A GREAT PRAYER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER
FR. JERZY BIELECKI
The Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, whose history starts in 1099, expresses honor and respect for Lord’s resurrection and guards the glory of the One whom God resurrected from the dead (see the Acts of the Apostles 10.40). Jesus resurrected on the third day, as the Scripture says, and according to the tradition it was thought that it was in the year 33. The Gospels do not give exact dates, although they give many hints.
In the light of traditional estimations, it can be assumed that in the year 2033, it will have been 2000 years since the resurrection of Christ. This great jubilee is a special occasion to underline the fundamental significance of the resurrection of Christ for Christian faith. Alive faith in the resurrection gives strength because it gives hope. Not only does it give strength for martyr death, but it also gives strength of faith which allows for living in a good way, protects from despair, from doubtfulness towards injustice of the world.
In the oldest testimony of the New Testament about the resurrection St. Paul writes: ‘And if Christ did not resurrect, our teaching is in vain, as well as our faith is in vain’ (1 Cor 15.14). What would happen with Christian faith if there had not been the resurrection of Jesus? The Apostle Paul wants to tell us that without the resurrection the teaching about Jesus, about His words and actions would be in vain and deprived of essence. Without the resurrection also the event of the cross would be meaningless, suffering and death of Jesus would be deprived of their redeeming significance. Faith which does not derive from faith in resurrection, loses its redeeming character and narrows the eschatological perspective of Christianity. It means weakening of hope for completion of the world beyond history. The world without faith in the resurrection is the world without hope, because besides God nobody or nothing is able to make amends for the suffering, return justice and compensate for harms. Resurrection is the essence of Christian faith. Today we realize the fact that it is the work of the Holy Trinity. It was done by Father’s power who ‘resurrected’ Christ, his Son. It was the work of the Spirit of Holiness because Jesus is ‘becomes God’s Son full of power, according to the Holy Spirit by arising from the dead’ (Romans 1.4). Resurrection was also the work of Jesus, God’s Son because he did it with his Divine power. The truth about resurrection, so strongly present in the first centuries of Christianity, should be proclaimed all the time and find new witnesses, also today, in the work of new evangelization. Among witnesses of the mystery of resurrection, cavaliers and dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem take a special place – worshippers of the Holy Sepulcher, referring to the heritage and tradition functioning on the Polish lands till XIX century of the Order of Regular Canons of Guardians of the Holy Sepulcher.
The Order of the Holy Sepulcher, celebrating their 850th anniversary of arriving in Miechów, started a Great Prayer on the way to the Great Jubilee of 2000 years from Christ’s Resurrection. On this occasion on 15 June 2014, on the day of the Holiest Trinity, members of the Order gathered together in the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Miechów, in order to participate in a solemn Holy Mass celebrated and presided over by archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski from Vatican, a commander with the star of the Knights’ Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Since then every month, till the year 2033, in the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Miechów, bishops and priests – members of the Knights’ Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem will celebrate the Holy Mass as preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000 years of Christ’s Resurrection. Completion of the Eucharist will always be the visitation of the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher.
The Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher with the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher is an unusual place which speak to us with the past and greatness of the past generations of inhabitants of Miechow and pilgrims. From the first moments of settling down of the Order in Miechów, its task was spreading the cult of the Holy Sepulcher. The central cult place is the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher built in XVI century, with the copy of the Tomb in Jerusalem. In the period when the Muslims made it impossible for pilgrims to visit the Tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Miechów became the purpose of pilgrims from mediaeval Europe, getting many privileges, including the grace of the indulgence. Rulers and scholars have made pilgrimages to this sanctuary for centuries in order to worship passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In today’s times also knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem make pilgrimages here, in order to pray in the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher and in a beautiful chapel built in the same shape as the Tomb of the Redeemer in Jerusalem.
Also the appearance of the basilica in Miechow which is associated with a tower, crowned with an enormous sphere, brings the message of resurrection. Since the year 2006, on the sphere there has been a figure of Resurrected Christ. This is a sign that the sanctuary in Miechow, with the glorious name ‘Polish Jerusalem’ is still a guardian and a preacher of the paschal mystery of Jesus on the Polish land. Through the Great Prayer of the Order here on the way to the Great Jubilee of 2000 years from Resurrection of Christ, it wants to speak to us not only about traditions of the Holy Sepulcher cult for centuries on the Polish lands, but also today it wants to bring the message of Christian hope. Christ’s resurrection is the base of Christian hope: ‘Surrexit Christus, spes mea’.
Let Resurrected Christ bring us hope and power of the Holy Spirit.