An article about the Holy Land from the heart

Priest Ioan Istrati

The pilgrimage is not only the travel to a holy place, but moreover the acceptance of our condition of travelling ephemerally on this earth where we don`t heavy any steady residence, we only look for the one to be, where we are `citizens of heavens and housemates of God.`

The traveler to holiness invests time, weariness, money for reaching places sanctified by God`s presence in the world or by the presence of His Saints.

These places, blessed by Christ, are sanctified more and more with every knee bent and with every prayer whispered by the travelers to holiness.

Thus an Icon becomes a miracle making one by a divine miracle, by an order from heavens and deepens in grace its role to sanctify by every man who kisses it and raises his eyes to heavens praying to the Saint it represents. The holy places become in this way intermediates of grace for the troubled world, oasis of light and of spiritual water for the pilgrims and quiet shores for those who fret on the sea of life which we see rising with the storm of temptations.

In 2012, I was a priest who accompanied a group of fifty pilgrims in the Holy Land. This pilgrimage was called `Yearn for the desert, yearn for the skies` and reunited more than five hundred people from the blessed places of Moldavia who touched with their own hands the Holy Tomb from where it sprang the life of the whole universe.

In the center of this itinerary of grace it was the visit at the holy relics of Saint John Jacob from Neamt, whose relics are at the Monastery Saint George from Hozeva from the Holy Land and from whose repose fifty years passed.

Beyond the deep exhaustion and the numerous places to see and be amazed about, beyond the temptations found anywhere it is a place full of grace, I felt in those days God`s power to unite the people in prayer and multiply the gifts of the soul through alms ad to give the good thought and light to so many and different people.

In Bethlehem I learnt the lessons of the divine humbleness which is the unique key of heaven and the mystery of Christ`s birth in the hearts of the people through the Liturgy of the Church. At Jericho we used to climb the sicomore of our mind for looking at the face of our God.

In Quarantania after a hard ascension at 35o degrees we looked at all the riches of this world from the top of the mountain and we found the truth that the peace of God in us values more than all the fortunes of the world.

From the pavilion of the Last Supper we leant that the pain which is assumed as a sacrifice is an ascension towards heaven and the eternal love of Christ, the Crucified One feeds us with God.

At the tomb of the Holy Mother of God in the depths of the earth we learnt the mystery of the bosom who fed God and the motherly love with which mankind loved Christ through the eternal Virgin. In the Mountain of the Olives we felt the power given to us to ascend to heaven, to our eternal home to live with the Holy Trinity.

In the Garden of Gethsemane we heard in the murmur of the springs how God in person cries with tears of blood when of His Love feels infinitely all the pains of the world. Up on Golgotha we entered His places and bowed before the place where His feet stood, we saw the place where the Cross was stuck in the universe and where all the sins of this earth were washed away with the blood of God.

And listening to the biblical passage of Crucifixion we understood that the Sun knew its sunset, from the creation of the universe (in theological expression the rotational movement of the earth) to prophesize the moment when it would darken itself of fear at the death in flesh of the Son of God.

On the stone of the anointment from the Church of the Holy Tomb, we bent our heads and felt as, in the silence of the dead Son anointed with fragrances, the whole creation is anointed with light and the words of absolution are whispered to all people.

With the souls changed in their nature, with the heads on the stone of God`s tomb, we heard the cries of all the fallen ones and the implosion of eternal light which crushed the whole hell and the flood of grace which fell over the world, the deluge from the ancient times being a prophetical icon of this one. And knelt at God`s feet we whispered: `Come God and burn with Your fire and with the Light of Your Spirit the whole universe.` thinking about thr Holy Light which springs out from the life giving tomb and enlightens the world.

Up on Tabor we saw how God changes the face of the world by the Holy Eucharist and how He prepares it for the heavens of the never ending light.

We understood that the Tabor of light expanding by the Grace of the Holy Spirit in the whole world is our mind which must be sanctified, filled with Christ through prayer and prophetically enlightened by the Grace of God. On the Sea of Galilee we heard the roar of the waves worshiping Christ and we realized that the depth of the sea is the Icon of the depth of God`s love where is lost all hate or enmity and it is adorned the entire creation. We felt as a rustle the fish shoals crowding in the nets of the sanctified fishermen as an Eucharistic oblation of the creation in the hands of the men of God as the pilgrims crowd to kiss the places where the King of the ages walked. At Tabgha the place where the bread was multiplied, with bread in the hands we entered the mystery of the afterlife, where the division doesn`t break, but multiplies and where the breaking doesn`t separate, but unites the people, places and ages in the same Christ, broken on the Holy Table of God.

From all these mysteries we tasted we understood that the true worshiping is made `in spirit and truth`, not only in Jerusalem, but also in the Jerusalem of our souls.

The heavenly Spirit who inflamed as a torch the light of grace over the whole world, expanded the Holy Place in the hearts of all the people who love God. The Church of the Resurrected Christ is the New Jerusalem where God rests until the end of times:

`Illuminate, illuminate yourself new Jerusalem as the glory of God is coming upon you.`

Thus Tabor, Jericho, Bethlehem, Jerusalem or Nazareth are in every place where the people sing with pure hearts :

`We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity Who saved us!`

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