March for Life - January 22, 2009

Pictured above are some of our Maronite representation at the March, the Hallal family of Our Lady of Lebanon, Washington DC. Pictured here: Theresa Notare (USCCB office on Natural Family Planning) Bishop Gregory, Susan Wills (USCCB Pro Life Committee), Sr. Marla Marie, Bishop Philippe Estevez, auxillary bishop of Miami.
Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center in DC.

Let us pray and witness to uphold the dignity of all human life, especially the child in the womb.

St Jude -- Orlando


Friends at Ave Maria University

Pictured with Sister Marla Marie are friends she met while visiting at Ave Maria in Naples Florida. A mixed gathering of Maronite and Roman Catholics at The Bean, a campus eatery. (Jan. 15, '09)
Reflection by Andrew Salvia (above photo seated 3rd in from the left):
"My interest in the Maronite Church and Eastern Christianity came about after visiting St. Elias (the local Maronite parish in Roanoke) every year for their annual Lebanese Festival in June. Once I became Catholic after being Protestant during the first 17 years of my life, I was still curious about the Maronite Church. One Saturday evening in September of 2007, I went for Divine Liturgy and have been going there ever since. Fr. Claude was truly helpful in teaching me about Eastern Christianity in general, and the beautiful and rich traditions of Syriac Maronite spirituality in particular. The Divine Liturgy is simply awe-inspiring, poetic and supernatural. Hearing the priest use prayers in the Syriac language (a dialect of Aramaic, similar, if not exactly to what Christ spoke) draws my heart closer to Christ, connecting us closer to Him in a much more personal and spiritual way. The Maronite Church has so much to offer the Catholic Church as a whole. I pray its clergy, monastics and laymen continue to shine forth the radiant Light to the world, just as its founder, St. Maron, did in Syria 1700 years ago."

Visiting Saints Peter & Paul, Tampa


Visiting Brooklyn, New York

NEXT WEEK...a clip of Sr. Marla Marie's interview on Boston Catholic TV show, "This Is The Day".


Vocations – A Call from God

Written by Msgr. Ronald Beshara, S.T.L., J.C.L.
Daily we are immersed in the routine of living - from reading the alarm clock to looking at a brilliant sunset, from rushing to a meeting to dining with the family. Yet life's routines often make us spectators yearning for life rather than participants celebrating life.

Life is more than meaningless routine; it is an experience of seeing. Life is a vision of our becoming, a journey toward? God, the Mystery-Presence. Yet how do we illumine the eyes to see beyond the things and people seen? Syriac Maronite spirituality responds with a vision of life. For a Maronite Christian daily living includes awakening to mystery, feeling wonder and experiencing awe in the world we seen and live. Stating it simply, the believer seeks and finds the extraordinary in the ordinary of daily life.

The Maronite is never too busy "doing" to notice LIFE, for creation is more than the surface of things seen and experienced. Life is a divine gift and vocation. It is a manifestation of divine love, a celebration of divine life and encounter with divine presence.

For a Maronite to living our vocation is a process of being single-minded on the Lord. St. Ephrem uses the expression "luminous eye", what this author refers to as in-seeing, that is viewing life from the perspective of its origin, identity and destiny, and that is divine. The incompleteness of daily living and the hunger for more call the searcher to see in and through his daily living, and to take notice of his being in the presence of God in creation and people. Fr. Teillard de Chardin put it this way: ”While people see themselves as human beings with glimpses of divine experience; they are divine beings with glimpses of human experience.” And in another place he suggests inner vision when he says: "By virtue of the creation, and still more of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see."

The Maronite hallmark of a spiritually awakened person is luminous vision. This vision creates a mindfulness about life as a birthing process of divinization. For a Maronite Christian it is not enough to provide a living, but to live through the providing in communion with God who is the center of all that is. Such a life perspective heightens awareness of the sacredness of life, and deepens appreciation for the dignity of every living thing as a reflection of God.

Msgr Seely Beggiani, Maronite scholar, expresses it this way. Creation is made (origin) in the image of Christ (identity), and grows in the likeness of Christ (destiny) who is Mystery-Presence. Human beings evolve on the journey toward self-completion by "living fully". As St. Ireneus noted: "The glory of God is man fully alive." In a Maronite sense, when we do what we do with luminous vision we see beyond the ordinariness of life and thereby, mindfully encounter God. At the same time, the Maronite voice prophetically advocates for and contributes to the ultimate fulfillment of the universe, which is Christ-centered. In a sense, this becoming - the reaching to fullest potential of each person, is the living out of our vocation.

This prophetic advocacy – this giving witness, handing on the good news, gives birth to the whole notion of vocation. For since we come from God, look like God and return to God, then each of us has a divine call. Moreover, our mission, purpose and vision on earth are to fulfill this vocation. Hence as each human being, on the life-journey, becomes aware, discovers and breaks-through to the divine in our midst, he/she is living out his/her divine vocation. (more to come)