Daily Gospel, Feast of the Twelve Apostles, Thursday June 30, 2011

Letter to the Romans 10:12-21.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’ Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, ‘I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.’ Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’ But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 9:36-38.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

What is Medjugorje! What's Going on There!

Medjugorje is a small village located in Bosnia-Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia), across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. It is a favored place chosen by God in which the Holy Virgin Mary has appeared daily for nearly 30 years. All Began on June 24, 1981, on the Feast day of John the Baptist in the evening. The Virgin Mary appeared to two young people, Mirjana Dragicevic and Ivanka Ivankovic. The next day, four more young people, Marija Pavlovic, Jakov Colo, Vicka Ivankovic, and Ivan Dragicevic saw the Virgin Mary, bringing the total to six visionaries. These visionaries are not related to one another. In 1981 when the Virgin first appeared to them, Mirjana was 16 years old, Ivanka was 15, Marija was 16, Vicka was 17, Ivan was 16, and Jakov was 10 years old.

Statue of the Virgin Mary at the Courtyard of Saint James Church
in Medjugorje

The Blessed Virgin Mary has told the visionaries of Medjugorje that she would impart to them Ten Secrets. Very little is known about these secrets, though we do know that some of them have to do with chastisements for the world. We also know that the third secret will be a visible, lasting sign that will miraculously be placed somewhere on Apparition Hill. It will be permanent, indestructible, and beautiful. On the other hand, both Mirjana and Vicka have stated that part of the seventh secret no longer exists because of the prayers and fasting of the people responding to the Virgin’s messages.

Three of the visionaries, Mirjana, Ivanka, and Jakov, have all received ten secrets and no longer see the Virgin on a daily basis. Mirjana received the 10th secret in 1982, Ivanka in 1985, and Jakov in 1998. The other three visionaries, Ivan, Marija and Vicka, each have 9 secrets and still see the Virgin Mary on a daily basis, as of today.

Our Lady first appeared on Mount Podbrdo, known now as Apparition Mountain. Now She appears wherever the visionaries are. The visionaries do not have to be together for the apparitions. If they are in three different places, the Virgin will appear to each of them at the same time, wherever they may be.

The Virgin Mary usually appears for Her daily apparitions every evening in Medjugorje at 6:40 p.m. CET (Central European Time). She may appear to certain visionaries at a different time if they are traveling or for certain situations. Sometimes when Ivan has his prayer groups on Monday or Friday nights, She appears to him at 10:00 p.m.

As for the three visionaries who no longer see Our Lady daily, She has promised them that She will appear to them once a year for the rest of their lives. Mirjana’s annual apparition is on March 18th, Ivanka’s is on June 25th, and Jakov’s is on December 25th. Mirjana sees Our Lady once a month on the 2nd of the month to pray for non-believers.

The visionaries usually describe the Virgin Mary during the apparitions as wearing a long gray dress, with a white veil. She has blue eyes, long black hair, and rosy cheeks. She has a crown of twelve stars around Her head and floats on a cloud. On Her feast days, anniversaries, and birthday, She comes dressed all in gold. On Christmas, She appears with Baby Jesus in Her arms. All the visionaries say it is very difficult to find the words to describe Our Lady. Marija explains, “I consider words very, very weak to express what we experience with Our Lady. For instance, when we say Our Lady has a gray dress, this is not exact. Our Lady’s dress is of a certain color that does not exist on this earth. It has something to do with gray, so we say: ‘Her dress is gray.’ But it is the same for all the rest, we have some words we use to describe, but everything in the experience of Our Lady is beyond words.”

The Medjugorje apparitions have not been officially approved by the Church, but the Canon Law of the Church allows devotions in the interim. Pope Benedict XVI has commissioned in 2010 a team of scientific and theological experts to investigate the ongoing facts at Medjugorje and to prepare a full report to the Vatican in order for the church to take a decision with regards to Medjugorje. In the meantime, the apparitions are ongoing and are under the watchful eye of the Church.

