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Galilea celebrates the birthday of St Theresa of Avila

Galilea celebrates the birthday of St Theresa of Avila

GALILEA – The Universal Church, in fellowship with the Carmelite Order, celebrates the jubilee year marking the 5th centenary of the birth of St Therestha of Avila, reformer of the Order, doctor of Church, a high value aura. The Carmelites of Bethlehem and Jerusalem organized on 26 and 27 March two vigils of prayer for peace, while the Carmelites of Nazareth and Haifa celebrated High Masses on the birthday of the Saint, 28 March.


Initiatives were encouraged even by Pope Francis himself, revolving round the well-known Theresian prayer: “Lord, world is on fire!”


At the Carmel of the Holy Family of Nazareth

Anticipated on 26 March for practical reasons, Mass was celebrated by Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo and concelebrated by Mgr Boutros Mouallem, Melkite Bishop Emeritus of Galilea, by Fr Janusz Malski, Superior General of CVS (SODC) and by other priests from Galilee, one of them being Fr Firmin Bourghinat, scj, Chaplain of the Carmel, in presence of some hundred religious and faithful, friends of the Carmel.

Singing, in Arabic and in French, resounded with the scripts of the Saint, namely the famous “Nada te turbe”. During his homily, the Bishop put emphasis on the meaning of the jubilee in the Bible and on the specifity of Theresian reform, revolutionary for the Order and for Church. This specifity lies in the “comeback to the original rule of the Carmel (that of 1247 and of St Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem), in a new concept of prayer, “commercium amicitae” founded on a life style of love and action, on rediscovery of the spirituality of the cross and on the evangelical value of suffering. On this last point, talking about her own longstanding experience, the Saint emphasized that we should always make clean our intentions and our attitudes in answering the following questions: who suffers, for whom, why, how?

The Carmel, Mother Prior Josiane and burser Sr Rita, published on this occasion: the “Libro de la vida’, in Arabic – Kitab al-Sirah – (388 pages), translated in Lebanon, printed in Haifa, prefaced by fr Abdo Abdo; 30 page booklets in Arabic, French and English, offering the most prominent ideas of St Theresa ; and monthly leaflets in Arabic on different themes. Publications were put at the disposal of all participants.

While on a visit to Nazareth for the Annunciation, 25 March, Patriarch Fouad Twal called on the Carmelites of Nazareth to wish them a joyful Theresian jubilee, as well as on the Clarisse Sisters of Nazareth


Blessing of the well and Mass on Mount Carmel in Haifa

On this occasion, Mother Prior Meir had invited Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr Giuseppe Lazzarotto, to preside over mass concelebrated by Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Mgr George Bacouni, Melkite Archbishop of Acre, Fr Enrique Castro, Acting Superior of the Carmelites, and by a dozen Carmelites and clergy from Haifa. All religious communities of Theresian spirituality were present – the cloistered Discalced Carmelites, the Carmelites of St Theresa of Haifa, the Carmelites of St Joseph of Issfya – and many other nuns and local faithful.

Mass – reading and singing – reverberated with the theme of water – a theme which St Theresa liked to bring up in her works, and of the Samaritan well, an Evangelical episode to which the Saint was deeply attached since her childhood. Before the Mass, Mgr G. Lazzarotto, accompanied by the community, bishops and Carmelites, blessed a symbolic well in the garden of the Convent, with an overview of Haifa and the Mediterranean. The Nuncio came back on this symbolic event during his homily.

At the end of the Mass, a delightful reception brought together all participants who received as a souvenir a cross (containing a small bulb of earth of Carmel) and two leaflets about St Theresa and St John of the Cross, each represented by two beautiful icons written by the nuns of the Annunciation of Nazareth, with an explanation of the icons in different languages.

After the celebration of the birth of Mother Reformer, Carmelites of the Holy Land will as from this day devote themselves preparing for the canonization of “their” Mariam Bawardi on 17 May in Rome. During the same ceremony the founder of the Sisters of Rosary will also be proclaimed saint.


Text from our correspondent in Galilea

Photos : A.K.


Pictures of Nazareth:


Pictures of Haifa: