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The Holy Land

I just came back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where along with 17 priests from the United States and with Cardinal Raymond Burke from the Vatican, we journeyed to the places where Jesus once lived. Our journey began in the region of Galilee, where Jesus ministered. Countless sites are marked by Churches, some dating back to the early 4th and 5th centuries, where significant events in the life and ministry of Jesus took place. After four days in the region of Galilee we followed the story of Jesus to the Holy City of Jerusalem, where the events of His passion, death, and resurrection took place. On the last day of our pilgrimage we visited Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born. All in all, this pilgrimage to the Holy Land was an opportunity to renew my faith in Jesus, who sanctified everything he touched. This is why we refer to the land where Jesus lived as “holy”. What became very clear on this pilgrimage is that one does not become holy just by visiting the Holy Land. There are many people who visit, some who even live in the Holy Land, who don’t seem to be growing in holiness. Even in the time of Jesus not all who came into contact with Him became holy. Only those who chose to accept Jesus as LORD were then able to receive the gift of holiness and eternal salvation. And in a similar way we are called to live a life of holiness by allowing Jesus to touch us, and to live in us. To be holy is to dwell in the presence of Jesus, to allow Jesus to have a permanent place in our homes, our thoughts, our plans, our relationships with each other. But most importantly, holiness requires that we accept Jesus as our saviour, that we repent of our sins, and that we live according to His teachings. Jesus is the only one that can heal us, and this healing can only happen when we make room for Him in our lives. One of the most touching experiences on this pilgrimage to the Holy Land was the time I spent with Cardinal Raymond Burke. This man has been one of the most important Cardinals in the Vatican for the last 10 years. He has accomplished more than ever will, and yet he is the most gentle and humble human being I have ever met. At the age of 72 he still continues his ministry in the Vatican as a distinguished scholar, Canon Lawyer, and a Cardinal of the Church. I had the privilege of listening to his homilies, sharing meals with him, and asking him questions. It was a true privilege to see holiness so close and personal. All in all, I had a wonderful pilgrimage which has renewed my love for Jesus and His Church. I am very happy to be back and to continue to witness to God’s love and goodness in our little slice of the world. Fr. Wojtek

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