Liturgical Season Information
Consecration & Renewal of the Church
Background: The liturgical year of the Maronite Church opens with commemorations in honor of the Church of Christ. For these two Sundays teach us that the entire salvific mission of Christ today takes place through his Church. Through the outpouring of the Spirit of Christ, the Church has come into being and continues the mission of Christ in the world. It is now the Church which proclaims to mankind God’s saving love for the world. The Sunday of the Consecration of the Church invites individual Christians to renew their personal consecration to the Lord and his Church, and to strive to realize God’s kingdom on earth. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Focus events on allowing the youth to reflect on their own lives and renew/re-consecrate themselves to God
Event Idea: Plan a walk-through demonstration of the Divine Liturgy (a catechetical Liturgy), allowing the priest to explain what is taking place at each part
Insight from the Catechism: “The Greek word for Church is ekklesia, meaning those who are called forth. All of us who are baptized and believe in God are called forth by the Lord. together we are the Church. Christ is, as Paul says, the Head of the Church. We are his body. [...] The Church is God’s presence among us men, that is why we must love her.” (YOUCAT 121)
Wisdom from Scripture: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. [...] But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (1 Cor. 12: 1-26)
Reference from the Divine Liturgy: “In your Church, O Lord our God, love and mercy flow from you, and your peace protects the Church, from division keeps her free.” (Qurbono, 8)
“I was amazed at the feast that Christ prepared for the blessed Church, his bride. As I entered, I saw there: prophets, martyrs, and the just, the apostles with the priests; then Baptism and the cross; on the altar there was placed Christ’s own Body and his Blood for the pardon of all sins.” (Qurbono, 13)
Season of the Glorious Birth of Our Lord
Background: The Season of The Glorious Birth of Our Lord, often also referred to as the Season of Announcements, consists of six Sundays which precede the Feast of the Birth of Our Lord. These six weeks serve as a preparation for the birth of our Lord and commemorates the events recorded in the New Testament prior to His birth. By placing these commemorations before the Feast of the Lord's birth, the Church wishes us to prepare for the coming of the Savior and places us in an atmosphere similar to that which preceded his birth. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Each Sunday of this Season is dedicated to a different scriptural announcement leading to the Birth of Jesus, so focus events on a specific Announcement and relate it to the youth’s lives.
Event Idea: Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth is a good example to discuss Christian friendship and love of others. Genealogy Sunday is a great example of how our families can have broken people within them, as Jesus’ lineage showed.
Insight from the Catechism: “In Jesus, God took on our mortal human flesh, shared our earthly lot, our sufferings, and our death, and became one like us in all things but sin.” (YOUCAT, 76)
Wisdom from Scripture: “Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,* but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,* yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord* appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,* because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.He had no relations with her until she bore a son,* and he named him Jesus.” (Mt. 1:18-25)
Reference from the Divine Liturgy: “You are wonderful, O God! You came down to us and were born in manger, yet you fill heaven and earth with your glory.” (Qurbono, 80)
“Keep us from doubt and protect our faith, that we may profess your miraculous birth and honor your pure mother Mary and righteous Joseph.” (Qurbono, 59)
Season of the Glorious Epiphany of Our Lord
Background: The Greek word, “Epiphany” means “a manifestation” or “an apparition” and the word, “Theophany, “an appearance of God.” On this day we celebrate the appearance or manifestation of Christ among us as God’s Son. In the Eastern Churches the celebration of the Epiphany originally centered on both the Birth of our Lord and his baptism. The feast of the Epiphany is intimately connected with the mystery of our Lord’s birth. The Child who was born for us and the Son who was given to us is manifested before us to be the Son of the Most High. Christ begins his public life with his baptism by John in the Jordan river. At his baptism Christ is seen as the fulfillment of John’s preaching: he is the Messiah and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Father and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to Christ for he is the beloved Son of the Father and upon him the Spirit rests. Thus at the baptism of the Lord we have not only an epiphany or manifestation of Christ as God’s Son, but also a theophany or manifestation of the Holy Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The length of the Season of Epiphany varies each year, as it is dependent on the start of Great Lent. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Focus on our own Baptism and our universal call to holiness.
