Radiant Light --the Birth of Our Lord

The Divine Liturgy in the Maronite tradition often mentions the title “Mary, Mother of the Light.” The opening prayer of the liturgy used to mention it every day. This title is rich in theological and spiritual significance and is indeed one of the treasures of the Maronite Church.
The image of light conveys a sense of joy, festivity, and life. Religion uses the image of light to express the notion of purity and the presence of God. Since light is the element which is proper to the divine Being, from ancient times the pagans adored the sun. At the end of December, the pagans celebrated a feast dedicated to the “Unconquerable Sun.” In fact, on December 21st the nights, which had been becoming longer and longer, begin to shorten. The ancients celebrated this conquest of the light over the darkness.
When Constantine granted freedom for Christians to worship publicly, it was appropriate to replace the celebration of the Unconquerable Sun, with the Feast of the New Sun of the world, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Light of the world (John 3:19).
The image of light is found throughout salvation history. The Aramaic Fathers of the Antiochene tradition teach us that creation is a preparation for the incarnation of the Son of God. All was created by the Father, through the Son.
Scripture tells us that the first thing that was created is the sun: it is the heavenly body which gives forth light, warmth and life itself.
The sun is the image of the Son of God because Christ himself is that light which comes from heaven. As a ray of light coming through a cloud, he appeared from the Virgin Mary.
…Just at the shepherds and Magi saw and followed the light, we who have seen the Light must follow. Jesus told us, “Walk while you have the light” (John 2:19; 5:34; 12:35-36). This feast of the Birth of Our Lord, the Light of the world, should be an incentive for us to be the light of the world (Mt 5:14)….
(Taken from the Prayer of the Faithful Synaxarion for Christmas.)


Visits to Our Maronite Parishes

By Sister Marla Marie
At the request of Bishop Gregory Mansour, part of my mission in beginning the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light is to visit our parishes to speak on vocations and the mission of this new religious community. Since June, I have traveled to several parishes meeting our Maronite faithful and clergy. In the first few months of the New Year, my travels will be taking me here and abroad. Please pray for God’s blessings on my efforts.
Visit our website: Maroniteservant.org for a complete list of my visits.
January 3 & 4…Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, Brooklyn NY
January 10 & 11…St. Peter and Paul Mission, Tampa FL
January 17 & 18…St. Jude, Orlando FL
January 24 & 25…St Elias, Roanoke VA
February 7 & 8…Our Lady of Lebanon, Waterbury CT
February 14 & 15… Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon-St. Peter Cathedral, Los Angeles
February 17 – March 4…Sydney Australia
March 7 & 8… St. Ephrem, San Diego CA
March 25 – April 16…Lebanon

Pictures of my visit to Saint Anthony in Springfield, MA


Vocation Questions continued...

We all want to know about the habit. What was your inspiration for it and what is the significance of each aspect of it?
I have been receiving numerous compliments on the habit. I would like to think it was designed by the Holy Spirit because I haven’t had to think about what to wear for decades. After listening to the Bishop, I chose this habit with some features that connect with our monastic traditions. The Maronite Church is an outgrowth of the monastic community of Saint Maron. A staple habit was considered a simple black tunic bound by a leather belt. However, I did not want our members to be mistaken for the wife of a Taliban. I was looking for modesty, but one that reflected our femininity. This brought me to select the shade of grey for the tunic, still speaking of simplicity and poverty. I kept the black in using a scapular, and I added a gold embroidered Rabbula Cross, part of our Syriac tradition. The contrast of the brilliant cross on the black is symbolic of Christ’s light radiating through the darkness bringing God’s hope and mercy which is significant to our charism. Our habit rosary is made of the olive pits, a connection to the earthy simplicity of the villages in Lebanon and a sign of our dedication to Mary.


