Biblical Pilgrimage Modern Pilgrimage a Contrast
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
In the words of Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, Frost states, “that Eden sank to grief” and “nothing gold can stay.”
Now times have changed as Robert Frost’s poem suggests. Historically, Christians have changed from being sojourners for a lifetime, looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, for creating here on this planet, shrines on top of historical sites that represent physical historical places where so called Saints have been born, have lived while performing their ministry or are buried.
Sacred landmarks cover over land where Christian events in times gone past have happened.
In times past, Abbeys and famous Church Cathedrals ruled the day for spirituality and holiness, now they are traveled through by visiting so-called pilgrim tourists.
For example Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy France.
Location : 48°38′8″N, 1°30′40″W.
It is home to the unusual Benedictine Abbey and steeple church (built between the 11th and 16th centuries) which occupy most of the one-kilometer-diameter clump of rocks jutting out of the waters of the English Channel.
Places to Sojourn To
To remember a time gone past, an event of yesteryear, a holy sacred lifestyle of antiquity, to once again ignite the dry ember, the modern day pilgrimage has now arrived.
“So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.”
Be not anchored to the old Jerusalem look up for the return of the Bridegroom.
O that we would be as the five wise virgins spoken of in the parable of the Ten Virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13)
Parable of the Ten Virgins
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them. But the wise ones took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him.’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied. ‘There won’t be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the door was shut. Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!’ Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. St. Matthew 25:1-13
St. Augustine of Hippo
“ . . . you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.”
-Confessions (Book I, 4b)
From a sermon A New Creation in Christ by Augustine of Hippo, c. 354-430
“You are walking now by faith, still on pilgrimage in a mortal body away from the Lord; but he to whom your steps are directed is himself the sure and certain way for you: Jesus Christ, who for our sake became man. For all who fear him he has stored up abundant happiness, which he will reveal to those who hope in him, bringing it to completion when we have attained the reality which even now we possess in hope.”
St. Thomas Aquinas
St Thomas Aquinas writes that "in our pilgrimage, [Christ] does not deprive us of his bodily presence, but unites us with himself in this sacrament through the truth of his Body and Blood" (Summa, III, 75, 1, c.), always seen in their sacrificial condition".
Here, in St. Thomas Aquinas’s work, The Summa Theologica, (Summa, III, 75, 1, c.),The Doctor of the Church speaks about pilgrimage using the same idea as the Hebrew word, Maguwr translated in English as pilgrimage, referring to seeking a dwelling-place, sojourning for a lifetime. “… looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:10
Mary Ann Fatula: Contemplata Aliis Tradere: Spirituality and Thomas Aquinas, The Preacher Spring 1991, Vol.43 No.1, pp. 19-35
“According to custom Thomas was asked if he believed that this was the body of the Son of God, "With intense devotion and tears, and in a strong voice Thomas cried out that he did" (Foster 55). "O marvelous, extraordinary wonder! A servant, poor and humble feeds on God his Lord" (Panis Angelicus, from the Corpus Christi Matins hymn, Sacris Solemnis.) With his face bathed in tears, Thomas received the "life-giving sacrament." Those around him could hear him pray, "O price of my redemption and food for my pilgrimage. I receive You. For Your sake I have studied and toiled and kept vigil. I have preached you and taught you" (Foster 55). "Jesus, whom I now behold veiled, I ask you to grant what I so thirst for: that I may see your face unveiled, and that the sight of your glory may be my bliss..."(Adoro Te). Thomas died on the morning of March 7, 1274 in the beginning of his fiftieth year.”
Islam Jewish Christian Pilgrimage Yearnings and Traditions
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Hajj, Feasts, and Pilgrimage Why Muslims, Jews, and Christians still yearn for their holy places.
By Steven Gertz | posted 02/21/2003
Within this article, Hajj, Feasts, and Pilgrimage, Mr. Gertz explores what it is that draws believers from each of these world religions to holy sites?
“Regarding the Christian faith, Mr. Gertz’s article offers this conjecture, “Christians, on the other hand, have no biblical mandate to travel to the Holy Lands. In fact, Christians throughout the centuries have had an ambivalent attitude toward the land. St. Augustine of Hippo, argued God cannot be contained in space, and that Christians do not need to travel far to find God; rather, if we humble ourselves, he will draw near to us. Protestants especially have picked up on this suspicion of pilgrimage—John Milton critiqued it in Paradise Lost: "Here Pilgrims roam, that stray'd so farr to seek/ In Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heav'n."
