In Lebanon

No matter where he is, an Antonine monk always remembers his mission: to constantly remind the people that they are on a journey, a pilgrimage towards the Kingdom.
From the already established monasteries that are places for prayer and common fraternal life, the Antonine monks start their journey and embark in their mission, not only in all Lebanese regions, but they also go beyond the borders of the country.
Most of the monasteries of the Antonine Order were built or expanded by the monks themselves, as it shows in the documents preserved in the Historical Archives of the Order. As for the distribution of the monasteries among different regions, this constitutes a clear indicator of the objectives of the Order and its religious mission.


Others


   Mission

Since its establishment, the Antonine Order came together within a non-Christian environment and faced several challenges to which was exposed the common life between different religions in Lebanon. However the Antonine monks knew how to gain the esteem of others and how to reinforce their relations especially with the Druze Emirs of the Abil’Lamah family and helped some of them to convert to the Christian religion, especially in the regions of Broumana, Kornayel, Beit-Mery, and Chemlane.

In this spirit of reconciliation and dialogue, Emir Abdallah Kayed Bey Abil’Lamah, great protector of the monastery of Mar Chaaya, who participated efficiently in establishing this monastery, witnessed his grandsons Ahmad and Mansour acknowledge the Christian religion, thanks to the divine grace, while remaining faithful to their Druze traditions. Then, Bachir and Salim, sons of Emir Ahmad, then Amine and Ali, sons of Emir Mansour, adopted the Christian religion according to the Maronite confession. Thus, history shows that several Antonine monks accomplished their mission and vocation among Druze and Sunnite Emirs.


The Antonine monks undertook many other apostolic works – such as teaching, pastoral services, etc. – that were recognized by his Holiness Pope Benedict XIV through his correspondences with the maronite Patriarch and the Superior General of the Order where he calls to support the Antonine Order “considering its efficiency and its efforts aiming at strengthening the catholic faith among believers and the brotherhood with non-Catholics”.

  Cenobitism   


   Cenobitism:

It is clear that the cenobitism associated to the missionary life, lived by the founding fathers, was a typical pattern for the new monastic community.

Thus, many monks who lived long years within the community the evangelical counsels, were allowed to withdraw to a hermitage near the monasteries. And despite the wars and the exodus that the Order witnessed, history remembers the following names: Father Youhanna Jeitaoui (+1779), Brother Wehbe el-Hage Boutros (+1867), Father Serapion Chemali (+1888) and Brother Youhanna Hayek (+1888) who withdrew to the hermitage in the monastery of Mar Abda Mouchammar near Nahr El Kalb; Brother Kyriakos (+1843) and Brother Germanos Dirani (+1890) who withdrew to the hermitage in the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul in Kattine in the South of Lebanon, Brother Saba Nasrallah (1843-1900) who withdrew to the hermitage at the monastery of Mar Chaaya near Broumana; Brother Germanos El Ehdeni (+1890) who withdrew to the rocks near the monastery of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos at Ehden in North Lebanon… as well as many other names mentioned by believers as being “Men of God”.

  Martyrs  


   Martyrs

Since the establishment of the Order, its history has been closely related to the history of Lebanon. Thus, the Antonine monks have endured persecutions, exodus and martyrdom.

During the years 1842-1860, which were particularly bloody in the history of the Christians of Lebanon, when complete villages such as Beit Mery, Salima, Zahle, Jezzine, Deir El Kamar, Rachayya, Hasbaya were sacked and burnt, their inhabitants were massacred, and the monasteries and churches were profaned.

In 1860, soldiers from the Ottoman army, headed by Arnaout, invaded the monastery of St. Roch in Dekwaneh and massacred forty monks. The Order was not spared either by the severe events that Lebanon witnessed during the long years of war that torn its territories between 1975 and 1990.

The violent bombings destroyed or damaged several monasteries, churches, and schools of the Order whether in Metn, in the South, in the Bekaa, in the North, or in Beirut, leading to the martyrdom of several monks.


  And life prevails!  


   And life prevails!

During World War One, the lot of the Lebanese people was made of destructions, massacres, hunger, and exodus. Ottoman soldiers did not spare anyone from their barbarism, nor monks neither monasteries. All monasteries of the Antonine Maronite Order located in the region of Metn were profaned, burnt, or destroyed, or else transformed into military barracks and the monks living therein were either thrown away or killed.

