Let God be God!

The following homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent on Thursday, m/  May 24, 2018.
This Gospel which we begin today and read for the next two week (Jn 14-17) is taken from Jesus’ Farewell Discourse at the Last Supper. We might bear this in mind as we hear the first verse: Do not let your hearts be troubled! In a few short hours, Jesus would experience the most troublesome hours of his life.
The Apostles do not really understand what Jesus is saying to them. Thomas exclaims: We do not know where you are going..Jesus responds: I am the Way…He is telling us that He is the only path linking heaven and earth. He is telling us that we reach God the Father by no other route than by following His footsteps. 
This short response of Jesus does no more than provide an answer to Thomas’ question. Jesus goes on to say: I am the Truth because He has come to reveal God’s faithfulness to His promise. He says: I am the Life, because through grace He takes us to share His life with the Father.
Anyone can attain understanding of truth and life but we cannot find the way. It must be revealed to us.
If you recall Jesus said to His disciples: Go back to the Upper Room, pray and wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. For nine days they gathered with Mary and the other women, where Mary filled them in on things they did not know – like the infancy and adolescence of Jesus. 
During this retreat they grew in wisdom and knowledge. When we come to the first reading from Acts, it describes a post-Pentecostal experience. They have been transformed from whimps into spiritual warriors. 
The Apostles have emerged from the dark, locked dungeon of self-protection to do what they had been trained to do. St. Like mentions that they were going to the Temple, a very public place to celebrate afternoon prayer as was customary for the Jews.
They would certainly find themselves in a high-profile situation, but they did not manifest any desire to display public attention. They went to pray, to imitate the Lord.
But the presentation of this cripple places them in an embarrassing development. Miracles are not extraordinary actions that occur cassualy or suddenly. Miracles require cooperation in faith. Sometimes it is on the part of the one wishig to be cured, at other times it might be by request. When a miracle occurs it is because of a movement of the Holy Spirit.
This man, crippled from birth, is truly dependent upon divine intervention. Peter initiaties contact by first inviting the man to look at him. Then in the name of Jesus he invites the man to stand up and walk. Peter reaches out, continuing to assist this paralytic, as he struggles to his feet. Suddenly he is standing, walking, leaping and praising God. 
Peter’s boldness of power took the religious leaders by surprise. They ordered him to stop preaching and healing. Peter must have thought: if they get so upset about this first miracle, what’s going to happen down the road?
But he affirmed his committement to a higher authority. It was the young John who exclaimed: is it better to obey God or man?
As we struggle to grow in our spirituality, each of us will find cures for our own handicaps. God will make us instruments for bringing healing to others. No it is not easy. All that is within us seems to pull against us, to keep us down. It is our human nature to be imperfect and it is God’s divine nature to be perfect.
So don’t stress…it’s not easy, but it is simple. Let God be God. Let God be perfect. And let yourself be imperfect, but growing.


“Joseph’s Yes” -- Fatima Day of Prayer

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

On Saturday, May 12, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light participated in a day of recollection and prayer on St. Joseph presented and facilitated by the “Living The Fatima Message” Group at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River.

The Maronite Servants were asked to be exhibitors at this event, where we were able to meet many people and show case our charism. The day was absolutely beautiful, and included the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, adoration and confession; four different and inspiring workshops; the recitation of a living Rosary in a number of different languages, and concluded with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The keynote speaker were Sr. Guadalupe and Sr. Faustina of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth who spoke on the exemplary life and virtues of St. Joseph as depicted in Sacred Scripture. The sisters pointed out that while we do not hear St. Joseph utter a word, he is a man of great action, and his deeds speak much louder than his words. His deeds depict a deep love, respect, reverence and awe of his Spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary and his Son, Jesus.

I personally attended two very informative workshops on the day. The first by Deacon Peter Cote of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River and Chaplain of Catholic Memorial Home. The Deacon gave an excellent snapshot and overview of St. John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body’. The second workshop of the day was offered by Fr. Thomas Kosik, Parochial Vicar of Santo Christo parish in Fall River. Fr. Kosik spoke beautifully on the parallels between the Patriarch Joseph of the Old Testament, and those of St. Joseph, Chaste Spouse of Mary in the New Testament. 

One of the highlights and common threads of both workshops was the need to turn to St. Joseph as part of the Living the Fatima Message. Our Lady revealed to Sr. Lucia of Fatima that the last battleground between God and Satan would be the family, and we see this so vividly in our time with the high rates of divorce, abortion, and the attacks against the dignity and sanctity of married life. We have no better refuge than the bosom of St. Joseph, Patron of Family Life and the Universal Church.            


