Movie: The life of Beshara Abou

May 19, 1853
Death: Feb. 22, 1930

The Servant Of God, Melkite Priest, Monk Béchara Abou Mrad BSO., was born Selim Jabbour Abou-Mourad at Zahleh in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, probably on May 19, 1853, and entered St. Savior’s Monastery on September 5, 1874. Receiving the habit, he entered the novitiate of the Salvatorian Basilian Order on September 19. Béchara (Good News) became his religious name.

Taking his vows on November 4, 1876, he was ordained deacon in the chapel of Holy Savior Seminary by Msgr. Basilios Hajjar, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bosra, Hauran and Syria, and Visitor Apostolic for the Order, on March 26, 1882.

Monk Béchara was ordained to the priesthood in the Church of Holy Savior Monastery by the named Msgr. Hajjar on December 26, 1883.

Director of Discipline and then confessor and spiritual director in the seminary of the Salvatorian Fathers for 31 years, between November 8, 1891, and December 4, 1922, he served as itinerant missionary in the district of Deir-el-Qammar, Mount Lebanon.

Successively he served as a tireless parish priest and confessor at Sidon Cathedral in South Lebanon from December 4, 1922 till February 1, 1927, when he returned to the Basilian Motherhouse, the Holy Savior Monastery, near Sidon, where he passed peacefully away on February 22, 1930 at 6.30 am. Funeral service and burial were celebrated at the Holy Savior Church.

On Saturday, December 11, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree, naming among others Monk Béchara as venerable.

Burial:
Holy Saviour Church, Sidon
Sidon
Al-Janub, Lebanon

 

 

 

Brace Yourselves! Great Lent is Coming!

In the Ruthenian Church, we begin our lead-up to Lent on the Sunday of Zacchaeus, which is 4 weeks before the beginning of the Great Fast. I always found it very interesting how the Church Fathers decided to prepare for Lent. Lent doesn’t just “happen.” We aren’t celebrating on Sunday as if it’s just another day and then *poof* time for Clean Monday and strict fasting. The transition to Great Lent is rather smooth, and a lot smoother than our Roman bretheren’s transition. When I refer to Rome, I, of course, am referring to the TRUE Roman Liturgy, which is the Traditional Latin Mass, which has its most current form in the Missal of 1962. According to their use, they have the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday, but it really isn’t much of a transition as much as a heads up.

This isn’t said to bash those on the Western side of our Holy Church, but rather for us to have a deeper appreciation for our rich liturgical tradition. So let’s dive into the PreLenten Season!

Sunday of Zacchaeus

The Sunday of Zacchaeus is what we consider to be the kickoff of the Pre-Lent season. Interestingly enough, not a lot changes. We don’t begin using the Triodion, the liturgical book for Lent, yet. The Sunday of Zacchaeus is just an ordinary Sunday after Pentecost. The resurrectional tones for the Troparia and Kontankia are used. From an outside perspective, the only difference is that the Sunday, instead of being named XXth Sunday after Pentecost, is called the Sunday of Zacchaeus, and we simply have a Gospel reading about him in the Sycamore tree. So, why is this day important? The theme we are to take away from this Sunday is that we should go out of our way to seek God. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, and because of his efforts, was able to repent.

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

On this Sunday, while we are still in the Sundays after Pentecost, the Triodion begins to be used. While the resurrectional troparion is still used, the Kontankion is taken from the Triodion. We have the theme this Sunday of pride and humility. The prideful pharisee had done everything right according to the law, and had no need for God. The god the pharisee was praying to was his own ego. Whereas the publican, after living a horrendously sinful life, beats his breast in compunction crying aloud “O God be merciful to me a sinner!” Sound familiar? That prayer is something we say on a daily basis. Because of his humility, he carried away the absolution of sins! So, now we have a continuation from last Sunday. First, we must go out of our way to seek God. Then, we must humble ourselves before him.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

The transition continues because this Sunday kicks off Meat-fare week. It is the end of the Sundays after Pentecost. After we walk out of church on this Sunday, we know that we only have one week left to eat hamburgers, pork-chops, bacon, etc. before Pascha. We can see the beginning of the starting line. The theme of the Prodigal Son is repentance. We turn back and run to the Father. Yet, at the same time, we are also called to be merciful like the Father. So after going out of our way to seek God, and after we humble ourselves before him, we then must repent to the Father of all our sins.

