On 17th October 2018, 41 pilgrims from St. Aidan's parish, Enniscorthy and surrounding parishes in Co. Wexford,Ireland,travelled to the Holy Land.We spent Four days in Nazareth and four days in Bethlehem.
To put into words what visiting the Holy land was like is difficult. It is hard to find words that will convey what the experience was like,so i can only attempt to try to give a glimpse of some of what I that experienced there and hope that you will experience it for yourself.
Visiting the church of the Annunciation was for me,the foundation stone for all the other places that we visited because it was here in this place that Mary gave her 'Yes' to God. A 'Yes' that breathes life into our lives today.
It was a very special experience to have Mass here. Our Spiritual Director, Fr. Billy Swan gave a beautiful sermon about the huge significance of Mary's 'Yes' to God. I reflected about what it really meant to say 'Yes' to God and thought about the commitment and the trust that was involved in that, for Mary and for each one of us in our individual vocations today.
During Mass here I felt a complete sense of safeness,as if we were all enclosed in the safe place of Our Lady's womb. I thought about the unborn and how the womb is no longer a safe place for many babies in our world today and I felt a deep sadness over me.
As we walked from the Basilica of the Annunciation to Marys well I reflected on this journey that Mary made each day,perhaps several times a day,to get water, and imagined the conversations that she and her Son would have had along the way here. The joy and happiness that Mary would have felt at having her son with her, as they carried home the water together and it brought home to me that even in the simple tasks of everyday life Jesus is present!
Taking the boat out onto the Sea of Galilee was such a beautiful experience. It felt surreal. I found it hard to comprehend that I was looking at the same mountains that Jesus looked at. I was on the same sea,that Jesus was on. Images of him coming away with his disciples here, came into my mind and I imagined the crowds all standing at the shore calling to him and their voices fading into the distance as the boat drifted out further across the lake.
Since I have come home from the Holy Land the experience of the sea of Galilee has deepened my experience of Adoration. During Adoration now, I feel like I am at the centre of the sea of Galilee,in that space that Jesus enjoyed with his disciples or maybe at times on his own,praying to God His Father.
At the centre of the lake I am removed from the shore of the outside world and although i have an onward journey to make when I leave Adoration(just like Jesus did as his boat drew nearer to the other side of the lake where more crowds awaited him) I absorb the preciousness of my time here.
Also when I say the Rosary now,the images of the places associated with the mysteries come into my mind and it is brought to life. My visit to the Holy Land has brought scripture and the Rosary to life.
The whole pilgrimage was one major highlight for me,and it brought me through all the different stages of Jesus's life,from his conception to his birth,his life with his family and his relationship with his disciples,the Miracles he performed,his joys and his deep sorrows,his death and his resurrection. I feel closer to Him now as a result of being there in his Holy Land.
I could write lots more about other places but I hope this captures the essence of my visit there.
I would like to thank Nicola for his sharing of all the beautiful videos and photos of The Holy Land, which brings the specialness and holiness of this Land that bit closer to us all. It is a great Blessing.
Thank you Nicola.