Melto D’Moronoyo: Mary, Mother of the Church

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A Maronite Icon of Our Lady is displayed at a memorial Mass at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park. PHOTO:Patrick J Lee

During the month of May, the Month of Mary, one of my roles as a Deacon is to visit the homes of the faithful, accompanying a statue of the Blessed Mother. After a hymn welcoming Mary into each home, we gather around the statue, pray the Rosary and sing a Marian hymn after each decade.

We conclude with the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Consecration of the Family to the Mother of God and a blessing with the Maronite Marian icon as incense is offered in her honour – and of course it wouldn’t be a Maronite gathering without an assortment of foods and refreshments to conclude the night.

I love the fact that there is always a diverse range of people at these nightly gatherings of faith and fellowship. Toddlers, teenagers, grandparents, neighbours, relatives, family and friends all gather around to venerate Mary. I am always left with the deep impression that love for Mary and love for the Church and family are two sides of the one 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 ‘sister’. In the Maronite tradition priests are affectionately addressed as ‘Abouna’ which is derived from the Arabic word for father and is very similar to the Aramaic word ‘Abba’ which of course is the word Jesus taught His disciples to use when addressing God. I believe one of the grave consequences of the Protestant side-lining of Mary was the loss of this familial model of the Church.

To be a Maronite and to be Catholic is to live this intimate link between Mary, family and Church. The early Maronites lived close to the monasteries and shared their lives with the monks. They prayed with them in the mornings, left to work in their fields and returned to pray with them in the evenings before retiring home.

Prayer, mass, the sacraments and a deep love for Mary were as natural as breathing for these Maronites as they lived within an organic union between the cycle of the seasons and the liturgical cycle of the Church. It was this that helped them survive hardship, famines, massacres, hunger and oppression. It is also what encouraged and nourished deep familial bonds within which faith and vocations flourished and blossomed. One only needs to read the life of St Charbel to see the truth of this statement.

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 foundational institutions, he can destroy the Church and society.

To be a Maronite and to be Catholic is to live this intimate link between Mary, family and 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 ills of our time is father absence. Gaols are full of men, many of whom grew up without a father figure 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 inextricable link between love, marriage, sex and children, that was broken during the “sexual revolution” of the sixties, has not led to the freedom and bliss that it promised but to chaos and social disintegration. I think, for those who have 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 the head of Satan beneath her feet (Genesis 3:15) because it is Mary who personifies the importance of God and family. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the future depends upon the rediscovery of the crucial role of religion and family for the health of the individual and of society. It is the Church who offers Mary to humanity and it is the Church that preserves, promotes and proclaims the sacred bond between God, 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 through her love that we are saved because it is through Her love that we are lead to Her Son and to his Mystical Body on Earth.

Wishing you all a blessed Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.

Deacon Ron Hassarati is a secondary Religious Education teacher for over 30 years at the Maronite College of the Holy Family Harris Park. He was ordained a Deacon for the Maronite Eparchy in 2019, he is married with three children.

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Melto D’Moronoyo: In May our model is Mary