EQUESTRIAN ORDER OF HOLY SEPULCHRE: AMBASSADORS OF PEACE

 

VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre were received in audience this morning by the Holy Father. The Grand Master of the Order is Cardinal John Patrick Foley, and the Grand Prior is His Beatitude Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins.

 

  The Equestrian Order has been meeting in Rome for the occasion of its "world consultation", a five-yearly meeting of lieutenants, delegates and members to assess the situation of the Catholic community in the Holy Land, study the activities of the Order and establish guidelines for the future.

 

  In his remarks to them Benedict XVI referred to the history of the Order, which came into being as "a 'guard of honour' for the protection of the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord", and since its foundation "has attracted the particular concern of Roman Pontiffs, who have given it the spiritual and juridical instruments necessary for it to carry out its specific form of service".

 

  "An ancient and glorious link binds your equestrian fraternity to the Holy Sepulchre of Christ, where the glory of His death and resurrection is celebrated in a unique way. This is what constitutes the central focus of your spirituality. May Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, be the centre of your lives, of all your projects and of your individual and community programmes".

 

  The Pope exhorted the knights and ladies of the Order to be, "in our time, builders of a tangible hope", one that aims "to build a new humanity inspired by the evangelical values of justice, love and peace. How much need for justice and peace the Land of Jesus has!" he exclaimed. "Continue to work to this end, and never tire of praying ... for this aspiration to be realised.

 

  "Ask the Lord to make you 'convinced and sincere ambassadors of peace and love among your brothers and sisters'. Ask Him, with the power of His love, to favour your constant work in support of the ardent desire for peace in those communities, weighted down over the years by a climate of uncertainty and danger".

 

  The Pope went on: "My affectionate thoughts go out to those dear Christian peoples who continue to suffer because of the political, economic and social crisis of the Middle East, made even more burdensome by the grave situation in the world. And I reserve a particular expression of spiritual closeness for our many brethren in the faith who have been forced to emigrate. How can we not share the suffering of those communities so sorely tried?"

 

  "In these days of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the eyes of our faith turn to Bethlehem ... and to all places sanctified by the passage of the Redeemer. We ask Mary ... to make us aware of her maternal protection for our brothers and sisters who live there and have to face no small number of difficulties every day".

AC/ORDER HOLY SEPULCHRE/FOLEY:TWAL                    VIS 081205 (500)