Daily Gospel, Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul Apostle, Wednesday June 29, 2011

First Letter to the Corinthians 11:21-30.
For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you! For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 16:13-20.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

A Praying Nature

Saint Rafqa’s story begins at Himlaya, a small Lebanese village in the Casa of Metn in Mount Lebanon, around 30 km from Beirut, and 5km from Bikfaya. Like many other Lebanese villages, Himlaya embraces the mountain and witnesses the history of the tough and holy mountains of Mount Lebanon, home of the Maronite Martyrs and Saints. It is also the native village of Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Al Rahi, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

The Village of Himlaya
It was Thursday, on the eve of the holy vigil of Saint Peter and Paul on the 29th of June 1832 when her mother gave birth to her. Eight days after her birth and according to the old Maronite habits she was baptized and was named Boutrossiyé (Pierrette). Her mother saw in her a gift from heaven, her joy was immeasurable seeing the fruit of her womb becoming the daughter of the Most High by her baptism.

Very little is known about Boutrossiyé’s parents. Her father’s name was Saber Shoboq Al Rayess and her mother’s name was Rafqa Gemayel. Despite their simplicity, her parents understood the importance of Christian education, therefore her father’s house was like a church. Boutrossiyé learnt from her pious parents the love of prayer and the attachment to the acts of piety.

Her parents were like the first priests who showed her the right way. They used to pray at home in the morning and in the evening, they went to the Holy Mass every Sunday and Feast day, and participated to all liturgical celebrations at the church of Saint George in Himlaya. At that time churches were divided into two parts by a metallic grid, the first part was at the front, next to the altar, and was reserved for men, and the second part at the back for women. Little Boutrossiyé was always with her mother, looking at her, trying to imitate her words, prayers and acts, kneeling down with her and striking her breast as a sign of contrition.

Every Wednesday and Friday she used to extend her little arms and recite the penitential psalm 51:”Have mercy upon me, O God”. The good example of her parents was the best school for her and she received human and Christian education. She learned simple but smart practices and was surrounded by love and respect to others, which contributed to the blossoming of her character and her personality. Her parents taught her the importance of making sacrifices and she acquired with time a very strong will.

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Daily Gospel, Tuesday of the Third Week of Pentecost, June 28, 2011

Acts of the Apostles 6:1-12.
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 16:12-15.
‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Al Hardini's Daily Way of Life

Al Hardini was 175 cm tall, he had a straight posture and was a handsome man. He had a brown skin, a black hair and a short beard. His face was clear and skinny and it became extremely skinny with time due to his excessive acts of penance, which made his face look pale as if he had just recovered from illness. His voice was always low and his head always inclined, his eyes were always looking at the ground with humbleness and piety. He was very smart, decent in his walk and in his manners, and was very eloquent in his conversations. He was very respected and highly revered by everybody, whenever he was at the monastery there was silence, as if nobody was there.

The Church inside the Monastery of Kfifane, where Saint Al Hardini
used to spend most of his time.

Father Al Hardini used to wake up with the other monks at midnight upon the bell for the midnight prayer. After the prayer, all the monks used to return to their rooms while Al Hardini, and with the permission of the Superior, used to stay at the church to pray and meditate and to prepare himself for the holy Eucharist of the next day. In the morning he would participate in the morning prayer with all the monks, then he would serve the Holy Mass for his brothers the priests. At ten o’clock, everybody sits down to eat, but Al Hardini does not, and he would celebrate the Holy Mass at eleven o’clock for around an hour, afterwards he would pray the thanksgiving prayer, then an entire Rosary with a strong voice and an incredible fervor and love for the Virgin Mary the mother of God.

After the Holy Mass, Al Hardini would go to the table to have something to eat, he refused to be asked whether he liked the kind of food or not, but he always insisted to have the same food of his brothers the monks and not to be distinguished. Sometimes the Kararji (the monk responsible for the provision) used to offer him another dish from the one that was served because it became cold, but he never accepted to eat as he totally refused to be privileged or indulged.

