Letter of Custos for Holy Land Prayer for Peace Day

"Peace Dwells in Man's Heart as Nostalgia and a Wish for the Future"

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JERUSALEM, JAN. 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message that Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the custos of the Holy Land, wrote on the occasion of the 3rd International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land, which will be celebrated Jan. 29-30.



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Glory to God in the highest heavens and peace on earth to the men he loves: a multitude of angels accompany the announcement of the Lord's birth and makes more acute the need for peace, inviting us to prayer in a succession of initiatives and meetings that see the month of January become year after year ever more a month of prayer for peace.

Peace dwells in man's heart as nostalgia and a wish for the future, and it is because of this that our responsibility in meetings for peace drive us increasingly to seek in prayer the place to educate us to find it by carrying out works of justice, to attain it in attention to the signs of the times, to know how to receive it in the humility of truth.

To the great Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and of interreligious dialogue, are added many other initiatives that claim our commitment to prayer, to reflection, so that commitment to peace -- gift of God -- becomes a reality for every man loved by the Lord.

"It is letting God have what is uniquely his (the gift) and exploring, with seriousness, constancy and dedication, what is our task, keeping in mind that to our commitment belong the binomials of acting and suffering, of activity and patience, of exhaustion and joy": this program that Pope Benedict XVI articulates speaking of the ecumenical journey (this third edition of the International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land witnesses the participation also of the Association for the Promotion of the Extraordinary Prayer of All the Churches for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace, beginning from Jerusalem) is true hence also for peace. And, above all, for peace in this, our beloved Holy Land.

To act and suffer: by considering this binomial inseparable we will discover how much our immobility does not depend so much on our good will to "do", as it does on our fear of having to suffer for peace.

Activity and patience: and again we discover ourselves impatient and, more than that, disappointed that all our effort does not bring in a brief time the expected fruit.

Exhaustion and joy: it is so difficult to be joyful in exhaustion! Is it not as though perceiving joy beyond the many situations of violence that seem to mock our exhausting effort? We are in need of a supplement of hope!

Glory to God in the highest heavens, and peace on earth to the men he loves: in the prayer of praise and glory to God, our Creator and Savior, we acknowledge the great, incommensurable, real gift of peace that he comes to give us. To accept that gift is to believe and to hope for peace, as Mary did, the Mother of Jesus, who sang the Magnificat, the hymn of a future world that already dwelt in her. It is to believe and hope for peace, as the saints were able to believe and hope, who made peace in their heart, becoming witnesses of reconciliation, of mercy, of compassion and of forgiveness towards everyone. It is what we must do here, in the Holy Land: called to believe and to hope in a delicate and fragile peace as the grass that springs by the gift of rain, as the gestures of reconciliation hidden but very real to sustain all good will, to have hope in the future, foundation of a new world which we can already say is ours if we let prayer transform our heart. May the prayer of intercession for peace in the Holy Land, sustained and shared by so many people in so many cities, help us all to make our hearts capable of receiving it and, made men and women of peace, of witnessing it and giving it to the world.

May this intercession, which every year witnesses more people and associations unite to pray for peace in Land that God made holy with his presence, be also an embrace of all our Christians who are living a period of great tribulation and martyrdom. May this unanimous intercession be for them a gesture of fraternity on the part of Christians of the whole world, and echo in their suffering heart the solicitude of the angel who took the announcement to the shepherds: Do not be afraid! Together with them, may the prayer be of mutual encouragement for us to believe and to hope in the precious gift that the Prince of Peace has given us with his coming among us, God made a frail Child, and that we must receive with trepidation and joy, committing ourselves concretely to act, being ready to suffer, working for justice, bearing with patience the weight of that which we do not succeed in changing, in exhaustion, certainly, but also in the joy of knowing that the Lord listens to our prayer.

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa O.F.M.
Custos of the Holy Land

[Translation by ZENIT]