SMAKIEH – On Friday, May 12, 2017, Bishop Emeritus Maroun Lahham administered the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation to 21 children in Smakieh. It is an annual event of importance for this historically small Christian village of Bedouin origin.
Two Sacraments received on the same day
About 120 kilometers south of Amman, the small village of Smakieh seems to miraculously emerge from the desert. Everyday 300 families of Bedouin origin live there, divided into two historically Christian tribes. The Akasheh family of Catholic Greek rite brings together 800 faithful, while the Hejazeen family of Latin rite has 1,200. Although the Bedouin tradition seems to have faded, traditional clothes worn by some women remind the few foreign visitors of these origins. Mass begins in the small church of Smakieh, 21 ten year-old boys and girls enter in procession wearing a scarf with red shoulder straps symbolizing the Holy Spirit that they are prepared to receive. It is a particularly important day because they will receive two Sacraments: Holy Communion and Confirmation. “Our diocese follows the tradition of the Latin Church to give confirmation a few years after communion. However, we started to administer both Sacraments on the same day for practical reasons because of emigration movements of some families. In addition, it facilitates interaction with the Eastern Churches celebrating the two sacraments on the same day, ” said Father Vito, pastor of the parish of Smakieh for five years now. The precarious economic situation in Smakieh pushes many families to emigrate for the future of their children.
Be confirmed to live in the light of Christ
For this annual event, the small church that seats 220 couldn’t accommodate all the faithful inside and many followed the ceremony from outside. One by one, the children are marked by the Bishop with the Holy Chrism and receive Communion for the first time. Before this day of celebration, the children were prepared throughout the year by the Rosary Sisters, and majority of them also attend religion and catechism classes twice a week. “With Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist are sacraments during which we receive a new nature, that of Jesus Christ who lives united with the Father and guided by the Holy Spirit. To be confirmed means to live in the light as a son who knows the Father and enlightens others by serving them. To get to this, a preparation of two or three years for the confirmation is necessary but not sufficient: our life must be rooted in Christ with daily conversion supported by the Church, ” stated Father Vito. The Mass ended in great joy and the children returned home, filled with the Holy Spirit.