1. The first text has been entitled “The Church of Hope” because it embodies the spirit of all the synodal texts and the Synodal journey. By nature, the Church is driven forward towards the fulfillment of the
2. Accordingly, this text takes us back to certain sources in our Maronite heritage to highlight its comprehensive outlook toward a hope that is built on complete trust in God and in His promises. The text will not touch upon the deep theological concepts of hope (one of the three theological virtues besides faith and love); rather it will have recourse to liturgical texts about hope. The text will then move to analyzing the current state of affairs and its concerns, along with its signs of hope that enrich our Church and help her in forecasting a future of hope, a hope for which this Synod is one of its most important manifestations.
3. The text uses the same outline adopted in the following texts (past, present and future) because Christians in general (and Maronites, in particular) are the children of history and are the children of the Divine initiative in creation as well as in salvation. Their hope is rooted in this Divine work, whose main traits are embodied in God’s fulfillment of His promises that will be achieved despite all adversities. This is why historical memory is considered one of the carriers of hope. When the believer looks over the history of salvation and the history of his Church he discovers, that he too is the son of the promise that began with Abraham, was fulfilled in Christ, and will reach its fulfillment in the
First: Hope in Some Liturgical Texts
4. Our texts are rich in the subject of hope because they are inspired by the Holy Bible, and its events. It is very hard within the framework of a defined synodal text to examine all of its contents. Therefore, it was necessary to adopt a model which was none other than the weekly Divine Office in Ordinary Time. This model is sufficient to present a clear idea of the concept of hope, its contents, and the horizons that it opens. For more clarity, we will divide the subject of hope into four parts:
I. Christ Is Hope
5. There are numerous texts that address Christ as the only hope for believers because He is the Savior of the world and never disappoints those who rely on Him. “Glory be to your mercy O Christ our King, O Son of God to whom all creatures bow. You are our King, our Lord, and our reason for living, you are our great hope” (Office for Thursday morning: the Hymns of St. Ephrem). “You are our realm, our treasure, our precious pearl, our wreath and our crown” (Thursday: Office of the ninth hour, proemion).
Further, the metaphors used in describing Christ as the Light, the Resurrection, and the Life as well as the deeds that he has done throughout his life and his exhortations to rely on Him, encourage believers to take refuge in Him and to ask for His aid: “We know not of another door to knock upon except Your door O God because You have said through Your sacred words: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Saturday evening).
The prayers are rich in reciting the work of God in the Old and the New Testaments and the prayers beseech Him to intervene now. Also, the appearance of Christ to his Apostles, the calming of the storm, the salvation of Daniel and the sons of Hanania are mentioned in these prayers: “Hear our prayers like You have heard theirs, O good and clement Lord; answer our prayers, like You have accepted theirs; protect us under Your wings on the day of Your coming O Lord because our hope lies in You, and we rely on You, and it is You whom we call Our God, for glory be unto You” (Monday evening, the fourth rising).
Countless are the texts that remind God that since He has answered the prayers of many of His servants, so He must also answer the prayers of those who beseech Him now because He is their succor and their hope.
II. The Tribulations of Hope
6. Hope is based on the promises of God in the Beatitudes, the upholding of the commandments, and the carrying of His burden, if we are to enter the kingdom of Heaven: “Help us O Lord to keep on seeking the kingdom of Heaven which You have promised us and to yearn for the blessings that You have prepared for us” (Wednesday evening). For the hope of the promises is consolation: “Console us, O Lord, with the hope of Your true and abundant promises, save us from the tribulations of the temptations and sorrows surrounding us…Help us to follow the path of Your commandments” (Friday evening). However, the believer and the community in its diversity are faced with hurdles and hardships. Some of these stem from the heart of the human being who indulges in worldly matters and their temptations, forgets God, and commits sins. Here the sinner distinguishes between his wretchedness and the mercy and compassion of God, so that he remembers Him: “This wretched soul glorifies You because You have embraced him in Your mercy though he is not deserving. Your compassion has given him greatness from nothing. You have created him with Your grace, You have saved him for You are all merciful, and You have pity on him for You are all compassionate…” (Monday morning, 3rd hour). He also remembers God’s forgiveness of the sinful woman and beseeches Him by saying, “My Lord, the sinful woman has beseeched You with pious tears and sighs and You forgave her sins through the abundance of Your mercy. You have made her the hope of all who repent” (Monday Night).
