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.