Maronite Clergy Enrichment Conference Maronite Seminary April 17, 2018
Themes in Syriac Spirituality (Outline) Chorbishop Seely Beggiani
The goal of the spiritual life: “This is true perfection: not to avoid the wicked life because like slaves we servilely fear punishment, nor to do good because we hope for rewards, as if cashing in on the virtuous life by some business-like and contractual arrangement. On the contrary, . . . we regard falling from God’s friendship as the only thing dreadful and we consider becoming God’s friend the only thing worthy of honor and desire.” Gregory of Nyssa, The life of Moses.”
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. Continue reading →
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.
Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, Rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary, granted me permission to publish his dissertation 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. You can download the pdf file by clicking here.
To 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.