It was only after the great war that the Antonine Order was able to recover its monasteries especially thanks to the effort of the Superior General Youssef Aramouni. However, and until 1931, the novitiate was put on hold.

War ended and the officials in the Order immediately deployed their efforts to gather the Antonine family and continue their common fraternal life. First, the novitiate was permanently established in Mar Chaaya starting 1938, after being transferred from Mar Chaaya to Mar Youhanna in Ajaltoun or Mar Roukoz in Dekwaneh.

In 1941, the establishment of the Small Seminary or Postulate at the monastery of Mar Chaaya is considered a new beginning for the monastic life; young people who want to enter the Order were taken in charge since small classes and till the age of fifteen and were prepared for the novitiate where they get acquainted to the monastic life before they take their vows.

In 1949, the Superior General of the Order, who was then Abbot Boutros Lteif, decided to transfer the premises of the Small Seminar from the monastery of Mar Chaaya to the Monastery of Mar Antonios in Baabda. There, the postulants and young monks continued their studies according to the State’s curriculum and applied to the official exams aiming at acquiring the diploma of ending their school education in order to be able to start their ecclesiastic studies.

And since 1958, and upon the privilege granted by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and thanks to the support of Cardinal Akassios Kousa and the efforts of the Superior General of the Order Abbot Maroun Harika, the Antonine monks continue their majoring in philosophy and theology in Rome at the University of St Anselm of the Benedictine monks and at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas – Angelicum of the Dominican Fathers.

Later on, and with the support of Cardinal Albert Decourtray, the Catholic University of Lyon-France welcomed the Antonine monks who were known for their spirituality and their apostolic merits.


  The Tau  


   Deep-rooted in a monastic tradition

The Antonine Maronite Order was established in late XVIIth century thanks to the initiative of Mons. Gebrael Blouzani, who was by then bishop of Alep. Bishop Gebrael Blouzani was known for his saintliness and his piousness, and is behind the reform of the monastic life at the beginning of the XVIIIth century.
In 1673, Mons. Blouzani established the monastery of Our Lady at Tamish and made it his see,  applying therein a renewed type of monastic life.
After educating his monks, for a long period of time as stipulated in the regulations of the oriental monastic life, he chose from them a certain elite, in 1698, and sent them with the mission of rebuilding a monastery dedicated to Saint Chaaya, the monk from Alep. This monastery is located at the top of a hill known by the name Aramta located at the borders of Broumana village in the Metn region. There, the first monks built a new monastic community living the evangelical counsels (the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience) and working at the service of the church, within the social realities.
On August 15, 1700, on the Assumption day, the first mass celebration took place in the said monastery, thus inaugurating a new beginning for the oriental monastic life in Mar Chaaya, site of a hundreds-year old monastic life.
Since then, our Antonine Maronite Order has been loyal to the tradition, to its religious heritage, to the image of the Christ praying at the top of the mountain or in desert places, announcing at the same time the Kingdom of God to the people, healing the sick and converting the sinners…The Antonine Maronite Order works constantly and stands as witness to the great source of the wealth of Christ to Christians and non-Christians alike, through the testimony of its children who answered the call of the Holy Spirit in a total self-abnegation and a total offering of oneself, as father Semaani says in his introduction to the Rules and Constitutions of the Order:
“…Seeing the exemplarity of your holy monks, their apostolate at the service of the community in order to announce the Gospel, as well as their merits in setting a good example and their obedience to their superiors in the Church, these monks are recognized by their superiors as well as by the people and constitute a pattern for other oriental families…
… by virtue of which your Rules are confirmed”.

Thus, the local Church takes into consideration the particularity of the Antonine Maronite Order and its mission in the service of the Church and neighbors, and it grants the Order its blessing, encouragements, and attention, and acknowledges it as being a confirmed expression of the oriental monastic life.
Within the same spirit, and urged by the Holy Spirit, Patriarchs Estephan Douayhi and later Blouzani and Aouad granted their benediction to the Order; then, in 1740, his Holiness the Pope Clement XII, confirmed the Constitutions of the Order by the papal brief “Father of Mercy” and granted it its canonical status of “a monastic congregation of pontifical right” along with the rights and privileges recognized to every monastic institution.

 



  Mission  

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