Monastery Moves

Father William Salmon and Sr. Marla Marie in Saint Maron's Chapel of the monastery.

By Sr. Marla Marie
In September of 2008, this blog featured my temporary monastery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts were I was hosted by the Roman Catholic congregation, the Daughters of Saint Paul. My stay in their furnished guest house concluded this month, and I am grateful to the Sisters for their generous hospitality. God bless the Pauline Sisters for the many kindnesses and support they shared with me.
My next move has taken me to the Roman Catholic parish of Immaculate Conception in Weymouth, a short trip south of Boston. Father William Salmon, pastor, has welcomed me to the convent on the parish campus. Fr. Bill has a great esteem for the Church of the East, and is pleased to have my presence there. I am grateful to Father and the parish for their charity.

Join me in prayer to St. Joseph and our Maronite Saints that God will soon lead me to a permanent home to call “Mother of the Light Monastery”. The plan of the Eparchy is that the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light establish a residence in the eastern part of Massachusetts nearby seven of our Maronite parishes. Please help me to spread the word about this important need.


Liturgy and Prayer

“Liturgy and Prayer” is the third pastoral letter of Bishop Gregory J. Mansour, of the Eparchy of Saint Maron. This letter offers good thoughts for reflection and meditation to help deepen your life of prayer. Here are a few selections from the letter which can be downloaded from the Eparchy’s website.

“Whether we pray, alone or with others, the demands of a loving God always have claim over us. The fourth century Syriac writer, Aphrahat, in his Demonstration on Prayer says:
‘Purity of heart constitutes prayer more than do all the prayers that are uttered aloud, and silence to a mind that is sincere is better than the loud voice of someone crying out."
We can define prayer as conversation with a loving God. The purpose of prayer is to praise, adore, thank and petition God, and to deepen our union with Christ and the Church. However, due to our imperfect human nature, prayer also means repentance and conversion. Thus the goal of all liturgy, like that of all prayer, is conversion. The Greek word for conversion is metanoia (μετάνοια) meaning, turning towards God. This includes contrition, openness to correction, listening to God, and being pruned by Him so that our relationship with Him can grow deeper and more fruitful, as the "branches from the vine” (Jn 15:2)."
"The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council asked that our worship be“active, conscious and fruitful.”The more we learn about and appreciate liturgy, the more active and fruitful will be our prayer. Saint Jerome, the fourth century Scripture scholar, said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”Since liturgy is based on and springs from the Scriptures, we can also add that ignorance of the Church's liturgy is also ignorance of Christ for it is our way of meeting Christ and doing what He asked at the Last Supper when He said, “Do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19). "
"Prayer is Marian. She received the Word, made Him part of her life, and gave Him to others as a gift. She inspires us to do the same. Her life is prayer: "May it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38) she said, even before our Lord at Gethsemane.”


“Why this waste?” (John 12:5-7)

This excerpt is taken from the Apostolic Constitution on Consecrated Life by Pope John Paul II, 1996.

104. Many people today are puzzled and ask: What is the point of the consecrated life? Why embrace this kind of life, when there are so many urgent needs in the areas of charity and of evangelization itself, to which one can respond even without assuming the particular commitments of the consecrated life? Is the consecrated life not a kind of "waste" of human energies which might be used more efficiently for a greater good, for the benefit of humanity and the Church?
These questions are asked more frequently in our day, as a consequence of a utilitarian and technocratic culture which is inclined to assess the importance of things and even of people in relation to their immediate "usefulness". But such questions have always existed, as is eloquently demonstrated by the Gospel episode of the anointing at Bethany: "Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment" (Jn 12:3). When Judas, using the needs of the poor as an excuse, complained about such waste, Jesus replied: "Let her alone!" (Jn 12:7).This is the perennially valid response to the question which many people, even in good faith, are asking about the relevance of the consecrated life: Could one not invest one's life in a more efficient and reasonable way for the betterment of society? This is how Jesus replies: "Let her alone!"
Those who have been given the priceless gift of following the Lord Jesus more closely consider it obvious that he can and must be loved with an undivided heart, that one can devote to him one's whole life, and not merely certain actions or occasional moments or activities. The precious ointment poured out as a pure act of love, and thus transcending all "utilitarian" considerations, is a sign of unbounded generosity, as expressed in a life spent in loving and serving the Lord, in order to devote oneself to his person and his Mystical Body. From such a life "poured out" without reserve there spreads a fragrance which fills the whole house. The house of God, the Church, today no less than in the past, is adorned and enriched by the presence of the consecrated life.
What in people's eyes can seem a waste is, for the individuals captivated in the depths of their heart by the beauty and goodness of the Lord, an obvious response of love, a joyful expression of gratitude for having been admitted in a unique way to the knowledge of the Son and to a sharing in his divine mission in the world …
106. To you, young people, I say: if you hear the Lord's call, do not reject it! Dare to become part of the great movements of holiness which renowned saints have launched in their following of Christ. Cultivate the ideals proper to your age, but readily accept God's plan for you if he invites you to seek holiness in the consecrated life. Admire all God's works in the world, but be ready to fix your eyes on the things destined never to pass away.”