Father Al Hardini often explained that the reason why he doesn’t have any food in the morning was not because of his fasting but rather because of the lack of time as he needed to finish his prayer and spiritual meditation. He never spent evenings with anybody, he was always alone in his room or at the church. This is how he lived his twenty three years of priesthood, making from prayer and fasting his daily life, even on Sundays and on Feast Days.

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Daily Gospel, Monday of the Third Week of Pentecost, June 27, 2011

Acts of the Apostles 5:34-42.
But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time.Then he said to them, ‘Fellow-Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them in that case you may even be found fighting against God!’ They were convinced by him, and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 16:5-11.
But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, "Where are you going?" But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

Message of the Virgin Mary for the World, 25th of June 2011 from Medjugorje

“Dear children! Give thanks with me to the Most High for my presence with you. My heart is joyful watching the love and joy in the living of my messages. Many of you have responded, but I wait for, and seek, all the hearts that have fallen asleep to awaken from the sleep of unbelief. Little children, draw even closer to my Immaculate Heart so that I can lead all of you toward eternity. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

The Gospel Of The Day, Sunday 26th of June, 2011

Third Sunday of Pentecost: Holy Spirit Teaches.
First Letter to the Corinthians 2:1-10
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’ these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14,21-27
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Message of the Virgin Mary on the Feast of John the Baptist, 24th of June 2011 from Medjugorje

“Dear children, also today I rejoice together with you. Also today, in joy, I call you: accept my messages and live my messages. May my messages become life. Build them into your lives. May they be food on your life’s journey. Know, dear children, that I am with you when it is most difficult for you, that I encourage and console you, that I intercede before my Son for all of you. Therefore, dear children, persevere in prayer and do not be afraid. Follow me without fear. Thank you, dear children, also today, for having accepted me again and having accepted my messages, for living my messages.”

The Gospel Of The Day, Saturday 25th of June, 2011

Saturday of the Second Week of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 5:21-33
And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and taught. Now the high priest came and those who were with him and called together the council and all the senate of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, and they returned and reported, "We found the prison securely locked and the sentries standing at the doors, but when we opened it we found no one inside." Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. And someone came and told them, "The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people." Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 16:1-4
"I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. "I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you".

Joy and Contentment

Saint Charbel was always content in his life and in every situation that he happened to be in, he never asked for anything different or better, but only longed for God’s will. He lived his happiness wherever the authority ordered him to be. It was good for him either to sweep the floor, to cook, to work in the field or anything else, as long as he was complying with his vow of obedience in front of God. On many occasions whenever he needed anything from the Superior, he asked one of his friends to talk to him and did not address him directly, out of extreme humbleness. He deprived himself from the necessities that were essential to everyday’s life, he always accepted the least, the most degraded and most difficult matter in everything.

The Hermitage of Saint Peter and Paul, Annaya

Saint Charbel was like a child, he had a clean and pure heart, he was extremely simple. Arrogance and artificialness were totally unknown to him. He was extremely transparent in his behaviors with others, he never offended anyone except himself by additional acts of penance. Father Charbel never asked for a hard work to punish himself, or to pray for long hours in front of the Holy Eucharist, but he was happy whenever he was ordered to perform such duties, and did it with a great joy. He was steady in his beliefs, and was very determined in his acts of penance, which he happily conducted until the last moment of his life. Nobody ever heard Charbel complaining about anything in his whole life, everything about him was extremely simple whether it was his food, his clothes or his job. He rarely talked to people and never started a conversation with anyone, he was not even aware of what was going on in the Maronite Order or with the monks, except for the tasks that he was ordered to perform.

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The Gospel Of The Day, Friday 24th of June, 2011

Feast of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist.

Letter to the Galatians 4:21-31, 5:1
Tell me, you who desire to be under law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married." Now we, my friends, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? "Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So, friends, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 1:57-66
Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, "Not so; he shall be called John." And they said to her, "None of your kindred is called by this name." And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.

