Our Lady of the Harvest

Homily of Fr. Herbert Nicholls

Today Maronites along with many other Eastern Catholics and Orthodox honor Mary as Our Lady of the Harvest which in its pre-Christian origins arose from the needs of the farmers to seek help from the deities for a fruitful harvest. 
Ancient Christian texts began to attribute to Mary protection not only in material terms of the crops of the field but also her role in the incarnation of the Son of God, the source of life, who gives life to the world when we receive His Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Many non-Catholics and even Catholics today ask: Why all the fuss about Mary? Jesus is the one and only Mediator and Savior. We could go all the way back to the formative days and councils of the early Church. But it is sufficient for this reflection to go back about 550 years to the Protestant Reformation.

A Dutch theologian named Desiderius Erasmus was born 17 years before Martin Luther. Erasmus became a loyal son of the Church; at the same time maintaining friendship and dialogue with Luther, Zwingli, and other reformers exchanging several letters between 1524-1529.

Liberal Protestant movement began to emphasize Jesus as the teacher of morals and model for social action. They began to abandon teaching of Jesus as the Incarnate Word. Without the importance of Mary, the Incarnation becomes unimportant; and when the Incarnation became unimportant, the uniqueness of Christ was lost.

Without the focus on Mary, the Church loses focus on Jesus. Without a right focus on Mary and the Incarnation of her Divine Son, the Church loses its unique position of proclaiming God’s salvation through the sacrifice of her Son on the Cross. Its as simple as that—without Mary as His Mother, the entire Christian message falls apart. When the Catholic Church gathers for worship, fellowship or Bible study, we do not do so in the name of a social reformer, but in the name of the Divine Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, whom He gave to us as His Mother as He hung upon the Cross.

Erasmus continues to remain important today, for his warnings against removing the Virgin Mary from her prominence in the Church’s devotional life. We all need to understand and to appreciate that Marian festivals of the Catholic and Orthodox churches are one way in which we celebrate the Christ event.

She is worthy of our homage because God chose her as the means of presenting us with His greatest gift possible, His Son. So why all the fuss? Because without it is the stake of losing His uniqueness, His Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection; so that He becomes nothing more than a social reformer, and Christianity becomes just another faith among the many; but in focusing on Mary, we remain faithful to her Son, the one and only Mediator and Savior. 


MYO Day at the Mother of Light Convent

By Sister Natalie Sayde

On Pentecost Sunday, May 15th, the MYO groups from Lawrence, Boston and New Bedford came to the Mother of Light Convent to celebrate Divine Liturgy and enjoy a day of retreat with the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.
Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Monsignor David George, who set the tone of the day in his homily when he asked the teens to remember that their lives are a proof of God’s love, and challenged them to witness to this everyday. Msgr. George asked them to consider whether people recognize them as children of God by their actions, not just by their words.
Later in the afternoon, in his presentation on “Jesus as the visible face of the Father’s mercy”, Msgr. George spoke to the teens about the parable of the Prodigal Son, which he later renamed, the parable of the Merciful Father. Msgr. George emphasized to the teens that God is the only constant in their lives; that He is ever-present, ever-watchful, ever-waiting and ever-ready to meet us wherever we are. We need not be afraid of our past or apprehensive about our future, God is always there for us in loving attentiveness to embrace us and bring us home.
In our small group discussions, we discussed how we can bring the Father’s mercy to others in practical ways, such as, community service, praying for the sick and suffering, and befriending the outcast in our schools and playgrounds.
We had so much fun throughout the day, as we played basketball, soccer, Frisbee, and even had potato sack races!

A special thanks to Msgr. David George for his presence during the day, it was an absolute blessing! A special thanks to all the chaperones and teens that came from Lawrence, Boston and New Bedford.     


The Story of St. Christopher

Homily of Fr. Herbert Nicholls, Diocese of Fall River, bi-ritual faculties in the Maronite Church, chaplain at Mother of the Light Convent.

