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The Holy Land: charisms in communion for a new time of Pentecost

The Holy Land: charisms in communion for a new time of Pentecost 712 350 admin

May 2023 – A unique opportunity to get to know each other, to share and to rediscover the beauty of being a collective  witness to the Resurrection. This is what the Ecclesial Movements and the new communities  in the Holy Land were able to experience on the journey they began together at Pentecost a year ago.

Communion, participation and mission: these are the three key words related to the Synodal Pathway that was launched in October 2021. At its inauguration, Pope Francis invited followers of the Universal Church to listen and be close to others; this created the context of the local phase of the Synod.  At the invitation of Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch  of Jerusalem,  the Ecclesial Movements and the new communities present in the Holy Land were able to meet, listen to each other and work in communion in preparing the 2022 Pentecost Vigil.  This was a special occasion when many people experienced the joy of feeling they were one body in the Church, enlivened and renewed by the Holy Spirit.  Within the sociopolitical and cultural context of the Holy Land, there was possibility of generating “unity,” learning from each other’s charism and putting one’s own at the service of all.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa said, “I think that if we are to feel that we are one body, the first thing to do is to speak, to communicate but, above all, to listen. Listening does not mean only hearing, it means expecting to receive from the other person who becomes the subject –  I am not the subject,  the other person is.”

Pentecost marks the time when the Church on  its pilgrimage to meet the Lord, constantly receives  the Spirit from him. The same Spirit  gathers it in faith and charity, sanctifies it  and sends it on mission.

At Pentecost 2023 we share an account of this experience of communion.

Maria Grazia Berretta
Original post published in www.focolare.org

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From Bethlehem lessons for the future

From Bethlehem lessons for the future 1132 703 admin

Oct. 2022 – This is one of the pages from the diary of Irene, a young editor of Teens, a magazine of the Città Nuova publishing group, which is made by teenagers for teenagers. Through her eyes and her words we learn of a journey in a country marked by divisions and we get to know the project “Harmony among peoples”, which, thanks to art and dance is spreading beauty and hope to the new generations in Bethlehem.


Mariapolis in the Holy Land: vocation to community

Mariapolis in the Holy Land: vocation to community 712 350 admin

July 2022 – Being a community is more than just being together.It means responding to a call to build: giving life to a family sustained by the Word and meeting each other. Here, in this video, is what some people who participated in the Mariapolis of the Holy Land last July told us.

There is a light breeze which caresses the ancient ruins of the Church of St. George, in Taybeh, the only entirely Christian village in the Holy Land. According to Scripture, it is the place where Jesus came to rest with his followers before the Passion. And it was here, on 8th-9th July 2022 that adults, young people and children of the Focolare Movement gathered together to live a truly special Mariapolis, a moment of fraternity and true communion.

“Mariapolis is a time for the family to get together,” says Mayra, from Bethlehem, “It usually takes place every year but due to the pandemic we couldn’t have it. This year, after three years, we could and for me it’s like taking a break from my life and recharging myself spiritually.”

“To be witnesses of love” was the title of this two-day event that saw the participation of people from many regions of the country, from Haifa, Nazareth, to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza. Despite the socio-political and cultural challenges of the Holy Land, the desire to enjoy beauty and to live as a community give the strength to overcome physical and often inner barriers. The community is the place where we find the values that become nourishment, where we build a present and a future which respect the dignity of all; the place where listening to and witnessing to the other in the light of the Gospel invites us to better understand the work of God in our lives and, more than anything else, it is the place where no one is alone.

Marcell and Boulos, from Nazareth shared this with us: in their life-journey, they were able to experience support and family during the most painful moment of their lives, the death of their youngest son, Jack. And Khader, from Gaza, who despite the daily hardships to be faced in the context in which he lives, places his hope in God, joyfully recognizing the beauty of the vocation to which he is called: that of happiness.