Meatfare Sunday

Enjoy your last steaks! On Meatfare Sunday, we give up meat until Pascha. That is a transition in itself! And the theme of this Sunday? Well, the past three Sundays, we see that we need to go out of our way to seek God, humble ourselves before him, and repent of our sins. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we see that if we do this, we will be judged to be in God’s good graces! That’s right! It’s judgement Sunday! We also see what awaits us if we do not follow the instructions given by the last Sundays. If we do not seek God, if we remain prideful, if we do not repent of our sins, we get to glance into the windows of what awaits us in the future – damnation. My parish priest actually expressed to me that this is the one Sunday where he is supposed to be fire and brimstone in his preaching with no holds barred. Salvation is serious business!

Cheesefare Sunday

As the name suggests, this is the last day to eat cheese and dairy products (including eggs) until Pascha. The theme of this Sunday? Forgiveness! It is Forgiveness Sunday! After being admonished to seek God, humble ourselves, and repent, and after being shown what awaits us in the future, we learn that the first step to the remission of our sins is us forgiving everyone else. By forgiving one another, we enable our hearts and souls to journey into the 40 days with full vigor and to receive the blessings of God.

In Conclusion…

We see a smooth transition, in the liturgical cycles, in our fasting disciplines, and in our mindset and journey towards the Great Fast. I liken the PreLent season to the Daytona 500 (which ironically, occurs on Cheesefare Sunday this year). In NASCAR, the race begins with the cars taking 3 warm-up laps around the track at about 50 or 60 mph. Then after the 3rd lap, once they hit the start line, the throttles open and they go full speed.

PreLent is sort of like the three laps of NASCAR. We begin warming our engines up to be able to endure a long, harsh fast. We don’t warm up by walking slowly, but by going at a fast pace. 5omph is not a slow speed, using normal cars as a standard. 50mph is considered highway speed. Fasting from meat and dairy for a day is like going around the track at 50mph. While we may struggle fasting every Wednesday and Friday, it’s manageable. However, going 56 days without meat and 49 days without dairy is not an easy feat. We need to warm up to that. And once we are warm, we can hit Clean Monday, opening full throttle to run the race of Great Lent.

Chaldean Fast: Feast of Nineveh

Fast of Nineveh (‫ܒܥܘܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܝ̈ܐ‬‎ – Bā’ūṯā d-Nīnwāyē) also called Petition of the Ninevites, Fast of Jonah, etc. is a three-day fast that commemorates the three days Prophet Jonah spent inside the fish (stories and prayers will be in the next posts) and the repentance of the Ninevites at the hands of prophet Jonah according to the Holy Bible. This fast is held by Chaldean Catholics, and Oriental Orthodox. Patriarchs of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Other Churches also called for extra fasts in an effort to alleviate the suffering and affliction of those persecuted by ISIS in the region of Nineveh and the rest of the Middle East. The faithful traditionally refrain from food and drink from early Morning to 12pm and refrain from meat and diary products for three consecutive days, from Monday till Wednesday (to make it more clear, we Fast from early morning to 12pm eating and drinking nothing and then after 12pm we can eat and drink anything except for meat and diary products). For 3 days, people go to church at morning 10 am for prayers and mass at 11:30 am and end the refrain from food and drinks by receiving the Holy Eucharist at 12 pm. Would be great if you would like to join us and fast! Let me know in the comments! Let us pray together for God to have mercy on us and save us just like He saved the Ninevites!

ܒܵܥܘܼܬܼܵܐ ܡܒ݂ܘܼܵܪܚܿܬܵܐ! ♱

(Blessed Bautha) (Bautha is the name of the Fast, which means Petitions of people)

ܡܵܪܸܢ ܐܲܬܼܪܵܚܡܲܥܠܲܝܼܢ ♱ ܡܵܪܢ ܩܲܒܸܠ ܒܵܥܘܼܬܼܲܢ ♱

(Lord have Mercy on us ♱ Lord accept our petitions ♱)

The Feast of St. Stephen in the Chaldean Church

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” -St Stephen

ܡܵܪܝ ܐ̄ܣܛܲܦܵܢܘܿܣ (Mar Istapanos- St Stephen)

Today, the Chaldean Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of St Stephen

St Stephen, the first Martyr and First Deacon, pray for us!

