The songs of the Greek Orthodox filled the Holy Sepulcher, when the Franciscans processed in for evening prayer. For the eves of the Sundays in Lent at 11:40 p.m., the “Church of the Resurrection”, which is usually closed at this time, is filled with worshipers.
So, on March 11, after Vespers in the first afternoon with a solemn procession, the Latin Catholics returned to gather in prayer before midnight, the time at which the second Sunday of Lent began. The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, presided over the liturgy, in the presence of the Vicar, Fr. Dobromir Jasztal, the Secretary of the Custody, Fr. David Grenier, and the guardian of the Holy Sepulcher, Fr. Zacheusz Drazek.
In the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the friars, religious and pilgrims gathered to pray. With their backpacks still on and their feet sore from the long day in Jerusalem, a group of Japanese visitors followed the liturgy in the booklet prepared by the Franciscans. “Turn toward the joy of Easter, in the footsteps of Christ the Lord, we follow the austere path of holy Lent,” said the hymn sung during the vigil. After the Psalms, the readings of the Office were proclaimed and then the procession came next. They slowly walked with candles around the Edicule and they stopped in front of the entrance to Christ’s tomb. Faithful from other Christian denominations also looked on from the sides, including the Greek Orthodox women with their heads covered as a sign of respect.
The procession then returned to the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament for the reading of the Gospel of the resurrection. “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” These words of hope were read at the same place in which they were fulfilled. Now having entered the second Sunday of Lent, the journey toward Easter is getting shorter.