Setting out on a pilgrimage is like no other journey you’ll ever take. While a trip is more of an intellectual pursuit – a time to learn about a new place or culture – and a vacation is purely relaxation for the body, a pilgrimage is for the soul. It is of infinite value because we not only learn about and grow in our faith, but it is also a time for rest and rejuvenation in the Lord. In a way, a pilgrimage is a journey into the heart of God and into our very souls.
Christians, as a whole, have been making pilgrimages for generations, but the individual reasons for embarking on such a journey are personal and unique. For some, it’s a time of healing or renewal. For others, it’s a way to deepen their faith, to connect the dots between Jesus’ life and their own. Whatever the reason, you are sure to be changed!
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a chance to go to the source – to the very beginnings of Christianity. Until you have been there, places like Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem are just names on a map. But as the landscape unfolds before your eyes, everything takes on new depth and dimension. You begin to understand the events from the Bible like never before. Most importantly, though, the person of Jesus comes alive…you can almost see and hear Him at every turn.
What’s truly amazing is that a pilgrimage doesn’t end when you return home. The Gospels speak to you in new and interesting ways which continue to resound and take shape for days, weeks, and even years to come. The Holy Land has at times been called the 8th sacrament. In this sense, it becomes a source of immeasurable grace that you carry in your heart for the rest of your life. When you go on a trip or vacation, you come back with souvenirs and photographs, but when you go on a pilgrimage you come home with something much more lasting – an encounter with the living God and a deepening sense of His great love for each of us.
“The church, as the agent of evangelization, is more than an organic hierarchical institution; she is first and foremost a people advancing on its pilgrim way towards God.” Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)
– Kelley Holy