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We Are Witnesses: The Tomb is Empty
It was very dark except for the yellowing glow of some street lights. Our feet scurried along the beige limestone streets and alleys in Jerusalem. The only other living creatures we saw were a few cats rummaging through the trash and they quickly darted away as we passed by.

DCF HeaderWithout knowing the way one could easily get lost as the walls narrow here and there, sharp turns take us deeper into the maze. After ten minutes of walking we finally arrived at an opening at the bottom of some broad stairs. No one is in the courtyard. It is still dark. Muffled chanting can be heard wafting out of the large open door. At the same time the whining Muslim call to prayer could be heard across the city.

We enter the door and the chanting is now much louder. The Armenians are celebrating their liturgy in front of the tomb. We step into the darkened church. It is 4:30 AM, the Monday following Easter morning. There is no place like this on the face of the earth. Under one roof is housed the two precise spots where time and eternity collided.

It doesn't take much imagination to envision Mary and the holy women standing here looking up to the second level where Jesus only a few feet away had hung with nails ripping the flesh of his hands and feet. Stepping around the corner I can easily imagine the Peter and John rushing to the entrance of the opened tomb in the cool of the morning before the sun had cleared the Mount of Olives.

And now we were stepping into that very tomb to celebrate the ancient event of the resurrection that is ever new, exciting and present to every generation. As we stoop to go in we notice the tomb is still empty. We are among untold millions of pilgrims who have arrived for two thousand years to see and experience the resurrection, to stand in the dim light of oil lamps and hushed whispers to have tears well up in our eyes and the hair rise up on the back of our necks.

An Italian priest arrives with an assorted group of worshipers including nuns from the Missionaries of Charity from India. A few from Ethiopia and the Baltic states stood outside. Mass began in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The very formula the risen Jesus gave his apostles a few days after his resurrection.

Dome above Christs Tomb Holy SepulcherInside the tomb of Christ every Mass is the Easter Morning Mass - no matter if it is Monday or Thursday, no matter if it is June or December. It is always the Easter Mass with the readings from John 20 - "and they rushed to the tomb and found it empty." Again we were overjoyed at the victory over death that was supernaturally and cosmically won for the damned human race, right here in this dark little tomb.

Once again - as we recited the Creed "and on the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures" and see the bread and cup raised with the words of consecration - we remember and profoundly realize that the death and resurrection are not just past historical events but every bit as alive and real today.

Jesus is still among us through his Spirit freely given, through his Body and Blood in the Mass, through his priests who act "in persona Christi," in the word of God and in his people the Mystical Body of Christ. But uniquely and physically so in the Eucharist as I reached out my hand in the tomb where his flesh once lay cold and damp and covered with wounds. His Body was here again on Monday morning. His flesh was again in the tomb, not as a dead man but with Body and Blood reunited in life. It is far to deep to grasp fully. I am only happy just to get a glimpse. I will see and comprehend it in its fullness in glory. But today - I am happy!

Open Pilgrimages updated

Steve's CornerStevesCornerIt is never lonely in my office. If the grandkids are not keeping my company, my 91 year old father is. My dad, Charlie, recently moved into my home and is being cared for, 24 hours a day, by family. Normal daily activities, like walking, bathing, etc. had become all but impossible for him. After my own children spent a few days helping dad at his place we decided it would be better for everyone if he moved in with us. So, there are now 4 generations living under the same roof. It is really amazing to see it bringing us all together. Even my brothers and sister are doing all they can to help.

He is the best dad in the world and took good care of me when I was a kid. I am glad to take good care of him now. He turned down significant promotions at Ford Motor Company because it would take him away from home too much. He always said, "I cannot accept the promotion because it would require me to work evenings and weekends. I can't do that because I have three boys at home."

How could I not move him into our home (with mom too) to take care of him through his last days? Read Sirach 3:1-16.

Direct From the Holy Land
 Muslims are trying to take over the Holy Land. It is not just about theology but about the land, every square foot of it. Christians only make up 1.5% of the population in Israel, Muslims over 16% and Jews over 80%.

Christians are leaving in droves and the land is being acquired by Muslims. If this continues the holy sites could be turned into mosques and we will lose the ever so crucial Christian presence in the Holy Land. So we helped a christian family by investing in a small piece of land that Muslims had their sights on, and planted an olive tree on it.

Olive Tree
Kids are Pilgrims Too!
FUN YouTube Video

Kid TV
HyraxDid You Know...
These little creatures are Rock Hyrax?
HyraxThey are also known as  Syrian rabbit or Coney. They live in Israel and parts of Africa. They are squat and heavily built, little mammals, adults reaching less than 20 in. They are also shy, we have only gotten pictures of them a few times while in Israel because they always scurry away. Plants and grasses are their food of choice and they are known to carry their young on their backs...cute! These little creatures are said to be related to elephants, manatees & rhinos, seriously.

Did you know that they are mentioned in the Bible? Read  Psa 104:18; Deut 14:7; Prov 30:26; Lev 11:5

Fun Stuff
 A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence. he's allowed to say only two words every 7 years. After the first 7 years, the elders bring him in and ask him for his two words.      
      "Food Cold," he says. They nod and send him away.       
      7 more years pass and they bring him in for his 2 words.       
      He clears his throat and say, "Bed Hard." They nod and send him away.
       7 more years pass and they bring him in for his 2 words.       
      "I quit," he says.       
      "That's not surprising," the elders say. "you've done nothing but complain since you got here."
A man walked up to a Franciscan and Jesuit and asked, "How many novenas must you say to get a Mercedes Benz?"

The Franciscan asked, "What's a Mercedes Benz?"

The Jesuit asked, "What's a novena?"

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