Not Just a Vacation: Seven Reasons to Make a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
At David's Tomb
At David's Tomb
by Paulist Fr. Rich Andre
May 18, 2016

During Lent, I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Here are seven reasons you should, too:


  1. Because a pilgrimage is not just a vacation.

View from the Mount of Olives in the Holy Land

View from the Mount of Olives


Going to the Holy Land was a life-changing event for me. It was awe-inspiring to see where Jesus lived, taught, died, and rose again.


  1. Because it’s amazing to celebrate Mass at the places that were so important to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

Paulist Fr. Rich Andre celebrating Mass in the Holy Land

Mass at Emmaus-Nicopolis


View of the Altar

View of the altar in the cave of Mary’s house


Mass at the Basilica

Mass at the Basilica of the Annunciation


The Basilica of the Annunciation is built directly over the spot where Mary said “Yes” to God. During my homily there, I re-affirmed my own “Yes” to God by renewing my Paulist promise.


  1. Because the Holy Land is, as St. Jerome described it, “the fifth gospel.”


Via Dolorosa

Walking the Via Dolorosa


Mass at the Holy Sepulchre

Mass at the Holy Sepulchre


Some people say a pilgrimage to the Holy Land makes you see the Bible “in color.” Or in 3D. Or in high definition. The very stones of Bethlehem, Capernaum, Jerusalem, and Emmaus testify that Jesus Christ is LORD!


  1. Because the more people you meet in the Holy Land, the easier it is to pray for them.


At David's Tomb

At David’s Tomb


Fr Rich Western Wall

At the Western Wall


Talking with the Pastor

Talking with the pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Beit Sahor


We met with Jews, Christians, and Muslims. We heard their stories. We saw how they live. And we were changed.


  1. Because our Christian brothers and sisters need our spiritual and financial support.


Fr Rich Concelebrating Mass

Concelebrating Mass at the parish of San Savior


Christians now make up less than 2% of the people living in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, they can build religious bridges with their Jewish neighbors and cultural bridges with their Muslim neighbors.


  1. Because you can have a lot of fun while you’re there, too!


Riding a camel

Riding a camel outside of Jericho



Preprandials at the Knights’ Palace, Jerusalem


Sea of Galilee

On the Sea of Galilee


When sailors taught us how to dance to “Hava Nagila” on the Sea of Galilee, one of my fellow pilgrims said, “What happens on the Sea of Galilee stays on the see of Galilee.” I retorted, “The whole point of the Gospel is to SHARE what happened on the Sea of Galilee!”


  1. Because even though you may not be transfigured, you will be transformed!


Mass at Mount Tabor

Mass on Mount Tabor


Paulist Fr. Rich Andre on Mt. Precipice

Standing on Mt. Precipice, the crest of the hill supposedly referred to in Luke 4


Go to the Holy Land. Don’t wait! I plan to return again and again!