Having traveled around the world since the age of four, people often ask me “out of all the trips you have taken, which one was your favorite?” I always answer “my favorite trip is the one I took last.” Every trip brings with it a combination of the new as well as the familiar, the predictable as well as the unexpected, and the extraordinary as well as the mundane, and even though my last international trip was in early 2020 and it exposed me to the Covid-19 virus, it is still currently my favorite. During that trip I returned to familiar destinations in French Polynesia where I enjoyed snorkeling in the turquoise lagoons of Moorea and Bora Bora; I discovered new destinations like the Islands of Fiji where I swam under a waterfall and kayaked along a beautiful spring-fed river; and I know I will return to Australia one day to explore more of the “Great Down Under!” Yes, I can easily say, “my last trip was my favorite.”
However, when somebody asks me “which trip had the most significant impact on your life?” only one place comes to mind. The Holy Land! If you must choose only one place to travel in your life, the Holy Land should be your top consideration. It is the perfect combination of the Old and the New, the Past and the Future, the Physically Beautiful and Spiritually Uplifting. It the center of the three monotheist religious traditions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which are all inextricably linked to one another. (Christianity was born from within the Jewish tradition, and Islam developed from both Christianity and Judaism.)
As a Christian, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land brings the Bible to life and enables you to walk in the Footsteps of Jesus Christ. From visiting the Grotto of the Annunciation in Nazareth to visiting the Tomb where He was laid to rest in Jerusalem, and visiting nearly every location of all the significant events in His life in between, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee, St. Peter’s home in Capernaum, the site of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the Upper Room, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Via Dolorosa; you will visit, pray, learn and experience the pillars of Christianity. Every Catholic Journeys Pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a Journey of Faith and is lead by a Professional, English Speaking, Christian Guide who will give important historical and biblical context of the sites you’ll visit, and they are all accompanied by a Catholic Priest who will celebrate daily Mass in the Holy Places and share the spiritual significance of the events that transpired there, expanding your knowledge of Christian history while at the same time helping to deepen your faith in Christ and His Church.
Jesus Christ came into this world in order to die. If we are to follow in His footsteps, that means following Him into the depths of darkness and suffering. It means following Him into the tomb. During this Holy Land Pilgrimage Tour, you will have the opportunity to retrace His Passion beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane where Our Lord was arrested and brought to the House of the High Priest Caiaphas and imprisoned overnight. You will have the opportunity to share in the carrying of a life-size wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa, from the site of Christ’s condemnation to death at the palace of Pontius Pilate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where He was crucified, died, and was buried. More importantly, you will be carrying with you the spiritual crosses and burdens that you’ve brought with you, reflecting on each station of the Cross along the way as you follow in Our Lord’s Footsteps to Calvary, knowing that you are not alone and that Our Lord accompanies you in any trial, from the creche to the cross.
The last stop inside the Holy Sepulchre is the tomb where Christ was laid to rest, and it is here that you realize that this is the one place in the world where Jesus is not, for, of course, the tomb is empty. It is the unique place where Our Lord’s absence is more significant than His presence. Christ did not remain in the tomb, for it was not the end of His story, and neither is it the end of your journey, for in the words of St. John Paul II, “We are an Easter people!” As Christians we must follow in His footsteps; acknowledge our sins and endure our trials, but also step out of the darkness of sin and into the light of grace, pass through death into a new creation, baptized into Christ’s death so that we can share in His resurrection.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land never really ends. It is actually the beginning of your true journey. Long after you return home and resume your everyday routines, you will revisit the Holy Land at every Mass and reflect on real experiences and tangible places when you read or hear the Gospels. Most importantly, you will remember that you can carry any cross and handle any trials that come your way, for you are not alone. He is walking beside you, and He will lead you through the darkness into the light of the resurrection.
Update on Travel
Group travel to the Holy Land will resume May 23, 2021.
Catholic Journeys has confirmed Pilgrimages to the Holy Land beginning in June 2021. For a complete list of available Holy Land Pilgrimage Tours in 2021 and 2022, click here.