Holy Land Pilgrimage

Well, it's here! We're off to Israel for our centennial year pilgrimage. The notion of a pilgrimage is not new. One can go to Judges 20:18 where the people went to Bethel to consult God. Again in Gen. 47:9, a pilgrimage was a way of viewing one's life. Jesus himself traveled in pilgrimage several times, often by foot, to Jerusalem (ie. Luke 2:41, Luke 9:51, John 2:13)

The Church owes a great debt of gratitude to the pilgrims of the first few centuries after Christ's death and resurrection. Egeria, one of particular importance, traveled in the fourth century and wrote extensively to her women friends back in Europe. Her text, "Pilgrimages to the Holy Lands," has served archeologists and theologians discern the locations of many important sites.

Sunday, February 10th, we gather ourselves together to begin our trip. It is not just a tourist thing or vacation. It is a spiritual journey. Every step, every place we go, we are being called to remember the past, the present, and the future. The past, for the places we visit are permeated with the footprints of other pilgrims before us who sought out to remember the past, a past when Jesus himself walked the steps we walk. The present, for only in the now do we experience our lives. In the now we are being asked to be aware of the Spirit residing in us, enlivening us, letting us know of the wonders that have taken place in the holy spaces we visit. The future, for we are reminded that all these places and associated events point us to the eternal Jerusalem where lies our ultimate destiny.

Each day we will celebrate Mass. Imagine listening to the Scriptures about the very happenings where one is standing. If you wish to follow along, you can check out our itinerary, read my blog, read the blog of our pilgrims, and check out the photos we post. On our Pilgrimage Page of our parish web site, you can see these links as well as links for more information about the sites. Also, check out the clock which shows the time difference so you can get a sense of when we are awake and when we are asleep. Israel is 10 hrs. ahead of us here on the West Coast.

I am most especially looking forward to celebrating Mass at the Churches of the Holy Sepulchre, Dominus Flavit (image above-left), and the Annunciation. How incredible it will be to celebrate the risen Lord in the place where it actually happened (Holy Sepulchre). While small, Dominus Flavit, the church commemorating John 11:25 ("Jesus wept"), overlooks Jerusalem and reminds me of how much God cares for us. While in Nazareth, we will be able to celebrate at the traditional site where the Angel Gabriel told Mary of the child she was to conceive. In this area, it is certain, lies the remains of the home of Joseph and Mary. What humble beginnings for such an important person. In my previous pilgrimage here, I had many quiet early mornings alone in prayer just as they opened at 5 am.

Here is our Mass schedule (All times Israel).

Tuesday 2/12: 3:00PM – St. Joseph in Bethlehem
Wednesday 2/13: 10:00AM - Dominus Flevit
Thursday 2/14: 6:00AM – Holy Tomb in the Holy Sepulcher
Friday 2/15: 8:00AM - Gethsemane Basilica of the Agony
Saturday 2/16: 8:00AM – St. Peter in Gallicantu
Sunday 2/17: 3:30PM – Mt. of the Beatitudes
Monday 2/18: 9:00AM - Annunciation
Tuesday 2/19: 10:00AM - Tabgha

Keep watching this site or our parish pilgrimage site for events as they happen each day.

Please keep us all in your prayers as we will you.

Fr. William Holtzinger