This is why there was a call to become aware of temptations, and the need to avoid them. This call is based upon meditation on the end of the world, upon a renunciation of the world and its despotic rulers, and upon avoidance of worldly traps. On the other hand, there also is a call to remember the promise of the
Some of the other hardships that face the believer stem from the external world itself. The Church is surrounded by obstacles on all sides, which is why she beseeches God to have mercy on her and to save her: “The Church is beseeching You with pain and tears, for all her children suffering from pain, hunger, disease, torture, and oppression. O God grant them Your mercy, so that all those bowing before You will know the promise of Your salvation, and all the people will praise You and glorify You” (Tuesday evening).
“O Lord, bestow peace on the whole earth, put an end to war and enmity between all Your creatures, preserve the Churches and the monasteries…and safeguard Your people” (Wednesday morning, third hymn).
In spite of all the hardships, Christ remains “The helper of the righteous, the hope of all the pious and the refuge of all believers” (Saturday evening). That is why they exhort him to aid them, “O Christ King, you are the hope of all believers, you are our Savior. We beseech you every hour. Come to our aid O God and strengthen us in Your ways so that we may praise You and glorify You at all times” (Sunday evening).
III. The Hope of the Martyrs and of the Dead
7. The hardships and obstacles that face the believers might change into oppression that could cause the death of innocents, who then become martyrs. What is the reason that drives these human beings to defy all sufferings and to face death with courage, forthrightness, and joy? The only reason mentioned in the texts is that the Holy Spirit came to their aid, and they accepted martyrdom based on the hope that the Holy Spirit has given to them: “You have armed Your Apostles and Your holy martyrs to fight the good fight…and to seal their deep rooted faith…make us partners in their sufferings and glory…to hasten to Your hope through their intercession…and to expect Your aid. We run to You. So be our help O Lord in hardships, our comforter in sufferings, our shelter from the oppressors, our savior from difficulties, our healer from diseases, and our supply in need…for You are the shelter and the salvation of all those who ask for Your help” (Sunday night, the second rising of martyrs- noting that the second rising of the night prayers is always dedicated to the martyrs).
The hope that fills the hearts of the martyrs has made their remembrance a constant part of the Maronite Divine Office which has allocated to them a part before the last paragraph in every hymn of the ecclesiastical prayers.
8. What clearly draws attention is the hope that surrounds the dead in the Maronite Divine Office. Those who died with the hope of Christ are awaiting their resurrection, “for he is the Resurrection, the hope of the living and the salvation of all” (Sunday night, the third rising). “O living One Who has descended to the abode of the dead and has resurrected us from death and brought hope to the dead: with You the dead who have eaten from Your Holy Body and drank from Your Forgiving Blood will be resurrected” (Wednesday evening, first hymn).
The hope of the dead in the resurrection is based on three constants: Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, which is buried within the human body as the yeast of the resurrection, the true faith, and Christ, who has risen from death. The texts did not forget to mention the sorrow, pain, and disfiguration brought about by death. But, they consider all of these as transitory compared to the joy of the resurrection: “Peace be with you, O you who have died in the firm hope of Christ. Do not be saddened by a distortion of the beauty of your faces because that beauty will be renewed and you will inherit the
IV. The Comprehensive Ecclesial Vision
9. It is no wonder that hope is based on Christ and that it is tightly linked to faith, love, and the promises of God. It comes as a result of the continuous recounting of the Divine plan in the Maronite prayers. This plan is replete with all of the amazing deeds that create trust in the hearts of the believers, encouraging them to put their trust fully in God and to wait for the fulfillment of His promises. There is, however, another dimension of hope and that is the ecclesial dimension; or rather the comprehensive ecclesial vision. It is clear that most Maronite prayers, especially in their concluding parts, place the believers in a relationship with the sons and daughters of the Church who “were blessed by God from Adam until today.” The Virgin Mary takes up the lead because “God is the hope of all humans, and He has descended through her to give hope to the hopeless” (First introduction, Wednesday night).
