My dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus:
Today, I rejoice in sending you, as I do every year, the Soufanieh letter. We have just celebrated the 18th anniversary, on the 26th and 27th of November, in Damascus and a bit everywhere in the world.
As usual, I shall relate to you briefly the most salient events of the past year, namely:
1. The permanence of prayer with absolute gratuitousness.
2. Father Malouli's death. His last wishes.
3. Campaign of the laity for the unification of the Easter Feast.
4. The publishing of two new books, in Canada and in Lebanon.
5. Italian TV and Soufanieh.
6. The celebration of the 18th anniversary.
1. Permanence of prayer with absolute gratuitousness
All day long, the door [of the house] remains open for the daily prayer, whether on an individual or communal basis, with absolute gratuitousness.
Nothing special to mention, except the oil exuding from Myrna's hands, here and there, occasionally. We must also point out the cancellation of a trip to the United States, for the very simple and important reason that those who had initiated it, were not able to provide us with the indispensable authorization from their local bishop.
Nonetheless, Myrna was invited, on several occasions, to testify and pray, in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Quite often, the exudation from her hands occurred amidst a large crowd.
Let us also mention the weekly mass that I celebrate myself every Saturday evening.
Finally I am happy to report the obvious increase of foreign pilgrims, especially from France.
2. Death of Father Malouli - His last wishes
The death of father Malouli, on March 5th 2000, was without a doubt, the most important event this year in the life of Soufanieh.
No one ignores the exceptional role that he played since practically the beginning of the phenomenon, until the last minute of his life on earth. Some day, one might relate somewhat what he said and wrote on the subject.
For now, suffice it to publish his last wishes the way he wrote them. One will discover there the most striking features of this outstanding priest.
Hereafter we have father Joseph Malouli asking us to pray for him.
MAISON DES LAZARISTES
Bab Touma - DAMAS
Father Joseph Malouli's last wishes
I. Spiritual Section
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit;
I hereby declare that I shall die in the integral faith of Saint Peter's successor.
Consequently, I forgive wholeheartedly to whomever -cleric or laity- who, willfully or unintentionally has caused me any pain and I beg forgiveness:
1) From my fellow colleagues, alive or dead, for any grief, which my attitude, my comments or my relationship with them may have caused them. I thank my colleagues for all the help they gave me, thus enabling me to accomplish my job. And now that I have become more or less disabled, I wish to specifically thank fathers Joseph Ibrahim, Joseph Khabsa, Paul Sleiman and Leba Assaf for their care and tactfulnesss which I did not deserve. May God Himself be their reward.
2) I beg forgiveness from all my old pupils for the excessive severity with which I have sometimes dealt with them. My manner may have been inadequate but my love for them was always sincere. I thank them for the affection they always granted me. More than ever, may they remember me in their prayers.
3) I beg forgiveness from the old Jecists (Christian student youth) and Jocists (Christian workers youth) as well as from the scouts and guides for everything I should have done for them and which I have not. May they remember me in their prayers.
4) I wish to thank the spiritual family of Soufanieh, specifically Myrna, Nicolas and Aunt Alice. I beg their forgiveness for the trouble I may have caused them through my long and assiduous presence in their home. I thank the worshippers at Soufanieh for having accepted me the way I am. May they, on the day of my death, add my name to the ones they already pray for. Please ask the students of Lourdes to pray for me.
II. Material Section
I do not own anything. --- I do not owe anything to anybody. --- Nobody owes me anything
I am content STRICTLY and exclusively with the presence of my colleagues of my Damascus community. It is therefore UNNECESSARY to disturb the other colleagues. Let the latter pray for me wherever they are. I absolutely REFUSE any speech, sermon, homily, panegyric, funeral orations, etc... during and AFTER my funeral. God alone knows me and everything else is just a waste of time and gossip. If one loves me, let him pray for me, that's all.
Written in Damascus, with all lucidity of mind, on February 8th , 1998.
Signed: Joseph Malouli
But we are more than certain now that HE IS THERE, he is praying very much for us.
