Holy Land Year of Mercy – October 2016
05 October 2016 to 14 October 2016
About the Pilgrimage
Comments from Pilgrim after returning home:
We have returned physically from our wonderful trip to the Holy Land…but I will never be the same!
We visited all the 20 places of the Rosary and said a decade at each location. Mass was celebrated every day – outside on the slopes of the Mt of Beatitudes and overlooking Shepherd’s Field, at the Church of the Annunciation (inscription on the altar: “The Word was made flesh here.”), Ein Karem (Church of the Visitation of Mary visiting Elizabeth), Bethlehem (!), inside the Church of the Agony (beside the Garden of Gethsemane), the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre (which means “tomb”) in Jerusalem, and other awe-inspiring locations.
It was astounding and life-changing to “stand on the rocky shore of Galilee Lake” and see what Jesus saw! To look out over the hillside where He gave the Beatitudes to hundreds of locals, the bay where He called His disciples from their boats and nets, to swim in the Sea of Galilee! and so much more—
We drove around in a 55-seater coach bus on asphalt roads and would see signs for…look, did you just see that?…Nazareth! Caesarea Phillippi! (where Jesus told Peter He would build His church upon him and gave him the keys to the kingdom) Magdala! (as in Mary of) Tabgha! (as in the multiplication of the loaves and fishes for thousands of people) and “oh! Jerusalem”… It was hard to believe we were actually there.
My favorite place, though, was Capernaum. We had Mass in a beautiful church built over St. Peter’s house, where Jesus lived for 3 years. Standing on the shoreline outside a small church where He appeared after His Resurrection to some of the disciples (“Throw your net over the other side!”) moved me to tears.
This was a pilgrimage, not a trip (and certainly not a vacation! haha) —for example, we met in the lobby at 4:30 am (yes, you read that correctly) in order to cross the street and walk through the New Gate (see attached photo taken later that morning) into old Jerusalem to pray the Stations of the Cross along the streets. We ended up at the Holy Sepulchre (the huge church which covers Golgotha of the cross and Jesus’ tomb on Calvary) at 5:30 and did not have to deal with any crowds as a result. Having had a private tour of an exhibit of the Shroud of Turin the evening before made this experience all the more depressing…yet joyful!
Did you know you can still buy spikenard, the oil used to anoint Jesus’ head and feet?
The renewal of our Baptismal vows while standing in the Jordan River and floating (can’t swim here, the water’s too salty!) in the Dead Sea were H2O highlights that I really wanted to experience in order to live out my tourist inclinations.
You’ve probably stopped reading long before this, but I highly recommend going on a pilgrimage with a group such as the one we joined. Everything is done for you – travel itinerary, tour guides, private masses, restaurants and special shops that cater to Steve Ray’s groups, nice hotels, tipping, scheduling, etc. Check out this website for more info (and no, I am not getting a kickback!)
Watch these videos or do some Google searches if you are more of an armchair traveler (that’s ok! Just DO IT!) It will deepen your faith and draw you closer to God.
May God bless you, Family and Friends. God loves each one of us more than we know.