Happy Feast of the Glorious Birth

(Hoosoyo – Morning Prayer (Safro) taken from the Divine Praises on the Feast of the Glorious Birth of Our Lord)
The Sisters are remembering you in prayer at the manger.

Son of God,
Word and image of the Father,
His only begotten and well-beloved Son,
you are the infant that neither mind can encompass,
nor the spirit comprehend, wisdom fathom, science know,
nor knowledge reveal.
No description can portray you, O Lord,
no name name you, no language explain you, no lips pronounce you.

You are higher than the heavens, firmer than the earth and deeper than the abyss.
Your light is more splendid than the light,
Your sun is more brilliant than the sun,
and your day more magnificent than the day.
You are the message and messenger,
the good news and the one who brought it,
the prophecy and he who prophesied.
Jacob described you as a lion cub;
Job called you Savior and Isaiah said of you:
“a child is born to us, a son is given to us, upon his shoulders dominion rests.
They call Him: Wonder-Counsellor, mighty God, eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Jeremiah compared you to a ray of light,
Micah to the light, and Daniel to a precious jewel.
You were enveloped by clouds of light, descended into a cave where no light entered, and were wrapped in swaddling clothes.
You whom the throne of the cherubim is not able to contain.
Today with the angels, we surround your crib and sing:
“Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth and good will to men”.
With the Magi we offer you presents and with the shepherds give you gifts.
Lord God, Son of the Father and first born of the Virgin,
we ask you to receive our prayers.
Grant us by your birth the joy and gladness of your vision,
make us children of justice and spiritual holiness adorned with divine virtues.
Freed from the womb of the earth on the day of the resurrection, we will be new born infants, children and heirs.
Then we will enter your kingdom and give you glory and praise,


Reflection on my Renewal of Vows: Transfigured by Mercy

By Sr. Therese Maria Touma, MSCL

In response to God’s captivating invitation to lay down my life, in love, and for love, I joyfully renewed the total gift of myself in service to God and His people, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th). My sole desire is to be “wholly consumed” (holo-meaning “total”) by love, through faithfully living the evangelical counsels of obedience, chastity and poverty, in order that I may reflect Mercy Himself, Jesus, who was obedient, chaste and poor.

“Let us not be afraid. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God who is waiting for us, and who forgives everything. Nothing is sweeter than his mercy. Let us allow ourselves to be caressed by God. The Lord is so good, and he forgives everything. Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, may mercy take hold of our hearts and transform our entire life.” --Pope Francis--

As I reflect over the past six years of my religious formation journey, I cannot but give thanks to God for his merciful and transforming love at work in my life (and those of my sisters!). I see his gracious providence in all things, especially lately in the mission trips and retreats our community has offered, to maternally reach out in sharing Jesus’ love and healing with young and old. Pope Francis’ insightful words on God’s unconditional mercy and forgiveness resonates deep within my heart. Indeed, nothing is sweeter than experiencing first-hand his life-giving mercy. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His mercy endures forever (Psalm 136:1). I thank God each day for the gift of his limitless mercy, which has strengthened me in my vocation of love and spiritual motherhood.

In imitation of Mary, our sisters are called as servants of the Lord to radiate the light of Christ’s merciful love and hope by offering the gift of their spiritual motherhood to nurture God’s life in the hearts of children, families, and people of all ages through the works of mercy in service to the Maronite Church (Maronite Servants’ Rule no. 3).

As part of our well-balanced formation program directed by Mother Marla Marie, we are actively engaged in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The corporal works include: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and the imprisoned and burying the dead. The spiritual works include: counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving all injuries, and praying for the living and the dead. At present, we are also blessed in our mission to be serving on a weekly basis at a local food pantry in our community where we teach, pray and support those who are materially poor and lead them closer to Jesus in a weekly bible sharing and/or prayer gathering.  

If you are interested in reaching out in service opportunities or would like us to come and offer a Mercy Recollection day or Retreat day please contact Mother Marla Marie at 508-996-1753.


MYO Adore Regional Retreat - Attleboro

By Natalie Salameh
On the weekend of December 4 – 6, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light helped facilitate the MYO regional Christmas retreat for the Eparchy of St. Maron at the Retreat Center of the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, MA.   Fr. Gary George, C.Ss.R, National Youth Coordinator; Fr. Vincent Farhat, Pastor of St. Maron in Philadelphia and Eparchial MYO Coordinator; and Fr. Kamil El-Choufeiti, Pastor of Our Lady, Star of the East in New Jersey, directed a dynamic group of 50 teens from several parishes, and were assisted by a great crew of adult advisors.

The theme of the retreat was Come, Let Us Adore Him, with a focus on the Maronite Liturgical Season of “Happy Announcements” leading up to the Glorious Birth of Our Lord. There was no better place to prepare for Christmas than the La Salette Shrine with their famous display of countless miniature lights and catechetical displays which switch on at 5pm.

