Skip to comments.February 9 - Feast of St. Maron, father of the Maronite Catholic Church
Posted on 02/09/2007 6:10:03 AM PST by NYer
"A song of ascents. I I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth." (Psa 121:1-2).
2 Timothy 3:10-17
You have followed my teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, persecutions that I endured. Yet from all these things the Lord delivered me. In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. "I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Homily by Fr. Sharbel Maroun
THIS WEEK THE MARONITES WORLDWIDE CELEBRATE THE FEAST OF OUR FOUNDER AND PATRON SAINT MARON.
IN LEBANON, WHERE THERE ARE SEVENTEEN DIFFERENT SECTS OF CHRISTIANS AND MOSLEMS, FEBRUARY THE 9TH IS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY WHERE THE WHOLE GOVERNMENT IS SHUT DOWN.
MARONS INFLUENCE ON THE SYRIAC GROUP OF CHRISTIANS IN THE FOURTH CENTURY WAS SO GREAT THAT THEY TOOK THEIR NAME AFTER HIM; BET MOROON, MARONITES.
THROUGH THIS HOLY MAN GOD HAS PERFORMED MANY MIRACLES AND WONDERS. EVEN AMONG HIS FOLLOWERS, ONE CAN FIND SOME TWENTY SAINTS, FOUR OF WHOM ARE WOMEN. IN RECENT HISTORY, THE MARONITE CHURCH HAS GIVEN THE CHURCH MORE SAINTS, AMONG THEM ST. SHARBEL, ST. RAFKA, AND ST. NIMATULLAH.
THE MARONITES HAVE ENDURED CONTINUOUS PERSECUTION FOR THE LAST 1600 YEARS, OFFERING THEIR BLOOD IN MARTYRDOM FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR FAITH AND FREEDOM. OUR MARONITE BROTHERS & SISTERS IN LEBANON ARE IN A DANGER OF DISAPPEARING WITH THE SPREAD OF ISLAM & FUNDAMENTALISM. IT IS OUR DUTY TO PRAY FOR THEM AND HELP PRESERVE CHRISTIANITY IN THE LAND WHERE IT WAS BORN 2004 YEARS AGO.
THE FIRST MARONITES CAME FROM THE SYRIAC BRANCH OF CHRISTIANITY, THE DIRECT DESCENDANTS OF THE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED THE FAITH FROM THE APOSTLES. THE MARONITES ARE PEOPLE OF FAITH WHO ARE ALWAYS WILLING TO SACRIFICE THEMSELVES AND WHAT THEY HAVE FOR CHRISTS SAKE AS A GRATITUDE FOR SACRIFICING HIMSELF ON THE CROSS ON THEIR BEHALF.
BECAUSE OF THE HARSH PERSECUTION IN SYRIA DURING THE MOSLEM EXPANSION, THE MARONITES FLED TO LEBANON IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY WHERE THEY ESTABLISHED THEMSELVES AS A CHURCH, GATHERING AROUND THEIR SPIRITUAL FATHER, THE PATRIARCH, AND ESTABLISHING THEIR LITURGY, SPIRITUALITY AND IDENTITY.
THANKS TO THE HEROIC EFFORTS OF THE MARONITES, LEBANON BECAME A LAND WHERE CHRISTIANS LIVED FREELY. THANKS TO MANY MARONITES, LIKE PATRIARCH ELIAS HOYEK, WHO WENT TO EUROPE IN ORDER TO OBTAIN THE FREEDOM OF LEBANON AFTER 400 YEARS OF OCCUPATION AND PERSECUTION BY THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE. THANKS TO OUR PRESENT PATRIARCH NASRALLAH BOUTORS SFEIR, WHO HAS BEEN THE GREAT VOICE OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY FOR THE LAST DOZEN OF YEARS, AS WELL AS THE MAIN DEFENDER OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE IN LEBANON AND THE MIDDLE EAST. MAY GOD BLESS HIM AT THE AGE OF 84 TO CONTINUE LEADING THE MARONITE CHURCH AND LEBANON TO SALVATION, FREEDOM AND SOVEREIGNTY.
