Feast of St. Stephen, ProtoMartyr

Father Nick offering Divine Liturgy for the sisters. 
The following homily is by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent on Thursday, December 27, 2018.

For the past few weeks we have been listening to some of the most heartwarming music and seen pleasant programs on TV, but now its over. 

The Gospel today seems to fracture the Christmas cheer. The Lord seems to draw a desolate picture of split families, the betrayal of parents by children and vice versa. Tell us, O Ghost of Christmas, is all this really the way things have to be or just the way things might be?

Certainly, Jesus came as a sign of contradiction. The proclamation of forgiveness and eternal life requires separation from our self-centered past. And all the wonderful things about which we sing occur only when our hearts begin to open to others around us. 

The understanding of Christmas demands a break from the pattern of past behaviors, perhaps even a distancing from friends, co-workers or even family members who would trivialize and seek to reverse our conversion. The process of becoming truly Christian can be a lonely and even heroic act. But with it comes everlasting life. If we honestly want to break with the past, the Lord will help us not so much with the example of Scrooge but with that of Stephen, who after all was a human being like us.

Stephen was not supernaturally conceived. No angels heralded his birth. No Magi came to acknowledge his greatness. But he chose to convert his life from darkness to light. With his baptism, he was filled with the Holy Spirit as we are.

In the life of Stephen we see God embrace our weak human nature so that we might know the power of His Divine Spirit. The Liturgy calls this surrender of our self-centeredness and the embracing of God’s grace as a holy exchange of wills. 

Stephen’s discipleship and heroism were not unique but was the example for many hundreds of thousands of martyrs and millions of other Christians every day. It is the same Holy Spirit who fills us when we give our lives fully to the Lord. 

Only then will the promise of Christmas: peace and good will come true in our lives, and through us in that of our society.  


Winter Newsletter - A Blessed Christmas

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light wish you a blessed season of the Glorious Birth.
Please take a few minutes to read this newsletter sharing highlights of our recent missions here in the US and in Lebanon.


Spiritual Reflections to Prepare for Christmas

I Say it Again, Rejoice!

The following homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls, at the Mother of Light Convent on November 28th, 2018.

Jesus came to His own country, but His own received Him not. People have difficulty recognizing anything that is out of the ordinary, especially with things or people with whom they have been on familiar terms. Its kind of like, But we’ve always done it this way, why do we need to change now?

Jesus’ neighbors throw a battalion of questions at Him. Where does He get all this from? Is He not the Carpenter’s Son? Is He not the brother of James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Are not all His sisters here in Nazareth? Why Him and not us? The ugly head of jealousy peeks out of the darkness of resentment.

People did not understand Jesus for Who He was. Sometimes, perhaps often, people do not understand us for who we are. Being misunderstood is never easy, sometimes it can be quite painful. We should not kid ourselves. It was not easy for the God-Man to be misunderstood. It is no less difficult for the good man or woman to be misunderstood. 

Now this is the Glorious Season of our Savior’s birth, a time to rejoice in hope, rejoice even in the darkness, for these wounds will make you more like your beloved. 

These “little things” are like the fingers of God, the Father conforming you into the image of His Son, who suffered misunderstandings for your salvation. Slowly, these fingers of God will work with the fingers of time like two hands at a potter’s wheel to shape you until you become more like the ‘Christ’.

You will be shaped and shaped, not knowing that you are being shaped. You will experience great darkness, great aridity, great temptation, a lent that is not limited to 40 days. But remember St. Paul’s words, I say it again rejoice!

We are the Family of God

The following homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls, at the Mother of Light Convent on November 29th, 2018.

Every human being has a deep desire to belong. We long to be part of a loving family. We want to be accepted and respected by our peers and superiors. We want our concerns to be listened to and understood. In a word we want to be loved, as an icon of God who is Love. If we really identify with these longings, then what we are experiencing is a wanting to belong to God. 

Try to imagine Jesus’ thoughts as He looked at this group of people assembled before Him. Maybe something like this: Father, I love them so much! I know how confused and prone to failure they can become; but I know also how deeply they long to know You. Thankyou for giving me such a wonderful family of faith.

What did Jesus see when He looked around at His friends and enemies…surely He knew what an immature and motley crew they were. He knew how difficult it was for them to grasp what He was trying to tell them. 

