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Follow Along As The Catholic Press Visits Israel May 18-28

The countdown has begun.

The laptop, iPad, and iPhone are ready. The customs-friendly backpack awaits. I have sensible shoes for walking, jeans and t-shirts and skirts ready to pack. I have a notebook and pen with the Archdiocese of STL logo on them, and I can’t wait to jot every little thing down.

The electrical adapters arrived in the mail.

I am making my way through the Gospels – and feeling a little like the college girl who always over-prepared for every test.

I am more than half-way through Fr. James Martin’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage. And I have noted every passage I may want to reference while in the Holy Land. Don’t believe me. Here’s my proof (and this is only one camera shot of the inside front cover):

James Martin

I have mastered the messy-bun – my go-to hairstyle for the 10-day trip. And I have all the necessary hair products in miniature for the carry-on bag.

Soon, I will drive to Lambert Airport and make my way to Israel where I will be traveling with the Catholic Press Association as a guest of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

And you are invited to join us.

I will post my travelogue here at and on my Facebook Page. Stop by and LIKE the page:


And to get the celebration started, I am posting my first travelogue entry here. Enjoy–

It is, perhaps, the most ecumenical thing I will ever do. It underscores every Bible story I heard as a preacher’s kid. It was on my father’s bucket list, though he was never able to check it off. It is something every Catholic and Protestant hold in common. It is a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

From May 18th-28th, I will walk where Christ walked.

In January, I applied for the Catholic Press Association trip to Israel. A few Catholic writers are chosen every year to go to the Holy Land as guests of the IsraelI Ministry of Tourism. In November 2013, I signed a contract with Ave Maria Press on a book entitled Hills of Judea. At that moment, I knew that I simply had to go to Israel – somehow, some way. I wanted to be able to stand on the soil and scan those hills with my own eyes. I wanted to experience places Mary called home – to see what she saw, feel a bit of what she felt, see Christ through her eyes in the land they both knew.

When I received word that I was one of the journalists chosen for this year’s trip, I was filled with a spiritual joy that I cannot explain.

The Gospels come alive there. The rocks, the hills, the holy places – it all stands as a witness to what we believe through faith.

Christ lived. Christ died. Christ has risen.

But the story goes back even further. The land itself holds the history of Israel, a history that runs through the matriarchs and patriarchs of salvation history.

I will become like a little child, sitting on grandma’s lap and remember how she read aloud the story of David fleeing from King Saul. I will stand where David knelt to cut a square from Saul’s garment, where David swore he would not touch God’s anointed one, even if King Saul was on a hunt to the death. I will remember anew how David fled a short distance and then called to the king, saying, see here, I have cut a piece of your clothing, my king, but I did not harm you, even though I had the chance to end it all right now. I will not touch God’s anointed one. And Saul wept for shame, but continued to hunt David like a man possessed.

I will stand on Mount Carmel, where my favorite Old Testament prophet had a showdown with the false prophets of Baal. I will look up into the heavens, remembering the fire that rained down, lapping up the altar and the offering – and all of the water Baal’s prophets poured out upon it in an effort to thwart the hand of the one true God. And I will remember the Lord who works miracles – and how all the miracles began right in this land, culminating in the greatest of all – a birth in Bethlehem, a resurrection in Jerusalem. I will see these places, too.

I will visit the Upper Room, where Our Lord first shared His Body and Blood with his apostles. I will think of the first time I read the Gospel of John with eyes ready to receive the truth about the Real Presence.

I will stand at the wailing wall – all that remains of the Temple they both knew. And I will pray for Our Lord’s return and for Christian unity – for the New Evangelization that will lay a foundation for both of these.

The Holy Land is also the site of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras I which occurred fifty years ago. To commemorate that historic meeting, Pope Francis will meet Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Eastern Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople on this holy ground.

Yes, the Holy Father will be there as well. And I will be praying for him. Indeed, this is an ecumenical pilgrimage the whole Church is taking. An historic moment. A moment in which anything is possible.

I invite you to join me May 18-28th on Facebook or through my website. Let us journey together – where it all began.

Let us intercede for ecumenical dialogue that leads to unity.

Miracles have taken place on that soil throughout Salvation History. May the Holy Spirit descend again!


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