How can the faithful not be strong and not have hope when their repeated prayers include the mentioning of the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, the confessors, the priests, the shepherds, the teachers, the dead, the church, the monasteries, the altars… the virgins, the righteous, those who fast, the ascetics, and the hermits (Wednesday night, fourth introduction). This procession of witnesses are those who have fulfilled their quest and intercede with God for their brethren who are still fighting in the world and waiting to meet Christ on whose hope they live.
The names of St. James, St. Maron, St. Ephrem, and their friends, are repeatedly mentioned to remind Maronites that they belong to a family of saints who serve as model examples of putting one’s trust in the Lord. But, the pinnacle expression of the ecclesial dimension is reflected in the conclusion of the Maronite Divine Office daily prayer: “Have mercy on Your children through the prayers of Your Mother, Who gave You birth, and of the saints, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, the righteous, the priests, the holy fathers, the true shepherds, the teachers, and the prayers of Mary and of the saints. Preserve us in Your holy and ever living Name from evil, and lead us not into temptation because our hope lies in You, and it is You whom we call our Lord, for thine is the glory forever.”
10. It is impossible to miss the fulfillment of hope in the Mass, a hope that is based on the Resurrection, e.g., when the community answers the celebrant, after the Eucharistic Institution: “Each time you partake of these mysteries, do this in memory of me.” “We remember Your death O Lord, we acknowledge Your Resurrection and we await Your Second Coming.” These are the three stages in the Divine plan of salvation upon whose rhythm the life and hope of believers is centered: death represents misery, pain, and the end of life, while resurrection is the guarantee that proves to believers that death is not the end of everything; rather it is a necessary passageway towards life. Between these two stages of death and resurrection, Christian life takes place, animated by waiting for the coming of the Lord. Waiting is a sign of hope. It is what drives believers to carry the Cross and to transcend death with Christ the One Who rose from death, and conquered death. “For he will come with great glory, to bring light to the eyes that awaited him…and with his joyful light he will bring joy to our lives” (Hymn of Light for St. Ephrem).
11. The aspiration to the
12. This is the general environment in which the Maronites have always lived. Hope has always strengthened their faith in spite of the many hardships that they faced and in spite of all the oppression because the measures that they have upheld during their lives were not purely human; rather they were heavenly. Their hearts were quenched by following the models of Christ and of the saints; this led them on to great heights where they awaited their salvation at the hands of the Lord. Their lives, which they lived in the rhythm of prayers and hymns, both in Church and at home, were tuned to the promises of the Lord, to His Second Coming, and to the heritage of the holy fathers. That is why they beseeched the Holy Spirit, “Strengthen the true faith in our minds, kindle in us the blazing fire of Your love, fortify our hearts with true hope and strong comfort, which will carry us far away from this corrupted world” (Sunday evening, Pentecost).
Second: Hope - Concerns and Signs
13. The past environment in which the Maronites lived was characterized by a spirituality of work and prayer on the pastoral and ecclesiastical levels. Today, this has changed. The ancient world has disappeared along with its traditions and practices that provided a framework to gather and fortify them. The Maronites have now entered a new world or new worlds which have their own criteria, worlds characterized by pluralism of religion and culture. As a result, Maronites have mingled with others who do not share their vision and the Maronites have become subject to rules and interests that have moved them from one state to another. Life in the urban city is different from life in the village, and the Countries of Expansion are different from the countries in the Patriarchal Domain. Especially in
14. Maronites, especially in
Given the current situation the question must be asked: Why have we reached this condition of despair if the Maronites are truly the children of hope?
