Serving at St. Anthony of Padua Food Pantry, New Bedford

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light have been facilitating and conducting weekly Bible sharing for the people that visit the Food Pantry at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in New Bedford, MA.  We were invited by the pastor, Fr. Edward Murphy to facilitate the sharing every Thursday. The participants are not only fed physically, but spiritually as well.   The sharing is focused on the daily Gospel readings, which have been from the Gospel of St. John during the Easter season. 

The scripture is proclaimed and the participants are given time to think about how it applies to their lives through a guided meditation led by Sr. Therese Maria and then opened for sharing.  Our opportunity to serve in this spiritual work of mercy has been a blessing. Their sharing has been a source of hope and encouragement to all those present.   Please keep this work of mercy and those who attend in your prayers.       


Evening Prayer and Supper - Dartmouth

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light hosted its monthly Ramsho Prayer and Supper on April 12 at the Mother of Light Convent inviting our wider Catholic community, many of whom are avid supporters, benefactors and volunteers to our mission from parishes here in Dartmouth, among them St. Julie Billiart and St. Mary’s.
We shared our Maronite spirituality expressed so beautifully in our Evening Prayer (Ramsho), which is includes praying of the Psalms and the Hoosoyo, unique to our Syriac Tradition and central to our Maronite biblical interpretation.
Also joining us were several clergy, namely, Fr. Richard Roy, Pastor of St. Julie Billiart, Fr. Jack Morrison, Pastor of Our Lady of Purgatory Maronite Church and Chorbishop Joseph Kaddo, Pastor of St. Anthony of the Desert Maronite Church.  


Opening the Eyes of Our Heart and Mind

By: Father Francois Beyrouti 
414 years ago, in the year 1601, the Italian artist Caravaggio did a painting of today’s
Gospel text. Although this is a very powerful and famous painting Caravaggio, as did many other artists, got something very important wrong. In Caravaggio’s painting Saint Thomas actually puts his finger tip into the open side of Jesus. However, the Gospel of John does not say that Saint Thomas touched Jesus.

In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples but Saint Thomas was not there. When he returns they tell him “we have seen the Lord.” (John 20:25a) Saint Thomas tells them “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25b)

Jesus appears a second time and tells Saint Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” (John 20:27 NAB.) Immediately Saint Thomas answers “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

What Caravaggio and so many others overlook is that Jesus invites Saint Thomas to touch his wounds but Thomas does not. He simply sees and believes. This theme of seeing and believing is repeated over ten times in the Gospel of John. In chapter one Jesus tells Nathanael: “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” (John 1:50. See also: John 4:48, 6:30, 6:36, 6:40, 11:40, 11:45, 20:25, 20:29, 21:24).

Jesus also tells the crowd in John 6: “This is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

Why is Caravaggio’s mistake an important one?

Sometimes we want God to impress us, sometimes we tell God what we need him to do for us, and sometimes we put conditions on believing in Him. In all these situations God invites us to deepen our journey of faith by seeing and believing. We sometimes see with our eyes. But more important sometimes we see more by closing our eyes and opening the eyes of our heart and mind.

At times we need to keep our eyes wide open, like when we are driving. A good driver keeps his or her eyes on the road. While driving it does not help to try to see more with your eyes closed. If you do this you will get in a car accident and you can’t tell the police officer that the priest told us that we can see more with our eyes closed.

Other than when you are in your car, think of the many ways that you have seen more with your eyes closed. When you look at your children, brothers, sisters, or friends, do you see more than what you can see with your physical eyes? Even in young children, we can see exceptional talents of logic, creativity, humor, and a multitude of other gifts. We can see what is there and we can see how if these gifts are developed they will grow to exceptional levels.

In a similar way, every day Jesus gives us opportunities to see and believe many things that are not immediately obvious. It is important to ask ourselves why we believe and what we need to believe more. Can you identify moments in your spiritual journey when you first believed?

For the disciples and the early Christian community, the resurrection changed everything. The disciples were confused and disappointed when Jesus died. Their faith disappeared because they thought Jesus was going to save them from something in this world, whereas Jesus wanted to save them and us from sin and death.

It was only when he appeared to them that they saw and believed. They did not only see Jesus physically. They saw his power over death and they saw what his resurrection meant for their life. Our spiritual journey is very much like that, we need to sometimes keep our eyes open to see the blessings that God has put in our life, but more often we need to see beyond what our physical eyes can see.

The problem with Caravaggio and other painters is that it looks like Saint Thomas only believed when he touched physically. The painting looks like Saint Thomas is performing a medical examination, but Saint Thomas did not believe because he saw and touched the physical body of Jesus. He believed because he saw the risen Lord and this marked the beginning of his life of faith.

