The Three Brothers

Last week we were delighted with a visit to our Monastery from Eric Hinojosa of Corpus Christi Watershed productions. Eric is a filmmaker working on a movie of the Blessed Massabki brothers (see our blog feature). We wish him well in his endeavors. Eric has also offered to make a complimentary video promoting the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. The information below is taken from Eric’s promotional brochure highlighting the project.

During the massacres of 1860 in Syria and Lebanon, many Christians were murdered for their faith and because of sectarian tensions. Among them were the three Massabki brothers from Damascus, who were martyred there along with the Franciscan monks. They were all beatified during a ceremony in Rome entitled “The Martyrs of Damascus.”

Corpus Christi Watershed is producing a short film about the three Massabki brothers, Abd al-Kader and the events of 1860. Helmed by NYU French Studies and Film alumnus Eric Hinojosa, the project is intended to tell the story of sanctity and heroism and to raise awareness about these real-life martyrs. The film will be in English with optional subtitles. Our intention is to shoot the short film in Lebanon and to show it to American audiences. This will, God willing, increase devotion to the Massabki brothers and aid in raising funds for a feature film to share their story with many faithful.

Never before has there been such a need for a film about Christians in the Middle East. The very part of the world from which our Lord came has seen a massive exodus of Christians in recent years. This film will be an important aid in making it known to Americans that there are Christians in the Middle East and that they need our support and prayers.

The fact that the tale includes acts of heroism on the parts of both Christians and Muslims will aid in the “inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims” on which, according to Pope Benedict XVI, “a large part of our future depends.”

“The Massabki brothers of 1860 Damascus are a forgotten but fascinating story of three brothers who cherished their Maronite Catholic faith. Emir Abd el-Kaer and the Massabkis are two sides of one story describing what noble men do in the midst of unrestrained violence and hatred. Their story begs to be written today when those who espouse violent jihad have no idea of what the great inner struggle for justice and respect for all really means…the Massabki brothers and Emir Abd el-Kader did.”
~ + Bishop Gregory Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn

“I’m very excited to see this project become reality because the Massabkis are the patrons of NAM, and the organization is based on people who have given their time and life to Christ. These men literally gave their life to Christ. You don’t have to be a priest or religious to give your life to God, and the Massabkis show us that.”
~ Michael Naber, Executive Director, National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM)

“The three Massabki brothers, who were very successful businessmen and traders, are a great example of always following the most important treasure ever: Jesus. Their story is an example and a road map for my life.”
~ Louis J. Ragy, NAM Board Member in charge of the Massabki Canonization

Maronite Servants postulants, Tresa and Therese are filmed by Eric for our promo video.


Maronite Servants - Radiate His Light

On Thursday, February 11th, the Maronite Servants hosted a Ramsho (Maronite evening prayer) and supper at the Mother of the Light Monastery in Weymouth.  Friends joined in prayer, fellowship and a hearty supper.
On Sunday, February 13th, the Maronite Servants attended Divine Liturgy at St. Anthony of the Desert in Fall River, MA.  We were able to spend some time with Monsignor Kaddo, Abouna Nadeem and the parishioners at their social following the Divine Liturgy.    

To begin the Season of Great Lent with Divine Liturgy and the distribution of ashes, the Maronite Servants traveled to Lawrence, MA to be with the parishioners at St. Anthony of the Dessert.
In this photo is Monsignor Peter Azar, pastor, Sister Marla Marie, postulants Therese and Tresa, following Divine Liturgy of Ash Monday.  


Saint Maron, What it Means to be Maronite, and the Mission of Lebanon

We feature excerpts from:  The 25th letter of His Eminence and Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardial Sfeir.  On the Occasion of the 1600th Jubilee of the passing of Saint Maron.  Full text of this letter can be found at the Eparchy website: stmaron.org 
As the year 2010 coincides with the passing of one thousand six hundred years since the death of Saint Maron the hermit, priest, and father of our Maronite Church described as “the gilding in the choir of the divine saints,” we decided, with the synod of our bishops, to declare this year as a Jubilee Year starting on the 9th of February, 2010 the feast day of our father Saint Maron and ending on the 2nd of March, 2011, the feast day of Saint John Maron the first Patriarch, under the title of “Saint Maron – a testimony of faith and a spiritual journey of a people.”

