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You will find hereafter the translation from French of the preface of one of the major works of Youakim Moubarac, Pentalogie Antiochienne / Domaine Maronite published in 1984 by Edition Cenacle Libanais - Beyrouth - Lebanon. This preface summarizes well the thought and the struggle of Moubarac for the unity of the Church, for a pluralist and free Lebanon and for the necessary Islamic-Christian dialogue. The preface was translated to English by Youssef.

Pour la version française originale,  :      Version Française  

The Preface Of The Pentalogie Antiochienne / Domaine Maronite 

Youakim Moubarac

Maronite History is weaved with questions. None of them is answered here. But certain ones are exposed herein.

The questions, which are asked in this Collection and that touch Maronite History, come from contemporary historical documents. Those documents are not, with a few rare exceptions, monuments of science. But they are, on the whole, works of conscience.

The questions raised by the historical science about Maronites will be treated in a future bibliographic supplement, to the measure of the Collection introduced today. In a section entitled " Actual Researches ", we will approach, God willing, the contemporaries, systematically ignored in the present set of ancient texts, in principle prior to the First World War. We will then try to clarify the problems, which they raise in matters of history, as well as of law, of liturgy or of musicology.

This bibliographic supplement will besides have to fill one of the big gaps that mar this Collection in spite of its comparatively important size. It will have to introduce the maronite men and women who left written works since the early Middle Ages. With a few notable exceptions, they are ignored here to the benefit of those who made the Church and the Maronite people other than by writing.

A volume of addenda and corrigenda will double the same supplement. For the addenda, the author is already spoilt for choice. But when he will have gathered from his readers and correspondents all critical comments, he will keep what will be considered by him to be kept and, God willing, he will make the necessary clarifications (1). May these very expected contributors of Antiochian Pentalogy / Maronite Domain in its future complements, be thanked in advance. All will have understood from the starting point the purpose of this Collection conceived by its author in the liberty, which goes with any work that is not commissioned by a publisher, but is the fruit of a personal initiative and researches. Also they will accept that he did not wait to deliver its results that he meets the requests of some and answers the objections of others, which however he does not disregard.

This Collection refrains from being an Encyclopedia. It comes as an anthology with freely chosen acts classified in five sections, hence its title of Pentalogy *. It follows another collection of the same profile, the Islamic-Christian Pentalogy and offers to contribute, at a time when they are severely tested, to found the conscience, which Maronites made for themselves, and to strengthen the vocation that they recognized for themselves in the Church and in the world since the Modern Times. It is then, in effect, that Maronites were concerned to revive, to collect and to explain their legacy since its origins, in the light of the methods and with the help of the tools, which they had acquired in Europe.

I am part of the last generation of Maronites who acquired their basic instruction in the East, but completed it in Europe and settled there. I tried to echo back as faithfully as possible, not to science, but to the conscience that my precursors made for themselves between Rome and Paris, on three points of the highest importance. They did not make it, whatever they say about it, at the service of the Papacy or of France, no more than that of science. But with the help of the most enlightened Catholics of France and of Europe, those well-read Maronites applied themselves with an obstinacy, which often made them unbearable except for those who had understood the considerable stake, over the three following designs:

1. Defend the integrity, the Catholicity and the unity of the Church of Antioch and of the entire East;
2. Promote the liberty of the people of the East by giving it an impregnable refuge in Lebanon;
3. Make illustrious, against any partisan, ideological or linguistic apprehension, the common legacy of the civilization that flourished around the Mediterranean Basin.

Such is therefore the triple purpose, ecumenical, political and cultural, of the Antiochian Pentalogy / Maronite Domain, corresponding to the triple purpose of the maronite intelligentsia since the XVth century. I am going to explain it further in this introduction. The reader will want to agree meanwhile to the particular motivations of this Collection in the times of misfortune that we live (2).

