I Am Ready Lord - Vocation Discernment

By Rebecca Chedid
"Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." (Matthew 14: 27)
This was meant to be my big year.  As a PhD candidate, I was going to present my research study at the largest occupational therapy conference in the world in Baltimore Maryland! Little did I know that God had other plans for me too. While planning my trip to the US from Sydney, Australia, where I live, I felt the Holy Spirit giving me continuous signs to visit the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.
I had been in touch with Mother Marla Marie for a few months prior and I thought this would be a great opportunity. Many questions came to mind. What should I expect? What do I bring with me? Is God calling me to religious life? I arrived a few days before Hosanna Sunday and spent Passion Week and Easter with the Sisters.
Before I arrived to the convent, I prayed, "I am ready Lord for whatever you want from me. I am ready." Since the first dinner with the Sisters, I felt Jesus in the midst. It felt like home. In the twelve days I spent with the Sisters, I was moved by their great love for Our Lord and the Maronite parishes that they serve. I saw how authentic they were in preserving the Maronite traditions and liturgies and in living their vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. I also joined them in at recreations playing yahtzee, pictionary, going on walks, singing, and watching The Sound of Music.
The Sisters lead a balanced life of prayer, service, study and recreation. So I joined the Sisters in their prayers and fast, especially during Passion Week. This allowed me to delve deeper into my spiritual journey and to share in the Lord's passion and resurrection.  God showered me with an abundance of blessings during the time I spent there. I felt his immense love for me in every moment.
I encourage young women to "come and see," to be open to God's will in their lives.
As Mother Marla Marie explained to me, God speaks through the silence of our hearts and through prayer. Even if you do not think that religious life is your calling , still come and visit the Sisters for some time. You will discover how much God loves you all over again. You will be able to go deeper in your spiritual journey.
I continue to pray for more vocations to religious life and especially to the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.


Arrival In Port!

+Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus

Our Church in Damascus celebrated the evening of Palm Sunday liturgy.  The arrival at Port on the boat of the Church traveling in time to Lent, arriving at Holy Week, a haven of salvation.
The faithful gather in front of the closed door of the church, lighted lamps in hand as Wise Virgins (Mt.25 1-13) awaiting the Bridegroom. The door of the church is struck three times before it is open to let in the faithful of the Paschal Lamb who will live the sufferings of Holy Week which culminate in the Empty Tomb.
This holy week was introduced by the murder of Father Franz Homs in the fourth year of war and violence.
Shells raining down on our neighborhoods, schools closed, we can not give an account of the victims. We are abandoned to Providence.
This small Syrian people, so kind, generous and patient, become accustom to suffering and die in silence.  It is in this spirit that we live Holy Week and Easter holidays, knowing that the Way of the Cross that has marked our lives for three years, accompanies the fourth year … the end of the tunnel is invisible.
At the opening of the door of the Church the congregation implores:
“O Lord, Gate of Mercy, open to those who knock and ask your saving grace, bring us into the light of your kingdom, we are the children of your Church come to our port of welcome, our lamps lit to anchor at your house. ”
Our eyes fixed on the Risen Jesus Christ, haven of peace; we entrust ourselves to Our Lady of Martyrs.
Easter 2014.
+Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus


Lazarus Saturday

Synaxarion – Lazarus Saturday
(Taken from the Maronite Divine Praises)

As the season of Great Lent draws to a close the Church turns to the person of Lazarus and the story of his resurrection from the dead. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha and lived in the town of Bethany. Lazarus and his sisters were friends of Jesus and always offered him hospitality when he was in the area.
The sickness and death of Lazarus is the occasion for Christ to perform a miracle which would clearly show his messianic power. As a result of this miracle God’s son would be glorified and his power over death would be manifested.
This miracle is a crowning of all the other miracles of Christ for it reminds us as we prepare to follow Christ up to Jerusalem, where he will suffer and be crucified, that death has no power over him, the Lord and giver and life. Lazarus Saturday is thus clearly meant to console and strengthen us and arouse in us the same faith that Jesus called forth from Martha:
                  “I am the resurrection and the life;
                  whoever believes in me,
                  though he should die, will come to life;
                  and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die.
                  Do you believe this?”
Even as we face the death of Christ on the cross we are asked to profess our faith in him who will rise to glory on Easter morning.
Lazarus is also a reminder for us that we will not suffer eternal death if we are faithful to him, but rather, we will rise to eternal life in the Lord. Death, for Christ’s faithful, no longer is to be feared, it has no power over us.


Children’s Catechesis - Worcester, M.A.

By Natalie Salameh 

On Saturday, March 29, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light offered a retreat day for the children of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Worcester, M.A. The focus of the day’s retreat was on the sacrificial love of God as seen in Passion Week, beginning with Hosanna Sunday, Thursday of the Mysteries, Great Friday and culminating on the Glorious Resurrection. 

The children were shown an animated version of the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, beginning with Jesus washing the feet of his apostles. Later on in a small group bible catechesis, they learned our Maronite tradition of the priest washing the feet on the Thursday of the Mysteries as a reminder to us of Jesus’ lesson to His apostles – that we must serve one another with love.

The Sisters explained to the children that the Friday of Passion Week is called Great Friday of the Crucifixion and how much Jesus endured to set us free from the darkness of sin and selfishness. It was the greatest act of sacrificial love! The children were then asked by the Sisters to reflect on how they can best imitate Jesus in His sacrificial love for us.

Of course, to see Jesus suffer so much for our sake is sad, and the children were definitely moved by this part of Jesus’ passion, but we are always hopeful! After the scorn of Great Friday, comes the glorious morn of Resurrection Sunday. The Sisters explained to the children that by Jesus’ resurrection, He triumphed over sin and death forever, and so have we. As Jesus rose from the dead, so too will we rise with Him.

The children were able to meditate more on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, as
Fr. Gaby Hoyek, pastor, led the children in a prayerful meditation on the Stations of the Cross.
The children were then able to enjoy craft time, where they all decorated their own crosses to remind them of God’s great love for them.

The day finished with Fr. Gaby celebrating the Saturday Vigil Liturgy during which the children participated and assisted as altar servers, transferring the gifts, singing and reading the intercessions. Fr. Gaby and Fr. David George blessed the crosses that the children decorated at the end of the Liturgy.

For those interested in holding a similar retreat day at their Maronite Parish, please contact the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light by email sister@maroniteservants.org.