On Sunday 14 November, as tradition has it, the Custody of the Holy Land hosted a Holy Mass in honour of the King of Belgium Philip and Queen Mathilde, in the presence of his representative in Jerusalem: the Consul General of Belgium, Wilfried Pfeffer, and a small representation of diplomats who came for the occasion. As with the three masses in honour of France, Spain and Italy, the celebration is a symbol to confirm the importance and the gratitude of the Custody towards the past, present and future support of the Kingdom.
Presided by Fr. Stéphane Milovitch, in charge of the Cultural Heritage Department of the Custody, the Holy Mass was attended by Belgian and French-speaking religious and laymen and women. “At this celebration, we pray for the royal household, their families and we pray so that they can provide for the needs of the Belgian population,” said Fr. Milovitch introducing the celebration of the Eucharist.
The homily was given by Father Frans Bouwen, a Missionary of Africa, who recalled that despite the dramatic forecasts for the future of humanity and our planet, our attitude must reflect our identity as Christians. “As disciples of Jesus, we turn to the word of God to seek an answer,” Father Bouwen commented. “Our vocation is to be messengers and living witnesses of hope. This does not mean that we can put our feet up and wait passively for everything to be done. Let us begin to personally live this hope, radiating joy and faith and being open to others. Let us take action, holding out our hand to all those who are close to us, regardless of differences of nationality, culture, religion or ideas.
Let us all bring these needs to this morning’s prayer: that Belgium can take advantage of its material, intellectual and spiritual potential for its inhabitants. That the cultural and linguistic differences and differences of intensity truly become enriching for everyone. That we can work together for a country where it is beautiful to live and where we can feel recognized in our identity, our dignity and our rights.”
At the end of the celebration of the Eucharist, there was the traditional prayer for the royal family. “There is a very old relationship between the Kingdom of Belgium and the Custody,” said the Consul General Pfeffer. “As Consul-General, one of my missions here in Jerusalem is of a religious nature, linked to the protection and representation of the Cristian religious communities in the Holy Land with the institutions. This historic bond is very important. Today’s celebration which traditionally, my predecessors, my successors and myself have always observed with joy , falls into this traditional task and offers us once again the occasion to be faithful to our mission.”