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APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO THE HOLY LAND

PRESENTATION

 

I. The Apostolic Journey

«The Jubilee Year, the solemn commemoration of the Incarnation of the Word, draws us above all to the places where Jesus lived his life» (Pope John Paul II, Letter Concerning Pilgrimage to the Places Linked to the History of Salvation, No. 7). In these words, the Holy Father indicates the goal of his Jubilee Pilgrimage, his gaze fixed on the mystery of the Incarnation and on the places of the birth, preaching, death and resurrection of the Lord. These prophetic words are now fulfilled in his Apostolic Journey to the Holy Land.

After celebrating in the Vatican a commemoration of Abraham, our Father in faith, and after his visit to Egypt and Mount Sinai, where he stood in the footsteps of Moses on the mountain of God’s revelation and of the Covenant with the Chosen People, Pope John Paul II again takes up the journey of the Exodus towards the Promised Land.

Significantly, he does so by setting out from Mount Nebo, where Moses gazed upon the Promised Land before his death, and then crossing the Jordan, like the ancient People of the Covenant under the leadership of Joshua (Jos 3) and like Jesus himself at the beginning of his ministry (Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:31-22).

After a visit to the city of Amman, the ancient Philadelphia, the Holy Father will go to the chief places associated with the life of Christ: Bethlehem, the Mount of the Beatitudes, Nazareth and Jerusalem.

He will follow, in other words, some of the principal stages of salvation history: Mount Nebo, from which, according to tradition, Moses finally looked out upon the Promised Land at the end of his life, and the River Jordan, the site of the passage of the People of the Covenant into the Promised Land, now the symbol of the passage of the baptized to new life. It was from the Jordan that Jesus — having received the Holy Spirit of the Father — inaugurated his preaching, which led him throughout Galilee and to Jerusalem.

In Christian tradition, these places are called «Loca Sancta», because they are linked to the Biblical tradition, the history of God’s Revelation to humanity. Like the Christian pilgrims of old, the Holy Father comes to these places in this Jubilee Year «gratia orationis» (Itinerarium Egeriæ, 13:1), to celebrate the memory of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery «in these sacred spaces, where the encounter with the divine may be experienced more intensely than it would normally be in the vastness of the cosmos» (Letter, l.c., No. 2). Here, in these sacred spaces, «are found our spiritual roots» (ibid, No. 4). In these places the Church began, in these places the new liturgy of the Church was born.

II. The Missal of the Apostolic Journey

The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, as is usually the case for Apostolic Journeys, has prepared a special Missal for the Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The volume includes the texts and the rubrics of the six Eucharistic celebrations which the Pope will celebrate:

— Holy Mass at the Amman Stadium in Amman,

— Holy Mass in Manger Square, Bethlehem,

— Holy Mass in the Cenacle in Jerusalem,

— Holy Mass for Young People on the Mount of the Beatitudes,

— Holy Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth,

— Holy Mass in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Missal is meant above all for the use of the Supreme Pontiff and the concelebrating Bishops and priests, but it can also serve for the proclamation of the Readings and for the Prayer of the Faithful.

The texts of the Masses to be celebrated by the Holy Father and by the Bishops and priests, together with the rubrics, are in English or Latin; the texts of the assembly are, depending on the celebration, in Latin or Arabic, the latter being the language of the majority of the Christians in the Holy Land.

The Readings are in Arabic, English, Italian or Latin. The intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful are in Arabic, Hebrew, French, English, Italian, Spanish and German, as a sign of the participation of all the people living or working in the land of Jesus.

Some Masses include, in accordance with the rubrics of the Roman Missal, certain particular rites meant to bring out important aspects of the celebration, in the light of the specific features of the place and the mystery being celebrated.

Given the presence of the various Eastern Catholic Rites in the Holy Land, an attempt has been made to include these Rites in the more important celebrations, drawing upon some of their typical elements, while always maintaining the unity of the Roman Rite.

The volume, printed by the Vatican Press, has been prepared in cooperation with the local liturgical authorities.

