Symbols in Our Church
This Church is dedicated to the Mother Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Lebanon. The Community of Faith is of the Catholic Church from the Antiochene-Maronite Rite. In the Catholic Church there are over 21 different rites all united in the one communion of faith. Their evolution is rooted in the cities of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople. A RITE is a Community of Faith having a separate theological, spiritual, and liturgical tradition which was founded upon an Apostle who converted its people with their own distinct culture and life style to Jesus Christ. Each rite is autonomous and yet shares the same faith, sacraments, and priesthood in the Church and is in full communion with the Holy See.
The Maronite Rite takes its foundations from the city of Antioch, Syria, where St. Peter preached the Gospel. The origins of the Maronite Church can be traced to St. Maron and his disciples. St. Maron, who lived in the 4th century, converted the Christians of that part of the world. He was a priest and hermit who lived a monastic life. Soon after Maron’s death, a monastery was built to perpetuate his ideals. Having as many as 800 monks at one time, this monastery became the principle center of pastoral and spiritual activity in the area.
The style and structure of this Church, dedicated to the glory of the Loving God and the service of our fellowman, are meant to express the living traditions of this ancient Antiochene-Maronite Rite.
Nave (Church Proper)
The diamond-shape nave reminds the believer that God has brought reconciliation and hope to the four corners of the universe.
At the west entrance are circular, a symbol representing the total perfection, fullness, and eternity of the Hidden God.
On each wall there are three windows to symbolize the God of Mystery who reveals Himself as Creator-Savior-Healer.
The arch shape signifies the Life which comes from God and returns to God.
The tinted glass rather than the stained glass allows the community to look outdoors and encounter creation of which it is a part.
Since all mankind is made in the image of its Creator and since the Spirit of Life dwells in the universe, everything is being drawn into the glory of the kingdom.
The fusion of natural light into the Church develops the theme of Jesus the Light of the world.
The wing-shaped roof shelters the believer under the shadow of God’s wing and reminds him of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
The tent-like effect reminds the community that they are a pilgrim people on their journey to the eternal dwelling place with God.God is the Lover of mankind who pitches his tent among men and lives with them forever in the person of Jesus.
“He serves as high priest in the Most Holy Place, that is, in the real tent which was put up by the Lord, not by man.”
Hebrews 8, 2
The roof rises from 17 feet to 30 feet so that as the community draws nearer to the “Holy of Holies,” the believer raises up his entire person in praise and offering to God leaving all earthly cares aside.
(Holy of Holies) is situated in the east to capture the brilliance of the rising sun, the symbol of the Son of God who is the Eternal Light dispelling the darkness of the world.
“Jesus, Fountain of divine illumination, may your light shine forth to help our adoration.”
The Table of Worship is made of granite rock, shaped like a chalice which is used to celebrate the Divine Mysteries. The permanence and stability of a rock recall the words of the Psalmist:
“You are my Rock, my Redeemer, my Stronghold.”
The two wood niches serve to house the WORD OF GOD in the Book of the Scriptures (left), and the WORD OF GOD in the Sacrament of the Eucharist (right).
These two sources of Christian nourishment find their meeting point in the altar of sacrifice. The Peacocks, inside the niches, are an eastern symbol of resurrection.
The two burning lamps remind all of the presence of Jesus in Word and Sacrament.
The pulpit is the stand which holds the Word of God before whom all mankind stands in judgment. It, as well as all the other liturgical appointments, and simplicity of the monastic life style of our Founding Father, St. Maron, the monk.
Archangel Michael is to the right of the altar. The scroll in his hand is the Qadeeshat. The scroll reads “Holy are you, O God, Holy are you O Strong One, Holy are you O Immortal One.” The scroll under Michael reads “This is my Body.”
Archangel Gabriel is to the left of the altar. The scroll in his hand is the Qadeeshat. The scroll reads “Holy are you, O God, Holy are you O Strong One, Holy are you O Immortal One.” The scroll under Gabriel reads “This is my Blood”
The fans were used many years ago for processions such as the gospel and the chalice. They are being re-introduced again in some parishes. The deacons used to wave the fans at the consecration and the epiklisis so the bells would make noise. The sun and the moon are on each fan from the Rabulla Gospel book. Some have angel faces on them like the Byzantines.
The processional cross is a version of the Rabbula cross with a few extra decorations on it.
The marble flooring is actually a rose color. It was used to contrast the dark grey and maroon of the altar so it would be better visible.
Stained Glass Window
The oval shape in the Eastern Church motif serves as the backdrop for the sanctuary.The figure is that of Jesus Christ seated as Teacher at the right hand of the Father. The Lamb of God fulfills the hopes and prophesies of the Book of Revelation: “To the Lamb who is sitting on the throne, be praise, honor and glory” Rev. 5
The mountains beneath His feet remind the viewer that Christ is the Risen Lord of the universe who draws all to glory.
The two trees represent the new life of the Garden of Paradise made available to the believer.
The red triple arch recalls the many Mansions in the Father’s House which are promised to those who are saved.
The right hand of Christ is raised in blessing upon his followers.
“The source of life-giving gifts which descended upon the Apostles…”
The open scroll in the left hand recalls how the Glorified Lord, who is the victor over death…
“is worthy to take the scroll and break its seal, because with His blood He bought back men for God of every race, language, and nation.” Rev. 5, 9-10
The Syriac script reads: “I am the way, the truth and the life” Jn. 14, 6
The robes of Christ bear colors of significance for the Syriac Church. The blue garment reflects the celestial color depicting the divinity of the Son of God. The outer purple robe depicts the royalty which belongs to Jesus, Son of Mary, who was of the House of David from whom was to come, the Messiah.
The blue-brown carpeting is a deliberate color scheme reflection that of the Syriac tradition. The earthly tone (brown) and the heavenly tone (blue) are joined together to remind the community of in incarnation of Jesus. For He unites God and man once for all in Himself, Son of God and Son of Mary.
”You have united your divinity with our humanity and our humanity with your divinity. You have assumed what is ours and have given us what is yours for our life and salvation.”
The space reserved for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is near the sacristy. It is designed to allow for the private form of the Sacrament. However, if the penitent chooses to set with the priest, the wall slides back to allow for the new rite of the Sacrament.
St. Maron Mosaic
St. Maron was the Founder of the Maronite Church. The mosaic depicts him holding the Scriptures as he proclaims the Good New to his people
. The Cross of Antioch on the cover is a symbol of the three persons (Father, Son, and Spirit-horizontal bars) in one God (vertical bar).
He wears the stole of priesthood around his neck, In the background a pagan temple, which Maron dedicated as a Christian Church, is illustrated.
The Orontes River along which he lived, and the mountains of northeast Syria (which became Lebanon) to which the persecuted Christians fled for refuge, is shown.
St. Sharbel Mosaic
St Sharbel was canonized among the ranks of the saints by Pope Paul VI. Following the in the monastic life style of Maron,
He nurtured his spiritual life through the reading of Scripture, the celebration of the Holy Mysteries, and the devotion to Mary, Mother of the Light, Illustrated in the respective symbols on his stole.
Our Lady of Elige
This beautiful icon, also known as Our Lady of the Maronites depicts the Virgin Mother supporting on her lap, the Child of her womb, Jesus Christ (a favorite theme of St. Ephrem.) It was discovered at the Patriarchal Church of Elige, Lebanon and is dated around the 10th Century. After uncovering several diverse pictorial layers, this icon has been revealed and marks an historic event in the history of Syro-Maronite iconography. This painting continues the tradition initiated by the RABBULA manuscript of the 6th Century.
The antiquity and authenticity of this icon seem to supported and verified by the following elements: the colors of Mary’s robes (deep blue) and Christ’s (deep purple) are faithful to Syriac tradition dating to the 6th Century. Blue (sky tone) signifies divinity, and purple (kingly) signifies royalty. The halos of both figures are a simple wide band (gold) typical of Syriac iconograph and free of Byzantine influence, namely a cross in Christ’s halo and lettering for the “Mother of God” in the Lady’s. The profession of faith made by the symbolic form of blessing of Jesus’ right hand, i.e. three fingers joined (to signify the three Persons in one God), and the index and other finger (signify that Christ is God and man.) What is not visible in His left hand is typical scroll which Jesus holds (refers to Isaiah in the OT and Revelations in the NT.) Moreover, the Lady’s right hand declares the same Chalcedonian formula of faith-the duality of Christ’s natures-divine and human.
As is typical in Syriac icons, the Virgin Mother’s hair is completely concealed and covered by the headband worn in the Semitic culture. The two star-like symbols on Mary’s head and shoulder represent her enduring virginity before and after Christ’s birth. According to St. Ephrem, “the First Eve by her ‘hearing’ of the serpent gave the world death; the Second Eve, by her’hearing’ of the angel gave the world LIFE.”
The facial features of both figures (Syriac Orient) reveal the delicate, gentle and transparent divine presence. Art of the Latin West depicts the faces mostly human, while that of the Byzantine East, mostly divine.
NAM, National Apostolate of Maronites