Year of Faith in the Holy Land: Why Not?
During the Synod on the New Evangelization held in Rome in October, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, said: « A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a great way to rekindle your faith. It allows you to better know the history, culture, and geography of those born where are the mysteries in which we believe. »
For 27 years I have accompanied and guided the pilgrims to the Holy Land (Israel, Palestine, and Jordan) and I agree in exactly the same way: the visit of the Holy Land confirms and strengthens the faith of those who come to discover it!
What strikes me is that many people say that they discover, deepen, and even find the love of reading the Bible. They return with images, emotions, experiences and a profound spiritual experience.
For most pilgrims, the journey becomes the beginning or deepening of a strong spiritual journey and they become carriers of the Good News they have received and shared for a few days with a guide, a spiritual leader, and other pilgrims.
Jerusalem, the Holy City, is probably the most important pilgrimage site in the world! In this city, we find the Holy Sepulcher which houses the Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus; the Western Wall or Wailing Wall, the remains of the ancient Temple, the holiest site for Jews; the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third largest shrine for Muslims after Mecca and Medina. There are now seven billion people on Earth, two billion of whom are Christians, 2.1 billion are Muslims, and 13 million are Jews. This is more than half the world’s population that is attached, in one way or another, to Jerusalem. And, of course, they are always interested in knowing what is happening… Unfortunately, most often, the media reports sensational news which are seldom good news… But for those who come to these places, they discover something else: first they feel a great peace and serenity in these places trodden by Jesus and preserved because of that… They also discover that they are not alone in being attracted to these places: people from all over the world come here, people of all colors, all languages… and they are welcomed by the local population. But it is mainly an encounter… in places where once the disciples were surprised. It is almost as if the world has stopped…
From the strong testimony of all these people, we must learn not to be afraid and go to the Holy Land to live a special experience that will forever mark our souls and hearts, and even our bodies. Yes, come, come to the Holy Land through the Country to meet Jesus’ Living Stones today, those who are descendants of the first Christians, those who have kept and protected, often risking their lives and often in great destitution, these extraordinary places for us, even today, go and pray. These high places have repeatedly been destroyed or even become, as in other countries, simple history museums and culture… But these local Christians, these families, have sacrificed and still sacrifice so that their faith continues to bear fruit, they need us at all levels: spiritual living faith, moral support in the face of adversity, financial support for their children and keeping them in the area for a long time. Yes, come, come to the Holy Land!
The agency I work with, Spiritours, remains committed to working with local Christian companies and we make every possible effort to help and encourage our Christian brothers and sisters there. Visiting them does not only good to them… but to us, we rediscover our roots and deepen our faith, making our lives produce spiritual fruit.
Let the Spirit of the Lord guide your steps towards peace in the Holy Land so we can meet and live this unique experience!
Thea Van de Kraats
Licensed guide in Israel
Group coordinator for Spiritours / Biblical Tours