When someone stands in Saydnaya, he feels as if…


The speech of His Beatitude John X in Saydnaya


Beloved brothers and sisters:

   I come today to Saydnaya to meet bright faces dressed with the zeal of God and good souls dominated by the love of their fellow man and the love of the homeland. I come to Saydnaya which lies near to the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary protected by the red mantle of St. George and under the shadowing wings of the Cherubim. I come to Saydnaya spoken of in the books of history, the chronicles of travelers and the report of miracles. I come to kneel before the Virgin of Saydnaya and ask her to visit us and infuse our souls with the splendor of her Son, so that our inner man might be transfigured as coals brightened with the love of God and the homelands. I come to this monastery to seek the prayers of the monks and nuns and the supplications of the visitors. I beg you to remember John X, who knew that the monastic prayers and the prayers of the faithful knock on the door of the Divine Mercy and pour forth the streams of Divine Clemency.

   When someone stands in Saydnaya, he feels as if he straddles the windows of skies. Saydnaya is the window of skies toward Damascus. In Saydnaya, the incense bears the supplications and prayers of the parishioners to the altar of God.  Saydnaya is the gatherer of all to one. She is that place which gathers all, of all confessions, in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and throughout all the world into one. She gathers them in front of her Sanctuary; she receives their supplications and raises them to the God of Heaven. In Saydnaya, Justinian went out to hunt just one gazelle, but he did not know that the hunting of gazelles would lead to the hunting of souls occupied by the love of God and the eagerness to see Him,  He did not know that the sanctuary he ordained to build in the place where the Virgin appeared would become a place which seeks out the souls of those who yearn to see the face of Almighty; a place which would reach out and gather the pains of men, which would collect their tears and put them at the feet of the Virgin, a place which would seek out the hearts of those melted by the love of Virgin Mary who would fill them with her miracles and heal their wounds with the milk of her consolation.

   We come from Antioch. We come from the splendor of her history. We come from the difficulty of her history to say to all the world that, from this Antiochian land came forth the voice of the Incarnation of the Word and covered the surface of the earth with the teachings of Christ the Lord. From Antioch, proceeded forth a voice proclaiming to the deserts of nations to tell the whole world about the child of Bethlehem and the miracles of the Son of Nazareth. From this blessed land came forth the breath of the Spirit to all the world to tell it that Saul was converted in the walls of Damascus, From the port of Antioch, he left as Paul across the seas to say that he had left the old man within the walls of Damascus and was dressed there with the clothes of Christ at the hands of Ananias.

   In the blessed land of the Levant, we, as Christians, knew a better than good relation with our brothers, the Muslims. In this land we knew a brotherhood and fraternity with them, a brotherhood which cannot be divided by the difficulties of the history and the machinations of spoilers. In this blessed land, unify us with the Muslims in the eagerness to see the face of the Merciful One and the seeking of His heavenly kingdom. We reject that anyone should dress in the clothing of religion to create division between the confessions of the same country. We also reject that anyone uses religion to stimulate the division between us, Muslims and Christians. We and you, dear Muslims, are the two lungs of this lovely east, which become bright with the cooperation of the two lungs. We and you come from the land which embraces the sepulcher of St. John Baptist near to the tomb of Saladin. We and you come from this land which embraces the body of Ibn Alwalid near to Elian of Homs. All this is to say that we and you come from the clay of this land, and for a bright future of this lovely country we join our hands together.

   I declare this from this monastery, which has the intercession of Virgin Mary venerated by all of us, Muslims and Christians about whom the Quran gave a very nice verse: “O Mary, God chose you and purified you and selected you from the women of the world” (Surat All Oumran)
From here, from the neighborhood of Damascus, I say to all the Syrians and to all the world: Syria is a gift from God so let us keep and protect her carefully. Syria was not created to be baptized with the blood of her sons but to baptize all the world with the strength of peace which prevailed in her land and with the ink of the alphabet which started here. Syria did not exist to cover, with her sand, the bodies of her fighting sons but to cover the world with the brightness of light which came out from its borders to proclaim to the whole world a strength of culture and a splendor of history. Syria is called on the basis of dialog and political and peaceful solutions to pass over its crisis and to return splendorous, as a bride of all those brides of the east.

   “O God protect the land of this dear country and fill the hearts of her sons with your own light. Give us the opportunity to see in the midst of us our dear brothers. Your care O God, from the height of your cross and among them, Metropolitans Paul and Youhanna and all the abducted. O God fill their hearts with patience and hope and return them to us safe and secure.”

   O God fill our hearts with your divine peace and embellish your lands with your heavenly presence. O God protect Syria, and the land of Syria and return her as a homeland of peace and tranquility. O God bless, from Saydnaya, the neighbor of Lebanon, the high cedars of Lebanon and implant in the hearts of her Sons Your Divine Goodness, in order that Syria and Lebanon remain as a lighthouse of glory on the edge of the Mediterranean and be safe always.

   God strengthen you and bless you all, he who is blessed unto the ages of ages, Amen.