Maria Grazia Berretta

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The Holy Land: “Dare to Care” in Nes Ammim

The Holy Land: “Dare to Care” in Nes Ammim 558 381 admin

Sept. 2022 – In Hebrew, Nes Ammim means the ‘miracle of the peoples’. This place was created to foster dialogue and understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims. From 16 to 18 September, “Dare to Care for a Better Future” was held here, a meeting organised by the Focolare Movement in the Holy Land and open to people of every generation, nationality, religious faith or non-religious beliefs. It was an opportunity to share a few days together and discover each other as partners, through mutual understanding, in building a better future together. For testimonies of friendship between believers of different religions, see also Holy Land: stories of dialogue ( https://youtu.be/Cp9MOx5xKvA ).

Copyright 2022 © CSC Audiovisivi – All rights reserved. (2673M)


Searching for Jerusalem’s Vocation Together

Searching for Jerusalem’s Vocation Together 1123 632 admin

Mar. 2020 – “Together for Jerusalem” was a seminar sponsored by the Focolare in the Holy Land together with the Sophia University Institute (Italy).The seminar gathered Jewish and Christian biblical experts to focus on the vocation of Jerusalem as seen in the Bible, thus setting a biblical foundation to the goals of the Focolare’s future International Center for Unity and Peace in Jerusalem.

From different countries in Europe, from USA and Israel, scholars in biblical and related studies participated in the seminar held this past March 12, 2020 at Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. Professor Yair Zakovitch of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem delivered the keynote speech entitled: “’In the Days to Come, the Mount of the Lord’s House Shall Stand Firm above the  Mountains and Tower above the Hills’ (Isaiah 2:2): The Peace of Jerusalem in Prophetic Literature”, with responses moderated by Dr. Marcie Lenk,  a Jewish scholar of Jewish and Christian texts.

Amidst the global health crisis, several scholars from other countries presented their contributions through teleconferencing. Dr. Giovanna Porrino (Italy): “God Gathers His people and the Peoples of Every Tongue” (Isaiah 2 and 66); Prof. Franz Sedlmeier (Germany): “Psalm 87: Jerusalem, Mother of the Peoples”; Dr. Giovana Czander (USA): “The Witness of Two or More in the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible”; Dr. Margareta Gruber (Germany): “Urban Living Spaces for all Peoples. The Vision of the New Jerusalem in the New Testament Book of Revelation” (Rev. 21:1-22:5).

There were also two presenters from Israel: Rabbi David Goodman who presented his contribution entitled: “The Ancient History of Jerusalem in Jewish Oral Tradition”; and Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish: “How Do We Bring the Heavenly Jerusalem Closer to the Earthly Jerusalem?”

Rabbi Ron Kronish:
“We did a little bit of dreaming… (about) the Jerusalem that we would like to see, the Jerusalem of the future, the Jerusalem of our hopes and dreams. We also talked towards the end of the day about how we must share and work together in bringing the heavenly Jerusalem closer to the earthly Jerusalem. It was a day of dialogue, of inspiration, and it gave all of us a hope for the future in a very real and tangible sense.”

László Berényi, Hungary’s cultural attaché in Israel:
“… Jerusalem, specifically in Dormito, where we are now, became a small world-wide workshop searching to find the vocation of Jerusalem. And if Jerusalem has a vocation, it is exactly this one: to gather people of different nationalities, of different religions with different perspectives and visions but all searching the way of unity.…”

The event falls on the centennial celebration of the Focolare’s foundress, Chiara Lubich. An exhibit on her life and contribution to the Church and to humanity was simultaneously on display at the Franciscan’s Curia in Jerusalem. One of Chiara’s dream was to have, in Jerusalem, a Center which would focus on four areas:  spirituality, study, dialogue and formation. Among the goals of the planned International Center for Unity and Peace is the gathering and hosting of events on inter-religious studies and research.

All the presentations are now freely accessible in the online journal: Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2020) Together for Jerusalem . Some contributions in the form of videos can be found on Youtube.

The seminar, also part of the academic outreach of Sophia University Institute, heralds the launch of a shared journey in scriptural research, cause of hope for fruitful exchange well into the future.