Pilgrimages

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz is perfectly aware that in our age of terrorism, some young people (or their parents) might be afraid of a World Youth Day [or pilgrimages to Poland].

To this, he replies, Be not afraid!

Krakow is a city that has a strong emotional impact: it is the Diocese of Saint John Paul II, the Pontiff who led the greatest number of World Youth Days.

Once the Polish Pope’s secretary
and now the archbishop of the city, Cardinal Dziwisz said, “Don’t be afraid to come to Poland, it is a tranquil country, the Security Service are efficient and the population is vigilant and welcoming. The desire is strong to go to Wojtyla’s city. The WYD will be a moment of joy, not only of amusement but of encounter in the faith of Jesus Christ together with Pope Francis.”  …

Before taking his leave, the Archbishop repeated: “Don’t be afraid! Bring people to Krakow, John Paul II’s city.”

Teresa Tomeo and I invite you to join us in Poland, not for World Youth Day but for a more tranquil trip — on our pilgrimage August 13-22, 2016. Registrations are increasing as the date gets closer but we still have seats left. 

Cardinal Dziwisz in his days as JP II secretary

We will follow the footprints of St. John Paul II, St. Maria Faustina and the Divine Mercy and St. Maximilian Kolbe all the way to his death cell in Auschwitz. Mass every day at amazing sites and history galore.

You can find out more on our website at www.FootprintsOfGod.com or by contacting Suzanne at sparran@ctscentral.net or (313) 744-2530 or toll-free 1-800-727-1999, ext.121.

For our other trips to Lourdes and Fatima, Guadalupe, Holy Land, Rome, St. Paul Cruise, Germany and more visit FootprintsOfGod.com.

 

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The room was pretty full. It was warm but a gentle breeze was blowing—that would change. There was fear in the room. The Roman army was a thing to be feared, they had just crucified Jesus and it was a dangerous thing to associates of an executed criminal.

They were also anxious about the promise. The only thing they knew about God descending in fire was the experience of their ancestors at Mount Sinai. When that happened they all ran and hid and said to Moses, Never let God speak to us again; you go talk with Him and come back and tell us what the said.

Pentecost was approaching. Pentecost means “the 50th day.” Fiftieth day from what? From the Passover. Almost fifty days ago the Passover lambs had been slain, and so had THE Passover Lamb. Then there was the forty mystery days when Jesus was gone but not gone—with them but not with them, at least not like before. And he kept just appearing and then disappearing.

He taught them a lot in those forty days, He had breathed on them, gave them power to forgive and retain sins, fed them loaves and fish, appointed Peter as his shepherd, commanded them to go out from Jerusalem to the world. He explained to them much about the Kingdom of God and their tasks as His emissaries.

The last meeting was the most unusual of all. He answered a few questions, gave a few instructions and without even a formal Good-bye He started going up—and continued going up until all they saw was the bottom of his sandals as he disappeared into a cloud. Daniel 7:13-14 says he went back to the glory of heaven.

They looked at each other with obvious concern on their faces—they were fearful. They locked themselves in the Upper Room to pray as He had commanded. They were praying for what they feared—fire upon a mountain, Mount Zion. They prayed for nine days, the first Novena, before the promise of the Holy Spirit fell.

We are specifically told that there were about 120 people in the room. Actually the word is “names” not people. How strange. Can you imagine me saying, “About 120 names came on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land”? This made me curious so I looked up 120 in early Jewish literature and law. Sure enough, my research paid off.

In Israel is a group of Jews desiring to leave the big city and start their own new community they needed a minimum of 120 names on a list. What was happening here in the Upper Room? A new community was being started. The word “church” in the New Testament is ecclesia which means “a group of people called out.” Even today the Knessett (lawmaking body in Israel) is made up of 120 representatives.

Mary is listed among the believers in that Upper Room. It was important that she is listed among the names with others. She is the mother of Jesus. She gave birth to him in Bethlehem as was, in a sense, giving birth to him again on Pentecost. What is our affectionate term for Pentecost? Can you sing “Happy Birthday, to you…”? Yes, it is the Birthday of the Church. What is being born? The Mystical Body of Christ. Who is there for the birth? The mother of course. Mothers have to be present when their child is born. Mary is the mother of Jesus the God-Man and Mary is the Mother of the Church, the Body of Christ. She was necessarily present at both births.

