Triduum Rekindles Hopes in Holy Land, Says Franciscan

Spokesman for Custos Notes Importance of Eucharist

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JERUSALEM, APRIL 17, 2003 ( Believers in the Holy Land are preparing to draw renewed strength from the Paschal triduum and Easter celebration, says a spokesman of the Franciscan Custos.

«The annual commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus reminds us that he has triumphed over the forces of evil and division which seem to prevail in our world,» Father David Jaeger told the Fides agency.

«Moreover, from these liturgies, believers everywhere, also in the Holy Land, are preparing to draw new strength to face the painful earthly vicissitudes and the future which at this moment appears still uncertain,» he said.

«Christians follow with attention the promises and attempts for peace, although they know that, in the end, peace lies in Christ, and in him alone the peoples of the Holy Land and of the world will find authentic reconciliation and the strength to put aside, once and for all, the feelings of hatred and fear which divide them,» he added.

Easter is always a time to meditate particularly on the Eucharist. This year John Paul II is calling attention to the sacrament with his new encyclical «Ecclesia de Eucharistia.»

Father Jaeger commented: «As for the Church all over the world, so too for the Church in the Holy Land, the Eucharist is always the source and summit of Christian life. In the Holy Land the Eucharist is celebrated in a variety of rites: Latin and Oriental: Greek-Catholic, Maronite, Syrian-Catholic, Armenian-Catholic, Chaldean, and also in different languages which show the universality of the Church.»

«We have liturgies in Arabic for Palestinian Christians, in Hebrew, the language of divine Revelation and the tongue used by Jesus at the original rite in the Upper Room, and then in many others languages for pilgrims who come here from all over the world,» he added.

«For the local Christians, whatever the language used, the Eucharist is always the presence of the Eternal God amid our travailed history here in the Holy Land,» Father Jaeger said.

The Franciscan continued: «Today all Christians desire to be able to venerate the Upper Room where Jesus Christ, on the eve of his passion, instituted the perennial sacrifice of the Eucharist. The Holy Father had the opportunity of celebrating Mass in the Upper Room during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the Great Jubilee 2000.

«That event heightened the hope and the longing of Christians who dream of having once again the custody of this little shrine which King Robert d’Angio of Naples entrusted to the Franciscans in 1342.»

«The shrine was torn from the Christians with violence by the Ottomans about 200 years later,» he explained. «At present the shrine is in the custody of the Israeli government. In the framework of talks between the Holy See and the state of Israel initiated in 1992, the Catholic Church is asking for the custody of the shrine to be returned and hopes for an act of good will and generosity toward Christianity on the part of the government authorities.»

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