The Cross in the Light of Jesus Christ: Theology of the Cross in the Maronite Book of Offering



Fr. Armando Elkhoury


The cross is a heinous instrument of execution. Why, then, do Maronites and other Christians venerate it? The cross adorns our necks, for example, and we hang it in our homes, churches, workplaces, etc. At various liturgies, we adore the cross by kissing and bowing to it. We refer to it as the cross of splendor, the cross of wonder, and the cross of glory, and the Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Glorious Cross each year, on September 14.

The cross, in and of itself, depicts total defeat and horrendous death. Paradoxically, the cross of Jesus Christ symbolizes victory and life. Why? Precisely because of who Jesus the Nazarene is: he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Crucified One. Hence, in the light of Jesus Christ, let us explore a couple of theological themes about the cross found in the Maronite Book of Offering—henceforth BO.

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Just Father (ܐܰܒܳܐ ܕܩܘܽܫܬܳܐ) – by Jacob of Sarug (ca. A.D. 451 – 521) (an excerpt)


Just Father, behold Your Son, a sacrifice [sc. the Eucharist] [that is] pleasing to You. Receive this [sacrifice], [him] who died for me, that I might be pardon by it.

ܐܰܒܳܐ ܕܩܘܽܫܬܳܐ ܗܳܐ ܒܪܳܟ ܕܶܒܚܳܐ ܕܰܡܪܰܥܶܐ ܠܳܟ . ܠܗܳܢܳܐ ܩܰܒܶܠ ܕܰܚܠܳܦܰܝ ܡܺܝܬ ܘܶܐܬܚܰܣܶܐ ܒܶܗ.

Behold the offering! Receive [it] from my hands, be pleased with me, and do not remember the sins I have committed before Your Majesty.

ܗܳܐ ܩܘܽܪܒܳܢܳܐ ܣܰܒ ܡܶܢ ܐܺܝ̈ܕܰܝ ܘܶܐܬܪܰܥܳܐ ܠܺܝ . ܘܠܳܐ ܬܶܬܕܟܰܪ ܠܺܝ ܚ̈ܛܳܗܶܐ ܕܣܶܥܪܶܬ ܩܕܳܡ ܪܰܒܘܽܬܳܟ .

Behold His blood shed on Golgotha for my salvation, and it is praying for my sake! Accept my offering for its sake.

ܗܳܐ ܕܡܶܗ ܐܰܫܺܝܕ ܥܰܠ ܓܳܓܘܽܠܬܳܐ ܡܶܛܽܠ ܦܘܽܪܩܳܢܝ . ܘܒܳܥܶܐ ܚܠܳܦܰܝ ܩܰܒܶܠ ܩܘܽܪܒܳܢܝ ܡܶܛܽܠܳܬܶܗ .

How numerous are my sins! How great is Your love! If you weighed Your compassion, it would outweigh the mountains which are carrying You!

ܟܡܳܐ ܠܺܝ ܚܰܘ̈ܒܶܐ ܟܡܳܐ ܠܳܟ ܪ̈ܰܚܡܶܐ ܐܶܢ ܬܳܩܶܠ ܐܰܢ̱ܬ . ܚܢܳܢܳܟ ܢܳܬܰܥ ܛܳܒ ܡܶܢ ܛܘܽܪ̈ܶܐ ܕܰܬܩܺܝܠܺܝܢ ܠܳܟ .

Consider my sins, and consider the oblation [offered] on their account: the oblation and sacrifice [sc. of Your Son] are exceedingly greater than [my] faults.

ܚܘܽܪ ܒܰܚ̈ܛܳܗܶܐ ܘܚܘܽܪ ܒܰܥܠܳܬܳܐ ܕܰܚܠܳܦܰܝܗܘܽܢ . ܕܣܰܓܺܝ ܪܰܒܳܐ ܥܠܳܬܳܐ ܘܕܶܒܚܳܐ ܡܶܢ ܚܰܘ̈ܒܳܬܳܐ .

Since I have sinned, Your loved One [sc. Jesus Christ] bore the nails and spear [on the cross], and His sufferings are enough to appease You.

ܡܶܛܽܠ ܕܰܚܛܺܝܬ ܨ̈ܶܨܶܐ ܘܪܘܽܡܚܳܐ ܣܒܰܠ ܚܰܒܺܝܒܳܟ . ܘܣܳܦܩܺܝܢ ܚܰܫ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܕܰܢܪܰܥܘܽܢܳܟ ܘܰܒܗܘܽܢ ܐܺܚܶܐ .

Glory [be] to the Father who sent His Son for our sake, and adoration [is due] to the Son who freed all by His crucifixion.

ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܠܰܒܪܶܗ ܫܰܕܰܪ ܡܶܛܽܠܳܬܰܢ . ܘܣܶܓܕܬܳܐ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܒܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܽܬܶܗ ܚܰܪܰܪ ܟܽܘܠܳܐ .

Thanksgiving [be] to the Spirit through whom the mystery of our Savior is accomplished. Blessed is the One who gave us life. Glory be to Him!

ܬܰܘܕܺܝ ܠܪܘܽܚܳܐ ܕܒܶܗ ܐܶܫܬܰܡܠܺܝ ܪܳܐܙ ܦܘܽܪܩܳܢܰܢ . ܒܪܺܝܟ ܕܰܒܚܘܽܒܶܗ ܐܰܚܺܝ ܠܟܽܠܰܢ ܠܶܗ ܬܶܫܒܘܽܚܬܳܐ .

Enjoy this hymn sung in Syriac.

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Psalm of the Readings – The Exaltation of the Cross (Maronite Divine Liturgy)



Alejandro Landin
Translator


Our Savior, guard Your Church and her children with the Cross of Light because it is the source of life and fulfillment of all mysteries.ܒܰܨܠܺܝܒ ܢܘܽܗܪܳܐ ܦܳܪܘܽܩܰܢ ܆ ܢܰܛܰܪ ܠܥܺܕܬܳܟ ܘܰܠܝ̈ܰܠܕܶܝܗ̇ ܆ ܕܡܰܒܘܽܥܳܐ ܕܚ̈ܰܝܶܐ ܐܺܝܬܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܆ ܘܫܘܽܡܠܳܝܳܐ ܕܟܽܠܗܘܽܢ ܪ̈ܳܐܙܶܐ ܀
With Your Cross, the power of your divinity, the priest signs Your Body and Blood on the altar and consecrates the mysteries of Your Church.ܒܰܨܠܺܝܒܳܟ ܪܳܫܶܡ ܟܳܗܢܳܐ ܆ ܦܰܓܪܳܟ ܘܰܕܡܳܟ ܥܰܠ ܡܰܕܒܚܳܐ ܆ ܒܫܘܽܠܛܳܢܳܐ ܕܰܐܠܳܗܘܽܬܳܟ ܆ ܘܰܡܩܰܕܶܫ ܪ̈ܳܐܙܶܐ ܕܥܺܕܬܳܟ ܀
Our Savior, Your Cross, which became a ladder [see Gn 28:10-17] for Your Church, is blessed, and by it, mortals are raised and joined to the Spiritual Beings.ܒܪܺܝܟ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܨܠܺܝܒܳܟ ܦܳܪܘܽܩܰܢ ܆ ܕܰܗܘܳܐ ܠܥܺܕܬܳܟ ܣܶܒܶܠܬܳܐ ܆ ܘܒܶܗ ܡܶܬܥܰܠܶܝܢ ܡܳܝ̈ܘܽܬܶܐ ܆ ܘܡܶܬܚܰܠܛܺܝܢ ܥܰܡ ܪ̈ܘܽܚܳܢܶܐ ܀

Light Your Lamps (A Syriac Hymn – Maronite Prayer of the Faithful)


