NEWS AND EVENTS - Friday, March 22, 2013
BISHOP LONGIN TO LEAD DIOCESAN PILGRIMAGE TO HOLY LAND
Chicago, IL - His Grace Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America will lead a Diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land during Holy Week and Pascha, the bishop's office announced today. The 10-day visit to the most significant sites of the New Testament is being coordinated by Fr. Dr. Vasilije Vranic of Chicago's Holy Resurrection Cathedral.
"This pilgrimage, hopefully the first of many to the Holy Land for our Diocese, will send down the blessing of God, not only on all of those participating, but on our entire Diocese. His Holiness Patriarch Irinej has encouraged all of our hierarchs to promote such pilgrimages, both to Serbia and other holy sites, which facilitate our coming closer to God. By traveling to the Holy Land, we will literally walk in the steps of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. I sincerely pray that the Almighty One will bless us traveling, keep us safe and bring us all closer to Him during this most sacred time of the year," said His Grace Bishop Longin.
During the course of the pilgrimage, the group from the Diocese will have the opportunity to visit and pray at the Tomb of Lazarus, Cana, Mt. Tabor - the site of the Lord's Transfiguration, the River Jordan, the Mount of Olives, the Upper Room and Gethsemane, as well as the sites of the Lord's suffering on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The pilgrimage will culminate with the group's participation in the Paschal divine services and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
"The sacred sites in the Holy Land are the place where the Bible comes to life for Christians," explained Fr. Vasilije Vranic, pilgrimage coordinator.
On Holy Thursday, Bishop Longin and the diocesan pilgrims will also be received by His Holiness Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem at the Patriarchal Palace.
Pilgrimages to the Holy Land has been a revered tradition among Serbian Orthodox Christians from the time of St. Sava, if not earlier. St. Nikolaj of Zica and Ohrid also led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the 1930's and describes the Paschal services in Jerusalem in his Missionary Letter 30: "The awaited has arrived! When the old patriarch sang 'Christ is Risen' the heavy stone was lifted from our souls. We felt like bodiless spirits. Like we were resurrected! . . . At dawn, the Paschal service finishes in the church but continues in our souls. We started seeing everything in the light of Christ's Paschal glory, and everything looked different than yesterday. Everything is more beautiful, more sensible, more glorious. Only in that light of the Resurrection does life have meaning," St. Nikolaj continues.