Faith of the Mountain

A Catechism of the Catholic Chuch
according to the Antiochene Syriac Maronite Tradition

الْمَجْدُ لله Glory to God ܫܽܘܒܚܳܐ ܠܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ

A view of Wadi Qadisha, the Holy Valley of Lebanon The statue of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, Lebanon, at sunset

The mountain has always been an important place for encountering the holy in almost every religious tradition, but particularly in the Judeo-Christian narrative of God's self-revelation to human people. From Ararat to Golgotha, Divinity has spoken to humanity in love and self-gift, and every human person has been affirmed as beloved.

The mountain is also of particular importance to the Maronite Christian because it was to a mountain that Saint Maron withdrew for a life of strict asceticisim. To that mountain others followed him to learn from him and to form a particular community within the Antiochene Syriac Christian church. On a mountain later disciples of the community that grew up around Saint Maron founded a monastery, which became a spiritual center for the rural population of the area. In times of conflict within the Church, the Maronite community kept faithful to the Imperial Church, while their neighbors were often hostile. It was to the mountains that the Maronites fled in times of violent persecution from their neighbors, initially Christian and later Muslim. The Maronite Church continued to grow in the mountains of Lebanon for centuries. While Maronites can be found all over the world and many have no direct ties to Lebanon or Syria, most consider their home to be a mountain village, even if most of their life has been lived in a costal city or a foreign land.

The mountain is an image of majesty, of strength, of perseverence, of stability, of excellence, of endeavor. It is a fitting image for the faith of a Christian, the bedrock and foundation of the Christian's hope and love. It is this faith that we explore in catechesis in the Maronite Catholic Church. This faith that is expressed in various ways at various times, but is always an intimate, personal relationship with God and with our neighbor.

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