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Maronite Spirituality

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  • yuhannon
    Shlomo Lkhoolkhoon, I thought that you all would like to see the synosis of what Maronites believe and why. Poosh BaShlomo Lkhoolkhoon, Yuhannon Maronite
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2005
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      Shlomo Lkhoolkhoon,

      I thought that you all would like to see the synosis of what
      Maronites believe and why.

      Poosh BaShlomo Lkhoolkhoon,

      Maronite Spirituality
      The Syriac Maronite Church is an integration of three traditions:

      Antioch: A center of commerce and communication in West Syria of
      Greek and Syriac influence. It gave the Maronite Church its biblical
      theology and use of the literal sense of scripture.

      Edessa: A prominent city, where St. Ephrem lived, in ancient
      Mesopotamia of semitic culture and Syriac poetry. Both influenced
      the prayer and hymnody of the Maronite Church.

      Mount Lebanon: A region in the Middle East of Lebanese culture and
      tradition. It provided a haven for the Maronite monastic life,
      worship and traditions begun by Maron.

      The Maronites living in the countryside near Antioch resisted
      extensive Greek influence and retained the Syriac culture and
      language of Edessa. Thus the theology, spirituality and liturgy
      developed according to biblical themes rather than philosophical

      Maron (350-410 AD)
      Maron, a priest and hermit, known to John Chrysostom, walked the
      land once traveled by Peter and Paul. On the banks of the Orontes
      River, Father Maron converted an old pagan temple into a church. He
      spent his life teaching about the faith and ministering to many
      people with the gift of healing and counsel. Over 800 monks later
      followed in his footsteps. These early followers of the lifestyle
      and way of Maron were known as MARONITES.

      Their history reveals great sacrifices of their lives and
      possessions for their religious convictions and freedom. They
      defended the Council of Chalcedon (taught Christ is God and man, and
      Mary is Mother of God). Maronites came to Mount Lebanon and later
      elected John Maron as their first patriarch in 687. By this, the
      Maronite Community became established as an organized church and
      Lebanon became the third geographical center of influence for
      Maron's family of faith.

      From its monastic origins to today the Maronite Community of faith
      includes several religious orders of monks and sisters whose
      important ministries to the Church provide continued nourishment,
      growth and maturity. Maronites are Catholics of many nations and
      diverse cultures. Presently, the Mother Church is in Lebanon and
      daughter communities exist in ever nation of the world. Often the
      sons and daughters of Maron are referred to as Beit Maroun, (the
      house of Maron).

      A View of God
      God is Mystery: The Maronite mind has always been in awe of this
      mysteriousness of God and presumes a great distance between Creator
      and creation. However, the distance is bridged by God's self

      "We are able only to say God is, but to research how he is, the door
      is closed." Narsai

      The reason is the inner life of God is a divine mystery beyond
      limited human knowledge and understanding. Two things account for
      this: 1)the Jewish Christian origins of the Maronite Church, and 2)
      its familiarity with the scriptures.

      Yet, the process leads to mystical union with God- for the more one
      loves God, the more one encounters God. The search for God then
      leads to wonder, communion and prayer. "When one tries to describe
      the mystery of God in words, e can only stammer." Ephrem

      An Approach to Prayer
      Prayer is the process of "being" in the presence of God Who is
      always present to all creation. To encounter creation and humankind
      is to meet and embrace God.

      The early Syriac writers drew upon the semitic biblical idea of
      HEART as the center of spiritual life. The Greek writers relied upon
      a more philosophical idea of HEART as the center of intellectual

      The Maronite tradition sees the HEART as the focal point for all
      life. The heart is the place for the deepest communication with and
      presence of God. To live is to pray, and to pray is to live in the
      awarneness and experience of all creation as made in the image of

      Prayer of the heart means light, clarity and inner vision. The heart
      becomes the altar for prayer-offering. The Spirit overshadows,
      accepts and transforms the prayer. Note well the link between the
      overshadowing of the Spirit at the altar of prayer and the altar of
      Eucharist. To pray from the heart (center) is to be continuously
      filled with a remembrance of God, here and now, by the Spirit's

      Thus prayer is the state of lovingly remembering God so that the
      person experiences His presence and communion. It is the gift of
      inner vision which sees all created things as transparent- God-
      touched, transformed and divinized.

      A Biblical Spirituality
      While one is unable to know God himself, he can know God who
      manifests himself through nature, humanity and scripture. St. Paul
      Writes: "Since the creation of the world, invisible realities have
      become visible, recognized through the things God has made" (Rom

      Genesis indicates that the hidden God revealed Himself through His
      creating word. Since God spoke it into being, creation is a great
      symbol of the Creator.

