Pope Francis will be in the Holy Land tomorrow. I arrived in Tel Aviv several hours ago after an 18-hour journey from Los Angeles. I'm traveling with Joyce Coronel of The Catholic Sun in Phoenix and with Bill Howard of The Colorado Catholic Herald in Colorado Springs. We're hoping to meet up with other Catholic journalists tomorrow, who are also here to report on the pope's trip and other items of interest to readers.
I can't believe I'm here. It's the first time I've been in the Holy Land and, perhaps because of the sleep deprivation, it isn’t real yet. Jerusalem. I'm waking up in Jerusalem tomorrow morning. This great, holy city — the place of King David and the prophets and the Lord himself and his Apostles. This Holy Land where three of the world's great religions find roots.
To think, in two days, the Vicar of Christ will be here, in the land where Christ himself lived and died and resurrected. The Catholic Church began here at Pentecost. Peter led the disciples from here to teach all nations. And now Peter is coming back. Sure, previous popes have visited the Holy Land, but I've never reported on it! It's something I've been talking about with Joyce and Bill on our way over — how blessed we are to be here and the great responsibility we have to report on it well for our readership.
One thing that's been of particular interest is Pope Francis' meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I. Catholic News Agency has reported on this, and you can find those reports on the pages of this website or at www.catholicnewsagency.com.
When I was in the hotel lobby earlier today, I saw a man that looked just like Bartholomew. It was uncanny. I tried not to be obvious, but I kept looking over. And then it hit me. It is Bartholomew! I tried to be discreet, because I think there must be some sort of rules about taking photos of patriarchs in hotel lobbies (or forcing a selfie). But I did snap a quick shot with my phone. So I'm sharing that with you (above).
On another note, I wasn’t cautious enough on the technical side of things, and I have already blow the circuits of my hotel room trying to charge my devices. I’m hoping to figure that out tomorrow so that I can update this blog on a daily basis and share this great blessing with anyone who wants to hear about it. I certainly don’t deserve this great honor. It’s such a gift.