The Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) administration customarily invites the community to attend a spiritual retreat organized biannually. This spring, on March 17, 2018, we were invited to a shrine dedicated to the Mother of Mercies in Miziara. The village of Miziara is located in Zgharta District and is home to Our Lady of Miziara and shrines dedicated to St. Elias. Our group, about 90 persons, arrived in Miziara at 9:00 a.m. Campus Ministry priests Fr. Albert Assaf, Fr. Antonio El Feghali, and Fr. Jean-Pierre Eid accompanied us. Our day began with a morning prayer in the church after which we proceeded to the reception hall to meet Fr. Jean Saab, a parish priest in Zgharta, who gave us a lecture on the topic of “Faith and Works.”
Fr. Saab explained the Christian faith, which is a direct relationship with our Creator and during our mortal existence, faith is translated into good deeds; otherwise, it would only be a mere philosophy. It is important for us to worship the Lord, as the existence of Man proves the existence of God in our life. Worship and prayer, therefore, should be a source of joy. Man should not worship false idols, i.e. money, prestige, etc., because none of those material things and egotistical feelings bring any real happiness; each might bring temporary joy, but it is not eternal. He went on to explain that science has failed to prove “what God is,” because it is impossible to do it through science. The Lord is the door to salvation. It is important to be afraid of losing the relationship with our Creator. For Man, the fear of God is a source of joy by itself.
In the Old Testament, faith is mentioned in different parts, such as Genesis 15:6 “6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness,” and Jonah 3:5 “5 The Ninevites believed God.”
In the New Testament, faith came with the birth of Jesus Christ in the Nativity and with His crucifixion, His burial, and His resurrection. Here we come to say that worshiping Jesus Christ in His incarnation and redemption will lead Man to faith and the way to salvation.
Examples can be read from the Holy Gospel:
Mark 4:30-34 “30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.”
Mathew 9:27-31 “27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.”
Worshiping the Lord is a main source of faith especially when preaching the teachings of Jesus Christ to others where one can sow love and joy in their hearts. Fr. Saab ended his lecture by saying, “The real love of God is when reaching the mystery of faith, which is to enjoy life and maintain faith through performing realistic good deeds.”
Following the lecture, we had a coffee break and a snack, and then proceeded to tour in the grounds of the shrine, which included several statues for Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Paul, St. John the Baptist, the 12 Apostles, and many others. The weather was exceptional and the marvelous natural views added to our inner sense of peace.
Around noon, the Campus Ministry priests celebrated Holy Mass. Following Mass, we headed to the North Lebanon Campus (NLC) in Barsa for lunch in their cafeteria. NLC Director Fr. Francois Akl then took us around campus before it was time to return to the main campus.