The retreat began on Friday evening, December 4, with Supper and some fun icebreakers, followed by prayer and reflection. With Jesus really present and exposed before us in the most Holy Mysteries, the youth prayed our traditional Maronite Novena prayers. With lights dimmed and candles lit, and powerfully moving melodies in the background, Fr. Gary took the monstrance up to each of the youth.

The night concluded on a festive note with a bonfire, roasting marshmallows and socializing, in the crisp air, with cookies and hot chocolate. It brought out the child in each of us.

Saturday, December 5, turned out to be a day of deep prayer and transformation for many of the youth. We all know that Mary said Yes to God, but both Fr. Gary and Fr. Vince encouraged the youth to think about all the obstacles that were in Mary’s  way that could have led her to saying No. For example, she was so young; she was unmarried; all the shame and disgrace and ridicule that she would have to put up with; the chance of losing Joseph; and the list goes on. But, despite all these considerations, the Blessed Mother had one thing, which is the only thing we need when we are called by God to do something, and that one thing is trust. She trusted that God would iron out all the issues and knots.

The youth were asked to break into small groups and discuss how do they say Yes to God? And what are some of the obstacles in the way? Their insights were deeply personal and profound. I was moved to tears when a young girl emotionally revealed how her family had been uprooted from Syria under painful circumstances. Yes she said, she had hope in God and accepted her lot, but a situation like that can tempt anyone to despair, and despair was an obstacle that many of the youth mentioned.

In the afternoon, we witnessed a powerful display of God’s transformative grace in his gift of forgiveness given in the Mystery of Penance. For approximately two hours the youth flocked to our three priests for confession and healing. It was an emotional time for many. While the youth were awaiting confession, Sr. Therese Maria led adoration, teaching them how to pray before the Holy Mysteries. 

Following confessions, all of us went outside to the central place of the Shrine, the giant Nativity scene, where hundreds had already gathered to see the lights turn on at 5pm. It was wonderful, one minute we were standing in darkness, and the next we were bathed in a sea of light. The youth had the opportunity to tour the Shrine and its magnificent displays of lights later on in the evening.

Following supper, some of the youth who had attended the National MYO Workshop in July approached Fr. Gary and asked him for the same service of Eucharistic Healing they had experienced six months ago. Fr. Gary was delighted, and so the youth were able to experience the deep joy that comes from a close personal encounter with Christ in His Holy Mysteries, as each one came up and touched the monstrance holding Jesus. It was a moving sight as each teen emerged from their encounter deeply touched and unburdened.

The evening ended with lots of fun which included pizza and a party, where we celebrated our culture in the traditional way, with loud music and the dabke.
The retreat concluded with Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, celebrated by Fr. Vince, where we commemorated the birth of St. John the Baptist. It was wonderful to witness the beautiful bonds and friendships that were formed over the weekend. Many of the teens came up to us at the end of the retreat and said they felt spiritually nourished. 


Saints on the Maronite Calendar

St. Barbara, Martyr December 4
St. Barbara was the daughter of a rich pagan named
Dioscorus. She was born in Nicomedia and was carefully
guarded by her father, who kept her shut up in a tower to
protect her from the outside world. She secretly became a
Christian and asked her maid to destroy all the idol statues that her father had left around her. Her father became very angry at her action and brought her before Martinian, the prefect of the province, who had her cruelly tortured. Barbara held true to her faith. She was thrown in a dark prison. During the night, she was bathed with light, and her wounds were miraculously healed. Torches that were to be used to burn her went out as soon as they came near her. Finally, she was condemned to
December death by beheading. Her father himself carried out the death sentence in the year 235.
The general belief among Lebanese Christians is that St.
Barbara disguised herself as various characters to elude the Romans who were persecuting her; hence, on her feast (Eid El-
Burbara), children go out masquerading. May her prayers be

with us.

St. Saba, Confessor, December 5
St. Saba was born of pious Christian parents, John and
Sophia, in Cappadocia. John was a military commander. When
St. Saba was five years old, his parents left him with an uncle
to go away on military business. At age eight, he went to the
nearby monastery and studied the Holy Scriptures. His parents
returned and urged him to join the world again and plan to
marry. St. Saba refused and was tonsured a monk at age
seventeen. So pure was his asceticism and prayer that the saint
was given the gift of working miracles. He spent ten years at
the monastery before going to Jerusalem, then to St. Euthymius
the Great, and then to the monastery under St. Theoctistus.
Later, he lived in a cave for five years where many gathered
around him seeking monastic life. He built a large monastery
for them, where 250 members lived and prayed. St. Saba
founded several other monasteries. Many miracles occurred
through the prayers of St. Saba. One of these was an abundant
rain, after praying to God, in the time of drought in Palestine.
St. Saba reposed in the Lord in the year 532. May his prayers
be with us.