From March 11 to March 24, 2012, a group of 88 people from the different parishes of St. Peter Diocese went on a Pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land in the company of their Bishop, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo. The Pilgrimage took place in celebration of the 10 Year Anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle.
"Pilgrims's Journal" documents the travels of the group throughout their stay in Europe and Israel.
March 27, 2012
The pilgrims have returned from their journey, the jet lag has just worn off and now there is finally time to reflect on the twelve beautiful days spent in Italy and the Holy Land. It is impossible to say what we expected on that Sunday morning, loading our luggage onto the buses. There was a buzz of excitement among those who were present.
"That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them." -Luke 24:13-15
The last day of the pilgrimage ended beautifully with the Road to Emmaus and Mass. During his homily, His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo spoke of how the pilgrims have been the other disciple that is mentioned in the Emmaus account.
"And Zacchae'us stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.'"
Following in the footsteps of St. John, the pilgrims left the city of Jerusalem and drove into the wilderness to visit the city of Jericho, the Monastery of Christ’s Temptation in the desert, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea.
“Do not be amazed, you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him.” - Mark 16:6
At 6:00 AM, their eyes still heavy with sleep, the pilgrims went to the Via Dolorosa to walk the Stations of the Cross. They would stop at each station to hear reflections read by His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo before continuing on. Walking through similar streets that Jesus would have walked through brought the stations to life and the pilgrims were able to experience the Way of the Cross in a new way.
"Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." -Luke 22:42
The pilgrims continued their journey walking with Jesus by starting the third day of their stay in Jerusalem with the Mount of Olives. There, they prayed the Our Father together in remembrance of the place where Jesus taught his own disciples this perfect prayer. After a short walk, the pilgrims visited the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed to his Father. It is situated opposite the city of Jerusalem.
"Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." ~Jn 2:10
The first day in the Holy Land was spent traveling around Nazareth and Capernaum. The Pilgrims were able to see the town where Jesus grew up and performed many of his miracles. The first stop of the day was at the Church of the Annunciation. The pilgrims saw the house Our Lady lived in and where the angel Gabrielle appeared to her. Mar Sarhad lead the group in praying the Angelus in front of what is left of the little house Our Lady lived in.
March 19, 2012
"Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah." -Matthew 17:1
The pilgrims continued their journey walking with Jesus today by starting with Mass at the Church of the Transfiguration. His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo very fittingly read the transfiguration passage found in Matthew's Gospel.
“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” -St. Francis
The Church of St. Francis was the first stop for the group on the fourth day of the pilgrimage. They were able to see his tomb and the beautiful Cathedral built in his honor containing the works of Giotto and Lorenzini. At his tomb, the pilgrims bought candles to be lit for their intentions and prayed that this great saint of the Church would plead with God on their behalf.
“You are Peter and upon this rock, I will build my Church.”
The third day of the pilgrimage began with Mass at the Tomb of the Popes beneath the Vatican. His Excellency, Mar Sarhad celebrated the Mass just feet away from the tomb of St. Peter. It was an especially powerful experience for those who were present because it was made known that Bishop Sarhad celebrated his first Mass on the tomb of St. Peter, and to be near the tomb again in celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle was a real blessing. During his homily, he spoke of being at home in the Church, especially around so many deceased Holy Fathers.
March 14, 2012
“All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus.”
The second day of the pilgrimage began with a visit to Vatican city where we were able to attend the Papal audience, where his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI gave his customary Wednesday reflection on the steps outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. He spoke of how Our Lady is the best example of prayer and contemplation. He encouraged the faithful who were present to entrust all they have to Mary our mother.