1. Light your lamps, sisters and brothers, for the Bridegroom is about to arrive (Mt 25:1-13). ܐ. ܐܰܢܗܰܪ ܐܰܚܰܝ̈ ܠܰܡ̈ܦܺܐܕܰܝܟܘܽܢ. ܕܗܳܐ ܡܰܛܺܝ ܠܶܗ ܚܰܬܢܳܐ ܕܢܺܐܬܶܐ ܀
2. He makes the Righteous dwell in the spiritual garden of Eden on the day of salvation. ܒ. ܒܓܰܢܰܬ ܥܕܶܝܢ ܗܳܝ ܕܪ̈ܘܽܚܳܢܶܐ . ܡܰܫܪܶܐ ܠܟܺܐܢ̈ܶܐ ܒܝܘܽܡ ܦܘܽܪܩܳܢܳܐ ܀
3. He opens the bridal chamber of light to them, and they praise him with their harps.  ܓ. ܓܢܘܽܢܳܐ ܕܢܘܽܗܪܳܐ ܦܳܬܰܚ ܠܗܘܽܢ ܆ ܘܰܡܫܰܒܚܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܒܟܶܢܳܪ̈ܰܝܗܘܽܢ ܀
4. They also exult in meeting him when he comes, for they expect him and hope in his name. ܕ. ܕܳܝܨܺܝܢ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܬܘܽܒ ܡܳܐ ܕܳܐܬܶܐ. ܟܽܠ ܕܣܰܟܺܝܘ ܠܶܗ ܘܣܰܒܰܪܘ ܒܰܫܡܶܗ ܀
5. Behold the Bridegroom is about to arrive. Blessed are they who are expecting him.  ܗ. ܗܳܐ ܡܰܛܺܝ ܠܶܗ ܚܰܬܢܳܐ ܕܢܺܐܬܶܐ ܆ ܛܘܽܒܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܠܰܐܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܡܣܰܟܶܐ ܠܶܗ ܀
6. He interweaves a crown of glory for the Righteous, who expect his name and his redemption.   ܘ. ܘܰܟܠܺܝܠ ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܟܺܐܢ̈ܶܐ ܓܳܕܶܠ ܆ ܕܣܰܟܺܝܘ ܠܰܫܡܶܗ ܘܰܠܦܘܽܪܩܳܢܶܗ ܀
7. The First-born (Col 1:15) arose and descended to Sheol to raise the dead from their graves.   ܙ. ܙܳܚ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܘܰܢܚܶܬ ܒܘܽܟܪܳܐ ܠܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܆ ܕܰܢܩܺܝܡ ܡܺܝ̈ܬܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܩܰܒܪ̈ܰܝܗܘܽܢ ܀
8. The Just saw his light in Sheol and eagerly watched for the return of the Son of the Merciful One.   ܚ. ܚܙܰܘ ܙܰܕܺܝ̈ܩܶܐ ܢܘܽܗܪܶܗ ܒܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܆ ܘܰܣܘܰܚܘ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܕܒܰܪ ܚܰܢܳܢܳܐ ܀
9. They forgot their pain and the suffering they endured when they saw their Lord hung on a tree.   ܛ. ܛܥܰܘ ܟܺܐܒ̈ܰܝܗܘܽܢ ܘܚܰܫ̈ܶܐ ܕܰܣܒܰܠܘ ܆ ܕܰܚܙܰܘ ܠܡܳܪܗܘܽܢ ܬܠܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܀
10. He gave us life because of his mercy, and he intermingled our mortality with the angels.   ܝ. ܝܰܗ̱ܒܠܰܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܡܶܛܽܠ ܪ̈ܰܚܡܘܰܗ̱ܝ ܆ ܘܒܰܝܢܳܬ ܥܺܝܪ̈ܶܐ ܚܠܰܛ ܡܺܝܬܘܽܬܰܢ ܀
11. Death lay in wait for our humanity. But he came in his lovingkindness and saved us.   ܟܟ . ܟܡܶܢ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܰܘܬܳܐ ܥܰܠ ܐ̱ܢܳܫܘܽܬܰܢ ܆ ܘܗܘܽ ܒܛܰܝܒܘܽܬܶܗ ܐܶܬܳܐ ܘܦܰܪܩܰܢ ܀
12. To you be glory, Lord of the angels, for your shining forth gladdened the mournful in Sheol.   ܠ. ܠܳܟ ܬܶܫܒܘܽܚܬܳܐ ܡܳܪܳܐ ܕܥܺܝܪ̈ܶܐ ܆ ܕܕܶܢܚܳܟ ܐܰܦܨܰܚ ܟܡܺܝܪ̈ܶܐ ܕܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܀
13. Thenceforth the night fled and vanished, and your light shone on Creation.   ܡ. ܡܶܟܺܝܠ ܥܪܰܩ ܠܶܗ ܠܺܠܝܳܐ ܘܰܐܘܦܺܝ ܆ ܘܰܕܢܰܚ ܢܘܽܗܪܶܗ ܥܰܠ ܒܶܪ̈ܝܳܬܳܐ ܀
14. He descended from the height, saved us, and ascended [back]; behold he sits again on the right [hand of the Father] (Mk 16:5).   ܢܢ . ܢܚܶܬ ܡܶܢ ܪܰܘܡܳܐ ܦܰܪܩܰܢ ܘܰܣܠܶܩ ܆ ܘܗܳܐ ܝܳܬܶܒ ܬܳܘܒ ܡܶܢ ܝܰܡܺܝܢܳܐ ܀
15. They eagerly watch for his coming, when he comes again: all those who expect him and hope in his name.   ܣ. ܣܳܘܚܺܝܢ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܬܘܽܒ ܡܳܐ ܕܳܐܬܶܐ ܆ ܟܽܠ ܕܣܰܟܺܝܘ ܠܶܗ ܘܣܰܒܰܪܘ ܒܰܫܡܶܗ ܀
16.  He entered Sheol, his light shone, and drove out darkness from its departed.   ܥ. ܥܰܠ ܠܳܗ݀ ܠܰܫܝܘܽܠ ܘܰܕܢܰܚ ܢܘܽܗܪܶܗ ܆ ܘܰܛܪܰܕ ܚܶܫܟܳܐ ܡܶܢ ܥܰܢܺܝ̈ܕܶܝܗ݀ ܀
17. The fruit Adam ate killed him; the fruit of the height descended and saved him.   ܦ. ܦܺܐܪܳܐ ܕܶܐܟܰܠ ܐܳܕܳܡ ܩܰܛܠܶܗ ܆ ܘܰܢܚܰܬ ܦܰܪܩܶܗ ܦܺܐܪܳܐ ܕܪܰܘܡܳܐ ܀
18. He burst open the graves, raised the dead, and depicted to us the type of his magnificent day.   ܨ. ܨܰܪܺܝ ܩܰܒܪ̈ܶܐ ܡܢܰܚܶܡ ܡܺܝ̈ܬܶܐ ܆ ܨܳܪ ܠܰܢ ܛܘܽܦܣܳܐ ܕܝܰܘܡܶܗ ܪܰܒܳܐ ܀
19. He drew near, and the day of resurrection arrived; blessed are they who expect him.   ܩ. ܩܪܶܒ ܘܰܡܛܳܐ ܠܶܗ ܝܘܽܡ ܢܘܽܚܳܡܳܐ ܆ ܛܘܽܒܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܠܰܐܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܡܣܰܟܶܐ ܠܶܗ ܀
20.  The day on which he comes is magnificent because all hidden things are revealed on it.  ܪ. ܪܰܒ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܝܰܘܡܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܳܐܬܶܐ ܒܶܗ ܆ ܕܒܶܗ ܡܶܬܓܰܠ̈ܝܳܢ ܟܽܠ ܟܰܣ̈ܝܳܬܳܐ ܀
21.  Those lying in the dust hear his voice on the day of the resurrection and come out to meet him.  ܫ. ܫܳܟ̈ܒܰܝ ܥܰܦܪܳܐ ܫܳܡܥܺܝܢ ܩܳܠܶܗ ܆ ܒܝܘܽܡ ܢܘܽܚܳܡܳܐ ܘܢܳܦܩܺܝܢ ܠܐܘܽܪܥܶܗ ܀
22.  Adam marvels when he is resurrected and returns to the place filled with blessedness.  ܬ. ܬܳܗܰܪ ܐܳܕܳܡ ܡܳܐ ܕܡܶܬܢܰܚܰܡ ܆ ܘܦܳܢܶܐ ܠܰܐܬܪܳܐ ܕܰܡܠܶܐ ܛܘܽܒ̈ܶܐ ܀

I am the true Light – A Syriac Hymn


“I am the true light,” said our Lord to his disciples, “and anyone walking in the light, darkness does not overtake them.” Blessed are the Righteous and the Just who walked in the light of the truth. Behold their commemorations resound on earth and above in heaven. May their prayers be a fortification to us.


