Retreats & Pilgrimages
A nun prays in the grotto of the Church of Nativity on Christmas Eve, 2015, in Bethlehem, West Bank. The Catholic Voice pilgrimage will visit this holy spot and pilgrims will participate in Mass the same day.
ATEF SAFADI/EPA, CNS
Join an extraordinary, humbling trip to the land of Jesus
Rev. Lawrence D'Anjou
Soon a group of pilgrims and I will be traveling to the Holy Land; the land of Abraham, the prophets and the land of Jesus.
Perhaps this is your opportunity to join us as we trek together with Belinda Held of Unitours on an unforgettable 10-day experience of this amazing land.
This article is a continuation of the one published in The Catholic Voice on Sept. 19.
Day 7 of our pilgrimage has us traveling together to the holy city of Bethlehem. Bethlehem is the small yet significantly historic city where the prophet Samuel discovered the new King of Judah. That son was David, "a man after God's heart" (1 Sam 13:14).
Roughly 1,000 years later, Jesus, the King of Kings, would also be born in this city. We will visit the shrine where Jesus was born and celebrate Mass in the city of Bethlehem this day.
Then we will proceed to the ancient city of Qumran near the Dead Sea. This very interesting place is where a group of about 200 people formed a community in the two centuries before Christ and where, it is thought, that John, the cousin of Jesus, began calling people from all over the Holy Land to a baptism of repentance to "prepare the way for the Lord."
From Qumran, time permitting, we will have an opportunity to take a dip in the Dead Sea, where the water is so salty that you can float without the aid of any flotation device.
The next two days we will stay near Jerusalem — God's holy city — where (wonderfully) Christians, Jews and Muslims live together in relative peace. This is where Abraham received his calling to be our father in faith. This is where King David built a city holy to the Lord. This is where Jesus spent his last days.
On this day we will visit the prison where Jesus was held after being arrested at the Mount of Olives. We will visit the church where Peter denied Jesus on that same fateful night. We will visit where Jesus was convicted and was scourged along the original Via Dolorosa. We will visit the holy site of Jesus' crucifixion.
We will then proceed to the site of the tomb where Jesus was buried, and within three days was raised to a new and glorious life. Our Communion with Our Lord will be especially poignant as we celebrate Holy Mass here in the Old City of Jerusalem today.
On our last full day in the Holy Land we'll visit the Upper Room where it is believed that Jesus appeared to the delight and surprise of the twelve after his resurrection. This day we'll visit the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, which is all that remains of the ancient Jewish temple — the most sacred place in the world for Jews.
I'll never forget the feeling I had when I touched the Western Wall in 1998. I approached it reverently and put my hand to the ancient stone and felt as though I somehow touched God himself. It was awesome, joyful and humbling at the same time.
Your experience on this trip to the Holy Land will also have its extraordinary and humbling moments. Join us if you can. Bring your Bible, your hat and your walking shoes as we explore together the land that for us and for all the world, means so much.
Pleased note! An information session on this pilgrimage is scheduled at St. Raymond Parish at 11555 Shannon Ave., Dublin at 2 p.m. Nov. 5. Our tour guide, Belinda Held of Unitours, will be present to explain the pilgrimage package and answer all your questions. All are welcome. I look forward to seeing you then!
(Father Lawrence D'Anjou is pastor at St. Raymond Parish in Dublin.)
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