In the Upper Room like the disciples for the feast of Pentecost

It is Pentecost, and in Jerusalem, more than ever, history repeats itself: People from all over the world, in many different languages, proclaim the Lord with joy. Like the disciples who gathered for prayer and received the Holy Spirit, so during the celebrations in Jerusalem, today’s disciples from all over the world asked for the coming of the same Spirit. To celebrate this solemnity, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land celebrated a morning mass at St. Savior’s Church and they then went to the Upper Room in the afternoon for the Second Vespers.
Since the friars have not been allowed to celebrate mass in the Upper Room, St. Savior’s has been used as a place of celebration instead. Pentecost was also the St. Savior’s parish feast and the parish priest, Fr. Nerwan Al-Banna, said the homily. “For us, inhabitants of Jerusalem and of this parish, Pentecost means a lot: with the coming of the Holy Spirit, right here in Jerusalem, the Church was born.”

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, presided over the ceremony. “Today’s celebration is the fulfillment of Easter,” said the Custos. “Without the gift of the Holy Spirit, we we would not be living as Christians, but dead. The Spirit is called this, because he is God’s own breath that is being transmitted to us when Jesus lives upon us.” The choir of the Custody of the Holy Land chanted the sequence of Pentecost in Latin so as to invoke the coming of the Spirit.
At St. Savior’s Church, there were a lot of people in attendance at the celebration, as well as at the small gathering for refreshments that followed. Between the parishioners’ applause, the Custos of the Holy Land and the pastor cut the cake in the crowded parish hall of the Immaculate Conception.

In the early afternoon, a procession left the St. Savior’s Monastery so as to reach the place where Pentecost took place: the Upper Room. Escorted by Israeli police, the Franciscans made their entry into the Holy Place on Mount Zion among a crowd of pilgrims from all over the world. Right there in the “hall of the descent of the Holy Spirit,” the memory of that moment was celebrated. “On this day of Pentecost, in this place where for the first time the Spirit descended on the apostles gathered in prayer together with the Virgin Mary, it is important that we invoke a new Spirit on the Church and on humanity, on each one of us, and on every creature, on this Holy Land and on every nation that needs peace and reconciliation,” said the Custos of the Holy Land, speaking in English to those present in the Upper Room. “Come, Holy Spirit,” sang the friars, along with the whole congregation. In the hot air, the fragrance of the holy oil scattered by the Custos filled the crowded Upper Room.

“I come from India, but I work in Jerusalem,” said a woman. “Today I feel like asking the Holy Spirit to help me face my daily difficulties. I know that the Spirit will help me.”
“I am glad to have come on pilgrimage to the Holy Land right on this feast,” a pilgrim exclaimed with joy. Paloma, a Spanish religious said, “Today I invoke the Holy Spirit and in particular the gift of the fortitude, in order to overcome everyday temptations.”

In the Upper Room, the Our Father that the faithful uttered in their own native tongues, as new disciples of Christ waiting for the Holy Spirit, resonated.

Beatrice Guarrera

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