Interview with Abbot Nicolas Hakim, Superior General of the Chueirite order
Other languages: English, Hrvatski
Date: July 26, 2005 , Originally published June 3, 2001
Lebanese monks concluded their pilgrimage with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration.
03.06.2001 – On the feast of Pentecost, eight Lebanese monks, priests of the Melkite Bazilian monastic Order of Chueirites, with Abba Nicolas Hakim, Superior General of the Order, ended their pilgrimage to the Queen of Peace with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in Arabic and in Greek. We asked Abba Nicolas Hakim to tell us about his impressions.
Lidija Paris-Brajša: Abba Nicolas, why did you come to Medjugorje?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: I came to Medjugorje as the first Superior General of an order from Lebanon. I came with eight young priests of the Chueirite order to offer to the Blessed Virgin all my heart, all my thoughts, my whole being and all our Order, because the Mother of God is a mother of tenderness.
LPB: You came because you think that Our Lady can help you, that She can strengthen your monastic vocation?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: Of course. We came here for a spiritual retreat, for the renewal of our soul and of our spirit in order to live better and pray better in our monasteries, to work better in our parishes and the schools the monks are serving in, to live better our vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
LPB: Which is for you the significance of the name “Queen of Peace and Reconciliation?”
Abba Nicolas Hakim: It is the essence itself of the Mother of God. It is our God: He is the God of peace, of love, of reconciliation. We spoke with Ivan Dragićević, who repeated to us that Our Lady loves everyone, whatever his nationality or the colour of his skin may be. She loves every one. It made me think that we have to love even our enemies, because Our Lady loves them. We have to love them with their weaknesses, out of love for Our Lady.
LPB: You are a Basilian Greek-Catholic order of the Melkite, Byzantine right. Are there any differences between Orthodox monks and Catholic monks who celebrate the Byzantine liturgy?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: It is the same right, the only difference is that we recognize His Holiness, our Pope.
LPB: Some Orthodox monks say that those who accept Rome keep the same exterior form, but interiorly lose something. What do you think?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: If they speak about the oriental spirit, we do have it. If they speak about holiness and spirituality, on the contrary, we have deepened them. The Pope is the successor of Saint Peter, there is no other. The Pope is holy, whether he comes from the east or from the west, black, white or blue, and our present Pope John-Paul II. is a saint.
LPB: What do you think about ecumenism? Sometimes it seems that it is easier in countries where there is a religion representing the majority, and several religions representing minorities… Where the number of the faithful is equal, it seems to be more difficult…
Abba Nicolas Hakim: I will tell you one thing: we have to pray! Meetings are not enough: we have to pray much. Prayer unites the whole Church. If the Holy Spirit leads me, I am united to all. One Spirit makes one Church. In the same Spirit, there are no enemies. You are my spirit - I am your spirit. Only if the Holy Spirit permeates the whole Church, will it be one. The superiors and those responsible have to invoke the Holy Spirit, and if they are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Church will be one ipso facto. The Pope said: if the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, the Church becomes one. Unity is very simple: it is the Holy Spirit in our hearts. There is something, which splits the Church: it is sin. Pride. Authority.
LPB: You read the messages of Medjugorje? What strikes you most?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: I was listening to Ivan Dragićević; now I want to read the books written by Father Slavko Barbarić. I am mostly struck by love without limits. She loves us as Her children, without looking at our sins and our weaknesses. For Her, we are Her beloved children. We have to thank Our Lord and Our Lady, we have to reconcile and accept penance, and we will have inner peace. I was struck by what Ivan said about how difficult it is to go “back to the earth” after having met Our Lady, and that every day! You who live here must be happy people. Certainly, there are obstacles. The devil is strongly attacking a place where Our Lady appears. We have been attacked, because we have decided to go to Medjugorje. They asked us why we do not go somewhere else. The devil is always attacking human goodness. If you want to do good, to be near God, many will be against you. It is normal. The visionaries have been so strongly attacked, as if they had killed somebody, and they only want to do good! We have to be faithful to God.
LPB: According to you, should Medjugorje be recognized?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: Of course, of course! I will tell to every one: come and see!
LPB: What have you seen here?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: I have seen the real presence of the Most Blessed Virgin. She is everywhere in the world, but here in a special way. I have seen peace, simplicity, I have seen love in all hearts, and I have seen heaven on earth, where lambs live with wolves.
LPB: What would you say to the priests?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: They are the soldiers of Our Lady. They are Our Lady’s sons, special sons of Our Lady. She loves them very much. Let them be the angels of the Most Blessed Virgin, Her disciples, twelve stars in Her crown! They have a heavy and important responsibility. They are not like everybody else. Let them pray much, let them purify themselves from their sins, let them repent. Let them put their hearts into the hands of the Most Blessed Virgin, so that She may give them the grace.
LPB: You had the occasion to meet the priests serving in Medjugorje. What would you say about their service here?
Abba Nicolas Hakim: Their service is divine. Our Lady asks them to serve the pilgrims, the priests, the sick... It is a very important and grateful service. They give a good example through the prayers they animate, through the way they receive people. Let them be a good example and I pray to God and Our Lady that they give them the health so they may continue. I went to Father Slavko’s tomb. Like Our Lady, he is their protector. Let them ask his intercession.