Sunday, January 24, 2016

Maronite Year XVIII

The second Commemoration Sunday is the Maronite version of All Saints, or, as it is generally called, the Sunday of the Righteous and Just. It is common in Maronite liturgy to call the saints 'cedars of Lebanon', and Cedar of Lebanon is one of the Maronite names for Mary. The Cedrus libani is an evergreen tree, of course, representing fullness of life, and it is massive. The mountains of Lebanon were once covered with them. The Lebanese forests are less impressive than they once were, having supplied the timber of vast empires for millenia, but you can here and there find trees over a thousand years old in the Forest of the Cedars of God, Arz el Rab, towering over the Qadisha Valley and its ancient monasteries. It is not surprising that that forest is the Maronite symbol for the assembly of all the saints who have attained to the abundant and everlasting life of heaven.

Sunday of the Righteous and Just
Hebrews 12:18-24; John 8:12-20

Our God chose the righteous to preach his great righteousness;
the just He made to tell of His justice.
Prophets, apostles, martyrs, doctors, virgins, widows
witness to Christ, the light of the righteous,
speak with their lives the truths of Christ, the Word Incarnate.
He gives them His Spirit that they might live,
that His Church might be a holy people, His people,
an apostolic branch bearing good fruit.
In Christ's kingdom they celebrate the feast unending
with glory in the paradise of light,
for Christ is the sea of wisdom, joy of the just,
and the souls of the just are in God's hands.
Neither torment nor death has the power to harm them,
for they set their eye on the eternal.
They are gold tried in the crucible of this dark world,
and they pray, waiting for their coming dawn,
when they shall shine forth, like sparks from the glory of fire,
and under their King shall judge the nations.
The righteous shall grow like the cedars of Lebanon,
the just shall be flourishing like the palms.
Lord, may the righteous be present until the last end.

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