Tag Archives: Maronite

Praying the Maronite Liturgy

Today, I was one of the acolytes at St Ann Melkite Church (Waterford, CT) for the Maronite Liturgy celebrated in the another Eastern Church, the Melkite Church. It is not typical for one Liturgy to be celebrated in a church of another Eastern Church but since there are a number of Maronite Catholics who live in southeastern Connecticut it was judged rightly to have the Maronite Liturgy this weekend. The Liturgy was done in both English and Arabic. My friend Archimandrite Edward Kakaty welcomed visiting Maronites with their priest from Our Lady of Lebanon Church, Waterbury, CT, to St Ann’s.

For nearly three years I served as acolyte for the Maronite Liturgy and frequently the Melkite Liturgy so today was like coming home.
Watch part I of the Diving Liturgy here, part II here and part III here.

Saint Sharbel Makhlouf

St Sharbel.jpgEvery one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.

God our Father in Saint Sharbel Makhluf, You gave a light to Your faithful people. You made him a pastor of the Church to feed Your sheep with his word and to teach them by his example. Help us by his prayers to keep the faith he taught and follow the way of life he showed us.


Saint Sharbel Makhlouf (1828-1898) was born in a small Lebanese mountain village who became, at 23 years old, a monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order and later ordained a priest in 1859. He is known for his intense devotion to lectio divina, the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sensing a deeper call in 1875, he began a solitary life (as a hermit) which he lived for twenty-three years of his life. Sharbel’s witness taught us about the virtues of poverty, self-sacrifice, and prayer in world dominated by an attraction to money, power and fame. Since July 24, 2004 Saint Sharbel has been introduced the liturgical observance in the sacred Liturgy.

Archbishop Francis M. Zayek said of Saint Sharbel:

“Reading about the holy hermits of the desert, we used to consider many reported facts as mere fables. In the life of Blessed Sharbel, however, we notice that these facts are authentic and true. Blessed Sharbel is another Saint Anthony of the Desert, or Saint Pachomius, or Saint Paul the Anchorite. It is marvelous to observe how you, Maronites, have preserved the same spirituality of the fathers of the desert throughout the centuries, and at the end of the nineteenth century, 1500 years later, produced a Sharbel for the Church.”

(The icon was painted by iconographer Christine Habib el Dayé. Other pieces of the artist’s work can be seen here and she can also be found on Facebook.)

Saint Maron

Saint Maron.jpgA song of ascents. I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
(Ps. 121:1-2)


February 9th the Maronite Church in Lebanon (and in the diaspora) celebrated the liturgical feast of the founder their Church, Saint Maron. It is commonly known that Saint Maron was a 4th/5th century Syriac Christian monk. Maron moved to the mountains of ancient Syria to what is known today as Lebanon. His spirituality, as would be expected of a monk, was penitential and centered on the sacred Liturgy. Studying the liturgical texts you would notice the influence of semitic forms of thinking, praying and discipline. There is a keen appreciation for Old Testament typology in Maronite theology, spirituality and Liturgy. One clear acknowledgement needs to be made: the monks (indeed, all the disciples of Saint Maron) held to the truth taught by the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). They even suffered for their orthodox Christian faith.


This is already too much information to introduce you to the fact that in Rome there is a Maronite College founded in the 16th century. Here seminarians and priests of the worldwide Maronite Church come to study the sacred sciences at the heart of the Catholic Church.


In the autumn of 2008 the Diocese of Rome and the Holy See established a parish for the Maronites living in Rome centered at the Maronite College. This news video gives a brief introduction to this new work of the Maronite Church.


ALSO, if you are interested in knowing more about Eastern Christianity, the Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus published a brand new booklet on what the Eastern Christian Churches are, and the place they hold in Christianity. Read Jesuit Father Steven Hawkes-Teeples’ work Eastern Christians and Their Churches.


In the USA there are two eparchies (dioceses) of Maronites, The Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brookkyn and Our Lady of Lebanon. Between the two eparches, the Maronite Voice is published.

Advent in the Maronite Church

Do you know if Advent’s begun? It has if you are a Maronite Catholic. The typical 4 week Advent season for many Catholics of the Latin Church is not the norm for all Catholics.

qoorbono.jpgSeason of the Glorious Birth of the Lord

(Season of soboorey, or “Happy Announcements”)

Visitation1.jpgThe pre-Christmas Cycle has six Sundays, which all focus on the unfolding revelation of the Birth of the Messiah. This is done in the context of the immediate family of Jesus, centering on Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1, 2; Luke 1, 2). This is certainly in line with the Antiochene emphasis on the humanity of Jesus and its appreciation of the historical aspect of Scripture. The greatest Announcement, of course, is that of the angels on Christmas.


There are one or two Sundays after Christmas (depending upon the day of the week that Christmas occurs), one of which is always celebrated: the Finding in the Temple. On 1 January the liturgical commemoration is Feast of the Circumcision (Naming) of the Child Jesus, with a second commemoration of the common Eastern observance of Saint Basil.


The Sundays of the Advent Season in the Maronite Church are:


  • Announcement to Zechariah
  • Announcement to the Virgin Mary
  • Visitation to Elizabeth
  • Birth of John the Baptizer
  • Revelation to Joseph
  • Genealogy Sunday
  • The Finding in the Temple

In celebrating the Finding in the Temple (Sunday after Christmas) the Maronite Church uses the 3rd Infancy Narrative of Luke (chapter 2) to parallel closely the Gospel development of Jesus’ own growth. He is seen in the Temple, recognizing his true “Father” (his divine Origin) and preparing himself for his Baptism and public life. In addition, Joseph disappears from all the Gospel narratives: Joseph’s earthly fathering is done, and Jesus will now proclaim the heavenly Father. The Twelve Days of Christmas take us to the Feast of the Epiphany (Theophany).


Season of Epiphany (in Syriac this feast is called Denho)

Jesus lover of humanity.jpgTaking the Baptism of Jesus (6 January) as the model, the Maronite Church celebrates our new life of Baptism and Chrismation in this Season. In Syriac it is called denho. For some Syriac Churches, this season is the traditional time of reception of catechumens into the Church. But for all Syriac Christians, denho is a time to reflect on our baptism. During the first three days of the Sixth Week of Epiphany (Monday-Wednesday) the Maronite Church observes “Nineveh Days.” These three days are penitential and serve to anticipate the Season of Great Lent. In one form or another, these days are observed by all the Syriac Churches, East and West.

(Thanks to R. Dom Bartholomew Leon, OSB, Saint Rafka Mission, Greenville, SC)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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