Particular Motivations

It is from my nephews and nieces of the Lebanese Diaspora that the idea of this new Pentalogy came to me. Even those of them who were born in Lebanon became in America and in Australia strangers to their uncle, as to their grandmother. I did not want to upset their natural evolution, nor to prevent them from becoming what they have to be where they are now established, with or without hope of return, that is to say full citizens and Christians entirely engaged in the Church of their country of adoption, and not assumed Lebanese or second-rate Maronites. In the sense of a natural and necessary evolution, because opposed to the double loyalty of the Zionist type, I thought I should help my family to qualify for a better service of the countries and the Churches, which are now theirs. I thought, by giving them an expression of their legacy likely to be assimilated by those who acquired a university training, that this political, cultural and ecclesiastical legacy of their forefathers, could, if they want to, promote their participation in the political, cultural and ecclesiastical future which is theirs now. Also it was obvious that this participation could aspire to a double result and that far from alienating the persons concerned in regard to their origins or put them in the uncomfortableness of the double loyalty, it was able to establish between their origins and their future a communication of creative crossbreeding.

Such was my purpose, when the War of Lebanon got the dimensions of the disaster we know and that I saw in the media the participation of the Maronites in this War generating the most unreliable views on our history, when those views were not apparently inspired by contempt and slander. It is then that a new purpose of the Pentalogy overtook the previous one and somehow outdistanced it . Is it necessary to regret it? I can only record the fact and confess that the elaboration of my Collection for the Diaspora took then a more definite turn according to the War. It was necessary not to reply to the slanderers, but to demonstrate the tradition of the resistance in solidarity. It was necessary, faced with reducing and leveling proposals of cheap harmony, to insist on a value encounter and a personalizing union of the " right to the difference ". It was necessary, above all, to demonstrate that the passionate research of the maronite identity had always succeeded only in meeting and recognizing the other, and that when the Maronites would lose their role of mediation between religions, civilizations and people, they would lose, with the best of their legacy, their raison d'être.

Of this legacy therefore, certain expressions are gathered here in a large diversity and I do not think that I have subjected them to a preconception when I presented them for a reading in three registers, as it will be explained hereafter. It is only that the War made urgent the personal design which I had conceived and that this work of wartime led me to consider the maronite time, not with the acuteness that suits the monuments of science, but the writings of combat. Also I should say in what manner this situation marked the writing and the edition of this work. Here is how it marked its contents.


The overall presentation that I offer to the reader is not a summary of this Collection, or a key that opens all its doors. It is rather presented under a light, which reflects the reading I make myself, and the intentions that I acknowledge deeply afterwards, my personal designs merging into the maronite project that runs over centuries.

1. In general, Maronites are blamed for having served " the return of the Christians of the East into the Roman unity ", by contributing to the creation of the Uniat Churches. And indeed, there are still Maronites of the generation of my masters, or even of mine, to pride themselves on this role, asserting always their " perpetual Orthodoxy " and attachment without fault to Saint Peter's See, in the first as well as in the second millennium.

I will not offend my ecumenical friends by considering that such is the main vein of this Collection in its ecumenical purpose. But I shall not spare them the trouble, to them as to myself, to follow this typically maronite progression and, as we do not redo history with ideas, so generous as they may be, but that we accept it such as the men made it, to consider this progression such as it was, to try to understand it and, after all, to make it carry its fruits.

Certainly, this "ecumenism" of my fathers has nothing in common with today's ecumenism. It is however with that ecumenism that the Syrian East shook its Ottoman lethargy and that, willing or unwilling, the problem of the Christian unity of Antioch is not any more a question to be solved between Latin and Greeks, but between Antiochians, that is to say in most cases between Melkites, Orthodoxs and Maronites. Some of them are partly Latinized and others absolutely Byzantinized. But neither of them lost their common identity in the Syrian East and still less their common future. They are not going to meet "ecumenically" by conciliating two imperial Churches, may they be considered as sisters, but by being together in the middle of the Church a requirement and pioneers of the unity.

Do I need to say that this ecumenism that I call "Antiochian" or " from the Syrian East " and by which I intend to converge with the Church of the Arabs of P. Jean Corbon and to make common cause with the proposal of an " Antiochian Concile " of the Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim, is not more in agreement with the current ecumenism than with that of the traditional Maronites? Also I am not going to develop it further in order to stick to the subject offered in the texts of the present Collection. But it was necessary to formulate it, to show that the project of unity of the Churches that Maronites served since the Counter-Reformation and in its line, if it is very outmoded, did not end up questioning the ecumenism that predominates in the present times.