ALTHOUGH THE ROOTS OF THE MARONITE CHURCH ARE ROOTED IN LEBANON, THIS CHURCH IS NOW FLOURISHING ALL OVER THE WORLD, INCLUDING MINNEAPOLIS. BESIDES MANY DIOCESES IN LEBANON, THE MARONITES HAVE THEIR OWN BISHOPS AND DIOCESE IN SYRIA, CYPRUS, EGYPT, EUROPE, AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, ARGENTINA, MEXICO, CANADA AND TWO DIOCESES IN THE UNITED STATES. ALL OF THESE DIOCESE WERE BORN THE LAST 35 YEARS. OUR EPARCHY IS ONE OF THE YOUNGEST AND MOST GROWING.
WE, AS MARONITES SHOULD BE VERY PROUD (IN A HUMBLE WAY) TO BELONG TO THIS RICH AND OLD TRADITION THAT IS PROBABLY THE CLOSEST TO THE ERA AND AREA THAT JESUS LIVED IN SOME TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO.
ALL OF US, OLD AND YOUNG, HAVE A DUTY TO PRESERVE THIS PRECIOUS TRADITION THAT IS OURS. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT YOUR TRADITION, BRING THEM TO THEIR MARONITE CHURCH WHERE THEY BELONG. THIS IS THE BEST WAY THAT YOU CAN SHOW THEM WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MARONITE.
TO KNOW YOUR HISTORY, TO UNDERSTAND YOUR THEOLOGY AND TO LIVE YOUR BEAUTIFUL LITURGY IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE MARONITE. LET US PRAY TODAY THAT OUR MARONITE BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WHO HAVE BEEN SEPARATED FROM THEIR ROOTS FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, MAY COME BACK AND ENJOY THE LITURGICAL, SPIRITUAL AND SOCIAL RICHNESS THAT WE HAVE.
TODAY, LET US EXAMINE OUR CONSCIOUSNESS AND SEE HOW LOYAL AND COMMITTED WE ARE TO THIS GREAT AND RICH TRADITION THAT COST THOUSANDS OF MARTYRS.
OUR ANCESTORS ARE NONE BUT THE DIRECT DESCENDANTS OF THE APOSTLES AND JESUS HIMSELF. OUR LITURGICAL LANGUAGE IS THE SAME LANGUAGE THAT THE SON OF GOD SPOKE, AND OUR MOTHER LAND IS THE LAND WHERE CHRIST AND HIS MOTHER MARY AND THE APOSTLES WALKED UPON; OUR FOREFATHERS ARE THE PHOENICIANS WHO HAVE DISCOVERED THE FIRST ALPHABET, AND THE FIRST PEOPLE WHO SAILED THE OCEANS.
IN ORDER FOR THIS MARONITE CHURCH TO CONTINUE TO FLOURISH AND GROW, THE SPIRIT OF MARON MUST BE FOLLOWED WITH LOVE AND UNITY.
LET US IMITATE MARON AS HE IMITATED CHRIST HIS LORD, AND LIKE HIM FOLLOW CHRIST WITH SIMPLICITY, FAITH AND HUMILITY.
"Ornament of the Divine Choir of Saints"
By Guita G. Hourani
In this section of the Journal of Maronite Studies (JMS), we share with you documents and manuscripts that reflect the history of the Maronite people and church. Whenever possible, we will feature a copy of the original record with an English translation. Should we not be able to do so, we shall rely on the integrity of the author(s) who first brought this record to our attention. The Editor's interpolations will appear in square brackets.
It is well known that in the 4th A.D. century, monasticism flourished in Saint Anthony's Egypt and in the Palestine of Saint Hilarion. It is perhaps less well known that the ascetic way of life also was thriving in Syria, Antioch, and Mesopotamia at this time. One of the leaders of such ascetic life was hermit named Maron.
The earliest written information about Saint Maron (d.410) (1) can be found in Historia Religiosa (c. 440) of Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus (393-466) and in a letter of John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (344-407), both written in Greek (2).
Theodoret was a revered writer of his time. His book, the Historia Religiosa, is a preeminent source for early Syrian monastic and ascetic life. [Although he was a contemporary of Saint Maron, there is no direct evidence that indicates that the two had met.] In his book, Theodoret wrote:
"After him [Acepsimas] I shall recall Maron, for he too adorned the godly choir of the saints. Embracing the open-air life, he repaired to a hill-top formerly honored by the impious. Consecrating to God the precinct of demons on it, he lived there, pitching a small tent which he seldom used. He practiced not only the usual labors, but devised others as well, heaping up the wealth of philosophy.
