Joyous news to share .. an Easter blessing

I received this wonderful news from one of our parishioners who wanted to share her joy with others. Here is her story :

Good evening, Sayedna. I always hesitate in writing to you out of respect for your busy schedule. However, this Easter blessing is one that may be of assistance to you in counseling those who pray for lost souls. To fully appreciate its significance, you need to know the background information.

I am a love child; my mother turned 16 one month prior to my birth. Back then, a pregnant teen posed scandal for the family. Since abortion was illegal in the US, they offered to send her out of the country, but she was defiant (thank God!). She dropped out of Catholic school and lived with an aunt until the end of the pregnancy. I was born in Doctor’s Hospital in Manhattan. My mother was placed in a ward with other women in the same situation. All were encouraged to consider placing their children up for adoption. My mother remained defiant. At that time, NYS law mandated that I be placed in foster care until my mother could provide proof of employment in order to financially support me. Meanwhile, her family moved to a new neighborhood where they concocted a plausible explanation for a teen with a child.

One week after my birth, my mom and her step father stopped by a church in NYC to have me baptized before relinquishing me to foster care. After a serious employment search, she was hired by Scandinavian Airlines System and I was returned to her and my family, several months later. While working for SAS, she dated a man who proposed marriage. He had been raised by non practicing Lutherans who never had him baptized. My mother being Catholic, wanted to be married in the Catholic Church. I was 8 at the time. They met with the parish priest who insisted that my future father raise me in the Catholic faith. He agreed. Two years later, he formally adopted me.

Over the years, he would join us for mass at Christmas and Easter but never made any commitment. Meanwhile, I began to pray for him, asking our Lord that he be baptized. While working for IBM, one of his coworkers became a Baptist minister. My dad considered becoming a Baptist but realized that such a decision was predicated upon his admiration for the man and not the faith. My prayers continued.

Two weeks ago, following a funeral at St. Ann’s, my mother called to say my dad had asked to be baptized .. a Catholic! Sayedna, I broke down in tears. Beginning at age 10, I had prayed for this day and now, 56 years later, that prayer had been answered. My dad is 82 and, for now (he will have knee replacement surgery in May), confined to a wheelchair. Since he could not go to the church, the priest came to him. He met privately with my dad for about 30 minutes before the ceremony. My daughter and I were his witnesses. He received the 3 sacraments of initiation and chose Francis as his Confirmation name. The priest explained that he had been ordained 22 years ago and this was his first home baptism.

Please feel free to share this story with those who are beleaguered by what they perceive to be unanswered prayers. Yesterday, for the first time in 56 years, I sat down with my family and we discussed the Catholic faith, a topic that had previously been forbidden. I gave my dad several gifts – something like a Catholic “starters kit.” This included a youth handbook on the Catholic faith. Here is a photo from the big day.  May this tremendous gift serve as an inspiration to those who have abandoned hope.

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Posted in Religious Education

Pope Francis Sends Condolences on the death of Assyrian Patriarch, Mar Dinkha IV

To His Beatitude Mar Aprem

Locum Tenens of the Assyrian Church of the East

Having learned with sadness of the death of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to Your Beatitude, to the Bishops, clergy and all the faithful and to assure you of the spiritual closeness of all Catholics at this time.  The Christian world has lost an important spiritual leader, a courageous and wise pastor who faithfully served his community in extremely challenging times.  His Holiness Mar Dinkha suffered greatly because of the tragic situation in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and in Syria, resolutely calling attention to the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters and other religious minorities suffering daily persecution.  I recall how we spoke of this at length during the recent visit of His Holiness to Rome.  I give heartfelt thanks to Almighty God for the enduring commitment of His Holiness to improving relations among Christians and in particular between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.  May the Lord receive him into his kingdom and grant him eternal rest, and may the memory of his long and devoted service to the Church live on as a challenge and inspiration to us all.

                               FRANCISCUS PP.

Posted in Religious Education

How to Live the Christian Life

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
This is how to live the Christian life, watch and see:
+ Gregory Mansour
Posted in Religious Education

The 21 Coptic Martyrs

21copticmartyrs

Posted in Religious Education

Business or Mission

Business or Mission?

 The Webster Dictionary gives these two definitions:

Business: “the activity of making, buying, or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money”

Mission: “a task or job that someone is given to do”

It is important to know the difference between “business” and “mission”. A mission is something to which it is worth giving one’s complete self.  A business is something for which one works for gain.  In a mission one invests freely and joyfully and can be noble, and seen as an end in itself.

 Business or Mission?

Pro-Life Movement

Abortion

 Natural Family Planning

Artificial Contraception

Thousands of free pregnancy centers

Planned Parenthood

NaPro Natural Procreative Medicine

Artificial Insemination

 Sacrificial and passionate love between spouses

Pornography

 Love for others, especially the poor and vulnerable, especially children

Human trafficking

 In all missions there is no gain except love, happiness and respect.  In business someone stands to profit.

