6.15.2019

Formation Studies at Magdala Apostolate


Among the many things that our sisters here at the Maronite Servants have been involved in, We wanted to let you know about one in particular, the Magdala Apostolate. You may not have heard of the Magdala Apostolate or realized the need that it addresses, but it is certainly a gift from God.
The Magdala Apostolate was founded in 2014 by the Institute of Catholic Culture (check them out online at www.instituteofcatholicculture.org) to offer sound doctrinal formation, both initial and ongoing, for women religious and novices in accord with the Church’s call for a new evangelization and at no charge to the sisters or communities they serve. 
While we are very dedicated to our community’s mission and life of prayer, intellectual formation for the sisters is not always easy to provide. Through the Magdala Apostolate, our sisters have access to the highest-level scholars who are faithful to the magisterium of the Church. We are able to take classes in theology, philosophy, history, scripture, catechetics, and spirituality through a webinar format that allows our sisters to stay dedicated to our mission and remain in our convent. 
Even though the Magdala Apostolate is offered to our sisters for free, there is a significant cost in providing this education. The Magdala Apostolate relies upon the charity of generous benefactors to continue their mission. We highly recommend the Magdala Apostolate for consideration in your charitable support. For more information, please visit www.magdalaapostolate.org. Please pray for our sisters are we continue to learn more about our Savior.

6.08.2019

Come, Holy Spirit!

A reflection by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

The sisters were recently at a gathering of Maronite young adults and a discussion arose about the Holy Spirit. One young man very honestly said, “I don’t know the Holy Spirit. How do I meet the Holy Spirit?” I was touched by his candor and genuine thirst to know the Holy Spirit, the often forgotten Third Person of the Holy Trinity. 


This Sunday, June 9, the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost and we celebrate the coming down of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, and the disciples and apostles gathered in the upper room fifty days after the Resurrection. With the coming down of the Holy Spirit, we see once timid and fearful men set ablaze with the power of God and emboldened to proclaim the Gospel message and witness to all nations. What a perfect Feast for us to meet and get to know the Holy Spirit!

What is often not remembered is that the Holy Spirit is really, truly and personally present in our souls, by virtue of our Baptism. When we were Chrismated/Confirmed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit and received in all fullness His seven Gifts – wisdom, understanding, knowledge, piety, fortitude, fear of the Lord and counsel. We have the fullness of God’s Spirit dwelling within us, so how is it that we don’t know Him?  Why is He not making Himself known to us? The simple answer is the Holy Spirit is not to blame, our sins are the real culprit. Sin seriously weakens and diminishes the action of the Holy Spirit within our souls and darkens our intellects. We can go to the Mystery of Penance and with a good confession turn our gaze back to God. 

So how do we get to know the Holy Spirit? Like we do with any new friend we make. We spend time with the person, talking to them, getting to know all about them. It’s the same with the Holy Spirit. We have to offer Him our daily prayers and open our hearts to him as candidly as we do with our friends. This is not a magic formula, it’s a relationship of love with Him who loves us best. Also, trying to live a morally good life is really the way to animate the Holy Spirit within us. The more we try to wipe out sin in our lives, this  will deepen our conversion and our response to the Holy Spirits’ inspiration.  

So let’s be bold this Sunday on the Feast of Pentecost and ask Him to descend upon us afresh with all His awesome Gifts and set us on fire with His great love! If you don’t know the Holy Spirit, then use this beautiful Feast to ask Him to give you the grace to really encounter Him in your life. He is longing for you to ask!

Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love! Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth!   

5.23.2019

“I Make All Things New”

by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

We laugh as we see a baby tickled,
watching it twist, move and giggle.

Children bring us so much joy,
just watching them play with their favorite toy.

We beam with delight at the laugh of a baby,
we cradle a baby girl and call her ‘little lady’.

We welcome a bundle of joy born anew,
but somewhere in this world something has gone askew.

Now a baby has to fight for its life in the womb,
what should be the safest place has become a potential tomb.

