June 22, 2016

THE HOLY LAND - THE FIFTH GOSPEL


THE HOLY LAND - THE FIFTH GOSPEL

According to old pilgrimage maps, the name 'the Holy Land' meant the greater part of the territory of the modern-day Middle East. Today this is the territory of the state of Israel, the Palestinian National Authority and part of the territory of Jordan and Egypt.
Throughout the centuries the Holy Land has been known under various names: the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the Land of Israel and Palestine. It is also often referred to as 'the Fifth Gospel.' Here the past becomes the present; the holy sites acquire a visible and tangible aspect in the direct and spiritual sense.
The Holy Land is the land of the birth of Christ the Saviour and the spiritual homeland of all Christians. It is sanctified by the very steps of the God-man Jesus Christ and his Most Pure Mother, hallowed by the Old and New Testament righteous men, patriarchs, prophets and apostles. It was from here that the apostles embarked upon their preaching of the Gospel and it was here that the blood of the first Christian martyrs was spilt.
Almost all of the places of the Holy Land are connected with the life of Jesus Christ as described in the four Gospels.  These are the manger in Bethlehem where the 'Word became flesh' (Jn 1:14); the hill of Golgotha where the Saviour of the world accepted the torments of the cross for the sins of the human race (Jn 19:17-42); the Life-Giving Tomb where he rose again (Mt 27: 57-28); the river Jordan, in the waters of which he received baptism from the John the Forerunner (Luke 3: 21-22); the Upper Room where at the Last Supper he initiated the saving sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Mt 26:26-28) and where the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the form of 'tongues of fire' on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4); the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, Mount Tabor, Galilee and many other places.
Unfortunately, the contemporary pilgrim knows little of such an important place of the Holy Land as Transjordan. And few know that here, as in Palestine, that the history of the salvation of the human race was enacted. The part of the Holy Land situated on the East Bank of the River Jordan (modern-day Jordan) and in ancient times known as Transjordan (in the Graeco-Roman period it was called Gilead) has always been a part of humanity's precious spiritual heritage. In 2012 a Russian guest house was opened on the site of the Lord's Baptism, and now pilgrims of the Russian Orthodox Church canhttp://rusdm.ru/en/Info/44

THE HOLY LAND - THE FIFTH GOSPEL

According to old pilgrimage maps, the name 'the Holy Land' meant the greater part of the territory of the modern-day Middle East. Today this is the territory of the state of Israel, the Palestinian National Authority and part of the territory of Jordan and Egypt.
Throughout the centuries the Holy Land has been known under various names: the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the Land of Israel and Palestine. It is also often referred to as 'the Fifth Gospel.' Here the past becomes the present; the holy sites acquire a visible and tangible aspect in the direct and spiritual sense.
The Holy Land is the land of the birth of Christ the Saviour and the spiritual homeland of all Christians. It is sanctified by the very steps of the God-man Jesus Christ and his Most Pure Mother, hallowed by the Old and New Testament righteous men, patriarchs, prophets and apostles. It was from here that the apostles embarked upon their preaching of the Gospel and it was here that the blood of the first Christian martyrs was spilt.
Almost all of the places of the Holy Land are connected with the life of Jesus Christ as described in the four Gospels.  These are the manger in Bethlehem where the 'Word became flesh' (Jn 1:14); the hill of Golgotha where the Saviour of the world accepted the torments of the cross for the sins of the human race (Jn 19:17-42); the Life-Giving Tomb where he rose again (Mt 27: 57-28); the river Jordan, in the waters of which he received baptism from the John the Forerunner (Luke 3: 21-22); the Upper Room where at the Last Supper he initiated the saving sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Mt 26:26-28) and where the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the form of 'tongues of fire' on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4); the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, Mount Tabor, Galilee and many other places.
Unfortunately, the contemporary pilgrim knows little of such an important place of the Holy Land as Transjordan. And few know that here, as in Palestine, that the history of the salvation of the human race was enacted. The part of the Holy Land situated on the East Bank of the River Jordan (modern-day Jordan) and in ancient times known as Transjordan (in the Graeco-Roman period it was called Gilead) has always been a part of humanity's precious spiritual heritage. In 2012 a Russian guest house was opened on the site of the Lord's Baptism, and now pilgrims of the Russian Orthodox Church can visit the holy sites of this country that history had once neglected.
It is here in Transjordan that there occurred events described in the Old Testament  connected to the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, the righteous Job the Much-suffering and Lot, the prophets Moses and Aaron, Joshua, the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the righteous Ruth, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary of Egypt and other Christian saints.
It was here that the prophet and forerunner John proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and called upon the Jewish people to repent. In Transjordan the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized: 'Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him...  he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him' (Mt 3: 13, 16).
In visiting the holy places of Biblical Canaan (the territory of modern-day Israel and Palestine), as well as the land where there occurred many of the events of the biblical Exodus (the territory of modern-day Jordan), pilgrims enjoy the chance to relive step-by-step the history of the relationship between God and the human person.

