Saturday, May 31, 2008

From Lebanon with love

Congratulations to Sister Marla Marie Lucas, an American-born Maronite and for the past 26 years a Parish Visitor of Mary Immaculate, who is, as of tomorrow, the founder of the first-ever U.S. order of Maronite sisters, Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.

Sister Marla Marie, who once worked in the newsroom of the Washington Post, has taken part in my parish's life for the past several months. It has been my joy to get to know her and volunteer for her as she has prepared for this historic day. Here is some background on her order, from an article by Rick Allen on its Web site:

"The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light is a timely gift of the Holy Spirit to our Church. Over the years, many religious vocations from our Maronite faithful have entered the Latin Church congregations, as I did," says Sr. Marla Marie. "Young women in our Church now have the opportunity to live out and deepen their Eastern spiritual heritage in service to Maronite parishes. The Blessed Virgin Mary is our model and inspiration."

The identification of the congregation with Mary is the key element of its charism, says Sr. Marla Marie, who chose "servants” as part of their name after Mary’s own pronouncement at the Annunciation that she was "the servant of the Lord." Then, "Christ the Light" draws on a pre-eminent image of Jesus in spirituality, particularly in the writings of St. Ephrem, explains
Sr. Marla Marie. "Our liturgy is woven throughout with reference to Christ as light or different metaphors of light."

"As consecrated women, we are to radiate the light of Christ, the light of his merciful love and hope to those we serve," she says. ...

... Sr. Marla Marie, who graduated from George Washington University with a journalism degree, also did a turn in 
The Washington Post newsroom as assistant to the celebrated editorial cartoonist Herblock. She knows the value of the new media in the New Evangelization. The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light have a Web site, to meet young people “where they are,” she says. The site, which will eventually include a blog and other multimedia, will help to promote vocations by explaining the congregation’s work and mission. But Sr. Marla Marie hopes it will also foster an understanding of Maronite spirituality "a great gift to the Church which we should be eager to share with the Western Church" and the wider world, she adds.

"To be a sister is to be a spouse of Christ and spiritual mother to all his children," notes Sr. Marla Marie about her vocation. “I’ve been blessed with the call and privilege to serve the Church as a sister for these last 26 years. Now our Lord is calling me to a challenging adventure which I gladly embrace – with his grace.”