Patriarchal Synod Notes

The Maronite Patriarchal synod was held June 1- 21, 2003, at Our Lady of the Mountain, Fatqa, Lebanon.

The Maronite Patriarchal Assembly created a logo as the official symbol of the Assembly.

Seal of the Maronite Patriarchal Synod

The seal of the Maronite Patriarchate appears at the top and, according to the explanation provided by the eparchy of St Maron (Brooklyn, NY) represents the universality and the unity of the Maronite Church. This might appear to the non-Maronite to be a bit more ideological than realistic, because the Maronite Church is not “universal” nor can something be in “unity” with itself; only parts of a whole can be in unity. But the explanation does not go beyond these two terms. The Maronite Church is, however, in unity (“communion”) with the universal Catholic Church, the Church of Rome; but this explanation does not enter into the “Maronite” explanation.

The Antiochene Cross is placed centrally, in order to represent the tree of life as envisioned by the Syriac fathers. It has also been interpreted to represent the unity of the Trinity and, the community among the bishops, patriarch and the Holy See. Oddly, at least to my knowledge, the Church or the Catholic order of laity, clergy, Christ has not entered into any of the interpretations. This may reflect the emphasis that the Maronite leadership continues to place on the centrality of the clergy, despite the teachings of Vatican II and the documents issuing from the Maronite Patriarchal Synod, which appear to be generally ignored by parochial clergy.

Christ’s promise “I am with you to the end of time” is scrolled at the bottom of the cross.

The color green represents life and hope. Again, oddly, the Maronite liturgical colors do not include green.
The color gold represents God’s benevolence (in most other interpretations, gold would represent God’s glory).
The circle represents perfection or completeness, and may be more the ideal situation than reality. The circle might also be interpreted more practically to isolate one community from the “others” outside of the circle; this may be truer in the actual, real life application.

The title “Maronite Patriarchal Assembly” represents the unity of Maronites throughout the world. This is again a bit confusing because although the Maronite Church rallies under one patriarch (the equivalent of the Roman Catholic Cardinal and a member of the Roman college of cardinals), the synod documents take particular pains to distinguish between the Maronite church in Lebanon, and the Maronite church outside of Lebanon. There may be an ideal of World Maronite unity but in reality it appears to be a fiction. This notion of “Maronite” tends to be an obstacle to most Maronites who appear to be ignorant of the fact that they are a rite within the Universal Apostolic Catholic Church and in communion with the Church of Rome, subject to its teachings and governance. The concept of “being Maronite” very frequently becomes a barrier to integration and outreach, isolating the pockets of Maronites in the world.

The outer circle is placed on a foundation that is meant to represent the stability and depth of the Church. We presume that the Universal Catholic Church, the Church of Rome, is meant in this interpretation.

The official Maronite Patriarchal Synod website can be found at http://www.maronitesynod.com/index-new-eng.htm

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