Year of Consecrated Life: Patriarch celebrates Mass for the Sisters of Bethlehem
JERUSALEM – On Wednesday February 3, 2016, the day after the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life, Patriarch Fouad Twal celebrated Mass for the community of the Monastic Sisters of Bethlehem in the Basilica of All Nations at Gethsemane.
Sixty two Sisters from three monasteries of the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and of Saint Bruno (Beit Gemal, Deir Rafat and Lavra Netofa), were all present for the occasion. For these contemplative nuns, living a cloistered life of silence, solitude and fraternal fellowship, the celebration bears a special significance. The closing of the Year of Consecrated Life on the one hand and the passage through the Holy Door of Mercy gave this day a twofold occasion for celebration.
“With great joy, I gave them special permission to go out, to experience the joy of being together and to pray together”, said the Patriarch, touched by the Community’s charism of prayer and adoration in solitude. The Sisters animated the Mass with beautiful hymns, among them “Quddous” (Sanctus) in Arabic. In his homily, Patriarch Twal emphasized Mercy, as the face of God, pointing out that it is significant that the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life coincides with the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. “It is the mercy between God and man, and also of mercy among ourselves, within our communities.” Referring to the Holy Door of Gethsemane, one of three doors opened in the Holy Land, through which the Sisters passed through on this occasion, the Patriarch recalled the symbolism of such a passage: “Walking through the Holy Door, means passing from one place on to another, moving from a spiritual state to another . It is an act of conversion and transformation to a new life. Let us leave behind our “old man”, the past, our problems, our lack of charity, our disagreements…”
In conclusion, His Beatitude thanked the Sisters for their presence and their on-going life of prayer. He urged them to always be more rooted in mercy. “Everything we do and all that we are in the Church, must be based on mercy, otherwise, we have no reason to be. Basically, God will judge us on love. Only love counts.”