After Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the TA group in Holy Land had a last –very significant– thanksgiving celebration of the pontifical approval in Nazareth on Saturday February 24.

altar nazaretj

The basilica of the Annunciation –where the mystery of the Incarnation took place– was the fitting venue for the Thanksgiving Mass presided by Bishop Rafic Nahra, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel. The Eucharistic celebration was joyfully attended by our friends from Nazareth, Christians who welcomed the TA members during the 25 years of generous service through the Al Bishara Library, a community library sponsored by the Vatican Agency Pontifical Mission and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association CNEWA.

Some Filipino migrant workers –forming the choir– from Jerusalem also joined us during this pilgrimage-trip to Nazareth. nazaret misa

Incarnation spirituality

In all centennial Thanksgiving Masses in each of the places, it is worth taking note that each presider focused on 3 characteristics of the TA: Fr. Peter in Bethlehem focused on St. Teresa’s mettle “eminently human and filled with God,” which Pedro Poveda wanted for the Teresians; the Nuncio, at the Notre Dame-Jerusalem chapel, spoke on the “fraternal love of the first Christians and our incidence in education and culture”; and this morning’s homily by Bishop Rafic was on the Incarnation spirituality which Pedro Poveda wrote about extensively.

This was very apropos in the very place where the mystery of the Incarnation took place, with the Bishop highlighting “being outwardly ordinary and inwardly distinctive.” He also challenged us Christians to be “light of the world and salt of the earth,” through our deeds. He admonished to witness to the simplicity and humility of being a Christian, not holding on to power and worldly affairs.

The Eucharistic banquet was followed by a generous sharing of goods at the Bishop’s residence, where we were warmly welcomed with open arms.

With Josefa Segovia

Let’s conclude this narrative with some lines from Josefa Segovia’s autobiographical diary during her 1955 pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Her visit lasted from the 22nd of October to the 13th of November. At that time, travel itineraries were starkly different from what the present political divides dictate. The door that opened their pilgrimage to Jerusalem was Beirut, which Josefa described as “the doors to the Orient!”

In retrospect, let us take you now to her reflections in Nazareth, for which we are grateful having been given the grace to live there for 25 years, on behalf of all the TA members.

In her memoirs, she writes: “Sunrise in Nazareth! Everything speak to us about Jesus... We attend Holy Mass... within the grotto… We meditate, contemplate… I pray especially for personal and collective humility. We pray the Angelus with greater devotion than ever. The Hail Mary has a different and heavenly taste here.”cortan tarta

Sixty-nine years later, here we were, thanking the Lord for the blessing to be there and offer our heartfelt gratitude for 100 years of the Papal approval of the TA, making it possible for the first members to come and establish themselves in the Holy Land in August 1952.

It was indeed a grace-filled encounter and, like Mary, we will ponder in our hearts for a long, long, time the enriching experience that we lived.

TA in Holy Land.

 

 

 

Published in Newsclicdedito