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Maronites of Lebanon, History, religions, sects, confessions

 

 
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Maronites of Lebanon, History, religions, sects, confessions
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Introduction

"The Lebanese Communities are not only close human agglomerations of different religions, sects and confessions, "coexisting" harmoniously, as it appears at the first sight. They are rather, like mosaic pieces with varied hues and shapes within one frame. These Communities are intertwined laces forming the Lebanese weave, a weave whose elements are unified in their plurality".

Man alone among all living and breathing creatures is composed of three temporal dimensions, besought by his mind, felt by his body and sensations and envisioned by his dreams. Thus, if he looses any one of them, he looses thereby the very truthfulness of his entity.

The human being survives through his Past, not in the sense of an inert sanctified recollection, but in the sense of deeper entrenchment in time and space, which will form the framework of his living and dynamic Present. Man is also the son of the Future, not in the sense of detachment and transcendence, but rather, in the sense of prospection and expectation; he raids it with his wishful dreamy mind and his willingness to strive, survive and continue then ever. He takes from the Past his birth certificate and the features of his identity; he then carves in the Present the attestation of his existence, as he moulds his overcrossing passport from the Future. All three together, Past, Present, Future, form History with its actualities, interactions and lessons; this History is not merely narrated events, but the outcome of a dialectic between cause and effect, between what was, what is and what would be. In this regard, history becomes the memory of the Past, the act of the Present and the will of the Future. The people who do not show such understanding of their History ignore the essence of their existence in its three dimensional framework and, thus, become like a man who has lost the qualitative essence of his existence to delve into a purely materialistic context and, as such, transforms from an all-knowing, all-present and all willing human being into a vegetative creature.

This brief study of the History of the Maronites is not meant to be nothing more a simple narrative about the life of the sons of St. Maron, with reference to the magisterial studies, researches and valuable anthologies that have brought a better understanding of the Maronite History, but also, a means to highlight three particular objectives:

-First: Introducing a brief and systematic account of the History of the Maronites, tightly woven within a clear temporal context. This review will constitute an important part of the general History of Lebanon and especially that of the Middle East.

- Second: Deducing the constants of the Maronites' History throughout their existence, and their mutual interactions with their physical and human environment, and in particular, showing the effective role of the Maronites Patriarchate ever since its establishment in 685, a role which has continued over the last thirteen centuries.

-Third: Contributing to a better understanding of the History and Heritage of Lebanon, it being born in mind that the History of the Maronites is integral to the History of Lebanon, and that their heritage is deeply rooted in the Lebanese culture which derives its characteristics and specificities from its soil.

Thus, our writing the History of the Maronites with this new perspective could be a good incentive for others to write the History of other Lebanese communities which also have contributed to the constitution of the nation.

The communities we refer to, are not only close human agglomerations of different religions, sects and confessions, "coexisting" harmoniously, as it may appear at the first sight. They are, rather, like mosaic pieces with varied hues and shapes within one frame. These communities are intertwined strands forming the Lebanese weave; a weave whose elements are unified in their plurality. This plurality has enriched the Lebanese people and distinguished them through the ages. Moreover, it has constantly enabled them to carry a unique message among the peoples. This message is one of dialogue and the embodiment of interaction and brotherhood. This, in fact, is what His Holiness Pope John Paul II meant by asserting that "Lebanon I more than a country, it is a Message".

The land of Lebanon is not a void material surface, rather a "melting pot" where values of spirit and mind merge. Therefore, this book does not aim to create segregation, discrimination, alienation and hostility, feelings of superiority or inferiority, and fanatism. On the contrary, it is a quest for "beingness" which is conditioned by the understanding of the absolute self through the understanding of the individual self.

This "beingness" presupposes open-mindedness which is a way to both way to both dialogue and a path to closeness. All this is driven by a dynamic dialectic, which is "love". Teilhard de Chardin defines this "love": "the more we know, the closer we come to one another. "By the same logic, we say that if knowledge is love, then ignorance is enmity Also, Iman Ali Says: "People are enemies of what they do not know." Knowledge is the ally of truth, and ignorance the ally of falsehood. Knowledge liberates and ignorance enchains:" you will know the truth and the truth will make you free."

In this spirit, I hope that this book "the Maronites, History and Constants contributes to a better knowledge of the Maronites in themselves, and the Lebanese in the Maronites, for the sake of Lebanon, Land of People.

Antoine Khoury Harb

Antoine Emile Khoury Harb
The Maronites - History and Constants

Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:05 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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