In corde, in ore, in opere: on the path of coherence to the Cross. The fifth day of the International Congress of Commissaries of the Holy Land | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

In corde, in ore, in opere: on the path of coherence to the Cross. The fifth day of the International Congress of Commissaries of the Holy Land

Jerusalem, Convent of St. Saviour, February 3, 2012

Lauds and Holy Mass opened the penultimate day, Friday, February 3rd, of the International Congress of Commissaries of the Holy Land in the Church of St. Saviour. The presider was Fra Massimo Tedoldi, Secretary-General of the Order for Missions and Evangelization. In his homily, Fra Tedoldi dwelled with great attention on the figure of St. John the Baptist and on the episode of his murder, as proposed by the liturgy. John, who offered everything to the Lord - his life, his heart and his person through martyrdom, is a very important example of loyalty, of a just and holy man who courageously proclaims the truth, of a prophet who is completely dedicated to God, and who passes on His law and His will. For this reason, the synthesis of the powerful message that comes from the voice and the example of John, even over the centuries, could be defined as “the formula of coherence”: what you cherish in your heart, say it with your lips, do it with your hands, in corde, in ore, in opere. Brother Tedoldi states: "This is coherence: that very Word which is born inside you and becomes one with you, in corde, pushes for you to announce it, in ore, demands to be incarnated, in opere. A golden thread of concreteness unites the heart to the lips, the feet and the hands." John was the supreme interpreter of an essential preaching, of a life, from the first exultation in the womb of his mother Elizabeth, completely enraptured by the concreteness of the Word and the encounter with the person of Jesus. Everything in him speaks of a God Incarnate and who entered the history of man, of an Angel who appeared before him to receive baptism. This is a precious message, in particular for the Commissaries of the Holy Land, an invitation to shun a dis-incarnated and theoretical theology, to be, in their respective provinces, “a piece of the Holy Land: of concreteness, of effusion and genuine humanity! Of the nearness of God! When you come here, your 5 senses are radars that pick up the Presence of God Incarnate. Fill up so that you can pour it out generously on to your brothers in the province! With the faithful as well, give concreteness to your preaching in letting yourselves be touched. So that what you have seen, heard and touched can be conveyed to them.” Fra Tedoldi concluded by urging the Commissaries to be, like John, "a herald of exultation to indicate the Presence of the Lord where people live."

The morning continued with reports in the three languages of the Conference – Italian, English and Spanish – on the first two topics produced on the previous days: The Commissaries and their relations with the Custody, the Province and the Dioceses and The economic situation of the Custody and the contribution of the Commissaries. The presentation of each report was following by an exchange of views and discussion at the plenary meeting.

In the afternoon, at 3.00 p.m., after lunch at the Franciscan Casa Nova, the Commissaries were able to take part in the Via Crucis where, every Friday, the friars of the Custody follow in the narrow streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, from the courtyard of the el-Omariye Islamic school opposite the Convent of the Flagellation and where once stood the Antonia Fortress and Pilate’s Praetorium and where Jesus was condemned to death, along the Via Dolorosa to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Some Commissaries arrived early and were able to visit the Franciscan Church of the Flagellation and the interesting Archaeological Museum located there. There were countless other religious, tourists and groups crowding the streets, as usual, waiting to take part in the Via Crucis. Just before the start of the celebration, a large number of Franciscans from the Custody arrived along with the remaining Commissaries, Vice Commissaries and collaborators, together with the Minister General of the Order, Fra José Rodriguez Carballo, and the Custos, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa. The Via Crucis, intense and moving, with the readings referring to each station recited in three languages – Italian, English and Spanish – began and the long procession moved compactly through the Via Dolorosa, stopping briefly at the chapels which stand next to the traditional stations. At the 9th station, commemorating Jesus’ third fall under the cross, marked by the remains of a column in the wall near the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, the procession of the faithful reached the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, going through the small door and down the steps that lead to the small Coptic Chapel of St. Michael, which leads directly into the square in front of the Basilica. Here, first on Calvary and then in front of the Lord’s Tomb, the last stations of the Via Crucis were celebrated, ending with the traditional prayer for the Pope and for the benefactors of the Holy Land, along with a special prayer for the Commissaries of the Holy Land. After the solemn blessing, the Regina Coeli was sung, bringing the celebration to an end.

Before returning to the Convent of St. Saviour and resuming the work of the Congress, the group of Commissaries, together with the Minister General and the Custos, posed for a photo just outside the Basilica on the steps of the Chapel of the Franks, next to Calvary.

In the late afternoon, the Commissaries resumed the activity of the Congress, preparing and discussing the draft of the final document of the guide to the commissaries’ work. The presentation of the revised draft to the designated Committee for approval was fundamental, and there was fruitful dialogue between the two parties.

By Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Miriam Mezzera

Visit the website of the Congress.