March 31 - April 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 65

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    "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" is what Sister Mary Lucy Astuto pinpoints in every issue when she takes a common sense approach to living our faith with her practical columns.

    This weekend, after a two-week hiatus, Sister shares with all her memorable trip to the Holy Land. We are pleased to welcome Sister back from her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She points out the significance of many of the sites Pope John Paul II visited last week which remain fresh in our memories from the poignant pictures and videos of the Holy Father retracing the footsteps of Jesus. Sister reminds all of the opportunities many can partake in this year and the indulgences available in this special Jubilee 2000 Year, encouraging all to consider taking a pilgrimage either near or far depending on one's budget and time parameters. Whatever one does, a pilgrimage is also a great spiritual adventure as she reminds in her column this weekend, My Trip to the Holy Land.

    Her column provides effective, vital insights into our faith and ways of fulfilling God's Will every day in every way. You can visit Sr. Lucy at her web site for Heart of Mary Ministry at or you can reach her at Srmarylucy by e-mail.

        I've just returned from the Holy Land. It was my second pilgrimage there and it was wonderful! Not easy, but wonderful! I joined with a group of 450 other people who were there for meetings and pilgrimage. I learned much more on this trip than I did the first one. My bus had a Fransican priest as a guide and he was very knowledgeable.

        Our first stop was the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. Our guide informed us that this site has a 99.9 degree of reliablility that this was the birthplace of Jesus. It is a cave of stone. One must stoop down to enter, as well we all should to humble ourselves to enter such a holy place.

        Bethlehem is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, so the next day we walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This site is where Jesus was crucified, was buried and where He rose from the dead. To be at the place where Jesus shed all of His Blood to redeem us, where He made the supreme sacrifice of love for us was awesome! After kissing the place where the cross of Jesus had stood, I sat behind the crowd and wept for my sins and the sins of the world. I do not know how anyone could not be affected by this holy site. What a privilege to scan time and be present on Calvary! What a powerful grace to be present there! I could have stayed and wept longer!

        We saw Shepherd's Field where the angels sang "Glory to God in the Highest!" We visited St. Ann's Church which rests over the dwelling of St. Ann and St. Joachim and where Our Blessed Mother was born. We visited the Church of the Visitation where Our Lady greeted her cousin Elizabeth and sang her "Magnificat." We visited the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth; we visited Jericho, the Dead Sea, and rode a boat on the Sea of Galilee. We rode a cable car to the top of the Mount of Temptation, attended Mass on the Mount of the Beatitudes (the day after the Holy Father was there). We could have attended the Holy Father's Mass in Nazareth, but an upper respiratory virus had caught up with my Sister-roommate and me and prudence seemed the better part of valor for that day. So we watched the Holy Father by television.

        Words cannot describe how wonderful this pilgrimagle was! Its memory will stay with me always. This being the Jubilee Year, all Catholics are invited to make a pilgrimage and gain a plenary indulgence. Certainly, one does not need to go all the way to the Holy Land to make a pilgrimage, but one should plan some type of holy trip before this year is over.

        If, as yet, you do not have such plans, I encourage you to begin thinking about them. Many Catholic parishes around the country are planning bus trips on their own to holy sites in their area. Make note of those that are written in your parish bulletins or Catholic newspaper.

        A pilgrimage can make us more grateful for our Faith! God bless you!

    Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

March 31 - April 2, 2000
volume 11, no. 65

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