Russian Pilgrims
Russian pilgrims first travelled to the Holy Land after Rus’ became Christian. People walked the long, arduous and dangerous road to Jerusalem in order to venerate the Sepulchre of the Lord and the great holy sites, to offer repentance and pray for their families and friends. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land were undertaken by princes, peasants and the nobility, and by renowned figures of the Russian art world. Russian pilgrims were distinguished by their special piety and reverence. In the nineteenth century, when there were a hundred Russian pilgrims for every pilgrim from Western Europe, pilgrimages from Russian to the Holy Land reached their zenith. In 1847 the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission was founded in Jerusalem, the main function of which was to care for the pilgrims.

The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission
Today the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission continues to carry out the obedience entrusted to it by the Russian Orthodox Church in caring for pilgrims in the Holy Land. The Pilgrimage Service of the Mission compiles a schedule of stays for groups of pilgrims, arranges transport, and obtains permission for clergy to celebrate at the Holy Sepulchre and in other churches of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. Pilgrims stay in modern hotels located on sites belonging to the Mission: in Bethlehem, the Gorny Convent, Jaffa, Tiberias, Jericho and Bethabara (Jordan). If one so wishes, it is possible to be placed in other hotels not belonging to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission. Pilgrims are accompanied by the nuns of the Gorny Convent of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission.
 visit the holy sites of this country that history had once neglected.
It is here in Transjordan that there occurred events described in the Old Testament  connected to the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, the righteous Job the Much-suffering and Lot, the prophets Moses and Aaron, Joshua, the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the righteous Ruth, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary of Egypt and other Christian saints.
It was here that the prophet and forerunner John proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and called upon the Jewish people to repent. In Transjordan the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized: 'Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him...  he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him' (Mt 3: 13, 16).
In visiting the holy places of Biblical Canaan (the territory of modern-day Israel and Palestine), as well as the land where there occurred many of the events of the biblical Exodus (the territory of modern-day Jordan), pilgrims enjoy the chance to relive step-by-step the history of the relationship between God and the human person.

Russian Pilgrims
Russian pilgrims first travelled to the Holy Land after Rus’ became Christian. People walked the long, arduous and dangerous road to Jerusalem in order to venerate the Sepulchre of the Lord and the great holy sites, to offer repentance and pray for their families and friends. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land were undertaken by princes, peasants and the nobility, and by renowned figures of the Russian art world. Russian pilgrims were distinguished by their special piety and reverence. In the nineteenth century, when there were a hundred Russian pilgrims for every pilgrim from Western Europe, pilgrimages from Russian to the Holy Land reached their zenith. In 1847 the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission was founded in Jerusalem, the main function of which was to care for the pilgrims.

The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission
Today the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission continues to carry out the obedience entrusted to it by the Russian Orthodox Church in caring for pilgrims in the Holy Land. The Pilgrimage Service of the Mission compiles a schedule of stays for groups of pilgrims, arranges transport, and obtains permission for clergy to celebrate at the Holy Sepulchre and in other churches of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. Pilgrims stay in modern hotels located on sites belonging to the Mission: in Bethlehem, the Gorny Convent, Jaffa, Tiberias, Jericho and Bethabara (Jordan). If one so wishes, it is possible to be placed in other hotels not belonging to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission. Pilgrims are accompanied by the nuns of the Gorny Convent of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission.