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, like having the flights and the hotel booked and the photo camera ready. In the following lines we will offer some advice, that can help you in this interior preparation, covering basically two elements: A- To get familiar with the Holy Land and B- The actual spiritual preparation.
A- To get familiar with the Holy Land
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 center, and Judaea in the south. Do not miss the places that are frequently mentioned in the Gospels: the River Jordan, Lake Tiberius, 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 Savior. 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 happened in which places.
Up to this point you will have received a preparation which we could call ‘basic’ or ‘cultural’. But without doubt the central preparation has to be the spiritual one.
B- Spiritual Preparation
One’s 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.
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 yourself 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”.
Certainly, 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!
We will be more than happy to help you prepare for your pilgrimage. For further informationx Contact Us