7.02.2020

Virtual LoL Bible Camp

We were blessed to offer a virtual Light of Life (LoL) Bible camp for children ages 5 to 12. The theme this year was in the footsteps of Saints Peter and Paul. We focused on the courage of Saint Paul and the trust and faith of Saint Peter as the first pope. It was such a gift to see the children, do fun crafts, share Bible stories, sing, dance, and pray with the children. Next year we hope to be able to offer our camp in person.

6.05.2020

Pentecost Icon Explained


This feast is of great importance as it marks the coming of the Holy Spirit. On the Ascension we focused on an icon from the Rabulla Gospels. The Gospels were with the Maronites since the 6th Century. They are one of the oldest surviving biblical manuscripts and are based on the Syriac Peshita version of the Gospel. They also contain this icon of Pentecost.




5.02.2020

Giving Tuesday - Now



Dear Friends,

In this time of uncertainty, there's a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Over the past few weeks and months, the entire world has been coming together to stand up, help out, give back, and heal. Whether that's through streaming Liturgies, donations to community organizations, celebrating doctors and nurses at shift changes, or reaching out to a neighbor to help with groceries, generosity has been helping the entire world get through this global pandemic. Together with God's help.  

On May 5, 2020, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light are participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity and giving.

As you know, the Maronite Servants are the spiritual mothers of our parishes by offering our life of prayer, guiding retreats, workshops, youth and young adult ministry, catechesis, and other works of mercy.  During these months, our mission has flourished on-line and we have kept up our outreach by hosting bible studies, worship training, retreats, and youth advisor and catechist mentoring. And each day we have a phone us for prayer initiative: “Need Prayer, We Care,” and reaching out to those in need.  

But we can’t do this without you!  Not only do we need your support, we need your help to spread the word. Please tell your friends and family why you believe in our work and encourage them to support us too!  Join the movement on May 5, 2020! Bookmark our donate link today: Support the Sisters  No gift is too small and your support is greatly appreciated.


Thank you for being a part of our Maronite Servants of Christ the Light mission!  Our gratitude is our love and prayer for you.  God bless you and keep you well.  

In Mary, Mother of the Light,
Sister Marla Marie and Sisters

4.24.2020

Helping the poor in Lebanon

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Lebanon who are enduring their greatest difficulties since the civil war.  The economic situation has deteriorated over the past year, the banking system is straining, and the COVID-19 crisis has pushed Lebanon to the brink.

Please consider joining with me in helping some Catholic and other institutions doing important work in helping the poor in Lebanon.  I am personally familiar with each of these organizations, know their leadership and have observed their work in action over the last few years.  Generally speaking, they help the “poorest of the poor”, and the people who most need help.  The Eparchy can assist you if you wish to support one of these worthy causes.  You can send us a check and designate which agency you want to help.  We will be sure it gets there.

Thank you for considering their needs, and responding generously.  May God bless you!

+ Gregory
 
Caritas Lebanon.  Founded in 1972, Caritas Lebanon is the official socio-pastoral arm of the Catholic Church and is under the authority of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon.  Caritas Lebanon assists both individuals and communities through direct assistance to the poor, sick, refugees, victims of sex abuse and trafficking, and others in need.  CaritasLebanon is a member of Caritas International, one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world.  www.Caritas.org.lb

Tele-Lumiere/Noursat.  Tele-Lumiere/Noursat, the “Television of Light”, is the first established Christian Television network in Lebanon and the Middle East.  It was founded in 1991 by a group of committed lay people.  Tele-Lumiere/Noursat has become a daily bread and hope for the Christian minorities in the Middle East, as well as a source of peace for many viewers from different denominations.  www.noursat.tv

Missionary Sisters of the Very Holy Sacrament.  The Missionary Sisters of the Very Holy Sacrament, founded in 1966, is an order of religious Sisters that operated several ministries: schools for poor children, orphanages, free health clinics for the poor in rural villages, and a retirement home for the aged, among others.  These people served by the Sisters would not receive help from anyone else.  www.smssacrement.org

Oum El Nour.  Oum el Nour is a Lebanese not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization that is committed to serving individuals suffering from drug addiction.  Oum El Nour “Mother of the Light” provides a home for those who need shelter, help, understanding, and a place away to recover so that they can begin to live a full life, free of their past shackles.  www.oumelnour.org/

