There are many who are planning to visit Israel and all the holy sites, and I ask them are you going as a pilgrim or a tourist. I thought I would like to explain the difference between the two.
A tourist is going away from his life. A pilgrim is moving towards the center of life. A pilgrim is coming to identify and elaborate his beliefs. He is tying his story to a larger story; he is traveling in a communal undertaking with goals that affect a group: to build and sustain the group; his actions are visible; his faith and life philosophy are externalized – not inside himself.
St. Alphonsus said about spiritual meditation: The wordless interior reflection on and response to the revealed Word of God. The truths of faith are spiritual realities, they cannot be seen with bodily eyes, but only with the eyes of the soul. Meditation is like fire. Meditation affects the soul as fire does iron. If iron is cold, it very hard and cannot be molded with great difficulty. Put pit it in fire, and at once it softens and easily yields to the efforts of the blacksmith. So, too our hearts are often hard and obstinate. But under the influence of grace that we received in meditation, our hearts grow pliable and docile and can be molded by God. In meditation we raise our minds and hearts to God, to unite our consciousness with the very consciousness of God.