Damascus, April 1st, 2004.
Dear Mr. Mel Gibson;
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for having produced The Passion of the Christ.
I am sure that God inspired you while you were working on this film.
The timing and release of your movie to happen also on Ash Wednesday is another sign for our times.
The movie has changed many people's hearts and has definitely produced considerable conversions.
I also believe that this movie is a great Evangelization tool.
Believing Christians loved Christ and the Blessed Mother even more; everyone’s faith was re-awakened, re-kindled or challenged; even non-Christians were touched by the Person of Christ and His Message.
We all remembered Jesus' question to His disciples: " Who do you say that I am ? "
The movie reminds us powerfully about the purpose of His Life and that only He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I have seen many movies about Jesus and Mary in the past, but yours is very different and quite exceptional. Jesus' sufferings, we know about them because we have learned about them in the Gospels and they do not leave anyone indifferent. The difference I see in your movie is the role given to the Virgin Mary. Through Mary's eyes, I could see and appreciate how much She suffered; how much She loved Jesus and the Disciples, how much She was loved by the Apostles and friends and how close She was to Her Son. She shared His every joy and pain. She also was the great consoler.
She also demonstrated a strong personality.
As a mother of two young children (Myriam and John-Emmanuel), I could associate with her sufferings and I can understand Her joys and sufferings.
I have seen your movie three times so far, - I intend to see it again with some friends soon - and I wept every time because I have been 'transported' into the scenes and times of the Via Dolorosa. I was next to Them, I felt Their pains and everyone's... I was riveted... I was literally part of the movie.
Jesus wept and forgave his executioners because they did not know who He truly was. But WE have known Him since thanks to His Great Gifts to us: The Bible and the Church! And yet, until today - 2004 years later - we continue to crucify Him! We continue to crucify Him through our divisions and our lack of love towards Him and towards each other. Our crime is worse than theirs.
The upcoming Easter Week is very dear to us in the Oriental churches. This year, the Feast of Easter is celebrated amongst Catholics and Orthodox at the same date. This does not occur every year, but only because of the coincidence in the liturgical calendars. It occurred only 4 times since 1984. We live the division of the visible Church of Christ every year.
At Soufanieh, since 1982, Jesus and His Mother have encouraged us to pray and to work for Christian Unity: at the church level and at the family level. They have also asked everyone to pray for peace and especially for the Orient (Middle East).
When the Feast of Easter is unified, Jesus, on Holy Thursday allows me to share His Wounds on my body. He gives me the gift of the stigmata in my hands, forehead, feet and flank. I hope that He will grant me this grace again this year.
You rightfully emphasize Holy Thursday in your film, since it reminds us of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist - His Greatest Gift and Miracle for mankind's salvation.
I would be more than happy to meet with you in Damascus, and by the same token, I am also inviting you to come to Soufanieh (Damascus) to participate with me and my family and friends coming form all over the world, in the Greatest Feast period for Christians: Holy Week.
My house is within walking distance from St Ananias, where Saint Paul recovered his eyesight and became an Apostle for the world.
My husband Nicolas, due to his heart condition, could not see the movie at the theatre. He is eagerly awaiting its release on videotape so that he can watch it calmly at home without being exposed to the massive audio-visual impact that one lives while viewing the movie at the theatre. Please pray for him.
Should you desire to come to Damascus at any time, my family and I are more than willing to help you in anything that you may need. (visa, lodging, transportation etc...)
You and your family and all the people who helped you produce The Passion of the Christ are in my prayers and I am also asking you to pray for my family and friends and my mission.
If you would like to know more about the Phenomenon of Our Lady of Soufanieh, please visit the website dedicated to Jesus & Mary at: www.soufanieh.com
Happy Easter in advance !!!
Al Massih Kam !!! Hakkan Kam !!
Christ is Risen !!! Truly He has Risen !!
Your sister in Christ,