The Bridge between the Church in Heaven and on Earth

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

Today we arrive at the third and final commemoration before we enter the
Season of Great Lent, the commemoration of the Faithful Departed. In parable portrayed in today’s Gospel, we can see through the eyes of Lazarus and the rich man the closeness of heaven and hell. The rich man is able to see Lazarus rom hell. The rich man is tortured by what he didn’t do, and he is still trying to
understand what others can do for him rather than what he can do for others. This was his problem to begin with. For this reason, a “great chasm” or gulf was created between the two men. This great chasm is also found between the church of heaven and the church on earth. However, it is through our prayers and the abundant mercy of God that a bridge is created to link the two. This bridge
destroys the chasm and unites the two so that they are one.

A wealthy person can be a saint or sinner in the same way that a poor person can be a grave sinner or saint. What we can be sure of is that the remedy from sin is God’s mercy and grace which comes to us through His Son, Jesus. The knowledge of oneself, together with a good relationship with God, an authentic balanced
understanding of Scripture and the teachings of the church provides a path of faith and reason to restore health to the mind, body, and soul. I could be the richest person in the world, but if I don’t have the above, then I have nothing and vice versa.

Praying for our faithful departed takes much prominence in the Maronite Mass and in the para-liturgies, such the Rite of the Prayer of Incense. It is so important that we pray for our faithful departed and the Maronite Church allocates one whole week to do so. Through the liturgy and especially the Divine Liturgy, the Church in heaven and the Church on earth unite together to pray for the resting souls. During this week, all Masses will be followed by the Prayer of Incense and we will be celebrating a Mass at Rookwood Cemetery on Tuesday 6
February at 12.00pm for all the departed who have been buried there. Let us continue to pray for our departed with faith, hope and love so that their souls through the mercy of God may rest in peace.
As you are aware, our clergy together with our Bishop attended our annual retreat last week. The retreat was a time to rejuvenate ourselves both spiritually and mentally. The theme that we worked on was “Service and
Witness in the life of a Priest.” We discussed many ways in which we can revitalise the way that we work
including our relationship with our faithful parishioners. We hope to activate the fruits of this retreat in the year ahead of us.

Finally, for the relics of Saint Maroun have arrived in Australia and we will be celebrating the Feast of Saint Maroun in their presence at Saint Maroun’s Cathedral on 9 February at 7pm in Redfern. This will truly be a
historical event in which we encourage you all to take part in. May the prayers of Saint Maroun be with you all.

Father Tony Sarkis

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