FR ANDRE LITURGY AND HISTORY
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A message from Father Andre: November 4th Blog

Father Andre discusses the Eucharist and Baptism as a bridge to eternal life. Fr. Andre's blog on Faithful Departed PDF. See below to share on social media.

Father Andre urges us to explore the life of St. Maron and how we can imitate his life. Fr. Andre blog PDF 
See below to share on social media.

Father Andre discusses Syria and U.S. intervention


Discover the wisdom behind a world-wide Eucharistic Holy Hour

Father Andre shows us how we can make a connection with The Divine Mercy, the Blessed Mother and the Ascension.

Father Andre explains the approaching Christmas season and how it gives us a certain responsibility to live.
12
COMMENTS POSTED
CHEAP NIKE AIR JORDAN said 11/12/2015 1:04:30 AM :
Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article. I like to write a little comment to support you.

[Reply]
FR. ANDRE said 4/19/2014 7:48:31 PM :
My dear brother and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
In this Holy Week of Passion and Easter, all Christians in the world are invited to meditate on the mystery of our faith.
This is the time in which Divinity reveals its goodness and faithfulness while humanity spits off hatred, betrayal and infidelity.
In the history of our faith, faith always was the living and the guiding principle for all the faithful. During this week, Christians took off from their work, stopped the clocks of their daily lives, went to church every day and every night, followed all the liturgical services of the church made of rituals that reflect both the penance and the greatness of the mystery of our salvation.
Today, we call upon the Holy Name of the Most Holy One, the God of our salvation to forget not his Mercy toward us, but to remember that we are the flock that was purchased by the innocent blood of His Only Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer.
My friends, no words can ever express my thankfulness and gratitude to you all for making the Church a priority in your life. Please keep remembering in your daily life that Christ is the center of our lives. As Pope emeritus Benedict XVI once said: “If humanity wants to search the future, humanity must find God. For God is the guaranty of the future -- where God is, there the future will be.
The birth of our Lord in the flesh, His passion, death and resurrection are called the mystery of our redemption. They are the historical realities, which will stand for eternity, and that no one can ever deny or reject and when they try to do so, they will end up in wonder and awe in front of that Great Mystery.
Consequently the life of the Christians in the world is the most concrete sign of the validity of this Great Mystery. This is why we must continue encouraging one another to pray more, to take time, again in reason, to sanctify time by acknowledging the salvation we all received through the Cross of Christ, in His death and resurrection.
Do not hesitate to be nice to one another as God was so nice to us all when he saved us despite our sin and bad deeds. Our nature is always good because the God of all goodness made us. God gave up his life for us on the cross, for God trusts our nature in which He made us, He purchased it back, so we in return we can honor Him and render him Glory forever.

Christ is Risen, Christ is truly Risen, we are his witnesses in the world.
God bless you,
Fr. Andre, Pastor

[Reply]
FR. ANDRE MAHANNA said 2/22/2014 12:20:37 PM :
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
According to the Liturgical Cycle of the Maronite Church’s Liturgical Year, this Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, and the week that follows, are called, Sunday and Week of the Faithful Departed.

The central theology of the commemoration of the Faithful Departed is based on the Holy Eucharist and the Baptism. The Body and Blood, according to the Maronite Liturgy of the Hours, cancel the effect of death. Death is not an end for those who receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Death in fact becomes a bridge by the power of the Holy Baptism, which becomes like a ship, sailing in stormy seas, yet with the Body and Blood of Christ, the Ship of Baptism will get us to the safe harbor, to paradise and life eternal.

The Maronite Liturgy of the Hours in Syriac says, “Faghrokh Wadmokh Dashqalnan Nehwoon Lan Ourho Wgeshro Wma’barto, Dne’bar Dlo Qente Men Hoshoukho Lnaheero, W’en hoo Dab Nouro Den… Eet 'Amkhoun Ma'moudeeto Alfo Dlo Tab'O.”

Here is the translation of this wonderful statement of faith and of conquering death and darkness: “May Your Body and Blood, which we have received, be for us the road, the bridge and the transporting ship. With it we pass without fear from darkness to the light … And when “He” judges in the fire, may the Baptism be for you the ship that will never sink.”

This is our prayer to God for the sake of our Faithful Departed, those who believed in the Cross, in Baptism and in the Living Holy Eucharist “Qourbono” the Offered Bread. They passed away from us and were transported to God in the hope of Eternal Life.

My dear friends, life is very short as we try to store our treasures and build our true homes here. In fact, our Maronite Liturgy for the dead never speaks of the Faithful Departed as the ones who are dead. It called them instead “the dead who got transferred” “Al Mawta Al Muntaqeleen." More so, the Prayer of the Hours for the Faithful Departed says clearly that the dead ones got transferred from this vanishing world to the Paradise of the Joys of God. There they will sit at the Table of Offerings. There God will not enter into account with them, but will grant them the joy and happiness of the saints, those whose reward is to gaze at God’s face for eternity.

My friends, May God grant rest to all the Faithful Departed, especially our family members and loved ones, who we knew at our local parish.

Remember, in every Church in the Catholic Church, the Church maintains a record called the Book of Life. In this book, we record the memories of Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, Holy Orders or religious vows, Last Rites and dates of death of all the faithful members who maintained a faithful and consistent relation with their parishes.

It is an honorable custom to pray for our dead. The pastors of every Catholic Church are required to offer at least five Masses a year for all the people of God who they serve in the local parish, both living and deceased.

