For many centuries, the Franciscans in the Holy Land did not enjoy freedom of speech except in the language of prayer and liturgical celebrations. There were not many opportunities for evangelization or pastoral ministry (apart from the perennial possibility of desiring martyrdom). In recent times, though, some things have changed for the better.
Prayer and worship of the Friars remains the most noble dimension of service in the Custody, a faithfulness flowing from the roots assuring true vitality in experiencing the holy places.We refer, above all, to the Peregrinations and to the liturgies, which are celebrated at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and the Basilica of the Nativity.
It has been said that pilgrimages represent the most distinctive aspect of the liturgical life of the Custody of the Holy Land. They constitute a continual movement, laborious to be sure, but never abandoned. They serve as a means of reliving, in all its splendor, a corner of the earth precious for its incomparable link with the history of salvation. Without these pilgrimages, the meaning of the sanctuaries would be obscured. Pilgrimages to Jordan, to Emmaus, to Bethphage, to Bethany, to the Place of the Ascension, to the Pater Noster, to Dominus Flevit, to the Flagellation, to Ein Karem, to the Cenacle; they are in a sense the living stones of our faith."
Just think of the Holy Sepulchre. Who ever visits this Basilica will always find some friars there, moving to and fro, just as Christ did on his last paschal journey. It would be easy to spend a day immersing one self in the spiritual ambiance around you but to do it every day bespeaks of a dedicated love of the liturgy, a 'pondus' understood as a faithful response of love to the love God. This could be equally said about the daily liturgical activities at the Basilica of Bethlehem or the many other shrines. It is probably better to leave the value seen in these liturgical practices to the individual, so that each person may evaluate the riches enshrined in these daily liturgical practices, especially those celebrated before, during and after Easter.