III. The Eucharistic celebrations

1. The eucharistic celebration in Amman (Amman, Amman Stadium, Tuesday, March 21, 2000 at 9:00 a.m.).

The meaning of the celebration

The celebration of Holy Mass in Amman is a fitting occasion for the Holy Father’s meeting with the Christian community in Jordan. The Mass, in honor of Saint John the Baptist, Prophet of God and Precursor of Christ, was chosen not merely because it celebrates the one who went before Christ in his Annunciation and Nativity and pointed to him once he was present in the world, but also because the Baptist is the Patron Saint of Jordan. The Biblical readings highlight the ministry of John the Baptist as Precursor: Jer 1:17-19 (the prophetic call), Acts 19:1-7 (the apostolic memory of John’s baptism of repentance), Lk 3:2b-6, 10-14, 18 (the preaching of the Precursor on the banks of the Jordan river).

Particular ritual aspects

At the beginning of the celebration, water taken from the Jordan River is blessed for the sprinkling of the faithful. The Gospel is proclaimed according to the Greek Melkite Rite. The Baptismal Profession of Faith is introduced by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. At the end of the Mass the Pope will bless three cornerstones to be used in the construction of a Maronite Church, a Syrian Catholic Church and the «Regina Pacis» Center.

Present at this celebration will be two thousand children who will make their First Holy Communion: they will hold lighted candles during the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful, and at Holy Communion. Some of them will take part in the Offertory procession and in the kiss of peace with the Holy Father, and will receive communion under both species from the Pope.

2. Eucharistic celebration in Bethlehem (Bethlehem, Manger Square, Wednesday, March 22, 2000 at 10:00 a.m.).

The meaning of the celebration

The Eucharistic celebration is centered on the passage in Luke’s Gospel which describes the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:1-14): «Today is born to you in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord». This event fulfills what was foretold by the Prophet (Is 9:1-6): «A child is born for us, a son is given to us». Significantly, the celebration takes place in the vicinity of the historical and traditional site of the Nativity. This makes the celebration of the event particularly timely. The birth of Christ is the reason for the «new song» (Ps 95, 96) and for Christian joy which comes from Jesus the Savior (Tit 3:3-7).

The celebration in the Roman Rite

The Mass, celebrated by the Bishop of Rome, follows the Roman Rite. Nevertheless an effort has been made to foster the participation of the Arab-language community and the presence of other Catholic Rites, without overlooking the pilgrims and other communities. The First Reading is proclaimed in Arabic (by a Maronite), as are the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel (the latter according to the Byzantine Rite). The same language is used for the chanting of the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei, and the offertory and communion hymns. The Second Reading is proclaimed in English, while the intercessions of the Prayer of the Faithful are in Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish and English. The Creed is chanted in Latin. The Eucharistic Prayer is recited in Latin, and the Our Father is sung in Arabic.

A special introduction to the Gloria is meant to recall the message announced by the angel to the shepherds in the fields which now bear their name. The community of believers today joins in this song, together with the Universal Pastor, giving glory to God and confirming their desire for peace among all people, in the birth-place of the Prince of Peace.

3. Eucharistic celebration in the Holy Cenacle (Jerusalem, March 23, 2000 at 8:30 a.m.).

The Eucharistic celebration in the Cenacle has a special character because of the sacredness of the place where the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, was instituted, where the Risen One appeared to the Apostles and where the Holy Spirit descended upon the early Church on the day of Pentecost. Given the limited space available, only a few people will be able to take part in the celebration.

The Holy Father, as Universal Pastor, will celebrate the Mass together with the Ordinaries of the place and the Bishops and Priests of his entourage. The texts are taken from the Votive Mass of the Most Holy Eucharist. Using the words of institution in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 14:12-16, 22-26), «This is my Body; this is my Blood», the Memorial of the Lord is celebrated in the sacrificial banquet of the Eucharist. This liturgical celebration is the heart and soul of the Christian community. It is from the Eucharist that the Church is born: «they devoted themselves to the breaking of the bread and the prayers» (Acts 2:42-47). For the Eucharist is «the source and summit of the Church’s life» (Pope John Paul II, Letter Concerning Pilgrimage to the Places Linked to the History of Salvation, No. 8).

The unity of the Church is also seen in the fact that representatives of the various rites, present at the one Eucharist, concelebrate the Mass, each wearing his own ritual vestments.

