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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Holy Land Catholics at Baptism site


QASSER EL YEHUDOn the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, the First Sunday after Epiphany, January 12, 2014, many faithful of the Catholic parishes of the Holy Land gathered with the Franciscans of the Custody for the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord on the site, right at the edge of Jordan. This Feast completed in a beautiful manner the liturgical season of Christmas.

It is only two years ago that one could celebrate the baptism of Christ in the place where tradition places this event, Qasser El Yehud. Since the Six Day War, the site was closed and in ruins for 44 years. The Israeli army rarely gave permission to celebrate Mass there. Re-opened in the summer of 2011, the site once again can accommodate pilgrims as it did back in the day when the whole Church celebrated Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. However, the proximity of the site to the Jordanian border – the two sides are separated by a maximum width of 4 meters – brings a large concentration of Israeli soldiers.

This did not prevent many of the faithful, about 2000, gathering happily near the Jordan in the first place in order to try to imagine the scene that took place there nearly 2000 years ago, and then to prepare for the Holy Mass, in which 4 children were baptized with water from the Jordan River. The celebration began with a procession from the Orthodox monastery to the bank of the Jordan River, then continued with the Mass celebrated by the Vicar of the Custody, Father Dobromir Jasztan. The Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, was, at the time, in Lebanon for the episcopal consecration of the new Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, Syria, Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen. After the Mass, many of the faithful went to the Mount of Temptation, overlooking Jericho, to commemorate the withdrawal of Jesus into the wilderness, as recounted in the Gospel, where he spent 40 days after his baptism.

On the Jordanian side, on Friday, January 10, 2014, there was a pilgrimage, presided over by Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the presence of Bishop Maroun Laham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan, and other Catholic churches in Jordan. This allowed each person to renew the baptismal promises at this symbolic place.

Pierre Loup de Raucourt
Source: http://en.lpj.org/2014/01/14/holy-land-catholics-at-baptism-site/


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