Over and over again we read: The word remained hidden from them. He knew that they genuinely desired to do His Father’s will, why else would they leave so much behind to become a disciple? But Jesus also knew that what He was trying to teach here would be much more potential than reality.

But Jesus placed this motley crew on the same level as His own Mother. Sit with that for a moment later today. Let Him tell you that He thinks as much about You as He does His brothers, sisters and mother.

Yes, you are in exactly the same situation, you want to please Him, you want to follow Him, but sometimes you think that what He asks of you is crazy.

We need to ask ourselves, How willing am I to risk every thing for the sake of the Gospel? We are willing to study the Gospel, to hear what Jesus says, we are willing to know about Him but when it comes to surrendering to Him, that is a difficult question.

We can become wrapped up in reflection in Doctrine, the examination of Church and community law, the latest techniques and proposals for making our apostolate more appealing and successful, but all of these can become a substitute for actual surrender of our life to the Gospel. 

Jesus knows that you will stumble. It is inevitable. He stumbled three times on the way to Calvary. But you can be just as sure that Jesus loves you at every moment, just as you are. So have no fear, be humble, be submissive, be saved.   


MYO Adore Retreat 2018 – Wise Men Still Seek Him

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

The MYO regional Christmas retreat for the Eparchy of St. Maron was on November 30 – December 2 at the Retreat Center of the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, MA. The theme of this was the adoration of the Magi (Wise Men) with a focus on how we can adore Jesus as they did.

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light facilitated the dynamic group of over 100 teens and chaperones from several parishes which included, St. Maron’s in Philadelphia; Our Lady Star of the East in Pleasantville, NJ; St. Theresa’s in Brockton, MA; Our Lady of Purgatory in New Bedford, MA; St. Anthony of the Desert in Fall River, MA; St. Anthony’s in Lawrence, MA;  St. Anthony’s in Danbury, CT, and Our Lady of the Cedars, Boston.

Over the two days, the teens participated in a variety of different events and activities and prayer which included adoration and confession. God bless the Maronite priests who serve the above parishes that came to offer the Mystery of Penance to the youth. One of the icebreakers, which generated alot of excitement; was the “Christmas stations”. The chaperones from St. Anthony’s in Lawrence created six different stations at which the youth had to participate in different activities in as quick as time as possible. Some of the stations included putting on a Santa suit, eating Santa’s three oreos and drinking his milk, unwrapping presents with oven mitts and so forth. Friday night concluded on a festive note with a bonfire, roasting marshmallows and socializing, in the crisp air. The youth had fun after the bonfire by participating in a gingerbread house building competition, which the chaperones actually won for their creativity and effort.   

Fr. Joseph Daiif, Pastor of St. Theresa’s in Brockton, spoke to the youth on Friday night on the gift Jesus made of Himself in becoming man to save us. Sr. Therese Maria led the youth in adoration on Friday night, while Fr. Joseph gave benediction.

On Saturday morning, Msgr. James Root, Pastor of St. Anthony of the Desert in Fall River, spoke about the adoration of the Magi, and why their visit to Baby Jesus and their bringing of the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were so special and important. In our small group discussions, following the talk, many of the youth commented that they learned a lot about the Magi themselves and the significance of their gifts. We encouraged the youth to think and reflect on their own personal gifts that they can place at the feet of Jesus this Christmas season.    

There was no better place to prepare for Christmas than the La Salette Shrine with their famous display of countless miniature lights and catechetical displays which switch on at 5pm everyday during the Christmas season. On Saturday evening, the teens made their way to the Shrine for the blessing of the Manger and the switching-on of the lights. They had some free time to explore the vast display of lights. The evening ended with lots of fun which included pizza and a dabke party.

Over the course of the weekend, many of the youth expressed their joy at having made so many new friends, at having this opportunity to bond with God and one another, and at being free to just be themselves and have fun. 


She Who Trusted!

