Monday, September 28, 2009

A Melkite Saint Awaiting Recognition

From the Eparchy of Newton website the following on the Servant of God Abouna Beshara Abou Mrad:

The Holy Synod in June 2009 studied the announcement from Pope Benedict XVI of a Year of the Priest 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010. In order to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of Jean-Marie Vianney (April 25 2009), patron of parish priests throughout the world, the Synod suggested some commemoratory activities: firstly, to address a letter in the name of the Patriarch and the Holy Synod to all priests; second, to present the Servant of God Beshara Abou Mrad, Salvatorian Father, as a model for parish priests; thirdly, to prepare a congress for all priests of the Melkite Church; fourthly, to publish some leaflets about the priestly vocation and fifthly, to organize meetings in the various congregations, schools, universities and parish movements so as to invite young people to consider the priesthood as a vocation.

The Eparchal site points to a website devoted to the cause of Abouna's canonization, available in Arabic, English and French (although this page is currently not working). The English material in places seems to have been produced through Google Translator, or some other software, but the main information is still discernible for the English reader.

Abouna Bechara is an outstanding example of humble obedience and ascetic (and ascetically inspired) discipline, whose life of ministry to the Holy Trinity and the Church is inspirational. The inquiry to determine his his sainthood is being handled by the Roman Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Personally, I wonder if the 'requirement' of miraculous cures to vouchsafe one's sainthood is perhaps overemphasized. The witness of a holy life and inspired answers to intercessory prayer might be more understated. Sometimes these answers might not have the witness "power" of a miracle, but yet the softening of a heart, or other spiritual consequence of the holy one's intercessions might prove equally powerful. In this regard, I would also note that many of the Desert Fathers may or may not have the pedigree of miracles attributed to them, but would we deny their sanctity? Nonetheless, all that said, the current procedures followed by the Sacred Congregation are well known and normative.

Ultimately, I am more interested to learn from the witness of this holy man's life and to receive the gift of humility in my own priesthood through that witness. For me, it is sufficient reason to pray for his official canonization, that if for no other reason because of it more will come to know him.

Below, are the prayers from the website for Abouna's canonization.

Prayers for Father Bechara

Our Holy Lord who wanted to join and put Father Bechara our brother in the Order, with Saints in the heavenly paradise after you made him an example of virtue, holiness and zeal for "Christian faith".

Give us to live and die the way he did because it is the nearest way to your glory, keep his soul with us. With your great generosity and mercy give us holy monks and priests like him.

22nd February 1930

+ Athanasios
Archbishop of Saida and Deir El Kamar.

A prayer to Father Bechara to be a Saint

Our generous savior, who gives his priest all the graces, who are his own heritage, for the holiness and goodness of his people, we pray and beg you to glorify your humble servant, Father Bechara Abou Mrad, who walked in your way of perfection all the days of his life. Let your mighty power appear in him, to twinkle like a bright star in the sky of your church which is full of Saints. So everybody know that the spring of your holiness never stops in your holy church. Oh, our Lord, please make him a Saint to be the symbol of perfection, walking on the way of his virtue, to glory your holy name, the Father, the son, and the holy spirit . Amen

Saida 14tr Dec. 1935.

Father Bechara:

You are Priest and monk full of virtue don't forget us, and pray for us when you are between the hands of our Lord. And remember your "Order" and every person you know.

Also we don't forget your innocent face which is full of the light of holy spirit, and your way of life which was full of virtues and prayers.

We never forget your guidance, your words, your prayers and kneeling in front of our holy Lord, and we never forget your life which was full of virtue life the holy Fathers and the Saints .

You were prisoner in your body for 82 years, so fly today to your paradise like a bird flying from his cage, and be with our holy Lord. Taste the sweetness of paradise after tasting all the Sourness of this mortal life. The Lord is calling you and saying:" you made good my servant, you knew how to keep the little things so I'll give you more and more, enter the glory of your Lord" (Mathew 25:23).

Jesus our Lord, the son of our God and his messenger, you came to the world and made us see with your doings and hear with your words the face of our loving Lord your holy father, make us worthy to carry your name and called Christians.

And as you were with father Bechara all through his life, be with us with your holy spirit to carry your name to all who are around us without fear or shyness, and can plant where ever we go your joy, peace and scent, to glorify your holy name with the name of your father and your holy spirit. Amen.

Our Lord, we came to you today, walking as Father Bechara Abou Mrad did, giving you our selves, putting all our life within your hands. Give us to live our Life in church in love and fidelity, to live your holy words.

We thank you for life you gave to us, and for all graces you give us everyday and night. How can we thank you?

We can't except give you our selves, and put with in your hands our heart, mind, and will. Our Lord, every thing we have is from you, and we give it back to you, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Teach us how to think always of you and feel you, like Father bechara, so your holiness be in our lives as you were in him, we glorify you with him, now for every time till all eternity. Amen.

Our Lord, in your church, the church that father Bechara prayed a lot in it we say: how lovely to stay here. We are rejoiced with your presence with us, cause your presence is appearing on our faces. You are very kind and care for us, our Lord, we don't want you to be away from us, please stay with us to pray with you: "one day in your paradise, our Lord, equals thousands in this world". Your presence is around us, and your words are in our hearts: "this is my beloved son, to him you must listen."

Our Lord we have listened to him, and we will witness and testify and tell all the world that you are the saviour and the glory of this world, now, and always, and for all eternity, Amen.

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