SESOBEL.  The name “SESOBEL” is an abbreviation from French – Service Social pour le Bienetre de L’Enfant au Liban – Social Service for the Well-Being of the Child in Lebanon. SESOBEL’s mission is to assist children suffering from mental and physical disabilities by improving their quality of life and supporting their families.  SESOBEL cares for over 400 children annually and has helped thousands of families.  With over 34 years of experience, SESOBEL has a shining reputation of service in the Middle East. sesobel.org

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.  Founded in 1833 by a group of young laymen, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic organization of women and men who put their faith into action.  The Society is very close to the people.  Most parishes and villages have a Society that is active.  From the start, the Society has been under the patronage of Saint Vincent de Paul, a great saint, well-known for his works of charity. www.stvincent-lb.org/vincent/

Antonine Social Orientation School – Mrouj, Lebanon.  The school educates and cares for orphans and poor children living in difficult circumstances.  It also promotes intellectual, human, social and spiritual formation.  Due to the bad socio-economic situations in Lebanon, we need financial support in order to keep operating.  All donations must be sent to our Chancery to assist them.

Oraunion.  Oraunion helps build communities and civil society in Lebanon through several initiatives:  Labora, which provides job training and employment to young people in order to stem emigration from Lebanon; Groact, which supports civil society associations in cities, towns and villages; Ucipliban, which supports the free press; and Aulib, which supports Lebanese universities.  http://www.oraunion.org/

Cénacle de La Lumière (“CDLL”).  CDLL works in the field of rehabilitation for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.  It was founded in 2006 as a volunteer initiative when a group of concerned friends came together to help individuals who were losing their lives to drugs. https://www.cdll.org.lb/

Our three Maronite Catholic Eparchies (Dioceses) in Syria:
 
  • Archeparchy of Aleppo.  The Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Aleppo is an archeparchy of the Maronite Church currently governed by Archbishop Joseph Tobji.  All donations must be sent to our Chancery to forward to him. 
     
  • Archeparchy of Damascus.  The Maronite Catholic Archeparchy of Damascus is an archeparchy of the Maronite Church currently governed by Archbishop Samir Nassar.  All donations must be sent to our Chancery to forward to him. 
     
  • Eparchy of Latakia.  The Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Latakia is an eparchy of the Maronite Catholic Church governed by Bishop Antoine Chbeir.  All donations must be sent to our Chancery to forward to him.  

We pray that our effort will continue to bear good fruit for Lebanon and God’s people.  Thank you.

+Gregory John Mansour
Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn
109 Remsen Street
Brooklyn, NY  11201
718.237.9913
chancerystmaron@verizon.net

4.17.2020

Catechists and Youth Advisor Enrichment


By God’s grace an eparchial team of people have been working on ways to enhance our catechists, youth leaders and family life volunteers. What you will read about below is an optional, but highly recommended, program to strengthen our competent and faithful laity to better carry out their roles in our parishes.  

I am pleased to launch this eparchial initiative for our catechists and MYO youth advisors, called Franciscan at Home. It has long been a desire of mine to assist our laity in their service. Franciscan at Home is an excellent opportunity to continue to train and deepen our spiritual journey.    

This is a free online program of workshop tracks through the Catechetical Institute  of Franciscan University, open to all of our parish volunteers. There are over 100 dioceses already partnering with Franciscan University and benefiting from the high-quality content offered.  

Catechists in our parish religious programs and our MYO youth advisors are invited to participate in these 12 one-hour workshops expertly filmed with a staff of professionals in the fields of catechesis and youth ministry. Also, two of these workshops will focus on our Maronite Tradition. The content is presented to inspire, educate, train, and enhance one’s knowledge and skills in presenting the Catholic faith.  

These workshops are available in the convenience of one’s own home according to one’s schedule and require some reading and writing.  Please see the attached flyers for the details of these programs. I have asked the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light to assist, and they are available by phone or email to help if there are any questions.  

It is my hope that as many as possible will join these programs, which will enhance one’s faith and in turn enhance the faith of the youth we serve. With parish meetings suspended for the time being, this might be a good opportunity for personal training. 