A Reflection on the Announcement to Mary by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
In the Maronite Church, we are in the Liturgical Season of the Happy Announcements (Syriac: Sooborey), which are six Sundays that prepare us for the Glorious Birth of Our LordWe celebrated this past Sunday, the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, also known as the Annunciation (cf. Luke 1: 26 – 38).
Speaking personally, I know that I am so familiar with the story that sometimes I can gloss over its great significance, especially when I look at the person of Mary. 
By her ‘yes’ to God, her yes, I will be the Mother of Your Son, Mary made a total gift of herself to God and humanity. She held nothing back, she gave all – body and soul, and she gave without hesitation or delay. I think what I often miss in this Gospel story is that underpinning Mary’s ‘yes’ was her complete trust in God. 
Trust! That is difficult for us humans to do. As a result of sin and its consequences, we struggle not only to trust God, but each other. Now Mary was sinless, but that’s not why she had complete trust in God. I’m sure on a natural level, a human level, she had questions, “How is Joseph going to take this?”, What about if I become the object of slander and gossip in Nazareth?”, “What about if I bring shame on my elderly parents?”, “Who is going to help me raise this baby?” and so forth.
All of these questions would have crossed her mind at one point, but she silences them all with her deep trust in God, who she knows intimately as a Good Father. “God will take care of me, He will take care of everything because as the Angel said to me, nothing is impossible with God”. The Angel’s words to Mary must have been a great comfort to her, as they are to all of us today.
Sometimes, when I am faced with a difficult situation, or a trial, or a problem of some sort, I can be torn between two very different reactions. On the one hand, there is one part of me that says, ‘go and take this issue to God, He will take care of it because it is beyond your control’. But there is another part of me (a very human part) that doubts and questions when I consider the magnitude of the problem or trial I am facing, ‘How is God going to fix this? Is He even listening to me?’
When these kinds of doubts and questions arise, it becomes very difficult for me (and us) to give a wholehearted ‘yes’ to God as Mary did. The remedy is TRUST. I’ve discovered that trust is a choice, it’s a decision that has nothing to do with feelings or emotions, and it’s like a muscle that needs to be stretched and exercised like any other. 
I make little Acts of Trust everyday and I encourage you to do the same. When even a small, seemingly insignificant inconvenience arises in your day (as they do in mine), like being stuck in traffic, or spilling your coffee, or getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, make an Act of Trust – “Jesus, right now, I want to trust You. Jesus, take care of this situation for me. Mary, help me to trust God right now with this issue”. I repeat this prayer every time I feel myself becoming worked up or anxious about the same issue that keeps bothering me. I’ve personally noticed that the more I flex my ‘trust muscle’, the more I have seen God intervene in a truly wonderful and personal way, as He did for Mary, and I know He will do for you.
Happy Sooborey!             


Maronite Servants on Mission in Lebanon

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light were on a three week visit to Lebanon which consisted of one week of mission and apostolic activities. The last full week of our visit was dedicated to our annual silent retreat. 

We arrived in Lebanon on October 17, and our week of mission began with a youth gathering on October 20, with Bishop Michel Aoun of Jbeil and the youth of the district. The day was hosted by the Rosary Sisters in their college in Blat, Jbeil and was attended by 400 youth. The theme, “Plant Your Fingerprint”, consisted of spiritual conferences, Divine Liturgy and adoration and testimonials. Sr. Therese Maria gave a testimonial on the Maronite youth of America and the challenges they face today. 

We also attended another youth gathering in Zahle on November 3 with Bishop Joseph Mouawad. The theme was “What is my Vocation?” Bishop Joseph spoke beautifully on the gift of vocation, and what it means to ‘discern’ one’s vocation in life. We had a fun evening with the youth, and enjoyed the awesome choir of Mission de Vie.   

We spent a day with the Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament in Jbeil. The sisters have a house of mercy for the elderly in Kfarmasshoun where spent the morning with the elderly, visiting and praying with them. In the afternoon, we went to the sisters’ school and orphanage in Beit Habbak, where we were also able to visit with the children and spend some time with the sisters there. 

On Wednesday, October 24, we visited the Sesobel Institute in Ain El Rehani, which takes care of 250 mentally and physically disabled children. We were with Mrs. Fadia Safi, manager of Sesobel. We experienced Sesobel first hand, from their physical therapy center and autism center to their textile workshop, just to name a few. It was a blessed day to spend with the children who taught so much about true happiness, and joy in the midst of their challenges.

The last couple of days of our mission week were spent with the team of Telelumiere. The sisters were able to film a number of short videos on various topics such as, vocations and our Maronite Servants’ congregation highlighting our tenth anniversary of foundation.  