So my friends please do not forget to pray for your loved ones. For us they become intercessors, and for them we can help them always achieve their salvation through God’s mercy and our sacrifice and active thinking of them.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord,
And may Your perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls rest in peace,
Through the mercy of God and His peace. Amen.

It is a Catholic custom and time-honored tradition to consecrate a Mass for a loved one. Mass intentions are an active and a most intimate act of love toward redemption of our souls and the souls of our loved ones. It also displays a trust toward the ministries of the priests to care for our souls.

God bless you,
Fr. Andre Y-Sebastian Mahanna, S.T.L.; S.L.L.;
Pastor
St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church, Lakewood, Colorado
Director
Office of Evangelization and Catechesis
Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, USA.
303-882-1406
infostrafka@gmail.com
abounasebastian@live.com
abounaandre@hotmail.com
www.strafkadenver.org
Italy
Pontificio Istituto Liturgico, PIL,
Ateneo Sant Anselmo,
Scienza Liturgica
Piaza degli Cavaglieri Di Malta
Roma, Italia,
39 333 9794070
39 324 6046100
Lebanon,
Fr. Andre Y Sebastian Mahanna,
Immeuble Nabih Jabbour, First floor, appt 1,
Kassouba Street, Jbeil (Byblos), Mount Lebanon, Lebanon
961- 9- 942037
961-70-141680

[Reply]
FATHER ANDRE said 2/8/2014 3:22:58 PM :
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,

It is the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of the Maronite Church: Saint Maron of Cyr the Hermit, who died in 410 A.D. Let us all be filled with gladness on this feast day, abounding in great mysteries, in graces, in Divine Blessings and in heroic virtues.

Today our prayers and congratulations are offered for our current Bishop A. Elias Zaidan, our retired Bishop Robert Shaheen, our Patriarch Bechara Rai, the Synod of all Maronite Bishops in the world, and all clergy and laity.

Here is how our sacred Liturgy describes Saint Maron and the Maronites using the Psalms:
“Do not be afraid little flock…You (God) in your hands you have planted them, you have nourished them. For not by the force of the sword they inherited the land. It was not their hand that saved them, but your Right hand and your arm and the light of your face for you were pleased with them… Therefore, we do not fear if the earth fell, or the mountains shook and were thrown in the bottom of the oceans… Look, all of you who are seeking the righteousness, the seekers of the Lord, look to the Rock from which you were molded. How beautiful are, on the mountains, the feet of the speakers of peace, the announcers of the good, the speakers of salvation.”

The name of Saint Maron has marked both the genesis and the destiny of the Maronites in the world. Patriarch Steven Douaihy was a famous Maronite patriarch who was born on August 2, 1630, on the feast day of Saint Steven, the first deacon and martyr and who died in 1704 in the monastery of Qannoubin in the Holy Valley in North Lebanon. While writing the history of the Maronites, Patriarch Douaihy discovered that the roots of this silent hermit of Cyr formed the living heart and the flowing holy blood that is fertile in sainthood and gospel witness. The aroma of the life and Antiochene character of Saint Maron still irrigate the Maronite church with saints, such as St. Sharbel and St. Rafka, and the profession of the apostolic faith today.

Saint Maron provides a school of holiness and guidance for people who are seeking the Kingdom of God and who are trying to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. His charisma is formed of a series of contradictory factors that could only be reconciled in his personality and existential goal for he was a Christ-like disciple and apostle.

In his life, he moved between mysticism, evangelization, a solitary life and asceticism. However, this same saint and father was also the inspiration for and the foundation of the largest apostolic movement in the history of the Church in the East: the series of monasteries of Saint Maron that existed all over Syria and into Lebanon, and recently in the entire world. It was this series of monastic entities called “Beit Maroon” or the House of Maron that later on in the 7th and 8th centuries became known as the Maronite Church that has grown in parishes and dioceses.

My dear friends, it is my hope that together we will grow more in our knowledge, in our imitation of Christ, and in our apostolic mission in the same way of Saint Maron as his life forms a living book of guidance that we are called to follow. We can do that by acknowledging and accepting the gift of his life, which was made of asceticism and kindness, of monasticism and missionary work, for the sake of the salvation of all souls. Let us renew ourselves and claim again through penance, prayer and fasting as we approach Lent by being his children. Let the Holy Spirit instill in all of us the Spirit of our Father, whose name “Maroon” means the Little Master, and who was the image of truth, reflecting faithfully the true nature of Christ as Savior and as Son of God, as the “Moran” or the Big Master.

The natural place of the Maronites is finally in the heart of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are not outsiders to the mainstream church for our roots go back to Antioch, the city where the disciples of Christ were first called Christians.

Consequently, we have a flavor but we are not ethnic, we have a character but we are not a national church, we have spirituality but we are not a sect that is separated from our Holy Mother Church.
Let us encourage one another and participate more in the sacred Liturgy of our Maronite Church, in honor of our father Saint Maron. Let us secure the future of our church, which was always united by the acknowledgement of her apostolic roots and the commitment to her master and great Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, the conscience of the Maronites, according to the charisma of her Archetype who is Saint Maron, is the awareness of our mission to accomplish redemption and instill love in the world. We are the little flock who after many persecutions throughout history has learned to give ourselves in self-sacrifice for the sake of others, especially non-Christians. Today the Maronites have a special calling to be a bridge of knowledge, mutual respect and coexistence between East and West, between Christians, Jews, Muslims and all people of good will for the sake of peace and faith.

