Are Catholics encouraged to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem/Holy Land at least once in there lifetime especially during Christmas and Easter?
The Church doesn’t make a specific recommendation - it’s not like Muslims and Mecca, where at least one visit is practically obligatory. But parishes often organize group trips to the Holy Land (and other sites as well - Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, etc). My parish organizes a pilgrimage every year, and the Holy Land comes around in the rotation every few years.
My brother (a Catholic priest) made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when he was in seminary.
The only thing that concerns me now is the political situation over there. This might not be the best time to go.
The Church doesn’t call for it.
However, I have gone to the Holy Land twice on pilgrimages. It is amazing to see Jesus’ tomb (right in the middle of a great church). Going there makes the Gospels come alive, as you see the places that are great landmarks in the life of Jesus.
Whether it is safe to go there now is something to consider. There doesn’t seem any turmoil there right now however.
The Church doesn’t recommend or require, but I would say: do it anyway.
You will never read the Bible or pray the Rosary the same way again. It is an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to go back.
I highly recommend it. I went with a Catholic tour group, we traveled everywhere with a Franciscan Father and one of our tour guides was a Deacon. Every day we had Mass at one of the holy sites we visited. We did the Rosary daily on the bus or at a site we visited. The Sea of Galilee was one of my favorite sites, but the most spiritual experience that I had was when I read the first two readings at Mass on Calvary, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre!
If it’s in your budget, go.
I went in 95 for 3 weeks. It was fantastic!!! Although I have to say, while opposite the old city, they blew up a car in front of me. It was tough times in the holy land then too.