|www.notredamecenter.org / english site
| 13/DECEMBER/2013 2:25 AM
PLANNING YOUR PILGRIMAGE
To visit the Holy Land is not just a
touristic trip. The benefit of this trip, the depth with which you will
live it, depends in good part from the interior dispositions in which
the pilgrim arrives to the Holy Land. This interior preparation is as
important as all the practical preparations, limke having the flights and
the hotel booked and the photo camera ready. A- To get
familiar with the Holy Land
the following lines we will offer some advice, that can help you in
this interior preparation, covering basically two elemnts: A- To get
familiar with the Holy Land (cultural element) and B- The actual spiritual
preparation and experience are the most important aspects of a
pilgrimage, because it is what differentiates it from any other journey
you are likely to do.
- Get familiar
with the history and the present situation of this
Land. 3000-4000 years of history have deeply marked the Israel of
today. In order to understand this Land better as you visit it, it is
worthwhile to learn a little bit about its history and its culture.
- Basic geographic knowledge. Usually the
Bible, or the New Testament, have maps illustrating how the land looked at
the time of Jesus. If you do not have one at hand, an atlas, or even an
encyclopedia might help. It is important to remember that the Land was
divided into three main regions at the time of Jesus: Galilee in the
north, Samaria in the centre, and Judaea in the south. Do not miss the
places that are frequently mentioned in the Gospels: the River Jordan,
Lake Tiberias, Jerusalem. Of course, try to localize the towns and cities
that are most prominent in the Gospel narratives, such as Capernaum,
Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jericho. Hopefully you will also be able to find
Mount Tabor, Mount Zion, the Dead Sea, and the Mount of Olives. after
identifying these sites on the map, you will be in a much better position
to understand the places you will be visiting, and thus enjoy it much more
and get more out of it.
- “The Holy Land is the only place in
the world whose ‘tourist guide’ is the Bible” In it all
the events that took place in this Land before Christ and also during the
life of our Saviour.
It would be enough to read one of
the Gospels either Matthew or Mark, Luke or John. It will not take more
than one or two hours. Your could even underline the places that are
mentioned, find the in the map in getting an idea of which events happend
in which places.
Up to this point you
will have received a preparation which we could call
‘basic’ or ‘cultural’. But
without doupt the central preparation has to be the spiritual one.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land means to come with the desire
to meet Christ – the living and risen Christ of our Faith. The
search can take many forms, as many as the ways by which people encounter
Christ in the Gospels. Some of those who approached him were blind,
imploring him to restore their sight, others were possessed by demons
wishing to be freed from their unclean spirits; others were just curious
and approached his disciples saying “we want to see Jesus”.
Whichever situation you find youself in, as you are planning this
pilgrimage, there are two things that we would highly recommend:
PRAYER and SACRAMENTS. There is certainly no doubt that the closer
one gets to Jesus, and the more one experiences his presence, the more one
becomes attuned to him. The best way to be attuned to Jesus is to live in
grace and in accordance with his will: “If anyone loves me, he will
do what I say”.
an optimal way of preparing your soul for a valuable and unique experience
in the Holy Land would be to spend a few moments in prayer in the
days preceding your pilgrimage, or to read the Gospel and pray
together with those friends or family members that will accompany you on
your journey. Add to this a good confession, or the
intention to go to confession during your stay in Israel, and you will
surely attain your goal. I have heard many people say: “my pilgrimage
to the Holy Land marks off a ‘before’ and an
‘after’ in my life”. I believe that this truly happens.
But it happens to the extent that you desire it, and in the measure that
you are well disposed for it.
Jesus awaits you in His Land! May you be the fertile soil where
Jesus can sow once again the seeds of his love, his Gospel and his grace.
Prepare yourselves well for your pilgrimage to the Land of Jesus!