15. Here, we should make a fundamental distinction between Christian hope and human aspirations.
Hope is concerned with all that is related to the life of faith on all of its levels, especially on the spiritual level. Whoever places his hope in God and in all that God says as well as in His guidance even when it is difficult to understand, remains strong when put to the test. Such trials can make us stronger and enable us to deepen our trust in God and in His promises. This was apparent in the position of the martyrs who preferred death to the denial of Christ. They saw death as a door to life, whereas denying Christ would have driven them away from him forever.
Human aspiration stems from the mind of the individual, and from his own plans and projects. These aspirations could be fulfilled under the proper circumstances. They could also fail for reasons related to the individual himself or to reasons outside of his control. When this human aspiration is fulfilled, the individual is happy, tranquil, and plans for a better future, unconcerned about what the future, which he cannot control, might hold for him (parable of the ignorant rich man in the gospel). When a human aspiration is thwarted, the individual despairs and experiences disappointment. If such a failure is repeated over and over again, and if despair takes control of the person, this might lead him to stop work, become depressed, and even commit suicide.
16. If we apply this analogy to the current status of the
There were those who remained constant in their faith and held onto hope, responding to the exhortations of the letters and declarations of the Catholic patriarchs and bishops. Evidence of such faithfulness emerged among those who enthusiastically prepared for the Synod for
However, there were also those who were disconcerted by political setbacks and social tragedies causing them to give-in to disappointment and to despair because the human aspirations have greatly failed. They lost what they had once considered as a guarantee for Christians in a developing political system. The differing parties started exchanging accusations and blaming the failure on one another. Even ecclesial authorities were not spared.
Yet, it is essential to reiterate that there is a relationship between Christian hope and human aspirations because the Christian lives like the rest of humanity. The Christian has his ambitions and his hopes, which he expresses in projects that are inspired by the Christian spirit, allowing him to view its different dimensions and perspectives, so that he does not remain the prisoner of limited worldly visions. The community of believers, that is the Church, is concerned about the human being with his aspirations and ambitions, but the Church’s ultimate aim is to help the believer embrace what matters most, the Divine project of the salvation of the person and humanity.
17. We cannot determine responsibilities now. But, in spite of all the negative aspects that befell the Maronites, it should be stated that the signs of hope in the
*Among the Signs of Hope:
1) The Expansion of the Church
18. Although tribulations cause afflictions they have turned into blessing for the
2) Attachment to the Centrality of the Patriarchate
19. Wherever they may be, Maronites have expressed their attachment to the centrality of the patriarchate and also to the person of the Patriarch, as guarantor and symbol of their unity. This attachment has two congruent facets: on one hand, it protects against ecclesial division. This means that no Maronite group, no matter how powerful it becomes, should consider separating from the
3) Raising Awareness on the Distinctiveness of and the Spread of the Heritage
20. Regrettably, some Maronites have not had the opportunity to really come to know their own distinct and unique heritage. Those who have had the chance have recently become acutely aware of the necessity of preserving and sharing this great heritage. Many among them, such as researchers and scholars, in the past and at the present, have contributed directly to this work. But work is still in its early stages. Its objective is double-edged: providing cultural, spiritual, and theological nourishment to the children of this heritage in cooperation with its sister Antiochene Churches; and defining this heritage to be another stream among the streams that enrich the thought of the
4) Sense of Ecclesiastic Belonging
21. The phenomenon of responding to the Patriarchal Synod was welcomed in all the clerical, monastic, and lay circles, as being a clear proof that Maronites have a deep sense of belonging to their Church. This response was evident on different levels, especially in joint prayer and contemplation, in answering questions, in presenting suggestions and projects, in writing articles, in the interest of the media in the subjects that were studied, in organizing seminars around those subjects, and in distributing publications. The faithful followed-up on the sessions of the Synod, wondered about its future, and the resolutions that would ensue from it.
