In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Proud as the cedar, humble as the wheat, fragrant as the incense, bright as the stars, enlightened in the mind, the heart and the tongue, clear… clear… clear during the course of her mission, clear as the sun in the middle of the day; Matile Riachi or Sr. Matile as we were in the habit of addressing her.
Sr. Matile is the eldest of ten children from devout parents. Born in 1927 in the village of Ka3 el Rim in the Bekaa to a family of profound faith, solid in its love for Christ and secure in its obedience to the Church, and so she was raised with these values. She got close to Jesus since her early childhood with constant prayers and frequent sacrifices. She surrendered in the arms of Mother Mary, asking for guidance in every step she made, drawing strengths from them to conquer the hardships that got in her way. The most hurtful to Sr. Matile was the division of the body of Christ, so she implored and begged God to have mercy on His Church: “Takeover of our hearts O Lord, takeover our souls and bodies. O Lord do not cut off a limb of our bodies that does not please you, but restore it with the blessings of Your Son and His Holy Spirit.” And oh how much, with this purpose in mind, did she shed heavy tears, washing with them the feet of Jesus and Mary for with tears are sins washed away and souls purified so that man can be free.
These tears gave birth to Sr. Matile’s first born when she founded in 1960 in Lebanon a congregation she named “Congregation of Hearts United in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary” and with it she went beyond the seas in answer to the invitation of her Lady and her Beloved: “Go and preach to the nations”. She made the Holy Bible the bylaws of her life and Unity the purpose of her endeavors: “Walk on the path of the Unified Church, founded by the crucification of the Savior, built on the skulls of martyrs, and covered with the blood of holiness, saints and prophets”. Her primary mission was prayer and the consecration of self in the service of others, so that the whole world will be holy and all the figuratively divided members will be reunited in one body which is the body of Christ and we will be one again as we were meant to be: “Be one as I and the Father are One”. She shed a light on the importance of the Unified Church and stressed its role in our salvation as it is the lighthouse and the reference and its obedience is sacred.
And Lebanon the country, occupied a big part of her heart so she carried the cross of the destructive war. She cautioned and warned of it and suffered its tragedies and spent her days and nights praying and imploring Jesus and His Mother to protect Lebanon and its people: “Our Mother, You are our solace, eradicate the anger from Lebanon! O Lady of Lebanon, You are our shelter since the beginning of time”.
She was empathic with everyone and shared their pains and heavy burdens. She opened the doors of her association and her home and before them the door of her heart for everyone who came to her. She cried and prayed and was sorrowful for every martyr. She offered the hand of mercy to every innocent and needy and orphan. She alleviated the hurt of the prisoners and the wounded. She dried the tears, bandaged the injuries and prescribed the medicine: “Pray and fast. Your prayer is your victory, your fasting is your strength and the holy bread is your weapon”.
She stressed on holding on to meekness and justice and love and forgiveness: “Remove hate from your hearts and put instead Jesus the Love. Remove conceit from your hearts and put instead humility”.
She considered family the foundation of society and called for the edification of righteous families: “Teach children and youth the respect of their parents and the respect of each other. When a couple is united in faith and love, Christ is third amongst them and the children will become as virtuous as their holy parents; where the marriages were blessed so their offsprings will be”.
More than fifty years of continuous efforts on the rough path of her mission did not diminish her resolve or weaken her will or wane her trust in God. Her only weapons were Mary, whom did not leave her lips for one moment, and crucified Jesus whom she used to soak in her tears and never removed from her sight.
She never stopped giving and working in the fields of the Lord, even during the last 9 years of her life that she spent pinned on her sick bed she was working. Despite the multitude of her pains, she worked. Until her last breath she worked with a screaming consciousness, and a will of steel and an unwavering faith which did not falter or know moderation. She hoped to see this Unity, for which she devoted her life, shine in the hearts of all humanity while repeating what was uttered by Simon: “O Lord release your servant!”.
Finally, she slept; closing her eyes and easing her mind after she reaped what her blessed hands have sowed and multiplied the Gold piece.
And there she is now, bidding us Goodbye as God answered her prayers and tears. On the bricks of Unity a new brick takes form to further cement the structure for a time near, God willing.
God is with you O Matile. Rise above to the house of your dreams, for today we will not cry for you, our beloved sister. We will not cry and we will not grieve you, our companion in our faith. We will not lament you and we will not bemoan you, in spite of the forbidding emptiness your absence will leave in our families and our homes and our hearts. No, we will not cry for you because we believe that He who conquered death by death and rose on the 3rd day will establish you on His right hand, for you worked during your life as if you will live forever and worked for your eternity as if you will die tomorrow. No, we will not cry for you because you will remain with us, in us and between us in your absence as in your presence, for you are the grain of wheat that needs to wither in order to flourish and to die in order to produce.
You will always remain our refuge in all our life’s circumstances so that you carry with us, or rather for us, our ailments and our pains and you strengthen our weaknesses and sustain our elderly and guide our youth and our children as you used to do. We will not cry for you, our beloved sister, for it is enough that we lived with you and were blessed in the shades of your tenderness so we became rich by the depth and sincerity of your faith and thus watered our thirst over the years.
Our promise, our dearly beloved, is to defend and uphold the mission with every fiber of our hearts and the light of our eyes.
Goodbye O dearly beloved, O Sr. Matile, go to the heavenly resting place that you longed for and earned; Enjoy true happiness in the arms of Mary, your Mother, and rest in peace in the Lord Jesus, your Beloved.