Our Office for Family and Pro-life has also created an excellent website, including seminars on Natural Family Planning. I highly encourage young people, engaged couples, and married couples with families, to strengthen their love for the sacred dignity of marriage and family life. Please also see the flyer attached.

Thank you for serving our youth and be assured of my prayers.  

+ Gregory

4.16.2020

EWTN Streams Maronite Liturgy April 26

EWTN will live stream the Divine Liturgy with Father Mitch Pacwa on April 26 at noon eastern standard time 

Below is the link for the schedule 

4.13.2020

Wishing you a Glorious Resurrection

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words for ever! They seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us, that is, when we do not let the Lord Jesus triumph in our hearts and lives. May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end.  Read the full text here.  (Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi message, Easter 2020)

3.06.2020

Eucharistic Living

by Sr. Therese Maria Touma, MSCL

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance wherever I go. Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.” (Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman)

Cultivating an ongoing reverence and love for the Eucharist is key if we seek to be people of Eucharistic living. Attending Divine Liturgy on Sunday (or daily if your schedule permits) and spending quiet time in adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament are two primary ways to encounter Jesus, the source of all love, healing and life. As God’s beloved sons and daughters, we have been given a tremendous gift in the Eucharist; Jesus’ precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. 

Recent polls have shown that close to 70% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. These statistics are alarming as the Eucharist is a central doctrine of our faith. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC #1324). If most people do not recognize or reverence Jesus in the Sacred Host, how will they recognize and reverence Jesus in their brothers and sisters? 

As Baptized Christian, we are called to be living hosts broken and shared for others. We are given a perfect example of this at the Last Supper, when Jesus gave us his Body and Blood and showed us how to humbly give of ourselves in service, and live the Eucharist. Jesus knelt down to wash the feet of His Apostles, and He told them to go and wash the feet of others. “I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples (John 13:34-45)

Eucharistic living is “going out of our comfort zones” to care for and be attentive to the needs of those suffering in our homes and parish communities; it is tangibly reaching out to the lonely, poor, sick, hopeless and the vulnerable. It is sowing words of peace, hope and forgiveness. It is carving out time to pray for those who need our prayers. It is seeking to love others and understand them with the compassionate heart of Christ. It is making a total gift of ourselves back to God so that our will can become one with His holy will. 

We ask you Mary “Mother of the Eucharist” to lead us closer to your Son Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We entrust to you our hearts. Give us the courage and generosity to give of ourselves without counting the cost. Arrange our hearts as you see fit and help us to be Love and credible witnesses of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

2.28.2020

Lent: Fasting, Abstinence, and Prayer

Our tradition of fasting, abstinence and prayer for a definite season goes back to the example of Our Lord Himself, who fasted for forty days in the wilderness. He prophesied that when He was taken away from us, we would fast (Luke 5:35). Those days have come, but He has left us this holy tradition by which we can imitate, even in a small way, His example.
Fasting is restricting our intake of food and drink, either completely or in part. But it does not stand alone from prayer, the search for holiness, and leading a good life. Rather, it gives more meaning, more power to these.
Abstinence, for us, is refraining from eating meat and dairy, that is, exercising will- power to decide what I will and will not eat.
We fast to do penance for our sins, to acquire will-power (to do what is good and avoid what is evil), to link or thoughts and emotions to a good and virtuous life, to make our religion a part of our every-day life, and to help us see ourselves and how attached we are to our bellies, and to certain types of food. The purpose of fasting is to grow in holiness.
Whenever we fast, we should remember that we seek holiness. Then, whether we are feeling hungry, desiring food or a drink which we cannot have, preparing our food, or even just thinking about our fast, we should make an intentional connection with the fast.
If we use the fast, and everything which follows from it, to remind us that we fast in order to seek holiness, then we shall grow in holiness, because food and drink are so fundamental to our lives that we will have endless reminders.

Fasting helps us come to holiness because it is a form of penance, and it develops strength of will and self-understanding. But holiness never comes automatically. We need a complete Christian discipline for life; and fasting is an important part of that. Fasting can have no supernatural results unless it is undertaken in a spirit of prayer. It is often found by those who pray and fast, that God works small miracles for them. The person who fasts diligently and conscientiously can exercise an unprecedented control over his carnal appetites and desires. It is also essential that we fast for ourselves alone, and not compare ourselves with others who are not fasting. The great temptation of those who fast is pride.

