By Monsignor Robert Aucoin
"When I first saw the reference to http://www.maroniteinstitute.org, I guessed that this was just another Marian site that I would visit some other time. Then, I realized that the reference was to mari, not Mary. Curiosity got the better of me forcing me to check right away. What an interesting discovery!
"Some readers may be familiar with the Maronite Rite; in fact, some may belong to the Maronite Rite as do many in our diocese in the villages of Tupper Lake, Watertown and Carthage.
"The Maronite Rite is one of rites of the Catholic Church that we commonly refer to as the "Eastern Rites" or the "Eastern Catholic Churches."
"The roots of these rites can be traced back to the early centuries of the Church when Christians in various parts of the East and West formed their own traditions, especially liturgical practices, while maintaining unity in dogmatic teaching.
"At times in history, unfortunately, there were breaks in communion when certain teachings were not accepted in some regions. We refer to this latter group as "orthodox," while those who kept communion with Rome are referred to as "uniates."
"The Maronites, who have always been in communion with Rome, find themselves in this latter group.
"Maronites are principally located in Lebanon where there are ten dioceses, but there are also dioceses in other countries including two in the United States.
"maroniteinstitute.org is the web page for the Maronite Research Institute, hence the name "mari", located in Washington, D.C., and its Journal of Maronite Studies.
"The opening page is quite stunning filled with images familiar to those of the Maronite tradition. The images are links to the articles in the current issues of the Journal of Maronite Studies.
" There is one link to a very interesting CD, liturgical hymns for the Maronite wedding ceremony.
"How refreshing it would be if there were such a CD for Roman Rite wedding ceremonies so that couples could have an opportunity to listen to the wealth of beautiful liturgical music available for their wedding ceremony.
" Almost hidden away on the homepage is a link to previous issues. A simple click reveals the front covers for the four annual issues of 1997, 1998, and 1999.
"Each issue has six or seven articles all dealing with topics of interest to Maronites. However, everyone can profit by some of these articles because they open up a section of Catholic history and tradition so very unknown to us of the West.
"One issue had a very interesting article about church and politics for Maronites especially as they lived along side those of the Muslim tradition. Essays such as this one help us gain some insight on the struggles existing in so many countries where religious traditions and governing bodies are closely tied together.
Admirers of icons will discover an article about this unique art form which, according to the author, is: "prayer in line and form; a hymn of praise in color and harmony, a work of beauty inspired by God, and offering of the soul painted to adorn the Church."
"In addition to the many fine articles, readers will also enjoy some excellent book and CD reviews.
"I would recommend readers to spend some time at this web site. It was especially fascinating since I was so unfamiliar with the richness and depth of the Maronite tradition. A greater appreciation of the universality of the Catholic Church can be the end result of time spent here."
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