Archive | April, 2013

change the route of the wall

30 Apr

JERUSALEM – The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued a press release following the verdict last week favoring the construction of the wall of separation in the Cremisan Valley. The appeal called for a change in the course of the wall according to the route of the ‘green line’.

Holy Land Bishops Ordinaries

Communiqué:

A few days ago, an Israeli court in Tel Aviv issued its verdict on the Cremisan Valley issue, endorsing the previously decided path of the wall separating the convent of the Salesian Sisters who run a thriving school and at the same time includes the lands of 58 Palestinian families from Beit Jala to the area of the Israeli settlement of Gilo.

We are frustrated by this unjust decision that invokes the need for security of Israel but also the difficulty of changing the route of the already built portion of the wall, which makes us a fait accompli. Note that fait accompli cannot become the source of a new law. 

This is why we join all those who work for peace and justice. We ask to change the route of the wall along the “Green Line”. We hope that this will take place in the Supreme Court.

We remind Israeli decision-makers that the expropriation of lands does not serve the cause of peace and does not strengthen the position of the moderates.

With our prayers for peace in the Holy Land, on the basis of mutual respect and international legitimacy,

His Beatitude Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jérusalem
Président of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

with a feeling of despair and urgency

30 Apr

Father Ibrahim Shomali, pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church in Beit Jala (Bethlehem) emailed to me this scanned copy of a two-page letter written to Pope Francis by the Mayor of Beit Jala.

“All the Christian community, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran, we cry to your Holiness with a feeling of despair and urgency in order to keep alive our hope that justice and peace is still possible.”

Beit Jala letter to Pope Francis 01

“Your holiness, we have been left alone facing Israeli aggressions against our defenseless people.”

“Your holiness, your election brought us hope that things would change. We are still hopeful.”

We are a community of faithful, the mother church that still refuses to die and keeps bringing a message of hope when there is no hope.”

Beit Jala letter Mayor of Beit Jala to Pope English 02

May this letter find its way to the eyes and the heart of our beloved Pope Francis.

Click on letter to enlarge and read.

hoping Francis will help

28 Apr

April 28, 2013 Beit Jala 02

Last Wednesday, April 24, the people of Beit Jala (Bethlehem) – and the few people in the rest of the world who are paying attention – heard the decision of an Israeli Appeal’s Committee that “the Wall” can be built right through another section of Palestinian land: their Cremisan Valley.

April 28, 2013 Beit Jala 09

Today, April 28, is Palm Sunday in Beit Jala. They begin Holy Week, and will celebrate Easter with the Orthodox Christians on May 5. 

April 28, 2013 Beit Jala 04

This coming week Pope Francis will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was invited by the Holy Father for a visit to the Vatican, among the first of the world leaders who will meet with the new Pope.

April 28, 2013 Beit Jala 01

This all comes together in these photos, taken today in Beit Jala. The people of Annunciation Catholic parish gathered today, on Palm Sunday, outside their church after Sunday Mass to sign letters to Pope Francis, pleading with him to keep Cremisan high on his agenda when he meets with the Israeli president.

April 28, 2013 Beit Jala 06

April 28, 2013 Beit Jala 07

April 28, 2013 Beit Jala 08

You might find this April 24 article  in the Washington Post, “Palestinian Christians hope new pope will help in battle against Israel’s barrier route,” helpful for understanding the present state of the situation.

“yesterday” was Expedite’s feast day

20 Apr

Expedite 01

St. Expedite is the patron saint of procrastination His feast day is April 19. I didn’t get around to mentioning it yesterday. At least now I didn’t put it off until tomorrow.

There is not much that is “known” about St. Expedite, although there are a lot of great stories about him. Believe any of them that you like. I like the one about when he had decided to become a Christian, the devil appeared in the form of a crow, and didn’t argue with him about his decision, but just suggested to him that he could convert tomorrow. Expedite stomped on the bird and said, “I’ll be a Christian today!”

I often hear myself saying to myself, “I really want/need to … I am going to start tomorrow.”

Got an emergency? Need a quick solution to a problem? Want relief from the habit of procrastination? Pray to St. Expedite.

