Tag: Christians

In Lebanon, Muslims and Christians visit Marian shrine at Harissa

In Lebanon, Muslims and Christians visit Marian shrine at Harissa

HARISSA, Lebanon (CNS) — High on a summit overlooking the Mediterranean, Our Lady of Lebanon stands majestically with her arms outstretched, welcoming her children.

Muslims and Christians alike come to the shrine, 16 miles north of Beirut.

To Muslims, Mary is known in Arabic as “Seidatna Maryam,” Our Lady Mary. Even though Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, in the Quran, a chapter is devoted to Maryam.

In Lebanon, the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, is celebrated by Christians and Muslims as a national holiday.

Some Muslims come to Harissa for tourism to enjoy the spectacular views from the shrine’s 1,886-foot summit, and some Muslims even visit its churches to pray, said Maronite Father Younen Obeid, rector of Harissa.

“It depends on each person. But for sure, all of them have a big respect for Mary,” he said of the Muslim visitors.

At times, one can see as many Muslim pilgrims in Harissa as Christian. Thousands of Muslim pilgrims come from Iran each year, for example.

During the Marian month of May, the shrine receives about 1 million visitors, Father Obeid said. For Lebanese, particularly Maronite Catholics who have a deep devotion to Mary, this May pilgrimage is an annual tradition.

Marie Rose Hajj Boutros, a Maronite Catholic, has fond childhood memories of her parents taking her and her four siblings to Harissa several times each month.

“You find peace here,” Hajj Boutros, 45, told Catholic News Service during a visit to the shrine with her Bible study group. “It’s like you are under the Virgin’s mantle, under her protection. When you come to Harissa, you feel like your problem will be solved.”

As part of the Bible study group’s annual May pilgrimage, the eight ladies first prayed the rosary, offering intentions for their families, Lebanon, the Middle East and the world. They then climbed the 103 spiraling steps — with a guitar in tow — to sing Marian hymns in English at the feet of the Blessed Mother.

“As soon as we started singing, a bird flew over the Virgin’s crown and a cloud enveloped us,” Hajj Boutros recounted. “It was beautiful. For us, it was a symbol of the presence of God.”

Hajj Boutros relayed how a group of Muslim teenagers, visiting the shrine as part of a school trip, “listened intently to our hymns.”

“It’s nice to see how Our Lady can unite us, Christian and Muslim. She’s the mother of us all,” Hajj Boutros said.

The shrine’s origins trace to 1904, when Maronite Catholic Patriarch Elias El-Hoyek and the Vatican nuncio to Lebanon decided to commission a token of devotion to Mary on the 50th anniversary of the dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. The statue was consecrated in May 1908.

The statue, molten bronze painted white, was crafted in Lyon, France. It is 27.8 feet high, 18 feet wide. The stone base, or pedestal, is 65.6-feet high, with steps spiraling up to the statue. Many Christian pilgrims leave their shoes at the foot of the pedestal and make their way up barefoot, as a sacrifice.

One 21-year-old Sunni Muslim university student from Beirut, who identified herself only as Zeina, visited Harissa for the second time in May with her Maronite Catholic friend, Charbel Eid, who introduced her to the shrine less than a month earlier.

“This time I suggested it, but Charbel brought me here,” Zeina said, expressing their mutual desire to be at Harissa. Zeina asked that CNS not publish her name because her family is not aware that she is dating a Christian.

“My family is very traditional,” she said.

Dressed in a hijab, color-coordinated with her T-shirt, Zeina said that during this visit, she entered the Mother of Light Chapel at the base of the statue’s pedestal.

“I felt a little awkward at first, but the people there weren’t bothered at all by my presence, and that made me feel comfortable,” she said.

“Honestly, I came here to pray and to ask many things of Maryam al Aadra (the Virgin Mary). I asked her to protect the people I love and to make clear for me the way I should go. I prayed at her feet,” Zeina said.