The Umpire measured out grace according to his labors: so the magnificent one gave in abundance the gift of healing, with the result that his fame circulated everywhere, attracted everyone from every side and taught by experience the truth of the report. One could see fevers quenched by the dew of his blessing, shivering quieted, demons put to flight, and varied diseases of every kind cured by a single remedy; the progeny of physicians apply to each disease the appropriate remedy, but the prayer of the saint is a common antidote for every distress. He cured not only infirmities of the body, but applied suitable treatment to souls as well, healing this man's greed and that man's anger, to this man supplying teaching in self-control and to that providing lessons in justice, correcting this man's intemperance and shaking up another man's sloth. Applying this mode of cultivation, he produced many plants of philosophy, and it was he who planted for God the garden that now flourishes in the region of Cyrrhus (3). A product of his planting was the great James, to whom one could reasonably apply the prophetic utterance, 'the righteous man will flower as the palm tree, and be multiplied like the cedar of Lebanon' (4), and also all the others whom, with God's help, I shall recall individually.
Attending in this way to the divine cultivation and treating souls and bodies alike, he himself underwent a short illness, so that we might learn the weakness of nature and the manliness of resolution, and departed from life. A bitter war over his body arose between his neighbors. One of the adjacent villages that was well-populated came out in mass, drove off the others and seized this thrice desired treasure ['Saint Maron wished to be buried with the hermit Zebinas'] (5) building a great shrine, they reap benefit therefrom even to this day, honoring this victor with a public festival. We ourselves reap his blessing even at a distance; for sufficient for us instead of his tomb is his memory" (6).
The other major source of information about Saint Maron comes from Saint John Chrysostom that is "John the Golden Mouth." He became Patriarch of Constantinople in 397. He dedicated his 36th epistle to Saint Maron while exiled in Cucussus (7), Armenia, around the year 405. The 36th epistle reads as follows:
"To Maron, the Monk Priest:
We are bound to you by love and interior disposition, and see you here before us as if you were actually present. For such are the eyes of love; their vision is neither interrupted by distance nor dimmed by time. We wished to write more frequently to your reverence, but since this is not easy on account of the difficulty of the road and the problems to which travellers are subject, whenever opportunity allows we address ourselves to your honour and assure you that we hold you constantly in our mind and carry you about in our soul wherever we may be. And take care yourself that you write to us as often as you can, telling us how you are, so that although separated physically we might be cheered by learning constantly about your health and receive much consolation as we sit in solitude. For it brings us no small joy to hear about your health. And above all please pray for us". (8)
After Saint Maron's death, his relics were the object of considerable interest and conflict. The people of a neighboring village, believed to be Brad or Barad in the environs of Kfar-Nabo (9), succeeded in taking his body (10).
Then a church was built in his name, and a sarcophagus containing the Saint's body was housed in it. It is believed that later the Saint's skull was transported by the Saint's disciples to Apamea (11) in Syria where they built the famous Saint Maron Monastery or "Beit Maron" around the year 452 (12). According to the Arab historian Al-Mas'oudi (d.960):
"there was dedicated to him (St. Maron) a great convent, located in the east of Hamah and Chizar. It was a splendid building. Around it were three hundred cells, inhabited by monks.... That convent was sacked, and the cells around it, by the many raids of the Arabs and by the cruelty of the Sultan. It is situated on the shore of the Orontes, the river of Emese and Antioch." (13) Patriarch Istephan Duwayhi in his book T'arikh al-Azmina tells us that when Patriarch Youhanna (John) Maron, the first Maronite Patriarch, settled in Kfarhay, in the Batroun region of Lebanon at the beginning of the 8th century:
"he built an altar and a monastery after Saint Maron's name and put Saint Maron's skull inside the altar to heal the faithful. This is why the Monastery is called "Rish Mro" Syriac for Maron's head (14).
Maronite Patriarch Istephan Duwayhi (1630-1704).
