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Maranatha & Mi'ilya en Galilée 21.08.2013.

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"Maranatha" pilgrimage to the Holy Land An out of the ordinary event Number of participants and their diversity A dream in 2011, a project in 2012, announced to the public on 9th march 2013 at the “…More
"Maranatha" pilgrimage to the Holy Land
An out of the ordinary event

Number of participants and their diversity


A dream in 2011, a project in 2012, announced to the public on 9th march 2013 at the “Basilique de Koekelberg” and subsequently diffused via Internet, the “Maranatha” pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from 19th to 27th August recently, finally brought together over 600 people: 550 to start with, then more than 50 Argentinians, who were only able to join us a few days later, and continued their pilgrimage after our departure. It is extremely rare for a pilgrimage to reach such numbers at the same time in this place. This was made possible thanks to the competence of the French organization “Routes Bibliques” may I acknowledge in passing. Suffice it to say that we were rarely united in the same place at the same time. The full assemblies were limited to information times, celebrating Mass, and crossing the lake of Tiberiade, during which three large boats navigated side by side. The rest of the time was spent in groups competently organized on a turning basis. Amongst the pilgrims, a dozen priests. This proved a precious asset for celebrating the reconciliation sacrament, in the Shepherd’s field in Bethlehem.
The diversity next. A majority of Europeans, principally Belgian, representing the three national languages, and the French, not forgetting the Polish, the Croats, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Italians, the British and a few other nations less represented. The other four continents were also present especially South America, with pilgrims from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Perou, Colombia and Brazil; and North America, with one group from the United States and another from Canada, particularly Quebec. There were also a few Africans and Asians.

Simultaneous translation functioned full time, thanks to a system involving small appliances worn around the neck. Mainly based on French, the most representative language, or occasionally Arabic via French, into Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Polish, and Croat. Thanks to all the benevolent Interpreters!

The intentions of the pilgrimage
The intention of prayer which permeated the whole pilgrimage was, just as during the great assembly of 2500 people at the “Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Koekelberg” last march, the conversion of the human heart – starting with our own – and the healing of Humanity.

As exposed in the book I published on that occasion: The heart of the Good News. An invitation to pray and to commit oneself for the healing of Humanity by divine mercy, it’s a question of praying and commitment, at every level, in the face of serious problems encountered by our civilization. However, since a healing of the human heart and Humanity can only come from Above, this prayer and this commitment also turn towards Jesus resurrected, imploring His glorious second arrival, as we do during each mass, after the consecration. Hence the general designation of the movement and the pilgrimage by the name “Maranatha conversion” the first word meaning, in Aramaic, the language of Jesus: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (cf. Rev.22,20).

It was the Catholics who organized the pilgrimage. Nonetheless, our intention from the outset was to give an ecumenical and even interreligious dimension to our initiative. Even if, for this first pilgrimage, and God willing there will probably be others, we chose the Holy Land, it was because it is emblematic of the challenges we wish to meet. Jesus’ country is in fact like a powder magazine, ready to flare up, and the whole of the Middle East a volcano in irruption or capable of reawakening at any moment. Moreover, the Holy Land assembles on the same territory, the three biggest monotheist religions on the planet: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Hence the need for interreligious dialogue. In addition, as far as Christianity is concerned, the coexistence, not always peaceful, of the various denominations (orthodox, catholic, protestants and Anglicans) and the various rites (Greek-melkite, Maronite and Latin).

The priority meeting with the catholics from the Holy Land
Globally, our second objective was to meet, study, get to know and help all the Christians from the Holy Land, of whatever denomination or rite they belong, even though we met principally the catholics.
I am not therefore going to evoke here our visit to the Holy Places. Like all pilgrims to the Holy Land, we prayed there and celebrated. I would just mention that we stayed in Nazareth, Galilee, then in Jerusalem, Judah, then in Bethlehem, Palestinian territory.

With a small delegation, I was able to meet all the catholic bishops from the Holy Land: the latin Patriarch from Jerusalem, his Beatitude Fouad Twal with his assistant, Mgr Shomali ; the Greek-catholic archbishop, Mgr Chacour ; the Maronite archbishop from the Holy Land and Mgr Marcuzzo assistant bishop from the Latin Patriarcate for Israel.

The most impressive however, were the great assemblies where …