Some the Bible, others the Quran… Together they pray in a center for elders in Lebanon

“Christians and Muslims cannot live without each other,” says one old woman.

These are senior citizens of the villages of Kefraya in Lebanon. Many of them go days without visits from anyone and others are living alone because their children left to build a future. Therefore, for them to come to this meeting in the center of the Order of Malta is the highlight of their week.

SR. JOSÉPHINE BOU NASSAR
Religious from Charité de Besançon
“The goal is to make them come with a smile and make them leave with a smile. When you see how they arrive and how they leave, surely the Lord is happy with what we do here and He gives us strength to do even more.”

Each action they take, even if it is small, sends a powerful message. All elders, Christians and Muslims alike, start their day by praying together. Some say the prayers of the others and vice versa. Today they ask that people are able to live together in peace and that arms be silenced.

“Our towns are made up of Christians and Muslims and we live together and share everything: feast days, sadness, everything… Thanks be to God.”

“Christians and Muslims cannot live without each other. We cannot live without them and they cannot live without us.”

SR. JOSÉPHINE BOU NASSAR
Religious from Charité de Besançon
“We put all those prayers in the Lord’s hands. He welcomes them. We are very happy that they pray together, that they sing together to the Lord. I am sure that the Lord is very happy to see us this way, praying all together.”

Sr. Joséphine has been working at this center for the past three years. She says that she is happy to accompany and give joy to these elders who, above all, need to be heard.

For the elderly, both Muslims and Christians, it is a type of remedy for their solitude. It is all due to the community, their joined prayers and these special moments.

“We come here, sit down, dance and sing, and they prepare our food. Then they accompany us to our home. I am very happy to come here.”

“I have been coming to this center for five years and I am very happy, because they love us very much and respect us a lot. The friends we have here love us very much.”

As Pope Francis says, the elderly contain the collective memory of the community, especially for those who go in search of their roots. Examples like this from Lebanon once again reveal that grandparents are the ones who give the best lessons and, in a Middle East that is almost completely shattered, their lessons are ones of peace and coexistence.