By Michael H. Brown
We’re extremely excited and privileged and perhaps a bit beyond even that to announce another powerful pilgrimage — this time to the Holy Land!
How can there be holier sites?
It will start September 2 — a year from now.
It is the most mysterious place on earth for all that has occurred and the sensation of grace and holiness at a number of its sites that in the feeling of the Holy Spirit — of Jesus — rivals any shrine in the world, if there is a rival. Our priest will be Father Stephen Leake of New Orleans.
We’ll be visiting the place of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the very spot where Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and Golgotha as well as His Tomb in Jerusalem — plus lots more.
One is held mesmerized by all the places we will visit: the Sea of Galilee, which we will cross in a boat, the countryside and caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the ancient city of Jericho.
And one is brought to one’s knees at those places of Our Lord’s Birth and Death.
We’ll have Masses throughout the visit, including at an altar overlooking all of Jerusalem, prayers on the bus, talks by Michael H. Brown, and more.
All will be done through the top-notch services of 206 Tours, which strives always to bring the best possible accommodations, food, transport, and guides for a reasonable price.
If you can do it, don’t miss this trip.
Even if you have been there before, if your experiences is anything like mine have been, it will be as powerful as the first visit.
The anointing is that quick.
It is that profound.
We’ll be stopping at Caesarea Maritima, located on the shores of the Mediterranean. Built by Herod the Great, Caesarea was where St. Peter baptized the first gentile convert, Cornelius (Acts 10). We will see the Roman theatre, Herod’s Palace, view the Hippodrome, and the harbor from which St. Paul sailed on his journeys to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the ancient world.
Continue to Nazareth to visit the museum and archaeological Garden, which contain remains of Nazareth at the time of Christ. as well as St. Joseph’s workshop – now known as St. Joseph’s Church.
Within the Church of the Annunciation, we will make your way down to the Grotto to see the remains of the house of the Blessed Mother and where the Angel of the Lord announced the good news to Mary. From there we drive to Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle, changing water into wine at His mother’s request. We celebrate Mass here at the Wedding Church, and married couples will have the chance to renew their wedding vows. From there, we continue to our hotel by the Sea of Galilee for dinner and overnight.
Then we visit Capernaum, the fishing town where Jesus lived and launched His ministry to change our lives and the world. In Capernaum, we will see the Synagogue where Jesus taught (Mark 1:21-29) and gave the Sermon on the Bread of Life. And then we’ll continue to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-49), and Tabgha, where Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish (Luke 9:10-17).
Nearby is St. Peter’s Primacy, where Peter confirmed his Love of Jesus (John 21), and it was in this place that Jesus anointed Peter to lead His Church and became the first Pope. (John 21:9). Continue visiting Mary Magdalene’s birthplace in Magdala.
We’ll ride to the site of the Transfiguration, Mount Tabor (Matthew 17:1-50), where you’ll have time to reflect on Christ’s Divinity at this site. Celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the Transfiguration and then continue south towards the Jordan Valley, to the world’s oldest inhabited city (Jericho (Joshua 6:12-25).
Words fail to convey the sanctity. One has to experience it (prayerfully, of course — with our spiritual director, Father Angelo David Trujillo, a special priest).
In Jericho, we’ll view the exact location, the Mount of Temptation, where the Devil tempted Jesus during his forty-day fast (Luke 4:1).
We’ll journey to the Church of Visitation commemorating the visit of our Blessed Mother to her cousin, Elizabeth, who stayed with her for three months (Luke 1.39). Many people pray the Mystery of the Rosary as they walk up the hill to the Church — as will we.
Later we’ll head to Bethlehem to visit the fields where the Angel appeared to the shepherds to proclaim the birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:8).
There we’ll actually enter the caves where shepherds took shelter in ancient times and see the soot marks of the fires they lit to keep warm.
At Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, we’ll enter through the “door of humility” and proceed down to the Grotto of the Nativity.
When I first visited this exact spot, I felt tremendous force behind each syllable of every prayer.
Beneath the altar is a silver star and a Latin inscription that states: HIC DE VIRGINE MARIA JESUS CHRISTUS NATUS (Here, Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary). There will be Mass in Bethlehem.
Drive through the Judean wilderness, the site where Jesus spent His 40 days of fasting. We head to the Jordan River for some time to reflect on the Baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:13-17). In the afternoon, we visit the Essene site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in Qumran. (Ezekiel 47:8-10).
Before returning to Jerusalem, there is also time to swim or float on the Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest place on Earth.
The start of another day we be on the Mount of Olives with that breathtaking panoramic view of Jerusalem. There we’ll visit the Pater Noster Shrine where Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4). Then we walk down the Palm Sunday Road, which reminds us of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
Along this route there stands Dominus Flevit which marks the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). This trip will make Scripture come alive.
Continue down to Gethsemane; it was here that Jesus brought His disciples to pray the night before He was crucified (Luke 22:29-53).
The Garden still contains trees with roots that date back to the time of Jesus.
Next to the garden is the Church of All Nations, built over the “Rock of Agony,” where Jesus prayed alone before His arrest. From Gethsemane Jesus was taken to the house of the High Priest Caiaphas on Mt Zion, where we see the dungeons in which He was imprisoned.
Also at this place, marked by the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, is where Peter denied Christ three times and wept bitterly (John 18:15-18), repented, and was forgiven.
On the upper part of Mt Zion, we will visit the Upper Room, where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples, (Matthew 26:17-30).
We walk together in prayerful procession along the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross). We start at the Antonia Fortress, where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate (John 18:28-19:16) and receives His cross and end at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Later we revisit the Old City to see the Church of St. Anne’s, the traditional birthplace of the Virgin Mary.
Nearby is the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the crippled man (John 5:1-9).
End the day with a visit to the Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 A.D.
Again, how can a trip be holier? How can one be more packed and unforgettable?
Visiting the Holy Land is an experience I found as powerful as tremendous sites of Mary’s apparitions.
And though I’ve been there twice before, I look forward to this one like it’s my first.
You’ll know why.
You’ll know what I mean.
Pray about it. We consider it a lifetime opportunity, for those who have never been, and will strive to make it a unique pilgrimage for those who have.
206 Tours can be reached at 1-800-206-Tour (8687).
The contact there is Piernha Marc ([email protected]).