The Holy Land Experience
Our visit to the Holy Land has been an unforgettable experience and I would not doubt that it was providential that we were able to spend a few days in Medjugorje as preparation for this great grace, for which we had waited for such a long time due to fear of the conflicts that exist in that part of the world.
It was a gift from our Lord and our Blessed Mother to be able to travel with such a holy priest as Father Manuel Hernandez of the Canary Islands (he has led pilgrimages to the Holy Land for the past 14 years without any problems), and have Father Sergio Olmedo, O.F.M. as a guide.
Our first visit to Mejugorje in June/July, 1989 marked our lives with a “before and after”, and in each visit we have made since, we always receive many special graces.
The pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a different experience, following the steps of our Lord one experiences a great closeness to Him and our Blessed Mother, and we truly live the gospel in a more conscious manner. Each passage from scripture comes alive with such intensity, we suffer along with our Lord and the Blessed Mother, love them more and become more grateful for their great love towards us, for His redemption, for His word which is light to our lives. In short, it leaves an indelible mark in our hearts and our beliefs are reaffirmed and strengthened more profoundly.
To visit the place where the Blessed Mother incarnated our Lord by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, where the history of Christianity began…, the history of our faith. The celebration of the Eucharist in the grotto of the Annunciation, the Church of the Nativity, the Holy Sepulchre, etc. The Holy Hour at the Mount of Olives is an emotion I cannot explain. You have to live it!
To visit so many places where our Lord was and where our Blessed Mother lived with St. Joseph. Places where our Lord preached and performed so many miracles, where He prayed and where He suffered so much for us. In the Way of the Cross, “The Via Dolorosa”, one experiences an indescribable emotion. We cry with our Blessed Mother, and we experience the pain that she and our Lord suffered for our sins, but at the same time we experience a feeling of peace and joy.
To renew the promises of Baptism at the River Jordan where our Lord was Baptized by John the Baptist, and the promises of marriage at Cana of Galilee where our Lord performed His first miracle through our Mother’s intercession, is an unforgettable experience where you have a feeling of immense joy.
This is an experience that every Christian has to experience at least once in his or her lifetime!
Unite yourself to thousands of pilgrims who visit the Holy Land!
Do not be afraid!
We need to be grateful to the Franciscans who with their presence and the work they have done in the Holy Land for the past 800 years have made it possible for us to go in pilgrimage to these holy places. It is truly an effort that is not fully known, but should be recognized. Some of them have suffered martyrdom in order to preserve these holy places.
The biggest problem they encounter is the exodus of Christians due to pressure from the Muslins and discrimination from the Israelis as well as lack of possibilities of finding work. In 1948 the Christians represented 18% of the population in the Holy Land, and now they represent less than 2%. The Franciscans support them as best they can by offering them jobs, and building housing and schools, etc.
Their job is not as easy as it seems and they have been doing it for 800 years, locating the holy places based on tradition and the studies dating back to the Crusades, biblical writings and archeology. They have purchased the land in these holy places, procured donations from foreign governments, they have reached agreements with the Turks, Muslins and Israelis, and have litigated for the acquired rights building churches and maintaining those holy places.