Fasting is a powerful means of mortification (i.e. disciplining our body for our sins). When one fasts and prays, one feels in one’s very body that one has struggled to make sincere atonement. When people feel that they have not done enough penance for a sin, let them fast 24, 36 or 48 hours, and they will know that they have performed their penance.
Second, fasting strengthens the will. Our Lord said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41). Fasting helps the spirit to exercise its will over the flesh. It helps if the decision to fast is made a day or two before the fast commences.
Third, fasting facilitates self- examination, because under the influence of the fast we see ourselves quite differently. Our sense of ourselves is related to feeling our ordinary selves, to eating and drinking like our ordinary selves. Changing our intake of food and drink immediately upsets the established patterns of our reactions: we are no longer our ordinary selves. We acquire new perceptions and feelings through the unaccustomed impressions of depriving ourselves of food and flavoured drink.
Being prepared to discipline ourselves, we are often able to make better confessions.

Fasting can bring a welcome sense of freedom, not only physically, but in the feeling and the mind, too. Our appetites enslave us more than we know, and being able to do without food helps us break this slavery. We often find, when we fast, that we don’t need as much food as we thought we did.
What we really crave is often not so much the food as the experience of satisfying our desire. Being a little hungry is not as bad as we might imagine: but the anticipation of eating something delightful can make fasting seem intolerable. Fasting shows us what a large part eating and even drooling over the prospect of eating play in our lives. When consumption is put into its proper place, there is more room in our minds and hearts for the spiritual life.
It should also be noted that the traditional understanding of the Church is that fasting from meat and dairy products is of help in overcoming the lust of the flesh. Further, substantial health benefits accrue from fasting, as long as one does not binge afterwards. Looking after our health is good and legitimate, after all, our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
St Maximos the Confessor tells us that: “Food was created for nourishment and healing. Those who eat food for purposes other than these two are therefore to be condemned as self- indulgent, because they misuse the gifts God has given us for our use. In all things, misuse is a sin.” This is worth pondering, especially today as modern culture has tried to sensualise food and eating, and has, to a significant extent, succeeded for many people.
If food is fresh, nourishing and natural, then it will be satisfying to the taste as well. In fact, part of God’s providence.
The law of abstinence bind all Catholics from the age of seven to 59, and the laws of fasting from the age of fourteen to 59. But judgment is needed, and if you are older, you can always keep those rules.

This was written by a Maronite priest. Of your mercy, please pray for those souls in Purgatory who have no one else to pray for them, and also pray for that priest.

2.21.2020

MARONITE GREAT LENT OBSERVANCES 2020

LENTEN OBSERVANCES 2020
The Most Reverend Bishops Gregory J. Mansour and A. Elias Zaidan have issued the following Lenten guidelines for the Maronites of the U.S.:


• All Maronites who are physically capable are to abstain from meat on Ash 
Monday (24 February 2020) and all Fridays of Lent.
• Ash 
Monday and the Great Friday of the Crucifixion (10 April 2020) are also days of fasting. Fasting in the Maronite Church involves eating and drinking nothing at all (except water and medicine) from midnight until noon. The rest of the day normal meals can be taken, but without meat. All Maronites who are physically capable are to fast on these two days.

Distribution of Ashes
All parish priests are to bless and distribute ashes on Ash 
Monday during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy as indicated in our liturgical books. This ceremony may not be celebrated on the vigil of Ash Monday (Cana Sunday). For the convenience of some faithful of the Latin Church who may come to Mass at a Maronite Church on their Ash Wednesday, ashes that were blessed on Monday may be given to them after the Mass. However, ashes are not to be blessed again on this day.

Devotion of Lenten Fridays
All parish priests are to celebrate the Benediction with the Cross every 
Friday of Lent except for the Great Friday of the Crucifixion. This service may be preceded by Evening Prayer (Ramsho), Stations of the Cross, or even the Divine Liturgy. Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament should not take place on the Fridays of Lent.

