Franciscans in prayer at the Cenacle for the opening of the Conclave | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Franciscans in prayer at the Cenacle for the opening of the Conclave

On Tuesday, March 12th, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa, in the midst of a small gathering of friars and lay faithful at the Little Cenacle, celebrated Mass for the Conclave Fathers gathering in Rome.

In the Custody, as in all the Catholic Communities of the Holy Land, prayer has become even more intense as the conclave that will give the Church its new pope opens today - prayers calling on the Holy Spirit to guide the cardinals in their choice.

Just a few meters from the Upper Room where the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, the Franciscans take up the texts of the Feast of Pentecost:

“We are here, very close to the Cenacle, united with the Church in Jerusalem,” explained the Custos, “to invoke the help of the Holy Spirit for the cardinals in choosing a pope in accordance with the will of God. As religious and as believers, the best thing we can do is pray.”

In his homily, the Custos emphasized that it was here at the Cenacle that the People of God was born into its universality as one, indivisible Church. We can experience this as we see the pilgrims who come from all over the world to pray in Jerusalem.

And if all Christianity turns to Jerusalem, Jerusalem turns to Rome because Jerusalem needs Rome and Peter. “After having received the Holy Spirit, the apostles did not make a joint declaration or publish a press release. It is Peter who spoke and offered a re-reading of the entire history of revelation. If the whole world should look to Jerusalem for a vision of the universality of the Church, Jerusalem should look to Rome and the Seat of Peter that guarantees this universality.”

Continuing his meditation, the Custos stressed fraternal love and communion with Christ. “Even if the union, the unity, is difficult to achieve in Jerusalem, it is an appeal continually sent out to the Church: unity in reciprocal love, because only love can change hearts, only love can make us grow. Even if it is wounded, the Church is the Church of Christ.

“Today we should pray that the cardinals vote according to God’s will and that everywhere in the world, here in Jerusalem or in Rome, we can all cooperate so that the Kingdom of Love that was inaugurated here in Jerusalem might become tangible, visible in our lives, our works. This is not a strategy; it is testimony to the new life we receive in Christ. It is required of the Successor of Peter, but also of each one of us.”