Ecumenical pilgrimage from the Promised Land to the Land of the Promise

From Poland, an ecumenical pilgrimage organized by Mons. Grzegorz Rys, the Bishop of Lodz, who visited the Holy Land a few days ago, took place. Many participants composed of clergy and faithful from the Catholic, Orthodox, Polish-Catholic, Evangelical-Ausburga, Evangelical-Reformed, Evangelical-Methodist and Baptist churches were present. “We want to go there,” said F.r Semko Koroza, the president of the Lodz branch of the Polish Ecumenical Council “to visit these places connected to our faith and to pray together.”

It was a long journey. On April 13 this year, at the end of the first edition of the Ecumenical “Way of Light,” a path that went through the streets of Lodz, in the Evangelical-Ausburg church of St. Matthew, some priests associated with the Lodz branch of the Ecumenical Polish Council, along with a representative of the Catholic Church, signed a letter addressed to the faithful of their churches that encouraged them to participate in the pilgrimage.
“We wish to invite you, dear sisters and brothers from all of the Churches, to this journey, which is  not only spiritual, but it is also a real effort,” said the message of the clergy of the Christian churches. “Let's go together to the land of the Savior for a true experience of returning to our roots,” said the clergy.

“Our pilgrimage connects with what we understand today about ecumenism,” said the organizing archbishop of this work. “In ecumenism, it is essential that each one of us, regardless of the confession to which we may belong, get closer to Jesus through a personal relationship. The more we return to this event, which is the paschal event of Jesus Christ: his incarnation, Christmas, his death, his resurrection and Pentecost, when each one of the Churches deepens these fundamental events of the faith, the closer we get to one another.” This is why this idea came about to to organize a pilgrimage toward the origins of our faith. The registrations for the pilgrimage, which began at the end of April, have been high. The organization of the pilgrimage was entrusted to the Commissariat of the Holy Land, which is known in Poland for taking pilgrims to the Land of the Savior.

There are numerous moments of daily common prayer that have been planned, based on the Word of God and different places where biblical events took place: Nazareth, Mount Tabor, Caesarea, Capernaum, the River Jordan, the Shepherds’ Field and the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion. “We cannot celebrate the Eucharist together, but we can read the Gospel together,” said Archbishop Rys, especially in those places where the events recounted in the Gospel took place.”
Each of the communities participating in the pilgrimage will have time to pray according to the tradition of his or her confession, but there will also be common parts.  Nazareth, Mount Tabor, Cana of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Bethlehem and Jerusalem are just some of the places that pilgrims will visit during these days.

The pilgrims, walking through the narrow streets of the Holy City, will follow in the footsteps of the Savior, who carried the Cross, and they will travel through the stations of the Ecumenical Via Crucis. It is a reference to the tradition of the Via Crucis of Łódź, which for many years was celebrated every Good Friday on the streets of the Promised Land of Władysław Reymont. The ecumenical pilgrimage of Lodz to the Holy Land is the first initiative of this kind by representatives from the local Christian churches and shows that we desire to go together to the sources of the faith so as to draw the strength necessary for building unity in our communities.

“Trusting in this physical and spiritual exhaustion, we will be able to discover everything that unites us, without avoiding and neglecting what still divides us and can be an issue. Being together every day and praying together allows us to look at our differences differently and also challenges us to reflect on what else we can still do to further the cause of unity. We are convinced that the Lord is calling us to undertake this journey, this effort and this witness,” said the common letter from the clergy.