On the day before we left, we visited with His Eminence and Beatitude, Cardinal Bishara Peter Rai, in Bkerke. In our conversations with the Patriarch, he touched upon the subject of vocations in Lebanon, and how vital it is for religious to be faithful and authentic witnesses of the Gospel. His Beatitude also spoke about his recent visit to Rome, where he participated in the Synod on Young People. He said it was a most fruitful Synod and highlighted how important it is for us to listen to the concerns of young people in our Church today.

Our visit to Lebanon and our apostolic activities were a great blessing to us, and filled us with so much joy. It was such a wonderful experience to meet and participate in the lives of so many people, to be able to touch their suffering and listen to and sympathize with their challenges in life. We thank God for these opportunities. 


10 Year Anniversary Hafle Celebration

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

On Saturday, October 13, the Maronite Servants commemorated their 10 Year Anniversary with a hafle celebration at Our Lady of the Cedar’s Hall in Jamaica Plain. The Hall was recently renovated earlier this year, and was a beautiful location for our celebration. 

With 275 people in attendance from all seven Maronite parishes in Massachusetts, the evening’s program was filled with prayer and gratitude for God’s blessings, a delicious banquet buffet, and live entertainment.

We were blessed with the presence of both Maronite and Roman Catholic clergy, including the Daughters of St. Paul, who were a great means of support for Mother Marla Marie in beginning this foundation.

Chorbishop Joseph Kaddo gave the invocation. Msgr. James Root, Pastor of St. Anthony of the Desert, gave a short presentation on the early beginnings of the foundation and how he was a part of the clergy committee charged with overseeing the establishment of the Maronite Servants. Mother Marla Marie gave a heartfelt presentation on her experience as the foundress of the Maronite Servants, emphasizing God’s many blessings in the last 10 years. Msgr. Georges El-Khali, Pastor of Our Lady of the Cedars Church, finished the evening’s presentations by praising the work of the sisters, and how greatly the sisters are appreciated and needed in our Maronite eparchies.
The evening concluded with dancing and live entertainment by Mitchell Kaltsunas and his band giving us a nice rendition of Lebanese music. It was awesome to see so many people with a smile on their faces, many who had been there from the beginning supporting our foundation.

This hafle celebration could not have taken place without the help of many donors and benefactors, too many to be named here, who have overwhelmed us with their generosity in giving of their time, talents and treasures. We are most grateful to all who supported us. 


Maronite Young Adult Workshop 2018 – Washington D.C.

Maronite Young Adult (MYA) Workshop 2018 – Washington D.C.

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh

We had a successful National Maronite Young Adult (MYA) workshop in Washington, D.C. this past weekend on October 5 – 7. The theme of this year’s Workshop was Maronite Identity and Spirituality.

Father Tony Massad, Pastor of St. Rafka Church in Livonia, MI, and Sister Therese Maria, Eparchial Coordinator of the Maronite Young Adults and the MYA National Executive Board diligently worked together to offer an awesome weekend of spirituality, fun and fellowship for the 225 young adults who attended from across the country.

We were blessed to have His Excellency Bishop Gregory Mansour, of the Eparchy of St. Maron, with us for the weekend. Bishop Gregory offered a presentation on the meaning of true love within the context of dating and marriage. One of the guest speakers was Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, former Rector of the Maronite Seminary in D.C.. On Friday evening, during Divine Liturgy, Chorbishop Beggiani explained each component of the Maronite Liturgy as it unfolded, which many found very enlightening. On Saturday, Chorbishop Beggiani offered a presentation on different aspects of the Maronite Tradition, drawing on the imagery of our early Syriac fathers. We also had a presentation from Kate Fowler of the Catholic Apostolate Center on the impact of social media on our everyday lives.

We had various breakout sessions and small group discussions throughout the day focusing on different topics such as prayer and discernment, marriage, mental health, dating and friendship, and social media. 

It was a beautiful weekend of blessings and a dynamic program of prayer, presentations, confession, Liturgy and ice breakers. 