Vocation Questions

In person or via email, I have been asked several good questions regarding the vocation of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, the new foundation of consecrated religious begun on June 1, 2008. I have included a couple of questions and answers here, and welcome you to ask others. Our email is: sister@maroniteservants.org; website is: Maroniteservants.org, and our Blog is: RadiateHisLight.blogspot.com.

I've done quite a lot of research-both Roman and Maronite rite- but nothing has clicked just yet. My research is primarily on-line and articles, etc.. It's difficult for me because I have so many ministries that I am attracted to …. Yes, uncertainty is always a challenge and even more so in our technological times when things are so instantaneous. Relationships will never be like a click of a mouse. Prayerful discernment is central to discovering one's mission/call in this life. Lord, how do you want me to serve you? Where?
He will lead the way as long as we keep an open heart and faithfulness to daily prayer and the Sacraments. A religious vocation is a deep attraction to give oneself completely to the Beloved, who is Christ and His Church. The ministry is secondary.
Our Maronite Servant's call is to be there for our people to walk the journey of faith with them as a spiritual mother looking out for their needs. In parish ministry the needs are diverse and reflect the Gospel life of Christ who preached, healed, fed, comforted, taught ...loved each and every one.

I just wanted to see if you-as a nun- had ever experienced any frustration in your vocation discernment just to see if what I'm experiencing is normal. Take heart, you are not alone in this experience. Trust in the Lord. Reflect and ask yourself, "am I seeking what He wants for me? or am I seeking what I want for me?" Discernment means we have to ask tough questions of ourselves and probe our motives and desires. It means that we have to truly seek detachment and surrender. Mary is your model in this, and she will be your guide. Read the Gospel of St. Luke, especially the beginning chapters and meditate on Mary's challenges and trials, her confusion which surrendered in an obedient faith. Mary gave all with joy, pondering in heart -- not fully understanding-- but trusting.


Praying with Our Monks

We made a visit to the Maronite Monks of Adoration at Most Holy Trinity Monastery located in Petersham, MA. Abbot William Driscoll and Brothers were most welcoming and a special blessing for us. Founded in 1979, this is the first and only Maronite Monastery begun outside of Lebanon (see their website).
Abbot William was so good to spend time with us offering his fatherly wisdom and advice as a founder. His words offered inspiration and encouragement as he shared from the wealth of his journey in the Light of the Cross.
During our visit, we joined the brothers for mid-day Prayer of the Faithful (Maronite Office) in their newly built chapel. We also had the opportunity to visit with some retreatants from the Maronite parish in San Diego, CA. They were eager to hear about the mission of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.
(Pictures: Sister Marla Marie, Therese Touma with Abbot Driscoll (R) and Father Michael (L). Our retreatant friends from San Diego. The Chapel and Monastery.)


On Mission Part II

The weekend of November 1 and 2 took us to the parish of Saint Anthony in Lawrence, MA where we enjoyed the gracious hospitality of Abouna Peter Azar and his parish family.

At each Liturgy, we dressed the altar as part of the blessing for the “Sunday of the Consecration of the Church”. On this Sunday, the beginning of a new Church year, the priest sprinkles the four walls of the church and the altar with holy water. Then the altar is clothed with linens and blessed with incense.

In addition to sharing about the mission of the Maronite Servants at the Liturgies, we visited the junior high grades to encourage vocations to religious life and the priesthood.
We also had the privilege to pray with Abouna Peter the Ramsho and Safro of the “Prayer of the Faithful”. Our prayers were offered for the people of St. Anthony’s and for vocations to the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.

The pictures above are of Therese Touma , Sister Marla Marie, Abouna Peter and some children of the parish.


