“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

The Church in the Holy Land rings in the new year with pleas for peace

“May the Lord give you peace,” the Franciscan words of greeting, resounded several times in the celebrations of the end of the year and the beginning of the year in the Holy Land. 

The words were echoed in the wishes of Christians, who inaugurated the new civil year on Jan. 1 (while Jews and Muslims celebrate the new year on different dates).

This greeting “says a great truth, that peace comes from him, from the Lord Jesus,” emphasized Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, in the Mass celebrated on Jan. 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the 57th World Day of Peace.

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, kisses the crucifix at the entrance of the Pro-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate, in Jerusalem, where he presided over the Mass of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on Jan. 1, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, kisses the crucifix at the entrance of the Pro-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate, in Jerusalem, where he presided over the Mass of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on Jan. 1, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

The Mass was celebrated in the church of the Latin Patriarchate, the Pro-Cathedral of Jerusalem. Joining Pizzaballa among the concelebrants was Cardinal Fernando Filoni, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, who is currently on a solidarity visit to the Holy Land together with the order’s governor general, Leonardo Visconti di Modrone.

In his homily, the patriarch spoke about the “courage” and “madness” of peace: “Jesus did not solve any of the social and political problems of his time, but he did reveal a way, which is still the way forward for those who want to build contexts of peace, even here, today, in the troubled and conflict-ridden Middle East: encounter.” 

The patriarch challenged Christians of the Holy Land to “make a difference.”

“I am more and more convinced that in this complex context, the main vocation and mission of the small Christian community is precisely this: to cherish the desire for encounter, to cultivate freedom in relation to all, to overcome ethnic, religious, and identity boundaries. It is my dream, and it is the madness that I would like to share with all this small and beloved Church in Jerusalem,” Pizzaballa said.

The words that St. Francis embraced as a greeting are found in the Old Testament: “The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Nm 6:26).

A nun of the order of Mother Teresa (Sisters of Charity) prays during Mass of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on Jan. 1, 2024, in the Pro-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. A community of Missionaries of Charity, consisting of three sisters, is still present in Gaza today. Credit: Marinella Bandini
A nun of the order of Mother Teresa (Sisters of Charity) prays during Mass of the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on Jan. 1, 2024, in the Pro-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. A community of Missionaries of Charity, consisting of three sisters, is still present in Gaza today. Credit: Marinella Bandini

Father Francesco Patton, who serves as the custos of the Holy Land, commented to the journalists present at the Mass: “The face of God shining upon us is the face of Jesus. From the Holy Land, we must continue to present the face of Jesus: the holy places are the historical testimony of the face of Jesus, and being Christians of the Holy Land means invoking the face of Jesus.”

The plea for peace was heard at the recent year-end celebrations as well. On Dec. 31, in Nazareth, the Holy Family was solemnly celebrated. It is precisely here that, after returning from Egypt, St. Joseph established the dwelling place for his family.

A procession went from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth to the place tradition indicates as the house where Jesus grew up with Joseph and Mary, just a few tens of meters away. The procession took place after the solemn Mass of the Holy Family presided over by Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, on Dec. 31, 2023. Credit: Marinella Bandini
A procession went from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth to the place tradition indicates as the house where Jesus grew up with Joseph and Mary, just a few tens of meters away. The procession took place after the solemn Mass of the Holy Family presided over by Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, on Dec. 31, 2023. Credit: Marinella Bandini

The custos of the Holy Land, who presided over the Mass, called for prayers for families suffering from war and for all families, so that they may not lose hope and courage in the face of daily challenges.

Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, incenses the altar Dec. 31, 2023, in the place that the tradition indicates as the house of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Credit: Marinella Bandini
Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, incenses the altar Dec. 31, 2023, in the place that the tradition indicates as the house of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Credit: Marinella Bandini

A young couple expecting their first child processed with an icon of the Holy Family to the place tradition indicates as the house where Jesus grew up with Joseph and Mary, “and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51), just a few tens of meters from the Basilica of the Annunciation.

A young married couple expecting their first child processed with an icon of the Holy Family to the place tradition indicates as the house where Jesus grew up with Joseph and Mary, just a few tens of meters from the Basilica of the Annunciation, on Dec. 31, 2023. Credit: Marinella Bandini
A young married couple expecting their first child processed with an icon of the Holy Family to the place tradition indicates as the house where Jesus grew up with Joseph and Mary, just a few tens of meters from the Basilica of the Annunciation, on Dec. 31, 2023. Credit: Marinella Bandini

The desire for peace also resonated in the evening Te Deum at the Church of St. Saviour in Jerusalem. Pizzaballa and Filoni joined the prayer of the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. Before the Blessed Sacrament, exposed throughout vespers, hymns of praise echoed along with the prayer that “God may grant peace to all.”

Cardinal Pizzaballa and Cardinal Fernando Filoni joined the prayers of the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land who celebrated Vespers and the Te Deum on Dec. 31, 2023 in St. Saviour Church, Jerusalem. Credit: Courtesy of Silvia Giuliano
Cardinal Pizzaballa and Cardinal Fernando Filoni joined the prayers of the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land who celebrated Vespers and the Te Deum on Dec. 31, 2023 in St. Saviour Church, Jerusalem. Credit: Courtesy of Silvia Giuliano

 

By Marinella Bandini
2024-01-04T10:28:52+00:00 January 4th, 2024|Categories: News|