See John 1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:39; 12:46.

 ܐܶܢܳܐ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ ܢܘܽܗܪܳܐ ܫܰܪܺܝܪܳܐ ܐܶܡܰܪ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܠܬܰܠܡܺܝ̈ـܕܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܃ ܘܟܽܠ ܐܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܒܢܘܽܗܪܳܐ ܡܗܰܠܶܟ ܠܳܐ ܡܰܕܪܶܟ ܠܶܗ ܚܶܫܘܽܟܳܐ ܃ ܛܘܽܒܳܐ ܠܟܺܐܢ̈ܶܐ ܘܙܰܕܺܝ̈ܩܶܐ ܕܗܰܠܶܟܘ ܒܢܘܽܗܪܳܐ ܕܰܫܪܳܪܳܐ ܃ ܗܳܐ ܪܳܥܡܺܝܢ ܕܘܽܟܪ̈ܳܢܰܝܗܘܽܢ ܒܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܘܰܠܥܶܠ ܒܰܫܡܰܝܳܐ ܃ ܨܠܘܽܬܗܘܽܢ ܫܘܽܪܳܐ ܬܶܗܘܶܐ ܠܰܢ ܀


Click on this link if you wish to hear this hymn sung in Syriac. (Translations vary)

Maronites in America – Continuing the Legacy


Address Given by Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, S.T.D., to the Joint Clergy Meeting, Cleveland, Ohio, June 30, 2015. The following first appeared in the Maronite Voice September 2015 issue.

Chorbishop Seely BegginaiThe Maronites in the United States during the past 135 years have not only survived but have grown and prospered. Beginning especially in the 1880s, Maronites emigrated in large numbers from Lebanon and Syria to many parts of the world. There were various reasons for leaving. While religious issues may have been a factor, the principal causes were a lack of economic opportunities and lack of living space. Significant numbers settled in North and South America, Australia and parts of Africa. But it was only in the United States that numerous parishes were established. This may be due to the fact that the United States was already becoming a very prosperous country with advanced means of transportation and communication. However, we should also recognize the strong faith, efforts and generosity of the Maronite clergy and laity of the early decades.

The first part of this presentation will chronicle and analyze the major events of the Maronite experience in the United States. The second part will be devoted to continuing this legacy. Continue reading

Balai of Qenneshrin – Be Compassionate to Others


My brothers, do not be deprived of mercy like the rich man who did not have pity on another human being. ܐܰܚܰܝ̈ ܠܳܐ ܬܶܗܘܘܽܢ.ܓܠܺܝ̈ܙܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܪ̈ܰܚܡܶܐ. ܐܰܝ̱ܟ ܗܰܘ ܥܰܬܝܪܳܐ. ܕܠܳܐ ܚܰܢ ܠܒܰܪ ܒܶܣܪܶܗ܀
The poor man had been lying at this [rich man’s] door. Since he did not have pity on [the poor man], [the rich man] inherited Gehenna. (See Lk 16:19-31) ܡܶܣܟܺܢܳܐ ܪܳܡܶܐ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ. ܥܰܠ ܬܰܪܥܶܗ ܕܗܳܢܳܐ. ܘܥܰܠ ܕܠܳܐ ܚܰܢܶܗ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ. ܝܺܪܶܬ ܓܺܝܗܰܢܳܐ܀

Balai of Qenneshrin – Jesus Calming of the Storm at Sea


The Son of the Supreme Being, Whom the types of every seer [prophet?] depicted, slept on a boat and completed the types of Jonah the master. ܒܪܳܐ ܕܺܐܝܬܘܽܬܳܐ ܕܨܳܪܘ ܗ̱ܘܰܘ ܛܘܽܦ̈ܣܶܐ ܕܟܽܠ ܚ̈ܰܙܳܝܶܐ. ܕܡܶܟ ܒܰܣܦܺܝܢ̱ܬܳܐ ܘܚܰܬܶܡ ܛܘܽܦ̈ܣܶܐ ܕܪܰܒܳܐ ܝܰܘܢܳܢ܀
The disciples approached to wake up the One Who does not sleep, “Our Master, our Master, wake up, help us, for, behold, we are perishing!” (See Mt 8:23-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25) ܩܪܶܒܘ ܬܰܠܡܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ ܕܰܢܥܺܝܪܘܽܢܳܝܗ̱ܝ ܠܗܰܘ ܕܠܳܐ ܕܡܳܟܳܐ. ܪܰܒܰܢ ܪܰܒܰܢ ܩܘܽܡ ܥܰܕܰܪܰܝܢ ܕܗܳܐ ܐܳܒܕܺܝܢܰܢ܀
The men in the boat witnessed a miracle and began to say, “Who is this One Whom sea and wind obey?“ ܚܙܰܘ ܬܶܕܡܘܽܪܬܳܐ ܐ̱ܢ̈ܳܫܳܐ ܕܒܶܐܠܦܳܐ ܘܫܰܪܺܝܘ ܐܳܡܪܺܝܢ. ܕܡܰܢܘܽ ܗܳܢܳܐ ܕܝܰܡܳܐ ܘܪܘܽܚܳܐ ܡܶܫܬܰܡܥܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ܀
Glory be to the Father, Who sent His Son to earthly beings, and adoration to the Son, Who, as a human being, slept on a boat. ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܫܰܕܰܪ ܠܰܒܪܶܗ ܨܶܝܕ ܬܰܚ̈ܬܳܝܶܐ. ܘܣܶܓܕܬܳܐ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܰܐܝ̱ܟ ܒܰܪܢܳܫܳܐ ܕܡܶܟ ܒܰܣܦܺܝܢ̱ܬܳܐ܀

