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.


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)


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”.