Today was a great day! All Deacons attended mass and our parish considers us altar servers deacons as well, because not only we serve the altar but also do things that deacons do. We held a great celebration and some other things we did other than serving the altar is chanted with the deacons and instead of the priest reading the Bible the deacons read the Bible during mass in many different languages including Classical Aramaic, Modern Aramaic, French, German, Kurdish, Arabic and many more languages, representing Evangelization! After mass we had breakfast with deacons. It was a great morning! ___________________________

“Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

-Acts 7:54-60

Happy Feast Day!

The Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs!

img_5979

Today in the Byzantine/ Greek Catholic Churches, we celebrate the feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs: St Gregory the Theologian, St John Chrysostom, and Saint Basil the Great. Troparion of the Holy Hierarchs: “Let us come together in honor with hymns and sings the Three Great Stars of the Threefold Sun of the Holy Trinity.

They enlightened the universe with the rays of their divine doctrine, flowing with holy rivers of wisdom and refreshing the desert with streams of divine wisdom: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian; and John the famous orator, the Golden Mouthed. Let us express in hymns our love for their teaching, for they are constantly interceding for us before the Holy Trinity!

 

The Maronites: who are they and what is their origin?

                               lebanese-holy-saints

(Image of the three 3 Lebanese Maronite Holy Saints: St. Rafqa, St. Charbel, St. Al Hardini. The bottom man is Lebanese Maronite Beatified and soon to be Saint, Blessed Estephan Nehme)

The Maronites are essentially Eastern Rite Catholics, whom since their origin have professed the One True Apostolic Catholic Faith of Pope St. Peter the Prince of the Apostles, have celebrated the same Sacred Mysteries and retained the same Holy Sacraments as the universal Catholic Church, the One True Church of Jesus, all the while maintaining diversity through their own distinct Code of Canon Law and Divine Liturgy. The one true thrice-fold goal of all Maronite Clergy and Laity is the Love of The Lord, the salvation of souls and loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff who gives their diversity meaning and canonical status.

The origin of the Maronites was in the fertile crescent, which is an area modernly comprised of Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, which all spoke the common language of Aramaic, receiving it’s sacredness for being one of the primary languages Our Divine Master Jesus spoke while at the last supper and with the Holy Apostles. Because of this, the Maronites chant hymns in Aramaic, learn this language thoroughly in seminaries and sing the opening prayers, the most Sacred Consecration and the Our Father of the Divine Liturgy all in Aramaic.

A certain Holy Saint by the name of St. Maroun or Maron, who was born in around 350 AD in a town near Antioch named Cyrrhus, and after having grown into a young man, left to live a hermitic and penitential life of asceticism on a hill. It was recorded that this hill was home to thousands of pagan worshipers, to which St. Maron responded with prayer and penance which saw thousands of pagans convert to the True Holy Mother Church and Her invisible head: Jesus our Beloved. St. Maron attracted many followers through His acts of extreme charity, Miraculous physical and spiritual healings, Piety and Holiness, which attracted both laity and desert monks, to the extent where the revered and Pious St. John Chrysostom while in exile wrote a letter to St. Maroun, reading: “[Dear Maroun], we are bound to you by love and interior disposition, and see you here before us as if you were actually present. For such are the eyes of love; their vision is neither interrupted by distance nor dimmed by time… we address ourselves to your honour and assure you that we hold you constantly in our minds and carry you about in our souls wherever we may be… please pray for us.”

After St. Maron faithfully departed in 410 AD, many of the faithful Laity and Clergy that were followers inspired by St. Maron’s remarkable example of Sainthood, built numerous monasteries in His name, including one of the largest monasteries by the name of “Beit Maron” or “house of Maron.” One of the primary characteristics of Beit Maron and the Holy Maronites was their fervency for defending the fullness of truth and their loyalty to the princely throne of Our Holy Father St. Peter, to the extent where they upheld every Catholic Doctrine even under the pain of death, and because of this, came about the persecutions of the Maronites in 517 AD which saw 350 Maronite monks martyred for their loyalty to the Council of Chalcedon (451) which declared Jesus as “True Man and True God.” Even to this day, on the Holy Feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul, we pray during the Divine Liturgy; “O Lord, preserve your children from all error or deviation, grant us to live and die proclaiming: ‘Our Faith is the faith of Peter, the faith of Peter is our faith!’” This is arguably not only because of Our Lord’s words in the Holy Gospel deeming St. Peter as rock, but also because St. Peter fled to Antioch during the persecutions in Jerusalem and passed on the Faith to Antioch who were the first people to call the Holy Apostles Christians (Acts 11:26) and the Maronites are direct descendants of these people.