Balai of Qenneshrin – Mary and the Martyrs, our Helpers with Prayers


Mother of our Lord, we put our trust in you truly, since Your majestic Son listens to you kindly. ܐܶܡܶܗ ܕܡܳܪܰܢ ܥܠܰܝܟܝ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܣܰܒܪܰܢ ܫܰܪܺܝܪܳܐܺܝܬ. ܕܫܳܡܰܥ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܠܶܟܝ ܝܰܠܕܶܟܝ ܦܰܐܝܳܐ ܒܰܣܺܝܡܳܐܺܝܬ܀
Help us fervently with prayer, martyrs (literally confessors), and expel the Evil One, since, behold, he constantly harms us. ܩܘܽܡܘ ܒܰܨܠܘܽܬܳܐ ܣܳܗ̈ܕܶܐ ܥܰܡܰܢ ܓܰܢ̱ܒܳܪܳܐܺܝܬ. ܘܰܛܪܘܽܕ ܠܒܺܝܫܳܐ ܕܗܳܐ ܡܰܐܟܶܐ ܠܰܢ ܐܰܡܺܝܢܳܐܺܝܬ܀
Call the departed and raise them by way of command, Son of God, since You are truly the Resurrection. ܩܪܺܝ ܠܥܰܢܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ ܘܰܐܩܺܝܡ ܐܶܢܘܽܢ ܦܳܩܘܽܕܐܺܝܬ. ܒܰܪ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܕܢܘܽܚܳܡܳܐ ܐܰܢ̱ܬ ܫܰܪܺܝܪܳܐܺܝܬ܀
To You be glory on the day of Your mother’s memorial unceasingly (lit. without repletion), Son of God, Who athletically strengthened His martyrs (lit. confessors). ܠܳܟ ܬܶܫܒܘܽܚܬܳܐ ܒܕܘܽܟܪܳܢ ܐܶܡܳܟ ܠܳܐ ܣܰܒܥܳܐܺܝܬ. ܒܰܪ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܕܚܰܝܶܠ ܣܳܗ̈ܕܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܐܰܬܠܺܝܛܳܐܺܝܬ܀

Balai of Qenneshrin – On Mary and the Departed


O blessed [Mary], come [and] be the protection of our weakness that we may live in grace with you through your prayers. ܐܳܘ ܡܝܰܩܰܪܬܳܐ ܬܳܝ ܩܘܽܡܝ ܒܰܐܦܶܝ̈ܗ݀ ܕܰܡܚܺܝܠܘܽܬܰܢ. ܘܰܒܛܰܝܒܘܽܬܳܐ ܢܺܐܚܶܐ ܥܰܡܶܟܝ ܒܰܨ̈ܠܰܘܳܬܶܟܝ܀
O holy ones, be our companions, [lacuna] mercy. Persevere in prayer and righteousness before God. ܐܳܘ ܩܰܕܺܝ̈ܫܶܐ ܗܘܰܘ ܠܰܢ ܚܰܒܪ̈ܶܐ … ܪܰܚ̈ܡܶܐ. ܩܘܽܡܘ ܒܰܨܠܘܽܬܳܐ ܘܰܒܟܺܐܢܘܽܬܳܐ ܩܕܳܡ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ܀
O departed, tomb-dwellers, be comforted. The Good News is upon you, since, behold, Resurrection is standing at the door. ܐܳܘ ܥܰܢܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ ܥܳܡܪ̈ܰܝ ܩܰܒܪ̈ܶܐ ܩܢܰܘ ܒܘܽܝܳܐܳܐ. ܣܒܰܪܬܳܐ ܥܠܰܝܟܘܽܢ ܕܗܳܐ ܢܘܽܚܳܡܐ ܒܬܰܪܥܳܐ ܩܳܐܶܡ܀
Glory be to the Father, Who chose Mary among all generations, and worship be to the Son, Whose hidden power dwells in the holy ones. ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܰܓܒܳܗ݀ ܠܡܰܪܝܰܡ ܡܶܢ ܟܽܠ ܫܰܪ̈ܒܳܢ. ܘܣܶܓܕܬܳܐ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܚܰܝܠܶܗ ܟܰܣܝܳܐ ܫܪܶܐ ܒܩܰܕܺܝ̈ܫܶܐ܀