With this, the mission of every Maronite is to reinstall unity amongst Christians and to make peace in the world, using the spirit of poverty and pursuing the monastic values of community life made of meditations and love for the Holy Eucharist and for Our Lady the Mother of God, Our Lady of the Patriarchs, Our Lady of Divine Mercy.

Fr. Andre Y-Sebastian Mahanna, S.T.L.; S.L.L.
Pastor
Feb 9- 2014

[Reply]
FR. ANDRE said 11/11/2013 1:01:40 AM :
What is changing in how faith is being shared among Christians in the Middle East? What are the challenges of sharing and spreading Christianity in the Middle East and in Lebanon?

Faith in the Middle East always has been shared through heritage.

Even though heritage varies from country to country, there is an overall significant common heritage that unites Christians in the Middle East that gives them common infinity, which is their liturgical and ecclesiastical living aspects.

In the last 50 years, however, there have been more obvious occasions and direct reasons that connected Christians from both ecclesiastical families, Catholic and Orthodox, to unite, speak, reconcile, and open up to one another. One of the honest occasions and direct reasons started with the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in Vatican City where both Orthodox and Catholics from the Middle East either participated (Catholic churches) or were there as observers (Orthodox churches). More so, during the council major and unique documents of common interest to Catholics and Orthodox were promulgated — in a special way, the document about the Eastern churches and another document about the common path and mutual destiny that connects the monotheistic religions called: Nostrae Aetate.

The writing of such documents readdressed the universal identity of the Catholic Church in its both parts — Eastern and Western. It also gave a new push to the ecumenical movement to unite again the Catholic and Orthodox.
During that same time, the Middle East had a privileged day, when on December 5, 1965, at the closing session of Vatican II, only one Blessed was celebrated as a sign of true unity of the Church, and as a concrete example that stands against materialism, communism and atheism. That was Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, a Lebanese Maronite Monk, who was declared Blessed on that day by Pope Paul VI.

Such a liturgical event was unique because it was the first time in the recent history of the East, a Blessed was declared by the Holy Father, according to the new canonical rules and procedures of the Holy Church.
Then the chaplet of saints continued on from Lebanon in a special way — in less than 50 years, three saints (Sharbel, Sister Rafka El Rayes, and Nimatullah Hardini), and five Blessed were declared (The Three Massabki Brothers, Blessed Father Jacob Haddad, and Blessed Estephan Nehme). Most of them were from Lebanon, except for the three Massabki brothers, who were martyrs in Damascus, Syria, during the 1860 Massacres that took place against Christians in Syria and Lebanon.

More so, on the ecclesiastical level, ecumenical meetings and official prelates gatherings started taking place from the early 1990s till the last meeting amongst the Assemblies of Middle Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Patriarchs in Lebanon three weeks ago.
Also, in the last hundred years, the Vatican, of course, has given special attention to the Christians in the Middle East, from the time of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) till today. We recall in a special way the establishment of the first Catholic International Shrine in the East. The shrine was erected under Maronite Patriarch Elias Hoyek, whose case of sainthood is in its final stages to declare him a Blessed. The shrine was built in the town of Harissa, Jounieh, on Mount Lebanon overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The shrine was consecrated to the name of Our Lady of Lebanon under the title of the Immaculate Conception to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the declaration of the Immaculate Conception Dogma (1854-1904).

After this, in 1954, under Pope Pius XII, the Vicar of the Holy Father at the time, Fr. Angelo Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII now Blessed and soon to be declared a saint on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014, with Blessed Pope John-Paul II, visited Lebanon and consecrated the entire East and Lebanon to the heart of Our Lady, Queen of Lebanon, for the sake of peace in the East. In 1997, Pope John-Paul II, visited Lebanon for 33 hours on May 10, and signed the concluding Apostolic Letter, “New Hope For Lebanon,” in which he defended the Christians presence in the Middle East as he assured Vatican support to all Christians in Lebanon when he declared, “Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message of peace and conviviality to all the religions in the Middle East.”

The Maronite Church, which always has been a leading entity in protecting all Christians in the East and the leading Church in dialogue with Muslims and Jews for the sake of protecting Christians in the Middle East, under Patriarch Nasrallah Peter, Cardinal Sfeir, led a Maronite Synod from 2003-2005 that concluded with five major documents. These documents addressed the identity of the Maronite Church, its relationship and common heritage, both ecclesiastical and cultural with all other churches in the Middle East, especially the churches of Antioch. The documents also addressed the role of the Maronite Church in bringing together Muslims and Jews to a dialogue of peace and to elaborate on the common faith of Abraham rather than on the anthropological and political fights. The documents also explained in depth the relationship of the Maronite Church to the Arabic world and countries in the Middle East and to the Muslim nations.
Such a synod, connected for the first time, all the children of the Maronite Church back with their patriarch, and it gave a new universal dimension to the Eastern Church as it recognized and gave a major role to its faithful children, who are living in the West or outside the patriarchal territories, such as in Europe, the Americas and other Western nations.

Such a synod gave way to Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, to announce a special Assembly to be convoked in the Vatican from Oct. 10-24, 2010. This Assembly concluded with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon on Sept 14, 2012, where he signed the most important document on the churches of the Middle East: Ecclesia In Medio Oriente. This document addressed the forced immigration and persecution that Christians are suffering from North Africa, especially Egypt, to the Holy Land, to Syria, Lebanon and to Iraq and Iran. The document remains today the point of reference for the Vatican to support and plead in favor of the Christian existence in the Middle East as true owners and sharers of the land, as real agents of peace and conviviality among fighting Muslims and Jews, and as promoters of justice, democracy, and true economic prosperity and good future with fair distribution to all.
CONTINUED ON NEXT FILE



[Reply]
FR. ANDRE said 11/11/2013 12:59:03 AM :
Conclusion to Nov. 10, 2013 blog

Finally, the recent developments in the Middle East, all suggest the uncertainty of a Christian future despite the official effort of the church to stand for them.

