CAPERNAUM — We began our journey today at the foot of Mount Carmel. There’s a wonderful church built there over the cave where the prophet Elijah lived. You remember Elijah. He is the one who listened for God’s voice but did not hear it in the wind or the fire or the earthquakes. Instead, God spoke to him in a “still small voice.”
Our guide handed the Bible to me and asked me to read the passage in which Elijah challenges the followers of the false god Ba’al. Of course, the Lord proved that He himself is the one true God.
As we stepped inside the church, a tiny Carmelite nun knelt down before the cave and began singing the Ave Maria. Her voice echoed through the church and we four journalists and our guide stood there transfixed. It was simply stunning. When she finished, we each took a turn kneeling in front of the cave. All around the church are sculptures of the great Carmelite saints such as St. Teresa of Ávila, St. John of the Cross and, appropriately to Israel, St. Teresa Benedicta, who was once known as Edith Stein. Our Jewish tour guide knew of her martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis.
From there, we headed to Galilee to walk the shores and visit the town of Capernaum and the home of St. Peter. There’s a church built over the site and you can look down through a window in the floor that offers a view of the excavation.
Not far from there is the Church of the Beatitudes where Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. A group of Italian nuns takes care of the church which is octagonal and features a stained glass window with the Beatitudes. It’s not hard to imagine Jesus preaching here in this peaceful setting.
Next, we interviewed a Polish seminarian who is studying to be a priest for the Diocese of Dallas. There’s a beautiful center called the Domus Galilaeae. It’s a Christian meeting place run by the Neocatechumenal Way. Out front there’s a huge statue of Pope St. John Paul and then once you get inside the place, built in 2000, it strikes this Arizona native as very Frank Lloyd Wright. The beauty of the tranquil surroundings are all about you through large windows on the walls and the ceiling. There’s a terrace that overlooks the Sea of Galilee and right in front of the seascape is a bronze statue of Jesus.
We ended the day by visiting Magdala, the traditional home of Mary Magdalene. A consecrated woman from the Regnum Christi community walked us about the property and then inside the worship center which features several beautiful chapels, all based on the theme of the dignity of women. The group hopes to begin the Magdala Institute to help women, particularly those suffering from human trafficking or trauma like breast cancer, to find healing.