Tag Archives: Holy Father

Sleiman!

24 May

Just now, Saturday afternoon, I was watching the live streaming of the Pope’s visit to the Jordan River. After going to the river to bless himself, Francis went into the Latin (Roman Catholic, that is) church to meet with youth, refugees and sick. All of a sudden I saw someone I knew. Last June I went to Jordan for the ordination of my friend, Sleiman. There he was, standing over the Pope’s translator, instructing him about something. Sleiman!

Sleiman 01

Father Sleiman had been appointed the Director of Youth for Jordan, so it is no surprise that he was there, but it sure surprised me to see him, so close to the action and so involved in the action.

Here he has moved over next to the Pope. He seemed to be a master of ceremonies, of sorts. I must tell him that I saw him at one point twiddle his thumbs on those properly folded hands.

Sleiman 02

After an accident survivor told her story, volunteers were preparing to lift her entire wheelchair to get her up on the stage to greet the Holy Father. Francis would have none of that. He sprung out of his chair, with a motion that said, “I am coming down to her.” My buddy Sleiman accompanies him, with that classic, killer smile on his face.

Sleiman 03

When it came time for Francis to bless the people with the water of the Jordan, look who is holding the clay pot of river, baptismal water – Sleiman!

Sleiman 04

And whose arm does the Pope grab when he needs balance on his way down the steps. Sleiman’s arm! Notice the look on Sleiman’s face, “You’re okay, Francis. You got me right here by you.”

Sleiman!

swaddled in a kaffiyeh

24 May

A local Nativity scene for the Papal Mass

artwork of Bethlehem for teh Pope's visit

BETHLEHEM – A work of art of 14 meters long by 6 meters wide. Nothing is too big or too good to welcome the Holy Father. Created ​​by a Palestinian artist, the figurative art piece, full of symbols, will be positioned as a backdrop behind the altar for the Papal Mass. A nativity scene reinterpreted with many local elements. 

The stable mentioned in the Gospel is represented by a tent, a symbol of all the many refugees from the region who, like Christ, are reduced to a miserable condition. It is also symbolic of the Incarnation of God who came “pitching his tent among us” (John 1:14). 

The shepherds are not the only figures. The three popes who visited the Holy Land, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI are there to worship the Child, followed by Doves of Peace. Pope Francis, who will preside over the Mass in front of the art work, is indirectly represented by his patron saint and namesake, Francis of Assisi, friend of the poor, but also the protector of the Holy Places. 

Two religious sisters are also shown on the right, each side of St. Francis: the Carmelite Sister Mariam of Bethlehem, and Sister Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas, founder of the Sisters of the Rosary (the first Palestinian congregation) who was born in Jerusalem but spent most of her life in Bethlehem. They are two locals of the nineteenth century beatified in recent years. 

Saint Joseph is wearing a black and white kaffiyeh, local traditional headdress that has become a Palestinian emblem. This is also used to swaddle the Child Jesus in his manger. 

In the background, the city of Bethlehem and the hills of the Judean desert. 

Rich in symbols, intended as such by the artist, a Palestinian native of Bethlehem, Robert Jakaman, who studied art in Italy. 

by Myriam Ambroselli, Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem website, posted on May 20, 2014

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.

we help to carry it as Simon of Cyrene did

29 Mar

Station 5 Way of Cross Pope Francis 2013Way of the Cross at the Coliseum, Stations of the Cross led by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on Good Friday: The Passion of the Lord Meditations by Lebanese young people under the guidance of His Eminent Beatitude Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï.

[Whenever I pray the 5th station, I think of our suffering brother and sister Palestinians in Beit Jala. I like to think that, in some small way that might help them to keep hope, we help them carry their cross.]

V Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 23:26

As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the Cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

Jesus’ meeting with Simon of Cyrene took place in silence, providing us with a lesson for our lives: God does not want suffering and he does not accept evil. The same is true of the human being. But suffering, accepted in faith, is transformed into a path of salvation. Then we accept it as Jesus did, and we help to carry it as Simon of Cyrene did.

Lord Jesus,
you have involved man in the carrying of your Cross.
You have invited us to share your sufferings.
Simon of Cyrene is like us
and he teaches us to accept the Cross
that we encounter on the paths of life.

Following your example, Lord,
we too carry the Cross
of suffering and illness today,
but we accept it because you are with us.
It can nail us to our chair,
but it cannot prevent us from dreaming;
it can obscure our vision,
but it cannot touch our conscience;
it can deafen our ears,
but it cannot prevent us from listening;
it can bind our tongue
but it cannot suppress our thirst for truth;
it can weigh down our spirit,
but it cannot rob us of our freedom.

Lord,
we want to be your disciples
so as to carry your Cross every day;
we will carry it with joy and hope
because you are carrying it with us,
because you have triumphed over death for us.

We give you thanks, Lord,
for every sick or ailing person
who knows how to bear witness to your love,
and for every “Simon of Cyrene”
whom you place on our journey.
Amen.