"A time to die
"... Without waiting for this general
assumption, can we wish to be with Christ considering Ascencion Day, and that
under our own condition, and for a more effective entry in an order which is
ours, and to think of a time to die?
The Book of Ecclesiastes says:"
there are times to live,
others more appropriate to die." We tell about such saints who passed away with
Christ on Christmas Day, on Holy Saturday,... Father Teilhard (a)
died on Easter Eve.
It is not forbidden to think that Ascension Day is still one
fine day to die, and that the evening before is also well placed to witness our
passage from the Order of Time to that of Eternity, so much as the days before
feasts seem to us heavy in waiting...
Extract from the catechism of Fr. Moubarac
Yes, there is a time to die, and it was, for Fr.
Moubarac on May 24, 1995, on Ascension Eve. This prophecy is undoubtedly not
the only one to come from the mouth of this faithful friend of the monastery
whose high silhouette was well-known on our premises since nearly thirty
Fr. Moubarac, born in 1924, had left his native Lebanon
by the first boat at the end of the War (WWII), with some six hundred students packed
in the hold. Cut in the rock of Qadisha - this high-place of Maronite Christendom where he was born and was
baptized - he inherited the austere and cordial faith of the inhabitants of
Mount-Lebanon. Hadn't he learned from his father and his grandfather, Maronite
priests, the harsh and beautiful syriac melodies? He was intended for priesthood and wore the cassock all young, according to custom. A thoroughbred Maronite, could one say...
From these strong roots, a tree of great stature was to
grow, as one sees in the Country of the Cedars. Upon finishing his clerical
studies in the seminar of the Carmelite friars, he was ordained priest in 1947.
He fulfilled his first ministry in Saint-Séverin(b)
Then, he continued Islamic studies, which were to closely associate him with his
master Louis Massignon(c)
message of compassion will never stop maturing in him. During his long university career, he taught in Leuwen and Paris,
particularly the theology of religions, the classical Arabic, oecumenism ...
This man of dialogue and vast culture united in him extremes
which tore his sensitive friendship-inclined heart. He seems to have lived a
vocation of "bridge" between the East and the West, the tradition and
modernity. His erudite intellectual
quest was in accordance with a growing interest for interiority and the mystic.
His intelligence "went down little by little into his heart", according
to the expression of Eastern Spiritual Fathers.
The written work of Fr. Moubarac is significant,
particularly his two "Pentalogies" on Islam and on the Maronite
tradition. Researcher in all the senses of the word, he was especially a
pilgrim and an unrelentless traveler. It is
also necessary to mention, in addition to the cruel destiny of Lebanon, his
heartbreaking sufferings about the tragedy of Algeria. As for his unrealizable
and unrealized dreams, he let them appear during a sermon or a short
meeting. It was his dream to go to Kerala, in India, to link with the
Christian tradition of "Saint Thomas", of the same syro-antiochian
stock as his. He wanted to also draw the attention of the Westerners to the
spiritual treasures of Saint Ephrem, of Saint Isaac the Syrian, Saint John of
Dalyatha. He worked during his last days, with an unusual haste, to publish an
Arabic handbook who would put at the reach of the Christians of the Middle East
this strong spirituality of their roots. He was convinced that divisions of the
Christians would find, in these major spiritual Masters, bonds of unity, places
of the deep heart, crossroads of peace.
Fr. Moubarac was a wounded man. Through a lot of ordeals on
which he was very discrete, speaking little about himself, his love of the poor and
the humble continued to grow. He looked at Jean Vanier(d)
as a prophet shaped with this compassion
whose source is in the Transpierced Heart of Christ and that of the Virgin of
Griefs. Precisely, his heart will not have been able to contain these tears for
a longer time. He seems however, according to the testimony of the Small Sister
of Jesus who providentially accompanied his last Passage, that he knew a great
peace and a baptism of fire. Between the infarction which was to carry him off
and death which has occurred fifteen days later, he calmed down, praying
unceasingly. It was believed initially
that he was going to recover. After the surgery he underwent, he was to leave
the hospital during the following weekend. Finding that well late for his need
of independence, he said with mischievousness:" No, I am going to take "the key of the fields" (5)
before the Ascension Day". What he did indeed, but otherwise...
One of his Spiritual Masters, Isaac the Syrian will
summarize for us the message of this man of God in the final appeasing of his
contrasts and his ordeals:
"Here's, my son, the commandment that I leave to
you: that in your scales, the plate of mercy always prevails, in order to feel in your heart the mercy of God for the
whole universe." (1)
In our church, on May 30, the liturgy of funerals gathered,
with our community, his family and his friends. Latin rite and Maronite songs were united to offer to our brother
the homage of a last farewell.
Fr. Youakim Moubarac rests according to his desire in our
monastic cemetery. His remains will join later the Lebanon of his fathers. We
pray for him and he prays for us. We ask God, with the same Isaac the Syrian
"this compassion unbounded which is born in the heart of the man and which
makes him similar to God."
Source: Sister Marie
- In the letter of Jouarre - 209/5.
(1) This text of the
Maronite Mass Service is quoted in the small book which one can undoubtedly
consider as his spiritual will, "the bridal room of the heart" -
Spiritual Approaches and quests of the Syrianic East. Cariscript, Paris 1993.
Copyright © 1999 [ BIBLIB/ABBAYE
OF JOUARRE ] - All reproductions or adaptations of any extract of this
information by any process, reserved to the authors for all countries. Last revision: March 20, 2001.