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Expressions of interest in possible Pilgrimages

The Open Cloister invites you to seek God within the peace and companionship of Worth Abbey through participation in the regular rhythm of the monastic prayer and other elements of Benedictine Spirituality including: stillness and silence, companionship and spiritual direction, and encountering God in scripture (lectio divina) and through enjoying God's creation in the Quiet Garden and woodland walks. We are extending these opportunities, to build on the monastic practice of Lectio Divina - an engagement with God through slow and prayerful reflection on the texts of holy scripture - to include a similar practice with the 'fifth gospel', an engagement with God through a slow and prayerful experience of the biblical lands - a sort of 'lectio of the land'.

Fifth Gospel:

"Five gospels record the life of Jesus.  Four you will find in books, and one you will find in the Land they call Holy.  Read the fifth gospel and the world of the four will open to you"  
St Jerome, quoted by Bargil Pixner OSB, a monk of the Benedictine Monastery of Hagia Maria Sion (Dormition Abbey) Jerusalem.
"While the events depicted in the Gospels happened 2,000 years ago, the land where they took place exists to this day," writes Pixner.

The Holy Land?

This 'holy land' with its rich echoes in our holy scriptures, cannot be dissociated from the people who live there today - the 'living stones' of our living church. In July 2010, there was an International Conference in Lambeth Palace focusing on Christians in the Holy Land, which was jointly hosted by Archbishop Rowan Williams (C of E), the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols (R.C.) the Archbishop of Westminster. They commended the work of the Friends of the Holy Land: "A small but growing ecumenical charity…made up of parish-based groups…dedicated to praying with and for Christians in the Holy Land, and supporting them in practical and personal ways."

In his summing up at the end of the conference, Archbishop Rowan said that we must participate and develop dialogue with parishes in this country and in the Holy Land and "re-think pilgrimage, create a new template", that engages with the people of the local christian churches. Another report on the conference can be found HERE.

His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (responsible for about 70,000 faithful in the four states of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Cyprus), visited Worth Abbey after the conference and told me that he would be delighted to welcome pilgrimages with such a template. In his own home country of Jordan, he is looking for support for catholic schools and colleges, which have so far enabled the christians to have a beneficial influence on the country as a whole despite being only 3% of the population. With national, international and church support the Latin Patriarchate has opened a new university in Madaba (American University of Madaba), a city in central Jordan that is predominantly christian. He welcomes any group who could build up relations with his parishes, schools and university to mutual benefit.

When asked what he would ask of Christians in this country, Patriarch Twal replied with three 'P's:

  • PRAY for the people of the Holy Lands, for peace for all the people - Christians, Muslims and Jews.
  • PILGRIMAGE - come on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, not only to see the holy sites, but to provide a livelihood for the people who live there. Stay in Christian Pilgrim Houses, buy souvenirs from Christian shops and workshops and meet the local Christians.
  • PROJECTS - adopt any small project; support a seminarian, twin with a parish, support a school pupil, etc.

Our pilgrimages do all this. We will help you to PRAY before during and after your visit. We will take you on PILGRIMAGE to various parts of the Holy Land, lead you through the biblical references from both Old and New Testaments, and allow you to encounter God in a unique way by giving you time to absorb both the text and the land. We will not be rushing off just to see more tourist sights. There will be time for prayer together and alone. We will celebrate Mass in interesting and significant places and, above all, meet the local people who live in and look after these wonderful places.

We have prepared several possible locations covering many sites both in the Kingdom of Jordan and in Palestine/Israel. From Moses to Jesus; the 'People of God' yesterday and today. Patriarch Twal strongly recommends starting in Jordan, in the footsteps of both Pope John Paul II (2000) and Pope Benedict XVI (2009). As with all events of The Open Cloister, these are ecumenical Christian pilgrimages, welcoming members of all denominations willing to share in Catholic Benedictine ethos and liturgies.

Expressions of interest

We prefer to take small groups of individuals. If you have such a group in mind, or you are an individual or smaller group, please contact the Bookings Secretary at The Open Cloister to express your interest. Please indicate:
Where? - Jordan, Palestine/Israel.
When? - What month of which year?
How long? - The number of days?
Who? - Who would you like to go with, how many?
Please don't forget to leave your name and contact details too.

We have arranged the following Pilgrimages: "Wilderness Pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Jordan
- with Moses to John the Baptist, Jesus and Mary"
Led by Fr. Patrick Fludder OSB (Worth Abbey) and Geoff Thompson
organised by Worth Abbey † The Open Cloister
2012 September 29th - October 11th
2015 possibly - if sufficient interest
Details HERE
This pilgrimage basically covers the important parts of the Old Testament.
N.B. A certain level of fitness is recommended to get the best from this pilgrimage. Pilgrims need to be able to climb up (and down) about 300 steps at each of Jebel Haroun, Lot's Cave and Mukawir. Other sites require a fair bit of climbing over rough archeological sites.

Complementary to the above pilgrimage, the following could be done independently or before or after. Ideally the New Testament follows the Old Testament.

Worth Abbey Benedictine Retreat Pilgrimage
to the Holy Lands of Jordan, Palestine and Israel
Led by Fr. Patrick Fludder OSB (Worth Abbey) and Geoff Thompson
organised by Worth Abbey † The Open Cloister
2013 Wednesday April 17th to Thursday 2nd May
2016 possibly - if sufficient interest
Details HERE

This pilgrimage basically covers the important parts of the New Testament.



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