In this respect, the Antiochian Pentalogy / Maronite Domain is only reviving and developing a work conceived and accomplished as part of Vatican II under the title of Antiochena. This Pentalogy could be considered as a kind of Antiochena Bis, i.e. an advocacy of the encounter and the unity of the Churches in the Church, different from another project of reconciliation between Churches. This other project notably recommends conciliating the Church of the East and the Church of the West, the East claiming inalienable privileges facing the Church of Rome and the Uniats having only to join back the ranks of the Orthodoxy.

To have never served such a project, that of bygone Maronites has nevertheless the merit of demonstrating a certain anachronism with the reconciling ecumenists of today, who go back all in all to the good days of Lyons and Florence, with the difference that this time, it is the See of Rome that is making all concessions.

Thank God! The Antiochians have better to do and in the meantime, to offer. Independently of any debate, the present Collection adds a part of its most precious treasure, its canonical and Eucharistic prayer, not to the polemic between Churches but to the bosom of the Church. Volumes III and IV of this Pentalogy are entirely dedicated to that treasure. And they are offered as a pooling of our life in the Holy Spirit. The properly ecumenical purpose of this Collection is thus to convey the prayer of Antioch of the first millennium in its original simplicity and fervour, independent of Latins and Byzantines, and given in confidence to every believer. Made of doxologies and of trisagions, of sédré, mazmours and of bo"outs, this prayer that culminates in Eucharistical anaphoras, still represents the unanimous expression of our creed and our cult, when, notwithstanding heresies and schisms, Antioch was one, with all the Church.

2. Also, Maronites are blamed for having served since the time of the Crusades and especially, since the XVIth century, the European interventionist project, especially the French one, in the East, and to have served there as a kind of bridgehead that allowed some to speak in the XIXth century of a " Maronite France ".

Many pages of the Pentalogy are dedicated to this subject. For that matter, I recommend to the reader who is tackling the Maronites for the first time to begin with what the Frenchmen said about the subject. I recommend particularly, in the 1st volume, section 2, the treatise of Jean de Roque, at the time of Louis XIV, then in the anthology gathered in section 7 of the same volume, what wrote Lamartine and Poujoulat after 1860, and Barrès before and after the First World War.

But for the definite purpose of the relations between the Maronites and France, I refer the reader more particularly to the report addressed by the ambassador Savary de Brèves to Louis XIII. We will see there that the policy of France in the East, exposed in this report with an exemplary loftiness and frankness, is a Muslim policy and that the Christians of the East, and above all the Maronites, are subordinated to this policy. It is not the matter of a French policy of the Christians of the East that determines the relations of France with the Sublime Porte. It is exactly the opposite.

It is precisely with such policy that the Maronites achieved their work and, notwithstanding the intentions of some and the interests or the treasons of others, it is with this policy that they were able to realize and to establish in the XXth century what would have been possibly accomplished and established since the time of Henri IV. It is not however with the king of France and Navarre that the Maronites worked at that time, but for the emir Facardin, with the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Thanks to the military, economic and cultural help of the re-emergent Europe, the Emirate termed as "Druze" had then obtained satisfaction from the Ottomans and established a "Lebanese" self-government, from Antioch to Jerusalem.

We know what happened and how the plan was drowned in the blood of the Emir and the waters of the Bosphorus. But between the history and a more eloquent legend than the history in the hearts of its promoters, this episode shows well a permanent feature of the political struggle of the Maronites. Obliged tributary of a non-Christian partner, the Maronites ally with Europe only to better establish in the East a self-government not maronite, but national. It is even the first project of national self-government in the East of the Modern Times. It was necessary to wait two centuries for the Egypt of the Khedives to wake up and shake the yoke in its turn, after the attack of Bonaparte. But in one and the other case, it is definitely the same struggle and it ended up triumphing over the Ottoman empire: against any kind of power of califat or sultanat type, to establish the independence of the Nation-States in the free context of the Arab unity and solidarity.