Maronite Servants On Mission

By Therese Touma

Our travels over the last two weeks have been awesome as we have ventured on different missions throughout New York (NY), Ohio (OH) and Pennsylvania (PA). Our road trip began 16 October as we drove from Boston to La Trobe, PA for our spiritual retreat and concluded Wednesday 29 October with our return to Mother of the Light Convent in Boston. Below are the highlights of our travels:

October 16-22: Our six day Spiritual Retreat held at the St Vincent’s Archabbey, Latrobe PA was a grace-filled. Sister Marla Marie and I had structured time for prayer, silence, reflection, sharing, conferences, daily exercise and spiritual direction from a wise Benedictine monk. We thank God for his providence and the kindness of the people who took care of us at the Abbey.

October 23: Our visit to the Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine and the martyrs trail at North Jackson, OH was a memorable place. This beautiful shrine and chapel reminded me of the famous Shrine in Lebanon: Harrisa overlooking the mountains and embracing her beloved children wherever they are. Although, this shrine in OH is a mini version but still lovely as you can walk up the stairs to the feet of Our Lady. Sister Marla Marie and I were also fortunate enough to have Divine Liturgy in the chapel below the shrine offered by Monsignor Anthony Spinosa, the rector.

October 24: The “Vocations Fair” at Franciscan University, Stuebenville OH was a great day to be a part of, as religious communities show cased their spiritualities and missions seeking potential vocations to their communities. The Maronite Servants had a unique display and I believe one of the best, among them. The illuminating presence of the display consisted of a light rope outlining the table and a professional display which enhanced the name of Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. I believe this genuinely interested people to came forward and inquire about this new mission in the Maronite Church. I noticed a number of people were attracted to our new Mission and particularly to the Maronite Liturgy and the use of Syriac (the language that Jesus spoke).
Also, on the table, a number of Maronite books were displayed including references to our early Church Father, St Ephrem, Maronite Hymns and the book for the Divine Liturgy. I found this display to be enlightening as it gave passersby an insight into our deep Eastern spirituality. It also motivated people to get to know more about our rich Maronite heritage. Throughout the day, we made friends with a number of religious, students and other Maronites. We even managed to find other Maronite Lebanese Religious and took a ‘Maronited’ photo shot all together.

October 25 & 26: St. John Maron, Buffalo NY. Our weekend stay and visit to this vibrant Maronite parish impressed me as I felt a great sense of community. The pastor, Father George El-Khalli was very welcoming and supportive towards the vital Mission of the Maronite Servants. Sister Marla Marie was inspirational as she shared with those present at the Liturgies about her vocation story. Her talks were informative as she spoke about the mission of the Maronite Servants. A mission not just for her but for all Maronites! So let us all get involved some how...spread the word, pray that this mission will be fruitful and attract holy vocations, be open and generous to the Holy Spirit if you have a desire to serve as a Maronite Servant. If you would like to help out in any other way please visit the website for more details.

October 27: Niagara Falls: an awesome sight and so impressive! The amount and the impact of the water is incredible and definitely a wonder of God’s creation and love. On the morning of our visit the rainy and windy weather was quite unpleasant especially as we attempted to take photos. After we watched an informative film on the history of Niagara Falls we came outside to find the sunshine and a double rainbow. What a gift!

October 29: Our return trip home was dotted by snow storms as we drove through New York via Route 90. This was the second time in my life to see snow fall. As we passed through central New York, we made a short visit to the North American Martyrs Shrine where several Jesuits gave their life for the faith in the mid 1600’s. Once we reached Albany, the snowfall stopped only to pick up again as we crossed into Massachusetts. The contrast of weather was interesting; upon reaching Boston there was no sign of any precipitation.
Watch the following slide show for pictures of our visits.


