Our Patriarch

On my recent trip to Lebanon I was blessed to meet with our Maronite Patriarch in Bkerke. His Eminence offered me good wishes and blessings on the mission of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.

Here are some facts about the Patriarch:
His Eminence and Beatitude, Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir
Antioch and the Whole East
Patriarch of Antioch and All of the East
Period in office: 1986 to present
Created cardinal: November 26, 1994
Rank: Cardinal Bishop
Date of birth: May 15, 1920 Place of birth:
Rayfoun, Lebanon

(Here is an excerpt from an Introduction given by Bishop Gregory J. Mansour on the occasion of Patriarch’s visit to the US in 2006)
"The past 20 years our Maronite Catholic Church has been lead by an extra ordinary man. Before becoming Patriarch, he spent another twenty years behind the scenes assisting Patriarchs Meouchi and Khorieche. Patriarch Sfeir is basically a monk and Bkerke has been his monastery. He lives, prays, serves and leads as a monk. He is steady, practical, intelligent, faithful, relying totally on God. He represents the best of what the Maronite Church, her prayer and way of life is all about.
He is not a political man; nonetheless he is unafraid of speaking the truth, to ruffle feathers, to speak out for the cause of justice. He has stood before the most powerful, and been a friend to the lowly. He is strong with the strong, humble with the meek, astute with the crooked.
Where he lives in today’s Lebanon, is deeply troubled. It is also deeply divided. It is not easy to explain these divisions as Christian-Muslim, Shiite-Sunni, Political party against political party, Israel and Arabs. The problem facing Lebanon today, and the region as a whole, is the same everywhere: “every man for himself.” This is the sin of selfishness. No one can think of the other. Patriarch Sfeir has repeatedly warned against this kind of a world and has suffered because of it. Lebanon suffers, the world suffers. Patriarch Sfeir suffers. We hope, pray and pledge to redouble our efforts to work for a just solution to Lebanon and our world’s many problems.

His visit here has not disappointed us. Like Peter and Paul, the Apostles before him, our Patriarch has strengthened, challenged and encouraged us. For this we thank him and thank God. I hope and pray that the Maronite Church throughout the world, as well as every citizen and friend of Lebanon, will come to respect and love the priest, monk, bishop,Cardinal, and Patriarch who is Nasrallah Peter Sfeir and follow his wise guidance. Many say we respect the Patriarch, but when he says something they do not like, they reject his wisdom.
Let us pray for him and for his mission for Lebanon and the Church throughout the world, and let us pledge anew our obedience and willingness to serve the Church and our world under his leadership."


Land of Saints

By Sister Marla Marie
From the pictures below, you will see that I prayed for you at the tombs of our recent Maronite Saints:
St. Charbel Makhloof canonized in 1977, his shrine is at St. Maron Monastery in Annaya;
St. Rafka al-Rayes canonized in 2001, her shrine is at St. Joseph's Monastery in Jrabta;
St. Nimatullah Hardini canonized in 2004, his shrine is at Sts. Cyprian and Justine Monastery, Kfifane;
Blessed Yacoub Haddad beatified in 2008, his shrine is at the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross of Lebanon, Jall-Eddib.
Read about these maronite saints.


Retreat - part III

During Passion Week, I am staying at Bethania
retreat house in Harissa. A few minutes walk and I am at the famed Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon which is on a pine hill overlooking the Port of Jounieh. At each Liturgy and devotion, I keep you close in prayer.

Sister Marla Marie


Visiting Lebanon part II

"You are going to love Lebanon," was the most common remark I would hear in the States when telling folks about my plans to visit. They are right. What a beautiful country and people. My first week of travels have taken me to meet many people and places. Below is a slide show of some of the visits I have made, including scenes of family and friends. I would like to write the details of the 101 things I have accomplished so far, but time and computer access are both limited. However, I have been very capable to include you in my prayers at all the holy sites.

I was blessed to meet with the Patriarch of Antioch and All of the East, Nasrallah Peter Sfeir in Bkerke. His Eminence offered me good wishes and blessings on the mission of the Maronite Servants.

Monsignor Mansour Labaky hosted me for a couple of days which included travels to Monasteries, Shrines and the villiages of my father's family. Abouna Labaky's hospitality, company, and conversation was a blessing.

My friend Louis Ragy and his family have gone to great efforts to show me some of the treasures of Lebanon. Their generosity, hospitality and deep faith are an inspiration.

A true hightlight and blessing was to be reunited with my family, including visits to my Mother's village of Masser El Chouf and my Dad's family in Mahmerch.

by Sister Marla Marie

some photos