A Circle of Love

By Cecilia M Romero, parishioner, St Joseph Maronite Church, GA
It all started over a year ago with a phone call from Sister Marla Marie, Superior of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, asking my advice on fundraising for the convent. During that conversation and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I had an idea.  I proposed that I could donate my crochet skills and make baby items which in turn could be displayed at the sisters’ table at the annual National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM) convention. 
My reasoning for this kind of fundraising was that our Sisters are our mothers in the church and they offer their whole lives to God through various works of mercy and catechesis throughout our Maronite parishes. Mothers and children go hand in hand. Our Sisters often hold our hands in their hearts through prayer as we journey towards heaven. 
The art of thread crochet is a hobby I share with my own mother, Mami.  In her youth, Mami was taught to crochet by her sister and together they would make blankets and other baby items to support their family. As a child, I was fortunate to learn from Mami how to crochet as she taught me with lots of motherly love and patience the many details that go into making baby items. During our time, as we worked on many projects, Mami would share stories of her youth growing up in Puerto Rico (PR) where she was born, raised and lived most of her 83 years. 
During last year’s NAM convention, we had a successful event and many Maronites were pleasantly surprised and eager to support the Mission Angelitos (Spanish for little angels) as we have named the fundraiser. 
            When hurricane Maria struck PR on September 20, 2017, the entire island was devastated. I quickly decided to get my mom, my aunt and brother out of the island as soon as possible as the conditions where extremely difficult to sustain life. During those harrowing days and weeks, the Sisters would call and offer prayerful support. Their loving words of encouragement kept my sanity. It took three weeks of intense work and many setbacks to finally get Mami out, only to see that the living conditions after hurricane Maria had affected her health and her mental and physical state were precarious.
            The months following the hurricane were extremely difficult for all Puerto Ricans and many lives have been forever changed. Having brought Mami and my aunt to Georgia was a miracle to which I give thanks to God. However, I honestly was not prepared for the aftermath in dealing with the difficult and demanding challenges of Mami’s mid-stage Alzheimer’s condition. I thank God for my Aunt Aurea who cares for Mami so I can continue to work. I am also very grateful for the constant prayers of our Sisters that have continued to sustain me as I find little time and energy to pray myself. 
The inability to go home to PR in combination with her Alzheimer’s condition has caused a lot of frustration, anger and sadness for Mami which in turn affects her physical wellbeing. I was inspired to ask Mami if she would like to crochet baby items for our Sisters. Crocheting gives Mami a sense of purpose for her life. I was surprised to find out from Mami’s nurse practitioner that crocheting is an important therapy for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s. The repetitive nature of crocheting helps to: improve memory, reduce anxiety, build self- esteem, relieves depression and is used as part of a prayer process. 
We now spend our days buying material and making many baby blankets for Mission Angelitos. Each blanket we make is our way of praying for your families and at the same time, helping our Sisters. It is a mission of life and a circle of love.  


MYO Regional Retreat – Fall River, MA

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

The MYO Regional Retreat “Maronite Identity and Spirituality” was held at St. Anthony of the Desert Church in Fall River, MA on Saturday, April 28th, facilitated by the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light. The two presentations for the day included Msgr. David George, on what it means to be Maronite, and Jacques Barbour, a psychotherapist, on the power of claiming our identity in Christ and the dangers social media pose. 

Over 40 teens including a team of dedicated volunteers attended from: St. Anthony, Fall River; Our Lady of Purgatory, New Bedford; St. Anthony, Lawrence; St. Theresa, Brockton; St. George, Cranston, RI; and St. Anthony, Danbury, CT. Also, the pastors and deacons attending were:  Msgr. Joseph Kaddo, Fr. Joseph Daiff, Fr. Herbert Nichols, Fr. Edward Correia, and Deacons Brian Dunn and Donald Massoud, and Subdeacon James Demers. 

This retreat day was filled with activity, prayerful communion with God, and with much laughter and fun.  The morning and afternoon included small group discussions, which focused on how we pray as Maronites and how we see Christ as depicted in our Divine Liturgy. The afternoon small group discussion focused on some of the ways that social media is trying to distort our true identity as children of God, and the pressure that social media is putting on teens these days to project a certain image. 
Also, we had vocation testimonies by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh and Br. Marwan El-Khoury, a Monk from the Order of St. Basil, and a Q & A discussion.

The day concluded with Divine Liturgy, dinner and a dabke party.  Thank you to Msgr. Joseph Kaddo and the parish and volunteers of St. Anthony for hosting this event and for their outstanding hospitality.