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approach from the East, as he did when he ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives. “Ah, from thee, O Mount of Olives!” So spoke Father Joseph, with us not understanding the reason for these sighs and lamentation. Then they heaped soil on the polished wooden coffin and the soil made a sound like rain falling. When the dirt covered every visible part of the coffin, Father Joseph chanted the words that addressed the dead man as vanished from the face of the earth.

“You come from dust and to dust you return. The holy sacraments you have received shall remit your sins and cleanse your face on the Day of Resurrection.”

The following day, Good Friday, Father Joseph spoke again: “Taska Dasweya . . .”

The monks and nuns gathered in the church to say the Ramsha prayer – the mourning rite – accompanied by prayers and psalms to console the living for losing one of their number: no matter how worthy a soul, everyone must taste death, as the great ones and the men of the Holy Book, as Christ himself, tasted it.

Father Joseph concluded the rite by reading the benedictions: “We ask God to grant solace to the relatives of the conveyed and bless those who have come to mourn him.” On the third day, the rituals of mourning were concluded, marking the end, too, of the Mass for the soul of the dead, the mentioning of his name, and the holy mysteries of the resurrection of the dead.

Then they broke bread in the church and everyone chanted: “Farewell, Father Charbel. Christ encompass you with His holy word and great mercy.”

The monks and nuns walked two-by-two from the church, nervous and anxious, acting as if they were strangers to one another, terrified by the thought of another victim: the perfidious killer might not stop at Father Charbel!

Some knelt, supplicating themselves before the Cross and repeating: “Mother of God, do not abandon us to dread of crime and murder.” With grim faces, sad hearts and tear-filled eyes, they wondered why Father Charbel had been killed.

The police came to the monastery for the first time. None of us knew who had informed them of the incident. Addressing Father

38 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015

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