Jesus told his disciples and Jesus tells us: “Peace be with you.” Jesus first gives us temporary peace when our hearts are full of questions and Jesus gives us permanent peace when we go beyond the physical to see and believe.

Saint Thomas did not believe because he touched but because he saw. Jesus has given us much to see by rising from the dead. He invites us to see more and to believe more and ironically reminds us when we believe more we actually end up seeing more.
Copyright © 2015 Father Francois Beyrouti, All rights reserved. 


New Sunday

On Sunday, April 12, the Maronite Church commemorates ‘New Sunday’, which is the eighth day of the Church’s celebration of the Resurrection. Also, in the Roman Catholic calendar it is the feast of Divine Mercy.

The following is an explanation of the meaning of ‘New Sunday’ taken from the Maronite Divine Office.

“The first week of the Season of the Resurrection, the week of Hawareyeen, has come to a conclusion. During this week we have seen the various appearances of the Lord to Peter and Mary Magdalene, seven disciples at the sea of Tiberias, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the disciples gathered together in the Upper Room. Now the appearances of the Lord are over. In overcoming the hesitation of Thomas, the Lord revealed to the Apostles the truth of the Resurrection. Christ has Risen, truly Risen!

New Sunday once and for all puts an end to the old way of looking at the Lord. He is no longer revealed in the flesh (as the disciples experienced Him during His life with them); nor in glory (as Thomas did). From now on, He is revealed in Spirit, through the experience of faith and in the Mysteries (Sacraments). Only in the Spirit is there a sharing in His Mystery of Redemption. His Word is crystal clear and resounds for all ages and generations:

‘You have come to believe because you saw me. Blessed are they

 who have not seen and have believed’ (Jn 20:29).”


A Blessed and Glorious Feast of the Resurrection

We wish our dear family and friends a joyous and blessed Easter in this Glorious Season of the Christ’s Resurrection. Be assured of our daily prayers. May the radiant light of Christ fill you and your families with great hope, peace and love. We are pictured at our convent celebrating an Easter Lunch with friends of our community, Therese Abouzeid and the Chedid family from Our Lady of Purgatory Church, New Bedford, M.A.

Easter Monday Divine Liturgy in our chapel with Father Nick.  We
prayed for you.


Explanation of Great Friday of the Crucifixion

The Church today celebrates the great and wondrous mystery of Christ’s death upon the cross. Jesus Christ is our new passover who gives us his body and blood as our spiritual food and drink. He replaces the bread and wine of the paschal meal with his very body and blood.
The paschal lamb of the old covenant he abolishes, and in its place he offers himself as both priest and victim and thus inaugurates the new covenant in his own blood.
As John the Baptist proclaims, he is truly “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And as St. Paul says, “Christ our passover has been sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast.”
The Divine Mysteries are not celebrated today, instead the pre-sanctified liturgy of the Anaphora of the Signing of the Chalice is used. The prayers of this anaphora are among the most ancient of the Syriac Church. Holy Communion is distributed during the pre-sanctified liturgy from the Mysteries consecrated yesterday.
In addition to the celebration of the pre-sanctified liturgy the Church also recalls the mystery of the cross by the rite of adoration of the cross and the burial of the Lord.
The cross is the sign of the Lord’s sacrifice and death, and yet it is also the beacon of light and symbol of hope and victory.
The whole earth has been enlightened by the light of the cross, and the darkness of ignorance has been turned back.
As we adore the cross and recall the burial of the Lord we call out: O Lord, we worship your cross, for it is our resurrection and renewal.
O Christ crucified for us, have mercy on us.

For us the Son of Man suffered and died hanging on a cross.
He sent his spirit to God, the Master of the universe.
The rocks split and the tombs opened;
the entire world was afflicted.
The heart poured water and blood for the life of mankind.
Cross of the Savior,
teach me of your power.
Help me to understand why everyone prostrates
before your majesty.
I became the altar at the summit of Golgotha.
On me the Son of almighty God was crucified.
From him flowed water and blood for the forgiveness of mankind.
The Church sings the glory of the cross for ever.

Taken from the Maronite Divine Office (Ramsho) for Great Friday of the Crucifixion

Maronite Icon: The Crucifixion
The Lord on the cross is dressed with the royal tunic, raising his head like a cub who sleeps with open eyes. His cross is erected on Adam's skull. His Mother looks at him and the Beloved One bows his head. The eclipsed sun and moon symbolize the cosmic presence in this parousia scene. This iconographical type was dominant to the ninth century.