Reflection on the Maronite Liturgy – Waterville, Maine

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
On Saturday, September 29, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light offered a day of recollection for the parishioners of St. Joseph’s Maronite Church in Waterville, Maine. The focus of the retreat was the living treasure of our Maronite Divine Liturgy.
The morning opened with the Divine Liturgy, the greatest of all prayers, celebrated by  Fr. James Doran, Pastor, which is really set the stage for our Day of Recollection on the greatest jewel of our Maronite Church.
Mother Marla Marie began our Day of Recollection by focusing on the Syriac music of our Maronite Liturgy, especially its hymns and imagery, whilst touching upon the works of St. Ephrem and the early Syriac Fathers. Mother Marla Marie explained the difference between Liturgical hymnody and religious music. Each retreat participant had the opportunity to reflect on a different hymn of the Maronite Liturgy.
Sr. Natalie Sayde facilitated the afternoon’s reflection on the prayer of the Hoosoyo in the Liturgy, also known in English as the “Prayer of Forgiveness”. Sr. Natalie explained the poetic richness of the four prayers that comprise the Hoosoyo – the Proemion, Sedro, Qolo and Etro, and also the Hoosoyo’s catechetical function in the Liturgy. Each of the retreat participants had the opportunity to reflect on a different Hoosoyo of the Liturgy and to share on how the Hoosoyo was touching them personally and what it was teaching them.     
Mother Marla Marie spoke at both the Vigil Liturgy on Saturday and the morning’s Liturgy on Sunday about the apostolate of the Maronite Servants and the need for vocations in our Maronite Church. 
A big thankyou to all retreat participants for their efforts and contribution on the day, especially to Fr. Doran for his warm welcome and hospitality. We truly felt at home.

For those interested in holding a similar retreat for their parishes, please contact the Maronite Servants of Christ: sister@maroniteservants.org.  


Weekend Events of the Sisters

Catechetical Workshop

On Saturday, September 22, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light facilitated a Catechetical Workshop for the Catechists of Our Lady of the Cedars Church of Boston. The Workshop took place at the Mother of Light Convent. 

This was the first workshop in a four-part series that the sisters are offering to help catechists serve their parish and the classroom more effectively. 

The first workshop focused on some key areas in Catechesis: 

1.    The mission of a Catechist (especially the Role, Qualities, Knowledge and Skills required of a Catechist);
2.    The place of the family in catechesis, as the Domestic Church, and how the Catechist can encourage more participation and involvement in Catechesis from the family;
3.    The content and tasks of catechesis, especially witnessing to our faith, not merely in word, but more importantly, in example.

The next three Catechetical workshops to be offered by the sisters will cover other important topics which include, but are not limited to, Curriculum and lesson planning; disciplinary and communication skills; child engagement; creating a safe environment and so forth.

Our Lady Of Purgatory Church Festival

On Saturday, October 22, the Maronite Servants attended the Festival of Our Lady of Purgatory Church honoring the Feast of the Holy Cross in New Bedford, MA. 

Before the Vigil Liturgy, Sr. Therese Maria gave a presentation on the meaning of the Feast of the Holy Cross in our Maronite Liturgical Year, and the significance of the Cross in our everyday lives. 


Hafle Fundraiser for our 10th Anniversary

Join us in Boston on October 13th at 7:00PM for a Hafle Fundraiser to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.  This event promises to be a great time with excellent food, entertainment and celebration.  Please support the Sisters in their major fundraiser of the year. Consider bringing a table of your friends.  Tickets must be purchased in advance from one of the sellers listed at the bottom of the poster.  Thank you for supporting us!  


10th Anniversary Open House

Maronite Servants Celebrate 10 Years – Open House
By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light hosted an Open House on Saturday, September 8 from 2:00PM to 5:00PM in celebration of our 10 Year Anniversary. September 8 also happens to be the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Mother. In attendance were Bishop Gregory Mansour, our Maronite Bishop and Bishop Nicholas Samra of the Melkite Church. 
The Sisters were pleased to welcome over 70 guests to our convent in Dartmouth for a presentation on the blessings of the last 10 years, a tour of our basement, which is undergoing complete remodeling and refurbishment, refreshments, and the cutting of an anniversary cake. 
Our guests were first introduced to our Chapel of Saint Maron, and then proceeded to the sunroom, which was set up as a display area featuring a video, and powerpoint presentation, featuring some of the blessings of the last 10 years. Sr. Therese Maria also explained our basement project with before and after shots.  After this, our guests were taken on a tour of the basement by Sr. Natalie Sayde and were shown the current progress of the project and what still needs to be done. 