A Question Posed
If Christians have no biblical mandate to travel to the Holy Lands, then why have so many Christians sought out Jerusalem and other biblical sites?
The Question Answered
Historical Christian pilgrimage is fundamentally concerned with rediscovering origins.
According to Gertz, “Many Christian pilgrims have voiced their longing to "walk where Jesus walked." Roman Catholics have set up Stations of the Cross to draw such walkers through the scenes of Jesus' life. Perhaps such pilgrims feel as did the fourth-century theologian Jerome, who said, "One may only truly understand the Holy Scriptures after looking upon Judea with one's own eyes."
Mr. Gertz continues, “Christians have had other reasons for journeying to the Holy Lands. During the middle Ages, when Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem reached its high tide, Bernard of Clairvaux linked pilgrimage to crusade to help with the war effort. When the Crusades failed, Boniface VIII briefly offered indulgences to pilgrims if they would come to Rome, promising them heaven in return for their money. It was this development that sixteenth-century Reformers reacted to, in some cases rejecting pilgrimage altogether. But in the twentieth century, Protestant interest in traveling to Jerusalem resurged with the establishment of Israel and easier access to holy sites.”
Mr. Gertz summarizes, “In forms both strange and familiar, pilgrimage retains a secure place in all three monotheistic religions. If its survival in spite of Jerusalem's tumultuous history is any indication, even the current conflict in the Middle East won't hinder pilgrims from any of these faiths from seeking out "God's country."
First on my agenda was Israel, the land of milk and honey. The land of the Bible, where “when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights.” Galatians 4:4-5
I stood on the banks of the Jordan River on which river St. John the Baptist baptized and declared, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am, because He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but I came baptizing with water so that he could be revealed to Israel.” St. John 1:29-31
I reaffirmed my baptismal vows and commitment to follow the Lord Jesus as those who are married renewing their marriage vows by being baptized in the Jordan River.
I visited the present site of the "Garden Tomb" often called "Gordon's Calvary” This site is attributed to be the one purchased by the Pharisee, Joseph of Arimathea, and may be the area where the Lord Jesus may have in fact first appeared to St. Mary Magdalene upon rising from the dead.
Two of my most memorable experiences occurred during my second visit to Israel.
High on a grassy hill over looking the shimmering Sea of Galilee, sat a most popular youth hostel. With the sun having set only for a few hours, I ventured out in the early morning to witness what I can only remark in saying that the images took my breath away.
I heard it said that the rabbis of ancient times said, "The Lord has created seven seas, but the Sea of Galilee is his delight." I am of the same mind with those ancient rabbis having witnessed what lay before me on God’s creative living canvas which description was beyond words.
With the moonlight glimmering off the blue freshwater lake, with a navy blue canopy covered with dazzling white stars, that were more than I have ever seen even on a clear desert night in the States, my heart could only weep. I began to imagine Father Abraham as he shared a private audience with the Divine. Genesis 15:5-6
Being a solitary religious I am self supporting so therefore I am unlike other coenobitic monks that hold all things in common owning nothing personally.
In my case I live a life of simplicity according to Holy Scripture, avoiding debt, rejecting extravagance. I live in the spirit of the desert Christians who loved their solitary cell. However, in my case my cell is located in an urban dwelling.
I found one of my most sincere treasures a day or so after having experienced the private showing of God the Creator’s art earlier described.
It was during my twenty-fourth year on a hot summer afternoon in 1978 that I spent a priceless amount of time participating in a recreational swim in the Galilean Sea, the very Sea where the Lord Jesus and the apostle St. Peter walked upon. What I found was a precious smooth stone on the Galilean lakeshore.
To hold this stone, reminds me of those that were first called by the Lord Jesus. They were ordinary working class men everyday anglers. They gave up their all in order to follow the Lord Jesus, the Son of David, and Israel’s Messiah. This stone also reminds me of that night that the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob opened up my spiritual eyes in order to glimpse at His creation through the eyes of my savior the Lord Jesus as He may have seen Galilee two thousand years ago.
I would put in a good word for a “Spiritual Site Adventure” for Christian believers because of the influence it may do for one’s faith. However, do not make the adventure the end in itself. Remember the words of the Apostle St. Paul,
“I wish that you would be patient with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you are being patient with me! For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:1-3