Letter from Syria:
‘Behold Your Mother’

CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, recently received another letter from Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Syria.

CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, recently received another letter from Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Syria, along with the holy card shown above — a poignant image of Mary for the month of May. The image shows part of the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, which we wrote about in our magazine in 1990. (Read more about the image and its history here.)

The card bears a scriptural reference on the back: John 19, 25-27, which includes the words spoken by Jesus from the cross, “Behold your mother.”

The archbishop wrote to ask for prayers for the intercession of Our Lady of Peace in his troubled country. But he also wanted to offer some good news, praising the sisters who are serving and offering “the good works of Christ in Damascus.”

He wrote:

Seventy nine sisters of different congregations are devoted to the church of Damascus. In total discretion, they bring no attention to themselves. Some orders have been here for more than 180 years. They are the profound force that brings life to the Gospel through charisma inspired by the Holy Spirit, in service of the believers and the less fortunate.

  1. Testimony of fraternity: Some sisters live in small communities in schools which were nationalized in 1968. Others live in hospitals, modest apartments or housing in the middle of God’s people, leading a life of poverty, prayer and praise.
  2. Always willing to listen: These consecrated religious sisters are available to shelter and listen to the less fortunate. This is a primary need in these years of war and solitude. They accumulate in their hearts all the sufferings and problems of the less fortunate who’ve been forgotten in their misery and uncertainty. Due to their own powerlessness, these consecrated women lovingly and affectionately represent a Wall of Waiting, which assures a charitable presence for needy families.
  3. Compassionate faces: Our sisters’ commitment to the service of families is evidenced by their presence in daycare centers, schools free clinics, food service establishments and in catechetical and religious formation centers. I give special mention to their heroic mission in the health care sector. Their activities for the care of the sick and the numerous people wounded by war has developed into an avant-garde pastoral of the sick.
  4. Benefits of the future: The basic mission of our dear sisters remains centered on schools in the formation of children and young people. This educational service transmits moral valueless such as peace, tolerance and dialogue to rebuild a torn country…I have to point out in this area the most important psychological support that the sisters provide to those wounded in war and especially for uprooted children scarred by violence, negligence and exclusion.
  5. A huge thank you: This beautiful testimony of light, hidden and unknown, deserves our gratitude and acknowledgement. Dear consecrated beloved sisters in Damascus, the RISEN CHRIST will be the one to thank you and bless you!

Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus

Our Lady of Peace, pray for us!

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