Balai of Qenneshrin – Another Hymn on Fasting


O You who fast, since you have distinctly pleased God, behold, the table of the kingdom is set before you. ܐܳܘ ܨܰܝ̈ܳܡܶܐ ܕܦܳܪܘܽܫܳܐܺܝܬ ܫܦܰܪܘ ܠܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ. ܗܳܐ ܦܳܬܘܽܪܳܐ ܕܒܶܝܬ ܡܰܠܟܘܽܬܳܐ ܣܺܝܡ ܩܘܽܕܡܰܝܟܘܽܢ܀
The one who has always loved fasting and has [always] rejoiced in it, their lives are joined to God and they delight in Him. ܐܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܐܚܒܶܗ ܠܨܰܘܡܳܐ ܟܽܠܙܒܰܢ ܘܶܐܬܓܰܐܺܝ ܒܶܗ. ܒܶܗ ܒܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ ܐܳܣܪܺܝܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܐܳܦ ܡܶܬܒܰܣܰܡ܀
The one who sustains their daily fast with God, the temporal hunger will not squash them, for God is their sustenance. ܐܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܣܡܺܝܟ ܥܰܠ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ ܒܨܰܘܡܶܗ ܟܽܠܝܘܽܡ. ܠܳܐ ܫܳܚܶܩ ܠܶܗ ܟܰܦܢܳܐ ܕܙܰܒܢܳܐ ܕܗܘܽܝܘܽ ܚܰܝ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ܀
May the Church worship the Father Who crowned her with the crown of fasting and her children give thanks unto the Son, who fasted for our sake. ܬܶܣܓܘܽܕ ܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܟܰܠܠܳܗ݀ ܒܰܟܠܺܝܠ ܨܰܘܡܳܐ. ܘܢܰܘܕܘܽܢ ܝ̈ܰܠܕܶܝܗ݀ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܨܳܡ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܶܛܽܠܳܬܰܢ܀

Balai of Qenneshrin on Jesus Entering Jerusralem


Zechariah gave a colt to his Lord who rode it. He stood and cried out to the daughter of Sion, “Receive your King.” ܙܟܰܪܝܳܐ ܝܰܗ̱ܒ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܥܺܝܠܳܐ ܠܡܳܪܶܗ ܘܰܪܟܶܒ ܥܠܰܘܗ̱ܝ. ܘܩܳܡ ܩܳܥܶܐ ܠܳܗ݀ ܠܗܳܝ ܒܰܪ̱ܬ ܨܶܗܝܘܽܢ ܕܩܰܒܶܠܝ ܡܰܠܟܶܟܝ܀
Sion says, “If He enters me, I will crucify Him.” The prophet says, “His Cross is alive. It will extirpate you.” ܐܳܡܪܳܐ ܨܶܗܝܘܽܢ ܐܶܢ ܥܳܐܶܠ ܠܺܝ ܨܳܠܒܳܐ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ ܠܶܗ. ܐܳܡܪܳܐ ܢܒܺܝܳܐ ܨܠܺܝܒܶܗ ܚܰܝܳܐ ܗܘܽ ܥܳܩܰܪ ܠܶܟܝ܀
Sion says, “Why did He ride a colt and come to me? According to the law of kings, He does not bestride a mule.” ܐܳܡܪܳܐ ܨܶܗܝܘܽܢ ܥܰܠ ܡܘܽܢ ܥܺܝܠܳܐ ܪܟܶܒ ܘܶܐܬܳܐ ܠܺܝ. ܐܰܝܟ ܢܳܡܘܽܣܳܐ ܕܡ̈ܰܠܟܶܐ ܠܳܐ ܝܳܺܬܶܒ ܥܰܠ ܟܘܽܕܰܢܝܳܐ܀
Glory to the Father, Who willed to send His Only-Begotten. Worship to the Son, Who rode a colt in the streets of Sion. ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ ܕܰܨܒܳܐ ܘܫܰܕܰܪ ܠܺܝܚܺܝܕܳܝܶܗ. ܘܣܶܓܕܬܳܐ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܰܪܟܺܝܒ ܥܺܝܠܳܐ ܒܫ̈ܘܽܩܰܝ ܨܶܗܝܘܽܢ܀

Balai of Qenneshrin – Another Hymn on Fasting


The subject of fasting stirs me
to talk about it.
Let everyone open
the door to their ears
prudently.
ܫܰܪܒܶܗ ܕܨܰܘܡܳܐ
ܗܳܐ ܪܳܦܶܬ ܒܺܝ
ܕܰܥܠܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܐܶܡܰܪ.
ܢܶܦܬܰܚ ܟܽܠܢܳܫ
ܬܰܪܥܳܐ ܕܶܐܕܢܰܘ̈ܗ̱ܝ
ܦܳܪܘܽܫܳܐܺܝܬ܀
Fasting is a gate,
through which one enters
before God.
Whoever does not love it,
their prayers are always
in vain.
ܨܰܘܡܰܐ ܗ̱ܘ ܬܰܪܥܳܐ
ܕܒܶܗ ܥܳܐܶܠ ܐ̱ܢܳܫ
ܨܶܝܕ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ.
ܘܰܕܠܳܐ ܪܰܚܡܶܗ
ܨܠܘܽܬܶܗ ܟܽܠܫܳܥ
ܗܳܐ ܒܰܛܺܝܠܳܐ܀
Fornication would never
be committed by a person
who loved fasting,
for it expels
a vile life
from parts of the body.
ܓܰܘܪܳܐ ܡܶܡܬܘܽܡ
ܒܰܐܝܢܳܐ ܕܪܰܚܡܶܗ
ܠܳܐ ܡܶܫܬܰܡܰܫ.
ܕܚ̈ܰܝܶܐ ܫܟܺܝܪ̈ܶܐ
ܛܳܪܶܕ ܨܰܘܡܳܐ
ܡܶܢ ܗܰܕܳܡ̈ܶܐ܀
Glory to the Father,
Who gave us fasting,
for it is holy.
Worship to the Son,
Who, through His fasting,
paid our debts.
ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܒܳܐ
ܕܝܰܗ̱ܒ ܠܰܢ ܨܰܘܡܳܐ
[ܕܗܘܽܝܘܽ] ܩܰܕܺܝܫ.
ܘܣܶܓܕܬܳܐ ܠܰܒܪܳܐ
ܕܰܒܝܰܕ ܨܰܘܡܶܗ
ܦܪܰܥ ܚܰܘ̈ܒܳܬܰܢ܀

