to Ein Karem, birthplace of St. John the Baptist, to see the Visitation Church where Mary proclaimed her famous “Magnificat”.
Day 8 • June 26
We drove to Bethlehem to have Mass at the Shepherd’s Fields. Above the traditional Grotto of Jesus’ birth, we visited the Nativity Church, built by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. We also toured the Manger, Grotto of St. Jerome, and the Church of St. Catherine. Then visited the Franciscan Family Center and the Milk Grotto Chapel followed by some free time before returning to Jerusalem.
Day 9 • June 27
This morning entered the Old City of Jerusalem through St. Stephen’s Gate to visit the Church of St. Anne, where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born. Next to this site is the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the paralytic man. We then walked the Via Dolorosa finishing prayerfully in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where we had Holy Mass. There we climbed Mt. Calvary and pray at the site of the crucifixion. We venerated the site where Jesus’ body was anointed, the tomb where he was buried and rose from the dead, and the Chapel of St. Helena where the true cross was found. While in the Old City, we also saw Pilate’s Judgment Hall, the Chapel of Flagellation, the Arch of Ecce Homo, the “Wailing Wall”, and we viewed the Temple Mount. Afterwards, we exited the city to visit the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed a man born blind. We then went to Mount Zion to visit the Upper Room, the site where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. Lastly, we prayed the Rosary together in the Church of Dormition, where Mary was assumed into heaven.
Day 10 • June 28
We drove to Bethany to visit the site of the House of Mary, Martha & Lazarus and the Tomb of Lazarus. Then drove to ancient Jericho, the oldest known city in the Western world. In 1250 B.C., Joshua encircled the city and at the blast of the priests’ trumpets, the walls came tumbling down (I Kings 16). Next we made a stop at the Dead Sea where we took a swim. Then we returned to Jerusalem and enjoy a farewell Dinner.
Day 11 • June 29
This was the last day of our Holy Land pilgrimage. We were dropped off at the airport in Tel Aviv for our return fight home.