What of the awesome mystery do we not understand?
10 fingers and toes, a beating heart, two legs on which to stand.

Thousands clapped in New York over a wicked right to kill,
an innocent, unborn child! Who would that thrill?

What have we come to? A sad day has come to pass,
when a mother can abort her baby and discard it like a piece of glass.

Will she know that a part of her will never be the same after that day,
she will always wonder how the baby would look and what it would say.

Will she know that she will regret the decision for the rest of her life,
and be torn from within by guilt, shame and strife.

But will she also know that she need not carry the burden of her guilt alone, 
That there is Someone there for her who hears her cries and groans.

He comes to restore her in His image and likeness,
to show her mercy and remove her darkness.

He longs to draw her close and tell her, ‘I love you’,
‘I do not condemn you, I know what you are going through’.

‘My love will heal your pain and your empty womb’,
‘I will bring you new life and lift you from your gloom’.

‘I took the burden of your pain and nailed it to the Cross’,
‘I saw you from Golgotha and felt the pain of your loss’.

‘Death has no victory now, and no longer a sting’,
‘My death has conquered all, including all your sins’.

‘Break your silence now, dear mother, and do not be afraid’,
‘In My love, all will be new, all will be remade’.


For those seeking help after an abortion, please refer to these resources:
Project Rachel – www.hopeafterabortion.org
Rachel’s Vineyard – www.rachelsvineyard.org
Hope Alive – www.messengers2.com
Ramah International – www.ramahinternational.org
Healing Hearts – www.web-light.com/heart
P.A.C.E (Post Abortion Counseling and Education) – 800/395-HELP 

5.16.2019

Massachusetts Senate Bill 1209 – An Attack on Women and Life

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

On Wednesday evening, May 15, I attended a meeting in Fall River on Massachusetts Senate Bill 1209 facilitated by the Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) where a  number of representatives from several Christian denominations were present.

This bill #1209 is currently being proposed in the Massachusetts State Legislature and it has serious, dangerous consequences for the protection of women and the protection of life. This Bill is similar to its New York counterpart that was approved by Gov. Cuomo earlier this year.

The proposed legislation in Massachusetts would produce the following perilous consequences:

  • Allow abortion in Massachusetts during all nine months of pregnancy.
  • Eliminate any requirement that even late-term abortions be performed in hospitals. As a result, a woman’s health would be less protected than the law’s commitment to promoting abortion at any time, for any reason.
  • Eliminate the requirement to make efforts to care for a child who survives an attempted abortion. Senate Bill 1209 strikes out all requirements that doctors provide life-saving treatment to born infants resulting from an attempted abortion. 
  • Eliminate any requirement that a pregnant minor (under 18) have any adult consent before undergoing an abortion. This leaves our children, maybe some as young as 12 or 13 years old, prey to sexual predators and sex trafficking.
The proposed provisions of this Bill are extreme and a violent attack on women and the right to life of all unborn (and born) babies in Massachusetts. This Bill is promoting nothing short of infanticide.

Please join the Sisters in signing a petition against this Bill: 
https://www.masscitizensforlife.org/petition-against-extreme-roe-abortion-act

Also, please call or visit your local representative in Massachusetts to voice your concern about Senate Bill 1209. 


The proposed Bill will be formally heard by the Senate Committee on Public Health sometime in June. If you wish to publicly testify against this Bill at the Senate Committee hearing in June, the MCFL welcome you to join them in this effort. 

Let us unite in prayer for unborn children, all women and families faced with excruciatingly difficult pregnancies, and let us pray for our legislators and elected officials that they may see the dangerous consequences of this proposed Bill.


5.10.2019

Feast of the Apostle, St. John the Beloved – May 8

A homily by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent on Wednesday, May 8, 2019.

Often when we think of the Apostle, John, the first thought which comes to mind is his love and loyalty for Jesus and Mary; surely fitting thoughts for this Easter Season.