Early Syriac Theology With Special Reference to the Maronite Tradition


Written by Msgr. Seely Beggiani

Early Syriac Theology with Special Reference to the Maronite Tradition

Available at Amazon.com

St. Ephrem, who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Benedict XV, and Jacob of Serugh were two of the earliest and most important representatives of the theological world-view of the Syriac Church.  A good part of their work was in the form of hymns and metrical homilies wherein theology was expressed in poetry.  This present work strives to present their insights in a systematic form according to headings used in western treatises, while not undermining the originality and cohesiveness of their thought.  The material is organized under the themes of the hiddenness of God, creation and sin, revelation, incarnation, redemption, divinization and the Holy Spirit, the Church, Mary, the mysteries of initiation, eschatology and faith.

This work notes the paradox of God’s utter mysteriousness and yet his presence in all that he has created.  The kenosis (emptying) of the Word of God is found not only in the human nature of Christ but in the finite words of Sacred Scripture. The purpose of these actions is for the divine to make itself accessible to humans. The triple descent of the Son of God into the womb of Mary, the Jordan River at his baptism, and into sheol at his death were actions directed both to redemption and divinization. The system of types and antitypes used in Sacred Scripture are employed to demonstrate the sacraments as extensions of Christ’s actions through history.

The goal of this work is to display the rich theological insights the early Syriac fathers provide to the tradition of the universal church. A second purpose of this work is to highlight the fact that the liturgical tradition of the Maronite Church, one of the Syriac Churches, is consistently and pervasively a living expression of the theology of these to Syriac church fathers.  This is done through citations from the Maronite divine liturgy, ritual, and divine office.

While monographs on specific themes in St. Ephrem and James of Serugh have been published in English and other modern languages, this work aims to present a complete overview of the theological world-view of these Syriac writers.

Balai of Qenneshrin on Fasting


Blessed are they who fast.
When the King appears
and finds them clad
with the clothes of the kingdom,
on account of their fast,
He shall grant [them] everlasting blessings.
ܛܘܽܒܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܠܨܰܝܳܡܳܐ.
ܡܳܐ ܕܕܳܢܰܚ ܡܰܠܟܳܐ.
ܘܡܶܫܟܰܚ ܠܶܗ ܕܰܠܒܺܝܫ.
ܠܒ̈ܘܽܫܶܐ ܕܡܰܠܟܘܽܬܳܐ.
ܚܠܳܦ ܨܰܘܡܶܗ ܝܳܗܶܒ.
ܛܘ̈ܽܒܶܐ ܕܠܳܐ ܡܰܘܦܶܝܢ܀
They who, with love,
observe fasting
shall be full of peace
and love toward all people,
for, by their fast and love,
they shall be pleasing to God.
ܐܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܒܚܘܽܒܳܐ.
ܨܳܐܶܡ ܠܶܗ ܠܨܰܘܡܳܐ.
ܢܶܗܘܶܐ ܡܠܶܐ ܫܰܝܢܳܐ.
ܘܚܘܽܒܳܐ ܠܘܳܬ ܟܽܠܢܳܫ.
ܕܰܒܨܰܘܡܶܗ ܘܚܘܽܒܶܗ.
ܢܪܰܥܶܝܘܗ̱ܝ ܠܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ܀
For this is the fast
that bequeaths the kingdom
to those who unite to them
love and alms.
Blessed are they who labor
and toil in their labor.
ܗܳܢܰܘ ܓܶܝܪ ܨܰܘܡܳܐ.
ܕܡܰܘܪܶܬ ܡܰܠܟܘܽܬܳܐ.
ܐܰܝܢܳܐ ܕܰܚܠܺܝܛ ܒܶܗ.
ܚܘܽܒܳܐ ܘܙܶܕܩ̈ܳܬܳܐ.
ܛܘܽܒܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܠܡܰܢ ܕܰܦܠܰܚ.
ܘܰܕܥܶܬ ܒܦܘܽܠܚܳܢܶܗ܀
Glory to the mercies
who sent you for our salvation.
Messiah, full of mercies,
have pity on us, whose hope is in You,
accept our worship,
and may our fast be pleasing to you, Lord.
ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܠܗܘܽܢ ܪ̈ܰܚܡܶܐ.
ܕܫܰܠܚܘܽܟ ܠܦܘܽܪܩܳܢܰܢ.
ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܡܠܶܐ ܪ̈ܰܚܡܶܐ.
ܚܘܽܢ ܠܰܢ ܕܒܳܟ ܣܰܒܪܰܢ.
ܘܩܰܒܶܠ ܬܶܫܡܶܫܬܰܢ.
ܘܨܰܘܡܰܢ ܢܪܰܥܶܝܟ ܡܳܪܝ܀

