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An Adventure to Be Taken, A Message to Be Heard
ISRAEL | MEMBERS | TESTIMONIES
Mission Corps volunteer Javier Callejas recalls some memorable moments from his trip to the Holy Land.

mission corps in galilee
Mission Corps volunteers at the Sea of Galilee.

View a YouTube video of Javier´s trip at this link.

A woman at the front desk brought her mouth up to the microphone and said in a polite voice, “All passengers on flight to Tel Aviv please make your way to the gate.” My palms began to sweat. I got up, got into line and, as I looked upon the six Mission Corps men with the their smiles of anticipation stretching from ear to ear, I smiled back at them with joy and readiness in my heart. I was prepared. I was going. I was on my way to the Holy Land and I was ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Now if there were one thing that I did expect to come from this trip over to the Holy Land it would have been to receive a spiritual experience from it. But I was not ready for what was going to happen to me, not at all. My most memorable experience, on the last night in Jerusalem, Father Thomas Salazar had brought up the idea of staying in the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus died and was buried, for an entire night. Now, being the tough and rambunctious group
misison corps jerusalem
Mission Corps volunteers and Legionary chaplains overlooking the city of Jerusalem.
that we were, we were willing to take on any challenge that came our way. But then we made things interesting. We had promised ourselves that from 7 o’clock in the evening until Mass that morning at 5, we would not go to sleep. We would only pray. Now that may seem easy to some people, but to us, it was one of the most difficult nights of prayer in our lives. In fact, by the time it was 3 in the morning, my eyes became so droopy that I forced myself to stand for the remainder of the time I was there, lest I fall asleep. But it wasn’t because I wanted to prove to myself that I could stay up for the whole night, but it was because I wanted to be with Christ. For if he spends every waking minute of his time trying so desperately to unite himself with us, could we not do the same for him? Could we not love like he loved? And as I saw the sun come up as I walked out of the basilica, I knew God was with me and he would stay with me always.

Yet it wasn’t enough just to have only spiritual experiences because when you think of the Holy Land, you think of adventure. I wanted something to test me, something that would make me uncomfortable. I should have chosen better words, because the day after I had said that to Father Julian, our guide through Jerusalem, he brought a cross and said, “OK, now we’re going to do the real Stations of the Cross.” “What?” I thought to myself. Live Stations of the Cross…in the middle of the day…with about more than ¾ of the population either of Jewish or Muslim religion. “Yeah…this will be very interesting.” At first, it made me nervous because I felt as if I was an outcast to these people. But as I grabbed that cross and held it in my hands, I looked through the eyes of Jesus. Was this what he really went through? Was this really the path he took for us? As these things ran though my mind, my grip on the cross became stronger, firmer, and with more conviction. I realized what it meant to love the cross and what it meant to love. For it was not about self-love, it was about self-denial. At that moment, I looked at all of the hardships I had endured both physically and spiritually and found meaning. For it did not matter if it was a hundred people watching me or just one because I knew this was where God wanted me.

So was I expecting much from this pilgrimage all the way to the Holy Land? Was I expecting it to change my life drastically, to transform me into someone on fire for Christ and who would go out into the world and bring change? Well, I would be lying if I didn’t have some expectations that I would be a different man when I came back. But that didn’t happen. It was greater than what I had expected. And as I stared out at the clouds from the airplane after about 4 hours in the airport just to get my bags checked into security, I looked upon a new dawn, a new me. Jesus had paved for me a road; my own road that I could take or I could not. After this trip, my relationship with Christ drew to the point that the only road I wanted to take was his road. And I have no regret of taking it, only peace.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2011-02-24


 
 


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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.


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