3. The campaign of the laity for the unification of the Easter feast.
This was an initiative started by a faithful Soufanieh group of men and women. It was centered on regular and continuous contacts with the responsible religious authorities.
This campaign based itself on the Soufanieh messages as well as on a widely spread popular desire.
It aimed at celebrating the feast of Easter with our orthodox brothers, the same as our brothers in Egypt and Jordan have been doing for the past thirty years. It nearly succeeded, but ...! However, its promoters did not abandon their efforts. They keep working at it and we dare hope that their efforts will soon be rewarded, the more so that this year 2001 the Easter feast is common to both communities.
We are expecting for Easter an exceptional attendance but we are especially expecting a SURPRISE which we hope will be permanent, namely the unification of the Easter feast.
4. The publishing of two new books in Canada and in Lebanon
For a long time, there has been a need for a book on Soufanieh which would relate, briefly but concisely, for the hurried people of our times, this exceptional phenomenon: this is now a done deal. A booklet in French has been published in Canada in May 2000. It contains, apart from the facts and the sustaining photos, important ecclesiastical and scientific documents, at the top of which comes the testimonial letter of H.E. Msgr. Sleimane Hajjar, Greek-Catholic Melkite Archbishop of Canada.
In November 2000, a booklet in Arabic on Soufanieh was published. It contains facts and photos as well as a brief but clear and compact commentary of the Messages, written by father Adel Theodore Khoury. The two booklets are available free of charge. We hope to have them translated in other languages. Any volunteers in this respect would be welcome.
5. Italian TV and Soufanieh
In the first ten years of the Soufanieh phenomenon, several Italian journalists, priests and theologians had shown a keen interest on the subject. Letters and pilgrims from Italy were not a rare commodity. Then, everything seemed to subside.
Nevertheless, the three Apostolic nuncios, all of them Italian, namely Msgr. Nicolas Rotunno, Msgr. Luigi Accogli and Msgr. Pier Giacomo de Nicolo, were obvious sympathizers of the Soufanieh phenomenon.
Msgr. Luigi Accogli had even inaugurated in Rome, in the presence of numerous ecclesiastical personalities, the "Centre for Our Lady of Soufanieh and Padre Pio for Christian Unity and inter-religious dialogue, for the third millennium. "
This inauguration took place on October 15th , 1999. Myrna was present as a guest of the Nuncio.
And then on November 5th , 2000, a team from the Italian TV, RAI UNO, arrived in Damascus for a reportage on Soufanieh, including an interview with Myrna. This documentary was broadcast by RAI UNO, in November 2000. There was a re-run on December 4th . We are still awaiting a copy of it. All we hope is that this documentary be factual and impartial.
Is it foolhardy to see there a new path that the Lord is mapping out for us?
6. The celebration of the 18th anniversary
1. In Damascus
We celebrated this anniversary on Sunday November 26th , in two phases: at first, a solemn mass was celebrated by Msgr. Isidore Battikha, vicar to the Greek-Catholic Patriarch in Damascus, in the church of the Lazarist priests, in memory of father Malouli, himself a Lazarist. Msgr. Georges Riachi, Greek-Catholic bishop of Tripoli (Lebanon) concelebrated as well as many other priests, amongst them father Jean-Paul DEVEDEUX from France. Many people and friends from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, France and even Tahiti attended.
The second phase was an intense and fervent prayer ceremony, which took place at the "House of the Virgin Mary" between 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. A well-organized program enabled all the Arab and non-Arab attendants to participate. Then at 11:00 p.m., fathers Paul Fadel and Elias Salloum celebrated the Holy Mass. H.E. Msgr. Isidore Battikha arrived just after the mass. He remained until the end. This is when the oil exuded from Myrna's hands. It was ten minutes past midnight.
2. In Canada
In a previous circular letter, with respect to the celebrations of the 17th anniversary in Canada, I had written, with enthusiasm, that it appeared to me that Soufanieh had originated from Canada.
This year, I say the same thing with admiration and thanksgiving for what the Lord is inciting there.
As a matter of fact, on December 7th , 2000, I received from Canada an astonishing fax, which underlines the events that occurred there that year, apart from the celebration of the 18th anniversary. I reproduce it below and let you be the judge.
