Pope Benedict XVI’s Visit To Lebanon in Pictures

With the Pope leaving Lebanon on Sunday and those who had seizures caused by his three visit stay recovering, I figured it would be nice to have a chronicle of sorts for the visit.

These are pictures amassed from different sources, be it from Facebook friends who attended the festivities, BBC, Washington Post.

Day 1: Arrival to the airport and signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. 

Day 2: Meeting with Christian Youth at Bkerke (Les jeunes et le Pape à la Foi – cool play on words)

How Zaitunay Bay looked on day 2

Day 3: The Mass in Downtown Beirut and leaving Lebanon

The Case for Christian Easter Unity

What I'm celebrating

As I’m celebrating Easter Sunday today, Orthodox Christians are celebrating the day I had last week: Palm Sunday.

Following Palm Sunday, they’re going to have their own Holy Week, in which Jesus will go through what He went through this past week with Catholics, leading up to Him dying on the Cross yet again, before resurrecting.

That’s too much work for a deity in a couple of weeks, don’t you think? And quite redundant as well.

So I ask this. The fact that there are two Easters means that one may be right, the other may be wrong – or both may be wrong at that and Easter should be set at a totally different date altogether.

What Orthodox Christians are celebrating

I don’t want to go into who’s right and who’s wrong. That is besides the point. I don’t want Orthodox fanatics going all “Orthodox, Orthodox” on me, trying to prove they’ve got the correct Easter. And I don’t want Catholics to go all “holy Pope” in trying to prove theirs as well.

I also don’t want to hear about the various weather theories: it rained on our Good Friday, God must be on our side. It’s 2012 people.

There needs to be a credible approach towards setting a date for Easter that works for both sects, every year. I wouldn’t mind a twelve day vacation every time, as well.

If anything, being Christian is going beyond your pride, which I think is the only hurdle facing unifying Easter, and working towards the unity of the Church – at least when it comes to the crucification of Jesus.

Until then, Happy Easter to Catholics and have a great Palm Sunday, Orthodox people. Hopefully there will come a day where I can say Happy Easter to both every year, not on sporadic years where both Easters happen to be simultaneous.

He is risen.


The Most Memorable Good Friday Sermon of My Life

It was 2004.

I was almost 15 back then and sitting huddled next to the altar at my hometown’s old church which never fit all of us. It was also very cold.  It’s common for parishes to bring in priests for Easter week in order to present a new perspective to the congregation. The priest at the time was not out of touch with the popular feel spreading around.

So the priest stood there talking and I was tuning out, naturally. Until he said the following: “Jesus was a nominee.”

In case you didn’t pick up on it, 2004 was the year Star Academy was the “it” thing among everyone. “Yes, Jesus was a nominee – and what’s worse, he lost the voting to a criminal.”

The whole church’s attention was caught at that point. He then proceeded to conclude: “We, as Christians, brag about being as such to everyone that passes by. But are we truly voting for Jesus in our life? The answer is simply no. It’s always easier not to vote for Him.”

8 years later, I still remember that sermon as if it were yesterday. And I’m afraid to say that no, I don’t vote for Jesus all the time. It’s simply way too difficult to turn the right cheek as if nothing happened. It’s so difficult to be good to people and not expect them to be good in return – let alone them betraying you.

Life is a work in progress, I guess. My faith may not be the one the Church asks of me and I may struggle with it on a daily basis. But I work towards keeping it and attempting to vote for “Jesus” not through going to Church every Sunday and memorizing every Bible verse but by being a good person who’s good to others and expecting them to be good to him – despite all the signs pointing otherwise.

Have a contemplative Good Friday, everyone.

Maronite Traditions: Visting 7 Churches on Thursday of Mysteries (Maundy/Holy Thursday)

I was always intrigued why Maronites visit 7 churches on the Thursday of Mysteries, the day preceding Good Friday. So I decided to finally get an answer and ask my hometown’s priest.

Anciently, Jerusalem only had seven churches. So it became customary for its people to visit those churches on Thursday of Mysteries. And the tradition kept going. There’s no religious reason to visit 7 churches. It’s simply a tradition that’s a byproduct of the culture present at that time – and that tradition has lived on.

So I figured, why have it stop with me?

Here are the 7 churches I visited yesterday:

1 – St. Charbel (From whom the Maronite saint took his name) Church – Ebrine

2 – St. Charbel (Maronite Saint) Church – Ebrine

3 – St. John the Baptist Church, Ebrine:

4 – The Virgin Mary’s Church – Ebrine

5 – Convent of the “Sainte Famille” Church – Ebrine

6 – St. Georges’ Church – Rashkida

This is hundreds of years old. It’s currently being renovated by my hometown’s parish as Rashkida is not a Christian town.

7 – St. Anthony’s Church, Ebrine