The top photo is of the interior of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon
in North Jackson, Ohio. This Marian statue atop a spiral staircase outdoors at the Shrine resembles that in the original Lebanese Shrine.
Pope Benedict has gathered together a large group of prelates, priests, and laymen and women to support the Church in the Middle East. These people are together to plan to strengthen those Christians who live in what some call a "hot spot" or a troubled area of this planet. Many of these Christians actually use Aramaic in their liturgy. Their words are in the same language which Jesus used. Where I grew up, there were many people from Lebanon or whose parents were from there. Living with people from all different parts of the world enriched my life. Even though I did not attend Mass in their Maronite parishes, I was at least introduced to the idea that more than one language (Latin) is used in the Church's liturgy.
On my last trip to Ohio, we visiting Daughters of St. Paul were guests of the Maronite Sisters of St. Anthony of Egypt, or Antonine Sisters. The Sisters, who operate an Adult Day Care Center, are all from Lebanon. For now they pray together in Arabic, the language of their home country. Their convent in North Jackson, Ohio next to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon is their only home in the USA. The Sisters also conduct schools in their native country. Their mission to minister to the elderly is much needed today.These Sisters are a sign to the rest of the world of the vibrant faith of our Catholic brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Together let us pray for the safety and well well being of our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters.