Mystery of the Visitation: Let us go quickly to announce the Christ

In Ein Karem, the natal village of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, many faithful gathered in the Franciscan sanctuary of the Visitation. On Saturday, May 31, they celebrated one of the important moments in the Mystery of God: Mary carrying Jesus among mankind for the first time.

The celebration is dear to the Franciscans because it was the fervent devotion of the new order of Saint Francis in the 13th century that inspired and propagated the Feast of the Visitation. The extensive spread of the Order and its liturgical books in medieval Europe brought many dioceses to adopt the feast, long celebrated on various dates in different countries. It was due to a desire for unity and conformity with the gospel text that the date May thirty-first was set in the Vatican II liturgical reform.

In his homily, the Custos of the Holy Land, who presided over the Mass, spoke about the feast’s rich meaning and chose to give his attention to an adverb in the day’s gospel reading that is repeated a number of times in the bible: “quickly” (cum festinatione). This haste is the sign of immediate reaction. “But all hurries do not have the same value. Some indicate disorder, tardiness or even poor organization,” explained Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa. The haste that motivated Mary to set out was different. Mary had found the essential – the Christ.

“She had an encounter that changed her life and, in the awareness of this, she hurried to go and announce it,” he went on. Motivated by this new dynamic, Mary would also change her relationship with other people and her own intensity and depth. The Custos invited everyone to take part in this transformation in order to go beyond what we know and to live with others.

Also during this mass, five seminarians—the friars Eliazar, Gilberto, Rodrigo Luis and Rodolfo—were instituted readers and acolyte. These “instituted ministries”, as they are called, prepare the seminarians for ordination to the deaconate and priesthood. It is, therefore, an important step for these five friars, who did not hide their joy. Fra Rodrigo, from Brazil, is in his first year of theology at the Custody’s seminary. At the end of the mass he said, “This ministry is the first step. I can now announce the Word of God and be nourished by it. I must continue to draw a little closer to God every day; this step encourages me.”

The “acolyte” is one who “accompanies”, true to the word’s etymology. He accompanies celebrant and serves at the altar, helping the priest in his liturgical function, primarily during celebration of the mass.

After the mass everyone enjoyed refreshments at the invitation of the superior of the sanctuary, Fra Wladyslaw Brzezinski.

Later in the afternoon in Jerusalem, after mass celebrated by H.B. Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the traditional procession from Saint Saviour Monastery to the Latin Patriarchate and back took place, with a large number of participants.

Emilie R.

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