Before showing, third part of the purpose of this Pentalogy, in what manner this political project at which Maronites worked before all the others, corresponds to a cultural project, and how their "Libanism" is the cornerstone of the Arabity, can I mention that the purpose of this Collection found a definite intention in the War? In the conflict opposing the Blocs that replaced in the Arab East the relations between the European Powers and the Sublime Porte, this Collection in French is in keeping with the maronite project as an instrument of historical continuity. It is in opposition to an obvious hegemonic will, the one that wants to destroy the alliance Beirut-Paris and to satellize Lebanon in the Anglo-Saxon orbit.

In a more definite way still, this Collection intends to demonstrate in what the maronite tradition, relentlessly autonomist, but nonetheless assiduous in its effort of obliged solidarity with the population of Lebanon and the people of the East, is in contrast to the Zionist project in the exacerbated form which it took since the proclamation of the State of Israel. By the same token, this project joins the best of the religious, of the intellectuals and of the Jewish activists who until 1948 and even afterwards, with Martin Buber and the founder of the Hebrew University, Judah Magnes, wanted an active and mutually profitable coexistence between Jews, Christians and Muslims in Palestine, in the same way of the Islamic-Christian conviviality in Lebanon.

Because of this, there is no opposition, but logical continuity and fervent promotion of the same project, when Maronites take up the cause of the peace in the justice made to the Palestinians in their fatherland. Besides, it is the most famous Maronites who took charge of this question, as they go from Négib Azoury who was the first to put the Palestinian problem in the heart of the " awakening of the Arab Nation ", to Soleiman Frangié who is the only Arab head of state to have carried the Palestinian cause to the United Nations.

3. We can think that the political enterprise of the Maronites and their ecumenical design had only partly succeeded. Not only the Christian unity of Antioch as a nuclear melting pot of the universal unity of the Church is still a wish, but also the project of Nation-States, pluralist, democratic and convivial within the Arab unity, is more and more flouted in Lebanon, in Palestine and " from the Gulf to the Ocean ".

It is not the same with the cultural project, third and main part of the maronite enterprise between the East and Europe. I think that in this regard, the Maronites entirely succeeded, at least up to the last hitches, it is true, serious. We can say in some way, that the entire East became culturally maronite, as much as it ended up adopting the intellectual and living position that Maronites were the first to adopt between the East and Europe.

We commemorate this year the 4th centenary of the foundation by the Pope Gregory XIII of the Maronite College of Rome and I was able to follow professionally the elaboration at Sorbonne of a thesis by Fr. Nasser Gemayel devoted to this subject. The purpose of this Collection - which is not dedicated to a subject, so key as it may be, but to the whole maronite itinerary - intends to demonstrate the same thing as the work of Fr. Nasser, who besides extended his investigation up to foundation in 1789 of the College of "Ayn Warqa, exact replica in Lebanon of what was the Maronite College in Rome.

There also, we were accused of serving an enterprise of colonial type, even more dangerous on the cultural plan than on the political one, due to the fact that it would have more permanently established our economic dependency on the industrialized West.

I acknowledge that there more than elsewhere, Maronites and Orthodox who declare the political maronitism enthusiastically, sometimes fall into the trap, either by recommending the bilingualism, national and institutional, or by advocating a " Lebanese language ". But the debate on languages comes only in the third position in the cultural enterprise of the Maronites that I consider exemplary for the East, due to the fact that the East really approved it.

First of all, there is the adoption of the means of scientific and technical research elaborated in Western Europe since the Quattrocento. In this regard, the printing is the technical instrument favoured for the broadcasting of data collected through the scientific research.

In the second place, the research is applied to inventory the historical, philosophical, scientific and artistic heritage of the humanity. The return to Antiquity is only one aspect of this inventory, but it is essential as much as it protects any recognition of identity against an arbitrary choice in time and links any national recognition of the same order to the entirety of the legacy.

