Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
On Tuesday I leave with a group of about 30 parishioners on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the land where Jesus grew up, ministered, and finally was crucified, died, buried and rose from the dead, and then ascended. It’s been about five years since I’ve been in the Holy Land. I was chaplain for a pilgrimage of people I didn’t even know. A priest was scheduled to be the chaplain for a pilgrimage of Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina to the holy land; and that priest had to cancel, so they called me. The trip we will go on this week is almost exactly the same as that one I did before; and it’s with the same guide – a native of Bethlehem who does a tremendous job. Before that last pilgrimage, I had lived in Jerusalem – only about a 10 minutes walk from the old city where Jesus’ tomb is – in the summer of 2002, the summer between my licentiate and doctorate work in Rome. So, knowing the sites, and even the people who will be guiding us, I’m very confident it will be an amazing trip.
Think of all the mysteries of the rosary that we pray, and you will know the very sites we will visit. In fact, part of the pilgrimage will certainly be praying each specific decade of the rosary that pertains to each specific site as we visit.
In about the following order, we will visit these sites: Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee; Nazareth, the site of Mary’s home and the town where Jesus played as a child, learned a trade, and grew to manhood. We will have Mass in the Church of the Annunciation, and an opportunity to visit the church of St. Joseph. We will then travel to Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle at the request of his mother. We board a boat for a brief excursion on the Sea of Galilee. We will visit Tabgha where Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000, “Peter’s Primacy”, the site where, after His resurrection, Jesus met with his disciples and told Peter to “feed my lambs; feed my sheep.” We continue to Capernaum where Jesus began his Galilean ministry, and see the synagogue which dates to the time of Jesus, and the site of Peter’s home. We visit the Mount of Beatitudes for Mass and reflection time followed by a drive to the Golan heights and stop to see the site Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asked his disciples “Who do People say that I am”. We take a trip to Mount Tabor where Jesus was transformed before Peter, James and John. We continue on to visit Jacob’s Well. Here Jesus had the encounter with the Samaritan woman. We visit the Shepherds’ Field for Mass in the Shepherds’ Cave. We continue with our visit to the Church of the Nativity. We will have the opportunity to spend some time in meditation in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified. We climb the hill where we overlook the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus wept over the city. We travel by bus across the Kidron Valley to the site of Caiaphas’ Palace where Jesus experienced the Jewish portion of His trial. The site is known today as St. Peter in Galicantu [“crowing rooster”]. We also visit the upper Room where Jesus had his last Supper. We rise very, very early one morning to walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross. Following the Via Dolorosa, we proceed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Jesus was crucified and where he was buried. Here we celebrate Mass. We visit the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the paralytic, and the Western or Wailing Wall of the Temple. We drive to the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and here we renew our Baptismal Promises. We continue to Jericho for Mass at the Good Shepherd’s Church after which we view the Mount of Temptation and see the Sycamore Tree to remember the story of Zacchaeus.
Rather than being a vacation, a pilgrimage takes some work. We are on-the-go a little more than you would be for a vacation. We try to get a rosary in every day, usually during bus rides. We celebrate Mass every day at these very special sites. We try to include the church’s official morning prayer and evening prayer from the breviary each day, as we are able. We carry in our hearts all the requests of our friends and family members from back home, which we offer in intercession to Our Lord at these very special holy sites from the His life.
Please remember that you can follow us on the Facebook page of Catholic Faith Journeys, making the pilgrimage in a “virtual” way with us. Please keep all of us on the trip in your prayer time, as we will remember all of you at the holy sites. We arrive back in Detroit on Friday, March 11. I will check in with the office as frequently as I am able. Please be in contact with office if you have any need.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,