The Mass is in Latin, while the Liturgy of the Word is in Italian and French.

The Prayer of the Faithful is based on Jesus’ prayer for unity, also called his priestly prayer (Jn 17), and it includes the intentions of this papal pilgrimage, «marked by the desire expressed in Christ’s prayer to the Father that his disciples ‘may all be one’» (ibid., No. 11). The intentions are read in French, Italian and English.

4. Eucharistic celebration with young people (Mount of the Beatitudes, March 24, 2000 at 10:00 a.m.).

The Holy Father celebrates the Eucharist on the Mount of the Beatitudes with young people from throughout the Holy Land, who are joined by their contemporaries from various parts of the world. Before the Lake of Tiberias, he proclaims the magnificent passage from the Gospel of Matthew and reaffirms Christ’s special love for the poor. The people of the Blessed of the Kingdom (Mt 5:1-12) is prefigured in the remnant of Israel, a people poor and lowly (Zeph 2:3; 3:12-13) and in the foolish and weak, as Saint Paul teaches (1 Cor 1:26-31).

The Eucharistic celebration with young people, while substantially in the Roman Rite, will also have a Middle Eastern and a universal character.

The elements of the Middle Eastern tradition are seen in:

— the liturgical vesture of the concelebrants of the different Eastern Catholic Rites;

— the texts selected in accordance with the different liturgical traditions: the Responsorial Psalm is chanted in Arabic by a Maronite; the Gospel is proclaimed by a Greek Catholic; the response to the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful, «Kyrie, eleison», is chanted according to the Maronite Rite, the Sanctus according to a Byzantine melody, and the second Communion hymn according to the Syro-Antiochene tradition.

Other elements emphasize the universal character of the celebration:

— the different languages in some of the songs and the Prayer of the Faithful, the Gregorian Kyrie from the Missa «De Angelis», the Gloria of the Mass of Lourdes, and the Creed and the Our Father in Gregorian chant.

5. Eucharistic celebration for the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Nazareth, Basilica of the Annunciation, March 25, 2000 at 10:00 a.m.).

The Solemnity of the Annunciation, which falls on this day, was the reason for choosing the dates of the Holy Father’s pilgrimage to Nazareth, the holy place of the Incarnation of the Word. As he put it: «I very much want to visit Nazareth, the town linked to the actual moment of the Incarnation and the place where Jesus grew ‘in wisdom, age and grace before God and men’ (Lk 2:52). Here Mary heard the Angel’s greeting: ‘Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you!’ (Lk 1:28). Here she spoke her fiat to the message that called her to be mother of the Savior and, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, to become the womb that would welcome the Son of God» (ibid., No. 7).

Today’s liturgy celebrates the memorial of what took place in the house of Nazareth, where she who was «full of grace», «the handmaid of the Lord», said «yes» to God’s plan of salvation (Lk 1:26-28), and thus enabled Emmanuel to take on our flesh (Is 7:10-14), that he too might do the will of the Father, offering his own life in sacrifice (Heb 10:4-10).

The celebration is in the Roman Rite, with local hymns and elements drawn from the Eastern Rites.

The entrance and offertory hymns are local, as is the melody of the Agnus Dei. An Eastern character appears in the First Reading, proclaimed by a Greek Catholic, the Responsorial Psalm and the chanting of the Gospel by a Maronite, and the Sanctus, sung to a Byzantine melody.

6. Eucharistic celebration in the Basilica of the Resurrection (Jerusalem, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, March 26, 2000 at 11:30 a.m.).

The celebration in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre or of the Resurrection, is the high-point of the Pope’s pilgrimage. It is preceded by a special rite. The Holy Father is received by Representatives of the three communities: Franciscan, Greek and Armenian. The Custos of the Holy Land then invites him to pause in prayer before the Stone of the Anointing. The Holy Father is then accompanied by the chant of the Te Deum to the empty Tomb of the Resurrection, where he kneels in silent and profound prayer.