Maronite Theology: Biblical-Poetic-Creation-Centered View

View of God as Mystery-Presence
In the twenty-one Eastern Churches of Catholicism God is described as MYSTERY. The Maronite mind has always been in awe of this mysteriousness and un-approachability of God. It presumes a great distance between the Creator and the creation. Since the human mind cannot fathom, grasp nor understand God, then any knowledge of God is just that, knowledge about God and not experience of God. Narsai says: “we are able only to say God is, but to research how he is, the door is closed.”
Maronites believe that the inner life and being of God is a divine, ineffable, inexhaustible mystery always beyond limited human knowledge and understanding. St Ephrem, and other Syriac Fathers, write of God as Mystery saying: “when one tries to describe the mystery of God in words, he can only stammer.” However, this great distance is bridged by God’s self-disclosure – what we call revelation. Since God opens and communicates himself in the act of creation then God can be known by experiencing his loving actions.
This Maronite sense of otherness and mystery of the inner life of God is attributable to two things:
1.its Jewish Christian origins where the ‘name’ God was not even spoken since no one could be that familiar with or know God, who is beyond human understanding;
2.its familiarity with the scriptures which addressed God by various titles reflecting his love for his creation.
While one would expect that this un-approachability of God would lead to a detached relationship with the divine. In fact, this process leads to mystical union; for the more that one searches for God, the more one encounters God. The search then for God, leads to wonder/awe, communion/intimacy and conversation/prayer.

(Taken from "The Maronite Church" by Msgr. Ronald Beshara, S.T.L., J.C.L.)


Come, See and Explore…

I am Therese Touma currently in Boston from Sydney, Australia to discern my vocation with the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. With God’s help, my six week visit will be to explore, pray and to get to know more about this great mission.

So far my time here with Sister Marla Marie has been positive, prayerful and enjoyable. Our visits to the Maronite parishes have also included a trip to see the famous Lady- the Statue of Liberty. Sr. Marla Marie and I will be visiting some Maronite parishes in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, sharing with them this new and exciting mission.

When I first read about the mission of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light on its website, I was refreshingly taken back. Deep within, I was impressed and thought to myself now this is the “gift” that our Maronite Church has been waiting for and definitely should embrace with open arms.
The charism and spirituality of this mission spoke to me personally. What better inspiration can the Maronite Servants have than in following the example of our Blessed Mother- the Greatest of all Servants. In imitating the humble and faithful response of Our Lady, the sisters are called to offer their spiritual motherhood, talents and service to the Maronite people. What a beautiful and challenging call to service! As my patron, Saint Therese says “everything is a grace”.
When I reflect over the purpose of the Maronite Servants, I see myself alligned with a number of its goals and ideas:
• The ultimate aim to be holy and give Our benevolent God praise in serving the spiritual and corporal needs of our Maronite people
• To return the gift of my life including all my talents, weaknesses and desires back to God in joyful service to his people and at the same time deepening my Eastern rite spirituality and traditions
• To be a humble presence of Christ’s light and assist the priests in radiating the spirit of God’s love
• to live a deep Eucharistic prayer life
I perceive that this community will be a great aid to our Maronite people, particularly to our priests in assisting them to cultivate spirituality into the parishes through the various missions of religious education, the visitation of the sick, elderly, the youth, family and children. I believe in this mission and I pray that it will constantly draw its light and energy from Christ who is the ultimate Light.
I especially pray for all those discerning their vocation to the consecrated life and the priesthood. In particular, I pray for holy vocations and the growth of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. May this mission radiate Christ’s awesome love and light! …Why not come and take the time to explore your vocation with the Maronite Servants?


The Service of the Holy Mysteries at the Convent

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light were privileged to celebrate the Divine Liturgy for the first time at Mother of the Light Convent, offered by Father Dominique Hanna of Our Lady of the Cedars parish here in Boston. Sister Marla Marie and Therese Touma participated in this awesome prayer of praise and thanksgiving in St. Maron’s Chapel.
The beauty of the Divine Liturgy of the Maronite tradition is captured well in this prayer sung during the Communion Rite:

“You have united, O Lord, your divinity with our humanity
and our humanity with your divinity;
your life with our mortality
and our mortality with your life.
You have assumed what is ours,
and you have given us what is yours,
for the life and salvation of our souls.
To you, be glory forever.


