I’ve been on several pilgrimages. It’s been a gradual journey. Each pilgrimage has brought me closer to Christ, and to wishing to serve him. I certainly went to Sunday Mass (in my life before these pilgrimages), but I didn’t have the depth of faith and devotion to Christ and his Mother that I do now. My whole attitude was that I wanted to be in control. Basically, I’ve spent my life doing just that! I would conclude what I wanted to do, and then move forward to accomplish that. Now, I realize that I have to put myself at the disposal of God; I have to do what He wills me to do, and not what I will to do. It’s a complete change in emphasis. That was a gradual process, and it was assisted by each of the pilgrimages.
My most treasured recollection of the Holy Land pilgrimage was at the Mount of Beatitudes. It’s a very peaceful place, and probably not much different than it was from the time of Christ. It’s a little hill, and then you look down to the Sea of Galilee. I was fortunate enough to see it at sunrise and also at sunset. It was a beautiful experience for me; spiritually enriching to be there and witness the scene that Christ would have seen at his time and what he looked out upon. After the Resurrection, he told his disciples that he would return to Galilee and see them there. It’s very understandable why he did that, because that was a place of love; where he won over people, the performing of miracles… it’s just such a peaceful place. Of course he would want to return there!
At the place of Christ’s death, we were able to place our hand at the site of the Crucifixion. We could see the stones that had been moved by the earthquake. We could see the coming together of the Truth of the Gospel with what we were observing as people, firsthand. That was extremely powerful.
The Gospels that we read every Sunday became more meaningful because we were actually there.
We went to Mass at a local parish—it was a beautiful Mass! The children came forward; wonderful children! We interacted with the people after Mass, and they were wonderful people, wonderful Christians! They’d been Christians since the time of Christ! So for them (as Palestinians) to be considered extremists, terrorists, is just absurd; they’re anything but! They’re holy people, in a difficult situation, surrounded on all sides. I think the world in general is aware of their problem, but certainly people in the United States aren’t. They’ve incurred a great injustice… I think it’s very incumbent on us as citizens to tell the story, and to inform the general population that there’s a great injustice going on.
The Holy Land pilgrimage started me, personally, on a deeper relationship with Christ. Also, I started to have more of an appreciation for Mary. I’d never been particularly devoted to her; I can’t explain why. I didn’t have that connection with her. The pilgrimage was the beginning of my journey to her.
If you’ve never made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, make one!
– Jack Moynihan