Praying with Balai of Qenneshrin


Your loving-kindness shall be sad
upon seeing my stains,
yet may it petition Your justice
lest I be cast out altogether.
ܬܶܟܪܶܐ ܠܛܰܝܒܘܽܬܳܟ.
ܡܳܐ ܕܚܳܙܝܳܐ ܠܟ̈ܘܽܬܡܳܬܝ.
ܘܬܰܦܺܝܣ ܠܟܺܐܢܘܽܬܳܟ.
ܕܠܳܐ ܐܶܫܬܕܶܐ ܠܰܓܡܳܪ܀
Although there are no deeds,
save me because of my faith.
Save me because of one thing alone,
because of Your loving-kindness.
ܘܐܳܦܶܢ ܥ̈ܒܳܕܶܐ ܠܰܝܬ.
ܐܰܚܳܢܝ ܒܗܰܝܡܳܢܘܽܬܳܝ.
ܒܰܚܕܳܐ ܚܕܳܐ ܒܰܠܚܘܽܕ.
ܐܰܚܳܢܝ ܒܛܰܝܒܘܽܬܳܟ܀
Lift me up, the lowest of all,
and make the weakest of all to understand.
Let your compassion, Lord, gush forth
toward me because of Your loving-kindness.
ܘܥܰܠܳܢܝ ܒܨܺܝܪ ܡܶܢ ܟܽܠ.
ܘܣܰܟܶܠ ܡܚܺܝܠ ܡܶܢ ܟܽܠ.
ܢܶܫܦܰܥ ܚܢܳܢܳܟ ܡܳܪܝ.
ܨܶܐܕܰܝ ܒܛܰܝܒܘܽܬܳܟ܀
Glory be to You, Christ,
the hope, for Whom
all sinners have waited
and to Whom they pray.
ܠܳܟ ܫܘܽܒܚܳܐ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ.
ܣܰܒܪܳܐ ܕܠܶܗ ܣܰܟܺܝܘ.
ܟܽܠܗܘܽܢ ܚ̈ܰܛܳܝܶܐ.
ܕܠܶܗ ܗܘܽ ܡܶܬܟܰܫܦܺܝܢ܀

My Vision of the Maronite Church


  • The Antiochene Syriac Maronite Church is depicted as a Cedar of Lebanon. She is founded on Christ (the cross) who is the cornerstone of all churches and she is nourished by God’s Word as found in both Testaments of the Bible. Her roots are based in Jerusalem (the mother of all Churches), Antioch, Edessa and Nisibis, and Lebanon, the See of the Maronite Patriarch.
The Family of Maron
  • For the Maronites, the Cedar of Lebanon represents Mary. In the Maronite Marian litany we find, “O Cedar of Lebanon pray for us.”
  • The cross represents Jesus, the Son of God, who freely accepted death on the cross between two thieves and was vindicated and resurrected by His Father.
  • The Maronite Church embraced Mary as her mother following Jesus’ words to his beloved disciple “Behold, your mother.” And as “from that hour the disciple took her into his home,” the Maronite faithful took Mary into their own homes. Wherever the Maronite Patriarch’s See ended up Mary was at its heart. She is the Patron Saint of every Maronite Patriarch’s chapel.
  • Maronites should return to their Syriac Heritage which is biblical. “Save me, O Lord, from the poison of the Greeks (i.e. philosophy)” uttered Saint Ephrem. The Syriac Fathers used typology in interpreting the Bible. The image of the Cross of Christ was evoked in their mind every time they read a reference to trees and wood in the Old Testament. Therefore, the Cedar of Lebanon refers to the cross.
  • The Maronite Church is a universal Church with roots extending in all continents. Her branches embrace the world as a mother embraces her children without distinction and discrimination.  Let us not forget the parable given by Christ, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches” (Mt. 13:31) The same parable is being evoked. A cedar tree, however, is used instead of a mustard tree.

Growth of the Maronite Church in the United States – Five Necessary Components


Introduction

The Great CommissionI am excited and privileged to be at the forty-seventh Maronite Convention. “The Identity of the Maronite Church” and “Welcoming Non-Maronites into our Faith and Heritage” are two very important topics that are dear to my heart. Instead of treating them separately I would like to address them in the context of the growth of the Maronite Church in the United States – if I may say, “Looking at the whole forest rather than individual trees.”

The Maronite Church in the United States has definitely grown in the last three decades. There is a high probability that this growth is largely due to the influx of immigrants who left their homelands seeking a better life in this country. Thank God for immigrants! Their contribution has been tremendous to our nation and Church, yet the Church’s growth cannot only depend on the waves of immigrants coming from the Middle East. After all, we, as a Church, are called to abide by Christ’s Divine Commission “to make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20). The growth of the Maronite Church in this country might have been limited in part because our congregations have been integrating mostly – if not almost exclusively – (Middle Eastern) immigrants. However, there are many other reasons why the growth of the Church was limited. My objectives are not to enumerate or examine them all, but rather to propose five necessary components that will Lead to the growth of the Maronite Church in the United States. Continue reading

Catechetical, Liturgical, and Biblical Implications of the Hoosoyo in Contemporary Maronite Tradition


Written by Fr. Anthony Salim, Pastor of  St. Joseph Maronite Church, Olean, NY and author of Captivated by your Teachings

Captivated by your TeachingsWhen 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. Continue reading

To Be a Maronite, to Be a Maronite in the United States


Written by Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, Rector of Our Lady Of Lebanon Maronite Seminary, Washington, D.C.

Maronite SeminaryTo be a person of faith involves several dimensions. Religious faith is the conviction that all of reality, despite the many aspects of life that seem to go wrong, is radically good and has an ultimate purpose. Faith arises from an encounter where God offers us his unconditioned love and awaits our response. For the Christian, faith is the choice to see God, the world, and ourselves through the eyes of Jesus Christ, and the decision to live our lives according to His teachings and His way of life. Faith is embodied in liturgical worship, creeds, a code of morality, and commitments to action especially against injustice.

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Catholic Religious Formation: it’s not Just for Kids


Written by Fr. Anthony Salim, Pastor of  St. Joseph Maronite Church, Olean, NY and author of Captivated by your Teachings

Fr. Anthony SalimWhen 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.

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