Mother of the Light Convent

On Sunday September 28, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light opened the doors of their temporary convent, a guest house on the grounds of the Daughters of Saint Paul Provincialate in Boston. The Daughters were most hospitable and generous in providing the use of this house to assist the Maronite Servants as they seek to purchase a permanent residence.
After prayer and consideration, Sister Marla Marie desired the name of the convent to reflect both the image of light and that of our Catholic devotion to Mary. The name, “Mother of the Light” was chosen. It was with great joy that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the convent Chapel by Fr. Dominique Hanna of Our Lady of the Cedars Church in Boston. The Chapel, dedicated to St Maron, founder of the Maronites, expresses the significance of preserving and the living out of our Maronite heritage.

Pictured with Sister is Therese Touma from Sydney Australia visiting on a “come and see” experience.


Visit to St Joseph Maronite Church in Atlanta

By Cecilia Romero
From Sept 17 to Sept 21, 2008 St Joseph Maronite Catholic Church of Atlanta, Ga welcomed Sister Marla Marie Lucas, founder of Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. Sister was invited by the Young Adults to be the guest speaker of Theology on Tap and she extended her visit to also meet with parishioners of St Joseph. The journey was a miracle since the flight tickets had been inadvertly reversed by yours truly. Thanks to God's divine providence and a good Catholic flight assistant in Logan's Boston Delta office who also waived the change fees, Sister Marla Marie was able to arrive in time for her talk to the young adults.

The rest of the week consisted of visiting Fr. Peter Boulus, various parishioners and the Maronite young adults. A spiritual pilgrimage was also arranged by the young adults to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama.

We were also able to pass by St Elias in Birmingham Alabama for Saturday Divine Liturgy and spend some time with Fr Richard Saad and fellow parishioners.
On Sunday Sept 21, Sister Marla Marie addressed the congregation at both 9 and 11 am Divine liturgies and talked about her life and answering God's call to accept a religious vocation. She recently answered a call within a call and accepted Bishop Gregory's request to found a new religious congregation for women in the United States. Sister Marla Marie explained that while the Maronites in the US have been blessed with their spiritual fathers and seminary in Washington DC for the formation of priests, there was no religious order for women. Therefore, in the past many women of the Maronite rite responded to the call of religious life by entering the various congregations of the Roman Church. Now with the founding of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, the opportunity to have spiritual mothers is a reality thanks to the vision of Bishop Gregory and the extraordinary work of Sister Marla Marie.

She asked all families with children and especially young adult women, who are very dear to her heart, to be open to God's call in their lives. She expressed the honor that families have when they promote an environment that is open for religious vocations for future priests and sisters. Sister Marla Marie emphazised that the Maronite Servants is not only her mission but the mission of each an every Maronite in the US. The sisters of this congregation will be working at the pastoral level and assisiting the priests in works of mercy for the Maronite church. As an example the sisters will be working in religious education, helping the MYO, MYA, the elderly and the music for the liturgy. Sister Marla Marie also asked for our prayers and financial assistance for the new congregation. Current plans are to have a convent in the Massachusetts / Rhode Island corridor.

Sister Marla Marie was very delighted to receive a spiritual bouquet in which the children of the religious education program will be offering prayers for the new mission. Sister also received generous donations from various parishioners and the Ladies Altar and Rosary Society to support our mission.

On behalf of Fr. Peter Boulos and all the parishioners of St Joseph we would like to thank Sister Marla Marie Lucas for taking the time to visit our parish.

more photos...


TOT Atlanta: Praying with the Maronite Saints

The MYA (Maronite Young Adults) of Atlanta were honored to have Sister Marla Marie as guest speaker for Theology on Tap at Manuel's Tavern September 17, 2008. This event was co-sponsored by the Atlanta YAM (Young Adult Ministry) and the MYA. Pictured with Sr. Marla Marie are some of the MYA of St. Joseph's Maronite Church.
Sr. Marla Marie gave an impressive presentation on sainthood, Maronite spirituality, and Saint Rafka's holy life. After Sister's talk, many of the Roman Catholic members of YAM expressed a desire to learn more about the Maronites and attend a Maronite Liturgy.
St. Joseph's hosted Sr. Marla Marie's visit which will include speaking at the Sunday Liturgies.
...more to come next week...

