Baalbek, Lebanon – Day 5

Day One. Days Two-Three. Day Four – Jeita Grotto & Harrisa; Byblos.

DAY FIVE – Back in April, when I was at Antiochian Village for some meetings, I snapped some pics of old photographs of Lebanon from the walls of the Conference center and Whatsapped them to Mary Catherine in Beirut. One of them was of Baalbek from the late 19th century. She replied that, hopefully, we would go there when I came.

Everyone, here & in Lebanon – and I mean EVERYONE – said, “No. You can’t go to Baalbek. It’s not safe.”

But, my daughter’s a pretty head-strong gal and I knew that, one way or another, she was going to Baalbek before leaving Lebanon. So, you know … DAD!

Yameen, our driver picked us up at 10 … traffic was cray! A couple check points, etc. The ruins of Baalbek are MAGNIFICENT! We had a tour guide who reminded us of Bishop Thomas (of Charleston) with a few more years on him. (Many years, Sayyidna 😉

Baalbek. I’ll let these images speak for themselves:

The shrine of the temple of Jupiter in Baalbek was the largest sanctuary in the Roman world, but little survives, except for six Corinthian columns on the south side, which are still carrying their entablature (the horizontal beams). While I was there, they were receiving a bit of a “shore up”.

Although it is sometimes called “the small temple”, it is larger (and better preserved) than the Parthenon in Athens. The Lebanese temple is one of the largest of Antiquity, but still, it is dwarfed by the temple of Jupiter next to it.


Our guide (see mention above). Just sayin …

Forgive the “uniform” — but, prolly best to travel in mufti in Baalbek.

Listen to the Orthodixie podcast of my tripHERE.

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Metropolitan Joseph Urges Prayer and Practical Assistance in the Wake of Harvey

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings to you and your families as we prepare for the beginning of a new Church year.

We have all witnessed with a heavy heart the catastrophic destruction and massive flooding in Southeast Texas (and now Western Louisiana) as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Some of the scenes of suffering have been beyond words. I have been in constant contact with our clergy and the parishes of the area and am waiting for an assessment from them in order to help in any way we can. Although things are still unfolding, we want to be proactive in our appeal to all of you so we can respond as quickly as possible.

As people of God and the Church of Christ, we feel compelled to help our brothers and sisters in need. Therefore, I am asking every parish and mission of the archdiocese to appeal to their faithful and hold special collections throughout the month of September so that we can alleviate a little of the pain and suffering the good people of that area are enduring. Immediately after the last Sunday of September, please send your offerings to the archdiocese and put in the memo of the check “Hurricane Harvey Appeal”. Once we have assessed the needs of our parishes and their faithful who have suffered losses, we will distribute your offerings to them on your behalf.

If there are funds remaining after our distributions to our parishes in need, we will forward them to IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) to help with their work in that area as they are already on the ground helping all Texans on behalf of the Orthodox Church.

Please be as generous as possible so that we are able to help those in need as much as we can.

Wishing you all a blessed beginning of the new ecclesiastical year and praying that God’s healing hand will touch the people who have suffered as a result of this destructive hurricane,
I remain,

Your Father in Christ,

Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America

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Harvey Relief Fund – East Texas Deanery

Dear to Christ:

With the blessing and encouragement of METROPOLITAN JOSEPH a “Harvey Relief Fund” has been established to receive alms to assist the parishes and people of our East Texas Deanery impacted by former-Hurricane-now-Tropical Storm Harvey.

FATHER JOSEPH HUNEYCUTT (, the Dean of East Texas, announced this afternoon that an account has been established through his St Joseph Church in Houston, TX.   A separate spread sheet of donations to this account will be maintained and no monies will be dispersed from the account until proper protocol is established by the Deanery in consultation with the Archdiocese.

Donors may use the parish’s PayPal account for making immediate donations (by clicking on the DONATE icon on the parish’s web site or may send checks (payable to “St Joseph Church” and earmarked on the memo line “Harvey Relief”) to:

St Joseph Orthodox Christian Church
10644 Hammerly Boulevard
Houston, TX 77043

Your forgiveness and prayers,

+Bishop Basil
Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

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LEBANON: Byblos (Day 4)

Day One.

Days Two-Three.

Day Four (Jeita Grotto & Harrisa)

It pays to have a knowledgeable tour guide; I’ve known this one for 23 years.

My son has always been a lizard fan. I sent this pic from Byblos, saying: “Saw one of your friends today.” He replied: “I don’t know him.” ;P

I’ll let the beauty of the ancient ruins of Byblos speak for itself in the following pics.

Listen to the Orthodixie podcast of my tripHERE.

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LEBANON – Jeita Grotto & Harissa (Day 4)

Day One.

Days Two-Three.

They don’t allow pictures in the Grotto (you have to locker your phone) — but you can hear a bit about it on the Orthodixie Podcast. And, someone took some pics! Go here:

“The Guardian of Time”, a sculpture by Lebanese artist Tony Farah outside the lower cave at Jeita.

The “Time Machine” outside Jeita Grotto.

The Maronite Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon (Santa Maria) Harissa.

I was a bit confused as to why all these Muslim girls at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon wore the same outfit. “It’s a school outing,” my daughter said.

For Roman Catholics, May is the Month of Mary — hence the flags.

Forgive me: out of “uniform”.

Listen to the Orthodixie podcast of my tripHERE.

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LEBANON – Beirut (Days 2-3)

Lebanon/Beirut – Day One.

ben op

Papa Joe’s Lebanon trip reading fare.

mc school

MC on the JOB.

day 2 sch playgrnd

School playground – where my daughter worked.

st geo ash

St George/Ashrafieh (Beirut)

st geo

St George/Ashrafieh (Beirut)

fr j st geo

Fr Justin giving us a tour of St George/Ashrafieh (Beirut).

fr justin uv

Fr Justin and his office assistant, UV.

day 3 sursock

Nicholas Sursock museum.

olg stairs

Makes a dad in the States feel a little better knowing that his daughter in Lebanon has to pass a “graceful reminder” on her way up the stairs each evening.

day 3 girls w Nou

My daughter and her British flat mates (with an image of, and a toast to, Mr Nouhad Bassila who couldn’t make the trip but “sponsored” our dinner ;).

Listen to the Orthodixie podcast of my tripHERE.

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LEBONON – Beirut (Day 1)

Day 1 Balcony

Looking down the street from my Airbnb balcony, Ashrafieh/Beirut.

day 1 mosque 2

The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, also referred to as the Blue Mosque, downtown Beirut — the bell tower of St George Orthodox Cathedral in left background.

day one martyrs sq

Martyrs Square, downtown Beirut.

day 1 ruins

My Beirut tour guide — a Huneycutt!

Listen to the Orthodixie podcast of my tripHERE.

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