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Christmas Pilgrimage

February 8, 2013
At the base of the Qumran Mountains, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the 20th Century.

At the base of the Qumran Mountains, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the 20th Century.

Given that we cannot return home to the United States for Christmas, every year the North American College offers the opportunity for students to make a retreat/pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the break. I went this year. along with 29 other seminarians and two of the college’s spiritual directors. We were there for twelve days, the first six were spent in Galilee and the later half in Jerusalem.

There were undoubtedly many graces during the experience. I could use quite a few adjectives to describe the experience. There were some individual moments which were more powerful experiences of prayer than others. Yet, I cannot walk away saying ________ was the one lesson I learned in the Holy Land. Rather it was about the many moments, packed into a few short days, which all together helped me to grow closer to Jesus Christ.

Primarily, I would say I tried to learn from entering into the mind and heart of Christ. That is to say that as I read these different passages from the Gospels in the place where they occurred I found myself asking: What was Jesus thinking in this moment? or What did he know? What did he want? How did he react? The real grace that came out of these encounters was the opportunity to then ask myself, how it is that I must respond to various situations. It was through getting to know Christ better that I was able to get to know myself better. Hopefully, these moments of reflection can turn into continued grace and lessons learned as I use them to grow and continue becoming a better follower of Christ.

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