 
Posted in Religious Education

Fifthy Shades of Grey

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Are you wondering about “Fifty Shades of Grey” ?  On this there is no “grey” area, it is just plain and simply porn. See the website below for more information :
There is a much better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and to honor the invitation to find true and sincere  romantic love. May God give us all the grace not to spend time and money on that which leads us nowhere good, but rather help us to embrace that which is noble and beautiful.
+ Gregory

 

Posted in Religious Education

Saint Maron

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On February 9, 2010, at the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Saint Maron, 1600 years after his death, our Patriarch, His Eminence and Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, wrote a beautiful message, his 25th Pastoral, entitled Saint Maron, What it means to be Maronite, and the Mission of Lebanon. (for the entire Pastoral see www.stmaron.org)   One could spend hours to mine the treasures of this letter which forges a profound vision for Maronites throughout the world.

The Patriarch writes in the beginning of this Pastoral:

Our Church was not built after a name of a See or Apostle, but rather took its identity from the radiance of a man and a monastery: the Maronite Church, a Church of asceticism and adoration attached from the beginning to a solitary man, not a man of rank or a Church leader.

 

What a powerful testimony to the truth that one person can make a difference if that person follows Christ!  The Patriarch then writes about the heroes of faith, Sharbel, Rafka, Hardini, etc., and summarizes that the Maronite Church returns to its essence each and every time one of her sons or daughters strives for holiness. He then quotes Bishop Hamid Mourani who wrote about the meaning of our lives of holiness when lived together in community with one another:

The faith lived out by the hermit Maron became the inner strength of a people’s history. “As for the successive migrations from Syria (in the 5-10th centuries), the Maronites gave them one meaning, that is, giving up land, wealth and comfort in Syria moving toward a poor land where anxiety and austerity prevail, so they could preserve their faith and remain attached to their freedom … This event is not a simple historical fact among others… it is the very beginning of a new history, the history of the Maronites.”

This can also be said of the migration of Maronites throughout the world.  They left everything worldly, as the late Archbishop Francis M. Zayek would always tell us, to possess one thing, the freedom to live, to worship and to raise their families in the faith which they inherited, and to pass on that faith to others.

Later in the Pastoral the Patriarch moves his thoughts to Lebanon by quoting the late Father Michel Hayek who wrote:

“Lebanon has no right to exist haphazardly; she either has a mission for humanity in the East and the world or she ceases to exist.” This is her historical calling, and that is the meaning of what his Holiness Pope John Paul II described when he said that “Lebanon is more than a country, it is a mission”.

 The Patriarch reminds us that Christian life itself is not haphazard, it has a mission. There is meaning to life! The family has a mission, the Church has a mission, Lebanon has a mission! The Patriarch was trying to teach us something so very profound:  when we strive for holiness, something beautiful happens in our family, in our Church and in our society. We become what God desires.

This same wisdom shows forth in the constant theme of Pope Benedict who so often repeated:  “open your lives to God, you lose nothing and gain everything!”

May we continue to strive for holiness as did the saints, for each time we do, the Maronite Church, in fact the entire Church, returns to Her very essence: a missionary Church, a field hospital as Pope Francis describes us.

Happy Feast of Saint Maron!

+Gregory John Mansour

Official Prayer for the Jubilee of Saint Maron

Lord God,

you called your chosen one, Saint Maron, to the monastic life, perfected him in divine virtues, and guided him along the difficult road to the heavenly kingdom.

During this jubilee year, commemorating 1600 years since the death of your chosen one, Saint Maron, when he was called to the house of your heavenly Father;

We ask you, through his intercession, to immerse us in your love that we may walk in your path, heed your commandments, and follow in his footsteps.

May his holy example resonate throughout our lives.

With your love, may we achieve that final destination reached by our father, Saint Maron, and carry your Gospel throughout the world.

Through his intercession, may we attain the glory of the resurrection and everlasting life in you.

Glory and thanks are due to you, to your blessed Father, and to your living Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Religious Education

Homily of His Eminence Cardinal O’Malley at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

The Homily of His Eminence Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley at the Vigil Mass for March for Life, Washington. D.C., January 21, 2015.  http://www.thebostonpilot.com/opinion/article.asp?ID=172948

Posted in Religious Education

Homily by His Eminence Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, on Sunday, January 4, 2015

Please see the homily of His Eminence Cardinal Wuerl.  It says it all

Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle
Washington, D.C.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
 
Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the lord 
 HOMILY by  His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

 Recently I reviewed some startling photos. I was struck by the pictures of the small Christian community made up of a number of families including elders and infants all huddled in relative darkness and in imposed silence as they tried to celebrate Christmas – Nativity – the birth of our Lord.

