This new prayer resource, published by one of CTE’s Bodies in Association, the Friends of the Holy Land, brings the reality of Easter in the Holy Land to life.
The physical reality of Easter is captured in the book which brings together voices from the first Holy Week with those from across the Holy Land in today’s Covid-hit world.
With forewords by CTE Presidents Archbishop Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Holy Week Voices from the Holy Land juxtaposes immersive poetry from a priest who experienced Lent and Easter in lockdown London, with reflections from Christians living in crisis in the Holy Land in a new prayer resource.
Facing the pain of a closed church during Lent and Easter 2020, when Covid restrictions put pay to foot washing, vigils and corporate celebrations, Fr Richard Nesbitt of Our Lady of Fatima church in White City, penned poems through the eyes of those who experienced the first Easter.
These 15 poems, which take the reader from Bethany to Jerusalem and Emmaus, are written in accessible language from the perspective of key players in the Holy Week drama from Judas to Pontius Pilate and Mary Magdalene. Each is placed side by side with scripture and reflections from Christians, across a range of denominations, who are living in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan in a time of global pandemic.
In his foreword Justin Welby, describes Fr Richard’s work as a ‘valuable resource’, saying: “In a way which draws on the Ignatian tradition, he has imagined himself into the position of actors in the great Easter drama, bringing their feelings alive for us with his simply accessible poems.
“These may serve to enrich our appreciation of the Bible passages, which, for some people, can lose their immediacy through repetition. The Scriptural texts, Fr Richard’s poems and the reflections from residents of the Holy Land combine powerfully to make vivid the physical reality of the extraordinary Easter narratives, which are so foundational to our common faith.”
The absence of physical pilgrims has had disastrous consequences for all communities in the Holy Land but especially for those living in Bethlehem and Nazareth where 80% of the economy is based on pilgrimage and tourism.
Proceeds from the book will help fund the work of charity Friends of the Holy Land which supports vulnerable Christian families across the region with education costs, unemployment relief, house renovations, medical and emergency needs.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols writes: “This book embodies the core aims of the Friends of the Holy Land and I am delighted to recommend it to you as a prayer resource for your journey with Christ through Lent and Eastertide. I hope that it will promote prayer with and for our fellow Christians in the Holy Land and raise urgently needed funds to support initiatives on the ground.
“Both prayer and practical help make a real difference to the lives of Christians there, helping them to continue their presence as living witnesses of the light and love of our Blessed Lord in the land in which he lived.”
All funds from the book, which costs £7.99, will go to Friends of the Holy Land.