Day 5

Today was more of a fun day. From Jerusalem, we drove east through the desert to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the surface of the earth. Geologically it is part of a “rift” where land masses are moving apart and “stretching the earth” causing it to drop lower. The rift also runs deep into Africa. Hot springs spurt forth and carry salts leeched from the surrounding earth down into the Dead Sea.


Also, the Jordan River flows out of the Sea of Galilee and into the Dead Sea. There is no drain off from the Dead Sea. Where the Sea of Galilee is fed by fresh water springs, the Dead Sea is at the end of the line. The result is that it is about eight times saltier than the normal oceans. The salt makes the water denser and the human body floats higher than in fresh water. I swam freestyle for a few yards in it and it felt like I was paddling on a raft because I was floating so high in the water. I could raise my hands above my head and float, without kicking, with the water line below my chest. It felt quite a bit different from normal swimming.


At the beginning of the Gospels, we are told that Jesus is driven by the Holy Spirit out into the desert for 40 days. There, the devil tempts Him. It is not hard to imagine the desert as a place of temptation. It is harsh. We saw quite a bit of the desert today with a trip to the Masada fortress as well. There isn't much life out there. It is a lot of barren rock and sand, and seems like a place without defenses to meet the devil. Jesus was not overcome, but overcame the devil. He knows what temptation is, and He strengthens us in our temptations. We have a God who has suffered for us and who has left us an example of how to suffer well for Him.

Day 5 - Photos

Br. Pio in front of the Holy Sepulchre.
This is the spot where the Holy Women and the Blessed Mother witnessed the crucifixion.
The actual spot where the cross was anchored in the ground.
A closeup of where the cross was anchored in the ground.

The marble slab where the body of Jesus was annointed.

Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. There is also the ruins of an ancient Essene community there.

Going up to the Masada fortress by tram.

A view of the Dead Sea.

Group shot on top of Masada.

A view of the desert by the Masada fortress.

A view of the Dead Sea.

Br. Pio and Janet Ray on top of Masada.