Personal Observance
Great Lent and Passion Week, beginning on Ash 
Monday and ending at 12:00 (noon) on Saturday of the Light, is a season of penitence. In our Maronite Church each day of this season is considered to be a day of fasting and abstinence from meat and dairy products, (with the exception of Sundays and Holy Days). Although highly encouraged, this fast is not obligatory in this Eparchy. However, it is obligatory to abstain from meat on Ash Monday and all Fridays of Lent, and to fast on Ash Monday and Great Friday, as long as one is physically able to do so.

2.14.2020

Ladies Retreat Weekend in April


Thirsting For More… and need some time to get away, rest and pray? We invite young adult ladies (ages 18-35) to join us for a retreat weekend of rejuvenation, inspiring talks, nature walks, prayer and fellowship during the weekend of April 24-26, 2020. The suggested donation is $100 to help with meals and accommodation. Register by April 13, 2020. To register for the weekend or to find out more information please contact Sr. Therese Maria at srtherese2010@gmail.com. The retreat will be hosted by the Maronite Servant Sisters at their Mother of the Light Convent, 856 Tucker Rd Dartmouth MA 02747. Visit their website www.maroniteservants.org 

2.07.2020

Saint Maron - His Life and Disciples

By the Maronite Monks of Adoration, Petersham MA

Saint Maron
IT IS A TYPICAL NEW ENGLAND, winter day: overcast skies and temperatures hovering above freezing. Inside, our well-heated monastery makes for a cozy home, taking most of the effects of winter off our minds as we live another day of contemplative, monastic life near the Blessed Sacrament.

Given the comforts of modern living, even within amonastery, it is easy to forget that our Maronite monastic roots began, not only with the inconveniences of living in the deserts of ancient Syria during the fourth and fifth centuries, but the added choice of spending much of that time exposed to the elements.

Our father in faith, St Maron, and a number of his early disciples, both men and women, lived as open-air hermits, a unique form of monasticism even in its day. As our Maronite Calendar takes us through their feasts, beginning with that of St Maron on February 9, and going through several of his immediate disciples in the following weeks (curiously enough, during some of the least pleasant days of the year), we can reflect on their lives and the relevance they have for us today.

Nearly all we know about St Maron comes from scarcely a single page written about him by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393–466AD). READ MORE 




2.01.2020

Maronite Young Adults at the March for Life- Washington DC

by Hana Chemaly, MYA from Cincinnati OH 

This year marked yet another fruitful March for Life. Running consecutively for 47 years, this year’s peaceful protest was record breaking. The crowd roared in support when President Donald Trump took the stage as the first President of the United States to deliver a speech at the March for Life in person. Accompanied by his family, he inspired the crowd reminding them, “When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family.” It was televised and heard across the record breaking crowd of 500,000 people. Families, students, religiously affiliated groups and friends came to march together. Surveys show that the youth made up half of the crowd. Proving yet again that they are the Pro-Life Generation. 
Pro-Life state of Lousiana representative, Katrina Jackson, also spoke, bridging the political gap. Her passion shone through her words, “We know as believers that God does not conform to man’s law,” she continued, “At the end of the day, it is up to each of us to pray and stand in the gap in prayer for those who need our help and see things change for the better.” “In addition to being pro-life, let us also be pro-love,” she challenged.“  As Christians, we are not called to judge one another but help the least among us.” 
Being Pro-Life is not to shame those who have gone through or been affected by an abortion. It is to prevent that choice from being made in the first place. Powerful messages on signs resonated with us, such as, “I regret my abortion”. A sizable group of Maronites marched with the crowd, including Bishop Gregory Mansour, the Maronite Seminarians, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, members from the Maronite Young Adults and the Maronite Youth Organization. 
We broke our own personal record as MYA, having had seven National Maronite Young Adult Board members attend. They included, Director Sr. Therese Maria, President Sami Shaia, Vice President Hana Chemaly, and honorary board members, Maya Khoury, Mira Aoun, Sandy Risha, Julie Lattouf, and Antony Harb. Overall MYA members from eight states attended: NC, FL, OH, VA, MI, NJ, NY. 
A session with Bishop Gregory was held following dinner sponsored by the Maronite Seminary. It was an interactive discussion on the difference between Palliative Care and Euthanasia, including professional insights and experiences from several attendees. This discussion ended with a short and informative presentation on Natural Family Planning by Marise Frangie. 
It’s always an act of courage to witness and partake in the March for Life. We pray for the souls of all the lives lost at the hands of abortion, and for healing and peace among all those who are affected. You are loved, forgiven, and surely not alone.

