By CNA Staff
Catholic bishops will consecrate the Middle East to the Holy Family on June 27.
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem announced details of the act of consecration, which will take place in the Year of St. Joseph, in a June 11 letter to his brother bishops.
Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa indicated that it would take place during Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth “with the participation of all the Ordinaries of the Holy Land.”
“We will bless a specially painted icon of the Holy Family inlaid with relics from the same Basilica of the Annunciation. The icon represents the painting of the Holy Family of Nazareth, which rests above the altar of St. Joseph Church, in Nazareth, where, according to tradition, the Carpenter’s house was,” he wrote.
“Once blessed, the icon will go on a pilgrimage, starting from Lebanon, to the countries of the East, until its arrival to Rome towards the end of the year of St. Joseph, on Dec. 8, 2021. From Rome, the icon will travel back to the Holy Land where it will remain.”
In the letter, Pizzaballa also said that Catholic bishops throughout the Middle East would celebrate an annual Mass for peace starting June 27.
“It has been decided that a Mass should be celebrated in each one of the countries belonging to the Council of the Catholic Patriarchs in the Middle East, and thus all the patriarchs and bishops are invited to participate in this intense prayer, and to be in a profound Communion of prayer together during this blessed day,” he wrote.
Members of the council are present in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Syria.
Pizzaballa explained that the Mass initiative would take place each year on the “Peace Day for the East.”
He said that the idea emerged from the council’s justice and peace commission on the 130th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s social encyclical Rerum novarum.
He added that Pope Francis would give his apostolic blessing for the peace day in Rome.
The pope asked Catholics around the world last month to pray for peace following days of clashes between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
He made the request after the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem invited Catholics to pray for justice and peace in the Holy Land on the eve of Pentecost.
Pizzaballa, who is president of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, concluded his letter by inviting Catholics in the region to take part in the annual Mass initiative, imploring “the Mercy of God and His Peace on this beloved Middle East, where the Christian faith is born and still alive, despite the sufferings.”
The text of the Act of Consecration of the East to the Holy Family is as follows:
We resort to your protection, Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in the midst of the political and economic crises that have accumulated around us, citizens of the Middle East.
We resort to your protection, O Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, amid the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, which has created a state of instability, fear and anxiety.
We resort to your protection, O Family of Nazareth, you who experienced hardship with faith, hope and love, in order to dedicate our East and our countries to you completely, and entrust our lives and our homelands, our fears and hopes, our children, our youth and our families, so that every family may become a domestic church and a school of holiness.
O Holy Family, seek from God for the Middle East the blessing of emerging from these stifling conditions and attaining the return of peace and stability, so that its citizens may live equal in rights and duties, and enjoy a free and dignified life, regardless of their religious and national affiliation.
O Holy Family, may your tender look be upon us, upon our families and upon our countries, so that we may open ourselves to the signs of God’s presence as you opened yourself with absolute fidelity, so that our hearts open to each other and to the dimensions of the entire world, thus we all become one family, living in peace, love and harmony.
With St. Ephrem, we pray to you, O Lord: Make reconciliation between peoples complete in our time, so that they may be truly one people. Gather your children in your bosom, so that they may give thanks for your goodness. If all the sons of light were united, their unified rays would remove the darkness, through the strength of their unity.
Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we confidently place this, our prayer, and the consecration of our East in your hands. To the Most Holy Trinity be thanks and praise, now and forever, Amen.
(SOURCE: CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)