Massabki Brothers, Pray for Us

By Tracy Doueiry
Louis Ragy first heard about the story of the three Blessed Massabki Brothers in 2006 after becoming a Board member of the NAM (National Apostolate of Maronites), the official lay apostolate of the Maronite Church in the United States. After being asked to lead a NAM follow-up project on their story, Ragy traveled to Lebanon and met with Bishop Guy Noujaim, who is in charge of the Brothers’ canonization. He also met with other Maronite figures and informed them of the NAM project to spread the Bl. Massabki Brother’s story.

Before returning to his home in Atlanta, Ragy visited his family’s gravesite in Lebanon to pray. “As I was leaving the place, my eyes caught the gravesite of the Massabki family along with statues of the three brothers directly facing my grandparents’ grave. I was filled with shock and happiness; I took it as a sign from God,” Ragy said.
Ragy currently leads a NAM project to spread the story of the Bl. Massabki Brothers throughout the Maronite churches in the United States by publishing a book and prayer cards on their life and martyrdom.

Three devout Maronite brothers, Francis, Abdel Mohti and Rafael Massabki, lived in Damascus, Syria during the nineteenth century. Born of a family known for its piety, nobility and generosity, the Massabki brothers lived a life impregnated with a deep Maronite faith and love of God.
In 1860, fear roamed the streets of Damascus as the men of Ahmed Pasha, the ruler of Syria, marked out crosses and falsely accused the “children of the Christians” with the act. As Muslims grew distasteful, they demanded their ruler to restore public peace and put an end to the chaos. Pasha gave orders to spread fire in Christian communities and imprison Christian men. As fire spread, his men rampaged between houses, massacring Christians and stealing their goods.

Fearing the furor and ferocity of the massacres, the three Massabki brothers headed to the Franciscan convent to take refuge. As Francis kneeled before the statue of the Sorrowful Mother and prayed, Pasha’s men infiltrated the scene and recognized him alone in the church. They advanced towards him and said, “We have come to save you, your brothers and your family on the condition that you deny your faith and convert to Islam.” Francis responded saying, “I do not fear those who can kill the body and no one can make me deny my Christian faith. I am a Maronite Christian and on the faith of Christ, I will die.” Francis began reciting a prayer and at that moment, they massacred him with their swords and hatchets.
Abdel Mohti ran to take refuge near his brother, Raphael, but was seized at the church’s door and asked to deny his faith as well. He proclaimed, “I am a Christian. Kill me, I am ready.” He was immediately martyred the same way as his brother, Francis.

Once Pasha’s men found Raphael hiding in a corner at the church, they also propositioned him with their demand. Raphael fell to his knees and began appealing to the Virgin Mary. He was beheaded and trampled in the church.

Preferring death over denying their faith in Christ, the three Massabki brothers were crowned martyrs and beatified October 7, 1926 by Pope Pius XI. Their feast day is celebrated on July 10.

“We ask everyone to help us spread the Bl. Massabki Brothers’ story and join us in prayer so a miracle will take place through their intercession, allowing us to move a step forward on the road to their Sainthood,” Ragy petitioned.

Pictured: Sr. Marla Marie, Bishop Guy Noujaim, Louis Ragy