1.17.2020

Pride

“Never suffer pride to reign in your mind or in your words” (Tobit 4:14)
The sin of Pride is the impulse to hold ourselves higher than we are, to value our actions, achievements, belongings, appearance and words unreasonably highly. If unchecked, it leads us to heartily despise others. Our modern English word once meant “noble, excellent,” and then came to mean “haughty, arrogant,” that is, arrogantly acting as if noble and excellent.

Sinful pride blinds us. It is a selfish darkness. It stands us over and against the world, disrespecting anyone who won’t flatter us. It is a disease breaking out in dozens of places at once: in vanity, lying, back- biting and gossip, greed, envy, jealousy, and lust, to mention but some of its charms. We get high on imagination as we play to the audience in our heads. Pride has a filthy appetite for applause. It always competes: the proud praise themselves, while the wise know that self-praise is no praise.

Pride spoils good qualities in us, by treating them as a reason to adore ourselves (e.g. taking pride in our “humility” – with the result that we are not, in fact, humble). Rather than giving thanks to God who has upheld us with His grace, and given us the opportunity of serving Him, we ascribe all the credit to ourselves. It is easy to see how pride is a sort of theft, stealing all available glory.

A more subtle form of the same sinful attitude appears when we concede that God gives all that is good, but a voice whispers to me that “I deserve it,” and I haughtily take what I have as my right. Thus I effectively treat God as my servant, who delivers to me only what I merited to receive. I become judge both my actions and those of others, whom I see as undeserving because lacking my imagined merits. Pride makes me blind to the fact that I do not fully know the other people I am judging, being ignorant of their history and all their struggles.

A humble person is down to earth (in Latin humus means “earth”), and while he sees and evaluates what other people do, as best he can, he judges the act, not the person. Humility is the virtue of rightly understanding and feeling that we are all completely dependent upon God. A proud person lacks this quality, and feels elated in their own pride, as if drunk on their own self-appreciation. Can a proud man really agree that he is subject to God? Both Ss Peter and James say: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)

There is a pride which is not sinful, for example, we may rightly be proud of those who have worked and suffered for God and His justice. This is not sinful provided that I do not feel that I myself am superior to others. It is sad when we pass in the blink of an eye from the praise of others to the praise of ourselves. We should be indifferent to worldly glory.

In Lebanon there is this good custom: when we have something nice, e.g. a new car or home, we say heda men fadl rabbee, “this is from the grace of my Lord.” Similarly, a wise man once advised a mother that when her talented child draws well, rather than praise her inordinately, remark how wonderful an instrument the hand is, and how good it is to make constructive use of God’s gifts.

Pride and Recalcitrance
Pride can be said to uphold all the other sins, because it makes me refuse correction by God, by man or by conscience. It is as if something very deep inside me says: “It is my action, my attitude, and I will do what I please and the rest of you can go hang.” Through this sin, we “despise the divine law which would warn us against committing further sins” (St Thomas Aquinas, ST II-II, 162, 2).

If I have been committing the same sin for some time, resolving to stop, but always failing, then it is practically certain that this stubborn sin is upheld by pride – a pride so deep that is invisible to me. This is when sin is the most dangerous, for a pattern of behaviour too deep to be easily seen will not easily be dislodged. In fact, my very pride will prevent me from acknowledging that I suffer from it. Something in me will either deny it outright, or else say that I am perfectly right to appreciate my own confidence.
And yet, underneath this self-assertion, pride is often a disguise for insecurity. Something in us fears that I am, in some way, not good enough. There is a fear that I am lacking, that other people are better than us. But it hurts to acknowledge this to ourselves, so we make an article of faith out of the stubborn belief that we are something wonderful – and so we are taken prisoner by a very deep pride.