The Holy Sepulchre, known from ancient times as the Anastasis, is the sacred memorial of the Lord’s Resurrection. In the ancient liturgies the commemoration of the Resurrection was always linked to that of Calvary. If a celebration began in one place, it ended in the other. The two aspects of the Paschal Mystery, death and resurrection, were therefore always joined in the liturgy celebrated here.

Lent, the sacred season during which these days of the Pope’s pilgrimage fall, is the sacrament of our conversion and a foretaste of Easter. The liturgy of the Mass is that of the Third Sunday of Lent (Year B). In the Gospel Jesus proclaims his resurrection after three days (Jn 2:13-25). The worship of God on the Sabbath Day and the commandments are spoken of in the First Reading (Ex 20:1-17). Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath; he is the new Sabbath; he is the Christ, «the wisdom and the power of God» (1 Cor 1:22-25).

The brief but evocative Lucernarium which precedes the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful is meant to emphasize that the Christian profession of faith is founded upon the «kerygma» of the Lord’s Resurrection. In the presence of the Holy Father, the Church of Jerusalem proclaims in the Symbol of Faith: «on the third day he rose again, in fulfillment of the Scriptures», and she does so in the very place where this event took place. On the Lord’s Day, the weekly Easter of the Church, she makes this proclamation in a ritual which goes back to the ancient lucernarium which took place daily (Itinerarium Egeriæ, 24:4-7) and on Sunday (ibid., 25:4): the light, taken from the lamp which burned day and night in the tomb, illuminated the whole Anastasis or Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This ceremony renews one of the ancient rituals which made so profound an impression on the pilgrims of the fourth century.

The celebration follows the Roman Rite. It is one of the Rites ordinarily celebrated in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre by the Catholic community, along with the Byzantine, Armenian, Coptic and Syrian Rites celebrated by our Eastern brethren.

Latin, as the characteristic language of the Roman Rite, is the language of the celebration. Arabic, the most common language of the Christian population, and English are used in the Liturgy of the Word. The intercessions of the Prayer of the Faithful are recited in Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, French, German and Arabic. The hymns are sung in Gregorian chant.

IV. Some moments of prayer

The Missal for the Apostolic Journey also includes the texts for several brief moments of prayer which are also part of the Holy Father’s pilgrimage.

Prayer on the Heights of Mount Nebo, commemorating the death of Moses after he saw with his own eyes the Promised Land.

— Two Moments of Prayer along the banks of the Jordan, at Wadi al Kharrar and at Al-Maghtas, commemorating the Lord’s Baptism.

Prayer at the Western Wall of the Temple, with the recitation of a Psalm.

These brief moments of prayer and contemplation bring out the religious nature of the Pope’s pilgrimage, in which each holy place, because of its role in the history of salvation, becomes yet another occasion for praising God and making intercession for the salvation of the world and peace among nations.

V. Pilgrim of the Gospel

The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, in cooperation with the local liturgical authorities, has prepared this special Missal for the celebration of the Pope’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land, conscious of the unique importance of this Jubilee Journey by the Universal Pastor to the very wellsprings of the Church’s life. The Missal calls for participation in the different celebrations by all the ancient Rites present in the Holy Land, heirs of the liturgical tradition of the Church of the Fathers.

Certainly this is the most significant journey of the many which the Holy Father has made. Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem: these are the holy places of our salvation. From these lands Saint Peter, the lowly fisherman of Galilee, journeyed forth, with the Gospel on his lips and in his heart, to proclaim Christ in the very heart of the Roman Empire, where he became the first Bishop of Rome. His Successor, Pope John Paul II now journeys back to these places, in order to proclaim before the world the constant presence of the Lord in his Church after two thousand years of Christianity.

May this book, produced by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff accompany the historic visit of the Pope to the Holy Land, as an aid to sanctification and worship, and as a grateful remembrance of the Lord and of his presence in the places of the Holy Land during this Jubilee Year.

And may the whole Church benefit from this pilgrimage, experienced in communion with the Holy Father and above all through the sacred liturgy, the celebration of the Mystery and the mysteries of the Jesus Christ, who is the same, yesterday, today and for ever.

Vatican City, March 12, 2000
First Sunday of Lent

† Piero Marini
Titular Bishop of Martirano
Master of the Liturgical Celebrations
of the Supreme Pontiff

 

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