As is known from the definitions of the word “pilgrim”, on the one hand it is a “palm tree” – with a palm branch in its hands it rejoices, welcoming and praising God, on the other hand it is a “worshiper” who kneels before the greatness of the Lord. This is the main difference between a pilgrim and a tourist. As a corporal post costs nothing without a spiritual post, so an entertaining excursion to a monastery is different from a pilgrim trip. As a pilgrim service, we are called upon to create all the necessary conditions for maintaining that particular inspiration for “magnification” and “worship”, minimizing the discomfort and difficulties of traveling on a pilgrim trip.
This is how we see the main component of our work – in maintaining the special inner mood of a person who goes on pilgrimage. After all, this is not just a tour of the holy places, but a special spiritual experience: removal from worldly concerns, immersion in prayer, reading Holy Scripture, reflections, meetings with spiritual people and a unique time in the company of like-minded people. And, of course, the divine services, the crown of which is the divine Eucharist.
Does this mean that tours are not needed? Of course, necessary, but most importantly their content is aimed at strengthening the faith, the story of saints and shrines, devotees of piety, spiritual feats of monasteries, historical eras in the life of the Orthodox Church and many other things so that every pilgrim could draw a parallel from his spiritual impression own life. And it is precisely in this that the excursion program of the pilgrimage tour differs from the trip for curious tourists with the traditional race on the “mandatory points” of the program.
From this point of view, pilgrimage tours of Russia are particularly informative, in the development of which we cooperate with the pilgrimage services of the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church, which allows pilgrims not only to receive more complete and reliable information about shrines from the “first hand”. Donations made by our pilgrims when paying for pilgrimage tours go to the needs of the monasteries, restoration and beautification of the shrines. Among the most popular are pilgrimage tours to Optina Pustyn, Diveevo, Pskov, Valaam, Solovki and our new direction – pilgrimage tours to the shrines of Moscow and the Moscow Kremlin.
Orthodox tours have a special place in our programs:
- to jerusalem
- to the Holy Land,
- places of evangelical events
- as well as trips to the original Orthodox countries, such as Greece, Georgia, Serbia.
Often we combine pilgrim tours with a program of rest and excursions for the Orthodox. So pilgrim tours to the Crimea, Italy, Abkhazia were built. Particularly popular are pilgrimage tours to Corfu, a Greek island, the patron saint of which is St. Spyridon Trimifuntsky miracle worker. After all, it is very important for an Orthodox person to spend his holiday in a relaxed atmosphere, far from places of entertainment, in an Orthodox environment with the possibility of attending worship services.
Each of us goes on a pilgrimage on purely personal motives, but in one we are unanimous – we are going to ask for prayerful intercession from our beloved saints in our sorrows and needs. Make your personal little feat in the hope that our petitions will be heard, life situations will be resolved, and your heart will be filled with divine grace.
And we all hope, as the pious tradition says, that those saints in whose honor we performed the feat of pilgrimage, whom we worshiped and prayed especially, will stand next to us in our hour of death and help keep our answer.
May God’s blessing be with you all, your “Martha and Mary”