His Beatitude, the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch,
Ignace Moussa Daoud from Beirut
First I want to express my deep-felt thanks to His Excellency Paul Maria Hnilica SJ and to the Family of Mary Coredemptrix, for inviting me to take part in this fourth International Day of Prayer in honor of the Lady and Mother of All Nations. Also I would like to convey my cordial greetings to all spiritual and temporal authorities, present here, to all priests and religious, to the pilgrims who have come from all over the world and to all who are present here in prayer and in meditation as Gods people.
With you all, dear friends, I associate myself with all my heart to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, together with Mary, the Lady and Mother of All Nations.
This title which I approve and like very much, and this celebration, honoring in such a moving way the Mother of God, are a logical consequence of the prophetic words Mary herself has spoken. For in her Magnificat she said: “All generations will call me blessed”. (Lk 1,48)
As we are in the middle of the Jubilee Year 2000, there is no subject more suitable to speak about than the deep significance and essence of the Jubilee Year, which is actually the history of God’s love for humanity or the history of divine Mercy, to which Mary is fully associated.
This history has Love as title, Love as subject, and in its acts and conclusion it shows Love; the hero of this history is the God of Love: God who is Love.
This history begins with a great and unselfish act of Love, the creation of the world and humanity. God did not need this for his own happiness. He created them out of Love, out of Mercy, to let them share in his joy. What merciful and generous love that gives to his beloved, life, being, individuality!
But the Creator’s Love was not reciprocated by Love. God loved the world but the world didn’t love God. The first chapter of God’s Love ends in a sad tragedy: the human being is chased away from paradise.
Is everything lost? God’s merciful Love doesn’t surrender. It answers with an even greater Love: the Son is sent to the world, who becomes man for the divinisation of the human being.
This merciful Love of God is neither reciprocated by love. Once more God loved the world but the world didn’t love Him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept Him. Humanity preferred darkness to light. It was a tragic duel between merciful Love that gives itself and the mystery of evil, which confronted by love, imprisons itself in enmity.
What to do? What the apostles ask: “that fire descends from heaven to destroy them”? (Lk 9,54). No! Jesus says:: “You don’t know your own Spirit!” (Lk9,55vv)
To take up the sword to fight? No! “Put your sword back”! (Mt26.52), Jesus says.
No, no. Merciful Love will triumph once more and will requite the refusal, the hate, sin with an even greater Love, a Love leading to the Cross, Love that goes to the very end, till everything is accomplished.
Will suffering, death, the grave be the end of this great Love history?
No! God’s merciful Love does not despair, does not give up.
The Cross certainly is the summit of God’s merciful Love, but it does not end with that: suffering, death, and burial are followed by something not less far-reaching.
God’s merciful Love will persist, for it is stronger than suffering, greater than death and the grave.
Merciful Love leaves the tomb empty, and will open the graves at the end of times.
The resurrection of the Son will be the shining sign of the victory of merciful Love but the ultimate miracle of this Love will be the resurrection of the dead.
This history of merciful Love will repeat itself in the lives of each of us and in the whole history of the Church.
God’s merciful love forms the foundation of our destination, our existence, our baptism, our personal gifts, our joy, the forgiveness of our sins, the transforming value of our suffering and after death our resurrection and finally our beatific vision.
It is also the same Love that is the foundation of the Church, the sacraments, all the instruments of grace.
To accomplish all this the Lord Jesus Christ has granted us a very special and unique grace. He gave us his own Mother as our Mother and filled her heart with his merciful Love. The Syrian Liturgy, when celebrating the Last Supper in the upper room, calls the Holy Virgin Mary “Full of Mercy” and prays to her as follows:
“Thou who art full of Mercy,
pray to Him who is full of Mercy
that He may grant Mercy to the souls
who implore His Mercy.”
No, Mary was not just a simple instrument in God’s hands. The Council Fathers affirm that she cooperated in the salvation of humanity through her obedience, her faith, her hope, her ardent love. (LG 61)
The Second Vatican Council, when speaking about the Holy Virgin, uses four important titles:
“Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix”
Now your movement asks that she will also be officially called:
“Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate”.
“This, however, to be so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.” (LG62)
To elucidate this relationship between Mary and Jesus, the great Dante calls Mary “the Daughter of her Son”, i.e. she obtains everything through her Son. Her fullness derives from Him and through her mediation she is as much the fruit of Him as He is the fruit of her, the fruit of her womb.
Several times in my life and apostolate I had the privilege to experience Mary’s mediation. Permit me to tell you the following story:
When I was Syrian-Catholic bishop of Cairo, we had a church at Heliopolis, which had no presbytery or parish center for youth activities and pastoral organizations.
In order to build such a center I had asked everywhere for support and had received the money for it but we also needed a license from the mayor of Cairo. For this we required a presidential decree, which is practically impossible in Egypt.
I remained hopeful, however, and made a request, asking insistently for the intercession of the Holy Virgin.
The formalities were extremely difficult and lasted for more than 4 years. Moreover, at a certain moment the benefactors began to ask their money back because the work had not yet started.
I was in an impossible situation: either I had to obtain the presidential decree, which was practically impossible or give back the money I had collected with so much effort.
On April 14,1986, I was as a bishop in Lourdes before the grotto of Our Lady, saying the Rosary. I turned to the Holy Virgin and said to her: “This is our situation: we are before closed doors. You know our problems. Holy Mary, do something!”
Hardly had I left the grotto, when the telephone rang and a lady gave me the name of a director general of the Home Office, who wanted to help us.
Two days later, on Wednesday April 16, I received another phone call from another lady who gave me a second address.
Three months later, on July 10, 1986, I got the information that it was almost sure that we would get the license.
But it was not until September 30 that I received the so precious presidential decree, dated August 19, 1986. I never had any doubt about who had worked this miracle: “Thank you Holy Virgin Mary, To you I owe this grace.” On November 25, 1986, we laid the foundation stone, and two years later on November 25, 1988 we inaugurated the parish center.
Mary is really the Mother of all Nations. Here at this place where we breathe the spirit of the World Church, I want to express again my childlike gratitude to her. Therefore, with all my heart, I can only encourage you all to bring the Lady of All Nations, the Mother of Mercy to all people so that Mary, the Mother of All Nations, may bless our world.