Sunday, February 07, 2016

Maronite Year XXI

Great Lent in the Maronite calendar is somewhat longer than the Latin version. In general, the Maronite calendar tends to emphasize Sundays over other days, in part because there have been long stretches of time in Maronite history in which Divine Liturgy on days in addition to Sunday was difficult enough to be only an occasional event. (With things like saint's days there was always a lot more flexibility with marking the day, but if you see a major feast in the Maronite calendar, other than a saint's day, that is not always on a Sunday, you can pretty much guarantee that the feast is either very old or very new.) Thus, Great Lent is opened with a Sunday. Since the Gospel reading for the day is the Wedding at Cana, the First Sunday of Great Lent is most commonly known as Cana Sunday.

I happened to attend a Divine Liturgy by the Maronite bishop last night, and in his homily he noted that Great Lent in the Maronite calendar is framed by two conversions. On Cana Sunday, which opens Lent, Christ turns water into wine; on Holy Thursday, which closes it, Christ turns wine into His blood.

Sunday of the Entrance into Great Lent
Romans 14:14-23; John 2:1-11

You, O Lord, changed water into wine;
change us into children of God.
You gave us good wine pressed on Your cross;
give salvation to those who thirst.
You gave delight to the wedding guests;
give us delight in You, O Lord.

   Lady Fasting knocks now at the door;
   Lent, the crown of heroes, has come.
   Turn to wine the water of fasting;
   by fasting we blot out misdeeds.

The Virgin Mary was standing there;
they came to her with petition.
By her wish you changed water to wine.
We come for her intercession;
change our evil acts into good deeds,
bring us into Your own kingdom.

   Lady Fasting knocks now at the door;
   Lent, the crown of heroes, has come.
   Bring us into Your great wedding feast;
   through fasting the Kingdom is ours.

O Christ, Artisan of all good things,
You worked the sign of Your great love.
End our pride, undo our vanity,
purify our hearts, give us strength;
quench parched hearts with your forgiving blood,
to peace and joy in the Spirit.

   Lady Fasting knocks now at the door;
   Lent, the crown of heroes, has come.
   Infuse within us Your holy light;
   by fasting we gain morning-wings.

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