|Our Lord was crucified, bore the debts of the entire world, and fastened sin [on the cross] with nails that it might never reign again.||ܙܩܺܝܦ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܘܰܛܥܺܝܢ ܚܰܘ̈ܒܶܐ ܕܟܽܠܳܗ ܬܺܒܶܝܠ܃ ܘܰܩܒܺܝܥܳܐ ܠܶܗ ܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܒܨܶܨ̈ܶܐ ܕܬܘܽܒ ܠܳܐ ܬܰܡܠܶܟ܀|
|While crucifying Him on Golgotha, they crucified [also sin] with Him that [sin] might never again slay another generation henceforth.||ܟܰܕ ܙܳܩܦܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܙܰܩܦܳܗ݀ ܥܰܡܶܗ ܥܰܠ ܓܳܓܘܽܠܬܳܐ܃ ܕܠܳܐ ܬܘܽܒ ܬܶܩܛܽܘܠ ܕܳܪ̈ܶܐ ܐ̱ܚܪ̈ܳܢܶܐ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܘܰܠܟܳܐ܀|
|He led sin from the tribunal to [the place of the] crucifixion, lifted up with Him the daughter of perdition, and slew her on the cross.||ܕܒܰܪ ܠܰܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܡܶܢ ܒܶܝܬ ܕܺܝܢܳܐ ܠܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܐܣܩܳܗ݀ ܥܰܡܶܗ ܘܰܩܛܠܳܗ݀ ܒܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܠܒܰܪ̱ܬ ܐܰܒܕܳܢܳܐ܀|
|Sin slew Adam with a tree from the beginning.
For this reason did the Son of God slay [sin] on a tree.
|ܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܒܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܩܶܛܠܰܬ ܠܳܐܕܳܡ ܡܶܢ ܫܘܽܪܳܝܳܐ܃ ܘܡܶܛܽܠܗܳܢܳܐ ܒܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܩܰܛܠܳܗ݀ ܒܰܪ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ܀|
|Our Lord died indeed on account of sin. For this reason did He die and slay [sin] by His crucifixion.||ܠܰܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܓܶܝܪ ܡܺܝܬ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܟܰܕ ܡܳܐܶܬ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ܃ ܘܡܶܛܽܠܗܳܢܳܐ ܡܺܝܬ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܘܩܰܛܠܳܗ݀ ܒܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܽܬܶܗ܀|
|The Tree of Life destroyed the tree of knowledge, shook down Its fruit on the dead and resurrected them.||ܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܫܪܳܝܗ̱ܝ ܠܺܐܝܠܳـܢܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܺܝܕܰܥܬܳܐ܃ ܕܰܐܬܰܪ ܦܺܐܪܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܥܰܠ ܡܳܝ̈ܘܽܬܶܐ ܘܢܰـܚܶܡ ܐܶܢܘܽܢ܀|
|Our Redeemer uprooted the tree of death by His death that the tree that slew Adam might never again be fruitful.||ܠܗܰܘ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܕܡܘܰܬܳܐ ܒܡܘܰܬܶܗ ܥܩܰܪ ܦܳܪܘܽܩܰܢ܃ ܕܬܘܽܒ ܠܳܐ ܢܶܬܶܠ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܶܐ ܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܕܩܰܛܠܶܗ ܠܳܐܕܳܡ܀|
|He cut down the bitter tree of knowledge with the Tree of Life which He chose to sprout from Golgotha.||ܚܪܰܒ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܺܝܕܰܥܬܳܐ ܕܡܰܪܺܝܪܳܐ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ܃ ܒܺܐܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܕܰܨܒܳܐ ܕܢܺܐܥܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܓܳܓܘܽܠܬܳܐ܀|
|He stretched out His arms like branches at the crucifixion, His fruit fell off on the ground of the dead, and it bore life [immediately].||ܦܫܰܛ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܕܪ̈ܳܥܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܒܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܽܬܳܐ ܐܰܝܟ ܣܰܘ̈ܟܳܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܢܬܰܪܘ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܒܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܕܡܺܝ̈ܬܶܐ ܘܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܛܶܥܢܰܬ܀|
|He lured the formidable Serpent to Golgotha, attacked it, and crushed it with the suffering of His crucifixion.||ܐܰܛܥܺܝ ܐܰܣܩܶܗ ܠܚܶܘܝܳܐ ܪܰܒܳܐ ܨܶܝܕ ܓܳܓܘܽܠܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܗܦܰܟ ܥܠܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܘܪܰܨܶܗ ܒܚܰܫܳܐ ܕܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܽܬܶܗ܀|
|By the nails of His hands He pierced the venom of the Snake that it might never again fill the earth devastation by its hateful deceit.||ܒܨܶܨ̈ܶܐ ܕܐܺܝ̈ـܕܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܒܰܙܥܳܗ݀ ܠܡܶܪܬܶܗ ܕܗܰܘ ܚܰܪܡܳܢܳܐ܃ ܕܠܳܐ ܬܘܽܒ ܢܶܡܠܶܝܗ݀ ܠܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܚܪ̈ܺܝܒܶܐ ܒܢܶܟܠܶܗ ܣܰܢܝܳܐ܀|
|To accomplish this, He brought Himself to the crucifixion, stretched out His hands and received the nails from the insolent ones.||ܕܢܶܣܥܘܽܪ ܗܳܠܶܝܢ ܐܰܝܬܝ ܝܳܬܶܗ ܠܰܙܩܺܝܩܘܽܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܦܫܰܛ ܐܺܝ̈ـܕܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܩܰܒܶܠ ܨܶܨ̈ܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܡܰܪ̈ܳܚܶܐ܀|
The Book of Accompaniment is the oldest extant Maronite document which preserves the funeral rites celebrated by the Maronite Church.1,2 Then Msgr. Hector Y. Doueihi, now Emeritus Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, explains in the introduction,
“[The title and the concept it contains] indicate that the dead, who have ended their journey in this life, are starting another journey in the life beyond. According to the ancient spiritual vision of the early Syriac Churches, the passage to eternal life is hampered by obstacles and dangers. The departed need special support and guidance on their journey. Thus, the funeral rites are a complex of psalms, hymns, Scripture readings and prayers that ‘accompany’ them on this ‘other’ journey. The texts implore the ‘company’ of the Lord and his mysteries for them, and pray for protection and safety on their journey. The funeral rites, are, therefore, rites of ‘accompaniment’ which are celebrated on the road as one begins the journey to new life.”3
Not only do the departed need special support and guidance on their journey, but the living, who mourn the death of their loved ones and are traveling on the same road of faith, seek a message of hope and consolation as well.4 Jacob of Sarug (ca. 451 – 521), a prolific Syriac Church Father and known as the Flute of the Holy Spirit, provides his readers with such a message. He teaches that it is none other than Jesus Christ who accompanies the deceased and the living on this road traveled by all grudgingly and with fear. The objective of this brief column5 is to share with the reader this powerful insight which Jacob draws from his main source of pastoral, theological, spiritual and poetical insight, i.e., the Bible. Furthermore, this column’s other goal is to encourage the interpretation of the three stations of the Maronite funeral rites, or better yet the three stations of the accompaniment rites, in light of Jacob’s explanation.