Despite the years of age, John has lost none of the sharpness of memory, for like the Virgin Mary, he learned to treasure and reflect in his heart upon the mysteries of life, in order to make tangible the transcendent…”from the beginning”, we have seen…heard…touched, not mere appearance but real flesh and blood.

In his Gospel Prologue, John narrates the first encounter at the River Jordan. When he asks Jesus: “Where do you live?” Jesus invites to “come and see”. Whatever he saw and heard is kept secret, but it was so decisive that he carefully notes the very hour it took place, 4PM.

For three years he would share the deepest intimacy with Jesus and later with Mary. So intense was his sense of love that he was consumed with the desire to make others aware of the awesomeness of this love.

It is written that God has no favorite children. He is also free to choose whomever he pleases in his relationships. John was highly favored but surely it was not because John was without fault. He and his brother are called Boangeres, literally translated as ‘sons of thunder’, but more idiomatically as fanatics.

When they asked Jesus to call down the wrath of God as Elijah had done, the Lord rebuked them. (It is interesting that the old vulgate translation of St. Jerome had a line which is no longer in modern translations: “You know not of what spirit you are. For they had not yet received the Spirit that came, not to destroy but to save” (cf. John 3: 17)

Ancient tradition ascribes the Eagle as a symbol of the Evangelist, who with his piercing eye has discovered and communicates to us: “God is love. He who abides in love, abides in God and God abides in him”. So treasured is this discovery that John refers to himself as the “disciples whom Jesus loves”.

Delicacy would have prevented using this appellation during the lives of the other apostles. Perhaps it required the wisdom and reflection of advanced years to realize what is hidden from the learned and the clever is revealed to the merest children. Perhaps that is why he addresses his readers as little children. Love one another.

In a similar passage from the Gospel he writes: This is the commandment that has been given to you, that you love one another as I have loved you. It is not a new commandment but one that came from the beginning. Rooted in the prophets it is the reflection of the Father’s desire for His people through the ages.

It is not the first commandment, but inseparable from it. For if you say that you love God, but you do not love your neighbor, you are a liar (1 John 4:20). Love is first of all a gift from God. “It is not that you have first loved God, but that He has first loved you”, and made you loveable. This gift is first and foremost totally unmerited. It is a response to God. It is a yes to God. It is that place, that sanctuary where God reaches our deepest need. For John, that moment occurred as he gazed into the empty tomb and saw the wrappings, and his eyes were opened to the Truth.

Each of us has a sanctuary where God reaches out to us, to meet us in our deepest need. And until the contact is made, the sanctuary remains no more than an empty tomb. Only the touch of God can bring life and love. 

We should not despair if in our own early days, like John we are rebuked for failing to understand this love. Reach out in your search for Emmanuel. Ask for his grace. Lat at his feet all of your failed efforts and embrace His power in hope…is this not after all, the real miracle of Easter?

5.03.2019

The Choice Made by God

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL

One of the most topical issues in the mainstream media is abortion. It’s not surprising with the State of New York formally legalizing third trimester abortions and infanticide. All this coinciding with the release of the movie “Unplanned”, which is an awesome depiction of the true story of Abby Johnson, former abortion advocate and employee of Planned Parenthood turned Pro-life advocate and mother of eight children. 

Many, I think, fail to grasp the reality of abortion. Well, this reality has hit home for me on a very personal level as I have just recently come to know the full truth about the story of my conception, a story I want to share with you. This story is not really mine to share but that of my parents, and they have given me permission to share it.

My parents had three children, my two older brothers and myself. My eldest brother Peter is 11 years older than me, and Malcolm is 8 years older than me. When I was conceived in 1984, after an 8-year gap, the doctor who examined my mother told her that the baby would be born with serious birth defects; actually, he said that I would be missing an eye or both eyes and some limbs. This was before the advancement of technology including ultra sounds and sonograms. The doctor gave my mother a white slip of paper, which stated clearly at the top “Recommendation – Termination of Pregnancy”. 

