As baptized Christians and members of the Body of Christ in the World, it is our duty to save the world by prayer and fasting.
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
The lack of Christian prayer and fasting is the cause of the rise of evil in the world. The Christian prayer and the fasting of Christians can defeat evil and minimize evil effect over innocent people in the world. We have been given the power to move mountains through our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but first we have to pray, fast, believe and be apostles of the Gospel in the world.
If I ask the youth what does the word: gospel stand for, would they know that it literally mean: "Evangelion" from Greek or the book of "Good News".
If I ask parishioners and people who go to church, both catholic & apostolic churches and those of other traditions, “Why do you go to Church?,” how many would answer, "In order to Save souls, and live the Good News", or the gospel.
My dear brothers and sisters, my fear today is that Christianity is losing its role in the world not only because of outside persecution, but more so because Christians have lost their desire to seek the Lord's Will, and they are not happy following Christ anymore.
I don't preach sadness, for the gospel is the Word of Good News. I don't like to be a broken hearted priest or, as someone once called me, the broken hearted prophet. I like to tell you all how much I love you and how much the potential of your faith could move mountains in the world. These mountains today are the evil powers who wrestle against the Church and all the faithful and innocent people in the world. Today, based on Vatican reports I have worked on, over 150 million Christians suffering active persecution. This persecution is not limited to being killed or martyred. It is also the lack of social justice, human rights, and the absence of religious freedom. It is economic oppression, forced migration, human trafficking, forced exposure to sex trade and prostitution, forced selling of human organs, forced selling of properties and homes, not being able to be participants in their own country’s public life and political systems, not being allowed to pursue higher education nor to go to school, not being able to build nor rebuild their homes, not being able to say Merry Christmas nor to go to Church on Sundays. Sundays in many counties in the world is now just a normal day of work.
Here in the USA, we make a choice not to go to Church on Sunday. I wonder why? Here in the Church, I see many people making their own decisions to starve themselves from faith, hope, and love. I wonder why? Here in the USA, we can promote the Gospel of Good News in our own homes but instead we stay ignorant of its contents while in other places the enemies urinate on the gospels and burn them out. In other places, people urinate on the Blessed Sacrament while here we receive communion without consideration of our state of. We don't even think to respect the Blessed Sacrament nor our places of worship as we might walk to our churches, cross the legs, not bow in respect, not bless ourselves with holy water, and chew a gum while in the church. One of the worse events that causes sadness in my heart is when I
see people coming to Church and not actively participating in the dialogues, the hymns and not knowing when to make the sign of the cross during Mass or the other services.
What do we do?
We need the Lord to heal us from the sins of the flesh. In the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans (12: 6- 23) that we read this Sunday, it says “Do not let the sin take over and govern over your dying body, so you will be obedient and slaves to its vices. Do not let your members of the body be weapons of injustice caused by sin. But act as if you are living beings who are the risen children of the Resurrection from death. Make your members be weapons of righteousness for God.”
How is it possible to revive the faith in your heart? First, you must care to be alive. Unless we come to Christ Jesus, as repentant sinners to seek forgiveness and humble ourselves before the Holy Church and go to confession, pray and fast, there is not a way for us to heal. We will be like the hypocrites and we will be the cause for people to stumble and for violence to continue escalating in the world against innocent ones and the faithful ones. I urge you all, come back to Christ and tell him, like in the Gospel of Good News which will be announced this Sunday in our Maronite Church for the Second Sunday of Lent, "Lord if you wish, you can make me pure" (Mark 35: 1- 45).
Christians must pray. Christ-like people can heal this Nation of the United States from the outcome of confusion and the fall in the false sympathy. Christians can no longer take it for granted that in the world today you can choose to be cold in your faith. The world is going to an age of dark religion unless the Christians decide to heal and be purer and to take ownership of their faith through prayer, repentance, acts of charity, fasting and holiness. Otherwise, my fear is that Christians will be the ones who will end up persecuting the Church of Christ in this world.
Let us kneel and bow deep before the Lord and tell him with the Leper: "Lord if you wish, you can make me pure"
I encourage you all to try to fast from Monday to Friday every week during Lent which will end up on Friday before the celebration of Palm Sunday. Fast from Midnight until Noon, and abstain from meat on Fridays and Wednesdays during that time. Fast and abstain during Holy Week all the way from Monday until Saturday of Holy Week.
Come to Church every Friday evening during Lent. At Saint Rafka, we will begin at 6:00 pm with the devotion of the Stations of the Cross. At 6:30 pm, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy of the Mass, during which we will do our parish Lenten Retreat as we will read from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Fathers of the Church. At the end of the Mass, we will conclude with the Traditional Liturgical service called: the Veneration of the Cross.
There will be a social time and fish dinner and other Lenten food that I encourage you all to bring and share every Friday after the service is finished around 7:30 pm.
Confessions During Lent set for Friday: April 7 from 6 pm until 7:30 pm.
On Saturday morning the prayer will continue and Adoration until 3:00 pm, time of the Service of Readings, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Praise and Worship concluding with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Confession and Reconciliation service is set for Saturday of Holy Week, right before Easter Sunday, at 11:00 am until 12:00 Noon.
24 Hours of Adoration with the Lord: From Friday March 17 @ 3:00 pm, until Saturday March 18 @ 3:00 pm, there will be full 24 hours of Adoration with the Lord. The Church of Saint Rafka will be open from 3 pm that Friday with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the Adoration to follow. The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy will be prayed.
At 6:00 pm on that evening the devotion of the Stations of the Cross will be celebrated by Deacon George Karam.
At 6:30 the Mass
At 7:00 pm there will be the service of the Veneration of the Cross.
A fish dinner will follow.
The Church will remain open to those who like to sleep a little bit, and wake up during the night to pray with the Blessed Sacrament.
Please continue to support our church. Your alms giving, your tithe and your time and talent are great tools to minister and to live with Jesus the Announcement of the Good News. Let us save souls by fasting and praying.
May God bless you all