In the 7th century, the Maronites selected their first patriarch, another Holy man named St. John Maroun, who was approved by Holy Father Pope Sergius I which highlights the everlasting Maronite communion with Holy Rome, however years later another wave of persecutions hit the Maronites killing 500 and causing the Maronites from the fertile crescent and Israel to recede into the Lebanese Mountains, in which they flourished until about the 13th century. In the 13th Century during the crusades, Beit Maron was destroyed completely and Patriarch Daniel ELhadsheeti was martyred along with many of the northern villages of Lebanon being destroyed (the village of I, the author, being one of the many destroyed). In 1367, Patriarch Gabriel Hejola was burned alive at the stake, and the many persecutions that followed caused the Maronites to move temporarily to cyprus and the Patriarchate also moved to Wadi Qonnoubine.

Later in the 19th century, the ottoman empire took control and during their rule managed to completely destroy many villages, Holy Churches and martyred many Maronites, among whom were the Blessed Massabki Brothers, Francis, Abed and Raphael who were beatified by Holy Father Pope Pius XI. This then catalysed several waves of migration to the Americas and Australia, which has now made the Maronites internationally situated but nevertheless many remain in the original Lebanese mountains. Many of us, including I who am in Australia, uphold Maronite Catholic tradition to this day which is Sacred and represents the very birth of the Bride of Jesus in the middle east, by speaking the native tongue of Our Lord and remaining forever faithful to the Holy Father.

How can we be inspired by the Maronites of Holy Mother Church? the Faith of the Maronite people which is like an inextinguishable fire, reveals to us that Our Holy Lord and His Immaculate Mother Mary, the “OuhmAllah” or “Mother of God” call people of all nations and cultures to enter into a union with the Celestial Courts of Heaven and thus realise, through Humility which means to know yourself, that we are an abyss of Misery that can do nothing on our own but we find greatest fulfilment in union with the Life giving spirit of Jesus. The Martyrdom of the Maronites who remained faithful to the infallible teaching of the Living Magisterium and the Holy Father that Jesus is True Man and True God, through the hypostatic union of both His two natures, teaches us that the greatest act of Love is the baptism of Fire; to lay down one’s life for his Friends, or in other words, to give up oneself sacrificially and in toil for Holy Mother Church, all Her teachings, Her visible head the Supreme Pontiff, and of course, Our Best Friends Jesus and Mother Mary (St. John 15:13).

Peter: First among equals? An Eastern Catholic Perspective.

POPE LISTENS AS PATRIARCH GREGOIRE III SPEAKS DURING VISIT TO ST. PAUL'S BASILICA IN HARISSA, LEBANON

I would like to make it known that as a Catholic, I accept absolutely 100% of what Holy Mother Church upholds to. To quote Saint Theresa of Avila: “If, perchance, I say anything which does not exactly agree with what the Holy Catholic Church holds, it will be through ignorance, and not in malice.” (Interior Castle, Preface pg. 24)

With that in mind, I am willing to be corrected for any errors in which I may uphold to, for as a laymen in whom does not have any background in theological explanation nor canon law, my words are open to inaccurate conclusions. I acknowledge that as a laymen, my words are only fallible since I am not the magisterium of the Church nor am I the Roman Pontiff speaking via Ex Cathedra.

If I, through my own fault, mislead any of my readers, my sincerest apologies since it is not my intention. My only intention, as an Eastern Catholic, is to reconcile Eastern Christian thought in the context of what the Holy Catholic Church has always upheld to since the beginning of time.

To begin, if you have ever engaged in a dialogue with an Eastern Catholic; you may have heard that we uphold the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Saint Peter, to be First among equals. Being that this is an expression also used by our dear brethren in schism with the Church, such as the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, it can cause controversy being that they have a different understanding of the role of Peter within the Church than we do as Catholics.

