“A once-in-a-lifetime experience of spiritual enrichment… a chance for you to walk in the steps of our Lord… to share meals, worship, fellowship and prayer with Arab Christians in the Holy Land… Celebrate our faith with Palestinian Christians who struggle every day to stay in the land of their birth… Reflect on the significance of securing a Christian presence in the land where Jesus Christ was born.”
The priority of Living Stones Pilgrimages is to provide a safe and spiritually enriching experience of the Holy Land. It is not like other tours, in the sense that pilgrims on our trips are given opportunities to meaningfully engage with the indigenous Arab Christian communities who have kept the Holy Sites of Christendom safe and maintained in their custodial care for centuries. It is the mission of Living Stones Pilgrimages to support these Christians in the face of their many challenges in order to preserve their continued presence and influence in the Holy Land.
Why Living Stones Pilgrimages?
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? …. And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and [k]Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and [l]visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” Acts 2:1-11
After two thousand years, Christian families are still living and worshiping in the land where Jesus was born, died, and resurrected. These Christians are not immigrants. They are not converts from Judaism or Islam. They are the descendants of those who first believed in Jesus Christ. They live in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and other places in Palestine and Israel. These Christians, whether they live in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza, are ethnically Palestinian. They are the Arab Palestinian Christians – Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant. They have maintained a continual living witness in the land of our Savior’s birth and have helped preserve the Holy Sites sacred to all of Christianity. Together, they comprise the Mother Church.
The Living Stones Holy land pilgrimage is motivated by this truth that all of Christianity is organically connected to the Holy land and the Christians who live and worship here. The Living Stones were among the first followers of Jesus, present at Pentecost, who later passed on the faith down through the generations. They are not converts from Islam or Judaism; they are the living stones of Christendom in the holy land. They have preserved Christ’s Church through persecution and great hardship for nearly two millennia. They remain still today, their fortified churches testifying to their historic struggle to maintain Christ’s presence throughout the rocky history of the Middle East.
You are invited to be a part of this rich history, not as a tourist, as if to be distantly detached from your fellow believers, but as pilgrims who engage their history, culture, and identity.
With Living Stones Pilgrimages you will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of spiritual enrichment. You and your parishioners will have a chance to walk in the steps of our Lord, to share meals, worship, fellowship and prayer with Arab Christians in the Holy Land. Most importantly, you will support them with your solidarity and prayers as they struggle to preserve Christianity in the Holy Land!
The Living Stones Pilgrimage has 3 primary emphases:
- Meeting with the Living Stones
Pilgrims will enjoy times of worship, fellowship (including sharing traditional meals and storytelling) and experience the warm welcome of Arab hospitality. Care is taken to ensure that pilgrims meet local Catholics and participate in local church events. These activities are a means for dialogue and provide an opportunity to bridge the gap of understanding between Arab and American Catholics.
- Seeing the Holy Land
Pilgrimage itineraries are designed to include visits to the holy sites in Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. In addition to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and other famous biblical places, the pilgrimage will include visits to other Catholic towns that reflect the vibrant Catholic heritage of the Holy Land. The itinerary can be tailored to meet the needs of each visiting group.
- Supporting Christians
Providing Economic Support to the Local Christians Community In keeping with the Foundation mission to utilize its resources for the benefit of the Catholic community in the Holy Land, Living Stones pilgrimages always attempt to bring maximum economic benefit to local Catholic shopkeepers, travel agents, guides, and hotel operators.
Living Stones Pilgrimages is of Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) whose mission is to not only support the indigenous Arab Christian community in the Holy Land, but to educate others about their unique struggles and their special place in Christian History. You can learn more about our work by visiting their website, hcef.org.