Sunday of the Righteous and Just
أحد الأبرار والصدّيقين
Weekly Bulletin Sunday, February 17, 2019
Gospel: Mt 25:31-46 Reading: Heb 12:18-24
This week’s Gospel is perhaps one of the most memorised Gospels. It attracts people for many different reasons but perhaps one of the biggest reasons it does appeal to most, is because it speaks about final judgement and how Christ shall separate the sheep from the goats. Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison; these all seem like straightforward and easy things to do and they are indeed easy to do.
However, it is not the deed but the manner in which the deed is done. This is what is vital to the success of our actions and the determining factor whether we are sheep or goats.
How is this so? When Christ was asked about which of the commandments was the greatest He says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.’
This is what we celebrate this week; those men and women (the Righteous and the Just) who displayed love in all their actions. They saw the face of Jesus in each person who was in need: the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned, the thirsty, the stranger and the naked. They tended to their needs with deep love and they knew that by taking care of those in need, they were also doing this for Christ.
This week, as we keep in our prayers all the Righteous and the Just, let us learn from their wonderful examples and let us ask ourselves: Do we want to be sheep or are we planning to be goats? The end is determined by us, therefore choose wisely
PASTORAL DIRECTIVES FOR MARONITE CHURCH FAITHFUL
The Bishops’ Synod of the Maronite Church approved these guidelines in June’s session of 2014
Our Church’s seven sacraments, be it firstly the Baptism, are a sign of adherence to a specific parish community.
Therefore, an ontological relationship is established between the faithful and the Universal Church, as well as a life partnership.
The faithful as an active member of the Church and the Church as a mother, holding her children, helping them growing in faith, hope and love enriches him/her with the graces and blessings flooded from her Savior and Redemptor, while the faithful enriches the Church with his/her presence and participation.
It is essential to establish, through the sacraments, between the faithful and the Church, represented by his/her parish, a strong tie, where the faithful participates in the Church’s life through all his life’s phases: be reborn through baptism, be nourished by the banquet of salvation of the altar, renewed through repentance, and found, with her blessing, a new family, a “home-church”, through her servants who received the Sacrament of Priesthood.
Thus, what we are witnessing in many places in relation with the sacraments, are far from the core of the pastoral concept, where some faithful attend a church they like or they feel more comfortable to receive a sacrament in it, without any pastoral justification, or they do other practices that do not relate to the pastoral nature of the sacraments.
In this regard, and in order to preserve reverence, the faithful are required to respect the proper attire and behaviors while in church.
We urge our daughters and sons to use simplicity in expressing their joy and grief in different religious celebrations.
1. Concerning the Sacrament of Baptism:
The Sacraments of Baptism and Chrism are given in the parish church to which the child’s parents belong, according to their living place. It is prohibited to offer them outside the parish church, except at the Eparchial Cathedral.
Waiver to administer these sacraments, some parents solicit their parish priest to acquire a permission to baptize their children in a monastery or a specific shrine, due to a certain vow they made to God.
We would like to draw your attention to 2 points in this regard: Firstly, the wrong concept of a vow, that mixes the duty of celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism in the parish, according to the instructions of the Church and between fulfilling their vow at a later time, since it is considered as a personal and/or a family matter.
A vow is just a personal promise so it can not infringe on the general laws and regulations.
Secondly, the embarrassing situation for the parish priest when leaders of some monasteries and shrines ask for his permission as if it is a normal and a routine matter, instead of helping the child’s parents to discern the difference between a sacrament and a vow, thus, they encouraging them to celebrate the sacrament in their parish church according to the recommendations of the Church while fulfilling their vow at a later stage.
2. Concerning the First Communion:
The First Communion for children should be celebrated in the parish church to which they belong, according to their living place.
The children should be prepared with their parents by a special committee developed by the parish’s priest, thus enhancing their connection and involvement in the parish.
3. Concerning the Sacrament of Matrimony:
It is preferred to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony in the parish church of either the bride or the groom, after their participation in the mandatory courses and sessions for marriage preparation. It is allowed to celebrate this sacrament in a parish church or a pseudo-parish church and should necessity in the space outside the church.
It is prohibited to celebrate it in monasteries, private churches, public places, gardens and resorts. ▪ It is forbidden to re-grant the sacrament in a nominal manner, since it can lead to the faithful’s confusion and to undermining the importance of the sacrament.
4. Concerning Funerals:
To pray for our departed ones is a sacred duty. It is not enough to come to the parish hall (or the funeral home) to express once’s condolences but to participate in the funeral prayers. We ask all faithful to create an atmosphere of prayer away from the manifestations of lamenting.
The funeral’s homily is reserved for the Bishop or the celebrant priest. Other speeches from the parents or others should be said outside the church, either in the outside space where speakers
Can be set up or inside the Parish’s hall, before or after the funeral service.
We implore all believers not to use firearms or fireworks or other practices that do not respect the awe of death and our Christian hope.
5. Pastoral guidelines circularization:
We ask our brothers bishops to circulate these pastoral guidelines to parish priests, heads of monasteries and servants of the shrines.
They should circulate these guidelines to all parishioners and faithful in a frequent manner to avoid any conflicts in receiving the sacraments or any other services.
The Bishops’ Synod of the Maronite Church
approved these guidelines in June’s session of 2014