      God said: "Let there be light, and there was light." Then Jesus
      proclaimed: "I am the Light of the world."

      Creation: Everything bears the imprint of the hidden God. Man/Woman
      is the image of God who gradually reveals Himself in the world he

      Humanity: God inspired rulers to act on His behalf; chose prophets
      to interpret the meaning of His deeds and guided authors to record
      His words.

      Scripture: God's progressive revealing of Himself sets the stage for
      His fullest self-communication in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

      God imprints upon nature and in scripture symbols and figures which
      manifest His son. Thus the purpose of the created universe is to
      reveal Christ and to prepare humankind for His coming in the flesh
      and in glory.

      This spirituality teaches that the "image of Adam" was not destroyed
      but deformed by sin and is recreated in a new splendor by Jesus the

      Antioch's school of theology stressed the humanity of Christ. This
      is best seen in the Maronite liturgical texts which focus on the
      humanity of the Son of God who experienced the human condition -
      even death.

      "In the beginning, You formed us from the earth in Your image and
      gave us the joy of paradise. When we transgressed Your command, You
      did not reject us, but called us back by the law, as a merciful
      Father. You guided us by the prophets. When the time was fulfilled
      You sent Your son into the world that He might renew Your image. He
      became man by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. He accomplished
      all things for the salvation of the human race" (Anaphora of James,
      the Apostle).

      A Life-Journey From Earth to Heaven
      The world is improving with time and it moves from incompleteness to
      completeness. The interaction between God and humans in Christ is to
      prepare and teach them for their divine vocation- the kingdom.

      Jesus, in His birth, death and resurrection transforms, divinizes
      and completes humanity.

      "You have united Your divinity with our humanity. You have joined
      Your Imortality with our mortality. You have taken what is ours and
      given us what is Yours for our life and salvation" (Maronite

      A Maronite Approach to Scripture
      The Maronite liturgical texts paraphrase and explain the scriptures
      through the scriptures. The Old Testament is read and interpreted in
      light of the New Testament. Old Testament images offer types
      (patterns) of the promised Messiah such as:

      Adam and New Adam
      Tree of knowledge and tree of life
      Side of Adam and side of Jesus
      Manna and the Divine manna
      Ephrem taught: "When you look, the symbol of Christ is present.
      Where you read, you find His types"

      A Monastic Spirit
      The monastic spirit of the Maronite Church opens the door to a life
      of simplicity a vision of hope and an attitude of readiness. The
      human vocation is to become like God, but sin interrupts this call.
      Conversion and purification invite a person to renewal, new life and
      intimacy with God. Thus, human beings become what God intends for
      them-Children and heirs of the kingdom.

      For a Maronite Christian the spiritual journey to the kingdom is
      described in terms of Birth from three wombs which the Holy Spirit
      energizes with Life.

      Life: birth from mother's womb

      Baptism: Spiritual birth from womb of baptism

      Death: life's passage through tomb

      The Maronite Liturgy
      The Maronite Liturgy is called Service of the Holy Mysteries and
      derives from the Syriac :.ministering at the altar". Liturgy,
      Qourbono and other words are used.

      The entire liturgy (prayers, gestures, music, art, and architecture)
      reflects from beginning to end, glory to God for His loving mercy
      and the call of the worshipper to forgiveness and rebirth.

      The attitude of the Maronite worshiper is unworthiness of and
      readiness for the second coming of the Lord Jesus. "Blessed is he
      who has come and will come in the name of the Lord" (Maronite

      The believer is likened to a ship opening its sails to the Holy
      Spirit and making its maiden voyage home to the harbor of safety.

      The Holy Spirit is the principal minister in the liturgy. He is the
      beginning, the end and the perfection of all things.

      The Service of the Holy Mysteries develops three themes: 1)
      humanity's creation in God's image; 2)deep awareness of God's mercy
      toward sinful people; 3) joyful praise of the Trinity.

      The tone of the service is simple and direct in the monastic spirit
      of its founder, St. Maron. A balance is achieved between the
      hiddenness and presence of God in Jesus.

      The worshiper becomes involves in a human-divine drama which unfolds
      before and within him and makes once a sharer in the Kingdom. The
      Mysteries/Sacraments become the meeting point for the believer and

      The communal aspect of worship is emphasized by the fact that the
      community is absorbed in a continuous dialogue with the celebrant
      who mediates on behalf of Christ the High Priest, and the deacon who
      serves an instructing and coordinating role.

      reprinted with permission from "Being A Maronite Catholic" by Msgr.
      Ronald Beshara
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