Divine Liturgy with His Eminence and Beatitude, Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light attended Divine Liturgy for the Christians of the Middle East on Thursday, September 11, 2014, at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, Washington DC.
The Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence and Beatitude, Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, our Maronite Patriarch, and concelebrating were Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, and his predecessor, Cardinal Emeritus Theodore McCarrick, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Papal Nuncio to the United States, as well as other Catholic leaders and faithful.
Cardinal Rai was in Washington DC for the Conference on “Defending the Middle East Christians”, which was sponsored by an American NGO from September 9 to September 11. Following the close of the Conference, Cardinal Rai, along with other Eastern Catholic Patriarchs were granted an interview with the President of the United States to discuss the dire situation and persecution of the Christians in the Middle East.
Cardinal Rai mentioned in his homily during the Divine Liturgy that he, along with the other Patriarchs, were able to speak with Mr. Obama for approximately 40 minutes and apprise him of the awful situation that Christians now find themselves in the Middle East in the wake of the militancy of ISIS.
In celebrating Divine Liturgy, the Gospel reading was taken from St. John, “…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12: 24).
Cardinal Rai paralleled this Gospel text with the situation of the Christians in the Middle East, that is, that out of their great sufferings, united with Christ on His Cross on Great Friday, there will come a Resurrection Sunday. The sufferings of our fellow Christians in the Middle East will bring new life, just like the grain of wheat.
Liturgy was followed by a reception in the hall hosted by Chorbishop, Dominic Ashkar, Pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon, Washington DC.