DSC_0006The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land met at the Latin Patriarchate on March 15-16, for the first time after the Synod for the Middle East last October. The representatives of the local church reflected and discussed the implementation of the Synod Propositions and other challenges with regards to prayer and communion.

In his welcome address , His Beatitude Fouad Twal expressed the need for “a true follow-up to this historic event, guided by the Spirit.”.

The first working day of the Assembly was devoted to the recently published Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini as well as discussions of ways to preserve the spirit and experience of the Synod.

The theme of the Word of God is at heart the Assembly, which was reflected as a means to encourage regular reading of the Word as the real and regular nourishment for every Christian.  To put the Word in the heart of the life of the faithful in the Holy Land, a committee of the Latin Patriarchate have been for several weeks preparing a set of 12 catechesis to highlight different aspects of Scriptures, relations between the Old and New Testament, the Truth of the Word, Lectio Divina … Lessons are also available on DVD prepared under the direction of Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem.

Moreover, pastors of all parishes in the diocese are invited to encourage parishioners to get together with family or individuals to spend five minutes a day reading the Word of God, for continuous reading of the Bible or following the liturgical Lectionary.

These initiatives are in resonance with the Synod’s decision to dedicate one year to the Word of God. One of the important recommendations made at the Synod was that every family own a Bible. ” In the Our Father, we pray that the Lord gives us each day our daily bread , “said Bishop Shomali, “and our daily bread, is indeed the Wordof God.”

Bishops and representatives of the Church of the Holy Land then prepared several reports on the Synod, accentuating communion with the Synod, and expressing their desire to see it continue.

The second day of work was devoted to the pastoral care of migrants and the youth in the Holy Land. Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People was the moderator during this segment of the meeting. An outline of the pastoral challenges associated with migration was presented. The Archbishop said that: “the home can be defined as a mark of the Church ,”he said, “it is ensuring that we address the other as a person, and it is a way to show our loyalty to Christ.”

The Diocese, from Jordan to Cyprus, to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, is facing these challenges.

At the end of the plenary assembly, the Ordinaries welcomed and received the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux, fervently awaited by the faithful and religious of the Holy Land gathered together in unity. The relics will remain in the diocese for two and a half months. The Patriarch stated that through her intercession, “we ask for the Lord for the grace of real communion among all of us.”

A communion was very present during the arrival of St. Therese in Jerusalem, when and where the pilgrimage to the Holy Land of the “great Saint of modern times” began.

Marie Malzac

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