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Saint Maron, What it Means to be Maronite, and the Mission of Lebanon

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Dr. Tarek E. Chidiac

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The 25th letter of His Eminence and Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Cardinal SFEIR
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East to His children the Maronite clergy and lay faithful On the Occasion of the 1600th Jubilee of the passing of Saint Maron
Lent 2010


Introduction

As the year 2010 coincides with the passing of one thousand six hundred years since the death of Saint Maron the hermit, priest, and father of our Maronite Church described as “the gilding in the choir of the divine saints,”(1) we decided, with the synod of our bishops, to declare this year as a Jubilee Year starting on the 9th of February, 2010 the feast day of our father Saint Maron and ending on the 2nd of March 2011, the feast day of Saint John Maron the first Patriarch, under the title of “Saint Maron – a testimony of faith and a spiritual journey of a people.”

This Jubilee Year aims to pray, think, repent, go back into history, meditate on it, learn lessons, revive and relive our Maronite faith that will allow us to draw a new strategy for our Church in the third millennium.


By celebrating the Jubilee, our Maronite Church responds to three themes: Time as the dimension for God, Jubilee as a year consecrated to the Lord and his Saints, and the recent Maronite Patriarchal Assembly and Synod as one stage among others within the history of our Church, “because the Church lives only as a Synod.” (2)

Time in Christianity is the work of God in the act of incarnation. It came about by the entrance of God, via incarnation, into the history of men. Eternity penetrated time: “Is there an achievement greater than that?” This confirms “that time in Christianity occupies a primary place.”(4) It also confirms that Christianity is a religion rooted in history, as Teilhard de Chardin put it “God met the world through the Person of Jesus Christ.” From the relation of God with time the notion of sanctifying time was generated; (5) hence all time is consecrated to God: days, weeks, and years, because Jesus Christ is the Master of time, and “He is the same yesterday,
today, and forever”. (Hebrews 13:Cool


The celebration of jubilee years began in the Old Testament and continues through Church history. The Jubilee Year is the year of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a year of equality, justice, pardon, reconciliation and repentance; a year of special graces for individuals and communities; a year of charity and joy, not only internal joy, but also the joy that shines in outside.” (6)

The Maronite Patriarchal Assembly as well as the Synod of Bishops for Lebanon, reflect the role of divine providence in preparing for the Jubilee of Saint Maron to the point where one could say that the Assembly and the Synod were in fact the introduction to this Jubilee.

(1) Theodoret of Cyrrhus, History of the Selected People of God, Paulist Printing Press 1987. P.145
(2) The Maronite Patriarchal Synod Texts and Recommendations, preamble, paragraph 1
(3) John Paul II: The Coming of the Third Millennium, 1994, paragraph 9
(4) John Paul II: Toward a New Millennium 2001, paragraph 5
(5) John Paul II: The Coming of the Third Millennium, paragraph 10
(6) Same reference, paragraph16


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