Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Maronite Year I

I have a strong attraction to the Maronite liturgy, one that predates my becoming Catholic. A little-known fact about me is that when I did become Catholic, I seriously considered doing so by way of the Maronite rite; I ended up not going that route for logistical reasons, but the Maronites are still one of the things I like best about the Catholic Church. This Sunday happens to be the beginning of the Maronite liturgical year, and one of the things I especially like about the Maronite liturgy is how its liturgical year is structured, so I thought I might try doing a series of syllabic poems for the Sundays and holy days of the Maronite year. I don't know if I'll manage to do all the major ones, but I should be able to get a few of them.

And so we start with the first Sunday. As an Antiochene church, the Maronites put an immense amount of emphasis on the confession of Peter, and it is with this that they start their year.

Sunday of the Consecration of the Church
Hebrews 9:1-12; Matthew 16:13-20

Earthly sanctuaries men have built,
by reason forming respectful rites,
to render homage to Most High God;
but God to Israel gave a higher way.

By law and earthly sanctuary
He gave us light, and holy bread,
prayerful incense, and covenant;
but even greater has God given to us.

A living temple He has formed.
His anointed is the Lamb on high,
the Priest who offers Himself to God;
Light and Bread of Life, He brings new covenant.

Who is our high Priest? Hear Peter's words:
"You are Christ, Son of the living God."
This is a divine revelation!
On Peter and his word Christ has built His Church.

Peter and all of the apostles,
joined as one, are the firm foundation.
Paul raised the structure. We are the stones.
Inside, the Lamb is enthroned, our salvation.

Entering the Church I was in awe;
I saw prophets, apostles, martyrs,
virgins and righteous men and women;
I saw the priests with baptism and the cross.

Priests raised Christ high above the altars
as cherubim sang alleluias:
earth and heaven were joined in prayer
through perfection, purity, and sanctity.

Rise to shine, O Church! Rise up in grace!
With smiling faces hymn your Savior.
O Christ, drive out evil from Your Church;
make us a lasting tower of salvation.

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