It is certain that this phenomenon was only generalized to a certain degree. However, the response of the faithful testifies to the fact that they are not strangers to their Church, provided she gives them what they need by way of guidance, thought, vision, and concrete projects that can get them involved and active in their Church. This obliges the officials in the Church to utilize the vast resources of the laity, especially since the latter also bear the responsibility of building the Church.
5) Church’s Attractiveness
22. In spite of her great antiquity and the many calamities suffered by her people over the centuries, the Church has not aged. On the contrary, she has prospered and has borne fruit. She has provided saints, who have crowned her forehead. Some of these saints have been canonized, while others are known only by God and by the community in which they lived. The latter are greater in number for they have fulfilled God’s will in their daily lives.
The recent liturgical renewal has reached the youth, who belong to different organizations and apostolic movements and are engaged in different activities in and beyond their parishes, as they have felt society’s needs and have responded responsibly. There is a longing to get back to the Gospel and to discover the face of Christ and his followers.
The Church, in the person of her shepherds, remains a shelter sought by all those who want to listen to the words of truth, the defense of man’s dignity and rights, and the country’s right to freedom and sovereignty.
The Church’s level of attractiveness is a direct correlation of her faithfulness to Christ and to the level of the reflection of the face of Christ through the face of her children, regardless of their ecclesial or social rank, for the Church’s hope is in Christ and in the Spirit who revives her every day.
6) Spiritual Renewal
23. There is a longing for a spiritual renewal and for a return to a spiritual authenticity that springs from our knowledge of Christ and from our discovery of him as he is presented in the Gospel. This explains the recent popularity of spiritually-oriented educational initiatives among youth and adults. Accordingly, a number of youths are knowingly committing to their faith and are striving to practice it both in their private and in their public lives. They are doing this after they discover the love that Christ has for them, and after they have experienced the importance of their commitment. Proofs of that renewal are the eparchial gatherings of youth, their active belonging to their parishes, and their thirst for a genuine spiritual life through a return to the Maronite Saints: Sharbel, Rafka, and Neematallah, who attract particularly the youth who strive to imitate them in their daily lives and within their family and society.
7) Initiatives of Solidarity
24. The different and increasingly numerous social crises have created initiatives of solidarity on the part of both individuals and ecclesial institutions. These initiatives have materialized in the undertaking of projects, and in providing help at various levels. Many individuals have been progressively awakened to the need for collaboration in facing reality, a collaboration that is motivated by a humanitarian and Christian spirit; for love is lived not by words but by deeds and by truth. There have been educational campaigns and donations in the schools, universities, and parishes. Furthermore, educators, having realized the value of social commitment, started encouraging the youth to volunteer in different domains of service, with such activity being considered as a complementary aspect of their education. The sense of solidarity that results from belonging to one Church community obliges its members to give utmost attention and care to those who are in need so that they can more fully achieve their goals.
8) A Church with a
25. Some Christians, among them Maronites, have begun to realize that they have a mission in the Orient despite their dwindling number in countries in which the majority of the population embraces the Islamic faith. Such a mission is what the Catholic patriarchs called for in their encyclical to the Christians of the Orient, whereby they considered the Christian presence in the Orient to be a witness, a mission, and a service. The Catholic patriarchs warned against the dangers of seclusion, fear, loss identity, and extreme emigration.
The mission of the Church has its own historic roots and its raison d’être even though surrounded by dangers. Christians in general, and Maronites in particular, should realize that to choose this mission, i.e., to stay in the Orient, is an individual and communal decision. The efforts exerted to help those who were forcefully evicted from their villages and made to return to their homes, especially to return to villages of religiously mixed populations, all converge toward consolidating the choice for mission and conviviality. Conviviality that is based on dialogue, respect, and cooperation in building a country where justice and truth prevail and where human rights are honored, is one of the foundations of genuine hope.
