Holy Land Pilgrimage

Domine Venimus

March 11, 2022

As our pilgrimage at the Holy Land is coming to its conclusion, I was thinking how much easier it is to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land now compared to, for example, the pilgrims in the Crusader period. Most pilgrims in that period would only make a single trip to the Holy Land in their lifetime. It was a treacherous journey over both land and turbulent sea that would have required a long time and could even cost them their life. Nowadays, the trip takes less than a day to make! When we were given a tour of the Holy Sepulcher church, the tour guide mentioned that behind one of the locked doors there is a graffiti in Latin on the wall from the Crusader period that reads “Lord, we came.” That short phrase expresses the challenges that the pilgrims experienced just to see a glimpse of the land where Jesus walked, died, and rose for us.

From these thoughts I would like to offer two reflections. The first reflection is the great blessing it has been to be here walking through and seeing many of the biblical passages firsthand. I am thankful for the opportunity to be here and to all who made this trip possible. In a sense it is mind-boggling to look around and say, “Jesus was born here, Jesus wept here, Jesus rose from the dead here.” As I am thankful for this pilgrimage, and how much easier it is to travel now than compared to the Crusader period, I also bring to mind and pray for all those around the world who do have to undergo a treacherous journey to find a better life away from their home country. The second reflection I would like to share is about how perhaps some of you reading this have never gone to the Holy Land. I think that Holy Land, however, is much closer than you might think. Every parish that has the Eucharist in the tabernacle is in a very real sense Holy Land. Our Lord is present there physically, just as how He was here where we are now doing pilgrimage. This is not to undermine the great blessing, as I said, that it is to be here. Being here does inform and nourish the spiritual life.  However, our Lord is still physically present all over the world. I think that every time we pay a visit to our Lord in the tabernacle this can be a ‘mini’ pilgrimage. As we finish our visit to Him in the tabernacle whether we travel halfway across the world, or 10 minutes, we can also say like those pilgrims from centuries ago: “Domine Venimus. Lord we came, we are here,” and you can be certain that our Lord will be very happy to see you and thankful that you went to visit Him.

Alan Soto-Hopkins
Diocese of Tucson

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