Gaza (Agenzia Fides) - The Christians of Gaza are living Holy Week while the sky above them is once again torn by the lightning of war. In the night between Thursday and Good Friday, air raids by the Israeli armed forces hit the Palestinian enclave, an operation presented as a response to rocket attacks on Israel from Palestinian territories. A situation that makes the prayers and practices shared in these days by the few baptized residents of the Gaza Strip, among millions of Muslims, even more intense.
"Here in Gaza, by the grace of God", Father Gabriel Romanelli, parish priest of the Latin church of the Holy Family told Fides, "we continue to confess our faith in this way: the Risen One has not returned to the tomb, he did not return to die. He is the Lord of history and of the centuries. And his victory over evil and sin also nourishes hope in human victories for every good and just cause. Victories for peace, against war and against injustice".
Throughout Lent, Christians in Gaza had many opportunities to come together to contemplate the mysteries of salvation recounted in the Gospel. After the week of Ash Wednesday, every Friday many baptized participated in the pious practice of the Stations of the Cross. On Holy Thursday, after Mass in Coena Domini, the noise of rockets and air raids led to the cancellation of the planned procession to the "seven tabernacles", the seven places - including the Orthodox church – which, in Gaza, keep the Eucharist. On Good Friday, if conditions permit, after the Liturgy of the Passion a small funeral procession will carry the statue of Christ lying down to the small parish cemetery. Then, on the way back, a cross adorned with flowers will be planted in front of the church, and prayers of consolation will be recited in front of the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows.
In the midst of the conflicts that are tearing the Middle East apart, Father Romanelli, missionary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, repeated that the urgency is "to pray for peace and work for peace, trying to make oases of peace and justice flourish". During Lent, works of charity and help for the poorest were also shared by Christians with Muslims, who are also experiencing Ramadan, a time of fasting and prayer. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 7/4/2023)