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Seeking Wisdom and Holiness in the Holy Land

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

My heart is beating fast at the thought of entering the land where Jesus was born, where he lived, where he walked, where he died, and where he rose from the dead.

I can't quite imagine it yet in my mind's eye. I don't quite know what to expect.

These are the thoughts of an elated Bro. David Brokke, SOLT, as he and nine Sacred Heart seminarians, all entering their second year of graduate theology, were packing their duffel bags the night before their long-anticipated Desert Formation Experience. The next day, Wednesday, May 4, the men gathered in the seminary lobby with heads bowed and received a blessing from Sacred Heart's rector, Msgr. Todd Lajiness, and a praying over by the Sacred Heart community. Then they boarded a plane for Tel Aviv and a month-long journey of faith to the Holy Land.

The goal? To visit the Holy Land's sacred sites and walk the same paths as did Christ the Savior, allowing Scripture to come alive in their hearts. As the men venture out each day on this spiritual pilgrimagewith its high points and it sandpaper annoyances that every pilgrim experience—they will be discerning if Christ is truly calling them to serve the Church as a missionary servant through his holy priesthood.

The hill of Calvary, the Sea of Galilee, the River Jordan, the Garden of Gethsemanehere and other holy places the seminarians will seek spiritual wisdom while praying especially for Sacred Heart's benefactors. Each evening, they will draw insights from their experiences guided by expert formators Fr. Gerard Battersby, Sacred Heart's vice rector, and graduate spiritual director Msgr. Daniel Trapp.

And already the insights are coming. This pilgrimage has taught me a lot about my brother seminarians, shares Perrin Atisha, Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas seminarian, on the Desert Formation Experience blog. The greatest thing I will walk away with is knowing my brothers are in love with the Lord and his Church, and they care about their vocation and call to the priesthood. This brings great hope to the future of the Church.

On a sleepy morning when he discovered the hostel espresso machine was out of order, Matt Wagner of the Diocese of Winona reflected (albeit glumly) how we tend to take for granted the many gifts that God provides. These gifts lose their value as we unconsciously receive them day after day. After all, so much of our life is routine, and even the smallest things which once we were able to delight in, we become indifferent to; we forget how to receive these gifts, feeling we are in some way entitled to such things in our daily routine.

I need to remember that a pilgrimage is different from a retreat. A pilgrimage, much like daily life, is more about walking with Jesus and receiving from him in the midst of the hustle and bustle, is an insight expressed on the blogsite by Derik Peterman of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Yet, life demands that we come off the mountaintop and continue our journey. We must often keep moving even when we would prefer to linger in those truly blessed moments.

The Desert Formation pilgrim—Rodney Abbasso, Perrin Atisha, Bro. David Brokke, SOLT, Br. Romeo Cappella, CCL, Zaid Chabaan, Matthew Montgomery, Adam Nowak, Derik Peterman, and Matthew Wagnerinvite you to walk along with them and share their daily happenings on the DFE blog. Why not think of it as a spiritual pilgrimage for you, too?

The pilgrimage ends on June 3 in the Holy City of Rome, and includes a Wednesday Audience blessing by the Holy Father. After a short break, the men continue their summer of discernment with a thirty-day Ignatian silent retreat at the Broom Tree Retreat Center in Irene, South Dakota, which concludes on July 22.

Would you consider praying for the intentions of the seminarians in your own prayer time? The men of the 2016 Desert Formation Experience thank you.

MOSAIC Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.