The doctor advised my mother to abort me. My father being the typical Lebanese man who doesn’t go into exam rooms was outside in the waiting room. My mother emerged visibly distressed and crying and she told my father what the doctor had said. She showed him the white slip of paper from the doctor which would have ended my life. Now bear in mind, English is not my parents’ first language, so my father went straight in to see the doctor to ascertain exactly what was going on, while my mother was drying her tears in the waiting room.  

He asked the doctor, “did you give this slip of paper to my wife? What’s going on?” The doctor told my father the same thing he had told my mother about my being born with serious birth defects. What my father said in response to the doctor is to this day, the most moving thing I have ever heard my father say. He said, “are you going to take care of this baby or are we? Who are you to say that we have to end our baby’s life just because that baby may be born with some defects? We’re happy to keep this baby no matter what, I don’t care if the baby is missing both eyes and all four limbs, we will look after the baby because it’s ours”. The doctor then said the buzz word of the century to my father, “well, Mr. Salameh, it’s your choice.”  Choice! My father again responded beautifully, “the choice was made by God when he gave us this baby as a gift”. 

My parents left the doctor’s office and went to another doctor, who again examined my mother. It turns out that this doctor said that I would be born with both eyes and with all my limbs, with no defects whatsoever, and so it was. My mother carried me to term; actually, I was born after my due date. 

Now let’s rewind the tape for a second. Had my parents taken that white slip of paper and gone ahead with the abortion, the reality is that I would not be here. This is the reality of abortion which we cannot escape and cannot hide, that it destroys human life in the womb. Had my parents gone through with the abortion, the Maronite church would not have this sister serving it. Now think about this, how many nuns, priests, monks, bishops, popes, servants of God and His Church have been lost because of abortion? I exist because my parents chose life that day. 

For all expectant mothers out there, please cherish the gift of life in your womb. And for all the women who have had abortions, please know that you are so loved by God, and He wants to offer you healing. God wants you to know that He comes with mercy and forgiveness, not with judgment or condemnation. The sisters can help you find that healing by sharing some awesome resources with you. 

The sisters wish you a most blessed Season of the Glorious Resurrection! The Lord came to bring us life and life in abundance! (Jn 10:10)

4.26.2019

Simon, Son of John, Do you love me?



A homily  by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent on Wednesday, April 24, 2019

In today’s Gospel (Jn 21: 15 – 19), Peter is given a task suitable for him. He is to become a shepherd. Jesus knows him inside and out. He knows his contrition for the sin he committed. He has healed him of shame and cowardice. Now he is charged to protect his flock, his lambs, his shearlings, to feed them.

Could Jesus give greater trust in the reality of Peter’s love, Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you. Today, Francis is the Successor of Peter and bears this same responsibility. Repeatedly he has said that this responsibility does not come as a call to heroism, but is largely a matter of everyday courtesy and kindness. 

Why are we, members of Christ’s Body, His Church on earth so wrapped in smoke? Several days after the white smoke disappeared from the Sistine Chapel, the new Pope declared: Preachers should abstain from using the word ‘love’ in their homilies. Pope Francis explained: I do not have anything against the reality. It is the word itself that is so abused. 

In Australia in the 70s, there was a pet food called ‘Love’ with the sickening slogan: Give your pet ‘Love’.

We call all think of a dozen or more synonyms in as many seconds. Love is affection, friendship, service, intimacy, forgiveness, acceptance, listening, welcoming, embracing, empathy, recognition. All of these and more.

But above all, Love is the divine nature. What it is can best be described in poetry. Prose is limited to what love does. Remember the words of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

God has chosen us for this tremendous destiny of love, and if the wonder and joy of it is ours, so too is the responsibility. The responsibility to prove to those who are still unaware that Christ is Risen from the dead, and at the same time, He is in the world now. 

To prove that Christ is in the world, we have to prove it by the example of our own lives. For thus will they know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.