This is why it is a duty and a conscience matter for all people of good will, especially Christians in America, to make sure that our local government takes in consideration the official demand and objective fear the church has for Christian existence in the Middle East.

There are lots of conspiracies in regard to changing maps in the Middle East, however, it is crucial that the presence of Christians in the Middle East, the protection of their freedom and their lives and properties, must become a priority on our end for the Christian character could represent a peaceful and modern way of a real change that is needed to promote democracy and freedom in the Middle East.

The most obvious challenge to Christianity in Lebanon and in the Middle East is the ignorance, the absence of sympathy and lack of awareness of Western Christians to the fact that Christianity is not a past phenomenon in the Middle East. Christianity is the heart of the Middle East. Christianity is vivid and alive. Christianity is looking forward to a bright future toward peace, a universal church and promotion of bridging unity of all Christians in the world. Through them, life with other religions becomes a common heritage of conviviality and coexistence all to honor and worship the same God. Christians in the Middle East can teach others about the religious freedom, the individual freedom and the education in democracy and faithfulness to a modern state.

What is happening with Christians in the Middle East, Syria and Lebanon suggests that Christians in the West have become very poor in their learning ability and awareness about the true practice of Catholicism. It suggests confusion in the process of an identity struggle between an individualistic religion and practice, and a responsible behavior to show unity, church adherence and concrete practice of the faith all to promote justice, peace, and love toward all people of good will despite their religious or ethnic preference.

Rev. Andre Y-Sebastian MAHANNA
Pastor, S.T. L; S. L. L.,
St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church


[Reply]
FATHER ANDRE said 9/20/2013 2:46:48 PM :
Part II Syria and U.S. Intervention

We believe that the people who ordered the use of chemical weapons should be brought to justice and prosecuted under international law, and not to impose punitive damages on the Syrian people, who in case of a possible strike will suffer more devastation, including more deaths and more dispersement inside and outside their country.

All of the above suggest that a reform in our American foreign policy and our understanding to what we call national security is needed immediately. In such a way that we as Americans can and will widen our sources of information to be more inclusive of both religious and secular leaders of the Middle East.

The Vatican, since Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis I and since Oct. 10-24, 2010 till the latest initiatives of Pope Francis: the fasting and vigil prayer for Syria last week, the letter to Russian President Putin as host of the G20, suggests a peaceful resolution and elimination of the use of weapons and the pursuit of war and violence in reason to serve justice.

I was part of the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East that was called in by Pope Benedict on Oct 10-24, 2010. The pope personally lead and presided the entire Synod, discussing and culling information on all levels for the overall situation not only concerning Christians but more so Jews and the Jewish state, the Palestinian State, the life between Jews, Christians and Muslims as well as all people of the Middle East to live together in peace and harmony, in conviviality as to work together for prosperity and fair distribution of goods.

The Vatican, as a State and as a center of the Catholic Church, and with the agreement and cooperation of the Orthodox Churches in the Middle East and in the world are working together and cannot be ignored as they represent almost 2 billion people along with the evangelical churches. Their vision and field work must be considered as a reference and a way to make peace. The church in its many specific synods and letters is trying to help governments in the world to make sure peace is pursued and justice is accomplished. The information the churches already gathered in this area is most important, as a matter of fact. This is why our American Government should always take in consideration the perspective of the Church in this regard, for it communicates closely with people, it knows the reality of their problems, and it offers solutions.

The patriarchs of all the churches in the Middle East, both Catholic and Orthodox, are trying to send a message that the kidnapping and killing of Christians leaders -- the two bishops, the priests and nuns who have been killed and massacred -- also are horrible evil acts and must be part of our defense of humanity.

It is time for us Americans and the American government to understand and assimilate the importance of the religious factor as the predominant place where actions are planned or warned about in the Middle East.
In a special way, the religious perspective of Christian churches in the Middle East with the help of the Vatican already has been studied and analyzed along with suggested resolutions that could be applied by the United States. These resolutions will make America the true hero of peace, a promoter of justice, a leading nation that safeguards both religion and politics, which usually in the Middle East breeze together in the same body of anthropological humanity.

[Reply]
FATHER ANDRE said 9/10/2013 11:51:46 PM :
By Fr. Andre Y-Sebastian MAHANNA, S.T.L.
Rome, Sept 7-2013

Part 1
More than four months ago, analysts perceived that the United States might be poised for a possible strike against the Syrian Government.

Since that time and knowing the background of our involvement as a government and Army in Iraq and elsewhere in the Political Middle East (Egypt, Holy Land, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq) and the Mid-Far East (Pakistan, Afghanistan…), and knowing that President Barack Obama’s first campaign was to stop any American armed interventions in the world, I knew that a drastic change in the foreign policy of our current administration is being considered for whatever reason -- right or wrong.

Consequently and immediately, I started exchanging visits with people of good will (Jews, Christians and Muslins), hosting inter-religious and ecumenical prayer services, getting together with prominent Arab-American people in Colorado, Lebanese-American people, as well as other professional experts and friends from different nations in the Middle East. These efforts were to try to form a coalition to help our administration and government develop a better understanding of the consequences of any probable involvement in the Middle East at this point, and how it might be detrimental first to our legacy, safety and economic and national security as Americans.

