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Alice in the Holy Land: The principles of pilgrimage

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From January 17 until January 27, U.S. Catholic and Catholic Theological Union are cosponsoring a Holy Land pilgrimage that is led by CTU’s eminent scripture scholar and Jerusalem expert, Franciscan Father Leslie Hoppe. U.S. Catholic’s popular scripture columnist Alice Camille is also accompanying the group and leading prayers, reflections, and discussions. She is filing blog posts from the trip. Here are her principles of pilgrimage:

Consign yourself to swimming through a swift current of facts. There's history and archaeology, theology and ecclesiology, politics and culture, and everything in between. Your brain gets tired. You start to think of simpler things. Dinner. Sleep. Changing your socks. You get homesick for a world in which you don't have to learn something new every five minutes. You crave the mundane.

On my last trip to the Holy Land, a friend told me to avoid developing ABC Syndrome. The ABCs stand for "Another Bloody Church." Those churches are all beautiful, each one a work of art. But one is endangered with Amazement Overload. A separate but similar phenomena is Ruined For Ruins, which involves staring into a pile of reconstructed rocks and thinking it doesn't matter who built it or why, because when you look at this photo at home, you won't remember what it is.

And yet here we are, inside the Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, all smiles because we'd just celebrated Mass in a chapel bathed in gold and cobalt blue mosaics, and for a moment the life of pilgrimage seemed extraordinary again, wrapped in light.

Alice Camille is the author of U.S. Catholic's monthly scriptural reflection column Testaments which is only available to print subscribers. To subscribe to U.S. Catholic, click here.

To read more of Alice's blog posts from the Holy Land, click here.

Image: Photo by Alice Camille