Jubilee of Saint Maron Part II

Excerpts from the 25th letter of His Eminence and Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardial Sfeir.  On the Occasion of the 1600th Jubilee of the passing of Saint Maron.  Full text of this letter can be found at the Eparchy website: stmaron.org 

The celebration of jubilee years began in the Old Testament and continues through Church history.  The Jubilee Year is the year of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a year of equality, justice, pardon, reconciliation and repentance; a year of special graces for individuals and communities; a year of charity and joy, not only internal joy, but also the joy that shines in outside.”
    The Maronite Patriarchal Assembly as well as the Synod of Bishops for Lebanon, reflect the role of divine providence in preparing for the Jubilee of Saint Maron to the point where one could say that the Assembly and the Synod were in fact the introduction to this Jubilee.   
     It is hence a very important Jubilee, not only for Maronites, but also for Christians and non-Christians in Lebanon, the Middle East, and throughout the world to consider the position of Maronites in the course of the universal Church and their role throughout 1600 years of history.
     Hereafter, if the Maronite Patriarchal Assembly and Synod is considered the “Pentecost of the Maronite Church,” then the celebration of the Jubilee of one thousand six hundred years since the death of Saint Maron could be considered “a new springtime for Maronite life.”  In both cases “each Jubilee in Church history is arranged by divine providence” as properly said by His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
     Three chapters characterize this Jubilee:

    First:            What does Saint Maron represent to us today?
    Second:       What does being Maronite mean to us?
    Third:          What relationship exists between being Maronite and loving Lebanon, the land and the hope?

Postulants Share Their Experience

How have you found living in a  Monastery?
In the postulant journey, I am constantly inspired by the people I live with and come in contact on a regular basis. In the home we have the wonderful guidance and direction of Mother Marla Marie, and then throughout the week we have many priests teaching us to grow deeper in our faith and love for Christ through our studies. I am continually inspired through these classes, spiritual reading and faith sharing to grow deeper in my relationship with Christ in the hopes that I can truly radiate his love wherever I am and to whomever I meet.   (Photo:  Tresa with her parents, Chuck and Marie Van Heusen)

"It has been good and a great learning experience, as I learn to live out the customs of a Maronite Servant. The structured time of prayer, silence, study, recreation, duties and meals have been strengthening, as it allows me to develop more fully as a person (spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally).
I have enjoyed the time allocated for communal activities; such as the walks in nature, prayer hours and other times of recreation and sharing."
(Photo: Maronite Servants with Abouna Jim Root, rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn.)


Our Syriac Maronite Hymns

By Tresa Van Heusen

During our monthly classes at the Chancery in Brooklyn, New York, we study Maronite music with Father Geoffrey Abdallah. Father Geoffrey, Director of the Maronite Inter-Eparchial Music Commission, teaches on the origin and development of our Maronite liturgical music – as well as some singing lessons!

Father Geoffrey comes to us from the Eparchy of Sydney, Australia, and is here in Brooklyn to undertake the project of the Maronite Inter-Eparchial Music Commission in conjunction with the Maronite Bishops of America, Australia and Canada. The commission is working to translate authentic Maronite liturgical hymns from the Syriac to English. In order to ensure fidelity to the Syriac hymns, the Commission adheres to the following guidelines:

1. The original Syriac melody be unaltered.
2. The text be as close as possible to the original text.
3. English language/syllabication not be compromised.
4. The English words match the same cadence points as the Syriac chant.
5. The final English version be convincing and not awkward as if originally written in English.

As we learned in our first lesson with Father Geoffrey, it is important in our Maronite churches that we “affirm the living tradition of the singing of chants in Syriac. This is of particular importance so as to maintain our cultural and religious links with our Antiochian Syriac Maronite tradition in Lebanon and around the world. For that reason also, the adaptation of these chants into Arabic, English and other languages is of enormous pastoral and cultural advantage.”

Father Geoffrey is a gifted priest and musician, and we feel very blessed to have him as an instructor. We look forward to many more lessons with him in order to increase our knowledge and understanding of this important aspect of our Maronite Liturgy, and then be able to share this information within our parishes. And hopefully we can also improve our own singing abilities!

Below is a sample of the music from the Commission (in the “ad experimentum” phase). The Communion Hymn, “I Am Truly the Bread of Life” (in Syriac: Bo’ooto dmor ya’qoob – Eno eno lahmo dhayeh):

I am truly the Bread of Life,
who will grant you life eternal,
if you eat my Body in faith.

Come and drink from this precious cup,
which was poured out on the Lord’s cross
and obtain the pardon of sins.

Come receive his pure Body now.
Come in true faith; drink his pure Blood.
This, the Church proclaims singing praise.

Holy, holy, the Church proclaims,
Lord most holy, who forgives us
By his precious Body and Blood.

The sheet music and recording of these hymns can also be downloaded from:


Vocation Web Feature

Vocation.com has featured the testimony of Sister Marla Marie.  Take a moment to read and rate the article, --better yet-- Send it to young women on your mail list and help encourage vocations.