Therefore, we got with good, trusted and non-partial people such as lobbyists, former and current public figures, who worked in the Middle East, and some concerned and well-knowledgeable friends and started forming a “white paper” that states our practical beliefs as people coming from different religions, nations, and ethnicities, to officially try to help our government perceive and develop a better understanding of what is going on in the Middle East, especially in Syria.

The paper, “People For Peace in Syria,” is a proposal that was sent to President Obama, the State Department, and the United States Congress seeking an alternative of vision, involvement and a role of being the peacemaker and the protector of human rights in the Middle East . The paper is far from being political, yet it gives outlines to politicians on how to pursue what is right and how to reconcile our interests as Americans with our American principles first and with the people’s moral, religious, economic, political and social principles and views in the area.

The paper encourages the U.S. government to not engage in any military intervention under any circumstance at least not initiated by us. The United States cannot engage itself any longer with sadness in the world. We do not want any military action before solving a misunderstanding of what is right and wrong. It is not wise to take action now where there is obviouisly a misapplication of justice and democracy and misconception of the anthropological, social, political, ethnic and religious individual character of the different constituent nations and groups in the Middle East.

Some of the major new concepts that the paper addresses are:
We believe... The priority that must be taken into consideration by the U.S. government is the safety of its people. In the context of Syria, military involvement is a major risk that will put almost every American in great danger as we will face stereotyped hatred from numerous people in the world as they already envy us.

As Americans, it is part of our National Security to protect Israel as a state. Israel already has made some major and great improvements in its relations with the Arab world, especially the Muslim world, and U.S. military involvement might jeopardize the existence and the future of Israel. Measures of safety to protect Israel with an eventual U.S. military intervention in Syria suggest that a high level retaliation might take place from different sides and in different ways and in different places in the world against Americans and Israelis. We cannot afford that the world might witness again a repeat of the atrocities of Hitler and World War II, of a similar and horrible hatred or possible genocides whether against Jews or against any other different minorities.

We must look at diplomacy and political solutions as favorable alternative ways where we can protect the people of Israel, the Christians and the Muslims, who want to live in peace. The only way to do this is to pursue an initiative of peace, to seek justice based on dialogues and by sending people to Syria who can operate with the government and the demonstrators to convince both to come to the table and communicate under the supervision of the United Nations. But first of all, we must make sure to stop their procurement of weapons of mass destruction.

It will remain a major contradiction and will be a source of confusion that an American president, who when elected got the attention and love of the entire world and the highest honor for peace from the Noble group in 2009, now is inviting the world to a deliberate war against Syria, which is a victim. All average people in the world now know that Syria is the place of a world-wide war among leading nations. What is going on in Syria could be existentially dangerous for the entire world. The conflict is not a local nor a regional war. It is not a conquest for the pursuit of justice and freedom as it was depicted almost two years ago. It might have started that way, but when our engagement was first needed, the world decided to remain silent at the time.

Traveling in Europe this past week, I heard an abundance of news from the Middle East with most of it suggesting that the world now views the American Government and its people as having deliberately chosen to be partial and very subjective and emotional in our perspective of the devastation, the scale of human suffering, the use of chemical weapons and human rights violations that the continued conflicts have created.

As we await the results of the United Nations’ investigations, we must act immediately to make sure all procurement of weapons against people have to be stopped --- now, now, now! The only way to do this is to stop giving weapons or selling weapons to all of them together.

On both ends, those who support the Syrian government and those who oppose it have already crossed the point of no return, showing extreme violence and hatred, resulting in death and massive destruction. There is no way either party is seeking justice or pursuing freedom, and both parties must be held accountable.

We believe...the Western media could use more anthropological resources, religious education, and sociological expertise of people from the area to best convey a message that is not propaganda but true and real, otherwise it appears as if the media outlets have not responsibly produced news reports reflecting the truth of what is really happening in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

All of these factors lead to the conviction that the discharge of chemical weapons could have come from any side not excluding the government but not denying the alternative that neither was responsible, for these people on all sides are killing one another at any cost and in any way possible.

This is why the U.S. Congress, President Obama and our American Administration should wait for confirmation from the United Nations’ inspectors before making any decisions to take military action.

We believe that the people who ordered the use of chemical weapons should be brought to justice and prosecuted under international law, and not to impose punitive damages on the Syrian people, who in case of a possible strike will suffer more devastation, including more deaths and more dispersement inside and outside their country.


[Reply]
FR. ANDRE MAHANNA said 3/27/2013 7:42:30 AM :
March 27, 2013

Anointing of the Sick and its Relationship
to the Rite of the Lamp

The Church’s ministry of the healing of the Sick

The Mystery of the Anointing of the Sick is one of the many ministries of the church that aims to bring back those who lack either physical or spiritual strength into full relationship with the Church as the body of Christ. Such a ministry developed predominantly from the Epistle of St. James 5:13-16 when St. James tells the sick to call on the elders of the Church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. Also included in this passage from St. James is the mention of the forgiveness of sins.

The prayers of the Anointing of the Sick ask for the healing of the body and the soul so that the sick person can be reunited with the church (the physical structure) in order that he/she can return to the church to praise the Lord once again. In this Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, in case of extreme unction before death, the forgiveness of sin is given as a part of the ritual.