The Gospel Of The Day, Thursday 23rd of June, 2011

Thursday of the Second Week of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 5:1-11
 1 But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." 9 But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15:18-21
18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.

The Gospel Of The Day, Wednesday 22nd of June, 2011

Wednesday of the Second Week of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 4:23-31
23 When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who did make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who by the mouth of our father David, your servant, did say by the Holy Spirit, 'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Messiah" 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you did anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15:15-17
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.

Saint Charbel's Sleep

From A Life Of Hardship.

A bed similar to the one used by Saint Charbel, at the
Monastery of Saint Maron, Annaya

Saint Charbel’s bed consisted of dry oak leaves, with a cover sewn from goat hair. His pillow was a log of wood wrapped with an old black fabric. He slept on this bed during summer and winter, and it was an extremely rough backrest for him as it had no mattress and no comforter. Sometimes on extreme cold winter nights, he used a woolen blanket that he attached to the hemp. The sight of his bed stirred one’s heart as it looked like a place for torture rather than a place to rest, especially after his long and hard days at work in the fields. In fact, he slept on a piece of hemp over a couple of wooden boards supported by four stones, around 20 cm above the floor. He often abandoned his bed and slept on the floor.

Father Elias Ehmej testified:”I noticed several times that he was exhausted from sleeplessness as he often stayed awake very late in the night to pray. Many times when he was on his knees praying, he fell asleep and his head and body started to bend slowly until he woke up again before his head reached the floor, then he would straighten himself again, beating the weakness of the body, raising his eyes, taking a deep breath and resuming his prayer. In spite of his pain and sleepless nights, nobody ever saw him taking any nap during the day or even any brief rest under a tree.”

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The Gospel of the Day, Tuesday, 21st of June, 2011

Tuesday of the Second Week of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 4:13-22
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, "What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any one in this name." 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for all men praised God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15:9-14
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Communiqué of the Monthly Meeting of the Maronite Bishops, 11th of June, 2011

As published by the Maronite Patriarchate.

In the week preceding Pentecost, in the light of the Holy Spirit, and under the presidency of His Beatitude Bechara Peter RAI, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, with the participation of His Beatitude and Eminence Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, their Excellencies, the Bishops of the Maronite Church, those living in Lebanon, or in the eparchies within the patriarchal territory or coming from abroad: Syria, Holy Land, Egypt, Cyprus, Europe, USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Australia , met together for their yearly Synod in the Patriarchal See in Bkerkeh from 5 June to June 11. Their spiritual retreat was preached by Father Maroun Mbarak, the Lebanese Missionary, under the title “Bishop of 2012”. They began with a prayer for the repose of the souls of late Bishops Francis Zayek and Youssef Mahfouz. They studied the subjects on the agenda dealing specially with church questions, pastoral, social or administrative and national matters. At the end of the synod, they issued the following communiqué:

The Maronite Patriarch Al Rahi, Cardinal Sfeir and the Maronite Bishops
at Bkerke on June 2011

1 – In the opening speech, His Beatitude the Patriarch thanked the Fathers of the Synod, for electing him father and head of the Maronite Church and expressed in their name the esteem of the Synod for His Beatitude and Eminence Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir and the pride of all in his wise and loving leadership. He asked the Fathers to seek the assistance of the Holy Spirit so that they may read the signs of times properly and discern God’s will and do accordingly. Then, entrusting all of them to Mary’s intercession and protection, in this fragile time of the region’s history, he gave the agenda of the Synod, wishing that its resolutions and recommendations would be up to the expectations and hopes set upon it.

2 – First, the Fathers applied themselves to study the report of the patriarchal committee for liturgy. They praised its work and expressed their satisfaction for its latest achievements, the most important of which is the ritual of the Sacrament of Penance. They, hence, underlined the importance of giving this sacrament its proper place in the Church and mentioned the necessity to carry reconciliation to the parishes and wherever they can. They also requested their sons and daughters to return to the purity of the Gospel so that they be effectively among the children of the kingdom.

