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5th International Day of Prayer, Amsterdam 2003

Prefect of the Congregation of the Oriental Churches,
Emeritus Patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church of Antioch

For me it is a great honor and truly a great joy to be here in Amsterdam for the third time in order to participate in the Day of Prayer in honor of the Lady of All Nations.

I would like to express my deep-felt thanks to Msgr. Jozef Marianus Punt, Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, for his cordial invitation and to all who have organized this day of prayer, especially Fr. Paul Maria Sigl and the Family of Mary Coredemptrix. To all present here, I would like to convey my warm greetings, to you venerable fellow bishops, priests, religious, youth, families and pilgrims that have come from near and far to honor Mary, the Mother of All Nations. I join you in your faith, your enthusiasm, your prayers for peace, forgiveness and love in the world. May Mary, the Lady and Mother of All Nations accept our homage, hear our prayers and bless us.

The theme of this international day of prayer, ‘The Lady of All Nations and the Year of the Rosary’, coincides very well with the Feast of Pentecost, which we are celebrating today and where Mary was present amidst the apostles as their Mother and Lady. Through them, she was the Lady of All Nations.

The fundamental elements of this theme have a deep meaning and great importance for the present world. They offer us the opportunity to meditate together upon the importance of the Rosary, the Year of the Rosary and the role of the Lady of All Nations in this Year of the Rosary and within the international context.
On October 16, 2002, His Holiness Pope John Paul II granted two gifts of inestimable worth to the Church and world: his Apostolic Letter ‘The Rosary and the Virgin Mary’ and the proclamation of the Year of the Rosary. This papal document will greatly illuminate our meditations today and during this year.

The Pontiff first underlines the fruits and great efficacy of the Rosary! He says, ‘Simple yet profound, the rosary remains a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness’. (nr. 1).

‘From my youthful years this prayer’, so he tells us, ‘has held an important place in my spiritual life’ (nr. 2). He adds, ‘The Rosary is my favorite prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth’ (nr. 2). And he concludes, ‘How many graces have I received from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary!’ (nr. 2)

How many of us, who have faithfully persevered in saying the Rosary, have received countless favors personally and for others! Since my youth I myself have always faithfully prayed the Rosary and received abundant graces.
The Blessed Bartolo Longo, Apostle of the Rosary and mentioned as an example in the Apostolic Letter, built the Marian Sanctuary in Pompei. He urged people to say the Rosary and to propagate it saying, “Whoever spreads the Rosary is saved!” Our Holy Father also tells us that whenever possible he has encouraged the frequent recitation of the Rosary (nr. 2).

Convinced of its marvelous fruits, I would like to invite you to say the Rosary assiduously and to direct now your attention to the object of this devotion. The Letter on the Rosary clearly shows us that Christ forms the center of this prayer. Against the background of the words Hail Mary, the principle events in the life of Jesus Christ pass before our eyes, so the Pope says.

Whether we meditate upon the joyful or the luminous mysteries, the sorrowful or glorious mysteries, we are confronted with the face of the same Christ, our Redeemer and our master. We relive again the mysteries of his youth and of his public life, of his Passion and his glorious Resurrection, which makes John Paul II say that the Rosary is a “compendium of the gospel” (nr. 18).

The dramatic situation of our present world, however, has incited the Pope to lead our attention in particular to Christ’s countenance, ‘our peace’. Recalling the alarming world situation caused by the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001—what would he have said about the subsequent horrible war in Iraq and its disastrous consequences—John Paul II assures us that rediscovering the Rosary is submerging ourselves in the contemplation of the mystery of Him, who is ‘our peace’ as he made the two of us one and broke down the dividing wall of hostility – i.e. hatred (Eph. 2,14) (nr. 6).

As we can see for ourselves, our world lacks the fundamental basis of communal life, which is peace. Never before has the world seen so much discord as now. Never before has hatred created so many walls of division between the nations as in this time.
We need peace. So we need Christ, ‘our peace’. Through His redeeming death He has reconciled the human being with God. He broke down the dividing walls of hostility and his infinite love has dispersed all hatred. We take our recourse to Him, that He may grant our world peace, justice, freedom, forgiveness and love.

This is what Jesus wants but through Mary who always has been united with Jesus, his life and his mission. Ninfo, a well-known Byzantine writer, said, “Mary is after the Mediator the only Mediatrix of all people.”

Mary’s life was profoundly united with the life of Jesus. One could say that she only lived through Him. “The mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother” (nr. 24).
It is only through Mary’s eyes that we can really meditate upon the mysteries of Jesus. Therefore the pope calls the Rosary “the way of Mary” and we can give Mary no greater joy than by saying the Rosary. For nothing makes a mother happier than reliving the most precious and important facts, happenings, periods and moments taken from her child’s life.
Sharing these important memories with this mother and recalling them again undoubtedly gives her great joy. For that is exactly what we are doing when we are saying the Rosary of the Holy Virgin Mary.
Mary really finds in this devotion the highest expression of our love as her children. She is deeply touched by it and her soul exults in grace, rushing forward to be our Advocate.

As in the past, we urgently need this intercession. “At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation” (nr. 39). Amidst the threats and conflicts of our time we take our refuge in Mary.

Jesus entrusted Mary to John saying, “Behold your Mother.” As she became the Mother of John, she became the Mother of Christ’s apostles and so Mother of the Church and therefore of humanity. The new title, The Lady of All Nations, under which she wants to be invoked, has, therefore, a logical basis evangelically as well as theologically. She will be the Advocate for the nations who are in conflict with each other. The “Lady of the United States” is also the “Lady of Iraq”. The Lady of All Nations of the West is also the Lady of All Nations of the East. Through her intercession with her Son, she will form a single people from all nations. She will break down the dividing walls; she will bring peace, forgiveness and love.

The devotion to Mary, the Lady of All Nations, as the statement from the Bishop of Haarlem says, has taken its place in the spiritual life of millions all over the world, and has the support of many bishops. Experiences of conversion and reconciliation, as well as testimonies about the graces obtained through the Lady of All Nation’s mediation, reinforce our trust in her and our love for her divine Son.

We are very joyful that on May 31, 2002, the Bishop of Haarlem recognized the supernatural origin of the apparitions of the Lady of All Nations, which took place in Amsterdam from 1945 until 1959.

It is Mary, the Lady of All Nations, to whom we trustingly address our supplications today.
Yes! Mary, Lady of All Nations, break down the walls of division between the nations.
Mary, Lady of All Nations, take away the hatred that separates the nations.
Mary, Lady of All Nations, sow in the hearts of all nations the seeds of forgiveness, reconciliation and love.
We no longer want war, violence and terrorism.
Mary, Lady of All Nations, make an end to all wars, conflicts and tensions, to all violence between nations.
Mary, Lady of All Nations, help us to prepare the way to a new Pentecost of the Holy Spirit, who alone, as our bishop said, can heal the great wounds of our time.

Ignace Moussa Cardinal Daoud
Syrian Patriarch Emeritus of Antioch,
Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches