Much More than a Virtual Holy Land Pilgrimage

Here is my column that appears on the book page of this week’s print edition of The Catholic Post. 

Most everyone who knows me is aware that high on my “life list” is a whole-family Holy Land pilgrimage, once all my children are teenagers (should my husband and I survive parenting teenagers. But I digress.).

I’ve heard from those who have been on a Holy Land pilgrimage that it can be life-changing and spiritually transformative.  I’m a little scared but also truly excited by the prospect. Since my own pilgrimage is still several years away, I seek out books, shows, and other resources about people who share their Holy Land experiences, so I can virtually-if a little enviously-follow along for now.

No surprise, then, that I would gravitate towards James Martin, S.J.’s newest book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage. But this is a remarkable book by any measure, and for just about every reader.

Fr. Martin, the cultural editor of America magazine and a gifted spiritual writer, tells the story of Jesus through selected Gospel stories, woven through his own faith life and his travel to the Holy Land.

But throughout and within, this book is energetically about the person of Jesus, what makes Him so attractive and compelling to Martin, and to those who follow Him.

Jesus: A Pilgrimage is kind of like an extreme version of Ignatian contemplation, or prayer using the imagination. Fr. Martin picks out key moments in the Gospels and tells those stories through his own Holy Land travels and musings. It is a simple concept, but by no means a simple book-it’s rich in stories, wisdom, and inspiration.

As Fr. Martin shares, when he was asked by a friend what he could say “new” about Jesus:

“ ‘I’ll write about the Jesus whom I’ve met in my life. This is a Jesus who hasn’t been written about before.’ It may be similar to hearing a friend tell you something expected about a mutual friend. ‘I never knew that about him,’ you might say wonderingly. Seeing a friend through another pair of eyes can help you appreciate a person more. You may end up understanding your friend in an entirely new way.”

Read this book to get a fresh and timeless perspective on Jesus, and be inspired to look at Him—and your faith— in a new way.

If you’re also intrigued by visiting the Holy Land as I am, you might be interested in the “The Faithful Traveler” DVD series by the young husband/wife team of David and Diana von Glahn . The series has aired on EWTN, and with the charming Diana as a host, virtual travel through the Holy Land is enjoyable and edifying.  I’ve written  about this series before.

Some notes, post-column:

**I actually read and wrote about Jesus: A Pilgrimage before I realized that my column would appear in print just as Pope Francis was about to be in the Holy Land.  I’ll be following along, and I do think this book would make an excellent companion to it.

**I also wrote about several other “recent reads” in my print column, but I will share those as separate posts because they are unrelated to the “Holy Land” theme of this post.