The Fathers welcomed also the new translations into the local languages from the original Syriac text of the Missal, the Sacrament and ritual books, as they help to preserve the identity and the Church unity in the countries abroad. The additional liturgical publications expected for the coming days will help the faithful to participate in the liturgical ceremonies and gain spiritual fruits.

3 – The Fathers listened to the reports presented about the Maronite seminaries which are: Saint Maron at Ghazir, Saint Antony of Padua at Karm Saddeh, Saint Augustine at Kafra and Our Lady of Lebanon in Washington. They thanked God for the seriousness and knowledge which those in charge of them enjoy and for the strong devotion in forming vocations to priesthood and the necessary preparation to join in the service of the sacraments, the word and charity. They recommended that those in charge of the schools strengthen coordination among themselves and intensify the missionary spirit, free giving of self and formation in the spirituality of the cross. Given the importance of priestly formation, His Beatitude appealed to consecrate Wednesday 15 June to study more closely the situation of the seminaries with all those concerned, to reach more cooperation in these schools, work at implementing the chart of the Maronite education in all schools and issue the recommendations related to what must be the formation of the priest of tomorrow. Finally, the Fathers saw the necessity to establish a center to care for preparing priests called upon to serve abroad, especially since the necessity there for generous workers is growing. All these matters were present in recent visit of His Beatitude to the seminaries in Lebanon and the hope of visiting the seminary of Washington in the near time.

4 – The Fathers listened also to reports about the situation of some eparchies, among which Jbeil, Batroun, Lattakia, the Vicariates of Jebbeh and Sarba, eparchies of Haifa and the Holy Land, and Europe. They were informed about the needs of the patriarchal curia and took the necessary resolutions about it.

Then, the Bishops of the eparchies of Mexico, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, and Europe presented the situation of their sons and daughters with the expectations of these eparchies, specifically the hopes, sufferings and most important, the achievements. They insisted upon their urgent need for priests from Lebanon to help them, because communities are growing and their needs increasing.

5 – Following that, the Fathers dwelt a long time upon the challenges of the Church abroad. They assured that the Maronite expansion has become international, efficient, interactive with most cultures and an integral part of our Church identity. While the basic challenge is in preserving the identity with the inhabitants of the countries where they live in witnessing to the faith before peoples and cooperate with their Churches in reviving Christian life, we still have to improve the management of this new situation on the organizational, parochial and spiritual levels for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

6 - At the start of the service of our Father the new Patriarch, and in accordance with the recommendations of the Maronite Patriarchal Synod and the paternal instructions of His Beatitude, the Fathers reviewed the suggested plan for the administrative and pastoral cadre in Bkerkeh on the theological bases which are summed up in rendering efficient collegiality and communion.

7 – The Fathers dwelt upon the situation of church tribunals, discussed the report presented about these tribunals during the year 2010 and remarked, with regret, that the number of cases presented last year is increasing. This requires to exert more pastoral efforts to preserve family unity, and imposes upon the faithful more sacrifice, to be patient about the difficulties met in marital life, and deepen their faith and its requirements so that our families remain a witness of unity and love.

8 – The Fathers received also the study of the latest developments reached by the committee in charge of reconsidering the Particular law of the Maronite Church. After praising the efforts of those working at it, they hoped that the result of these studies be implemented in the near future.

9 – As for the national general question, the Fathers valued completely the Muslim-Christian summit held at Bkerkeh and hoped for much from the new dynamism which it created. They also hoped that much would come out of the meeting held recently by the Maronite leaders and deputies at Bkerkeh in response to the invitation of His Beatitude. They were optimistic about what resulted from the summit with the hopes to strengthen unity in the country, the consequence of which is to assure more stability, development and root deeply the constitutional life built upon effective democracy, the preservation of man’s dignity and the earnest endeavor to preserve Lebanon’s message and its prosperity.