What struck me was the fear that was necessarily a part of this clandestine Liturgy and what inspired me was the defiance of those who while frightened of the consequences were determined to hold on to and even celebrate their faith.

The photos were of a small persecuted Christian community in Syria but it could just as well have been almost anywhere else in the Middle East.

What a contrast to our celebration today in this magnificent cathedral full of light, heat, joy and freedom.

The liturgy speaks of light, a light that is come among us, the glory of the Lord that shines upon us. Just as the star of Bethlehem led the wise men, symbols of the Gentiles, to Christ so we are reminded every Epiphany that we are also to be a light to those around us, a light reflecting Christ by reflecting our discipleship – our commitment to him.

 

Today I would like to reflect with you not just on our challenge and obligation to be a reflection of Christ’s light in the world, but also our obligation to pray for those who are struggling to keep that light of Christian faith alive, even as attempts are made to see that it is extinguished in their lives.

We take for granted not only the great gift of faith that enables us to profess our discipleship in Jesus Christ, our acceptance of him, his Gospel and           his way, but also the great gift of freedom that allows us to profess our faith, to live our faith, to practice our faith openly and freely, and to have recourse to the courts when we feel that our freedom is being compromised.

Today I ask you to reflect with me and pray for those who see the light of their Christian faith being challenged and in some instances violently extinguished.

In the fall of last year, September 2014, an ecumenical summit of Christian leaders, representatives of Churches and faith communities from all over the Middle East, the Holy Land, Iraq and Syria      met here in Washington. Organized by an association of scholars and dignitaries called “In Defense of Christians,” this Inaugural Summit was to call attention to the gradual eradication of Christianity in the very land where it all began.

Representatives from the Holy See, the Maronite, Melkite and Syriac Catholic patriarchs, as well as representatives of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Church and the Patriarchates of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and many others gathered to point out the plight of the ancient Christian communities in the Middle East.

Here it was noted that institutional oppression from governments and the violence of organizations such as ISIS, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” have dramatically reduced the number of Christians in all of these lands, made them second class citizens, obliged them to forced conversion,      and exhibited a violence manifested in beheadings and mass executions.

If it were not for the immediacy of the presence of these atrocities one would be tempted to think that reference was being made to something of a thousand years ago, when in various parts of the world some religious faiths were spread by the sword. But my brothers and sisters, we are speaking about today.

We must pray for and speak up on behalf of those whose light that began to shine at Epiphany is being forcefully but really and truly extinguished.

But in other parts of the world, the light of faith is also challenged as the ever present darkness that the light of Christ came to dispel threatens to encroach. In Nigeria we hear of Christian children being kidnapped by the classroom full and forced to reject their faith and accept Islam.

A recent report from the Diocese of Maiduguri in troubled Borno State in northeastern Nigeria pointed out how Catholic Nigerians displaced by violence and the threat of suicide bomb attacks by Islamist insurgents celebrated Christmas not knowing when they might return home. A veil of darkness descends over whole communities that once were alive in the light of Christian faith.

In Sudan, in West Africa, in parts of India regularly are Christian Churches and homes burned in the hope of putting out the light of faith.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India recently criticized the forced conversions of Christians to Hinduism. Some Hindu leaders have said that India is a Hindu nation and thus forced conversion of Christians is justified.

In ancient Christian communities that have for centuries lived side by side with their neighbors who come from a variety of faith commitments the darkness of violence intrudes.

Pope Francis, in his Message for the World Day of Peace, which we observed last Thursday, speaks also of the “Many people [who] are kidnapped in order to be sold, enlisted as combatants, or sexually exploited, while others are forced to emigrate, leaving everything behind: their country, home, property, and even members of their family.”

For all of these we need to offer our prayers, our support and on behalf of whom we need our voices.

Brothers and sisters, Epiphany is the great celebration of light, Christ the light come into the world. We are called to be children of the light, to walk in the light, to live in the brightness of that light and to make every effort to reflect it and even share it.

Would that we could simply rejoice today in the great blessing of Epiphany, but as our Holy Father, Pope Francis, reminds us, to ignore the suffering and evil around us, to turn away from the efforts to envelope our brothers and sisters in darkness – to extinguish the light of faith is to act in a way not worthy of our calling.

This year when we rejoice in the light of faith, let us also remember that our brothers and sisters in various parts of the world are paying an extremely high price to keep that candle of faith lit. And let us simply remind ourselves of the words from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah that were part of the first reading today: “darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the people,” “upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory” so that nations might “walk by your light.”

As children of the light, let us never forget our brothers and sisters who attempt to walk in the light and who suffer so grievously for their faith. In this festival of the manifestation of our Lord, let us do our part, remembering our brothers and sisters, praying for them and standing in solidarity with them by speaking out whenever we can, reminding ourselves, our friends, our neighbors – everyone – that what they are suffering is simply wrong and that what they are enduring is an unjust violence.

