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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Maronites: “sixteen centuries of openness and freedom”


JERUSALEM – On Saturday, February 15 at the Trappist monastery in Latrun, and the following day at the Maronite Convent in Jerusalem, the Feast of St. Maron was celebrated. Many faithful attended each event. Both ceremonies were presided over by Bishop Moussa El-Hage who spoke of the living memory of the holy founder of Lebanon.

On Sunday morning in Jerusalem, amid the warm hospitality that the Maronites have inherited from their founder, occurred the celebration of the Saint, for whom sixteen centuries have elapsed since he walked and worked among the Maronite faithful. Ever since his passing, Maronite believers  have sought to “live the deep experience of human freedom in all its dimensions, and also the same spirit of openness on the five continents where they are now located”, Bishop El-Hage noted in his homily. He is Archbishop of Haifa and the Holy Land and the Maronite Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem.

Saint Maron was a hermit of the mountains, a man of prayer. By faith and prayer, he gave rise to a genuine spiritual renewal for Christians in the Middle East, in the fourth century. “Through his intercession, let us pray for the current plight of Syria, a country where the saint himself lived”, the Exarch of Jerusalem urged.

Among the many faithful who flocked to the Maronite Convent Church of Jerusalem, were Mr. Hervé Magro, Consul General of France, and Bishop Giuseppe Lazarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel. The latter showed by his presence “the love that binds the Maronite Church to the Holy See and His Holiness Pope Francis”, recalled Bishop El-Hage in his homily.

The Maronites are present in many religious communities in the Holy Land. Some are religious sisters, Franciscan monks, and Rosary Sisters, all the while remaining Maronites and meeting occasionally for important holidays.

Bishop El-Hage also celebrated the feast on Saturday, February 16, at the Abbey of Latrun,  he was the principal celebrant of the Mass. A celebration made ​​very moving through songs of typically oriental music and accompanied by the Qanûn instrument.

Among the monks of the abbey, there are three Lebanese Maronite brothers. They follow in the steps of many young Lebanese who left everything to embrace the monastic life and follow in the footsteps of their founder. The most famous follower being Saint Charbel Makhlouf.

Article and photos by Andres Bergamini

Links: Full Mgr El- Hage in French and Arabic Homily.


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