While the Fathers assume again the necessity to return to the national basics and call for working towards reaching a united strategic view to move Lebanon forward in its efficient conciliatory democratic system, they appreciate the withstanding of the Lebanese before the storms and their preserving their actual relations. They are sorry for the sharp division which still imprints the country’s political life and impairs the work of the constitutional institutions. This has had the consequence to multiply the daily life crises for all the groups of the Lebanese people, harming, in particular, the poor and needy. They also wonder about the reasons behind the crippling delay in forming the government and do not understand the continuation of the state of stagnation gripping the formation which increases the recession in the different economic sectors. This also harms the production sectors directly, especially since we are on the entrance of the Summer season. But that which increases the complication of the situation is the fast developments around us. This situation affects negatively the stability of Lebanon and its prosperity. That is why the Fathers appeal to all to return to their purity of origin and reject their differences and unite their ranks out of the national basics. The country, if united, can overcome all crises and the Lebanese, if they want, can quickly find the solutions to all the problems which the small homeland is suffering from, after having eliminated all the obstacles which hinder the start in the “repair shop” of all institutions.

10 – In this historical stage which the region is going through, the Fathers remind everyone of what the assembly of the last Synod, special for the Middle East Churches, said that violence cannot establish democratic values. Democracy is a long way built brick after brick, so that the citizens reach, through it, a civil system built upon equality, similar opportunities and liberty of expression and creed. The Fathers of the Synod join their voice to the voice of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, raising prayer with him, so that violence stops in all its aspects, specially the bloodshed, and that the concerned authorities initiate dialogue with their citizens, to respond to the legitimate expectations of the rising young generations, which aim towards a promising and stable future.

11 – In conclusion, on the eve of the Pentecost, the Fathers call upon all to realize their responsibilities and work with all their power to affirm security and peace. They call upon their sons and daughters to raise their faces towards heaven and thank the Heavenly Father, who granted us the spirit of the Son, the Paraclete, so that we may always follow the way of peace and remain faithful to the witness of love and unity in spite of the pressures surrounding us. They finally request their co-citizens in the homeland, and their sons and daughters, to never give up the national unity Pact among themselves which is based upon noble spiritual values and high moral examples. For all unity, be it humanitarian, social or cultural is a gift from the Sprit who continually calls us to establish peace in our homelands and live together in love. Only love builds homelands, preserves societies, guards the good and establishes the foundations for a just and permanent peace.

The Gospel Of The Day, Monday 20th of June, 2011

Monday of the Second Week of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 4:5-12
5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, 10 be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15:1-8
1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

Al Hardini: Saint Charbel's Teacher

From Al Hardini the Monk and the Priest.

In 1856, The Apostolic representative Brunoni appointed Father Laurencius as Superior General for the Lebanese Maronite Order, and he also appointed as Vicars General: Youssef Rahme from Bsharre, Gebrayel from Harissa, Nehmetallah Kassab from Hardine and Karubim from Bkassine. In the same year, the Hermit Father Alishaa asked his Brother the Vicar Nehmetallah to transfer the hermit Charbel to the Monastery of Kfifane in order to give him the priesthood education, as he used to see in him a priest and Saint. Al Hardini was teaching the student monks theology, and he said on one occasion:”I have a student who is a Saint, he is Charbel from Bekaakafra.”

During Al Hardini’s third and last mandate as Vicar General, the Maronite Order acquired the printing facilities at the Monastery of Tamish in 1856 at the price of 75.000 piaster, and it was equipped with Arabic, Syriac and Latin printing characters. It also included a paper cutter, archiving and binding equipments. In 1856 the Antioch of Jaffa was founded, the Antioch of Baalbeck and the mill of Nahr El Kalb in 1857, and the school of Wadi Jezzine in 1858.

