Marriage or Friendship?

by His Excellency, Bishop Gregory J. Mansour

No one should be against true friendship, whether friends are of the same sex or opposite sexes. Friendships are good, and they can be very deep and fulfilling. The ideal of friendship as a union of hearts and minds in which each one loves the other’s good as his or her own is beautifully exemplified in the friendship of David and Jonathan: “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1). Likewise, friendship was hardly absent from the life of our Lord. Jesus taught the value of ultimate sacrifice in terms of friendship (John 15:13); he wept over the death of his dear friend Lazarus (John 11:35); revealed his inner most self to his Apostles in order to transform them from servants into friends (John 15:15); brought Peter, James, and John closer to him than the others (Mt 17,1; Mk 9,2 Mark 5:35-43); and was closest of all to the ‘Beloved Disciple’, who reclined on his chest at the last supper (John 13:23).
Friendship, however, must not be confused with marriage.
Listern here to more of this reflection. 


Radiating His Light at the Institute of Religious Life Meeting - Boston

Consecrated men and women, and laity at IRL Boston.

 (C) Fr. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem., is the National Director
of the Institute on Religious Life,
(L) Michael Wick, Excecutive Director
By Sr. Therese Maria Touma
On Saturday  November 11th we attended the Institute of Religious Life (IRL) Regional Meeting at the Basilica of Perpetual Help, Boston, M.A.  This year’s meeting was titled, Sacred Liturgy and the Consecrated Life. The day of recollection included three spiritual talks, Divine Liturgy, adoration and benediction.  

One of the talks titled The Holy Mysteries: the Eucharist as the Radiant Light for the Consecrated Life was presented by Sister Marla Marie. In her reflective presentation, Sister highlighted the beauty of our Maronite Church within the Easter Catholic Churches, sharing some of our Maronite spirituality, theology, icons and music utilizing power point slides for illustrations. 

The second part of Sister Marla Marie’s presentation explained the Holy Mysteries by taking three rituals in the Divine Liturgy and relating them to the life of the consecrated persons.  Sister discussed the ritual of the Lighting, the symbolism of Incensing, and the prayer of the Transfer of Offerings. 
Sister Marla Marie referenced Church Documents such as Vita Consecrata (Consecrated Life) to help emphasize her point of how we can enter more deeply into the Mystery of the Eucharist, so that it can become who we are to others.

Some highlights that stood out for me were the beautiful prayers that were shared visually and vocally from the Divine Liturgy, while Syriac music played in the background.  Another highlight was the symbolism of the incense used in the Liturgy. We as Religious are to be that pleasing aroma ascending to God as we offer up our daily prayer, worship and sacrifices. As consecrated men and women, we are called to lay down our life as a living incense.

In reference to the prayer of the Transfer of Offerings, Sister Marla Marie shared that we are model Mary’s receptivity in receiving The Word, Jesus in her heart and body.  We are to receive Jesus into ourselves so that we can be fruitful in radiating his light to others.

The Institute on Religious Life (IRL) promotes and supports the growth, development, and renewal of the consecrated life—particularly vowed religious life—as a gift to the Church and an evangelical witness to the world. We include and engage bishops, clergy, religious, consecrated and lay faithful in a collaborative apostolate of prayer and service, guided by the magisterial teachings and rich heritage of the Church. More information at: www.religiouslife.com


Interview of Bishop Gregory on the Patriarch's Visit

Interview of His Excellency Bishop Gregory J. Mansour on the recent visit to the US of His Beatitude, Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai. 


‘Desiring His Light’ – Reflecting on My Retreat

By Sister Therese Maria Touma, Maronite Servant Novice
I have just concluded my six day silent retreat. The theme of this year’s retreat was “Desiring His Light” and under the direction of Mother Marla Marie, I was given online conferences by the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. on selected Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This was a blessed time for me to receive new graces:  to thank the Lord for great things He has done in my life and will continue to do, to progress in self-knowledge, and just be still and know that the Lord is here with me, loving me, in His Word, in the Eucharist, in the Mystery of Penance and in the beautiful nature surrounding me (here in Dighton).
I enjoyed this precious time of retreat, and through spending more time with the Holy Scriptures, my desire to live Jesus’ light and beatitudes, and to love Him whole heartedly have intensified. In listening to the invaluable conferences I was enlightened in many ways. In particular, I came to appreciate more deeply how my religious vocation is not a gift just for myself and for my own holiness but for the salvation and sanctification of others. I am called by God to be a channel of grace, to reach out to others by using my gifts and talents to build up His Kingdom of love here and now. I am to be a witness of Christ’s love, mercy, healing and joy, and to put others in direct contact with His warmth and light.  What an awesome privilege and responsibility!
As Maronite Servants of Christ the Light we take six to eight days for silent retreat each year, and monthly we have recollection days (we call them Hermit Days) where the sisters spend the day in solitude and prayerful reflection following an annual theme. Overall my days of retreat were well-balanced and structured with scheduled conferences, meditations on Scripture, reflective walks, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, spiritual direction and sharing, daily Divine Liturgy and Divine Praises, fasting, video clips on the life of Christ, and creative art.   I am grateful for all the time, love, and attention Mother Marla Marie put into preparing and facilitating this retreat for me. May I with the grace of God generously live out the fruits of this retreat.