HOLY LAND - On April 30th and May 6th, the episcopal consecrations of Fr. Rafic Nahra and Fr. Jamal Khader Daibes will take place, one in Nazareth and the other in Bethlehem.
This is a great joy for the diocese of Jerusalem; a rare event of great spiritual significance not only for all the members of the diocese, but also for all the Catholics throughout the world.
With this sacrament, the two Bishops, who were appointed on March 11th, 2022, will join the Episcopal College of the Catholic Church. It has currently about 5,370 bishops (of whom about 4,000 are diocesan bishops), elected from more than 414,000 priests. An episcopal ordination is always an important grace in the life of the diocese, but it is also, for Catholics throughout the world:
One of the most ancient rites of the Church, this ceremony is divided into several steps. At the beginning of the celebration, the Pope's apostolic letter appointing the future Bishop is read to all the faithful, who give thanks to God. Before being ordained, facing the whole assembly, the future bishop then makes the commitments necessary for the proper exercise of his mission to be accomplished in the name of Christ, such as the proclamation of the Gospel, the obedience to the Pope, and the service, welcome and care of the people entrusted to him.
After this promise, while the assembly sings the Litany of the Saints, the ordinand lies down on the floor, signifying his surrender to God, as Jesus Christ who was dead and is now risen.
This call to the Holy Spirit is followed by the essential part of the ordination: the Patriarch laying his hands on the head of the future Bishop. After him, all the Bishops present do the same. Then the Patriarch declaims the long ordination prayer, asking God’s grace for the future Bishop and recalling the meaning of the episcopate. It is through this and the prayer of ordination that the office that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles is passed on. It is the oldest rite in the Church, as St Paul reminds it in his letter to Timothy: "Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was granted to you through words of prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders". (1 Tim 4:14). During the entire time of the ordination prayer, the gospel book is held open above the head of the ordinand, for it is in submission to the Word of God that the Church and the future Bishop exercise their ministry.
The Patriarch then sprinkles the Holy Chrism on the head of the ordinand, so that the Holy Spirit may penetrate him with His grace. The anointing configures him to Christ, since in Greek the word "Christ" means "the one who has been anointed".
Then the episcopal attributes, symbols of his mission, are given to the new Bishop. They include:
After taking possession of his seat, the "cathedra", the new Bishop exchanges a kiss of peace with all the Bishops present as a mark of his new belonging to the episcopal body. Then the Eucharistic liturgy, which he may now preside, resumes.
At the end of this very solemn ceremony, the new Bishop blesses the assembly, accompanied by the thanksgiving songs.