We cannot do this without prayerful imitation of Christ’s way with other people, without surrendering our lives so totally to Him that He may act through us, and gradually obliterate our selfishness and stupidity by his love and patience for us. Do you love?.....feed my sheep.

4.17.2019

Reflection on Great Friday

By Sister Therese Maria

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17) 

On Great Friday, the Church celebrates the wonderful mystery of Christ’s death upon the Cross. When I look upon the cross I see how extravagant God’s Love and sacrifice is for each one of us. Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man poured out his life and blood on the cross to save me from my sins. I see suffering, vulnerability, self-emptying love, cruelty, injustice, the evil of man, and the misery of my own sins… I see my Lord and my God on the cross loving me without limits… How I hunger and earnestly need this forgiving love…What do you see when you look at a cross? Do you see the depths of Jesus’ boundless love for you and ponder how much he cares for you?

Here is an inspiring prayer from our Maronite Divine Office:
“Our salvation cost a great price which you paid on the cross. However, you did not consider the cost, for it was your incomprehensible love for us that caused you to act. You humbled yourself and took the condition of a slave and were obedient to the point of death, death on a cross.”  
(Divine Office, Monday of Passion week)

Jesus’ death on the cross conquers all sin, darkness, death and evil. The crucifixion and death of God’s Son is not the end. His victorious love and Resurrection on Easter Sunday is! We believe in a Crucified and Risen Lord who is alive and with us in the “now” of our messiness. What great hope! Jesus, our Radiant Light desires to refresh and animate us with his life-giving spirit. Give Jesus everything. Hold nothing back from him, your shame, sins, wounds, desires, needs. Surrender them. Let him in to those darkest places so that he transform them into Light!  

 “He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we are healed. We had all gone astray like sheep…” (Isaiah 53)

What a precious gift… By his Glorious wounds we are healed and made whole and reconciled to God our Father and to each other… let us ask for the grace to truly weep and repent of our sins, to beg forgiveness for the times we have fallen short in loving God and others…and to deepen our resolve to become more like Jesus in the way we make a total gift of our self without holding anything back,  and in showing compassion and forgiving those who have offended us.

In our Maronite Church on Great Friday, the Divine Liturgy, the Mass is not celebrated, instead the pre-sanctified Liturgy of the Anaphora of the Signing of the Chalice is used. This is one of the most ancient prayers of the Syriac Church. Holy Communion, consecrated the day before, is given to the faithful. In addition to the celebration of the pre-sanctified Liturgy, the Church also recalls the mystery of the cross by the rite of adoration of the cross and the burial of our Lord. O Christ, crucified for us, have mercy on us!

“O Lamb without blemish, you allowed yourself to be led to the cross as the gentle lamb is led to the slaughter.” (Divine Office, Tuesday of Passion Week)


4.12.2019

Recent Pastoral Missions

Confirmation Retreat – St. Andrew’s, Taunton, MA

 
On Saturday, April 6, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light facilitated a Confirmation Retreat for the 25 teens of St. Andrew the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Taunton, MA at the invitation of Fr. Edward Murphy, pastor.

The retreat consisted of prayer, reflections, group discussions, and games, centered around the theme of God’s “Everlasting Love” from Jeremiah 31:3.  The confirmande were asked to ponder serious questions throughout the course of the day, such as “Who are you?”, “Why are you here?”, “What is the purpose of your life?” and “What gives meaning to your life?” These questions were part of the small group discussions.  Fr. Murphy, led a beautiful Eucharistic Adoration which included a professional guitarist and singer. The confirmande also focused on the significance of the Sacrament of Confirmation and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The day concluded with the Vigil Liturgy, and the promise of our prayers for the teens who will be confirmed on April 23. 

***

Catechetical Workshop at Our Lady of the Cedars Church in Boston, MA
On Saturday, March 30, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light facilitated a Catechetical Workshop for the Catechists at Our Lady of the Cedars Church of Boston. This was their third workshop in a four-part series that the sisters are offering to help catechists serve their parish and catechesis more effectively.   
This workshop focused on some key areas in catechesis: planning the learning environment, verbal and non-verbal communication of the catechist, and discipline do’s and don’ts.

