One of my brother seminarians travelled to the Holy Land at Christmas time. I read his journal of the trip, which touched me deeply — both for the places and experiences he related, and for the insights it gave me into his interior life. (Pray for him! I think he will be a holy priest.)
As I read the journal, it occurred to me what a wonderful thing it is, to walk the land that Jesus walked! To visit the place of his death. His burial. His resurrection. A visit to the Holy Land must reinforce, like nothing else, the historicity of our faith. Its sacramentality.
I suspect we are all susceptible to a small voice — the voice of the enemy — which whispers that God is in some distant heaven, remote from the world. That we can only find God by escaping from the mess of human affairs.
When I think like that, I remind myself: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God is with us — in the midst of the ordinary business of work and family. For most of us, the spiritual life and the task of sanctification lies in the world — in the daily routine which our Lord himself lived for thirty years.
I can only imagine that visiting the Holy Land would reinforce and invigorate that claim of our faith. The so-called “scandal of the Incarnation.”
“One day,” I thought, as I read my brother’s journal. “One day I will go myself.” That day has arrived much sooner than I imagined.
An acquaintance — a travel agent — organised a Holy Land pilgrimage which he himself intended to join. You can imagine the care he put into the itinerary and accommodation. He even had a Catholic chaplain lined up — another friend of mine. But, at the last minute, a scheduling conflict obliged him to pull out of the trip, though the trip itself is going ahead.
Still intent on going himself, and having established all the contacts, he is now organising a similar trip which will depart a few weeks later. The trip is contingent on bookings of course, but I’ve put my hand up.
It’s not a long trip (ten days), but nor is it cheap ($4,730 twin share). That’s a lot of money! Having said that, my experience of international travel is basically limited to missionary trips and WYD pilgrimages. Those trips precluded four star accommodation, which kept the price down.
Friends tell me this is a very good deal, considering it’s all expenses paid:
☼ Emirates Airline economy class, including taxes.
☼ Meet/assist at Amman International Airport at arrival and departure.
☼ Three nights in Nazareth at the four star Gold Crown Old City.
☼ Four nights in Jerusalem at the four star Eldan Hotel.
☼ One night in Amman (Jordan) at the four star Cham Palace.
☼ All breakfasts and dinners included.
☼ Seven lunches in local restaurants during excursions.
☼ New air-conditioned 30 seat coach.
☼ Licensed English-speaking guides during all excursions.
☼ Portage at airport and hotels.
☼ Entrance fees and taxes.
Any advice? Or expressions of interest?