To distinguish the differences between what we as Catholics uphold to in contrast to what our brethren in the Eastern schism believe, we as Catholics believe that the Roman Pontiff, being that he is the successor of Peter, has absolute authority over the other bishops considering that this was the role given to him by our Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:17-19 “Thou art Peter [Cepha, transliterated also Kipha] and upon this rock [Cepha] I will build my Church.” The churches in schism, on the other hand, believe that all the bishops and patriarchs are equal in authority over the church.

Considering that Peter was given this Primacy of Honor over the entire Church to be the mouth of the rest of the apostles, it explains why we as Catholics uphold this doctrine given that this was the faith of the early church. For instance:

“He saith to him, “Feed my sheep”. Why does He pass over the others and speak of the sheep to Peter? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the head of the choir. For this reason Paul went up to see him rather than the others.

And also to show him that he must have confidence now that his denial had been purged away. He entrusts him with the rule [prostasia] over the brethren. . . . If anyone should say “Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?”, I should reply that He made Peter the teacher not of that see but of the whole world. [St. John Chrysostom, Homily 88 on John, 1. ]

To quote what Holy Mother Church herself teaches:
“880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.”398Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.

The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.400 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.”401 This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”402 “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”403 (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Lumen Gentium 22: “But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church.

And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head.”

So what does it mean that the Pope is the “first among equals” in Eastern Catholic circles? From a Eastern Catholic perspective, the Pope is the “first among equals” in the context that he is a bishop just like all of the other bishops. Sacramentally, he was ordained a bishop just like any other bishop, making them equal in the sense that as a bishop, (again, not as the Pope), the pope has no more power than any other bishop since all bishops are equal in power.

“This power of the Supreme Pontiff by no means detracts from that ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles by appointment of the Holy Spirit, tend and govern individually the particular flocks which have been assigned to them. On the contrary, this power of theirs is asserted, supported and defended by the Supreme and Universal Pastor; for St. Gregory the Great says: “My honor is the honor of the whole Church. My honor is the steadfast strength of my brethren. Then do I receive true honor, when it is denied to none of those to whom honor is due.” (Vatican 1, Chapter 3 of Session 4)

However, as the very successor of Peter, he enjoys more authority than the other bishops of the Church. If you live in a state with lots of Roman Catholics, chances are you will probably have an archdiocese and several dioceses. The archbishop holds no additional power than the other bishops because they are all equally bishops. By virtue of his position of archbishop, however, he commands more authority in the Church. Thus, all bishops are of equal rank. But Peter is the eldest and the first because of the virtue of his office given by Christ Himself.

“To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal Church. All this is to be found in the acts of the ecumenical councils and the sacred canons.Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate.

Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith , the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one Supreme Shepherd This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.” (Vatican 1)

Thus, Peter is the leader of the disciples. “That Christ singles out Simon Peter has a twofold significance: (1) Peter was the leader among the disciples, and thus had to be the first to confess his love for the risen Lord.” (Orthodox Study Bible of Saint Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Footnote for John 21: 15-17)

Words from the Eastern Church Fathers:

” In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the paralytic in the name of Christ. (Patriarch St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 363 AD, Catech. xviii. n. 27)

“Peter, the Leader of the choir of Apostles, the Mouth of the disciples, the Pillar of the Church, the Buttress of the faith, the Foundation of the confession, the Fisherman of the universe. (St. John Chrysostom, T. iii Hom).

St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434), A disciple of St. John Chrysostom

“Peter, the coryphaeus of the disciples, and the one set over (or chief of) the Apostles. Art not thou he that didst say, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’? Thou Bar-Jonas (son of the dove) hast thou seen so many miracles, and art thou still but Simon (a hearer)? He appointed thee the key-bearer of Heaven, and has though not yet layed aside thy fisherman’s clothing?” (Proclus, Or. viii In Dom. Transfig. t. ix. Galland)
A disciple of St. John Chrysostom

Peter, Head of the choir of Apostles. (Nilus, Lib. ii Epistl.)

Peter, who was foremost in the choir of Apostles and always ruled amongst them. (Nilus, Tract. ad. Magnam.)
Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople (466-516)

Macedonius declared, when desired by the Emperor Anastasius to condemn the Council of Chalcedon, that ‘such a step without an Ecumenical Synod presided over by the Pope of Rome is impossible.’ (Macedonius, Patr. Graec. 108: 360a (Theophan. Chronogr. pp. 234-346 seq.)