This Jubilee Year aims to pray, think, repent, go back into history, meditate on it, learn lessons, revive and relive our Maronite faith that will allow us to draw a new strategy for our Church in the third millennium. 
By celebrating the Jubilee, our Maronite Church responds to three themes:  Time as the dimension for God, Jubilee as a year consecrated to the Lord and his Saints, and the recent Maronite Patriarchal Assembly and Synod as one stage among others within the history of our Church, “because the Church lives only as a Synod.”
Time in Christianity is the work of God in the act of incarnation.  It came about by the entrance of God, via incarnation, into the history of men.  Eternity penetrated time:  “Is there an achievement greater than that?”  This confirms “that time in Christianity occupies a primary place.”  It also confirms that Christianity is a religion rooted in history, as Teilhard de Chardin put it “God met the world through the Person of Jesus Christ.”  From the relation of God with time the notion of sanctifying time was generated; hence all time is consecrated to God: days, weeks, and years, because Jesus Christ is the Mater of time, and “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)


The Year of Saint Maron

(This letter of Bishop Robert Shaheen is reprinted from January 2010 Maronite Voice)

The year 2010 is very special to all of us who are in any way connected to our Maronite Church. His Beatitude Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir has declared 2010 the year of Saint Maron.

How are we going to observe the special occasion? The examinations of our roots are both spiritual and cultural. Maron had no idea that almost 2000 years after his death, he is being remembered far from the land of his birth. He was a hermit, who wanted to remain hidden in a life of prayers and meditation. He was a light shining in darkness and we know a light cannot remain hidden.

The Church that grew from his followers and his monastery became known throughout the area. He was a priest as well as a hermit. His holiness and miracles attracted many followers. For Saint Maron, everything was connected to God our Father, and God is connected to all things. Maron did not separate the physical and the spiritual world and he used the physical world to deepen his faith and spiritual experience with God. He lived his life in the open air exposed to the forces of nature such as: the sun, rain, hail and snow. He wanted to know God’s presence in all things. By transcending such elements, he felt intimate with the Heavenly Father. He freed himself from the physical world and entered a mystical relationship of love with God.

Our recent Maronite Synod reminded us that the Maronite Church is not an ethnic group nor is it a political party; rather, it is a church with all the same responsibilities to evangelize the world like any Catholic Church. From the beginning, the Maronites were a missionary group and this should not change with us. We must be the modern day apostles of Maron and spread the Faith wherever we are. It is laity as well as religious who must carry the message of Christ with all whom they come in contact. In our own lifetime, we realize that the hermitage of Annaya and the Holy Valley of Saints still give us witnesses to the Maronite virtues that exist today.
Let us plan now to celebrate the Year of Saint Maron with a fresh spirit and vitality that was shown by the early followers of this great Saint.

+ Bishop Robert Shaheen, D.D.
Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon




On the Feast day of the Presentation of Our Lord, Therese Touma and Tresa Van Heusen entered as the first postulants of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. Bishop Gregory J. Mansour offered the Divine Liturgy at the Mary, Mother of the Light Monastery in Weymouth Ma.  Concelebrating were Chorbishop Joseph Lahoud, Abouna Jack Morrison, Abouna Anthony Salim and Father William Salmon.
After the Liturgy, Bishop Gregory blessed the candidates and medals of Our Lady of Lebanon, and Sister Marla Marie presented them with the medal to be worn with their postulant uniform. 
"This is a blessed day for our new foundation and I give thanks to God for these vocations," said Sister Marla Marie who is praying that many more women will respond to the call to serve as a Maronite Servant

New Members for Maronite Servants
By Dawn Eden
Consecrated life in the Eparchy of Saint Maron marks a historic milestone this month as the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, the first-ever U.S. congregation of Maronite religious women, receive their first postulants.
Tresa Van Heusen of Atlanta and Therese Touma of Sydney, Australia, entered the Maronite Servants February 2, 2010 the Feast of the Presentation, at the congregation’s home, Mother of the Light Monastery in Weymouth, Mass., following Bishop Gregory Mansour’s celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
Founded by Sister Marla Marie Lucas in June 2008 at the request of Bishop Gregory, the Maronite Servants are “a real blessing for our Church,” Bishop Gregory told the Maronite Voice, adding that he is “amazed at how quickly the congregation has begun to take shape.
“My first and deepest thought” on the occasion of the postulants’ entrance “is gratitude to God and to the Virgin Mary,” Bishop Gregory said. “I could not imagined two better candidates than Therese and Tresa.
“My second thought is gratitude to Sister Marla Marie and all those who have supported and assisted her in this effort.”  (Read more of this article on our website MaroniteServants.org)

Friends and family celebrate with a feast day dinner.  On the right is Marie Van Heusen, Tresa's mother.