The Way. The Truth. The Life.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Catholic Pilgrimages & Spiritual Journeys to the World’s Holiest Sites with 206 Tours.
Spiritual journeys often require physical ones.
Nestled in the mountain village of Ein Karem, meaning “spring of the vineyard,” is the Church of Visitation. We visit this sacred site on our Holy Land tours, honoring the place where our Mother sang her great Magnificat. Mary praised the Lord at the end of her tiring trek through the wilderness for being faithful to her people and for choosing her to carry out His plan of salvation. This was not only the end of her personal journey to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth, but the end of her people’s journey waiting for the Lord to come. The title of Elizabeth’s home village is fitting. A vineyard is a place of waiting for the ground to rest and for fruit to blossom. Mary’s visitation was the spring at the end of a long winter. Her people had been waiting for the Messiah for centuries, and finally He was in their midst in the holy womb of our Blessed Mother.
The first thing Mary was inspired to do after being made aware of the presence of God within her was to make a journey. If you feel like you are waiting for fruit to blossom, consider visiting a holy place in our Church’s tradition. The second option for the first reading today urges us to “not grow slack in zeal” (Romans 12:11). We are so comfortable in today’s world; perhaps God is calling us to go elsewhere—to take Christ to people of foreign lands and indeed to find Him in the hearts and lands of strangers.
Walking ancient roads, praying in the same places as the great saints, and growing in holiness alongside other pilgrims from around the world teaches us firsthand that our God “has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation” (Luke 1:50). The universal Church is supposed to be just that: universal. Mary left her home to sing God’s praises to others, and her fellow lover of God encouraged her in her calling. The second reading also talks about how we are to be a Church: rejoicing and weeping with one another—having “the same regard for one another” just like Mary and Elizabeth did (Romans 12:16). Pilgrimages are not a vacation or a luxury, they are an essential chamber of the heart of faith. They are an effort to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to the knowledge of God and the life of our Church. They are a passionate prayer of love. May we all embrace the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for us to go wherever He is calling us to visit, and may we go “in haste” (Luke 1:39).
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“To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself” – Pope Benedict XVI