Our first experience celebrating the Holy Week in Jerusalem. We spent three days with our Sisters in Ecce Homo. There we joined and took part in the liturgys of the Holy Week. This was not only new but also a very unique experience for us. We had with us a group of Biblical Study program who are coming from different countries.
During the liturgy of Holy Thursday, we, the Novices together with Biblical Study group took part in the celebration of the mass and the washing of the feet. The biblical study group had a very beautiful choir. It was significant that the washing of the feet was not only for the “twelve disciples” but also with the people who come for the mass. Our Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion, invited the people to the altar for their feet to be washed and the vise versa, they washed each other’s feet. It was very beautiful celebration.
Together with the Biblical Study group, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was to believed on his agony praying before heading to the Gallicantu (the garden when Peter denied Jesus three times. It is now one of the pilgrim church, Gallicantu =“cock’s-crow”). We went up to this Gallicantu church after a short time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Praying in the garden when the weather was a bit colder, made us imagine when Jesus and his disciples together in the garden sitting around the fire to warm themselves up. This time, we spent a longer time to pray and that we could feel and reflected the Scripture text when Peter denied Jesus.
On Good Friday was a very crowded ones and yet very significant. This time, we, the Novitiate community together with the Biblical Study group, had our Way of the Cross from Ecce Homo; from the front of our house, Notre Dame de Sion to the Holy Sepulchre Church (the Church of the Resurrection) earlier in the morning. After we finished the Way of the Cross, we stayed for a little bit longer, waiting for the church to be opened. This church is one of Christianity’s holiest sites. Christian denominations like Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and Franciscans Order, share this holy space for prayer and we could see it in different section or corners of the church. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world make a pilgrimage to this church especially this time of Holy Week.
It was a very moving experience and significant ones, as Sr. Trudy told us that it is in the tradition, the Muslim family is the key holder of the Holy Sepulchre church where many people believed Jesus was crucified and buried. This family is responsible to take care and protect the church. They opened and locked the door for the Christian to enter as hundreds of people from different countries come for their pilgrimage and celebrate the Holy Week. The church was locked and we spent two hours inside the church until the church open again. This image somehow could leave us the feelings of tension where the social structures would struggle to define the ownership of a particular place, but could also be at the same time a very good example of the image of interfaith dialogue and the ability of the coexistent of difference to promote and work for peace. Many people worked together to ensure the freedom of worship in the Old City, especially the local Israeli securities. We witnessed and experience that life in this Holy Land can be lived in tolerance and peace.
The Easter Vigil highlighted of the whole celebrations of the Holy Week. It was the celebration of the Risen Jesus. We started by lighting of the fire in our terrace, at the house of Sisters of Our Lady of Sion. Issa lighted the fire. Issa is a Muslim father and family have been working with the Sisters for a very long time, even from the time of his father. It was become the tradition that this family will light the fire during the Easter Vigil. This was also another significant experience for us to witness the life of coexistence and peace among different faith. A very beautiful choir also from Biblical Study group made the joyful celebration. We too, the Novices took participation in some part of the celebration. We had our refreshment after the mass as we greet one another a
Maria Odor Malau, Novice NDS
Community St. John in Montana
March 28th 2016.