My Maronite Faith has influenced my life in many ways, and every year I get older I better understand the significance of my faith. My grandfather came with his father and mother from Lebanon when he was a young man to escape war and persecution. Soon after arriving, my family moved to St. Louis Missouri, joining the only Maronite church in the Area, St. Raymond’s Maronite Church. My Grandfather’s faith was passed down to each of his 10 children, who then passed it on to me.
Being a Maronite, to me, means the world. Lebanese Maronites are some of the most devout people in the world. In full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, the Maronites practice the sacraments and accept Jesus Christ as the son of god and savior. However, we profess our faith in Arabic and Aramaic because of our origination in the holy land. My family, especially my grandfather, has taught me that being devout means more than just going to church (which he does every day) and praying the rosary (which, also, he does every day), but rather showing other people why Maronites are special because of the way they treat people.
I work at an open market place in downtown St. Louis with my grandfather selling produce. In my line of work, I come into contact with people of all religions: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, and Protestants. When it comes to food, people have to eat, regardless of their religion. In dealing with these different peoples, I have come to realize that yes, Muslims think differently from Maronites and Jews think different from Protestants. I believe, however, that these differences should be respected. Sadly, this is not always the case.
Growing up in the Maronite church, I didn’t get to go through confirmation at my Roman Catholic grade school because I, as is the Maronite custom, was confirmed at baptism. That was not the only difference that I noticed. The first time in school we learned about Islam, our teacher told us that Muslims worship Allah, and frankly I was shocked. Allah is simply the Arabic name for God. I pray to Allah, does that make me a Muslim?
What are my beliefs? Of course I have a set of beliefs being a Maronite, but my basic set of beliefs is that God made man in his own image. EVERY man. Whether he be Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, God made every one of them. No one can say whose religion is better, and that in the end, I believe, whether you call him God, Buddha, Christ, or Allah, that we are all somehow connected. When it comes down to it, the way you treat people especially of a different religion or race is how a person can be judged.
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