“I lit a candle for the first time,” she proudly added. “I hope what I came here for will happen and that I can stay positive.”

Eid said he considers Mary “the most important person in my life,” and he visits Harissa frequently. “When I’m sad, I come here. When I’m happy also,” he said.

Most Christian pilgrims come to Harissa “to pray about their troubles or problems, to ask the Virgin Mary for something, to give thanks, to cry,” said Father Obeid.

Many go to Mass and to Confession. Nine priests staff Harissa for the sacraments and for spiritual direction, and the shrine offers an extensive Mass schedule, with ongoing confessions: on weekdays, seven Masses and 18 hours of confession; on Sundays, 12 Masses and 20 hours of confession. Harissa is open 24 hours, every day.

During a special Mass June 12 in Harissa’s basilica — which seats 3,000 people — Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, will reconsecrate Lebanon to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Cardinal Rai has renewed the consecration there each year since the first time he consecrated the country, June 13, 2013.

Baptize in the Name of . . . Who?

Baptize in the Name of . . . Who?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in passage 1240 that a legitimate form for administering baptism is “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  But for a few Protestants, for example, Oneness Pentecostals, this Trinitarian recipe doesn’t coordinate what the Bible needs to state about baptism. They guarantee that submersion ought to be managed only “in the name of Jesus.”

For help, they advance to sections like Acts 2:38, where Peter says, “Apologize, and be absolved all of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the pardoning of your wrongdoings; and you will get the endowment of the Holy Spirit” (accentuation included). Different sections incorporate Acts 8:14-16 (with reference to those in Samaria who had gotten the Word of God), 10:48 (with reference to Cornelius and his Gentile companions), and 19:5 (with reference to adherents to Ephesus).

Sections like these offer ascent to a genuine inquiry: Why is the Church saying that we can purify through water with the Trinitarian equation when every one of the baptisms referenced in the Bible is done “for the sake of Jesus”?

Here are few different ways to address this difficulty.

Initial, a self-proclaimed Christian can’t reject the legitimacy of the Trinitarian equation since Jesus directions the messengers to utilize it when they absolve: “Go in this manner and make pupils everything being equal, sanctifying through water them for the sake of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). The individuals who represent the test, along these lines, at any rate need to recognize that the Trinitarian recipe is legitimate since it originates from the lips of the Master himself.

Second, when contrasted with Jesus’ instruction to utilize the Trinitarian recipe in Matthew 28:19, the sections found in the book of Acts don’t appear to allude to the actual formula that must be utilized in regulating the holy observance.

Notice how in Matthew 28:19 Jesus is secretly tending to just the eleven (Matt. 28:16), whom he is sending to perform baptisms. In setting, it bodes well that Jesus would let them know precisely how to do it.

Balance this with, for instance, Peter’s order in Acts 2. That happens in an open setting and is given to the individuals who would receive baptism—not to the individuals who might perform it. It would not appear to be as fundamentally imperative for those getting the holy observance to know the exact equation with respect to those performing it, isn’t that so?

Also, Peter’s order isn’t planned. Rather, he is rapidly counting what must be done to be spared in light of those present who, after hearing his proclaiming, were “slice to the heart” and asked him, “Brethren, what will we do?” (v.37). It’s nonsensical to surmise that Peter would give exact guidelines as to the words that must be utilized in sanctification when he’s only saying, “You need to be spared? Alright, here are the things you have to do—apologize and get absolved.”

Jesus’ direction to purify through water in Matthew 28:19 is likewise distinct from Peter’s order for Cornelius to be immersed “for the sake of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48). As upon the arrival of Pentecost, Luke records what Peter says to the individuals who might get sanctification, not the individuals who might control it.

Likewise, Luke does not record what Peter said explicitly. He only describes in outline shape: “And he [Peter] told them to be purified through water for the sake of Jesus Christ.” It doesn’t appear that Luke plans to state that the words “for the sake of Jesus” were Peter’s guidelines for the real words to be utilized in regulating baptism.