My sisters, day by day we enter more deeply into this Holy Year of Mercy. By His grace, the Lord guides our footsteps as we pass through a Holy Door. He comes to meet us, to stay with us, despite our failings and contradictions. Let us never tire of feeling the need of His forgiveness.
For when we are weak, proximity to Him strengthens us and enables us to live the faith with greater joy. To encounter Jesus is to experience His love for you. This love transforms and enables us to transmit to others the power that it gives.
In a way, we could say that from the day of our Baptism, each one of us is given a new name, in addition to the name given to us by our parents. We are Christophers, that is the bearers of Christ, a bearer of joy and mercy.
Are you familiar with the story of the ancient Christopher? The story may be somewhat embellished and has caused national conferences of bishops to suppress the celebration of his feast but I will come back to that point later.
The story as we are familiar with it involves a pagan of Caananite ancestry named Reprobus. As recorded in many histories, he came from a race of giants. As he served the king of Canaan, it came to his mind that he should seek the greatest prince in the world, in order to serve him alone.
So Reprobus travelled far and wide until he came to the court of a king who was considered the greatest and most powerful in the world. There Reprobus made his dwelling and gave his service. Until one evening when a minstrel sand a song about the devil. The king, being a Christian, made the sign of the Cross, which caused Reprobus to question: What was that and why did you do that?
The king answered, the name of the devil frightens me; but the sign of the Cross gives me protection and banishes my fears.At this, Reprobus answered: You have deceived me. You are not the most powerful king. I will go to seek this devil for my master and serve him.
Reprobus proceeded into the desert where he came upon a knight most frightening and cruel looking. When he asked, do you know where I might find the devil, whom I wish to serve?The knight replied, I am the devil. Reprobus bound himself as his perpetual servant to this new master and lord. This would not last long for as they travelled they came upon a cross standing erect in the ground. The devil cowered and turned away. Reprobus asked, what is that sign which makes you shrink? The devil answered, There once was this man named Jesus who was executed upon a Cross, and everytime I see that sign it makes me shudder. Reprobus answered, then you have deceived me also. You are not the greatest master. I have labored for you in vain. This Jesus is greater and mightier than you. I will serve you no longer. I am going to search for Him.
Travelling deeper into the desert he found a hermit, who, diligently informed in the faith of Christ, advised Reprobus, If you wish to serve my Lord, because you are noble and strong, you must go to the river and ferry people across and back. But you must know that the waters rise dangerously high, and without warning.Reprobus went to the river and made a pole for balance as he ferried people across the river.
One night he was awoken from sleep by a young voice calling him, Reprobus, come out and bare me across these waters.The first and second time that Reprobus exited his tent he could find no one. But the third time he found a young child whom he lifted on his shoulders to cross the waters.
The waters began to rise and swell. The child became very heavy; and Reprobus began to fear that they both would drown. Reprobus in fear said, Child, you have put us both in great peril. You weigh as much as the entire world.The child answered, it is not only the weight of the world that you carry, but its creator. I am Jesus, the King whom you have searched to serve. Because you know that what I say is true, put your staff into the ground and in the morning it will bear flowers and fruit.When Reprobus woke in the morning his staff like a tree bore leaves, and flowers and dates.
Christopher went into the city of Lycia, and when confronted by the judges they mocked and smote him across the face. If I were not a Christian I would avenge my injury, he said. Then he pitched his rod into the earth and prayed to God for the conversion of these peoplethe rod began to blossom as it had done before. Eight thousand people were converted.
When the king heard of this he ordered Christopher bound and brought to him. When Christopher was delivered the king trembled with fear and fell off his throne. He ordered Christopher to be imprisoned. Later the king order that he eat of the sacrificial foods offered to the pagan gods. When Christopher refused he was threatened with torture by red-hot irons. Still he refused. Finally, the king ordered Christopher beheaded.
With a few alterations this is the medieval story of St. Christopher from the Golden Legend of William Caxton; a story known throughout east and west. It prompted the custom of honoring the saint as patron saint of travelers, especially motorists. The legend, however, was not known in its full form as stated here until the middle ages raising questions as to its veracity.
It is known however with certainty, that there was a martyr by the name of Christopher executed in Lycia under the reign of Decius. But there is no proof of identity between the two, but there is a spiritual and physical correlation. Experiencing mercy makes us Christophers, bearers of Christ. For if we have found the one true Lord and Master, then He alone is the one that we must serve.


First Communion - New Bedford MA

On Sunday May 1st, the Feast of Our Lady of Lebanon, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light attended the First Holy Communion Liturgy of the children at Our Lady of Purgatory Parish, New Bedford. The children receiving were Joseph Chedid, Theresa Coury, Anna Higgins and Grace Schwartz. Fr. Fadi Rouhana, pastor, offered the Liturgy and Sr. Therese Maria was the catechist.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, both Fr. Fadi and Mother Marla Marie presented the children with a Bible to remind them that the Word of God is a treasure of infinite value, and should be given a place in their lives alongside the Holy Qorbono.  Parish celebrations were held in the social hall which included the exchanging of gifts, and the cutting of a cake.