The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel

The following Homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of the Light Convent

Little is known historically about Isaiah, but what we know indicates that he was one of the greatest men of his time, respected by men and by God. Tradition tells us that he was from a noble family of some rank, which might explain his easy access to the King. In his 40 years of ministry, 740-770BC, he actually served during the reign of four kings of Judah.

Because of this man’s greatness it might be difficult for us to relate to him, but his success was primarily a fruit of his faithfulness to the will of God. When God called him, he had an overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness. When God revealed His will for Isaiah, the prophet pursued God’s plan with determination.

He started where we must start. He admitted his sins and turned to God for deliverance and he confronted the people with their sins. It is never easy to face the truth, but truth brings healing. God spoke through Isaiah to address their denial.

Over the centuries they had developed self-destructive patterns of behavior that included oppression of the poor, accepting bribes, and lying in order to get what they want. Today, most of us would likewise think of these insignificant sins, perhaps some that we might commit without consciousness.

Although repeatedly confronted by Isaiah, proclaiming the word of God as a warning, the people steadfastly refused to confess their sins, rather blaming God for their misfortunes and sufferings. Has the world really changed in all these centuries?

God told the people through Isaiah that He would deliver them from Exile as had happened to the Northern Kingdom, Israel. But they trusted in God only superficially and thought to save themselves through clever political alliances, first with Assyria and then with Egypt.

The second part of Isaiah (chapters 40-66) is dominated by a message of hope. In spite of the people’s unworthiness God promised that after some time He would lead the people out of captivity in Babylon. Isaiah foretold the miracles and the salvation merited in the Suffering Servant.

Through the words of Isaiah we discover that God’s ultimate purpose for His people is always blessing and recovery.

The message of Ezekiel is similar but perhaps even darker. Discouragement, despair, disillusionment are just a trio of the feelings experienced by the people of Judah during the ministry of Ezekiel. His preaching was later than Isaiah, in fact it was to the Judeans who had not listened and now found themselves as exiles in Babylon.

The people clung to a frayed hope because Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed. The temple had not been overrun. And they assumed that God’s presence in the Temple would spare the Holy City. Would we be convinced that the presence of the Eucharist in the Tabernacle would save the Church and the people from a nuclear attack? They were still deceiving themselves. They failed to realize their sinfulness, and that all sins have consequences.

We also know little of the personal history of Ezekiel. He was about 30 when he began to prophesy God’s word. Five years later he was taken into captivity with his fellow Jews.

The name “Ezekiel” means “God strengthens”, a name appropriate to the man and to his message. For Ezekiel needed the strength of God to proclaim a message of judgment for those who refused to hear it; but also a message of strengthening hope and love following the destruction of the Temple and the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Is the world today listening to Pope Francis and his call for peace in Jerusalem, Palestine and the whole Middle East? Why is it that through the centuries we continue to repeat the same sinful attitudes not recognizing that we are all children of God?

God has been trying to tell us, to warn us, that we are sinners, and that He has come to save us from sin. We need to listen and repent because sin has consequences. We would be wise to heed these warnings. We would be wise to confess our sins. Denial leads to suffering and destruction.

If we have been broken by our failures, and confess them than the words of comfort spoken by Ezekiel are meant for us, unless we continue to hide in the darkness of denial. God can rebuild our lives, like the Temple, no matter how broken we are.

Through Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones, gathering and coming to life, the exiled Jews received hope for a new life. God would do the impossible. He would lead his children back home and rebuild his nation/church from a state of total ruin.

I think many still do not understand how Pope Francis understands his prophetic ministry to call together the exiled –whether it be divorced or remarried, lesbian, gay, bi, or trans-gendered; whether we be Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, or Four-Square Pentecostal, whether we consider ourselves Christian, Jew or Moslem, Oriental, or even atheist. God is telling is that we are all His children. Isaiah and Ezekiel invite us today to come home to Him! 



Assumption Pilgrimage – Ohio

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh

We enjoyed several days of prayer and visiting with friends at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, North Jackson, Ohio in celebration of the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God.

The pilgrimage began on Sunday, August 13, with a Divine Liturgy of the Roman Rite celebrated by His Excellency, Bishop George Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, followed by a candlelit procession and blessing with the Icon of Our Lady of Lebanon.

On Sunday afternoon, before Divine Liturgy, Mother Marla Marie gave a presentation to the pilgrims on the message of Our Lady of Fatima, in honor of the Centennial celebrations.

As usual, we had a table in the Cedars Hall where we were able to speak with many people one on one. This year the layout of our table was a little different. Once again, as at NAM this year, devoted parishioner, Cecilia Romero of St. Joseph’s parish, Atlanta, had crocheted an assortment of baby items which she generously donated to the sisters as sale items on our table. We also promoted the pro-life message with magnets and precious feet pins that we gave away. 
On both Sunday and Monday nights, we spent time in prayer, adoration and fellowship with the MYO of the parishes of Youngstown and Cleveland with their Excellencies, Bishop Elias Zaidan and Bishop Gregory Mansour also in attendance. Both Bishops spoke to the teens on the virtues of Our Blessed Mother and the various apparitions of Our Lady in Guadalupe and Brazil, respectively.
On Monday evening, August 14, we were blessed to celebrate a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, offered by His Excellency, Bishop Bohdan Danylo, Bishop of the Byzantine Eparchy of St. Josaphat Parma, Ohio. Following Divine Liturgy, the Byzantine Tradition has a very beautiful ritual of burying the Mother of God on the vigil of her Dormition, a ritual they call the “Funeral of the Theotokos, the Ever-Virgin Mary”. We processed behind the tomb and shroud of the Virgin Mary, which was later placed in the chapel for all to venerate.
On the day of the Feast of the Assumption, Tuesday August 15, we celebrated the Maronite Pontifical Liturgy outside beside the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon. The Liturgy was followed by a huge candlelit procession around the entire shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, with a great number in attendance. The procession concluded with a beautiful display of fireworks above the shrine, and festivities in the Cedars Hall.

We remembered you in our prayers during these holy days of pilgrimage at the Shrine. Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us.


Maronite Bible Camp 2017 – Fall River, MA

The LOL Club (Light of Life) began on August 7th with three days of learning about Mary’s tender love and watchful care in engaging video, crafts, bible sharing, games, prayer, choir practice, dabke rehearsal, and snacks. Our theme this year was “In the Footsteps of Mary”, and focused on the specific ways that Our Blessed Mother exemplifies the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Day one centered on the apparitions of Fatima and the virtue of faith. Day two was on the apparitions of Lourdes and how Our Lady gives us hope in the healing power of God. Day three focused on Our Lady of Guadalupe and how our Mother Mary is lovingly watching over us with her tender care. 

LOL Club Maronite summer camp concluded August 9th with Divine Liturgy celebrated at St. Anthony of the Desert Maronite Church by Fr. Alex Joseph, attended by LOL members, volunteers, and parents. A very big thank you to Fr. Alex who made the trip from Worcester, MA to be with us and offer Divine Liturgy.

After the closing Liturgy, all those in attendance enjoyed a performance by their children in the Church Hall, which included skits, sing-a-longs and the dabke, along with lunch. After lunch, all children, volunteers and parents enjoyed an afternoon of arcade games, bumper cars and boats at Grand Prix in Seekonk. The children enjoyed our time together, and it was great to hear that affirmed by the parents who mentioned to us that their kids were “having so much fun” and making so many new friends.