Sister Marla Marie shares on the vocation of a Maronite Servant:


The Liturgy

The Maronite liturgy is one of the oldest in the Catholic Church. St. Peter and other Apostles brought the liturgy of the Last Super to Antioch where it developed in Greek and Syriac concurrently. The early Antioch liturgy is the basis of the Maronite liturgy.
… The liturgy is throughout a dialogue between the people and the priest. The priest serves as the prayer leader in much the same way as Moses served the Israelites. The congregation stands or sits during the liturgy as the liturgy is chanted back and forth between the priest and the congregation. In Eastern Catholic Churches, kneeling is done on Pentecost, in private prayer and can be done during Confession (Reconciliation).
The Maronite liturgy begins with calling on God's mercy, whereas the Latin Rite liturgy begins with "let us call to mind our sins." We also acknowledge our sinfulness, but greater stress is laid on God's mercy. As one prayer says, "Your mercy, O Lord, is greater than the weight of the mountains..."
The Triasagion (Qadeeshat Alaho) is the first prayer that is sung in Aramaic, and it is sung three times in honor of the Holy Trinity. It is normally sung facing East.
The sign of peace is also different from the Latin Rite. The priest kisses the altar, places his hands on the chalice, then passes God's peace to the deacon, who then gives it to the acolyte, who passes it to the first person in the pews, who passes it to the next person, an so on. Very rich indeed!
The Consecration is sung in Aramaic, the everyday language of our Lord, the Blessed Mother, and the Apostles. It is the closest we come to the Lord's actual words at the Last Supper.
Throughout the liturgy, the priest will bless the congregation using the handcross, the Gospel, and the Eucharist itself, both before and after Communion. Holy Communion is given only by intinction. There is no Communion in the hand and there are no Eucharistic ministers. Only the bishop, the priest, the deacon or the subdeacon give communion. It is done with the words, "The servant of God ... receives the Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life."
The Maronite rite has over eighty Eucharistic Prayers, called Anaphora. Most were composed by different saints, including St. James (the oldest prayer), the Apostles, St. Peter, St. Sixtus and St. Basil. The prayers throughout the liturgy are full of Biblical Imagery. The story of salvation is told over and over again, and each liturgy is a short course in theology, using spiritual poetry to give praise, honor and thanksgiving for God's mercy and forgiveness, and His constant love for us not matter what!
(Taken from Our Lady's Maronite Catholic Church, Austin TX)


Blessing of Habit

Sister Marla Marie received a
special blessing on her habit by Bishop Gregory Mansour on Sunday August 10th during the Divine Liturgy at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, Ohio.

Bishop Gregory was assited by Father James Root, Vocation Director of the Eparchy of St. Maron.

What is a Habit? – Habitus (Latin): having, possessing; condition, appearance; dress; character.
The habit is a distinctive garb of a man or woman religious dating back to the beginning of monasticism. Early ascetics, such as Anthony of Egypt, imitated the garb of John the Baptist. Saint Basil, Saint Benedict, and even the widows and virgins in the first few centuries of the early Church were identified by their plain, common attire as signs of poverty and simplicity.

Assumption Pilgrimage 2008


Prayers in Aramaic

Thank you Father Dominique Hanna for offering to record the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be in Syriac-Aramaic, the language of Christ. Offer these prayers while meditating on the Syriac icon of Our Lady of Illige dating back to the 10th century.


My WYD experience...a priceless treasure!

The WYD activities that I participated in with my parish group included Catechesis, Festivals, praise and worship, the Papal Welcome, Stations of the Cross, the Vigil sleep out and the Final Mass. This awesome experience was filled with many graces. I was deeply touched as I witnessed the true joy of pilgrims coming together in celebration and thanksgiving to God.

We had a fantastic time as we got to know pilgrims from the abroad. On the trains we joined in Prayer and Worship in different languages. It was beautiful to partake in the unique expressions of faith and the unity of all Christian under the guidance of our Holy Father...we all have come to be inspired and encounter Christ- Our Hope. The Holy Spirit is so alive in our Church! I thank God for the Gift our faith and the presence of our Holy Father. I felt that his powerful message of unity and love spoke to me. We are all "one body, one spirit in Christ”.

In the discernment of my vocation, I have found great encouragement in these words...
“Do not be afraid to say "yes" to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!”

I believe that World Youth Day has given pilgrims from all around the world the opportunity to come together to spiritually nourish their faith in Christ and return home filled with hope of building up Christ’s Body, the Church. A Kingdom of Love!
I hope that WYD has prompted the young people to a true conversion of heart towards Christ and His Church.
We can be Catholic, young, happy & Holy!!

(Submitted by Therese Touma, Sydney)

Stations of the Cross -- World Youth Day 2008

A report by Therese Touma from Sydney...

Please find attached some photos from the World Youth Day Stations of the Cross which took place Friday 18 July 2008 in Sydney Australia. The Stations of the Cross was aired on the ABC Channel and internationally on EWTN.

With God's help, I played the role of Mary of Bethany, who was one of the weeping women of Jerusalem following Our Lord closely in the carrying of his cross to Calvary. In Station 8, Mary Magdalene and I assist our Lady to her feet after she was pushed away from Jesus, by the Roman soldiers. In the Crucifixtion scene, on the right of Jesus, I bow down in reverence to Our Lady holding in her arms the lifeless body of her dead son (this scene depicts the Pieta).
It was amazing to be part of such a beautiful and DRAMATIC re-enactment of the passion of Jesus Christ. The three-hour Stations of the Cross was one of the key events of World Youth Day celebrations. We all desired to make the Stations a prayer for all...a point of conversion and grace...so we all worked hard to be authentic and natural in the characters we played. It was demanding at times especially with our intense rehersal schedule but well worth it! We ALSO made great friendships a long the way!! Over 270,000 international and local spectators also made their way to points around the city to watch the Stations of the Cross live and on big screen televisions.The first station held on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral was attended by Pope Benedict XVI who led the prayer. “Make us generous and insightful as we try to walk in your footsteps,” the Holy Father prayed.