Here is a video Sister Therese Maria developed for her classes at Boston College. The following is the text explaining the video content and lesson.
The unique charism that I am highlighting in this reflective video is the centrality of the Cross and Resurrection, and our call to discipleship today, as viewed through our Maronite Catholic spirituality, music/icons and liturgy.
The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, as emphasized in the prayers of our Divine Liturgy are a source of “hope, joy, strength and salvation.” Each year in September, we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (and the beginning of the Season of the Glorious Cross) in our Liturgical cycle, and worship the life-giving cross with sacred hymns and psalms. To illustrate with an example, in the Gospel procession we sing the following scriptural words, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18) Another captivating excerpt taken from a hymn in the Liturgy of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross which expresses our adoration and confidence in the power of the Cross: “Now the Church in every place honors and adores your cross, for she has been saved from sin to inherit life on high…May the children of the Church find shelter and their strength in the shadow of your cross.” As visually seen in the icons throughout the video Jesus’ death is life-giving. It does not stop at the crucifixion. In our Maronite theology we eagerly await with joy Jesus’ victorious resurrection and prepare ourselves with prayer, sacrifices and good works for his second coming.
In addition, the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection for us is the “feast of all feasts” where we gladly celebrate Christ’s victory over death, sin and darkness, and praise him, proclaiming “Christ is risen! He is truly risen! In the prayer of forgiveness for the feast of the Glorious Resurrection we rejoice and cry out: “On Friday the King endured pain and was crucified, and today victory has been achieved by his resurrection! On Friday a lance pierced his side and today in his compassion the waters of Baptism flow! On Friday he was crowned with thorns, and today he has adorned his Church with a crown of splendor!” We believe as Maronites that Jesus Christ in his humanity and divinity was raised up by the power of God. The Resurrection of Jesus is seen as a great light, a source of reconciliation with the Father, and new life as children of God.
Connection between Maronite Icons & Discipleship Today
I chose to incorporate the Maronite Icons to accentuate both Jesus’ humanity and divinity, and I believe this is key in teaching the youth a balanced Christology; Christ is fully divine and fully human. I intentionally begin with a high Christology following the Maronite Liturgical cycle, at the Incarnation where the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is going to be the Mother of God, and then integrate this with a low Christology focusing on the life, healings, teachings, death and resurrection of the man Jesus of Nazareth. Specifically, I see the Icons of Jesus’ public ministry of teaching and healings (such as the parable of the Prodigal Son and the healing of the Hemorrhaging Woman) as an effective way of connecting the youth to the person of Jesus Christ, and to their own call to discipleship today. These visual Icons and the stories and lessons they convey have a powerful impact on the imagination, especially for young people who are on the whole visual learners.
My hope is that in viewing these icons and listening to the oud (traditional Arabic string instrument) playing in the background, the youth will reflectively enter into Jesus’ world of compassion, humility, and unconditional mercy, and grow in their desire to bring about positive change in this “messy” world. In essence, discipleship is following the radical way of Christ, in denying oneself (letting go of the ego) and taking on his humble mindset of living out his compassion (especially to those in need); to extend the just and hopeful reign of God. Purposefully, I inserted photos of service and mission, such as working in food pantries to show the reality of what discipleship could entail in living out the fruits (joy, love, light, dignity) of the Cross and Resurrection. Paradoxically, the cross, which appeared to be a sign of defeat over Jesus of Nazareth, actually reveals the emptiness of all oppressive power and social/political structures. On the other hand, the resurrection of Jesus reinforces the liberating reign of God among us today. My ultimate aim in this video presentation is to empower the youth to be instruments of Christ’s grace, in continuing Jesus’ liberating and healing work of redemption in our communities, by being disciples of solidarity, peace and hope; so urgently needed in our present world.