His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II arrived at the Virgin Mary Church in Bourj Hammoud, Mount Lebanon. He was received by their Eminences: Mor Theophilos George Saliba, Archbishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, Mor Philoxenus Matta Chamoun, Mor Justinos Boulos Safar, Patriarchal Vicar in Zahla and Bekaa, Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut, Mor Chrysostomos Mikhael Chamoun, Patriarchal Vicar and Director of the Patriarchal Benevolent Institutions in Atchaneh, Mor Titus Boulos Touza, Apostolic Nuncio to the Evangelical Churches in Brazil, as well as priests, monks, and deacons of the Archdiocese, and a crowd of faithful.
His Excellency General Antoine Pano, newly elected member of parliament, and member of our Syriac Orthodox Church was also present.
His Holiness entered the church in a procession where he inaugurated the renovated church.
His Holiness then celebrated the Holy Qurobo on the occasion of the feast of Virgin Mary for the blessing of the crops. He was assisted by their Eminences Mor Theophilos George Saliba and Mor Chrysostomos Mikhael Chamoun in the presence of their Eminences the Archbishops as well as the reverend priests, monks, deacons and the choir of the parish.
In his sermon, His Holiness congratulated His Eminence Mor Theophilos George Saliba and the Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon, especially the parishioners of St. Mary Church for the renovation of their church and making it a house fit for the worship of God. His Holiness spoke about the efforts of His Eminence assisted by the faithful of the parish and he prayed asking the Lord to grant him good health and a long life.
His Holiness spoke about the feast of the Virgin Mary for the blessing of the Crops and explained to the faithful the origin of this feast as well as its importance in connecting the Virgin Mary to the faithful on earth. At the time when the earth meant a lot for the peasants, they used to seek the intercession of the Virgin Mary to bless the land and the harvest.
His Holiness commented on the Gospel reading affirming that the Lord Jesus Christ loved His mother whom He entrusted to the beloved disciple John. However, the Lord’s reaction to those who told Him that His mother and brothers are asking for Him is a lesson on how to be a mother or brothers to Christ. He pointed out that this requires us to resemble the Virgin Mary in doing the will of God. His Holiness pointed out that most of us fail in this test because we want to do our will and not the will of God. Therefore, we should be more serious in our prayers and truly say and mean: “thy will be done”.
During the Holy Qurobo, His Eminence Mor Theophilos George Saliba welcomed His Holiness in the Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon “your serving Archdiocese which carries your message to Lebanon and the world”. His Eminence expressed his great and indescribable joy for having His Holiness celebrating this special occasion. He addressed His Holiness saying: “You are the Patriarch of Antioch, and the great shepherd of the Syriac church; for four years, you have spent all efforts and are offering what is good for the faithful of this church. You are the heir of great patriarchs and doing great deeds in the service of your people”. He also spoke about St. Mary Church saying: “This church is the mother church of the Syriac Orthodox parishes of Mount Lebanon since it is the first of the Archdiocese”. His Eminence thanked His Holiness for his love and thanked everyone who contributed into the renovation of the church. His Eminence concluded his speech saying: “the Fathers of the church teach us that every beginning with God brings about good endings; we started with God and He completed. When God is with us, then who is against us”.