Monastery of Saint Moses in Al Douar, Metn

Father Al Hardini died before the end of his mandate as vicar general. After his death, light started to come out of his tomb, many healings took place and his body remained intact. These supernatural events which were undoubtedly coming from God have shaken the Maronite Order, especially the outlawed monks who were not under the submission of Father Laurencius the Superior General, and who were creating the division inside the Maronite Order. Most of these monks were from the Metn area and they were at the Monastery of Saint Moses in Al Douar. With Al Hardini’s intercession with the Most High, they finally declared their total obedience to the Superior General in 1859 and the Maronite Order was unified again until this day, in spite of the numerous problems and dramatic events that took place in Lebanon, especially in 1860 when more than 24,000 Maronites were murdered in a genocide because of their Faith. 

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The Gospel Of The Day, Sunday 19th Of June, 2011

Second Sunday of Pentecost: Most Holy Trinity.

Letter to the Romans 11:25-36
25 So that you may not claim to be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers and sisters: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, 26 and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; 27 "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." 28 As regards the gospel they are enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. 30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all. 33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" 35 "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 28:16-20
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

The Gospel Of The Day, Saturday 18th Of June, 2011

Saturday Of The First Week Of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 3:22-26, 4:1-4
22 Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for your own people a prophet as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.' 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God gave to your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your posterity shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness."
1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14:27-31
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.

The Gospel Of The Day, Friday 17th of June, 2011

Friday of the First Week of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 3:11-21
11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's, astounded. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. 17 "And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14:8-14
8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; 14 if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

Saint Charbel's Food

From A Life of Hardship.

Saint Charbel used to eat once a day, after the midday prayer, his food consisted of some vegetables, olives and raw potato skins that he used to wash, boil a little bit and eat. Whenever he came from the hermitage to the Monastery to take food for his brothers, he always chose the rotten bread for himself that was often thrown to dogs, and took the fresh bread for his brothers. Sometimes he ate the remaining pieces of bread left on the table from the previous day. He never had meat, sometimes he added olive oil to his meal and never had any food cooked with butter or grease except for Feast days like Christmas, Easter, Feast of Saint Anthony, and Feast of Saint Peter and Paul after whom the hermitage is named.

Water jars at the Monastery of Saint Maron Annaya

The Hermits used to work on the lands of the hermitage of Saint Peter and Paul, they collected fruits like grapes, figs, peaches and others, and carried their collect to the monastery where some of it was offered to guests. Father Charbel deprived himself of fruits and rarely tasted it even though he was the biggest contributor to the work in the field. He never ate unless he was asked to, and he used to eat what Father Makarius gave him. He used to fill the water jar for his brothers from the Annaya source which was half an hour of walking distance to the hermitage, but he only drank from the well at the hermitage once a day during the only meal that he had for the whole day.

Maroun Abboud testified:”When I was at the monastery, I used to help the monks in the field work and Father Charbel was one of us. He never ate unless he was ordered to by the chief of the field, he used to take the food that he was given and eat it aside, alone, complying with the monastic rule for novices:”he should never eat unless he is granted permission.” Father Paul Al Sabrini adds:”On many occasions when Father Makarius happened to be at the Monastery of Saint Maron for his service of the rule of obedience, he requested a permission to return to the hermitage in the afternoon. We often asked him to stay with us but he used to say that he needed to go to the hermitage to give Father Charbel something to eat. I asked him once:”Doesn’t he know how to eat by himself? Why do you always have to go to give him food?” He replied:”He will never eat unless I either ask him to, or I give him food to eat”. Even when he was forgotten for a couple of days without being called to eat, he never asked for food and never ate by himself. Father Aghnatios Meshmesh confirmed this fact and said:”Father Charbel was known for this”.

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The Gospel Of The Day, Thursday 16th of June, 2011

Thursday of the First Week of Pentecost.

Actes of the Apostles 3:1-10
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, "Look at us." 5 And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14:1-7
1 "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you do know him and have seen him.

The Gospel Of The Day, Wednesday 15th of June, 2011

Wednesday of the First Week of Pentecost.

Acts of the Apostles 2:40-47
40 And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 7:37-39
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food

From Estephan the Monk.

