I Saw This Saint!

What a great and awesome feeling, to watch today on TV the canonization of a man whom I saw in a Pope mobile on the streets of Beirut in July 1997 passing just in front of me! It was on a hot Sunday and people were amassed on both sides of the road, trying to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father, who was heading to Beirut Downtown to celebrate Holy Mass, ending his historical trip to Lebanon. I was on the Dora Highway, standing there among thousands of people in one of the renowned Christian suburbs of Beirut.

Everybody was waiting and excited about this passage of the intriguing white Mercedes. Then suddenly the roaring sound of the helicopter of the Lebanese Army accompanying the motorcade from the air was heard. In a split second the crowd was by all means raised and you could hear nothing but loud applause and heavy cheers, one could only see hand waving and tears of joy, Lebanese and Vatican flags floating from every child, boy, mother and elderly people on the street. 

Then the white car appeared, preceded by an endless number of motorcycles, armored cars and vehicles with antennas. It was probably a never seen before motorcade, with a huge number of accompanying officers and military personnel watching over John Paul II with their Lives.

The white man was standing inside the glazed car with the Maronite Patriarch with him, Cardinal Sfeir. The car passed in front of us. John Paul II with his usual smile and firm looks was maybe less than 10 meters away from where I was standing. The sight lasted maybe less than a second, but the picture of the man on that day is still clear and present in my mind after 17 years.

Today on April 27, he is becoming a Saint! Thank you Jesus for showing us that Sainthood could be within reach and touch, it is a lot easier than one might think, it could be one decision away from every man and woman.

Jean Ogassapian, a minister and Lebanese deputy was a Lebanese Army officer in charge of the Pope's personal security on that trip, he said: John Paul II has a powerful influence on people, I spoke with him on the plane but I cannot remember a single word from what he said, but I knew that my life will change after this encounter, and it was so!

Saint John Paul II pray for us, and for all those who walked a long distance on feet to try to get a sight of your holiness on that memorable trip of 1997.

Pope Francis' Easter Message to the City and to the World: "Urbi Et Orbi"

Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter!

The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” (Mt 28:5-6).

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!”: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!

Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

Jesus, Lord of glory, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future. On this day, may they be able to proclaim, as brothers and sisters, that Christ is risen, Khrystos voskres!

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!

Watch the video:

The Saddest Yet The Most Wonderful Hymn For Good Friday...

Of all the Maronite hymns that have been composed and performed for Good Friday, "Wa Habibi" by Fairouz remains the most beautiful one with a heartbreaking melody and sorrowful lyrics, as it speaks words of the Virgin with a pierced heart mourning her Son on the day of Crucifixion.