What it Means to be Maronite: Spiritual Roots

By His Excellency, Bishop Gregory J. Mansour
When I meet someone from the Middle East for the first time they usually ask me where I am from. I say I was born in the United States and so were my parents, but my four grandparents were from Ehden, Lebanon, Damour, Lebanon, Damascus, Syria and Tibneen, Lebanon. The families from Ehden and Damour migrated to Nazareth, in what is now Israel, over the course of three hundred years. My ancestral roots are Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese and American!
Our ancestry is important, but our identity and our spiritual roots are much deeper than the location of our ancestors, the language we speak and our ethnic background. We can be Maronite Catholic because of ancestry, the choice of our parents, or because we made the choice ourselves as adults. But no matter how we became Maronite, by virtue of our involvement with this beautiful Church, we are responsible for Her care and well being. There are seven traits of Maronites that can help to define who we are and who we ought to be.
First, Saint Maron, the spiritual father of the Maronite Church, went beyond all measure in his love for Christ. He was an “open-air” hermit, subjecting himself to the sufferings caused by the weather. He made himself available to God and to others while spending his days and nights in fasts and vigils. While he sought only solitude, others sought him for spiritual help. As a priest he was intimately connected to the life of the Church, his life was fulfilled by his service to others and he gave the totality of his being in this noble service.

Second, Maronites from the very beginning were bridge builders. Abraham,
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