Brother Estephan, the Gospel lover, understood pretty well that Christian love does not ask for a reward or for a price to be given in full. That is why all his life was full of love, care and tenderness especially for the less fortunate and the poor. He always gave his food to the poor and was a loving person to everyone. He never offended nor embarrassed anyone with any single word, and he was loved by all the laborers who worked with him and he always gave them advices and guidance. He had an easy going character with the laborers, he was loving and merciful to them, never forced them to hardship, always rushed to help them when they failed to accomplish their job, and always helped them and supported them without being rude to any worker, he never hurt anyone of them that is why they liked him a lot. He was very close to his laborers but always kept the appropriate distance with them. 

Brother Estephan was extremely nice with everybody and people felt a great contentment when dealing with him, he never offended anyone in his life. He had a great sense of hospitality and was tender, humble, loving and close to one’s heart. His Brothers often testified about the sympathy he showed for them and for their problems, and his carefulness about their interests. He often said to the workers Brothers at the Maronite Order:”The priests monks serve Jesus with love after having received a high level of education, as for us workers Brothers, we serve God with our love and monastic devotion and this is what is important".

Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq

Upon the First World War, a great famine took place in Lebanon, which caused the death of one third of the population. The Monastery of Mayfouq then reduced the allowed bread consumption for the monks in those dark days. Brother Estephan used to eat only one loaf of bread during the whole day and gave his remaining share to the poor and hungry. Once while he was carrying some food to a starving family, he found the little infant breastfeeding from his dead mother. Estephan was deeply moved by the scene, he carried the baby and took him to the field and took care of him along with other miserable children and fed him milk from the cow. He kept them under his protection until the end of the war.

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The Gospel Of The Day, Tuesday 14th of June, 2011

Tuesday of the First Week of Pentecost.

Actes of The Apostles 2:29-39
29 "Brothers, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 till I make thy enemies a stool for your feet.' 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 4:21-24
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

Al Hardini Makes the Provisions Overflow

After the incident that occured with Father Al Hardini at the Monastery of Saint Michael Bhersaf, he was transferred to the Monastery of Saint Artemius (Mar Shallita) at Al Kattara in the summer of 1856. On one occasion, Brother Gabriel Kayto “the Kararji” (the monk responsible for the provisions at the monastery) told the Superior, father Bernard Kayto that the provisions of the monastery are not enough for the winter season and the barn is more than half empty of crops. As the Superior’s mandate was near its end and he was leaving permanently the Monastery of Al Kattara for the General Congregation, it was not appropriate for him to leave his post with empty or too little provisions for his successor.

Monastery of Mar Shallita, Al Kattara

The Superior came to check the provisions and he noticed in fact that the barn was more than half empty, he also checked the other kinds of provisions and realized that the reserves of the Monastery were very little. Not being able to find any solution, he left and came back with Father Al Hardini, who stood at the door of the provision room and asked for water, prayed over it, and sprayed it over the provisions and the barn.

After a while, as the kararji was performing his regular control on the provisions, he found the barn full of wheat, he was extremely surprised and left the room running and screaming loudly and joyfully saying:”the barn is full, it is even overflowing!”. Everybody rushed to the provision room with the Superior and they saw the wheat overflowing and realized what happened. All the monks were very happy and they praised God and thanked him for what he did for them through Father Al Hardini's intercession.

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The Gospel Of The Day, Monday 13th of June, 2011

Monday of the First Week of Pentecost.

Actes of The Apostles 2:22-28
22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, 'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you wilt make me full of gladness with your presence.'

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 3:5-8
5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.' 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes or where it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."

The Gospel Of The Day, Sunday 12th of June, 2011

Sunday of Pentecost

Actes of the Apostles 2:1-21
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. 21 And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

Holy Gospel Of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14:15-20
15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

The Gospel Of The Day, Saturday 11th of June, 2011

Feast of Saint Bartholomew of the 12 Apostles

First Letter to the Corinthians 12:28-31, 13:1-7
28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 6:12-19
12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all.