The other “for the sake of Jesus” passages (Acts 8:14-16; 19:5) is much additionally expelled from the idea of Jesus’ directions in Matthew 28:19. Truth be told, they aren’t directions by any stretch of the imagination.

Each case is simply a passing reference to the way that some were purified through water: “They had just been immersed for the sake of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:14-16); “they were absolved for the sake of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). It’s impossible that such superficial comments were implied as an explanation of the correct words that were utilized for those sanctifications.

On the off chance that the expression “for the sake of Jesus” doesn’t refer to the baptismal formula in the above sections, at that point what does it allude to? A sensible elucidation is that the early Church utilized “for the sake of Jesus” to recognize Christian sanctification from other contemporary kinds of baptism, for example, Johannine baptism, the absolutions among the Qumran sectaries, and even Jewish ceremonial washings.

Baptisms were not selective to Christians. This is self-evident, given the baptisms of contrition that John the Baptist directed (Matt. 3:13-14, 21:25; Acts 1:22, 10:37). Sanctification was additionally a typical practice among the Qumran people group, which tried to join purging, contrition, and the desire for the Spirit (see Ezekiel 36:25-27) in genuine baptisms (cf. 1QS 3:6– 9; 1QH 11:12– 14).

Indeed, even the Jewish formal washings could be viewed as a baptism of sorts. For instance, in Luke 11:37-38 the Pharisees welcome Jesus to eat with him, and Luke discloses to us that the Pharisees were “flabbergasted to see that he [Jesus] did not first wash before supper.” The Greek word for “wash” is baptizō.

Likewise, in Mark 7 we’re informed that when the Pharisees come back from the commercial center, they don’t eat except if they first “filter” (Greek, baptisontai) themselves (v.3). Different customs include the “washing” (Greek, baptismous) of containers and vessels (v.4). So Jewish stately washings could be considered as a kind of “sanctification.”

With the various baptisms being performed at the season of Christ, and with the Jewish custom “baptismal” washings, there would be a need to recognize the Christian holy observance of sanctification—”for the sake of Jesus”— from all these different sorts of absolutions.

We see this happen in Acts 19, where Paul approaches new professors in Ephesus and inquires as to whether they had gotten the Holy Spirit. The new devotees react to the request, “No, we have never at any point heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (v.2). Paul at that point asks, “Into what at that point were you sanctified through water?” The Ephesian devotees react, “Into John’s submersion” (v.3).

Paul answers by articulating the distinction between John’s baptism and the baptism of Jesus (v.4), and sanctifies through water them “for the sake of Jesus” (v.5). In light of the specific situation, “for the sake of Jesus” means that they were baptized into Jesus with Jesus’ baptism and not John’s.

We discover something comparative in the Didache, a first-century Christian questioning (around A.D. 70-90). In section seven, it gives the Trinitarian equation as the words to use for baptism. And afterward in section nine, it alludes back to that equivalent baptism as absolution “for the sake of the Lord” (9,5). In this way, for the early Christians, absolution “for the sake of the Lord” meant Trinitarian baptism.

The last thing that we can say in reaction to this test is that Paul’s discussion with the Ephesian adherents to Acts 19 insights at the way that the Trinitarian recipe was in reality a typical equation utilized in the early Church. Note how when the adherents to Ephesus advise Paul that they had never known about the Holy Spirit, Paul promptly asks, “Into what at that point were you sanctified through water?” (v.3).

The suggestion is that on the off chance that they had been sanctified through water with the absolution of Jesus and not just with the baptism of John, they would have found out about the Holy Spirit. This recommends the early Christians were utilizing the Trinitarian equation when they purified through water. You can’t experience a Christian absolution and never catch wind of the Holy Spirit!

Along these lines, not exclusively do the “for the sake of Jesus” passages fail to demonstrate that “for the sake of Jesus” is the valid form to use for baptism, yet there is great scriptural proof that the Trinitarian recipe is the valid formula for managing the holy observance.