National Pilgrimage to the Holy Land has started
Prague/Tel Aviv: The main group of pilgrims left for Israel on Thursday to take part in the three key moments of the pilgrimage. These will be attended also by ten bishops of the Czech Republic, among them Cardinal Dominik Duka, archbishop of Prague and president of the Czech Bishops’ Conference.
On Friday, 8th November, the common program of some thousand Czech pilgrims, among them 70 priests, starts on the Mount of Beatitudes. The mass at 12.00 p.m. (11.00 a.m. of the Central European Time) will be presided over by Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc. Bishop František Václav Lobkowicz of Ostrava and Opava will deliver a homily based upon a quote from the Gospel of Matthew “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt 3:2).
The Saturday program starts at noon local time at the Shepherds’ Field close to Bethlehem, the place where an angel announced the Jesus’ birth to shepherds. The pilgrims will contemplate the topic of evangelization, summed in the motto “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Lk 2:10). The mass will be presided over by Cardinal Dominik Duka and Bishop František Radkovský of Plzeň will deliver a homily.
The National Pilgrimage will culminate in a Sunday mass that will also begin at midday, this time next to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The place will evoke themes of resurrection and eternal life and the pilgrims will also renew their baptismal vows. The mass will be presided over by Cardinal Duka and he will deliver a homily as well.
Besides these three key moments, each group of pilgrims has its own program in the Holy Land; some of them arrived to Israel as early as on Sunday. A delegation will meet representatives of the State of Israel, Yehuda Shen from the Tourism Ministry, and the Czech Ambassador Tomáš Pojar.
“The Lord invites his disciples to join him on the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem,” wrote Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, to Czech pilgrims. He continued: “He invites also people of today to ‘go up to Jerusalem’, to the full communion with him. I assure you of my prayers. I expect your arrival and welcome you in Jerusalem. Let us pray and walk together in the light of the Risen Christ.”