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Vocations “come and follow me”

The Gethsemane fraternity launches new Horasancta.org website

A new Holy Hour website, by the initiative of the Gethsemane fraternity, is now online. For a long time, [the fraternity] was researching a way to stream the prayer that the faithful say when they imitate Jesus in Gethsemane, and this idea has come to fruition today on www.horasancta.org, available in Italian,English,French,and Spanish .
“We ask that you too come HERE spiritually, to this place that Jesus loved and where He often would come with his disciples,” can be read on the site, under the Who We Are section. “Our invitation is not meant to be a sterile remembrance but intends to let him reach out to us, reach out to us in such a way that ‘the many Gethsemanes’ we see all around our world can be enlightened by the same Lord who is capable of reaching all situations.”

The objective is to make more and more people aware of the strength of the Holy Hour prayer so that they can experience the same profound contact with the Lord that Jesus had. Through the site, thus, groups of pilgrims can reserve their spot to experience the Holy Hour at the Basilica in Gethsemane every evening. “Every first Thursday of the month at 8:30 p.m. there is the torchlight procession around the sacred garden and the solemn celebration of Holy Hour,” said Fr. Benito José Choque, the guardian of the fraternity, “but every day starting at 8 p.m., this moment is celebrated with the silent prayer of the groups.” Fr. Benito has been in the Holy Land for thirty years and he has been the superior in Gethsemane for about seven years. “There is an extraordinary richness here,” the friar revealed enthusiastically. Here Jesus said the most important prayer of his life and it is here that his Passion began.” In remembrance of the drops of blood that he poured out, the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Christ is celebrated at the sanctuary on July 1.

Fr. Benito explained that, due to the many requests received, several groups are often merged together for meditation time in the Basilica: “One of the things that moves me a lot is the communion that is created. One time, a group of young Italians from Assisi and one from Africa came. One of the most beautiful memories of the Holy Land for them was experiencing Holy Hour in this international environment, and feeling that they are the Church. It is the Lord who brings people together.” But what does it mean to experience Holy Hour? “For me this moment resembles what the Holy Curé of Ars used to say. He spent a lot of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and if someone occasionally asked him ‘what is he saying to you this whole time?’ He would reply, ‘Nothing. He looks at me and I look at him.’ This is what I experience, and it is a personal encounter with him.” Fr. Diego Dalla Gassa, who is from the fraternity of Gethsemane and who is in charge of the hermitage, also concurred: “It is being with Jesus, responding to the invitation that he makes: ‘Stay with me here.’ I am in dialogue with him and it is as if he was saying to me, ‘Look at how I loved you.’ This is where we are born: when we are loved.”

Manuela Brandini, an Italian volunteer, has been collaborating on the practical creation of the website. After coming on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she wanted to help the Franciscans of Gethsemane. “For me, the Holy Hour is the greatest time of prayer in which Jesus was closest to us. Since I came back from the Holy Land, I made a commitment to [attend Holy Hour] almost every Thursday. I put myself before him and I let myself be warmed by his rays.”

Why go to Gethsemane to experience the Holy Hour prayer? Teresa Penta, who lives at the hermitage in Gethsemane serving the pilgrims, knows why: “Because ‘love is not loved,’ like St. Francis said.” Few people pray seriously; so, if anyone hears his call saying ‘Stay with me here. Pray with me,’ it is important [for them] to respond to this invitation.

Beatrice Guarrera

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