Sunday, January 17, 2016

Maronite Year XVII

Maronites wrap up Epiphany and prepare for Lent by commemorating the dead for three Sundays -- the first devoted to deceased priests in particular, the second devoted to saints in heaven, and the third devoted to all the faithful departed. We can thus think of them as the Maronite All Saints and All Souls days. (Maronites will sometimes celebrate All Saints and All Souls when Latin Catholics do, as well, but this is only because it's fairly common practice for Maronites to celebrate major Latin holy days as well as their own. Some call this unfortunate latinization; others call it a recognition that you can never have too many holy days.)

As I noted previously, while the Commemoration Sundays are sometimes put by themselves, they are also often treated as part of the Season of Epiphany; in this sense they can be seen as considering the end of the process for which Epiphany and the Sundays of Epiphany show the beginning. That is, they show the destiny of our baptism in Christ, which is one with Christ's Baptism.

Sunday of the Priests
1 Timothy 4:6-16; Luke 12:42-48

Praise and blessing to You, O Most High Priest,
who dispense Your priestly wisdom with gifts.
Receive the vinedressers of Your vineyard;
bring them singing to the Holy of Holies.

Priests You have chosen to be Your likeness;
holy You have made them to serve Your grace.
As You raised up Aaron and the Levites,
you have enlightened us with Your holy priests.

The priests said to Jesus Christ, "Lift us high!"
He replied, "I will exalt you greatly;
you will lift Me high above the altars.
Thus you will be lifted higher than angels."

The feet that knew the sanctuary
shall pass the gates of Your holy kingdom;
may their faith reign in us in all things,
and their memory inspire us to good.

Those who shared the work of the Apostles
with the Apostles receive their blessing.
With faith, with love, with holy purity,
in reading, preaching, doctrine they showed us You.

As the good worker deserves his wages,
Your priests deserve a memorial,
here and now by our commemoration,
eternally in the holy Book of Life.

Blessed are those who dwell in the realm of life,
who sing hymns of joy with spiritual choirs,
who are seated with the righteous and just!
May Your Mysteries protect Your ministers.

They have entered Your holy house, O Lord;
they have worshiped before Your holy throne.
They have spread Your forgiveness to Your flock;
O King of Heaven, forgive all of their sins!

The Father called them; the Son taught them truth;
the Holy Spirit hovered on their hands
and came down upon the gifts as they prayed;
O Lord, may You judge them to have been worthy!

May those who trained themselves to holiness,
daily raising prayer and sacrifice,
with hospitality serving angels,
rejoice on high with angels in holy light.

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