“There is no such thing as corruption, but there…
“There is no such thing as corruption, but there are corrupt people who create corruption. Likewise, there are righteous people who do what is right.”
His Beatitude Patriarch John X participated in the Divine liturgy on Sunday, July 25, 2021, in the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. At the end of the Liturgy, he addressed the faithful by saying: “Dearly Beloved, after the event that took place yesterday here in Balamand, I mean the commencement ceremony of our university students at the end of this academic year, we must give it further attention, for it is not an ordinary event for us, the members of the Orthodox Church, and for Lebanon in general. Many years ago, around the year of 1830, the monastery was the seminary, and it was the place where priests were prepared and educated. The school faced difficult circumstances and was closed during the World War for known reasons. It was reopened for several times, until the Theological Institute was established in 1970, during the reign of Patriarch Elias IV, with the first deanship of His Eminence (later becoming the Patriarch) Ignatius IV (Hazim). Later on, the French high school was inaugurated, followed by the English branch, and large numbers of students enrolled in both. In 1988, Patriarch Ignatius IV obtained an official license to establish a university at that time. The university was launched including three faculties: Alba, the Institute of Saint John of Damascus, and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Until we reach the present days. I remember clearly, the graduation of the first batch, as they were 33 students in all. We thank Lord for the great prosperity of the university: in this academic year 2020-2021, approximately 1450 students graduated from all fields and specializations. This is a very important indicator as it proves that in our educational institutions, we are raising a new generation in terms of personality, science, education, culture, and languages, and this is a very important matter. We are all aware that the subject of education, that is, the upbringing is fundamental. Henceforth, the issue of the family is primary, because it is the initial school from which every human being is brought up. Therefore, we stress on the preservation of the Christian family. The last Holy Synod gave this issue tremendous attention and discussed how to preserve our Christian families through the Christian upbringing of children, and educate them to face the challenges of the century.
Likewise, enrolling in schools and universities is an important matter. The student, who is attending the University of Balamand, and spending his years of study there, protected by the Virgin Mary, acquires, in addition to science and culture, unique moral features that the whiff of this Balamand Hill confers upon him.
In view of the situation that our country has reached, either from the political point of view - we all pray and hope that a government will be formed in the coming days, for the wellbeing of Lebanon and its people - or from the subsistence, financial and economical point of view, we are facing a critical situation, especially for every head of family attempting to secure his livelihood, the ability to persevere and educate his children... Therefore, the university's policy during the past two years, and this is the first time I tackle this subject, is to support its professors and employees, as the Lebanese pound is collapsing and to keep the same tuition fees without any change in the exchange rate of the dollar, even though many institutions in Lebanon were closed.
In the face of great challenges, we thank the Lord, because with wisdom, proper management and proper interaction between the administration, parents, staff and students, this academic year was accomplished, and during which we were able to render a great service to our children, especially because the university had offered scholarships to students in huge amounts. Despite all this, you may find someone saying: What does the church offer? We thank the Lord because, through our church institutions, we serve the country and bring up a new generation, considered as its utmost important role, and all the faithful who work with us acknowledge this very well.
Our mission is to bring together; our mission is to raise a righteous and aware person. Please notice the fragmentation and the lack of understanding between sects, and between politicians. Each group only cares for itself and forgets about the other.
That is why we asked yesterday, in the prayer that I recited at the beginning of the commencement ceremony, that the Lord strengthen our graduate students to carry the mission upon which they were raised, so that they may remain witnesses of truth, honesty, loyalty, and service, as well as to develop the human being, and to build both society and country.
How is the nation built? Does the problem solely reside in the shortage of gasoline and diesel? Who caused all this problem? Was the problem originated all by itself or generated by human beings? Each person, according to his manners, morals and upbringing, draws a specific history and creates specific problems. When great men grow up learning to go beyond their personal interests, and to work for the sake of others in order to build a society and a nation, and when these men are brought up in this specific manner, we will be directly lead to find solutions to problems facing us in our dearly beloved Lebanon. We are proud of everything we do on all levels, especially on the educational level. As you may know, there are many educational centers in all of our archdioceses, because we believe that this is the mission of the Church, to raise the person whom God desires, to be a person who is aware of the love of the other, and strives with him to build our families, societies and homeland, so we will always move towards the better.
We pray in particular for stability in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq and in Palestine, and in the entire Middle East region, which suffers and faces many difficulties nowadays.
We pray to the Lord, to inspire us to be a cohesive unit, even in terms of sectarianism, for the country based on sectarianism (negative meaning of the word) will not rise.
We pray and work to develop the spirit of citizenship and the respect of each person for his fellow human being, and this is the role assigned to schools, universities and home. It is also the role of the Church in raising a generation that adopts these concepts, values and morals, and deals with all political, social, educational, philosophical, and financial matters with morals and ethics filled with honesty and integrity.
We reach the issue of corruption: how did corruption spread? There is no such thing as corruption, but there are corrupt people who create corruption. Likewise, there are righteous people who do what is right. Therefore, I stress again on the importance of education in building the nations.
Our prayers to the Lord, that this Balamand Hill, be a spiritual and educational oasis for the upbringing of future generations on morals, faith, love and nation-building with the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the protector and guardian of this Hill.
No matter how hard the situation gets, we are here to stay. I ask you all, not to keep your eyes fixed on the immigration, and not to be ready to pack your bags and travel. Let us endure, persevere, and stay to face together. We are stronger in our solidarity, we will not suffer under the weight of difficulties, and thus we can preserve our families, our Church, and our Lebanon. Blessed and Glorified be the Lord forever, Amen.