This is not so easy to grasp at once. We are profoundly programmed by this pride, so firmly in its clutches that we do not see it. We have become accustomed to it, just as we are rarely aware of how we talk and the way we walk, rather, we just start talking or walking, and we say the things which come out of our mouths. We only choose our words or watch where we’re going when there is some reason to be especially careful about our path. But now we have a reason to be careful about our spiritual life: because we may be entranced by pride.
We behave under the influence of deeply conditioned pride without ever having become aware that our pride has been aroused, let alone that we are sinning. We don’t intend to be proud, but just as words appear in our mouth, so too pride enters our actions.

However, grim as the situation is, there is hope, for although we cannot see this deep pride so easily, yet we can deduce that it is probably lurking. There is almost certainly pride at the base of those sins we keep repeating against our will, and the more we deny that we could be subject to sin, the more the good confessor will suspect its presence.

It is a funny thing: pride is perhaps the most prevalent sin of all, yet is probably the most rarely confessed. Experienced priests can tell you, a person who repents the sin of pride invariably makes a good confession. Pride is also often at the root of scruples: we can not only take pride in our supposed virtues, we can also take pride in our supposed vices, and in our supposed seriousness and desire to be virtuous. Scruples demonstrate an unhealthy attachment to self-examination, even a notion that my sins are darker than other people’s because my soul is more tragic, and plunged more deeply into experience.

The ultimate cure for pride is to cooperate with the life of grace, virtue and humility, and to remake our lives as humble lives. We do this by meditating on the life of the Lord and His simplicity and meekness. The lives of the saints also provide many excellent examples. “Meekness,” which is too often mistaken for “weakness,” in fact is a sign of great strength: for the meek man is the one who has a right but does not take it. A meek person may be justified in criticising, but will yet refrain, choosing instead to be merciful.

It seems that we cannot overcome pride as long as we are competing with other people, and as long as we are unable to see how when they go wrong (or we think they do), they, too, have been in the grip of powers too big for them to defeat. If we could see ourselves and others as equally beloved by God, and equally infinitely valuable, we would, with God’s grace, defeat false pride!


This was written by a Maronite priest. Of your mercy, please pray for those souls in Purgatory who have no one else to pray for them, and also pray for that priest.

1.08.2020

FOCUS Leadership Conference 2020 - Phoenix AZ

By Sister Therese Maria Touma, MSCL

Sr. Therese Maria along with a few  Maronites attended the SLS20 Leadership Conference in Phoenix Arizona, December 30 to January 3. There were more than 8,500 Catholics from across the world present at this conference hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, (FOCUS). The SLS20 conference which brings out amazing speakers to talk on discipleship, mission and evangelization is geared to college students, FOCUS missionaries and catholic leaders from parishes. Training and small group sessions are provided throughout the conference to impart tools and formation in discipleship and accompaniment. 

Our Maronite group participated in the Making Missionary Disciples track. As I reflect over my notes my ten biggest take aways are: 
  • Getting the fire and zeal to share the faith for the salvation of souls and the glory of God. 
  • The importance of cultivating a daily relationship with God in prayer and in frequenting the sacraments. 
  • Knowing your core identity as a beloved son and daughter of God and sharing your testimony with others. 
  • We are all made for mission. To give of oneself like Jesus without holding anything back. 
  • The importance of caring for others and intercessory prayer, and being present to the moment in discipleship. 
  • Developing good and virtuous friendships that help one to live out their faith. 
  • Not being afraid to go out and share Jesus‘s hope and mercy by getting involved in people’s lives in order to earn their trust.
  • Praying in small groups the Scriptures and allowing the Word of God to transform and inspire your journey of faith. 
  • In sharing the Gospel we need two vital convictions:
    • The Gospel is my story and part of my life. 
    • The Gospel is everyone’s story. We are made for life-giving relationship with the Trinity. We break that relationship in sin. Jesus comes to restore us through his life, death and resurrection, and invites us into a relationship with Him. He wants each one of us to participate in sharing this good news. 
  • Being spirit-filled evangelizers in sharing Jesus and not ourselves... this is our mission! 

We were so blessed to have participated in this awesome FOCUS conference. Next year’s SEEK conference will be from December 30- January 3 in St. Louis MO. For those who are interested you can see some of the live talks from this past conference at this link: https://sls20.org/
I pray that more of our Maronite Young adults and leaders from our parishes can experience this week of transformation and training.