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During the month of May, month of Mary, one of my roles as a deacon is to visit the houses of the faithful, accompanying a statue of the Blessed Mother. After a hymn welcoming Mary to each house, we gather around the statue, pray the rosary and sing a Marian hymn after each decade.
We conclude with litanies to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the consecration of the family to the Mother of God and a blessing with the Maronite Marian icon as incense is offered in her honor – and of course this would not be a gathering Maronite without an assortment of food and refreshments to wrap up the evening.
I love that there is always a wide range of people at these nightly gatherings of faith and fellowship. Toddlers, teenagers, grandparents, neighbors, parents, family and friends gather to worship Mary. I always have the deep impression that the love of Mary and the love of the Church and the family are two sides of the same coin. Mary loves the Church because the Church is the Mystical Body of her Son. And what is the Church if not a family of families.
The word ‘Pope’ is derived from the word ‘Papa’ which means father. Nuns are called “sisters”. In the Maronite tradition, priests are affectionately called “Abouna”, which is derived from the Arabic word for father and is very similar to the Aramaic word “Abba”, which is of course the word Jesus taught his disciples to use when they address themselves to God. I believe that one of the serious consequences of the Protestant setting aside of Mary was the loss of this family model of the Church.
To be Maronite and to be Catholic is to live this intimate bond between Mary, the family and the Church. The first Maronites lived near the monasteries and shared their life with the monks. They prayed with them in the morning, went to work in their fields and came back to pray with them in the evening before retiring to their homes.
Prayer, Mass, the sacraments and a deep love for Mary were as natural as breathing for these Maronites who lived in an organic union between the cycle of the seasons and the liturgical cycle of the Church. This is what helped them to survive hardships, famines, massacres, hunger and oppression. It is also what encouraged and nurtured deep family bonds in which faith and vocations flourished and blossomed. It is enough to read the life of St Charbel to see the truth of this assertion.
Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima, predicted that the final battle between Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family. Satan knows that if he can destroy these fundamental institutions, he can destroy the Church and society.
To be Maronite and to be Catholic is to live this intimate bond between Mary, the family and the Church.
Today we are witnessing the disintegration of marriage and family and the emptying of churches. Many social commentators claim that one of the greatest evils of our time is the absence of the father. Prisons are full of men, many of whom grew up without a father role model.
However, despite this, we are constantly told in the media that children do not need both a father and a mother, sex is not primarily for the creation of children, family is an oppressive patriarchal construct, marriage is not necessarily between a man and a woman, and the very categories of man and woman are fluid and malleable.
The sacred bond and the inextricable bond between love, marriage, sex and children, which was severed during the “sex revolution” of the sixties, did not lead to the freedom and happiness that it promised but to chaos and social disintegration. I think, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, that the false promises of the sexual revolution have been exposed for the demonic illusions that they are.
It is Mary who will crush Satan’s head under her feet (Genesis 3:15) because it is Mary who personifies the importance of God and the family. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the future depends on rediscovering the crucial role of religion and family for the health of the individual and society. It is the Church that offers Mary to humanity and it is the Church that preserves, promotes and proclaims the sacred bond between God, the family and peace in the world.
So let us all look to Mary for she is the bright star of hope in the dark night of despair. She is the Blessed Virgin who is our Mother, the Mother of the Church and the Mother of the World and it is by her love that we are saved because it is by her love that we are led to her Son and to his Body. mystic on Earth.
I wish you all a happy feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.
Deacon Ron Hassarati has been a high school religious education teacher for over 30 years at Maronite College of the Holy Family Harris Park. He was ordained deacon of the Maronite eparchy in 2019, he is married with three children.
Melto D’Moronoyo: In May, our role model is Mary