The final catechetical workshop will cover topics which include, but are not limited to, tools on child engagement, especially how to help the catechists pray with children; and creating a safe environment.

Maronite Passion Week


Passion week, in the Maronite Church, is considered an independent Liturgical Season inside the Season of Great Lent. It starts with “Naheero” or the “Coming to the Harbor” on Hosanna Sunday evening and ends on Saturday of the light. 

The “Coming to the Harbor” is an ancient ritual of the Maronite Church. It reminds us that Jesus is the Harbor of Salvation. The ship or the vessel, which is the Church, and often compared to Mary the New Vessel of life, reaches the Harbor after the safe journey of Lent. The prayers of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Passion Week are called “Sotooro” or Lenten evening prayers. 

Wednesday of the Passion week is also called Wednesday of “Ayoub” (Job). Job suffered a lot, and lost his health and wealth, even his sons and daughters, but never cursed God and was known for his patience. He represents Christ who willingly received suffering and death, and committed himself into his Father’s hands. On that day, the Rite Of Lamp is celebrated. 

Thursday of the Holy Mysteries is the first day of the Easter Triduum. On that day Jesus had his Last Supper with his disciples and washed their feet. He commanded them to love each other and follow his example in serving each other. On that day, Jesus instituted the Mysteries (Sacraments), especially the Eucharist and Priesthood. 

On Great Friday, Jesus was crucified and put to death. Our Maronite Church invites us on this day to pray and meditate upon the mystery of Salvation: the living death of our Lord which provides salvation of our souls and Eternal Life. 

Saturday at the Light is the last day of Passion Week, and subsequently, the last day of Great Lent. It is the day the Lord has chosen to enter the tomb and to visit the dead in their tombs. There is no Divine Liturgy that day before Midnight. However, a beautiful ceremony is to be celebrated during the day: “the Prayer of Forgiveness”.

3.29.2019

Family Catechesis – Jamaica Plain, MA

The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light facilitated an afternoon of catechesis on March 23
centered on the Passion of Jesus and the celebration of Passion Week in the Maronite Church.   Several catechists, parents and children attended the day sponsored by Our Lady of the Cedars Church in Jamaica Plain, Boston. 

While the children were learning about the true meaning of Great Lent and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the Cross, Sr. Therese Maria was with the catechists and parents facilitating a guided meditation on the Gospel of the Prodigal Son.

The combined group came together for a discussion and catechesis on Passion Week according to the Maronite Church. Using Maronite iconography, Sr. Natalie Sayde walked through the different rituals of of each day during Passion Week, beginning with Hosanna Sunday, culminating with Great Friday of the Crucifixion and the Sunday of the Glorious Resurrection. Our Maronite liturgy offers different prayer services and rituals for each of these days, drawing the church into the richness and depth of the Paschal Mystery.

We all joined in praying the 14 Stations of the Cross with a guided meditation at each station and then attended the Saturday Vigil Liturgy with Monsignor Georges as celebrant.  The children beautifully served at the Liturgy.  The day concluded with a  potluck dinner and fellowship in the church hall.  

3.26.2019

Our SPRING NEWS is here (click).  Please take a few minutes to read about the missionary efforts of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.  Lenten blessings to you and your loved ones.