To See the Face of Christ - A Pilgrim's Reflection on the Shroud

By Aboona Anthony J. Salim (Pastor of St. Theresa Maronite Church, Brockton MA)
My trip to Turin, Italy, was to stand before and pray to God before the so-called “Holy Shroud” of Turin. For those of you who do not know what this is, let me explain. A “shroud” is a burial cloth. It can be made of various materials; in the case of the Shroud of Turin, artfully woven linen. It belongs to the Vatican, but has been housed in the Catholic Cathedral of Turin since the 16th century.
Many people believe that this linen cloth, measuring over 14 feet in length, is the actual cloth used to wrap the body of Jesus after his being taken down from the Cross and buried by the Jew, Joseph from Arimathaea, who, tradition tells us, gave his own tomb for the burial. The Gospel of Luke tells us in Chapter 23, verses 52 and 53 that Joseph wrapped the body in a shroud and placed the body in the newly carved-out tomb, just before the Sabbath day began on the evening of Great Friday. Because of the Law of Moses for the Sabbath, the body could not be properly washed and have spices applied to it on Friday evening. Thus, when the women from Galilee arrived at the tomb early Sunday morning to finish the burial ritual, the body was not there: only the linen and head piece used to bury Jesus rather hurriedly on Friday.
This linen shroud is what is being displayed in the Cathedral at Turin. Some say that after all is said and done, the Shroud is a medieval fake, a forgery. To millions of Christian believers, it is the real thing. I am convinced it is real. You may read many details about the Holy Shroud at: http://www.shroudstory.com/.
I have been intrigued by the Shroud for many years. I have done a lot of reading about it, including the famous 1979 book by Ian Wilson, The Turin Shroud: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ? This book is quite dated, especially as so much more scientific investigation has been done on the Shroud, but reading it got me seriously interested in it. Yet, I was not convinced of the Shroud’s authenticity until very recently, with the latest tests. Without going into details, which can be easily obtained, I fell into the believer camp.

For many reasons, the Shroud is not displayed to the public frequently. The last time was ten years ago. Thus, when in conjunction with a trip I was planning to Europe on holiday, I discovered that the Shroud would be shown this year, in the Season of the Glorious Resurrection, I decided to include a stop in Turin, on pilgrimage. This I did on 15 April. The Shroud event organizers indicated on their web site that over a million visitors were initially expected, and that tickets, free for the reserving, would be needed. Times were also scheduled. I selected my time (in order to dovetail with the rest of my journey), and I downloaded the ticket, printed it out and booked a flight.

I stayed about 20 minutes by train outside of Turin, in a little town named Chivasso. Since I arrived in Turin earlier than expected, I was able to enter in an earlier session. Ironically, with all the check points leading to the entrance, no one ever looked at my ticket. In addition, I inquired where I could store my small, carry-on luggage, and, to my surprise, I was allowed to take it into the cathedral! (I guess I don’t appear to be the terrorist type, bomb in bag.) A very helpful video greeted pilgrims, indicating areas to look for (blood stains on face, hands and feet, side of torso), position of the body—front and back views, of course—and other details. Then people were allowed in.

The Shroud is behind glass (I must presume bullet-proof) and lighted from the back. You cannot get closer than 15 feet away. Yet you can clearly see the faint image on the cloth; but only in the negative can the details be observed. Thus, I was so glad I had done all that reading over the years, including seeing the image in the negative. You cannot take photos (reaction to light?); nevertheless, many, many web sites do a good job of showing the image. I did have a staff lady snap my picture in front of the many images of Christ made throughout history. Here I am in front of an image from the 6th-century Syrian Rabboola Gospel book in the hall leading up to the entrance.

The session allows you to stand in front of the Shroud for about 10 minutes. Prayers are recited in different languages in a very quiet and meditative atmosphere—shall I say “awe”? I said a prayer for all who asked me to, especially for my blood family and my parish family.

In the spirit of the Celebrant’s Concluding Prayer of our Liturgy, I observe that “I know not whether I will be able to return” to see the Shroud ever again, but I was able to this time, and it was truly an awesome and inspiring experience.

(The Shroud is on display from April 10 to May 23, 2010. Read Pope Benedict's reflection on his visit to the Shroud.)


Fundraising for the Maronite Servants - Aliquippa PA

By Therese Touma
The Maronite Servants drove from Boston to Aliquippa, PA (near Pittsburgh) to attend their 8th Annual Grand Hafle April 30th, at the Club at Shadow Lakes. We were warmly invited by Abouna Rodolph Wakim, Pastor of the Mission Church of the Maronite community there. Abouna Rodolph is also the pastor of the Maronite parish in Pittsburgh.
At the beginning of the Hafle, Mother Marla Marie was asked to address the audience and speak on the mission of Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. After Mother concluded her talk expressing gratitude to those in attendance, she was pleasantly surprised by Abouna Rodolph’s generous presentation of a $5000 gift. This donation was collected from a 50/50 fundraiser raffle organized by Mark and Suzanne Betters (members of the mission Church). They sold 100 tickets valued at a $100 each to the community of Aliquippa and in two weeks sold out. An awesome effort!
We are grateful and appreciate Mark and Sue’s dedication, warm hospitality and enthusiastic commitment to support our growing mission.
A big thank you to the Maronite Community of Aliquippa for your charity and goodness!
Be assured of our continual prayers.
(Photo with the Betters' Family)


Chor Bishop Lahoud Retires - Boston

On Sunday, 2nd May, the Maronite Servants attended a Liturgy and reception in honor of Chor Bishop Joseph Lahoud’s retirement. It was a beautiful and moving Liturgy for Abouna and for all present as we heard him share stories of his past forty years serving at the parish of Our Lady of the Cedars in Boston. 
(Abouna Lahoud is in the blue vestments.)