We enjoyed several days of prayer and visiting with friends at the National Shrine to Our Lady of Lebanon, North Jackson, Ohio in celebration of the Dormition (Assumption) of the Mother of God.
The pilgrimage began on Saturday evening, August 13, with a Divine Liturgy of the Roman Rite celebrated by Fr. Eric Orzech, Pastor of the Shrine of St. Stanislaus in Cleveland, Ohio, followed by a candlelit procession and blessing with the Icon of Our Lady of Lebanon.
On both Saturday and Sunday nights, we spent time in prayer, adoration and fellowship with the MYO of the parish with their Excellencies, Bishop Elias Zaidan and Bishop Gregory Mansour also in attendance. Both Bishops spoke to the teens on the role of Our Blessed Mother in our everyday lives and they emphasized especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, how Mary is the conduit of God’s mercy and grace in our lives. Do not be afraid to run to the Blessed Mother. Like a good mother, she is always there to nurture, guide and support us, her beloved children.
Sunday, August 14, we were blessed to celebrate a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, offered by His Excellency, Archbishop William C. Skurla, Bishop of the Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, PA. Following Divine Liturgy, the Byzantine Tradition has a very beautiful ritual of burying the Mother of God on the vigil of her Dormition, a ritual they call the “Funeral of the Theotokos, the Ever-Virgin Mary”. We processed behind the tomb and shroud of the Virgin Mary, which was later placed in the chapel for all to venerate.
On the day of the Feast of the Assumption, Monday August 15, the Maronite Servants led the rosary with the faithful in the chapel every hour or so in the afternoon. We were also able to meet and greet hundreds of pilgrims that came from various places such as Utica, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Brooklyn, to name a few.
In the evening, Bishop Elias Zaidan and a number of other bishops and clergy celebrated the Maronite Pontifical Liturgy outside beside the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon. The Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon has been designated as an official site of pilgrimage during this Jubilee Year of Mercy with the Holy Door just outside the Prince of Peace Minor Basilica. In his homily, Bishop Zaidan emphasized that we should be running through this Holy Door like a child running towards its parents, and know with confidence that Jesus and Mary are there to meet us on the other side.
The Liturgy was followed by a well attended candlelight procession around the entire shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, with a great number in attendance. The procession concluded with a beautiful display of fireworks above the shrine, and festivities in the Cedars Hall.
We remembered you in our prayers during these holy days of pilgrimage at the Shrine. Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us.