Perhaps our faith, our prayers, and our words might help to lift a little of the darkness that covers these atrocities “so that nations might ‘walk by the light.’”

Posted in General

Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi’s Passing

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am sorry to inform you that Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi, Bishop Emeritus of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, passed away this morning, December 17, 2014.

Bishop Doueihi was born to Youssef and Hassiba Zakhia Doueihi on June 25, 1927 in Zgharta, Lebanon. He attended the Patriarchal Seminary of Saint Maron in Ghazir, Lebanon from, 1941 to 1945;  the Major Seminary at the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut, from 1946 to 1949;  and the Pontifical College of Propaganda Fide in Rome, from 1952 to 1956.

He was ordained a priest for the Patriarchal Eparchy in Lebanon, on August 14, 1955, at the Chapel of the Patriarchal Summer Residence in Dimane, by His Beatitude, Paul Peter Cardinal Meouchi, the late Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

After ordination, Father Doueihi returned to Rome to earn a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, which he received in 1959.  His Doctoral dissertation was entitled:  Ibn Al-Qala’i, moine Franciscain et évêque Maronite +1516.

 Upon his return to Lebanon, he was appointed Pastor of the Parish of Zgharta which he served from 1959 to 1969, simultaneously serving as Administrator of the Waqfs of Zgharta from 1967-1969.  In October of 1969, he was assigned as Pastor of the Maronite Parish of Our Lady of Bethlehem in Puebla, Mexico.  In 1972, Fr. Doueihi was received into the Maronite Diocese of the United States by Archbishop Francis M. Zayek.  In August of 1973, he was appointed Pastor to the Maronite faithful in Peoria, Illinois, and later, he was assigned as Administrator of Saint George Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  In 1977, Fr. Doueihi was appointed Vice Rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington, D.C. and Assistant Pastor at the Parish of Our Lady of Lebanon in the same city.  In 1978, he was appointed as the Director of the Office of Liturgy for the Diocese.  During his tenure in that position, he provided vital leadership in the implementation of reforms to the Maronite Liturgy in the United States, and he was responsible for the many English texts of the liturgical reforms of the Maronite Divine Liturgy and Mysteries published by Saint Maron’s Publications.  In 1979 he was appointed Pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon Parish in Washington, D.C.

In 1983, Father Doueihi was elevated to the rank of Periodeut with the title of Monsignor.  In 1987, Monsignor Doueihi was appointed Pastor of Saint George Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he served until 1989.  He was then named Rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY.  That same year, he was ordained a Chorbishop, and he was appointed by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir as a member of the Patriarchal Liturgical Commission.  Chorbishop Doueihi has also served the Diocese as a Protopresbyter, a member of the Presbyteral Council and of the College of Consultors.

On November 23, 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed Monsignor Doueihi as the second Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, and he was enthroned on February 5, 1997 at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY.

Bishop Doueihi is well-known as a teacher.  In addition to his teaching at the Seminary of Our Lady of Lebanon in Washington, D.C., he was a professor of Theology at the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut;  at the Seminary of Karmsaddeh in the Diocese of Tripoli in Lebanon;  at the University of the Holy Spirit at Kaslik in Lebanon;  and at the Seminary of the Diocese of Puebla in Mexico where he also served as a professor of French Language.  He was fluent in seven languages:  Arabic, French, English, Italian, Spanish, Syriac and Latin.

His scholarly publications include:  Notre Église en question (Beirut, 1969);  A Priest Among Us (in Arabic);  Un Théologien Maronite, Gebra’il Ibn Qala’i, évêque et moine Franciscain, 1450-1516 (Kaslik, Lebanon, 1993);  an Arabic Translation of Priêres by Father Michel Quoist;  The Church of Stone and the Church of People (in Arabic, Almawakif, N.15, 1969, Lebanon);  and The Maronite Pontifical (1995).

Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi will be waked at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, (109 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201) on Saturday, December 20th, from 4:00 – 8:00 PM, and on Sunday, December 21st, from 2:00 – 8:00 PM.  On both days, the Ginnaz will be celebrated at 5:00 PM.  The Funeral Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the Cathedral on Monday at 12:00 PM.  A Mercy Meal will follow in the Cathedral Parish Hall.  I will accompany Bishop Doueihi’s body to Lebanon for burial.

There are some rooms available at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott (on a first-come-first-serve basis) for Sunday and Monday nights at $199.00 per night.  If interested, please call the hotel directly at:  (718) 222-6536 (8:00 AM – 5:00 PM) or 1 (800) 228-9290 (outside of those hours).

On behalf of the clergy, religious, and laity of the Eparchy, our sincere expressions of sympathy are extended to Bishop Doueihi’s family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Gregory John Mansour

Posted in General