Heretofore, it is not a matter of languages, but humanism, and it is definitely this humanism of the re-emergent Europe, long before that of the Europe of Enlightenments, that Maronites adopted and served and that became the common property of all the Arab East.

In what nevertheless can the humanism of the Maronites differ still from this humanism of the intelligentsia, otherwise from the common of the Arabs, and in what the languages have an importance in the matter?

The difference is for me based on two points:

a. When we take globally, not the humanist attitude, but the material contents of the legacy, we observe that the Maronites arabized themselves at least since the XIth century, because the first monument of their law and their spirituality, with which the reader can familiarize himself in booklet 3 of the 1st volume, does not exist any more than in Arabic. It is Kitâb al-Huda or Book of Direction. On the other hand, this arabization is quasi complete since the XVIIIth century. At that time, in effect, the Maronites in Aleppo are one century ahead of the Syrian-Lebanese Renaissance, which is going to find in Egypt its ground of election and expansion. But throughout the second millennium of our time, the arabization of the Maronites never took over the Syriac, not only in the liturgy, but also as a background and a deep source of the culture.

In realizing this, the maronite tradition does not build a distinctive identity, so legitimate as it may have been: it presents a request that all the Arab men anxious about the completion of their culture and about its worldwide role should appreciate. An Arabity worthy of this name cannot remain stranger to the Syriac as a sister language of the Arabic in a common Semitism. It can be even less stranger, considering the unique privilege of the Syriac on all the Semitic languages, that of spreading the Greek concepts, categories and culture. The Syriac is therefore in the heart of the Arabity, not only the reminder of its common Semitic origins, but the obliged channel adopted freely by the Arabity during its golden age, when the Arabity drew on the Greek source.

b. Concerning the modern languages, I observe that the Maronites took on the practice of French, or anyway wrote in French, only since the last century. However, when they felt the need to communicate with Europe, the Maronites felt the opposite need to teach Europe the languages of the East and for that, to learn themselves the languages of Europe. It is an essential requirement of dialogue, when it entirely wants to respect the laws of hospitality. It is still more essential when the man of dialogue does not want to remain a simple receiver and all in all a consumer, when he does not want to play a mercenary's role, but that he requests that of a partner. Some colonial powers have never cared to teach their language to the colonized people. They were satisfied in speaking to them a "BASIC", as Charles-Quint once said that he spoke German to his horse. The Maronites who never have the complexes of people colonized by Europe never accepted it. They remind therefore the Arabs of what the Arabs had learnt themselves when they were creators and not consumers. The command of a foreign language, a salutary means of an intellectual catharsis, is also the obliged instrument of creation in the modernity.

I use this word of modernity for the first time in this introduction. It could consequently cover my whole purpose as the author of the Antiochian Pentalogy / Maronite Domain. For that matter, I refer the reader to the end of the last volume where I do not hesitate to characterize our Church itself as being " a Church of the cultural modernity ".

It remains nonetheless true that it is above all and always, " a Church of asceticism and of divine praise ", as it is also illustrated in its place and that's how it formed a " people passionate about freedom, though always in lack of conviviality " (cf. t. V, 3rd Part, Mémoire d'espoir). Then whatever are the problems that he will face with the author of this Collection, may the reader enter this legacy with a free mind and an open heart. All what was said to him heretofore and that seems very controversial was only to clear the ground and as if to dispel the clouds. Besides, if he prefers pictures to texts, May he do so and start with pictures.

But pictures will bring him back to the text and I have no doubt that here and there, he becomes, in the acquaintance of the maronite soul, more peaceful and more human. However afflicted with tests are Maronites throughout their history, with all what it imprints of coarseness on people, of mistrust and of hurt pride, the recognition of their legacy should give the one who approaches it what it over-abundantly gave the author of this Collection: a joy beyond any resentment or bitterness, a confidence measured to the only immensity of perils, and on top of everything, an uninterrupted action of grace.

At the end of this introduction, I am going to say with whom and like whom I live this attitude.