1. -March 5th 2000: Mass for Unity as well as in memoriam for the 40th day after the death of father Malouli, celebrated by father Georges Rizk and Msgr. Michel Saydé in the Melkite church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges. Approximately 100 persons were present.
2. -May 16th 2000: Radio Ville-Marie -8th broadcast on Soufanieh. Gilbert Charron with Melhem Mobarak, Msgr. Saydé and Jean-Claude Bleau (a laity involved with the Latin church)
3. -March 31st 2000: Publishing of a French booklet entitled "Appel à l'Unité". Introduction by Msgr. Hajjar, testimonies of Syrian-Orthodox Patriarch Zakka Iwas Ist, the former apostolic nuncio Msgr. Luigi Accogli and Abbott René Laurentin -First edition: 3000 copies.
4. -June 2000: New audio-tape in arabic -60 minutes: Side A: Myrna reading the messages of Soufanieh recorded in Rome 1999 -nayy (oriental flute) music in the background. Side B: New arabic songs recorded in 1997 in Damascus, with the collaboration of Myrna and Dr. Habib Suleiman. – ood (oriental string instrument).
5. -Internet: More than 30,000 accesses on our website (www.soufanieh.com) dedicated to Soufanieh.
6. -November 22nd 2000: Radio Ville-Marie, as part of the French spiritual program "Rencontres Spirituelles", a special one-hour programme on the phenomenon of Our Lady of Soufanieh, inspired mainly by the French booklet "Appel à l'Unité" was presented by M. Raymond Beaugrand-Champagne.
7. -November 28th 2000: 18th anniversary -mass and anniversary celebration at the Melkite-catholic parish of Notre-Dame-des-Anges. Over 800 persons attended. Msgr. Hajjar could not celebrate due to the election of a new patriarch. Msgr. Saydé presided the mass which was concelebrated with :
-Father Émile Deschênes -Melkite
-Father Pierre Janho – o.p.
-Father André Neault -Père Blanc from Africa
-Father Gérard Lebel -Père Blanc from Africa
8. -December 7th 2000 : Extracts from the arabic video "Appeal for Unity" produced by the catholic religious association Rassemblement à Son Image were broadcast on the Lebanese TV community channel (CJNT) in Montreal.
9. -The above-mentioned video was also sent to brother Nour (Télé-Lumière, Lebanon) through father Georges Battikha for its TV broadcasting in Lebanon. PAL version -One hour duration.
10. -The ongoing Rosary prayer for Christian Unity - inspired from the Messages of Soufanieh - continues to be the core of the Association in Montreal, Canada. Msgr. Michel Saydé, its chaplain, presides the weekly prayers that are held in the house that hosted Myrna during her visit to Canada in 1993.
fax signed: Gabriel Berbérian
As a conclusion, let us implore the Lord together with His Mother to provide us with the gift of HIS PEACE, especially in Palestine, His homeland.
Let us also all together thank Him profoundly for all His love and for
the way it operates upon us, His creatures.
Father Elias Zahlaoui
Our Lady of Damascus Church
Damascus - Koussour
Tel: 011 96311 4450999
P.S. Let me also add the following events:
-On the eve of the feast of Epiphany, January 6th , 2001, during the prayer ceremony in Soufanieh for the blessing of the water, oil exuded from Myrna's hands at 9:30 p.m.
-On January 6th, 2001, during a prayer ceremony organized in the house of Dr Elias Barsa, oil exuded from Myrna's hands, in the presence of many faithful and friends.
-On January 8th, 2001, while Myrna prayed in front of the mortal remains of Sister Maria Fiorina, former Superior of the Italian hospital in Damascus, oil exuded from her hands at 1:30 p.m. in presence of many people, among which, the nuns from the hospital.
To obtain a free copy of the French booklet "Appel à l'Unité" please contact:
549 - 39 AVENUE
LACHINE ,QC CANADA - H8T 2E2
and in France at:
Rassemblement à Son Image - Canada - France
63 ave Jeanne Leger
78150 Le Chesnay
Tel/fax: 01 39 66 9054