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.

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

Syriac Melody: ܒܳܥܘܽܬܳܐ ܕܡܳܪܝ ܝܰܥܩܘܽܒ
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 pardoned 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.

Season of the Glorious Cross: The Exaltation of the Cross – (Maronite Divine Liturgy)


Alejandro Landin
Translator


Syriac Melody: ܪܰܡܪܶܡܰܝܢܝ
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 ܀


Maronites in America – Continuing the Legacy

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Short Biography

Seely Beggiani

Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, S.T.D. was Rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary from 1968 to 2013, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America from 1967 to 2014. He has researched and written on a variety of subjects including systematic theology, Maronite Church history, Maronite liturgy, Syriac theology, and Eastern Christian Spirituality.

His doctoral dissertation at The Catholic University of America in 1963 is entitled: The Relations of the Holy See and the Maronites from the Papacy of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) to the Synod of Mount Lebanon in 1736. His book, Early Syriac Spirituality: with special reference to the Maronite Tradition, was published by Catholic University Press in 2014. Among his published articles during the past 50 years are: “A Case for Logocentric Theology,” Theological Studies 32 (1971): 371-46, “Theology at the Service of Mysticism: Method in Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite,” Theological Studies 57 (1996): 201-23, “The Typological Approach of Syriac Sacramental Theology,” Theological Studies 64 (2003): 543-557, and “The Incarnational Theology and Spirituality of John the Solitary of Apamea,” Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 21.2 (2018):391-421. In retirement, Chorbishop Beggiani is preparing a manuscript for publication entitled: “A Thematic Introduction to Syriac Spirituality.” He continues to offer courses in Maronite and Syriac studies at the Maronite Seminary and to offer lectures to various audiences.

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.

The 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.

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 ܀
Immoral acts 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 ܀
ܦܪܰܥ ܚܰܘ̈ܒܳܬܰܢ܀

Early Syriac Theology With Special Reference to the Maronite Tradition

Early Syriac Theology with Special Reference to the Maronite Tradition
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Short Biography

Seely Beggiani

Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, S.T.D. was Rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary from 1968 to 2013, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America from 1967 to 2014. He has researched and written on a variety of subjects including systematic theology, Maronite Church history, Maronite liturgy, Syriac theology, and Eastern Christian Spirituality.

His doctoral dissertation at The Catholic University of America in 1963 is entitled: The Relations of the Holy See and the Maronites from the Papacy of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) to the Synod of Mount Lebanon in 1736. His book, Early Syriac Spirituality: with special reference to the Maronite Tradition, was published by Catholic University Press in 2014. Among his published articles during the past 50 years are: “A Case for Logocentric Theology,” Theological Studies 32 (1971): 371-46, “Theology at the Service of Mysticism: Method in Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite,” Theological Studies 57 (1996): 201-23, “The Typological Approach of Syriac Sacramental Theology,” Theological Studies 64 (2003): 543-557, and “The Incarnational Theology and Spirituality of John the Solitary of Apamea,” Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 21.2 (2018):391-421. In retirement, Chorbishop Beggiani is preparing a manuscript for publication entitled: “A Thematic Introduction to Syriac Spirituality.” He continues to offer courses in Maronite and Syriac studies at the Maronite Seminary and to offer lectures to various audiences.


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 ܀