Mary was also there because the others were afraid of the descent of God in fire on this new mountain. I am convinced they trembled in fear not only of the Jews and Romans outside, but of the prophesied “baptism of fire” within—as they wondered and feared that might be. The gentle breeze was about to become a rushing wind.

But Mary was there to calm their anxieties. I bet she said something like, “Don’t be afraid my friends, the Holy Spirit has already overshadowed me and He was pure love. Just wait until you are bathed in His love!” The gentle breeze became a rushing wind but it was warm and

After nine days of praying the Holy Spirit fell in fire on the tenth day—which was the 50th day from the death of the Passover Lamb Jesus on the cross. The Jewish festival of Pentecost also celebrated the first fruits of the harvest.

Remember, Jesus said he was like a grain of wheat that would be buried in the ground. The grain must be buried and die to bear its fruit. Jesus died, was buried in the ground and rose from the dead as the first fruit. Now on the “Feast of First Fruits” the first of the harvest is brought to God. We learn that 3,000 people were added to the Church that day—all in keeping with the tremendous symbolism and deeper meaning to all these events.

And with these deep mysteries and truths we are just scratching the surface. Come to the Holy Land with us, get out your Bibles and study books (or Verbum Catholic Bible Study software) and dig deeper. “There is gold in them there hills” for those with eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts and minds to learn. Enter promo code STEVERAY for a 10% discount.

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One of our past pilgrims wrote with an apparent contradiction in the Bible and what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion.

Acts 1:12  ”[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.”

Luke 24:50–51  “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”

So, did Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives or from Bethany?

Church of Pater Noster

On pilgrimages I take my groups to the top of the Mount of Olives to the Church of Pater Noster (the “Our Father”) where Jesus taught his disciples to pray in “the Grotto of the Teaching” — a cave beneath the front of the church. It is here that the oldest traditions inform us that Jesus was raised into heaven. Here Constantine built a church in the early 300′s. Here we celebrate Jesus’ departure and pray the Rosary’s 2nd Glorious Mystery of the Ascension.

Muslim Chapel of Ascension

There is a Muslim mosque five minute’s walk away (called the Chapel of the Ascension) that most Protestants visit but I don’t patronize Muslim sites and don’t accept this as the authentic place of the Ascension. 

No one knows the exact square inches where his feet left the ground. But the Church of Pater Noster has the oldest tradition, is on the Mount of Olives and very near Bethany. 

If we had had the time, and there was not the big wall separating Jerusalem from Bethany like it does Jerusalem from Bethlehem, in a few minutes we could walked into Bethany from the the top of the Mount of Olives. We used to walk people there to go into the tomb of Lazarus. That is how close Bethany is to the top of the Mount of Olives. 

However, I can’t do that with groups anymore because there’s a big wall that keeps us from walking from the Mount of Olives into Bethany.

Bethany is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about 2 miles from Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. At the time of Jesus there was nothing on the Mount of Olives but olive trees (even until the late 1800′s, see picture black and white picture from about 1900). If you left from Jerusalem, heading to the Mount of Olives, it was perceived you were headed to Bethany. 

 The picture shows that even until the turn of the 20th century there was nothing outside the old walls of Jerusalem. That meant there was just trees and open space between Jerusalem and Bethany. Bethany, though not seen on this map, was on the Eastern slope of the mount.

The other two maps show the proximity of Bethany, the the top of the Mount of Olives and the short distance from the walled city of Jerusalem. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  He obviously saw no contradiction in referring to both places as the general location of Christ’s ascension.

It is easily explained this way. First, some suggest that he went as far as Bethany to say good-bye to the family he loved – Lazarus, Mary and Martha, then came back to the top of the mount and departed to heaven. However, there is no need to stretch things that far. Being on the eastern slope of the mount, Bethany is virtually on the Mount of Olives, especially from the perspective of Jerusalem. 

If someone asks me where I’m from, I always say “Detroit.” But those who have been to my house know I really live 40 miles east of Detroit in Ypsilanti. But since no one knows where Ypsilanti is – I say “Detroit.”

If there is nothing but trees and bare land on the Mount of Olives and you’re heading east from Jerusalem, people would say you are going to Bethany. Jesus left Jerusalem and went over toward Bethany to ascend into heaven.

