Vatican City. Pope Francis, during his audience on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, announced at the end of his catechesis a day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon on September 4, 2020. It is an appeal to hope and reconstruction in the name of peace, hoping for the selfless support of the international community.
Desidero invitare tutti a vivere una giornata universale di preghiera e digiuno per il Libano, venerdì prossimo, 4 settembre. Io ho l’intenzione di inviare un mio rappresentante quel giorno in Libano per accompagnare la popolazione. In tal giorno andrà il Segretario di Stato a nome mio. E lui andrà, per esprimere la mia vicinanza e solidarietà. Offriamo la nostra preghiera per tutto il Libano e per Beirut. Siamo vicini anche con l’impegno concreto della carità, come in altre occasioni simili. Invito anche i fratelli e le sorelle di altre confessioni e tradizioni religiose ad associarsi a questa iniziativa nelle modalità che riterranno più opportune, ma tutti insieme.
[I would like to invite everyone to live a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon, next Friday, September 4. I intend to send a representative of mine to Lebanon that day to accompany the population. On that day, the Secretary of State will go on my behalf. And he will go, to express my closeness and solidarity. We offer our prayers for all Lebanon and for Beirut. We are also close with the concrete commitment of charity, as on other similar occasions. I also invite the brothers and sisters of other confessions and religious traditions to associate themselves with this initiative in the manner they deem most appropriate, but all together.]
It is a little-known fact that the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Claretian Missionaries) once had a mission in Lebanon. In 1964 Fr. Severino Maria Alonso, CMF, was assigned to Lebanon as Spiritual Director of the Maronite Seminary where Father now Cardinal Aquilino Bocos, CMF, would later also collaborate. It belongs to a branch of the Maronite Church that takes the name of St. Maron (†410), the founder of a spiritual and monastic movement. It is the only Eastern Church that is still in full communion with Rome, despite the tremendous trials it suffered in ancient times. Its name was Congregation of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries and commonly known as Kreimists Fathers because the Order’s first convent was established in a previously Armenian Catholic convent in Kreim. They were founded in 1865 by Archbishop John Habib.
Today there are about 4 million of them in many countries. The Congregation’s service to the Maronite Seminary began from its contact with this Institute in Salamanca and continued until 1967 when it was abandoned permanently.
We unite in this call of Pope Francis to dedicate the 4th of September as a day of prayer and fasting for the Land of the Cedars which was once part of our mission.