Holy Land Pilgrimage

Location, Location, Location

March 2, 2022

We made our canonical retreat by the Sea of Galilee in preparation for our diaconate ordination. There we had the opportunity to go to nearby churches such as the Primacy of Peter and Tabgha the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes for personal meditation. One of the afternoons, I went to the outdoor chapels of Tabgha since the church was already closed. It did not seem like an ideal location for prayer because the lakeview was not appealing, with many branches coming out, and it was windy. As I began praying, I thought this was one of my worst holy hours. Suddenly, I remembered certain areas of my life where I needed healing, and it became one of my most fruitful prayers. I found myself coming to that spot for prayer a couple of times during the retreat.

We all have our ideal places to pray, preferably a quiet place. If we were to come up with a list of favorite places to pray, the church would rank top in the list, followed by nature, our living rooms/ prayer spaces in our homes, and our bedrooms. This is not a definite list, and some people probably won’t agree with my ranking. Nonetheless, it is safe to assume that a church would be among the top three on the list as an ideal location to pray for most people. A church is an ideal location for prayer because not only do we witness the greatest miracle of transforming the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, but it also offers a perfect ambiance for meditation and contemplation. However, some churches may not offer such an oasis for prayer because the artistic beauty of the sanctuary is not appealing, or they are located in the noisiest part of a town.

Nonetheless, God is still present. Going out into nature for prayer is appealing because it allows us to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation. In the Gospels, we know that Jesus often prayed at mountaintops and deserts to be alone with the Father. Where is that location for us to have an intimate relationship with the Father?

Ultimately, we should be able to pray anywhere. Of course, I am not excluding going to Mass on Sunday because it doesn’t make sense to miss the Eucharist, the foretaste of heaven. While it is essential to find God in the church, at the same time, we must allow God to meet us in whatever location we find ourselves in, especially in our mess, regardless of whatever the state of our life. From there, we begin to walk with Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. This includes repentance and letting go of some aspects of our life that hinder our relationship with God to experience true joy on earth until we reach heaven.

George Parayil 
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago

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