Day 16, June 15
(Greg) The next morning, we found ourselves at mass in Terra Sancta'a ancient Crusader chapel. There we also found the previously mentioned Fr. Thomas. The chapel was pretty cool - dedicated to St. Peter, a huge picture of him in a boat was above the altar. Fr. Thomas was pretty cool, too. We stayed after Mass discussing the necessity of religious habits, and ordination of women priests. He invited us to breakfast so we ran back to the hostel and grabbed Chris. We had already had breakfast at the hostel before Mass, but who were we to refuse a priest's generosity?
Fr. Thomas is a priest from South Africa with a big round face and quick laugh. Not only is he very orthodox, he is also very spiritual, a great combination. His parents were shot during apartheid in South Africa before he had even finished school. Because of his orthodoxy and outspoken manner, he was transferred around by the Franciscans until arriving in the Holy Land in '72. He had been attacked in Jerusalem and wounded so bad that he lay in the hospital for 4 months. St. Peter was a real favorite of his as we could see when he showed us around the chapel. He enjoys the seclution of Terra Sancta where he lives with just one other Franciscan brother. I think our visit did alot of good for him. Six young orthodox guys seemed to be what he needed to rekindle his hope for the Church. (we need to send him a letter when we return to the States.)
After our second breakfast, we drove off in search of Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration. We followed the road around hairpin turns up the mountainside to a church many of the T-Weeds consider their favorite. We arrived just minutes before it closed for the afternoon siesta. We browsed around the grand, but simple church and attempted (without a whole lot of success) to sing the Salve Regina.
Outside, we admired the view and shot a few pictures.
On our way back to our car, we discovered the gate had been locked and we were on the inside! In true T-weed fashion, we decided to find our own way out instead of asking for help. We scaled a few walls, climbed a few fences and crossed a few thorn-filled fields before we finally reached our cars.
On the road once again, we pointed our front bumpers toward Nazareth. Our first stop was the Church of the Annunciation. We parked the cars and sacked a nearby pastry shop. Full of fungi pizzas and cookies, we ascended the stairs of the church. What a place to kneel in prayer! the very spot where Our Blessed Mother knelt and accepted her role in our salvation. The very spot where our God became man.
We were a bit disappointed with some of the modern art, especially an image of BVM donated by our own country.
Nearby, we visited the home of the Holy family and St. Joseph's workshop. Nothing spectacular to look at, just a few caves, it was still an awesome experience to honor the holy spot. A little further up the road, we found a Greek church over the well Mary drew water from (otherwise known as Mary's well). Here pilgrims were bottling water reputed to have miraculous powers. Since we still hadn't had the opportunity to get lost in Nazareth, we decided to do this next.
(Chris) We were told by our guide books (who know all and see all) to go to the top of Nazareth and see the view from the Salesian Church. Instead, we went around the back of this hillside church for 1/2 hour. Then, we did our traditional u-turns and headed back. Finally, we got to a church on top of the city (altho we never found the Salesian). It was St. Gabriel Hotel which had a Protestant Church and bell tower facing the city. I climbed the tower and spit on Dave and Sam (just missed) so they came up to get me. Awesome view!
We drove back to the Church of the Annunciation, arriving at 5:10. It closed at 5:30, so we had just enough time to say a rosary at the holy site. After that, Dave got a Franciscan's permission to go inside the gate, closer to the actual home of Mary. There, we said Angelus as the big old church bells rang loudly. After singing Salve Regina outside (this time reading it off the wall, so no one forgot the words), we left Nazareth.
We got back to the hostel in Tiberias with not much to do. Some of us called home to say Happy Father's Day. We ate some pretzels and fruit juice and set aside one of the local watermelons. While Greg walked on his own, the rest of us organized a small Birthday Eve Party for him. We tried to rent a movie, but had no VCR. Nevertheless, we got a fruity-choclaty cake and 24 candles. I wrote BODY in pretzels on the cake.
We were still one candle short, so Joe pulled out his blessed Mass candle. As Dave stalled Body with fake questions about calling cards, Joe lit the cake in the shower. Then out came the 25 blazing candles and fruity-choclaty cake and we all sang. Body said it was the happiest day of his life and there was much rejoicing and eating of cake and yams and bullocks and pretzels and yaks and finally WATERMELON. Watermelon, yes, watermelon - strategically cut by yours truly so that you couldn't eat it without getting messy.
The much anticipated seed war never materialized because these most delicious melons
were pretty much seedless. Nevertheless, we all got juicy and sticky and that was good
enough. Body went to sleep knowing that if his B-day eve could be so perfect, his actual
B-day would be magnificent too.