Pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem

Within each of us is a heart that is longing for meaning and purpose. It’s only when we turn away from the vanities of this world, reorient ourselves toward God, and begin the struggle to draw closer to Him, that we will learn through experience the meaning and purpose of our being. For Orthodox Christians, this journey of discovery is an effort to draw ever closer to God and seek union with Him.

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The Monks of the Arizona Desert

As our two small buses rolled through the arid desert, my mind wondered “where on earth have they come to live?” Then, the oasis appeared suddenly ahead of us transforming the “coldness” of the land to a warm and welcoming embrace; I felt the heartbeat of the monastic prayer rising around me “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” and my heart was filled with joy of anticipation: What couldn’t come from five days in an Athonite-style monastery in the desert of Arizona? How will this experience affect us individually and as a group?

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Meteora -- Where the Earth meets the Heavens!

It was astonishing as we turned the corner to find ourselves at the feet of these huge boulders — the Meteora (suspended rocks) — rising up from the Thessalian plains. Even more astonishing was the view of red-roofed buildings sitting on top of the boulders. These are monasteries, built hundreds of years ago, where ascetic hermit monks have sought to reach heaven by ascending from the common life of the world around them to a life of continuous prayer, away from the distractions of the world.

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The Cave of the Revelation on the Island of Patmos

It was an adventure to get to the island of Patmos in Greece, but the beauty of the place made me quickly forget the travail. As we disembarked from the Flying Dolphin, the super-fast boat that ferried us across the Dodecanese islands, I could not get my eyes off the medieval castle overlooking the harbor surrounded by whitewashed homes. That is the monastery dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and Theologian

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