On the Wednesday of Holy Week, a specific ritual of anointing the sick takes place during the Rite of the Lamp. In fact, the seven lamps or candles that are lit during the Rite of the Lamp are symbolic of many things, one of which is the elders or presbyters in St. James’ letter, with the number seven serving as a sign of fullness. In early Christianity, seven presbyters would bless the oil and the Eucharistic Liturgy would follow. At the end of Communion, the presbyters would anoint the sick and all those present. The five senses also were anointed because they were points of entry of knowledge into the mind and soul. (It is also the senses that are the basis of sin or acts of virtue.)

Another symbolism comes from the book of Revelation when John was taken up to heavenly Jerusalem: “From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.” (Revelation 4:5) From the setting of the book of Revelation, it appears that the Rite of the Lamp with the seven lamps and the oil for the anointing of the sick are connected essentially to the Divine Liturgy, with Christ being the source of all healing and the perfect sacrifice. The Rite of the Lamp is in deep relationship with the Holy Eucharist. This is why this public service takes place on the Wednesday of Holy Week, right before Thursday of the Mysteries, when the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper.

According to Patriarch Douaihy, the Rite of the Seven Lamps is to be celebrated after Hosanna Sunday and before the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday. The reasons for this placement has to do with the nature of light as a guiding tool that helps us to see our destination before we reach it. It also is a test of endurance, an exercise for hope, and an experience of true trust in the captain that is the Lord. Just like a ship in a storm searching for a lighthouse, the endurance of those on the ship and their hope depends on their trust of finding safe harbor, indicated by the lighthouse. This typology of the ship in a stormy sea was developed from apostolic times into a liturgical celebration specifically during Holy Week.

It derives from the nature of the former vocations of the Apostles as fishermen, as well as on the authority that Jesus had over calming the stormy seas at least twice while the Apostles were in the ship (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:22-33). In the eyes of the Apostles, the events of Holy Week always were interpreted as stormy seas because they were scattered after the Last Supper. They lacked vision and experienced a loss of hope and, of course, they ran away not trusting in the Lord. However, when Christ was lifted up on the cross, died, was risen, and appeared to his disciples especially those of Emmaus, their eyes were opened, and they understood that the events of Holy Week were in fact the arrival to the safe harbor. The road of Jesus after his public entrance into Jerusalem is also seen as a stormy sea that ended with His Passion and the shedding of His Blood for the sake of forgiving our sins. In fact, the passion, death and resurrection of Christ is the foundation stone for the establishment and confirmation of the Church on the solid rock of faith. On the Cross, once lifted up as he foretold, Christ became the harbor of Safety for all, and the true light that illumines the universe.

In this context, the rite of the seven lamps is interconnected with the Last Supper of Christ, His Passion, His Death and His Glorious Resurrection in full light. Accordingly, Patriarch Douaihy links the seven lamps with the seven parts of the Liturgy of the Consecration of the Body and Blood of Christ. His initiating point begins with the story of the two disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Accordingly, the seven lamps represent the preparation of the gifts, the recounting of the names of the people for whom the offering is made, the reading of the Holy Scriptures to educate the catechumens, the immediate preparations for the consecration of the Body and Blood of the Lord (Jn 13:12), the actual consecration of the Mysteries, their actual presentation in adoration to God the Father, and finally the partaking of the Body and Blood by the faithful. Christ himself is the connection between all three elements: the bread, the oil and the Rite of the Lamp.

How Christ
relates himself to the faithful,
in the Eucharist and the Rite of the Lamp:

Recalling the experience of the 10 virgins, five ignorant and five wise, the oil represents endurance and awareness. Such a symbolism has to do with the endurance of Christians to persecution, doubt, scandals, and to holding strong to their faith despite temptations in order to be with Christ. When Christians feel short in their oil of endurance, whether for reasons of physical or spiritual temptations, they should seek assistance from a source, a font. For Christians, the source of the oil is the Mass. The more we attend the Mass, the more our oil will endure in times of temptation.

In this regard, Patriarch Douaihy states: “Here the altar is fire, and the Eucharist is fire, and both the altar and the Eucharist are surrounded by fiery beings. Therefore, be attentive, all of ye priests, not to sin, because you are serving fire. Beware that you will not burn, for in case it happened that one of you had his lamp of faithfulness, weary and dim, from the storm of temptations, or had the oil of his will diminished because of his lack of love or had his wick of his hope thin because of his lack of endurance, let him come closer to the Body of the Lord because it is the lamp of salvation, as from it all pure spirits receive light and consequently on that priest will overflow the oil of mercy, and the warmth of faith, and the torch of love. As such, will dissipate from that priest all the clouds of great temptations and he will walk in the commandments of the Lord without stumbling.”

Although the oil gives light, it is also used for healing. Just as the Eucharist is Christ, who is the light of the world and the true healer of both body and soul. So with the oil, Christians are led to the light, which is Christ. And with the oil, Christians receive healing from the Lord, who is the Great Healer. Oil and bread and light are three dimensions of the same and one Christ.

Fr. Andre Y- Sebastian Mahanna, S.T.L.
March 27- 2013.

[Reply]
FR. ANDRE MAHANNA said 3/27/2013 7:41:01 AM :
March 13, 2013
What Father Andre is saying about the new pope, Pope Francis I

“Pope Francis I will be a great instrument for peace between religions in the Middle East, he will be an instrumental pillar of security for the billions of people of goodwill, living in the Far East all the way to India and China. He will be a credible promoter of justice, freedom of religion, and for the rebuilding of the dignity of the human rights for people in Africa.

