Saturday, Aug 3, 2013 - Visitors` Day
I`m writing a little earlier than last night. End of a wonderful day. We had a later breakfast today. I woke up earlier or rather I was awakened by the cleaning staff at 6:40 am when they came into their linen room and found me lying out on a cot! They just took out their stuff and let me alone...
We, the Ecclesial Assistants (mostly Jesuits) had an hour meeting with Fr Nicolas on our work with CLC. He was very encouraging as always to change attitudes. Some Jesuits in
so me countries seem to be afraid of lay people and what they can offer to Jesuits and to the Church. He reaffirm the presentation of last night there is no other way than collaboration with each other! We are fortunate in Canada that our Provincial and Jesuits are supportive of the CLC and its partnership with the Society. There `s always more to be done...
Then we took off for Jamhour - Notre Dame de Jamhour university - where we were greeted by many other CLC members and families from Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. They greeted us with dance and drums and singing in their native costume as we came down the stairs to the university. Then we had a presentation of dances from Lebanon and Syria. Wonderful....After that we sipped wine (mostly white and rose) while we went around the gymnasium looking at artifacts from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. Fr. Nicolas walked around and people asked to have their picture taken with him.....as you`ll see in the pic I had taken of the Canadian delegates. He is very relaxed and greets people easily.....
Then we went to a cafeteria and had a box lunch and sat around and relaxed. We had two hours to go for a swim in a beautiful outdoor pool at the University. So many of us took advantage of it, including yours truly. It was refreshing. Then I lounged out on a chair for a bit before we had to start moving to go the afternoon Eucharist in their beautiful chapel. But before we left for Eucharist, a number of the participants of the Assembly had brought their native costumes. So we had a `fashion show' as it were of these native costumes with an explanation of them. Was great...
For the Eucharist each country carried in their flag in opening processing and placed it on the side - 66 different countries! Very impressive with all the colours and designs. Fr. Nicolas presided this Eucharist in his quiet prayerful way. He gave a wonderful homily on the need of `jubilee` (celebration to allow God`s time to enter ours.... and not to be always working.) This was the first reading from Leviticus and he brought the 450 years of Ignatian lay communities in as another example. The chapel (huge, I must say but architecturally very well done) was practically filled.....It was a wonderful celebration..... We then came back to the Retreat centre.
We met in the chapel for a review-examen of the day and preparation for next stage of the Assembly beginning tomorrow (Sunday). We sang two lovely Taize chants - Bless the Lord and Misericordias Domini in eternum cantabo (I will sing of the Lord`s mercy forever). Our process guide, Elaine, led us through this review.
Then we had a wonderful surprise. The Sisters here prepared a festive table and meal for us on the terrace. Wow! It was a delicious meal overlooking Beirut with wine flowing an
d music. It didn`t take long after the meal before people were up dancing to Latin rhythms and Arabic sounds and even an international set (Western- North American music). It was a spontaneous moment and everyone entered into it. As you can imagine, I had lots of fun dancing. It is still going on and I`m listening to the music across the courtyard. Just before I came downstairs one of the Lebanese sisters (in her habit) starting dancing with a lady friend some Lebanese dance. She was good and she gathered the attention of a lot of people. Just to show you that under the habit there is an ordinary person who loves to dance and celebrate!
It has been a rich cultural day for us and the Lebanese are so welcoming and joyful. And even the Syrians and Egyptians with all they are going through are still a courageous group and joyful.
Tomorrow is a full day, beginning with talk by Fr. Nicolas to the whole Assembly. But more on that tomorrow night.
Love to you all....