An Introduction to the Maronite Faith

Well, my eighth book has now been published, An Introduction to the Maronite Faith. Here is a link:

It is, as the titles suggests, an introduction. It is not advanced. There are no secrets of esoteric Christianity, or anything like that in here. It provides a basis, but it is an Eastern basis. I made a point of using no Western documents unless absolutely necessary, and even then, it was Bl. John Henry Newman above all (so great a soul that to omit him would have been impossible).

It features an explanation of the foundation of the faith, the reasons for belief (not the same as faith), and what the sources and authorities are. It then goes through all the essential points, and includes among them, what is called typology.

Typology is the understanding that what Our Lord did, and his institution of the sacraments is Reality (with a capital R) and is above history, and that what we see here in this world, peering through history, are shadows from that reality, or images in a mirror, reflecting Our Lord and his life. In the typological world, all water is an image of the water of creation, and the water in which Our Lord was baptised, and through it, you can reach to the holy dimension in which the creation took place. You feel the reality of that Reality.

So too, every infant is an image of the Infant Jesus, and somewhere in the encounter with the reality of that child, one can sense the presence of the Infant Jesus in that infant. Every woman is an image of the Virgin Mary, and deserving of respect for her sake, if for no other reason, and so on. One cannot live with such a realisation all day every day, but when it breaks through, it changes you. One nun I know, who teaches Liturgy at University told me that she had taught her students about the idea that the Holy Spirit is the “dewfall of divine grace.” One of her students, who had been out early one morning, told her that she would never look at dew the same way again. That indeed is the typological vision.

Typology plays a huge role in scripture and in our liturgy, but because it has not been well understood, it has been “dumbed down” to a way of interpreting the Bible by seeing the Old Testament as a prefiguration of the New Testament. That is part of it. True. But only a part. Typology is a way of perceiving, and ultimately, the person must change in order to be able to perceive the world as a network of images reflected from the Reality of the Lord.

In putting all this together, I had to use the New Testament and the original Syriac sources, especially St Ephrem and St Jacob of Serug. It was a challenge, but also a delight. Speaking of delights, the book is dedicated to Bishop Tarabay. Ad multos annos, he is a pleasure to work for and with.

Eventually, the faith will change the way we think, and the way we feel, and then it will have changed what and who we are.

Joseph Azize, 24 June 2017

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