3.22.2019

MYO/MYA Regional Retreat – New Jersey

A MYO/MYA Regional Retreat  was held on March 16 at Our Lady Star of the East Church in Pleasantville, NJ.  The day was facilitated by the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light and a great team of volunteers who help the youth reflect on their call to holiness.
“Rejoice and Be Glad” was the theme, based on Pope Francis'  recent apostolic exhortation, reminding us all to seek holiness. We were blessed to have among us His Excellency, Bishop Gregory Mansour who was also one of the keynote speakers.
The retreat brought together 150 teens, young adults and chaperones from the following parishes: St. John Paul II, Sleepy Hollow, NY; Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, Brooklyn, NYStSharbel, Somerset, NJ; Our Lady Star of the East, Pleasantville, NJ; and St. Maron, Philadelphia, PA.  We also had the good help of several pastors:  Fr. Kamil El-Choufeiti, Fr. Simon El-Hajj, and Fr. Vincent Farhat


Throughout the day the youth enjoyed several activities, prayerful communion with God, and much fun. We had two different presentations for the MYO and MYA. Bishop Gregory spoke to both groups at separate times on discernment and the gift and obstacles of holiness. Fr. Simon El-Hajj spoke to the MYA on needs, gods and power in relation to our call to holiness. Fr. Vincent Farhat spoke to the MYO on what holiness looks like in real life. He showed a moving video of a young Iraqi girl who had lost her home to ISIS, forgiving her enemies and praying for them. She was a beautiful example of holiness. The morning and afternoon sessions included small group discussions, which focused on hearing God’s voice amidst the many voices of today; on our relationship with God the Holy Spirit; and the process of discernment in sifting through negativity or toxicity in our lives 
In the afternoon, we had an hour of Eucharistic Adoration and Confession. We had priests stationed around the Church hearing confessions. It was uplifting to see these young people approach Jesus and adore Him at the foot of the Altar during the Exposition of the Sacred Mysteries.

The day concluded with Divine Liturgy, dinner and a dabke party.  We would like to thank FrKamil El-Choufeiti, Camellia Nammour and the parish and volunteers of Our Lady Star of the East Church for hosting this spiritual event and for their outstanding service and hospitality. 

3.15.2019

Offering Lenten Reflections





Praying with Scripture was the topic offered to the St. Julie's Ladies Guild in Dartmouth MA on March 13.  The meeting of over 50 ladies appreciated Sister Marla Marie's presentation on how to pray with God's Word.  The women were introduced to Lectio Divina and tips on including scripture in their daily prayer.  






On Monday, March 11, Mother Marla Marie facilitated a morning of recollection for the ladies of St. Ann’s Maronite Church in Watervliet, New York.  The theme was Family Prayer. Sister Marla Marie walked the ladies through the importance of prayer in general, but then its significance in the family home, which is the “domestic Church.” Sister Marla Marie emphasized that prayer must start in the home. She recommended helpful tips such as declaring meal times a “no-phone zone”; setting up parameters and expectations for “family time” and being faithful to it; reviewing the Sunday Gospel; the rosary and other prayers. 

3.01.2019

Is The Crucifixion a Wedding Celebration?

Is The Crucifixion a Wedding Celebration?

On the Great Friday of the Crucifixion, the Maronite Church commemorates the death of the Son of God on the cross by celebrating the rite of the Adoration of the Cross. When one, however, closely looks at what the Church actually proclaims, one surprisingly discovers a fascinating and profound theological notion and a powerful biblical expression of salvation that one does not typically associate with a crucifixion: a wedding celebration. The objective of this article is to show that the Maronite Church announces that on the cross, Christ betrothed the Church. He is the Bridegroom, and she his Bride: his crucifixion is his wedding celebration to the Church.
This nuptial understanding of the crucifixion is common to all the Syriac Churches, and it is based on the writings of the Syriac Church Fathers, like Jacob of Sarug, who, in turn, inherited it from Scriptures. In this short presentation, we will limit our exploration of this theological interpretation of the historical event of the crucifixion only to certain scriptural passages and the current English edition of the Qurbono, or the Book of Offering According to the Rite of the Antiochene Syriac Maronite Church (2012)—henceforth, BO. Hence, it is advisable to have a Bible and the Book of Offering at hand when reading these few lines. As we will see, the liturgical text explicitly portrays salvation as a wedding celebration between Christ and the Church occurring on the cross.
READ MORE from the HiddenPearl.org