When Professor Miller asked me to consider presenting a paper at this symposium, he told me that he wanted to have a living witness to the ideas in the papers of the other presenters. I genuinely think that the current liturgical tradition of the Maronite Church fits the bill. Thus, the purpose of this paper will be to demonstrate how a central liturgical form of the Antiochene West Syriac Tradition, namely the hoosoyo, has come to be understood as a both an effective catechetical tool on passing on the Faith and a source for Maronite interpretation of the Bible.
When Jesus taught the people, he taught simply. The Evangelist Mark remembered this way, in the 33rd verse of his Gospel’s 4th chapter: With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.
In one of those parables, Jesus compared the Kingdom to that of pearls, for which, if one was willing to do the important work to discover them, this discovery would be worth more than any other treasure. As Matthew recalled: Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it (13:45-46).
Indeed, one of the greatest Teachers of the Syriac Church Tradition, out of which much of our own Maronite Tradition flows, compared the teaching of the Church to a fine, yet hidden, pearl. If we wish to discover it, we must be willing to pay the price. That price, of course, can be paid in joy and enthusiasm; if so, we will enjoy the results all the more.
Religious education is one way that our common Catholic Tradition uses to discover the precious pearls of Christian wisdom that help us discover what is truly meaningful for our lives and our Syriac-Maronite Church is no exception. Under the guidance of the teaching office (teaching responsibility) of the bishops of the Church, known as the “Magisterium,” under the watchfulness of the Bishop of Rome, the truths revealed by God from Jesus and found in the Bible and in the Tradition of the Church are made known to us.