Emphasizing the role of the Church in the Orient does not minimize the importance of her mission in the Countries of Expansion, provided that she, along with all of her children, would remain faithful to her heritage and would be a living witness to diversity-within-unity.
9) Participation of Laity
26. During the last fifty years the laity have become increasingly more aware of their role in the life and mission of the Church. The laity can no longer be satisfied with the role of being merely consumers who attend Church services just out of obligation, or who meet with their shepherds just in their times of need. Yet, there are many who do give their attention to Church affairs and who would like to take part in her life and progress. One must also acknowledge the positive presence of women, their distinctive role, and their dedication in different areas of Church affairs. Their belonging to the apostolic movements, or to educational institutions in addition to the services rendered by the religious media, have all helped to bring about a religious and spiritual awakening. As a result, the sense of belonging to the Church has dramatically improved, and so has the willingness to assume the responsibility of Church activities, if and when they are called to do so by the shepherds according to Church Law.
10) Ecumenical Rapprochement
27. Recently, and especially after Vatican II, the Church has witnessed many ecumenical initiatives whose aim is to strengthen the relations among Christians, to spread the spirit of mutual love and cooperation, and to remove many of the barriers which have prevented their communion. This new approach has been disseminated into both secular and religious quarters, especially the youth. This is a source of great hope for it will lead us all to follow the path of longed-for unity and would help us witness together to the one mission of Christ and to his gospel.
11) A Church with a Marian Dimension
28. The Church’s Marian dimension falls within the signs of hope due to the fact that Mary, by carrying Christ, carried hope. Moreover, this dimension is also due to the place Mary occupies in the official Maronite prayers, the Syriac theological heritage, the public devotions, the apostolic movements, and the Marian Sodalities. There are many books that address this topic; therefore, there is no need to develop it here. However, it is worth noting here the constant and repeated references to the Virgin Mary in all the hymnals of the daily office prayers, and also at the end of each prayer, as though She were praying alongside the community: “Mary, your Mother, intercedes with you on our behalf, along with the prophets, apostles, and martyrs.” The praying community is distinguished by the intercession of Mary saying: “Your prayer is with us, O Mother of God, your prayer is with us. May God have mercy on us and forgive us through your prayers.” The community believes that Mary accompanies them. Therefore, they call on her: “O soft-hearted Mother of God, O treasure of Mercy and of help,
you are our refuge and our hope,
even though your body is distant from us
your prayers accompany us.”
Seeking Mary’s help is a common practice as is her veneration. The continuous mention of her name is familiar to the lips and to the ears. She occupies a very large portion of the Maronite hymnals, the prayers of the Liturgical Year, and the daily office prayers both in prose and in poems. It is worth remembering here what the late Patriarch Elias Hoyek said on the occasion of the inauguration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa:
“Yes, the storms are building up above our heads. However, the Virgin who guarded the mountain until today will keep doing so. As soldiers during the night before a battle transmit to each other the password so that they would not fall victim to the enemy’s traps, so we too should do the same. Let us transmit our password of hope which is no other than ‘the Virgin Mary.’”
Third: Horizons of Hope
29. The signs of hope are more to be focused on than the signs of restlessness, deception, and despair. Signs of hope represent a thorough basis for forecasting the future with confidence and for both individually and collectively facing future challenges. A collective ecclesial commitment guarantees the dissipation of all fears. Christ the Lord has already promised his Church that the gates of hell will not subdue her. Any specific Church, who wants to benefit from this promise, would have to live up to her identity with all of her members at all levels.