"Him being from Italian descent yet being elected from the furthest point in Argentina means he is the pope reconciliation. He is a pope who will bring the roots of the Catholic Church from the city of Rome to the ends of the earth, extending the roots to the branches.

"He comes from a worker family. He’s a cardinal of John Paul II, right after the new millennium, 2001, This means he’s the pope of new evangelization. Being an active Cardinal and a head of a diocese, (Buenos Aires) it means he has the charisma of a pastor not just as an administrator or bureaucrat only. He is the first pope, who from the balcony of St. Peter, had to pray for a pope emeritus, who is living 15 minutes away by helicopter, and not for a dead pope. This means Pope Francis I will be cognizant of the collegiality of the governments of the church. He was a head of a seminary, this means he will be a perfect formatter for the priests of the world to make sure priests are brought up with valid morality and zero tolerance to crimes against morality and sinful behavior by clergy. He is Jesuit priest, which means he knows well how to adapt faith to reason, theology to science, cultures and civilizations to evangelization.

"One of the most important factors he will bring into the church is his experience with Eastern Catholicism . Since he was and born and raised in Argentina of Latin America, a continent where the most vibrant cultural and spiritual forms of Catholicism are found, and being knowledgeable of the Eastern Church, and most of all coming out of the conclave as a surprise Pope whose Curriculum Vitae was never on the table of the “Papal Cardinals,” he could be a promising fruit of the collegiality of the bishops in the world – an expression for the success of the ardent faith of all eastern Patriarchs and western Prelates of the Catholic Church.

"I think the election of Pope Francis I, A Jesuit with a Franciscan Name for the First Time in the History of popes, it’s an opportunity for the entire Eastern and Western Church to take back the Universal church to its Apostolic roots, simple spirituality and divine Foundation in the Service of Charity and pure love.

"My hope is that He will be a Good shepherd who comes out straight from the Gospel of Christ, and from the farthest point of the earth to confirm again the true identity of the Church as Universal. He will be the echo of the validity of the existential sacrifices Christians have bore in all of the East and the deprived Western countries of Latin America after centuries of persecution and poverty. He is going to be a great reward for the historical aspirations of the blood of martyrs, refugees, persecuted Christians all over the historic Eastern Roman Empire and the New World, which was unknown to the Church for ages. He is a great sympathizer especially for the survivors from the evil genocides that took place in the last hundred years against Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in Irak, Armenians in Armenia and Turkey, Syria and elsewhere, the millions of good Jews and Christians who were killed under Hitler and his supporters, and most of all he comes as an answer that will stop the political and cultural persecution that has been going on in the Americas. So we pray that at this time the Lord is looking over his people.

[Reply]
FR. ANDRE MAHANNA said 3/14/2013 12:39:39 AM :
March 13, 2013
In a little bit , smoke is expected to rise from the Vatican again, indicating whether or not the cardinals have elected the new pope or not yet.
We wish and pray and ask the cardinals Electors to pay attention to the East and elect Patriarch Rai as Pope. And here is why: dearest brothers and sisters on facebook, Maronite youth, the world is in need for such radical hope. He will be a great heir of the legacy of the three great popes: Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. He will be a great instrument for peace between religions in the Middle East, he will be an instrumental pillar of security for the billions of people of good will, living in the far east all the way to India and China. He will be a credible promoter of Justice, Freedom of Religion, and a restitution for the dignity of the human rights for people in Africa.
He will be a faithful and inspiring alternative and a practical builder of ecumenical bridges towards the complete and longed hoped for unity with the Orthodox Church: from Greece, to Turkey, to the Holy Land, to Russia and Eastern Europe. A true fruit of the collegiality of the bishops in the world, an expression for the success of the ardent faith of all eastern Patriarchs. I think a probable election as Pope if it is God’s will to His Beatitude Mar Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, and of course with the proper and adequate team around him, will be an opportunity for the entire Eastern Church to take back the Universal church to its Apostolic roots, simple spirituality and divine Foundation. He will be a Possible Good shepherd who comes out straight from the gospel of Christ, and from the mount of Olives to confirm again the true identity of the Church as Universal. He will be the echo of the validity of the existential sacrifices Christians have bore in all of the East and deprived Western countries of Latin America. He would be a great reward for the Historical aspirations of the blood of martyrs, refugees, persecuted Christians in all over the historic Eastern Roman Empire, especially for the survivors from the evil genocides which took place in the last hundred years against Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in Irak, Armenians in Armenia and Turkey, Syria and elsewhere, The millions of good Jews and Christians who were killed under Hitler and his Supporters.... So we pray that at this time the Lord is looking over his people in that part of the world and that from the small town of "Lebanon” will come out a scepter and shepherd for the world, who governs in justice, who acts in mercy, and who speaks in divine wisdom, all for the salvation of the world, the upbuilding of the Holy, Catholic and Universal Church, and the Absolute Glory of God.
We Pray, and this is our wish. Yet we believe and obey the Elected Pope regardless of our wish, and trust the decision of the Cardinals Electors for whoever they end up choosing with the help of God.


Fr. Andre Y-Sebastian Mahanna S.T.L.
St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church, Denver, CO.
Pastor
Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, Director.
abounasebastian@gmail.com
USA 303-882-1406
Rome +39-333-979-4070
Beirut +961-70-44-3003

[Reply]
FR. ANDRE MAHANNA said 3/11/2013 8:34:37 AM :
Saturday March 9- 2013 Vol 2


A Christian Perspective On The Violence In Syria And The Middle East:
Both Humanity And The Land Where Christ Was Born, Are Under Attack Of Evil.