Dedicated volunteers served refreshments in our outdoor area where our friends could sit back and enjoy each other’s company. Both Mother Marla Marie and Bishop Gregory Mansour gave short presentations on the beauty of our Community and our charism as spiritual mothers, and how God has been working with us, in us and through us in the last 10 years. 

Please save the following dates in your calendar in celebrating our 10 Year Anniversary with us:

·      Banquet Dinner/Fundraiser on Saturday, October 13 at Our Lady of the Cedars, Boston,MA. 
 Liturgy of Thanksgiving on November 16 St. George in Cranston, RI


To Whom Shall We Go?

The following homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls on Sunday, August 26, 2018.
Jesus had said over and over again: I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…these words were truly difficult and incomprehensible to accept, because they were understood in a purely literal sense. These words foretold the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, His Death and Resurrection, in which He was to sacrifice Himself for humanity’s salvation.
Seeing that hoards of people were deserting Him, Jesus turned to His disciples asking them, Will you also leave me? Why does Jesus ask this question? Because He sought for them to acknowledge within their hearts if indeed they still believe or like the rest, might they choose to leave.
Peter answered on behalf of the Twelve, Lord, to whom should we go? We might ask ourselves, to whom should we go if no longer to Jesus Christ? We believe in order to know, but we are unable to either know or believe, unless we are in communion with the Lord and Savior. 
Though Peter spoke for the Twelve, there was one among them who had ceased to believe. Judas, like the others could have simply gone away; indeed if he were an honest man, he would have been bound to leave like the others. Instead, he stayed, continuing to accompany Jesus, but no longer out of faith, no longer as a believer, no longer as a disciple of love, but rather, harboring the secret intention of betrayal and desertion.
What brought Judas to such darkness? Judas felt that Jesus had let him down. He was not the kind of Messiah that Judas had expected and desired. So the problem for Judas was that he did not go away. His great sin was not denial or desertion. The great sin of Judas was to linger in deceitfulness, to pretend that he was loyal and faithful.
For this reason Jesus says, one of you is a Satan. IE, an accuser, a seducer, a liar. We have focused on Judas but over the centuries there have been many Judases who have used the ‘pretend game’ to hide their diabolic appetites for money, power or lust.
Every century has its scandals, but as far as we know, nothing that can compare with our own. We must admit that even the successors of the Apostles have not been immune from the ‘pretend game’.
Like Jesus, we have a right to be sad and angry, to feel betrayed. We have been betrayed. And those who are indicted with these crimes must be held accountable.
The lesson of the Scriptures is not only about the fallen, but an encouragement to those who seek in their heart to remain faithful. 
The Church is human, a human institution subject to scrutiny and punishment for sin. The Church is not ‘them’. The Church is you and I. We must all take responsibility for our sins. We must all take responsibility for spreading the gospel, or are we going to let it die? Will we allow Christ’s sacrifice to go in vain?
This is why Christ died for us. Because we are sinners in need of redemption. This is why Jesus is very frank with His disciples, asking will you continue to follow me? If you continue to follow Jesus you will witness many miracles and you will also witness many faith-shaking situations.
The Church is the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Spouse of Christ. Painful though it may seem at this time, we need the Church and the Church needs you. Look around, where are the young newly-ordained? In most parishes today, you see only the elderly priest with trembling hands, even the retired still called out to serve.
To young people today I plead for Christ: Do not be afraid, Jesus needs you. Jesus loves you. You can make the difference between destruction and reconstruction.
Have we come to believe? Do we truly believe? Are we convinced that Jesus is God’s Holy One and that we who are His Body in living faith are also holy ones? This is what we celebrate in this Eucharist.
In accordance with the prophetic words of Joshua: if it does not please you to serve the Lord; then decide today whom you shall serve. The greater sin is not to decide against God or His Church – the greater sin is to not decide, to pretend, this is the sin of all the Judases. 
Choose today: Betray, Begone or Believe.