So if the geography is understood there is no conflict. Scripture can be trusted.

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President of Israel meets with the Christian Leaders

May 9, 2016

President Rivlin: These are difficult times for our city. Terror and death have returned to our streets. The violent attacks all over the city cause growing fear, and with fear comes intolerance and hatred. (Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson) President Rivlin with Christian leaders in Jerusalem. Photo: GPO/Mark Neiman. President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday, [...]

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Watch this Potpourri of Photos of our Upcoming St. Paul Pilgrimage Cruise

April 27, 2016

Click on the image below for a visual potpourri of our St. Paul cruises. Join us! For more info, visit our Travel Site at www.FootprintsOfGod.com or contact:  Susan Reinhardt (313) 565-8888, ext. 161, or by e-mail at SReinhardt@CTSCentral.net                 

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Can You Ever Achieve Total Security Traveling or at Home? What Are the Risks?

April 16, 2016

Debunking the Myth of Total Security Last week, someone asked me whether I thought it was safe to travel to Izmir, Turkey. Thanks to my line of work, these kinds of questions no longer surprise me. People have been asking me such things for almost as long as I can remember. And since I have [...]

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Sunrise over Jesus’ Sea of Galilee

April 13, 2016

Every morning it is different and puts on a new face. I watch the fishing boats coming in and imagine Jesus walking across these waves. He left heaven and came to earth – the “scandal of the Incarnation.”  The angels must have been astounded. But Jesus had to enjoy his handiwork, watching sunrises like this [...]

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Early Morning with Jesus at the Tomb. He is Risen! 

April 6, 2016

Our day today in Jerusalem started at 4:30 AM when we all had some coffee before starting the Via Dolorosa carrying our crosses to Calvary.  We then had Mass at the Tomb in the morning like Mary Magdalene arriving at the Tomb with the sunrise. Mount Zion is always a very moving and profound place [...]

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Mass in Gethsemane, Ascension, Bishop of Jerusalem, Solemn Entey to Tomb and “Love bein’ Catholic!”

April 5, 2016

Enjoy a marvelous day…

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The Amazement and Surreal Joy of a Pilgrim put Deliciously into Words

April 5, 2016

Mary Dumont has a way with words – expressing her soul and experiences. She traveled with us recently to the Holy Land and posted her brief and delightful reflections on our pilgrimage. “So much has occurred since my last writing, so I have much to share in catching up.  For a period of nine glorious [...]

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All Day in Bethlehem: Birthplace, Shepherds, Singing, Carmelite Convent, Passover Lamb & Dancing

April 4, 2016

Enjoy our full spiritual and fun day in the birthplace of Our Lord. 

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“I was GLAD when they said to me let us go up to the house of the Lord…” From Capernaum to Jerusalem!

April 3, 2016

An amazing day with an amazing group of pilgrims! Enjoy!

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My Talk at Primacy of Peter: Understanding John 21 and Jesus’ Appearance at the Sea of Galilee

April 2, 2016

Since we are at the Primacy of St. Peter today along the shore of Galilee, I thought I would share my teaching that I give all our pilgrims at this site. It is an explanation of St. John 21 where Jesus appoints Peter to be the shepherd of his sheep. But there is much more [...]

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“The Word Became Flesh HERE!” A day in Nazareth with Mary, in Cana and on Mount of Transfiguration

April 1, 2016

Our first full day with this enthusiastic and excited pilgrimage group. We have a sold out trip with only one bus since we want to give people the intimate and personal pilgrimage with the finest hotels, restaurants, services and teaching. And Mass — wow, today we had Mass with Fr. Scott Courtney on the top [...]

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Steve’s Intro to Arriving Holy Land Pilgrims

March 31, 2016

Our sold out one-bus trip has arrived in good shape, excited and ready to go! Enjoy!

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Mother Teresa to be Canonized September 4!! Join us in Rome & Assisi!

March 15, 2016

On March 15 Pope Francis announced the canonization would be September 4, 2016. We had jumped on this a year ago and secured the best accommodations guides (including Liz Lev) and escorts. We have had airline seats for many months just waiting for this announcement.  Join us for the historical event – the canonization of [...]

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