Greetings from Jerusalem!
By Fr. David Steffy, L.C., Chargé of the Holy See
October 5th, 2023 - Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Dear Friends of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center,
The month of September reminds us of the role of Mary in the life of Christ and of the Church. The liturgical celebrations of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Exultation of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows tell the story of Mary’s fidelity to God’s plan over her life in the moments that most tested that fidelity and love; the moments of sorrow and grief. Her example and spiritual accompaniment strengthens and enlightens us in the moments of life when we feel overwhelmed and sorrowful. For those of you who are mourning and sorrowful, please be assured of the prayers of those who, like our Lady of Sorrows, daily pray and intercede for the friends of Notre Dame in our Chapel of Our Lady of Peace during daily adoration.
Towards the middle of September, there are many high Jewish feast days such as Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year and is a day of atonement. All public services, and even the airport are closed on that day, a day of abstinence and fasting. For those not familiar with the Jewish feast days, we are reminded of the roots of our faith and its many traditions and can appreciate how God’s presence is interwoven into their daily living. A few of my Jewish friends sent me the traditional greeting, “May you be signed and sealed in the book of life.” And what are the paths to be sealed in the book of life? Charity, repentance and prayer. It is a message we can all take to heart. If you would like a more complete understanding of this feast, I suggest you check out the following video:
I am happy to share the good news that pilgrims are beginning to return in large numbers to the Holy Land and Notre Dame Center after a traditionally slow month of August. With all the activity and movement that is involved in pilgrimages, I find much solace in seeing so many pilgrims at the end of a long day of visiting the holy sites, stop in the chapel for a short or long visit, bringing the experiences of their heart to His heart. This new period of activity takes on a new dynamic and spiritual dimension. No doubt that part of the reason so many pilgrims experience a unique sense of peace here at Notre Dame is due to that Presence that transcends time and space. Mary, Jesus’ mother and companion, is also part of that dynamic. Just as her physical presence filled Jesus and the apostles with a sense of peace as only a mother’s love can, we too can find in her a spiritual companion who brings us peace amid our hectic and busy lives.
My prayer is that each of you find in Mary a spiritual mother who accompanies you daily and who reminds you of the power of the saving love of Jesus. I hope my brief reflections and this newsletter help keep you close to all of us who live and minister in the Holy Land. Count on the prayers of the community of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center. I ask that you also remember the needs of the Holy Land in your daily prayers.
Sincerely in Christ,
Father David Steffy, L.C.