Mary in the Month of August

The following homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent on Wednesday, August 22.
When you do a little research, it’s interesting to find how customs begin and develop over the course of time. We usually associate Mary with its beautiful fresh flowers as the month of Mary and would hardly thick twice about August.
Yet two of the greatest feasts honoring Mary occur this month. Her assumption into heaven on the 15thof August. In earlier times it was referred to as the Dormition of Mary or Lady Day. It was the custom of the Bishop or Pastor to bless the fields and collect the harvest of flowers and first fruits.
On the Octave, our Blessed Lady is honored in the Coronation as Queen of heaven and earth. Certainly this is a more fitting day for the crowning of statues and honoring of Mary as queen and mother rather than the first Sunday of May which more often than not precedes even the Ascension of Jesus; thereby introducing confusion and ambiguity into the Liturgical calendar.
There are many other feasts during the month honoring devotees of Mary such as St. Dominic, who according to tradition received from the Blessed Mother the Rosary and instruction on how it is to be prayed. This tradition has been encouraged and continues to our present day.
Dominic was originally ordained as an Augustinian Monk, later organized his own society called the Order of Preachers. Along with a contemporary, St. Francis of Assisi, who began his Order of Friars Minor in the Chapel of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, where he also died. The chapel has a liturgical commemoration on August 2nd.
On the last day of July, we remember St. Ignatius of Loyola, who like St Paul was a soldier. He was not particularly religious. Wounded in battle with a shattered leg, he had a lot of time during his recovery to read. Unable to procure his more desirable romantic reading, he settled for the Scriptures and the lives of the Saints. He was also gifted with a visitation from Mary, in which she directed him to make a pilgrimage to her shrine in Montserrat. There he stayed for 11 months studying with the Dominicans. In 1534, Pope Paul II approved the formation of the Society of Jesus.
A little more than a century later, Alphonsus Liguori was born. He was a brilliant scholar and became a masterful lawyer in both civil and canon law. In 1726, he too was ordained in the Dominican Order, but 6 years later founded the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists).
He was given a powerful ministry in moral theology which he reformed in light of Sacred Scripture. Among his famous works is his masterpiece, The Glories of Mary. His feast is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, August 1.
Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney was born in 1786. He was a slow student who experienced great difficulty with Latin. Ultimately overcome all obstacles and was ordained a parish priest and assigned a pastor in the village of Ars. A small town of about 500 lapsed Catholics. It was a very difficult assignment. The people were content and happy with their irreligious and materialistic way of living. His preaching seemed to fall on deaf ears. Then one day, John Vianney, reading the words of the Gospel: some devils can only be driven out by prayer and fasting, he began an intense vigil of prayer and fasting, eating only one potato a day. Slowly at first, they began coming to confession. To their amazement he often told them the sins which they had not confessed to him. Quickly word spread, and soon people came like flocks of sheep from all over France to make their confession to this holy man. He often spent 16 hours a day hearing confessions and reconciling sinners. His feast is also observed on the anniversary of his death on August 4.
August 5 commemorates one of the oldest liturgical appointments. It is the anniversary of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, built by Pope Sixtus II following the Council of Ephesus and the decree of Mary as Theotokos, Mother of God.
When the Holy Father in prayer asked our Blessed Mother where the Church was to be built, legend says that she showed him with a localized snowfall on the Palestine Hill. To this day, the Church is affectionately referred to as Our Lady of the Snow. Although the present edifice is the third building on this spot, it marks the site of the oldest Church in the western world dedicated to Our Lady.
So you see how one day in the future, the month of August may come to be celebrated as Mary’s month and May can be recognized for what it is – the month of her Son’s paschal mystery and the sending of the Paraclete.
There is room in the Church for all kinds of devotions and Vatican II did not intend to abolish them except for some which made frivolous, inauthentic and extravagant claims and were more superstitious than faithful. 
So now is a time like no other to praise and honor Mary as our Queen and Mother, to bring flowers of the fairest and fruits of the rarest and crown our August Queen.


Vocation Presentation – Assonet, MA

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light gave a vocation presentation on Wednesday, August 9, and witness for the children enrolled in the one week “Summer Fun” program at St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Assonet, MA.
We taught the children a number of beautiful things about a religious vocation, specifically, what a nun is and what is her role, mission and purpose in the Church. We explained to them the religious habit and the three vows of obedience, chastity and poverty.  The group also had the opportunity to ask us questions which they did with enthusiasm. Some of them asked whether we were born as nuns, what we do on a daily basis, and where do we live.
At the end of the presentation, we prayed with the children and  gave each a cross necklace to remind them of God’s great love for them.