By Natalie Salameh
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light hosted a one day Retreat at the Mother of Light Convent on 31 May to 1 June 2013 for the young women of the Maronite Church.
The focus of the retreat was on being made in the image and likeness of God. I think we all often forget that we, as individual human beings, have a superior dignity. That it was God who formed us, created us from nothing, and who willed us into existence purely out of His unfathomable love for us. The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light have reminded us of the superior dignity that we have of being children of an all-powerful and all-loving God.
The Retreat began on the evening of 31 May 2013 with the praying of the Maronite Ramsho (evening prayer). The Sisters then launched into their first presentation with a focus on the Book of Genesis.
Questions I think we all ask ourselves at one point in our lives were focused on in great detail, “who am I?” and “what am I?” The Sisters gave us the answers we all search for - we are beautiful because we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are made in His image not because of what we have done for Him, but because of what He has done for us, and not because of what He means to us, but because of what we mean to Him. This served as an excellent topic of meditation for our one hour of Eucharistic Adoration that followed.
The evening was sealed with the watching of the movie “October Baby”. This movie in itself focused on the great gift of God’s love, the gift of children (particularly the unborn), and the healing power of God’s love (well chosen). This movie transmitted a really powerful message, and that is in forgiveness, Christ sets us free. What does He set us free from? The shackles and fetters of sin.
The topic of sin was then the focus of the next morning’s presentation, after the praying of the Maronite Safro (morning prayer). What does sin do? It distorts and corrupts our image, which was made in God’s likeness. The morning’s presentation focused on original sin which caused the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and closed the gates of heaven. But God the Father Almighty, in His infinite mercy and compassion, sent us a Savior, His only begotten Son, to redeem us and re-open the gates of heaven. So Christ Jesus, by taking on our humanity, has united us to His divinity.
Of course, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light reminded us that the greatest remedy for sin is the Holy Mystery of Penance (Confession). To that end, we had Abouna Jack from Our Lady of Purgatory Maronite Church in New Bedford come and hear our confessions and celebrate a Divine Liturgy. Thankyou - Abouna Jack.
The third and final presentation focused on the role that we women have in the conception and birth of new life (as biological mothers) and the tender love and care we have for all of God’s children in Holy Mother Church (as spiritual mothers). This was followed again by a beautiful hour of Eucharistic Adoration and the praying of the Maronite Ramsho.
On a personal note, I got to share my testimony of discernment with the other young ladies who attended the retreat. I have been discerning a religious vocation with the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light for the past two weeks. I am originally from Sydney, Australia, but I made a special visit to the Maronite Servants to discern the voice and call of God. I ask for your prayers during this time of my discernment.
On behalf of all the young ladies who attended the retreat, I’d like to thank the Sisters for an enlightening and thought-provoking retreat. May God continue to bless your mission and ministry to our Maronite people (and of course may He add to your numbers).