08 March 2018

In Gethsemane, the second stage of the Lenten Liturgical Pilgrimage

On Wednesday, March 7, Father Luigi Maria Epicoco led the second stage of the reflections of the Lenten Liturgical Pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Actuality and events

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The Mount of Olives has been sacred to Christians since the early centuries. At the foot of this place is the Basilica of the Agony, also called Gethsemane Church.

Father LUIGI MARIA EPICOCO 
Pontifical Lateran University
"This is a place that frames a particular segment of Jesus' passion: His agony, during which He fought against death. The anguish and sadness that Jesus felt during His agony summarize the anguish and sadness of all humanity, that in Him find the true man who struggles to find a meaning. And Jesus did find meaning in abandonment, that is, in abandoning Himself to a destiny that is perhaps greater than His human capacities. Love and trust in the Father, however, gave Him the strength to face all this.”

The second stage of the liturgical pilgrimages took place here. [These pilgrimages], which retrace the Holy Places linked to the Passion of Christ,began last week at the church where Jesus wept for Jerusalem.

In the Basilica, purposely ill-lit to remember the night of Christ's agony, the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, Friar Dobromir Jaztal, presided at the Mass and led the prayer of Vespers.

The homily was given by Father Luigi Maria Epicoco. The Italian priest stressed that, on the night of Gethsemane, at the moment of absolute solitude, Jesus needed his friends.

Father LUIGI MARIA EPICOCO 
Pontifical Lateran University
"One of the worst experiences of anguish is loneliness, when even your friends are absent. This is also the place where Jesus brought His best friends, Peter, James and John, but His friends fell asleep, that is, they were not present during his suffering, therefore His pain was amplified by horizontal loneliness. There are moments in our lives in which even the people who love us the most cannot stand by us, they can not stand before what we are experiencing. We can say that He has touched the bottom of every [possible] affliction. All that a man can experience in terms of suffering, Jesus has lived it.”

Here, at Gethsemane, there are also other activities that contribute to ensuring that local Christians, religious and pilgrims live the Lenten period intensely.

One of these initiatives is the Holy Hour, which takes place on Thursday night, in which the participants have the opportunity to be present at the Eucharistic adoration in preparation for Easter.

Another initiative is held in the Cave of the Betrayal. In this place where, according to Tradition, Jesus met the apostles and was handed over to the soldiers by Judas, the Lectio Divina, the prayer-study of the Word of God, takes place every week.

Fr. DIEGO DALLA GASSA, ofm
Director of the Hermitage of Gethsemane
"First of all, we are in a holy place and for us, the Lectio is an opportunity and a return to being like the disciples, to be around Jesus, to be near Jesus, who often comes here. We invite different people, like the friars, the professors who are here at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum and others: we ask them to come here to join us in welcoming the Dominical Word in a deeper way. On the Sabbath, we listen to the Word in advance to prepare ourselves to powerfully experience the great gift that the Lord gives us.”