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An Article published in Lettre de Jouarre - 209/5 by Soeur Marie - Translated by Youssef
For the Original French Version, please click here : Version Française
"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 years.

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), whose 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.
  1. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955) geologist, paleontologist and Jesuit priest, was above all a relentless researcher. He was one of the first to propose a synthesis of the History of the Universe as it is generally explained by present-day scientists. The vision he puts forward in his different writings, particularly in the Phenomenon of Man, is hinged on evolution. His outstanding concepts include the theory that the earth is enveloped in a layer of thought, which he calls the "noosphere", and his explanation of the planetisation phenomenon with which we are faced today. Throughout his career he remained an international scientist in contact with the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle which accommodates his Foundation. (extract from The Teilhard de Chardin Foundation)
  2. Eglise Saint Séverin, Flamboyant-Gothic style church in the heart of the Quartier Latin, reconstructed in 1495, famous for its organ. Click here to visit Church SAINT SÉVERIN 1, rue des prêtres Saint Séverin 75005 PARIS FRANCE
  3. Louis Massignon (1883 - 1962), Orientalist and Arabist, completed his studies in North Africa and Cairo. His works deepened the knowledge of the great figure of the mystic Sufi, Al-Hallaj and of Islamic philosophy. He was linked to the "experience of the desert" of Charles de Foucauld. Professor at the College de France, he taught comparative studies of the three abrahamic religions, or the religions of the Book. He founded in Damiette,Egypt the Badaliya (opened to the Islam, in continuity with the example of Saint Francis), as well as the Society of the Friends of Gandhi and the France-Maghreb Committee. French by birth and married, considering himself Arab and Christian, he asked and obtained his ordination in the Melkite Catholic Church.
  4. Jean Vanier, Canadian, born in 1928, educated in England and Canada; for several years, he was with the British Navy, then with the Canadian Royal Navy. In 1950, he resigned from the Navy, went to France and worked on a doctorate in Philosophy which he received from the "Institut Catholique de Paris", on Aristotle. In 1964, he founded L'Arche, a community with men and women who have developmental disabilities, many coming from psychiatric centers. From this original community in France, 103 other communities have been founded throughout the world, in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. In 1981, Jean Vanier stepped down from those two responsibilities in L'Arche, allowing others to take over. He spends much of his time counseling, encouraging and accompanying assistants in their personal journey in L'Arche.( extract from L'Arche Canada)
  5. The Key of the Fields, "Clef des Champs" french expression meaning escaping from prison, school, hospital, ...

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