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Vocations “come and follow me”

“Blessed among women, Mary”: the solemnity of the Visitation and the Marian procession

“It is a celebration that speaks about a journey, a greeting and a deep joy that turns into exultation.” The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, spoke this way about the solemnity of the Visitation celebrated at Ain Karem on May 31. In the sanctuary dedicated to the episode of the encounter between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, the friars of the Custody and the numerous pilgrims celebrated the feast. During the mass, nine seminarians became lectors and another 13 became acolytes. For the seminarians of the Custody of the Holy Land, it is customary for them to become lectors after their first year philosophy studies and acolytes after their second year.

“Never forget that living out our vocation and receiving our ministry means to set out quickly, as Mary did,” said Fr. Patton, “to share what God has given us [and] to serve God’s mysterious plan and our brothers and sisters.” The Custos recalled that service comes before the needs and individual desires of the friars. He then went on to speak about the greeting between Mary and Elizabeth: “It is a greeting that goes beyond: it contains all the power of God's will for us. A power of reconciliation, of renewal, of fullness of life that God accomplishes through the gift of his son Jesus.”

Before the blessing, accompanied by Loreto litany, everyone processed into the Crypt of the Visitation, the church underneath the one where mass was celebrated. The Gospel reading of Mary’s Visitation reverberated off of the walls, followed by the song of the Magnificat.
“The Father Custos said that we are on the right path and the road ahead is still long,” said Fr. Wladyslaw Brzezinski, the superior of the fraternity. Today many friars have received new ministries: we are all called to imitate Mary with grace, prayer and faithfulness.”

Br. Marco, having become a lector said, “The Lord says, ‘He who is unrighteous even in a little thing is unrighteous also in much,” and so before coming to a ministry as important as the presbyterate, it is important to live out these little steps, to do the same in the bigger things that will be asked of me.”

“It is a service that helps us to prepare for the priesthood,” said Br. Michael, a new acolyte. You will see us serving on the altar in the coming celebrations at the Holy Places.”
After mass, a small refreshment was served in the sunny space in front of the Crypt, and then the Custos and the friars stayed for lunch with the fraternity of the Visitation and the nearby monasteries of St. John the Baptist and St. John of the Desert.

The Virgin Mary was still at the heart of the afternoon prayers. As is customary, on the last day of May, the Marian month, a statue of Our Lady was taken in procession to the Old City of Jerusalem. The statue was at the courtyard of St. Savior’s Monastery, where it had been placed since the morning. After lunch in the refectory, the youngest of the Franciscan friars had brought a bouquet of flowers to the statue of Mary, as per the Custody’s tradition. After the very crowded 5 p.m. mass, an assembly of parishioners and devotees to Our Lady, followed the statue’s exit. Also present were the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate and the Custos of the Holy Land.

On the streets of the Old City, some young Arab girls from the parish carried the statue of the Virgin Mary on their shoulders, surrounded by the parish’s scouts. Young people, families and seniors sang songs to Mary together. They waved small flags delivered by the scouts and they prayed faithfully to the Mother of God and our mother. The little girls, dressed for the occasion with veils on their heads like the Virgin Mary, smiled, and the Christians of Jerusalem rejoiced.

Beatrice Guarrera

2017/05/31 Part 1

2017/05/31 Part 2

2017/05/31 Part 3

2017/05/31 Part 4

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