We received another exciting email from the Holy Land! It sounds like the EC students are having a VERY profound and enlightening experience:
“Well, the camels were definitely a popular attraction, and pretty much everyone took a ride, including Fr. Daniel!
We then toured into the ancient city of Jericho which is, of course, the oldest city on earth, dating back to 8000 B.C. On the way out of Jericho, we drove up to the base of the Mount of the Temptation. It is a barren desert that surrounds this mountain where Christ fasted and prayed for forty days and forty nights. Just standing there in the hot sun, fully fed and hydrated, is uncomfortable. The experience shed further light on the reality of Christ’s strength in the face of such a harsh environment. The photo below is of the group with the valley and mountain range behind us that sits adjacent to the Mount of Temptation.
From there we drove down to the Jordan River and renewed our Baptismal vows at the site where John the Baptist baptized our Lord. Father sprinkled us with water from the Jordan, and we all filled our empty water bottles with water from the river to bring home.
One last stop right near the Dead Sea prior to our swim was Qumran National Park, where the Essenes lived and displayed the first makings of a monastic life in the first century before Christ. It was their scribes who wrote most of the Dead scrolls. Our tour guide, Amer, gave us the further history that at one point John the Baptist probably lived among them. Pope Benedict XVI has also suggested as much.
Our final stop was well worth it. The stories about the Dead Sea are true; floating at the top of the water is pretty much the only option. The salt content of the water is nine times greater than that of the ocean, and everyone made the backstroke look simple.”