As far as for a potential “Middle East Humanitarian Assistance Project”, any person who has great compassion and is moved by love and support to stop the unceasing violence there, would be a great person and is mostly appreciated.
However, beyond the material help or emotional support, It is my hope to grow with a clear spiritual vision of what is the Middle East, and why is it important for us to help realizing peace and reconciliation right in this “Tribal place” (as false prophets would miss-call it).
Such a vision should be born and is initiated by our belief as Christians in the World: Satan makes sure that the place of the Birth of Christ called the king of peace, of love and of reconciliation, will be always disturbed and tested by hatred, by violence by injustice and by death and wars.
Our job is first to help people who live in the Middle East see that their true enemy is the devil and not man, nor the neighbor. WE must assist them to realize that what they are going through depends in fact on the fact that they are good souls, good people and not “Tribal People as the devil and his army are trying to advertise. Their faith and love to Christ and their adoration to His Father and Holy Spirit in Truth and heart are the real and most efficacious weapon they could rage to stop bold shedding, evil and unjustified death.
We need to encourage these people to hold steadfast to their faith, to seek more and more true forgiveness, love, unity and peace.
Our mission is also to let all people in America and the world know that the Middle East represents the place where Heaven chose and once for all to enter into contract and covenant with earth. A covenant of peace and Immortality. A covenant for the purpose of salvation and freedom.
Heaven wanted to make sure Earth will respond to its initiative of peace, and it was that in the Middle East and exchange of gifts of security and trust took place to confirm the pact between both. As Saint Ephrem (373 A.D.) once said: “For Earth told Heaven: Lucky you, You have God; And Heaven Told Earth in response: Blessed are you for you have a mother. Give me your mother I give you God”. This at once eternal and historic commitment between earth and heaven took place in the Middle East for a reason. It is called the Holy Land for a reason, from there, all the blessings of heaven configured in Christ were given, and all grace on earth in the Virgin Mary was realized. The main purpose was and is still to give peace and to open up the gate to eternal life.
We cannot and we must not let these people over there live as if they are orphans. Their war is not against seen enemies it is indeed as Saint Paul said: Against the unseen principalities of this world. Consequently we must find a way to support them because they are like Peter: the rock on whose faith, hope and love the whole world depends. If they go under depression and evil, the whole world will fall under violence and death. On the other hand, If we help them to live in peace and accord, the entire world will flourish in joy and salvation.

Fr. Andre Y-Sebastian MAHANNA S.T.L.
March 9- 2013




Fasting According to the Maronite BOOK OF GUIDANCE
from the 11th Century (1059 A.D.)


March 7, 2013 Vol 1
The 10th chapter of the third part of the BOOK OF GUIDANCE speaks about the law for fasting. The first paragraph states that man is formed of body, of mind, and of soul. God, who is called “His Most Holy Name,” decided to educate man in all of these capacities for the sake of transferring him from his finite life into immortal life.

How does God do this? Through a combination of principles, one of which is that God imposes obligations, albeit for the purpose of showing His mercy. Consequently, God ordered the precepts of fasting and almsgiving on the body, the precept of faith on the mind, and the precept of prayer on the soul. God also provides guidelines for fasting and for almsgiving.

Regarding almsgiving, it is prescribed that man give 10 percent of his money, as is taught in the Bible. Yet on the precepts of fasting, man is asked to offer physical mortification and sacrifice by abstaining from food and drink for forty days out of the 360 each year (according to the author), nearly 9 percent of the days of the year.

Such an introduction lays the theological foundation for fasting as an obligation coming from God Himself, clearly distinct from being a punishment, a penance, or associated with sin. We are not making retribution for something we have done wrong. Rather, God is teaching us to detach ourselves from what is not perpetual so that we can see his goodness and, through the precept of mortification, accept his gift of immortal life. Consequently, the children of Adam are called mortals or “earthly beings.” This is why at the beginning of Lent, people are anointed with ashes and are told “remember man, you are dust and unto dust you shall return.”

Fasting defeats this verdict of death and disintegration; with fasting and in the sacrifice of Christ, we remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return, yet we will be born anew into Eternal Life. Fasting lightens up the body; it lifts the body from the heavy burden of the gravity of the earth to bring us closer to the world of the Spirit where the Word of God is the true food. As such, God’s precepts invite the human will to a responsible action, fasting, and defeats the mortality that is in our body. Through mortification of our senses and our body and our mind and our soul (through fasting, almsgiving, faith and prayer), God plants in us the seeds of immortality, His Nature, Divine.

Consequently, fasting is the antidote, the vaccination, to heal humans from their earthly desires, the original sin of Adam and Eve. They saw the fruit, they desired it, they ate it, it made them heavy, and they fell. God, in His great mercy, through the precept of fasting, undoes the curse of death as an end that takes us into the earth and transforms it, in the Fasting, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, into a gate to enter into Eternal Life.

Fasting is not about guilt, self-consciousness, and false penance. It is about seeing what is eternal and preparing our bodies to be a part of this eternity, with God. It is called the perfect fasting, for nobody looks at what is perfect and continues to do what is imperfect. This is the fasting of Moses, the Prophets, the Hermits, the Fathers of the Church, and the Saints. Through faith, obedience and trust in the precepts of God, they left earth and all its deceptive food and goods to join Heaven: the true EARTH.

Fr Andre Y- Sebastian MAHANNA, S.T.L.

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