By Cecilia Romero


Exaltation of the Holy Cross

"Today's feast is one of the greatest feasts of the Eastern Churches. It is frequently mentioned in ecclesiastical writings and always has as its object the triumph of Christ, his resurrection, and the veneration of the holy cross, the sign of his victory over death. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was first instituted in order to commemorate the dedication of the Church of the Resurrection on September 13, 335. The Emperor Constantine built this church and the one in Bethlehem and they are both in existence today.

The Church of the Resurrection had five naves and in the interior a circular structure covered by a dome which protected the sancturay of the sepulchre or tomb of Christ. The date of September 13 was chosen in order to supplant the pagan feast of the Temple of Jupiter in Rome.
The second historical event which is the source of our present feast was the return of the holy cross to Jerusalem under Emperor Heraclius. ...

On this day the Maronite Church celebrates the Rite of the Cross, which is a service of adoration of the cross, the sign of our salvation. This feast which comes at the end of the annual liturgical cycle is also directed toward the second coming of Christ, who carries his cross of light and triumph. It is this theme which is the object of the readings and prayers of the seven weeks which follow and which close the liturgical year.
Adoration and honor to the Cross of our Savior!
Glory and praise to Christ our God, for ever! Amen.

(Taken from the Synaxarion of the Prayer of the Faithful)


Who is Saint Maron?

"Maron (350-410 AD)
Maron, a priest and hermit, known to John Chrysostom, walked the land once traveled by Peter and Paul. On the banks of the Orontes River, Father Maron converted an old pagan temple into a church. He spent his life teaching about the faith and ministering to many people with the gift of healing and counsel. Over 800 monks later followed in his footsteps. These early followers of the lifestyle and way of Maron were known as MARONITES.

Their history reveals great sacrifices of their lives and possessions for their religious convictions and freedom. They defended the Council of Chalcedon (taught Christ is God and man, and Mary is Mother of God). Maronites came to Mount Lebanon and later elected John Maron as their first patriarch in 687. By this, the Maronite Community became established as an organized church and Lebanon became the third geographical center of influence for Maron's family of faith.

From its monastic origins to today the Maronite Community of faith includes several religious orders of monks and sisters whose important ministries to the Church provide continued nourishment, growth and maturity. Maronites are Catholics of many nations and diverse cultures. Presently, the Mother Church is in Lebanon and daughter communities exist in ever nation of the world. Often the sons and daughters of Maron are referred to as Beit Maroun, (the house of Maron)."

from "Being A Maronite Catholic" by Msgr. Ronald Beshara



Sister Marla Marie shares on the vocation of a Maronite Servant:


