JERUSALEM – Every year during Advent, the employees of the Latin Patriarchate are invited to participate in a short spiritual retreat. This year, it took place on Thursday, December 16, 2021, at the Notre-Dame Center, with Fr. Davide Meli. It was an opportunity for all participants to ask themselves what Christmas is about.
At a time during which all schedules are overloaded, especially at the Patriarchate where many events and charity projects depend on everyone's involvement, it is important to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, on the past year, and on the year to come.
Even if unfortunately, the pilgrims and tourists still cannot enjoy it, everything was nevertheless ready to welcome them with Christmas joy and spirit. According to Fr. Davide, the decorations and symbols of Christmas are a reminder that we must prepare our homes and especially our souls to welcome the Savior of the world. He arrived here more than 2,000 years ago and was born "in such total poverty that it is hard to believe that God wanted this for His only Son," he said, echoing the words of St. John Paul II during his general audience on December 18, 2002.
This child in the manger of Bethlehem has come not only to announce salvation but also to proclaim the love of God and His gratuity. Before reading the Gospel of the Nativity according to St. Matthew, Fr. Davide first highlighted the importance of discussion and real bonds with those around us: to discuss, and sometimes to argue, is the manifestation of a desire to enter into contact and to build a bridge between two realities. Very often, it is also like taking the first step to finding a solution. Today, the new means of communication that are social networks can be a source of misunderstandings, but also of great difficulties in families, in couples, between friends, or at work. It is therefore necessary to take the time for a real conversation and to take care of those who really matter.
The participants were thus asked to reflect successively on three questions:
Through small group discussions, everyone had a chance to express themselves. Then each group reported back to the rest of the participants on their findings. Afterward, the employees were invited to participate in a Holy Mass celebrated in the Chapel of Notre-Dame de Jerusalem by His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The Patriarch reiterated in his homily his gratitude and pride for the work accomplished this year and then shared a lunch with the Patriarchate staff.