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A Brief History of Christian Pilgrimage

Apr 27, 2016   //   by admin   //   Blog, ITS Blog  //  Comments Off on A Brief History of Christian Pilgrimage

To go on pilgrimage is to be part of a long and respectable history almost two thousand years old. Even Jesus himself participated in pilgrimages as a child with his family to Jerusalem for High Holy Days, and Psalms 120-134 are known as the “Psalms of Ascent”, sung by faithful Christians as they made their pilgrimages up to Jerusalem.

The Holy Land

In the medieval era, the Holy Lands were often inaccessible or too dangerous to visit. Many European Christians developed imitation pilgrimage practices in response, such as walking labyrinths on cathedral grounds. Over time, this became a widespread practice with its own rituals and routines.

Early pilgrimages in Europe

After initially preparing, people would journey into the labyrinth and upon reaching the centre; they would spend time in prayer and quiet contemplation. At this point, they would slowly start returning back to the entrance of the labyrinth with a renewed and revived spirit. Many medieval Christians also started to practice walking the Stations of the Cross, with symbols in the church guiding pilgrims to follow the footsteps of Jesus on his way to the Crucifixion.

Other sites in Europe became popular during the centuries where it was too dangerous to travel to the Holy Land. St. Peter’s in Rome has traditionally been the most popular pilgrimage destination, due to the presence of the Apostle Peter’s earthly remains.

Santiago de Compostela in Spain has been Europe’s second most popular pilgrimage site, traditionally renowned to house the remains of the Apostle James. Visiting sites such as these helped medieval Christians visit a ‘Sacred Centre’ of their faith.

Canterbury Cathedral and the shrine of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, became England’s best-known pilgrimage destination when he was martyred on the orders of King Henry II in 1170. Pilgrims have journeyed to Becket’s shrine for centuries, and its fame has been immortalised in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1383-1400), where twenty-nine pilgrims tell stories to each other on the way to seek healing and transformation.

The Reformation and recent years

During The Reformation, going on Pilgrimage fell out of favour, as various superstitions were associated with it. Despite this, the fundamental nature of pilgrimage, to make a journey to a religious centre to deepen one’s faith, has remained strong in the spiritual life of Christianity.

More recently, going on pilgrimage has increased in popularity once more. Catholics, Protestants and even Evangelical Christians are all rediscovering the transformative power with journeying to a sacred site.

Leaving the regular world behind and visiting spiritually significant places offers the chance to contemplate and enjoy the wonders of God, before returning, feeling refreshed and renewed.

Many people find pilgrimage attractive as it offers an opportunity to get away from the distractions of everyday life, and to work towards a life in closer communion with God.

The Seven Depths of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Aug 26, 2015   //   by admin   //   Blog, ITS Blog  //  Comments Off on The Seven Depths of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Our soul is precious. But what is our soul? In simple terms, our soul is who we are. It is our very essence. The presence of a soul can be identified by how we feel inside. Our emotions indicate the condition of our soul. For this reason having an emotionally healthy spiritual life is paramount.

How can be measure the depths of our spirituality in terms of our emotional health? Here are seven indicators.

The Depth of Personhood

How do we reflect on our own lives, even those finite daily interactions and perceptions? Do we bottle up our emotions? Do openly share who we are with those around us? A person able to share their fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities and joys with others is courageous and honest – a person with a deep personhood.

Depth of Redemption from the Past

We all have demons. Residual guilt or shame can have a lingering drastically-negative effect within our psyche. This has been vanquished in the truth, which is rooted in the very essence of the Christian faith. When you choose to believe the person that you were fades away. This rebirth is one of the most attractive aspects of Christianity – and one of reasons many turn to faith every year.

Depth of Acceptance of our Limitations

Strength is to know and accept our limitations. No one walks through life with limits. Not everyone is destined walk through life with the ability to walk a tightrope between two high rise buildings. Not everyone is destined to father nine children. Not everyone is destined to be responsible for the welfare of a nation. Understanding our purpose without failing to achieve a purpose that isn’t meant for us is one of the cornerstones of a spiritually healthy life.

Depth of Brokenness and Willed Vulnerability

Someone with an understanding to jettison self protection – especially when offering their strength to others is a person of great courage and understanding. This belief is highlighted in faiths the world over.

Depth when Experiencing Grief and Loss

Grief and loss are a part of life. There is only one solitary collective constant for every single individual in the world – we all die. To acknowledge this, and the grief that comes with death, is another pivotal aspect of sound emotionally-healthy spirituality.

Depth of Connecting with Others

Emotional intimacy with your fellow man is another pathway to emotional healthy spirituality. When experiencing a prolonged period of depression, one of the most effective ways to combat the turmoil is to help others.

