Sunday, July 31, 2016

Maronite Year LXIII

The Maronite Catholic Church began, of course, as a religious movement, heavily focused on ascetic life, inspired by St. Maron (or Maroun), who was an open-air hermit in the mountains. One of the major centers for this movement was the monastery of Bet Maroun, which grew to have several hundred monks. Given the nature of the region in which the movement thrived, it is difficult to get any precise historical information about it. However, apparently in the early sixth century, the monks of the region had a brief correspondence with Pope St. Hormisdas. The primary struggle of Hormisdas's papacy was over the Acacian schism, which had been caused by the Emperor Zeno's issuing of a document, the Henoticon, attempting to force a compromise between the Monophysites and the Chalcedonians. Decades later, when Hormisdas came to the papal throne, the schism was still a problem, and Hormisdas himself strongly advocated a noncompromising position, and he asked for public declarations in the East in favor of the Council of Chalcedon and the letters of Pope St. Leo I. This seems to have been the occasion for the correspondence; the monks wrote a letter affirming their support of Chalcedonian orthodoxy, in which they told of monasteries having been burned and three hundred and fifty monks martyred by Monophysites, requesting his assistance and protection.

The Feast of the 350 Martyrs, Disciples of St. Maron
Romans 16:17-20; Luke 11:49-54

For the sake of Your holy name, the martyrs fought,
Lord, not with sword but with grace and holy patience,
and in all places You exalt their victory.

Beneath their feet You will crush the Adversary;
faith, hope, and love guided them to the paths of life,
for they were loyal to truth and did not waver.

As their death was pleasing sacrifice in Your sight,
may their memory be protection to Your flock,
and their prayers a shield for Your chosen people.

Through them, the unfathomable riches of Christ,
the treasuries of divine wisdom, rain on us,
according to the eternal purpose of God.

O Three Hundred Fifty martyrs! Great is your faith!
When our Lord Christ called you to follow, you followed,
and God's grace, like a mother, sustained you in death.

Pray for us, O martyrs, that we may be worthy
to celebrate your feast and join your holy choir,
giving great honor with you to Christ the martyr.

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