By Natalie Salameh
Sister Therese Maria Touma renewed her vows on Monday, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the Divine Liturgy in Our Lady of Purgatory Church, New Bedford.
This was a beautiful way for our congregation to enter into the Year of Consecrated Life, called for by Pope Francis (begun Sunday, November 30). In his recent letter to consecrated men and women, Pope Francis said that the beauty of consecration is “joy, joy…the joy of bringing God’s consolation to all.”
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating the Blessed Virgin’s conception without the original sin, is also a special feast for the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. We are called, just like Mary, to “incarnate the Good News” as stated by Pope Francis, and to allow Christ the Light to penetrate the darkness of our world.
We ask you all, especially during this Year of Consecrated Life, to pray for vocations to our mission.
The Christmas Novena, beginning on December 15 is nine consecutive days of prayer and is a wonderful way of preparing ourselves for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and getting into the true spirit of Christmas. The incensing of the Blessed Sacrament, the prayers, the Syriac hymns and the processions all help us to worship and glorify the Word of God who is coming to save us and live among us – Emmanuel. After the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the congregation kneels in worship and the chants “Shoubho-l-how qolo” or “Glory to the Word that became flesh.” Traditionally this “Ziah” is chanted in Syriac.The nine prayers (one for each day representing the nine months that Mary was pregnant with Jesus) are rich in their imagery and poetry. They give us the opportunity to adore and love our Lord at His nativity. They help us to reflect on his humility, love and divinity and at the same time our weaknesses and failures. They help us to live our never ending love story with our Mother Mary with words such as “O Wine of the Virgins and Lily of Purity” asking for her intercession and the intercession of her beloved spouse Joseph. We then pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be before concluding with a beautiful prayer “We have offered you, O Wonderful Child and Unique Son, the perfume of our incense, the desire of our hearts, the surrender of our souls, the inclination of our bodies and the supplications of our lips…” Then as the priest begins to incense the Blessed Sacrament again, we sing the hymn “Arsal Allah” or “God sent his only Son, light for all the nations” which summarizes the prophesy of Isaiah about the incarnation of the Word of God. Benediction follows blessing the congregation to “Quodous, Quodous” or “Holy, Holy.”
If you have intentions for us to include in the novena, please email them to us.