Blessed Hospitality - Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation

Some of the Sisters at the Dighton house. 
Shrine to Our Lady in the convent chapel.

Offering God praise and worship.

By Sister Therese Maria Touma

We are currently living in a convent in Dighton with the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation as a temporary arrangement while we await the completion of the renovations our convent in Dartmouth.  Due to the delays and the extensive renovations, we were not able to move in as was scheduled in June. However, on the upside a good amount of electrical and painting progress have been made recently.
Moreover, the Dominican Sisters we are staying with have so beautifully and graciously open their doors and hearts to us. They are an international community of religious sisters founded by a French women Blessed Marie Poussepin in the 17th century. Now, they are more than 3000 sisters present in 34 countries including Lebanon, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Today, the original inspiration of the foundress to serve in the parish, educate the youth and care for the sick and poor is kept alive in their various missionary works. “Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel.”  The Sisters are called to evangelize by their life in the schools, hospitals, different education centers,  pastoral works and missionary insertions into rural areas.
The Dominican Sisters have been in the U.S. for over 100 years. They are currently involved in healthcare staffing Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River and education teaching catechism in the parishes and to the poor in rural areas.

We thank God for the Sisters’ warm hospitality and generosity in housing us and making us feel right at home with their community. We thank them especially for their goodness in reaching out to us in our needs as we transition into our new home. Please keep the intentions of their community in your prayers.
Read more about the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation - USA. 


Father Suarez - "the beauty of the Maronite Liturgy"

By Father Carlos Suarez
I was first introduced to the Maronite liturgy during a visit to Most Holy Trinity Monastery in 2000. At the time I was an undergraduate student at Boston University and one of the religious brothers who staffed the Catholic Center brought a group of us to the monastery. That first visit was a profound experience for me, and I’ve continued to be drawn to visit the monastery over the years. There are three things which draw me, the setting, the community of monks, and the liturgy.

For those who aren’t familiar with Most Holy Trinity Monastery, it’s located in a rural part of central Massachusetts, surrounded by woods, and close to the Quabbin Reservoir. The serenity of the land itself is very conducive towards contemplation. There’s also something about the geography which makes it impossible to get cell phone reception near the monastery, and this extra blessing of being technologically disconnected from the outside world, further makes it easy to enter into prayer.

The community of monks that live at Most Holy Trinity Monastery are a great example of the simplicity and joy which are marks of a fruitful Christian life. They’re a constant reminder of how little is necessary for daily living, and of the rich spiritual rewards that come from such material detachment. Although they generally maintain silence, they’re still able to convey a great amount through simple gestures. The general atmosphere of silence also makes the occasional conversations with the monks all the more enjoyable. Spending time living in silence one comes to realize both how much of our daily conversation is superficial, and also how much God has to say to us when we give Him the space to speak.

The third thing which draws me back to Petersham, as opposed to other monasteries or retreat centers, is the beauty of the Maronite liturgy. As a Latin rite Catholic, I have a great appreciation for the liturgy I have grown with and been formed by. However, the Maronite liturgy also strikes a particular chord in my heart. The structure of each liturgical prayer really helps the participant to enter into the mysteries which are being celebrated. Certain parts of the liturgy such as the Qadeeshat in particular are very powerful because I find that the simple repetitive formula, the gestures and postures all help me enter into prayer. I find that the structure of the prayers also makes it easier to enter deeper into them and ponder the meaning of their words.

Of course the Maronite liturgy has the added blessing that when it’s said in Syriac, the words are as close as possible to the words our Lord spoke. This thought had often struck me during the many retreats I’ve made at the monastery, but I felt the full impact when I had the privilege of concelebrating the Divine Liturgy just a few weeks ago. As a priest I’ve said the words of consecration many times in English, and their power is immense, but to say them in Syriac, to come so close to the original words of our Lord, was a great blessing!

My experiences with the Maronite liturgy have helped me understand just how rich and diverse our Catholic Church is. I’ve come to appreciate how important it is to cultivate a knowledge and appreciation of both the Latin rite and the Eastern rites. To live as a Latin rite Catholic without appreciation of the Eastern rites, or to live as an Eastern rite Catholic without appreciation for the Latin rite, is truly to live with an imperfect understanding of the beauty of the universal Church. May each of us continue to come to a richer understanding of the Church and to love her with our whole heart.

