The day after Christmas, in the early morning, the Custos of the Holy Land, fra Francesco Patton, and some young friars visited the elderly and ill friars in the infirmary on the top floor of St Saviour’s convent in Jerusalem, and together they celebrated Mass in the room opposite the chapel.
Christian life from Christmas to Easter
The intimate ceremony – about fifty people in all - was very well prepared and attended. The white vestments of Christmas were replaced by the red ones, on the day when the liturgy remembers St Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. “The birth of Jesus is projected towards Easter and towards our salvation,” the Custos underlined in his homily. “That Child is born to give life; he is given to humanity that needs salvation.”
St Stephen “shows us that the path of salvation that Jesus took, from Christmas to Easter, is also the trajectory of our lives”. Christian life “goes through the paschal experience of giving life, of dying together with Jesus, and like Stephen putting our life into the hands of Jesus, so that Jesus can put our lives into the hands of the Father.” The Christmas songs that resonated in the infirmary, accompanied by fra Ferguson at the keyboard, emphasized this mystery.
At Christmas, God listens to the cry of humanity
During the Octave of Christmas – the period of eight days which the Church celebrates as a single Christmas day – every evening the Liturgy of the Hours proposes reciting psalm 130 (129), known as “De profundis”: “Out of the depths I call to you Lord”. “At Christmas, God listens to the profound cry of humanity,” the Custos said. The whole of humanity feels the need for salvation and the answer is the birth of the Son of God. In these difficult times we are living in, we take the invocation of the psalm as our own and we repeat: ‘Out of the depths I call to you Lord.’ May it not be simply our personal cry, but may it give voice to the desire for salvation of the whole of humanity.”
Greetings and the Nativity scene
After the Mass, there was time to exchange news and Christmas greetings over breakfast together. The friars of the infirmary welcomed with joy the presence of the younger friars, and for them it was an opportunity to share some time with those who are not only older in years but also further ahead on the path of their vocation. Some stopped to pray in front of the Nativity scene set up next to the chapel of the infirmary. This is also a Franciscan place where the indulgence granted by Pope Francis for the 800th anniversary of the Christmas of Greccio can be obtained.