Final Evocation

I had been resolved for this initial exprogramme to name none of the living on whom I am dependent, and to keep to the dead. I thought that it would be easier for me, owing to the large number of correspondents still living which I should thank and at the risk of forgetting some of them. We are going to see that I fulfilled this duty, after all, and that I am far from thinking I am quits, in spite of the size of the memorandum that one can read farther. On the other hand, I abandoned the idea of opening the register of eternity as it casts its rays on all the pages of this Collection. 

I want to take for a simple example that of my great-grandfather by my mother. In one of my first memories of childhood, I still see him mounting his gray mare at 90 years old (3), to go to participate in the unveiling of a statue dedicated to the memory of Youssef bey Karam. He had been in effect, one of the men of the hero of Lebanon, died exiled in 1889.

In other words, this chapter of the dead is unique and includes all those who between my generation who are not any more and that of the first followers of Maron, priest and monk at the time of John Chrysostome, form one and same family which I commemorate. The chapter of dead is not therefore opened here, because it embraces the entirety of this Collection.

The reader will not miss the appearance from the middle of the big cloud of all the mentioned witnesses, those whose stature inspired in me so much humility as admiring fervour. I count the hours which I spent reading and translating the works of the Patriarch Estéphane Douayhi as one of the big blessings of my life. But I was there, at the beginning of the retirement age, only coming back to the reading of my young years in the books of my father and of my grandfathers, parish priests.

In this passionate return in the bosom of my mother that represent the elaboration and the writing of the Antiochian Pentalogy / Maronite Domain, I wish of course that the reader be carried towards the summits where the most noble of the people of Beth Maroun were held because of the asperity of the fate which had been theirs. But in these conditions, the most obscure of the witnesses of the maronity whom I cared to discover are at the same altitude, stony and bare. They are not therefore offered to the curiosity of the reader, but regardless of everything sensational, to his search of wisdom.

Because of this, he will look at all turns of the way, to the one that we invoke as the Throne of Wisdom and that all mine blessed from generation to generation, because God had deigned to differentiate the humility of his maidservant. In the old battle, which makes the history of the Maronite people an uninterrupted chain of trials and tribulations and pain, the reader will find a secret of joy and pride and he will know why the mother of a crucified is our mother and our sovereign.

It is at her feet that I lay, before other occasions on this route give me again the opportunity, the humble homage of this Collection. I only expect at the end a greater love of her name and notwithstanding the sadness of the present times, some exaltation to the limits of exhilaration, when thinking of the glory that only for her honour, God threw, such a veil of splendour, on the Mount-Lebanon.

Note of the author : · I want to note in this respect the big difference between my Collection and the diplomatic and consular Documents, relating to Lebanon, the colossal and consequently necessary publication of which my friend the ambassador Ismail undertook. If it was reproached to him for not giving the entirety of the texts, I believe I could avoid the reproach, which could be made because of the deletions that I did in certain texts. They are always noted by suspension points placed between brackets. If there was whatever of embarrassing in these cuts, it is all the text, which I shall have given up, since nothing made me keep it. It is besides in a big number of cases concerning texts already published but of difficult access. The one, who wants absolutely to know what I deleted, has only to go to see the original as I did. As for the unpublished manuscripts, which I translated, my deletions that do not exceed few lines in all the Collection represent expressions and sometimes sentences, which resisted to my investigations, but that, in any manner, do not touch the substance of the text. In the case notably of Hindiyé, the patriarch Jean de Lehfed and Kamal Joumblat, these are in most cases, because of redundancies or of pedantries. Finally, I shall say at the end of this introduction, why, at the school of Léon Bloy and Louis Massignon, I neither deleted nor annotated passages where historical errors are apparently obvious.

Notes of the Translator

(1) Large parts of this complementary work remain today unpublished, 10 years after the sudden death of our author in 1995.

(2) This work was achieved in 1984, at the height of Lebanese Civil War.

(3) Lahoud Jabbour Samyia from Kfarsghab (1838 - 1933)

Copyright © 2005 [ Edition Cenacle Libanais / ] - All reproductions or adaptations of any extract of this information by any process, reserved to the authors for all countries.

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