Luigi Jacobilli in his book Vite De' Santi e Beati Dell'Umbria (15) asserts that in the year 1130 A.D., Saint Maron's skull was again moved-- this time to Foligno, Italy. The Bibliotheca Sanctorum (16) records the following:
In regard to the relics of St. Maron, Jacobilli affirms that the Saint's skull is now preserved in Foligno after being transferred three times. The first transfer was in 1130, when Abbot Michel of the Croce di Sassovivo while on a pilgrimage to the Holy land, brought back the skull of the honored Saint from a Maronite monastery in Syria. A short while after, and at the request of the same Abbot, the skull was moved from Sassovivo to a church erected in honor of the Saint in a nearby town of Volperino. The third transfer was in 1490 when the relic of the Saint was moved from Volperino to the Cathedral of Foligno where it was placed in a silver statue. The authenticity of the first transfer [from Syria to Sassovivo] is recorded in the Chronicon Monasterii S. Crucis Saxivivi, the other two transfers are noted in the archive of the Church in Volperino and the Town Hall of Foligno. [Editor's translation] (17)
Chorbishop Youssef Debs in his book Histoire de Syrie asserts that he was given a relic of the honored Saint by the Bishop of Foligno during his visit to Italy in 1887. (18)
Saint Maron left a legacy behind him that flourishes today in a people named after him-- the Maronites. The Maronites, now are virtually found in almost every country of the world. Saint Maron's feast day is celebrated on February 9 of every year in all the Maronite churches around the world. This day is also an official national day in the State of Lebanon.
(1) Also written as follows: Maro, Maroun, Marun, Maroon. | Back to text |
(2) |The text of Theodoret is published in "Patrologiae Graecae", vol. LXXXII, 1864, column 1417 and 1419 and that of John Chrysostom in "Patrologiae Graecae", vol. 51.3, 1862, the 36 epistle, column 630. | Back to text |
(3) Cyrrhus, Cyr, Quros, or Hagioupolis, is now Huru Pegamber in Eastern Turkey. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, vol. I, (Oxford, 1991), pp. 574-575. | Back to text |
(4) Psalm 92:12. | Back to text |
(5) Theodore of Cyrrhus. A History of the Monks of Syria. Translated by R. M. Price, (Michigan, 1985), p. 119, note # 3. | Back to text |
(6) Ibid., pp. 117-119. | Back to text |
(8) AbouZayd, S. Ihidayutha: A study of the Life of Singleness in the Syrian Orient: From Ignatius of Antioch to Chalcedon 451 A.D., (Oxford, 1993), p. 363. | Back to text |
(9) Dau, B. Histoire des Maronites (in Arabic), (Beirut, 1890), pp. 30-31, and Ihidayutha, p. 364. | Back to text |
(10) Competition to obtain the bodies of holy men is well known in the Orient. For more information, please consult the History of the Monks of Syria, pp. 92, 119, 123-124, and 136. | Back to text |
(11) Apamea Cherronesus, or Qala'at el-Mudig is between Hamah and Aleppo in today's Syria. Atlas of the Early Christian World. Translated and Edited by Hedlund, M. And Rowley, H., (Amesterdam, 1959). | Back to text |
(12) Khoury-Harb, A. The Maronites, (Beirut, 1985), pp. 38-40. | Back to text |
(13) Al-Mas'oudi, Le livre de l'avertissement et de la revision,. Translation Cara de Vaux, 1897, p. 211. Translation is the Editor's. | Back to text |
(14) Khoury-Harb, A.The Maronites, p. 40. | Back to text |
(15) Jacobilli, Luigi. Vite de' Santi e Beati dell'Umbria, l. II, (Foligno, 1656), pp. 134-138. | Back to text |
(16) "Bibliotheca Sanctorum, Instituto Giovanni XXXIII Della Pontificia Universita Lateranense", (Roma, 1967), columns 1195 and 1196. | Back to text |
(17) Ibid., column 1195 and 1196. Translation is the Editor's. | Back to text |
(18) Khoury-Harb, A. The Maronites, p. 40. | Back to text |
Happy St. Maron's Day!!
Happy most honorable of all honorable Maronite feast days!
St. Maron, pray for us, and for all your spiritual children.
Dessert Father ping!
This piece sounds just like the Maronites I know, tough, proud, strong, bowing to no one and ready to die for the Faith and their Church. The words of +John Chrysostomos tell you much of how we Orthodox feel about the Maronites and +Maron to this very day!
A Blessed Patronal Feast to you, NYer and may the memory of +Maron be eternal!
Thank you, K! Just returned from Church and the usual small Maronite turnout for the feast of their patron Saint. Anticipating this, I invited several RCs who were more than happy to attend DL and hear Father's homily. (They consider him a 'genius' :-) Finding such a priest in the RC Diocese of Albany is like stumbling upon the pearl of great worth. Since they know nothing of this saint, I printed out a copy of this thread and they were most appreciative.