Additionally, the ability to form meaningful relationships is paramount also. Adults do tend to become drawn into deep relationships in the wrong manner. Emotional and spiritual maturity allows us to form appropriately deep relationships, whilst erecting safe boundaries.

Depth of Integrity and Self Control

One of the more challenged aspects of faith in terms of emotions, yet one with the greatest long terms effects on emotional well-being is the ability to have our emotions work for us and not against us. The Ten Commandments can be treated as guidelines to a productive and happy life. Teaching us to not covert what we don’t have, not to hurt other people, not to be greedy in terms of possessions will allow us to keep our integrity.

Follow these seven tips and you’ll surely be able to enjoy spiritual and emotional wealth. Embrace who you are and who you were meant to be and you’ll have a happy life.

 

Six Religious Places to Visit in Tamil Nadu

Aug 3, 2015   //   by admin   //   Blog, ITS Blog  //  Comments Off on Six Religious Places to Visit in Tamil Nadu

There is a wealth of places of spiritual significance throughout the globe. Whether in Europe, Asia or the Americas, you’ll be treated to an abundance of locale choice. Tamil Nadu, the eleventh largest state in India, is one of the most frequented pilgrimage locations in the world. With over 34,000 Hindu temples and a wealth of places of spiritual significance, Tamil Nadu is offers much for those undertaking a pilgrimage. Here are seven religious places that you must visit in Tamil Nadu.

Chidambaram

A hut-like sanctum, Chidambaram is famed for having a gold-plated roof and towering gopurams. Such is the opulence of this site that many great kings of history were crowned here.

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health

A Roman Catholic basilica which is devoted to our Lady of Good Health, this place of great religious significance is found in Velankanni. Devotion to the Lady of Good Health is set to have commenced in the 16th Century. It’s believed that the basilica was the location of three miracles.

Palani

The largest pilgrimage centre in Tamil Nadu, Palani is the site of the famed six abodes of Murugan. The temple has the highest number of visitors during the Poosam festival. It’s estimated that as many as seven million devotees enjoy a wealth of activities such as shaving their head and walking barefoot, showering their devotion to the deity.

San Thome Basilica 

Located in Santhome, San Thome Basilica was constructed in the 16th Century by Portuguese explorers. The Basilica is the principal church of the Madras-Mylapore Catholic Archidiocese. San Thome Basilica is attached to a museum, hence has proven to be very popular with tourists.

 Srirangam

Housing the Ranganathaswamy Temple, one of the most significant destinations of the Vaishvana community, Srirangam is the largest Hindu temple in the world. It covers 156 acres and features the tallest tower in the world, reaching 196 feet.

Perur Temple

Perur Temple was constructed by Karikal Cholan over 1500 years ago and houses shrines to the presiding deity, Patteeswarar. Just seven kilometres from Coimbatore, Perur Temple has a wealth of shrines to admire and is the location of hundreds of visitors throughout the Panguni Uthiram festival which is celebrated in March each and every year.

These are six sites of religious significance that you can’t afford to miss in Tamil Nadu. Any pilgrimage to these sites would be more than welcomed for those seeking spiritual enlightenment.

Why Lourdes and Fatima are Inspirational

Jan 6, 2015   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Why Lourdes and Fatima are Inspirational

Those embarking on a pilgrimage have a wealth of destinations across the globe to choose from. Whether seeking a spiritual retreat, place rich in culture, or an opportunity to be closer to God, there are a number of different locations across the world to visit.

One fact that’s true of the Catholic faith is that the number of saints, popes, historical religious figures and events is vast. Some tours are more popular than others, with the most frequented historical location being The Holy Land itself.

Not far behind the often-frequented Holy Land is Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal. Both destinations attract a wealth of visitors each and every single year.

Lourdes, France is well-known for, not only the appearance of Mary to Bernadette Soubirous but, the celebrated Lourdes Water. Attracting people from across the world, Lourdes Water is considered to be non-liturgical holy water with patrons travelling to the location to bathe and drink from the spring.

Renowned for its curative properties, the water is free for those that desire it. Thousands of pilgrims across the world are drawn to Lourdes. In addition to the world-renowned grotto, Lourdes is famed for its Rosary Basilica, adorned with Neo-Byzantine architecture.

Fatima in Portugal is home to the fourth largest Catholic Church in the world. The Church was also host to one of the most miraculous events recorded in Catholic lore – the apparition of Marian to three siblings in 1917. Given that the site is one of the most notable appearances of the Virgin Mary, it should come as no surprise that thousands of pilgrims make the journey there each and every year.

Pilgrimages can be one of the most spiritual and enlightening experiences of a person’s life. When approached with an open heart and mind wondrous and often life changing experiences can be had. If you’re considering undertaking a pilgrimage to Lourdes or Fatima, you need only get in touch with ITS Pilgrimages and we’ll act as a guide to the whole experience.

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