The present Patriarchal Synod should be considered an essential stage in the life of our Church. It provides us with the intellectual and practical means to continue the project of revival in the Church, a project that has been entrusted to us. This strengthens our hope, without which we will have no future. Hope is commitment and commitment is evidence of the trustworthiness of hope. Our commitment as a Church is to continue the march of the Synod at all levels, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and on the blessings, graces, and talents that God has granted us so that we can fulfill the responsibilities that He has entrusted to us.
30. The Synod has made evident to us the importance of working collectively and has developed in us a new ecclesial mentality that needs to be generalized. Returning back to the original meaning of the word “Church,” resorting to the spirit of collaboration, praying, and depending on God, gathering and investing in resources in a way that would lead to the benefit of the community of believers and to the achievement of its mission, would give us the strength to withstand the difficulties and consolidate our hope in God’s promises. However, we have to be convinced that collective ecclesial work requires great sacrifices, some of which are: abandoning all kinds of selfishness and adopting the position that Christ asked of his followers, “he among you who wishes to be the greatest must serve the rest, and he who loses his life for my sake in this world will gain it for eternal life.” These requirements provide the follower with happiness and peace of mind for he is working in God’s Name for the sake of his Church. The success of the Church is her members’ success. Accordingly, ecclesial communal work brings great benefits to those who perform it.
31. “Stay with us.”
The disciples of Emmaus responded with this expression after Christ explained to them the meaning of his suffering, death, and resurrection, thus opening their minds to understand the Scriptures, and, also after the setback that they had suffered, rekindling in their hearts the torch of love and of hope. This same expression was used by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical in the year of the Eucharist. He wanted it to be an act of faith in the continuous presence of Christ in his Church in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist. This expression may also represent the call of the
However, it is the other expression that Christ may also want to address to the children of the Church: “Stay with Me.” To beseech Christ to remain with us requires us to be and to remain with him. That is what he is asking of us: “Remain in me and I in you… whoever remains in me and I in him bears many fruits, for without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:4-5).
This is the lesson of our history and the source of our hope: The stronger and firmer our Church in Christ, even to the point of martyrdom, the easier she has passed through difficulties and tribulations, and bore fruits of holiness, progress, and renewal because Christ’s rising from the dead is her hope and her refuge.
This is also the call for the future, which is well-rooted in the history that the Church lived with Christ and he has never let her down. Accordingly, the Patriarchal Synod, in its texts and its recommendations, is a test for the Church; if she accepts it and implements it, it would be a source of renaissance and of hope; and if she does not it will not be able to help in the journey of renewal.
Conclusion: Gratitude and Joy
32. The Maronite Church, following in Mary’s footsteps, has to be grateful to God for all the graces He has accorded to her and for all the blessings that He has bestowed upon her. We give thanks for all the believers, young and old, and for the administrators at all levels. All of these blessings have helped the
Recalling the Church’s ecclesial past is also recalling God’s trust and promises. In spite of the tragic periods in the Maronite ecclesial history, God never in any of these periods has let Her down. Therefore, the recalling of the Maronite ecclesial history is an important source of hope and should be brought to the attention of new generations so that through this hope they may approach the new world. One of the Latin bishops, after visiting Qannoubine and becoming acquainted with the life of the patriarchs who resided in the
This talk is not a matter of dreams; it is at the level of an ambitious hope founded on a strong faith, which has been a major resource in the past and now represents the solid basis for the present and a refreshing source for the future.
There have lately been different attempts of seeking inspiration from the past in search for authentic Maronite ascetic spirituality that can help to foster the best Christian commitment in today’s world. The Spirit of God is still at work in the Church for her renewal and for her revival in hope. He is only waiting for a response and the giving of thanks to the One who would renew the face of the earth.
Hope, however, especially hope of the Church beside the fact that it is a grace from God is an ecclesial responsibility to which every Church member should contribute as much as he has received it from Christ, the source of hope.
In its deepest meaning, hope is the basis of joy; and both are fruits of the Spirit. “The