The Liturgy

The Maronite liturgy is one of the oldest in the Catholic Church. St. Peter and other Apostles brought the liturgy of the Last Super to Antioch where it developed in Greek and Syriac concurrently. The early Antioch liturgy is the basis of the Maronite liturgy.
… The liturgy is throughout a dialogue between the people and the priest. The priest serves as the prayer leader in much the same way as Moses served the Israelites. The congregation stands or sits during the liturgy as the liturgy is chanted back and forth between the priest and the congregation. In Eastern Catholic Churches, kneeling is done on Pentecost, in private prayer and can be done during Confession (Reconciliation).
The Maronite liturgy begins with calling on God's mercy, whereas the Latin Rite liturgy begins with "let us call to mind our sins." We also acknowledge our sinfulness, but greater stress is laid on God's mercy. As one prayer says, "Your mercy, O Lord, is greater than the weight of the mountains..."
The Triasagion (Qadeeshat Alaho) is the first prayer that is sung in Aramaic, and it is sung three times in honor of the Holy Trinity. It is normally sung facing East.
The sign of peace is also different from the Latin Rite. The priest kisses the altar, places his hands on the chalice, then passes God's peace to the deacon, who then gives it to the acolyte, who passes it to the first person in the pews, who passes it to the next person, an so on. Very rich indeed!
The Consecration is sung in Aramaic, the everyday language of our Lord, the Blessed Mother, and the Apostles. It is the closest we come to the Lord's actual words at the Last Supper.
Throughout the liturgy, the priest will bless the congregation using the handcross, the Gospel, and the Eucharist itself, both before and after Communion. Holy Communion is given only by intinction. There is no Communion in the hand and there are no Eucharistic ministers. Only the bishop, the priest, the deacon or the subdeacon give communion. It is done with the words, "The servant of God ... receives the Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life."
The Maronite rite has over eighty Eucharistic Prayers, called Anaphora. Most were composed by different saints, including St. James (the oldest prayer), the Apostles, St. Peter, St. Sixtus and St. Basil. The prayers throughout the liturgy are full of Biblical Imagery. The story of salvation is told over and over again, and each liturgy is a short course in theology, using spiritual poetry to give praise, honor and thanksgiving for God's mercy and forgiveness, and His constant love for us not matter what!
(Taken from Our Lady's Maronite Catholic Church, Austin TX)


Blessing of Habit

Sister Marla Marie received a
special blessing on her habit by Bishop Gregory Mansour on Sunday August 10th during the Divine Liturgy at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, Ohio.

Bishop Gregory was assited by Father James Root, Vocation Director of the Eparchy of St. Maron.

What is a Habit? – Habitus (Latin): having, possessing; condition, appearance; dress; character.
The habit is a distinctive garb of a man or woman religious dating back to the beginning of monasticism. Early ascetics, such as Anthony of Egypt, imitated the garb of John the Baptist. Saint Basil, Saint Benedict, and even the widows and virgins in the first few centuries of the early Church were identified by their plain, common attire as signs of poverty and simplicity.

Assumption Pilgrimage 2008


Prayers in Aramaic

Thank you Father Dominique Hanna for offering to record the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be in Syriac-Aramaic, the language of Christ. Offer these prayers while meditating on the Syriac icon of Our Lady of Illige dating back to the 10th century.


My WYD experience...a priceless treasure!

The WYD activities that I participated in with my parish group included Catechesis, Festivals, praise and worship, the Papal Welcome, Stations of the Cross, the Vigil sleep out and the Final Mass. This awesome experience was filled with many graces. I was deeply touched as I witnessed the true joy of pilgrims coming together in celebration and thanksgiving to God.

We had a fantastic time as we got to know pilgrims from the abroad. On the trains we joined in Prayer and Worship in different languages. It was beautiful to partake in the unique expressions of faith and the unity of all Christian under the guidance of our Holy Father...we all have come to be inspired and encounter Christ- Our Hope. The Holy Spirit is so alive in our Church! I thank God for the Gift our faith and the presence of our Holy Father. I felt that his powerful message of unity and love spoke to me. We are all "one body, one spirit in Christ”.

In the discernment of my vocation, I have found great encouragement in these words...
“Do not be afraid to say "yes" to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!”

I believe that World Youth Day has given pilgrims from all around the world the opportunity to come together to spiritually nourish their faith in Christ and return home filled with hope of building up Christ’s Body, the Church. A Kingdom of Love!
I hope that WYD has prompted the young people to a true conversion of heart towards Christ and His Church.
We can be Catholic, young, happy & Holy!!

(Submitted by Therese Touma, Sydney)

Stations of the Cross -- World Youth Day 2008

A report by Therese Touma from Sydney...

Please find attached some photos from the World Youth Day Stations of the Cross which took place Friday 18 July 2008 in Sydney Australia. The Stations of the Cross was aired on the ABC Channel and internationally on EWTN.

