“Whom shall I fear?”

The weeks go by and they give the impression to resemble Jerusalem. As is the tradition during Lent, the Latin Church surrounded with a particular solemnity the Sunday celebrations at the Holy Sepulchre.

Saturday, February 28: a large delegation of Franciscans accompanied in procession Bishop Kamal Hanna Bathish (emeritus vicar general of the Patriarchate) to the Holy Sepulchre. Then, the traditional rite of reception of a prelate was performed: the doors were opened when the delegation arrived and HE venerated the stone of the anointing, kissed the crucifix and then sprinkled the clerics and the faithful with holy water.

While waiting the daily procession in its solemnized form, the present Catholics were able to enjoy the festivity in the Basilica of the Resurrection.

Unlike last week, the Latins were joined this time by the Orthodox Churches on the path of Lent. Following the Julian calendar the Lenten march began one week later this year.

Thus the Greek, Coptic, Syriac and Armenian Patriarchs followed one another in the stone of anointing. Escorted by many priests or seminarians, the Orthodox leaders had to wait patiently to reach their corresponding places of worship. The faithful came indeed in large numbers.

At 15h the Latin started the solemn procession headed by Fr. Sergio, Secretary of the Custody, in the presence of Monsignor Bathish. A peculiarity of the procession for Lent was that all the hymns were sung on developed melodies and the organ accompanied the prayer throughout this journey of faith.

Then at night the Franciscans gathered for the Matins of the second Lent Sunday. Around midnight, the psalms echoed in the chapel of the appearance of Christ to His Mother. The many faithful present then followed the Custos Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who presided over the Office for a procession around the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre.

This was a special Office. While the universal Church no longer sings the Hallelujah until the holy night of Resurrection, the Holy Sepulchre continues to echo the songs of the Paschal victory. And it was a powerful symbol to see a procession of this part of the Church carrying the candles (as in the Easter Vigil), a few moments after hearing the story of the exodus from Egypt during the Vigils. At the Basilica of the Saint Sepulchre, even in Lent, the joy of the Resurrection cannot be killed.

Upon completion of the Office, the Minor Friars returned to St. Saviour Monastery while the Custos celebrated in privato the Sunday Service at the Calvary. A timidly awakened assembly gathered the next morning around the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Monsignor Fouad Twal. As customary, the Patriarch celebrated part of the Mass together with a Franciscan, this Sunday was Fr. Sergio.

The homily was given however by Fr. Sebastian OFM., of the Dominus Flevit community, who decided to quote the words of the Psalm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” Reminding that Lent is “a good time to ask for peace; in our hearts first, and then in the world”, the Iraqi priest especially urged the congregation (which included much of the Jerusalemite parish) “not to be afraid”. “Our fear must not be a loss of trust in God even in these terrible times for the Christians of the Middle East. We have to stand firm and patient, because we know that the beginning of the fall of the “great beast” of which speaks the Book of Revelation is close.” At the end, the preacher exhorted the faithful to cry out to God to “illuminate the consciences of the light of the Transfigured. »

With this second Sunday of Lent, the Latin Church continues its journey towards Easter. On Wednesday March 4, the Minor Friars will visit the shrine Dominus Flevit at 16h for the celebration of the Mass.

Nicolas Kimmel

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