Volume 3 No.2 April 1999
We staff members and the friends of the Maronite Research Institute were happy with the visit of Chairperson Guita Hourani to the United States. Like historical or legendary visitors from the East, she carried gifts -- incense, mountain bread and wine, whose great value is symbolic and spiritual.
I am grateful for my gifts which awakened treasured memories and inspired this editorial.
Gifts of the East
These gifts of incense from the tombs of Saint Sharbel, Blessed Rafqa and Blessed Nimatullah Al-Hardini, wine from the fertile Bekaa Valley, and mountain bread, Marqooq, from Antelias, brought back earliest memories of Divine Liturgies and Solemn High Masses at the churches of Our Lady of Lebanon and Saint Alphonsus in my hometown Wheeling, West Virginia. They also stirred longings for my ancestral villages of Tourza, Mijdlayya and Beit Mindhir in Northern Lebanon.
The smell of burnt incense at the Church of Saints Sarkis and Bakhus in my grandmother's village of Tourza, the taste of the red wine made by monks in monasteries, the flavor and aroma of the mountain bread, baked every Friday by my mother and grandmother and blessed with the sign of the cross -- all are vivid memories.
The bread recalls Christ's gift of the Eucharist.
The Sacred Host,
The Bread of Angels,
Al-Qurbaan, the Sacrifice.
Grandmother's final request: "Give me my Last Rites."
The wine, blood of Christ
Shed for our salvation.
The incense an offering due only to God.
Gifts of the East are a celebration of the liturgy.
Edward J. Brice,