Israel: The Holy Land Pilgrimage
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Walk the walls of Jerusalem and read the Holy Scriptures to understand where it all happened. Venerate the tomb of the Mother of God and make trips to visit the ancient monasteries and convents of old. All the while, experience the climate and geography of Israel as you see the Dead Sea, the River Jordan, and Mt. Sinai.
SPFL Contact: Demetri Patitsas
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Dates: TBD in 2016
Mission: Venerate the Holy Places
Price: Groundfee plus airfare (Fly Into Telaviv, Israel, Ben Guiron Airport))
Who can go: Co-ed Trip
Greetings Future Pilgrims! This is your too be guide, Demetri Patitsas, to the Holy Land and I am writing you in order to provide you some context regarding the pilgrimage that SPFL's organizes; this year being our 4th Annual SPFL Pilgrimage and my 7th pilgrimage personally. First and foremost, our pilgrimage is offered this year as a “possible option” for all (Orthodox and Non-Orthodox alike) inclined to follow a Christians calling to visit the Holy Places of our Savior and the Old Testament and furthermore, with a blessing from Father Isaac and our mothers at the Holy Nativity Convent.
I am not a monastic or a clergyman, I am not even a simple Reader or have any distinction in the Church; but what I do know is that I have learned to navigate the holy places having had the instruction of our clergy, and in turn have learned how to approach these holy shrines with reverence. Our hope has been with SPFL to offer a smaller, alternatively dated trip for students, families, and teachers; who might otherwise never make it to the holy land. It is important to us that our Christian brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers have the chance to share in this joy of the pilgrimage as well at all stages of life whether that be a student, retiree, or married couple. Otherwise the danger is that you always intend on going, and never do. Furthermore, without a Christian lens to the Holy Land, you risk this place becoming a "large museum" of “seemingly” old things. It can be a very upsetting, frustrating, and difficult experience if someone is not there to help you "interpret it" and first and foremost pass on the instruction on how one "approaches the holy things." Without the gospels being read, without the Troparion, Akathist of the place or saint or feast being sung, without the history being shared, without the names and prostrations and signs of the cross...we run the risk of not seeing what we are intended to see. The Holy Land in effect is a reservoir of grace, a Church the size of a country. You really feel this when you are there, but like anywhere; there are temptations and it can really be difficult on top of the "normal healthy struggles" that accompany anyone when traveling.
My role is to help you through it and thank God I have had the opportunity 4 times with SPFL to organize a pilgrimage or two. God sees our effort and like the father of the prodigal son he will come running to embrace us and make perfect that which is not perfect. Consequently, we visit the holy places where monastics of the area speak with us and visit with us while we are there. I assure you that the bonds of pilgrimage that you forge with others both in your blood family and spiritual family are a unique mystery, creating a feeling of brotherhood and fraternity among you all. ~ With Love In Christ, Demetri Patitsas, SPFL Holy Land Guide