Lent begins in the Holy Land: the invitation to remain “authentic” disciples of Jesus

Lent begins in the Holy Land: the invitation to remain “authentic” disciples of Jesus

On 14 February, the Custody of the Holy Land solemnly celebrated the start of Lent, the time of grace that precedes Easter and a period of fasting, penitence and prayer which opens, as in the whole of the Church, with Ash Wednesday.

In the very early morning, while fr. Stéphane Milovitch, president of the Holy Sepulchre, presided over the Mass in front of the Edicule of the Sepulchre, the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton celebrated the community Mass at St Saviour’s, with the liturgical ritual of the imposition of the “ashes”.

Obtained from the olive branches of last year’s Palm Sunday, the blessed ashes recall the transience of earthly life and incite the faithful to make the penitential effort of Lent.

It was then the turn of the pupils of the  Terra Sancta School who, together with the teachers and the school personnel, filled the church for the imposition of the ashes, during the celebration presided over by fr. Amjad Sabbara, parish priest of St Saviour  and concelebrated by fr. Ibrahim Faltas and fr. Tony Choukry.

Make the effort to be authentic people

“In the gospel that we have just heard,” the  Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton, said in his homily, “there are three words which make us reflect: hypocrites, in secret and Father. We have to avoid behaving like  hypocrites and simulating being disciples of Jesus, and not show off our charity, prayer and fasting. It is one thing to act and it is another  to be authentic people.”

“What is the correct attitude to cultivate, then? Doing everything “in secret,”  the Custos of the Holy Land  continues, “because the Father can see into the secret. We are invited to fast, to pray and to  share and to do any good simply because they are things that have a value in themselves and we do them for God, instead of to be noticed. And only in this case will the Father reward us, and he does so by giving us that inner peace which is the result of a conscience that knows we have acted honestly and coherently.”

“PodLectio. Meditations from the Holy Land”

The Custos also inaugurated today PodLectio. Meditazioni dalla Terra Santa”, the series of meditations and reflections on the Gospel of the day offered by the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land throughout the Lenten period on the website of the Custody and the YouTube platform. PodLectio is a spiritual support to set out on the path towards Easter and  meditate on the word of the day on all 40 days of Lent.

In the Holy Land, Lent will be marked weekly by the Lenten peregrination of the Franciscans – the first this year will be on 28 February at the Shrine of Dominus Flevit –, with the celebration of Mass in the places where the episodes of the Passion of Jesus took place: this tradition, which dates back to the first centuries of the Christian era, joins the usual Via Crucis along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, every Friday at 4.00 p.m..

Silvia Giuliano