With God's help, I played the role of Mary of Bethany, who was one of the weeping women of Jerusalem following Our Lord closely in the carrying of his cross to Calvary. In Station 8, Mary Magdalene and I assist our Lady to her feet after she was pushed away from Jesus, by the Roman soldiers. In the Crucifixtion scene, on the right of Jesus, I bow down in reverence to Our Lady holding in her arms the lifeless body of her dead son (this scene depicts the Pieta).
It was amazing to be part of such a beautiful and DRAMATIC re-enactment of the passion of Jesus Christ. The three-hour Stations of the Cross was one of the key events of World Youth Day celebrations. We all desired to make the Stations a prayer for all...a point of conversion and grace...so we all worked hard to be authentic and natural in the characters we played. It was demanding at times especially with our intense rehersal schedule but well worth it! We ALSO made great friendships a long the way!! Over 270,000 international and local spectators also made their way to points around the city to watch the Stations of the Cross live and on big screen televisions.The first station held on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral was attended by Pope Benedict XVI who led the prayer. “Make us generous and insightful as we try to walk in your footsteps,” the Holy Father prayed.


Publicity: Inside Catholic & Maronite Voice

Read this on-line interview of Sister Marla Marie by author/writer Dawn Eden on InsideCatholic.com. Sister tells her vocation story and the events leading to the foundation of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.
Also, take a look at the article published in the "Maronite Voice" (pages 12,13) which circulates to all the Maronite parishes in the US.

At the NAM Convention July '08


The First Luminous Mystery

Join us in praying the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary --
the Baptism of Our Lord by John the Baptist.

Our "Radiate His Light" CD includes the Luminious Mysteries in English, in Arabic, and the basic Catholic prayers in Aramaic. The meditations are taken from the Maronite liturgical prayers. If you would like a copy of this free CD visit our website and email your request. Please remember to include your full mailing address.

If you are interested in supporting our efforts to evangelize through the media, we would be delighted and most grateful. Send us an email using the link above.


Mother of the Light

This icon depicts Mary presenting the Christ Child to the viewer. The dome at the top consists of a blue arch, a middle row of leaves, and a sheet of gold with inlaid gems, and symbolizes the life of the Triune God. The shrine, represents the Kingdom in which dwell Mary and the Lord of heaven and earth. The Lady of paradise is dressed in a purple cloak, a color reserved for kings and queens, which suggests that she is the Mother of the King. Her red shoes, the footwear of Byzantine queens, notes that Mary is the mother of the Divine Lord. The Child holds a scroll of the eternal law for Christ is its fulfillment.


Sister Marla Marie Re-run

Here is a YouTube interview from December 2007. Sister
shares her vocation story.


Friends Spread the News

Maronite Servants of Christ the Light have traveled the web thanks to the support of my good friends, Dawn Eden and the Georgetown Visitation Monastery.
Thank you to:

Sr. Anne Elizabeth for the story and photo on your excellent blog and to Dawn Eden for the kind post and photo on your equally excellent blog .

Help to spread the word:

  • Email our website and/or our blog to your family and friends.

  • Pray for women to hear God's call to offer their lives as a Maronite Servant.

  • Support our mission with a (tax deductable) donation.


New Life - A Light to our Maronite Church

A new life is born in our Maronite Catholic Church of the United States - the religious congregation of Maronite Servants of Christ the Light (MSCL).
In collaboration with the Most Reverend Gregory J. Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron, Sister Marla Marie Lucas has initiated the founding of this new community of religious sisters on June 1st, 2008.
This is the first Maronite religious congregation of women to be founded in the United States.
Sister Marla Marie is a Catholic in the Maronite Church of the Anitochene Syriac Rite.
Since 1983 she has been a religious in the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, a congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.
Sister Marla Marie asks for your prayers and support. Visit her web site at www.maronitservants.org.