by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When Jesus entered Jerusalem before his passion and crucifixion, the Pharisees scolded him because of the exulting crowds.
“He said in reply, ‘I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!’” (Lk 19:40).
The stones — both living and literal — cry out today to the Christians of the world for support and aid.
Every year, Catholics from all over the world take up a collection on Good Friday to support the church in the Holy Land, said Michael La Civita, communications director for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
The Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land promote and supervise the Pontifical Good Friday Collection in the United States on behalf of the Holy See.
“The Franciscans have been in the Holy Land since St. Francis himself,” said La Civita. “There is a special province of the Franciscans called the Custody of the Holy Land because they are the custodians of shrines associated with the life and miracles of Jesus.”
The Franciscans care not only for the literal stones of these sites, but also the living stones — Christians who live and have lived in Israel, Palestine and surrounding countries since the apostolic age — and their Muslim neighbors as well.
The Pontifical Good Friday Collection is used for social and charitable, pastoral, educational and scientific, and liturgical and ecumenical activities.
“[The collection] is a good way for Catholics to not only recall the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also to observe the Gospel imperative and the Beatitudes — to love one another as he has loved us,” said La Civita. “We’re participating in their ministry of love on behalf of Christ and his church to support the people in the Holy Land.”
A special envelope has been provided to parishioners to use for this second collection. For information about the collection and the Holy Land Franciscans, visit the website at: www.My Franciscan.org.