Friday, February 9, 2007

Maronite Church Bishop: We're 100% Pro-Life; We Don't Preach the "Comfortable Gospel"

We Roman Catholics may attend and receive the Sacraments at Maronite Church as they are in "full communion" with Rome. There are two Maronite Catholic Churches in the Twin Cities:
--St Maron, 219 Sixth Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 612-379-2758
--Holy Family Maronite Church, 203 E Robie St, St Paul, MN 55107; 651-291-1116

One of the Rites in the Catholic Church other than the Roman rite, is the Maronite Rite. While centered in Lebanon where the Maronite Patriarch resides, it has adherents throughout North America as well. The Maronite rite is unique for its celebration of central part of the Mass in Aramaic - the language Jesus spoke with his apostles.

One of the hundreds of bishops who attended the March for Life Mass in Washington DC last month, was Maronite Bishop Gregory John Mansour who oversees the Maronite rite for all of the Eastern United States.

Bishop Mansour spoke with about the Maronite rite's involvement in pro-life work. "We are a Church with all the rights and responsibilities of preaching the Gospel," he said, "the fullness of the gospel - not the comfortable gospel but the whole Gospel of Life." The Bishop added that Maronites are "very much" involved in pro-life activities.

Bishop Mansour also noted the presence of prelates from other rites within the Catholic Church including "Ukrainians and Athenians and Melkites." The bishop expressed joy at the great number of people of diverse backgrounds who packed the Cathedral. "It's a joy for us to come and celebrate the Mass together," he said.

Emeritus Washington Auxiliary Bishop Leonard J. Olivier was also impressed by the huge crowd which packed the Basilica. Bishop Olivier, 83, told, "Well, I've been here 19 years and it's gotten larger every year and every year more and more young people have come and so it's a very encouraging time. And since they are so active, they will pass on this message and this spirit to others and that will be great."

The Eastern Catholic Maronite Church

And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Acts 11:26

It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus Christ converted by Paul and Barnabas were first called Christians [Acts 11:26]. Antioch, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem in 71 AD, became a center for Christianity. The first Bishop was St. Peter before his travels to Rome. Matthew wrote his Gospel there, and Paul set out on three missionary journeys from Antioch. The third Bishop was the Apostolic Father St. Ignatius of Antioch, who established the Church order of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon. Antioch became one of the five original Patriarchates after Constantine recognized Christianity.

Maron, a contemporary and friend of St. John Chrysostom, was a monk in the fourth century who left Antioch for the Orontes River to lead an ascetic life, following the traditions of St. Anthony of the Desert and St. Pachomius of Egypt. He soon had many followers that adopted his monastic life. Following the death of St. Maron in 410, his disciples built a monastery in his memory and formed the nucleus of the Maronite Church. 8

The Maronites held fast to the beliefs of the Council of Chalcedon in 451. When 350 monks were slain by the Monophysites of Antioch, the Maronites sought refuge in the mountains of Lebanon. Correspondence concerning the event brought papal recognition of the Maronites by Pope Hormisdas on February 10, 518. 9

The martyrdom of the Patriarch of Antioch in 602 left the Maronites without a leader, and led them to elect their first Maronite Patriarch, St. John Maron, in 685.

Little was heard from the Maronites for 400 years, as they quietly escaped the Muslim invasions in the mountains of Lebanon, until the Crusader Raymond of Toulouse discovered the Maronites in the mountains near Tripoli, Lebanon on his way to conquer Jerusalem. The Maronites again confirmed their loyalty to the Pope in 1181. The Maronite Patriarch Jeremiah attended the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, and the Maronite College in Rome was inaugurated in 1584. The Maronites have always remained true to Rome. 5, 8, 9, 10

The Maronites, because of their monastic origin, were able to withstand intense pressure and even persecution to preserve their Church, not just by the Muslims, but also by separated brethren such as the Orthodox and Churches of the East, as well as efforts at Latinization from Rome. Lebanon is the only country in Asia with a Christian culture, primarily because of the Maronites. Even today, the words at the Consecration of the Mass are said in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

The Maronites in Lebanon allow clerical marriage. They accept the gift of human sexuality given by God, who said, "It is not good for man to be alone" [Genesis 2:18]. St. Peter, our first Pope, was married, as we learn of the healing of his mother-in-law in the Gospels [Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39]. The last Pope to be married was Pope Adrian II in the ninth century.11
I am grateful that they allow married clergy, because my great-great-grandfather was a Maronite priest!

The Maronites have especially fluorished since the Second Vatican Council, and are now the third largest Eastern Catholic Church, numbering about 3,200,000 faithful in Lebanon and throughout the world, including parishes in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Mexico, and the United States. We are blessed to have Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington, D. C., established in 1961.

12 February 2007: Dave has left a new comment on your post "Maronite Church Bishop: We're 100% Pro-Life; We Do...":

Can. 923 The Christian faithful can participate in the eucharistic sacrifice and receive holy communion in any Catholic rite, without prejudice to the prescript of Can. 844.
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