(Father Suarez serves at St. Edith Stein parish in Brockton, MA.  Father was ordained in May 2011 for the Archdiocese of Boston. Read more about Father Suarez on Cardinal Sean's Blog)


A Few Highlights of the 48th NAM Convention - Philadelphia

By Sr. Therese Maria Touma

“One of the highlights for me during the week of the Convention was listening to Joumana Moudawar sing live at the concert on Thursday evening. In the lead up to NAM, I was thrilled to hear that Joumana had been invited from Lebanon to perform a selection of hymns, both in Arabic and English. It sure was more than just a performance and a show of her talent; it was prayer, joyful praise to our God and a delight to my heart to hear such beauty! Thank God for her awesome gift of music and generosity in the sharing of her talent.”

“I also enjoyed the informative and engaging conferences I attended throughout the convention. They included the following: ‘Discovering Our Faith of the Mountain’ presented by Fr. George El-Khalli and Deacon Lou Peter, ‘Theology on Tap’ with the Young Adults facilitated by Bishop Gregory Mansour, ‘Maronite Liturgical Music’ given by Fr. Geoffrey Abdallah, ‘Saints of Lebanon & Our Pursuit of Another Canonization: The Massabki Brothers’ given by Archbishop Samir Nassar & Mr. Louis Ragy.”


A Sight to Bee-hold !

By Sister Marla Marie
On our property in Dartmouth we have a small cottage in the back which has been neglected and is in need of desperate repair. I am guessing that it originally was a home for the estate’s servants. I had named it “St. Ann’s Hive”. In the cottage is a dusty old statue of Saint Ann, and also in there were 100,000 plus honey bees. I say "were" because last week the bees relocated with the help of Jeff Cook, a bee-keeper, and have been given a more appropriate home.

These honey bees have lived in the cottage for years, and have at times stung gardeners mowing too close. I would only venture within ten feet of the place since there were always hundreds of busy bees hovering around it.

Jeff enjoys the sweet hobby of bee-keeping and has stacks of hives in his backyard in nearby Dighton. It was an incredible site to bee-hold according to Jeff as he described opening up the inside walls of the house to expose the hive. He said that it was five feet long and several feet wide (see photos). Using a special vacuum he suctioned the bees into an enclosed box to transport them to his property.

We are grateful that these honey-bees have a new home, especially since this type of bee plays a key role in pollination. A bonus to the adventure are several jars of honey which we hope to serve to our guests.

Thanks to Jeff, I can now call the place “St. Ann’s Future Guest Cottage”.


The Eucharist (The Divine Liturgy)

A Comparison of the Maronite and Latin Divine Liturgy
Maronite Heritage Centre- By Fr. Anthony J. Salim
(The Maronite is listed first with the Latin in italics)

The Preparation of the Offerings takes place before the Service begins.
Preparation of the Offerings occurs after the homily.

All the West Syriac liturgies have a proper “Prayer of Forgiveness” called the Hoosoyo, which expresses the theme of the day and Service, and moves the worshiper to an attitude of repentance and openness to hear the Word of God.
No parallel to Hoosoyo.

Incense is prescribed at the Hoosoyo; for the Gospel, and for the Offerings before the Eucharistic Prayer. Incense is used on Sundays and Holy Days.

Lectionary, outlining Liturgical Year, is proper to the Maronite Tradition.
Lectionary, outlining Liturgical Year, is proper to the Latin Tradition

Two Readings from the New Testament.
Three Readings on Sundays: Old Testament, New Testament (non-Gospel) and Gospel

The Creed is always recited.
The Creed is recited on Sundays and Holy Days

The Gesture of Christ’s Peace is given BEFORE the Eucharistic Prayer begins.
Gesture of Peace is given right before Communion.

The Gesture of Peace involves folded hands.
The Gesture of Peace is generally a handshake

The Congregation remains standing from after the giving of peace until the Intercessions.
People kneel from the “Holy, Holy” until time for Communion.

The Eucharistic Prayer proclaims the Trinity in this order: Father (Preface), to the Son (Last Supper Narrative); and to the Spirit (Epiklesis).
The Eucharistic Prayer proclaims this order: Father (Preface); Spirit (Epiklesis), and Son (Last Supper Narrative).

The Epiklesis, or “Calling upon the Holy Spirit”, is more prominent in the Maronite Service in completing the sanctification of the Offerings.
The Epiklesis, of course, is present, but much more brief.

Holy Communion is given under both Species: Host dipped into the Precious Blood and received on the tongue (“intinction”).
Holy Communion can be given under both Species: Host in the hand or on the tongue and drinking from the Chalice.