On the weekend of February 17 and 18, 2017, the members of the Desert Flower youth group met in Jerusalem, at the Saint Rachel Center. Father Piotr, one of the animators, describes the meeting.

desert flower 2.2017

This month, the youth group Perah HaMidbar met in Jerusalem, at the Saint Rachel Center. The topic was "Christianity - identity or life style?" Evening prayer, led by Benny, Vicariate seminarian, was dedicated to the question of imitating Jesus in daily life situations. Later, before going to sleep, we watched the movie: "Heaven is for real", which deals with the problems of the quality of faith of those who already believe in God and the basic questions that often might be merely a theoretical "Credo" without any practical impact on spiritual life.

Saturday started as usual with morning prayers and breakfast and the activities of the morning were connected to the content of the movie and prepared by Habib and Salma. First the youth were invited to act out some crucial scenes. With the text of the script they imitated the actors. This was a nice way to remind ourselves of some of the most important moments and words from the movie. Then there was a discussion in groups about some questions dealing with the screenplay, but also with personal experiences.

A nice break was the time dedicated for games. Daniel invited everyone to play outside. There were intellectual games with cards and words as well as sport and fitness activities.

After lunch and a short siesta, we had a meeting with Father Rafic, the priest of the Jerusalem kehilla, who told us about his experience of faith. Father Rafic had to answer a few questions of which some were more personal meanwhile others dealt with the situation of Christians in the Middle East.

Later on we went to the Monastery of Saint Peter in Gallicantu. Here Father Piotr had a lesson about the Gospel. This year during the meetings we are reading the Gospel of Matthew. The passage was connected to the place we visited: Gallicantu is the house of the chief priest where Jesus was taken after being arrested in Gethsemane. During his trial Peter denied knowing him. The questions for private meditation were: what does it mean for us to deny Jesus (in public life, but much more in private choices and everyday matters). Many thanks to Father Jean Daniel from the Community of Assumption who made possible our visit for free and after the church was already closed.

After a nice walk to the Jerusalem kehilla, we participated in the evening mass here. In his homily Father Piotr underlined the unity of the message of Christ and of the Old Testament expressed in the commandment: “Love God and love one another”. At the same time, Jesus' invitation to go beyond simple justice ("An eye for an eye") is a challenge to forgive even enemies. The meaning of this call to forgiveness for a modern follower of Jesus is an ordinary life matter. Usual situations, daily meetings with people, relations inside the society - all this is a place to exercise the virtue of mercy. "Hate may be like a cancer that eats our soul from inside," Father Piotr said and invited everyone to close their eyes and to think about one person who is the most difficult for us to deal with. After picturing that person in the imagination we were invited to bless him/her, asking God to give that person all the graces and blessings that are needed: "May he/she be successful in professional life, family matters, love and money. May he/she have a blessed, successful life full of God's grace". This exercise should be done often in order to learn how to deal with even the first signs of hate whenever we feel them.

Thanks to all who helped in preparing the meeting of the youth group this month.