BYW, in the holy card above and below, “hodie” translates “today,” and “cras” (like in pro”cras”tination) means “tomorrow.”
expedite 02

‘No, no, he can’t do that.’

11 Apr

Pope Francis just doesn’t seem to understand that some things can’t be done.

When a couple asked the Pope to try on their gift, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, politely said, “No, no, he can’t do that.” But the Pope did try it on, and kept it on. He decided to give his ‘old’ hat to the couple.

Pope gives his papal hat to and American Couple.

How can this be?

8 Apr

Beit Jala jen holy land 964 (237)

Our sister parish of the Annunciation, located in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), West Bank, Palestine, celebrates her feast day today: the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Here in Milford at St. Andrew we will pray in our evening Mass that, through the intercession and care of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and woman of Palestine, God will make good on His every promise to His people in Beit Jala and full their every hope in Him.

On Easter Sunday morning one of our teenagers asked me, “Father, which is the more important day for Christians: Christmas or Easter?” How would you have answered her? She picked Christmas.

On this day, I ask myself, “Which is the more important feast: Christmas or the Annunciation?” I pick the Annunciation. Here is my reasoning. When did God become one of us and one with us? Not when He was born. When He was conceived! The English translation of the Nicene Creed used to be: he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. Now we say: he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. The word incarnate replaces born. To be born describes the moment of birth. To be incarnate describes the moment of conception. The Word became incarnate – became flesh – in Mary’s womb. All of us – you and I and Jesus – were born. But God took on human flesh; God became human; God was incarnate. And the “incarnation” took place at the moment of conception in the womb of Mary, at the moment when Mary accepted God’s will and desire to become human. On Christmas we celebrate His birth among us. On Annunciation we celebrate His incarnation.

For me, the Annunciation feels like Christmas. It takes me back to Beit jala, and seeing that painting over the altar in their Catholic parish church, dedicated to the Annunciation. It takes me back to meeting Deacon Sleiman (Solomon) Hassan in that very church. It will be his ordination to the priesthood in June that will take me back to my next visit to Beit Jala.

Beit Jala ohio_2012%20(30)

Christ is risen. You too shall rise.

7 Apr

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Father Firas, now the parish priest of Jifna, formerly the parish priest of Aboud, sent this Easter greeting.

The Christian Palestinians of Aboud and Jifna – and throughout the entire West Bank – have a strong faith and an enduring hope, in spite of the trials and struggles that they have in their lives, due to “the situation,” that is, the military occupation of their land by the Israeli government.

They have much of which to be afraid, much at which to be alarmed, much by which to be troubled and much in which to weep. But they have Easter faith.

They know that Jesus is risen and that they too will rise.

“expectant Father” Solomon

2 Apr

Deacon Suleiman ordination 07

Yes, that is genuine. He is that prayerful and sincere.

We met “Deacon” Sleiman Hassan when we came to Beit Jala to prepare to celebrate Mass in Cremisan Valley. He had packed up everything we needed for Mass, led us to the spot where he set everything up for us, explained the significance of praying in this spot where we were, assisted me at the altar for the entire Mass, packed everything up and took us back to the parish church. He won our hearts, our admiration and our affection. He is a good-looking fellow, a prayerful man, a worthy representative of our Catholic Church and an engaging spokesperson for Annunciation parish and the Palestinian people of Beit Jala.

On March 19, 2013, the feast of St. Joseph (and his birthday), he was ordained a deacon during a Mass at Annunciation Church in Beit Jala.

lying prostrate during the Litany of Saints

Deacon Suleiman ordination 01

laying on of hands by the bishop

Deacon Suleiman ordination 04

vested in the liturgical robes of the deacon

Deacon Suleiman ordination 08

under the eyes of an admiring little girl

Deacon Suleiman ordination 06

Deacon Sleiman (Solomon) will be ordained a priest on June 20, 2013 (my birthday) at his parish church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in his home village of Fuheis, Jordan.

And I will be there. I am flying to the Middle East to be among the priests who will lay hands on his head during the ordination ceremony. What a treat and an honor it will be for me!