07 March 2017

The first Sunday of Lent for Christian churches

On the eve of the first Sunday of Lent, the Christian churches of Jerusalem made their solemn entry to the Holy Sepulcher: this is the first step on the penitential journey toward Easter.

Liturgies

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On Saturday, March 4, the doors of the Holy Sepulcher opened to welcome the different solemn entries that initiated the eve of the first Sunday of Lent. An ancient rite rooted in the centuries that has a special meaning this year: on the same day, Catholics and Orthodox remembered Christ's resurrection.

H.E. Mons. PIERBATTISTA PIZZABALLA, ofm
Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
“This year, here in Jerusalem, as in the rest of the world, we will celebrate Easter together: the Orthodox Easter together with the Catholic Easter. From a practical standpoint, celebrating together in one place is complicated; but from a symbolic point of view, this is wonderful because it is in tune with our mission here as Christians, that is to bear witness to our unity and love for Christ.”

Many local faithful and pilgrims flocked to the holy place to welcome the Franciscans first, then the Greek-Orthodox, the Copts, the Syriacs and the Armenians, to experience together that first step of the penitential journey that leads to the encounter with the Risen Christ.

H.B. THEOFILOS III
Greek - Orthodox Patriarch - Jerusalem
"This opportunity is a blessing, because we can demonstrate our common faith and we become witnesses, 'martiria' (as they say in Greek ) in the Holy Land and especially in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a place that unites all people and is considered a place of harmony ... "

At the end of the rituals of entrance to the tomb, the Catholic procession led by Mons. Pizzaballa recounted the last moments of Christ's life by visiting the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the place where St. Helena found the cross, the Calvary and the Empty Tomb. Circling the Anastasis three times, accompanied by the sound of the organ, marks the beginning of this Lenten journey, while still captivated by the empty tomb, certainty of the Resurrection and Salvation.

H.E. Mons. PIERBATTISTA PIZZABALLA, ofm
Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
"This is a time to experience the wilderness: we must return to ourselves and ask forgiveness, recognizing that we are sinners and in need of His mercy."

Fr. DOBROMIR JAZTAL, ofm
Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land
"This journey has great significance for the tradition of the church, but also for the life of the church, because it is a path of penance and charity: this is a time of purification, a time of preparation for the Easter of Our Lord."