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Greetings from Jerusalem

By Fr. David Steffy, L.C., Chargé of the Holy See


April 5th, 2024 - Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center


Dear Friends of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center,


Easter greetings from Jerusalem, united in our prayers and intentions for peace.

 

He is truly risen! That is the refrain we repeat constantly these days as we greet each other this Easter week. It is not just a nice sentiment or a cordial greeting, but a profound recognition of the truth that reminds us of our eternal salvation in our Savior Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. This truth reminds us of Christ’s victory over sin and death. Now, more than ever, here in the Holy Land we need to be reminded of that truth and to let it give hope to our daily lives.

 

Thankfully, there have been no major flair-ups of violence during this time when the major religions celebrate some of their feast days. Christians celebrate the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord.  Muslims are celebrating Ramadan, and the Jewish will shortly celebrate Passover. Holy Week and Easter Week are normally low months regarding visiting Christian pilgrims since many tour group leaders are either priests or pastors who need to minister to their local communities at home. The absence of pilgrims has been less noticeable in the last two weeks because of a the very large number of local Christians who participated in the beautiful Holy Week and Easter celebrations. The local Christians, caught in the middle of this painful conflict, continue to witness to their faith and have come together as a community of love more than ever.

 

For example, the afternoon procession of Palm Sunday is a highlight for the many local Christians and visiting pilgrims. The locals came out in abundance and it was hard to tell the difference between last year and this year regarding the number of participants. That seemed to be the case for the liturgical feasts in the Holy Sepulcher as well. Over 200 priests concelebrated the Chrism Mass/Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the Patriarch and the Nuncio, besides a large number of lay participants. All of us who minister in the Holy Land find inspiration in the strong faith and witness of the local Christian community.


Palm Sunday Procession - Mount of Olives


Besides pointing this out in his words at the end of the Palm Sunday procession, the Patriarch, Cardinal Pizzaballa also encouraged those following the procession virtually to come and visit the Holy Land now. He stated that more than ever the Holy Land needs the witness of the pilgrims to help encourage peace and solidarity here. As well, the majority of the locals depend on the pilgrims for employment and the success of their businesses. I encourage you to think about joining an upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As far as the conditions here, a woman who lives and works in New York City commented to me that she felt much safer here than in Manhattan. She reiterated that what is seen on the news is localized to areas away from the places pilgrims usually visit.

 

All the same, we join together in our prayers for an end to the war, a return of the hostages, and a peaceful resolution of all hostilities both in this region and throughout the world.

 

Thank you again for all of your prayers and the support.

  

Sincerely in the Risen Lord,

Father David Steffy, L.C.


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