Abouna's Message of the Month

Dear brothers and sisters,

I hope that every one of you, are doing well in this until now mild, winter weather of Minnesota. I always notice that neither cold nor snow nor ice prevent you all from coming to church and attending Divine Liturgy and all the various activities for children, youth, adults or elderly. Physical attendance at Church is almost back to normal and all parishioners are welcome to attend Sunday liturgy and respect the day of the Lord that is one of Ten Commandments. We continue to broadcast Sunday liturgies so the sick, the elderly and the distant are able to attend liturgy remotely, as well as our members who live out of town and have chance and opportunity to show support. Most of our families have returned to Sunday liturgies and various church activities, so your kids and young generation would keep the faith, culture and tradition handed from parents and ancestors. But of course for the elderly and the sick and vulnerable, it is the Church’s duty to show full understanding, support and assistance.

The last month of January was a busy month for the church and for me personally. It started sadly with the loss of our dear church member and parishioner, Arthur Nasseff, on January 1 in the evening. I cut short my urgent visit to Lebanon, immediately following the funeral of my mom and took the earliest available flight back to Minnesota. I went directly from the airport to visit Arthur, just two hours before his farewell to this life. May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. He was deeply loved by the Holy Family community. Our condolences and sympathies go to his wife Sue and all his family.

On behalf of my family, I would immensely thank the Holy Family ladies and members for hosting a memorial 40-day celebration for my mom with a mercy meal in her memory on January 28. Mom deeply loved Holy Family and always looked always to come and visit. She was always treated with kindness and love. She will be remembered by her graceful and peaceful presence among the ladies and community. I thank you all for your condolences, prayers and thoughts.

The month of February will be marked by some major events:

The first event is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, originally February 2. We will perform the ritual of the Blessing of the Candles on Saturday and Sunday, February 3 and 4. The faithful may take a blessed candle for their homes, according to an important title of Jesus being the Light of the World.

The second is Saint Maron’s Feast Day, which is celebrated on Friday, February the 9, at 6 PM. Saint Maron (350-410 AD) is the Patron of the Maronite Catholic Church, which took structure at the time of the First Maronite Patriarch, Saint John Maron, around 686 AD and since then it has been in full unity with the Catholic Church in Rome.

The third event is the beginning of Lent on Monday, February 12. We will have two celebrations which will be held at 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM with Blessing with Ashes. That way, people who are unable to attend in the morning may still do so in the evening. Ashes will be available during that week at church.

Why Ash Monday?: The Roman Catholic Tradition starts the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday two days later, right after the Carnival days that this year run from Thursday, February 8 until Tuesday, February 13. I know that this raises some questions in your mind. As I explained last year, although the Maronite Church is part of the Roman Catholic Church and its patriarch is a Cardinal too, we still have our own traditions and calculations that sometime are different. In this case, the Roman Catholic tradition calculates the Lent Season to be exactly 40 days that end on Palm Sunday. So the 40th day ahead of Palm Sunday must be the Wednesday of the sixth week before.

The Maronite liturgical calendar is based on a weekly cycle. So like every season, Maronite Lent includes Holy Week which makes the duration of Lent to be about 50 days. The Maronite Lent Tradition invites the faithful to fast at least on Ash Monday and Holy Week especially Holy Friday and abstain from eating meat Wednesdays and Fridays. Fasting and avoiding meat except fish, means to have solidarity with the needy and the poor and share their conditions of life, and also share with them some of the food we deprive ourselves from, like the cost of a meal or two a week for example through the Church or directly. It is also an act of depravation and sacrifice to share with the Lord his fasting in preparation for his plan of salvation for us. So we share the vision of St Paul the Apostle who says that we share with the Lord some suffering so we can feel the merit of sharing with him in His Eternal Glory in the life eternal to come. Plus fasting helps people toward humility and repentance and purification in preparation for the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus.

The fourth event is Saint Valentine the Martyr feast day on February 14. He is the patron of the Christian intimate love between a man and a woman who seek to form a new Christian family committed to the Catholic Faith, since the fundamental definition of marriage in the Bible and Holy Scripture and in the Catholic Church doctrine is a sacred union between man and woman, male and female as husband and wife on the example and Adam and Eve, and the Holy Family Jesus, Mary and Joseph. All other forms of living, like same sex marriage, are not compatible with Catholic faith and Christ’s teachings.

On this occasion I would urge parents and families to encourage children to participate in three principle church activities: Altar serving, Faith Formation and MYO programs, plus many opportunities to volunteer in various church events. This is a great opportunity for our children to have a spiritual experience and associate with all other children and earn their participation and commitment in activities and missions they plan for like flights and costs of national retreats and conventions.

.Holy Family appreciates and thanks all its parishioners and friends for their constant support and dedication in your donations and participation in various church causes, missions and activities. Your commitment keeps the Church going on. I would like to thank all teams who offer time and efforts in various tasks of the church. Despite all challenges, your trust and support kept the Church finances increasing and coming closer to the Church future expansion plans. If some are looking for ways of support, the classical one is to offer one work hour income every Sunday or every month from their work to support the church. Your generosity is highly appreciated. And please remember your church in your will. Thank you all for your support and dedication.

I again would like to thank all those who organized and contributed to my mom’s memorial Mass and breakfast. Mom loved this community. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts offered for her intention. May all your loved deceased ones rest in the peace of the Lord.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Abouna Emmanuel Nakhle-Ghorr, Pastor +

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