06/13/2016, 12.07
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Lebanon and the Middle East "consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace in the region"

by Fady Noun

For the third consecutive year, the Maronite patriarch renews devotion to Our Lady. The rite was celebrated in the Basilica of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa. Card. Bechara Rai speaks of the evil that comes in the form of conflicts, wars, death, displacement, arms, fanaticism and terrorism. The consecration linked to a movement of "prayer and penance".

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Rai, yesterday renewed the consecration of Lebanon and all the Middle East to the "Immaculate Heart of Mary" (pictured). The devotional act comes within the framework of the Fatima apparitions (1917), during which the Blessed Virgin had explicitly asked for the consecration of Russia to her "Immaculate Heart".

The Cardinal presided at the rite in the Basilica of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa. He asked [the Virgin] to "seek the intercession of her son, the Redeemer, to reveal the strength of redemption and salvation, the power of his merciful love, to stop evil and convert consciences". The Patriarch spoke of the evil that is presented in the forms "of conflicts and wars, death and displacement, the language of arms, fanaticism, violence and terrorism."

The act of consecration took place in the context of a solemn mass, concelebrated by the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, and numerous bishops and priests. Also present was the apostolic nuncio in Lebanon, Mgr. Gabriele Caccia: present the Superiors of male and female religious orders and a crowd of faithful.

"With this double consecration - he continued the Patriarch - and through our personal dedication, we turn to God to implore Him to enter into our consciousness and that of our nation, with His salvific plan".

The Patriarch then explicitly mentioned the presence of evil in the Church, and not only outside. In his homily the Cardinal said that "evil easily takes root in our hearts of men, and affects the Church, its pastors and its institutions inside and outside."

He therefore linked the act of consecration to a " movement of prayer and penance ", speaking out against "immorality, the desecration of religion and the churches, and the disappearance of decency in the way we dress and behave”.

"Through this act of consecration, the Maronite Church renews for the third consecutive year - added Cardinal Bechara Rai – our entrusting of Lebanon and the countries of the Middle East under the protection of our Mother, Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon. We did it for the first time in June of 2013, in response to a solicitation of the Synod for the Middle East which was held in the Vatican in October 2012, under the leadership of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ".

"It was a consecration similar to that of Russia, by John Paul II, in June of 1981". This consecration, he continued, "was followed by another, in May 1982, and then by a third, 25 March 1984, in union with all the Catholic bishops of the world", as required by Virgin in 1917.

The act of consecration accomplished yesterday for Lebanon was the culmination of three processions and novenas of prayer promoted in three shrines dedicated to Mary those of Maghdouché, Zahle and Miziara, as from 22 May. These activities were held in collaboration with the patriarchal committee in charge of monitoring the act of consecration, the Marian priest movement, with women from many associations including the Sisters of the Heart of Jesus and the Family League of the Marian community. These devotional gestures and the consecration of individuals, parishes and dioceses have touched the hearts and consciences of tens of thousands of faithful.

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