Event Idea: Plan an event focused on what it means to be a beloved son/daughter of God.
Insight from the Catechism: “In Baptism, we become members of the Body of Christ, sisters and brothers of our Redeemer, and children of God. [...] Being baptized means that my personal life story is submerged in the stream of God’s love.” (YOUCAT, 200)
Wisdom from Scripture: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son,* with whom I am well pleased.”” (Mt. 3:13-17)
Reference from the Divine Liturgy: “On this day Christ was baptized; waters have been truly blessed, so the children of Adam may be washed of all their sins.” (Qurbono, 125)
“You willingly emptied yourself and took the form of man. You gave us a pledge of life in the waters of baptism making us holy and heirs of your kingdom.” (Qurbono, 111)
Commemoration of Priests, Righteous/Just, Faithful Departed
Background: Ahead of the Season of Great Lent, the Maronite Church celebrates three Sundays of Commemorations. First, she commemorates all the deceased priests of the Church, as Christ has established the priesthood for his Church and entrusted it with great responsibilities. Next, she commemorates the Righteous and the Just, which is the Maronite Church’s equivalent to the feast of All Saints in the Latin Church. On this day, the Church calls to mind all the men and women, children of the Church, who have followed the path of justice and righteousness. She remembers the prophets, apostles and martyrs, the hermits, ascetics, men and women religious, as well as all Christians who have led holy lives. The final commemoration is that of all the faithful Christians who have departed this life in the faith. This feast is the Maronite Church’s equivalent to the feast of All Souls in the Latin Church. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Focus events on a specific commemoration
Event Idea: The Sunday of the Righteous/Just is the Feast of All Saints in the Maronite Church, so throw a Saint Party! Each youth can dress up as their favorite Saint.
Insight from the Catechism: “The communion of saints” is made up of all men who have placed their hope in Christ and belong to him through Baptism, whether they have already died or are still alive because in Christ we are one Body; we live in a communion that encompasses heaven and earth.” (YOUCAT 146)
Wisdom from Scripture: “Now therefore arise, O Lord God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might; let Your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation and let Your godly ones rejoice in what is good.” (2 Chron. 6:41)
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3)
Reference from the Divine Liturgy:
“Lord, may the righteous be always present with us until the end at the final day. They stand before you to intercede for sinners and pray for us.” (Qurbono, 161)
“Grant rest to our departed one who died in hope, our parents, loved ones, and the teachers of true faith.” (Qurbono, 170)
Season of Great Lent & Passion Week
Background: Great Lent is a time for personal change and conversion. The Maronite Church begins Great Lent with Cana Sunday, a commemoration of the transformation of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana at Galilee. This change prepares us for the evening when we change wine into his blood and bread into his body. The Season lasts for seven weeks, which is then followed by Passion Week. The seven Sundays of this season focus on the miracles that the Lord performed, as signs of the faith of the ones that were healed. We too are called to respond to Jesus as they did by deepening our faith in the Lord. In the Maronite Church, the Season of Great Lent is marked by fasting, almsgiving, and prayer and is a transformative period, preparing us for the Resurrection of the Lord. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Focus events on a specific Sunday in Lent (one of the miracles) and relate it to the youth
Event Idea: Coinciding with the Healing of the Paralytic, focus an event on the fears or doubts that have the youth feeling paralyzed, and what we desire the Lord heal us from.
Insight from the Catechism: The miracles that Jesus worked were signs that the kingdom of God was beginning. They expressed his love for mankind and reaffirmed his mission. (YOUCAT, 91)
Penance is often misunderstood. It has nothing to do with low self-esteem or scrupulosity. Penance is not brooding over what a bad person I am. Penance frees and encourages us to make a new start. (YOUCAT, 230)
Wisdom from Scripture: “On the third day there was a wedding* in Cana* in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”* So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs* in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.” (Jn. 2:1-11)
Reference from the Divine Liturgy: “Like a treasure, this great fast makes justice abound and holiness thrive. Let us not just fast from food but fast from all sin and keep our hearts pure.” (Qurbono, 186)
“...stretch forth your hand and have compassion on us, for you have said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”” (Qurbono, 200)
Season of the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord
Background: The resurrection of the Lord is the central event of our salvation, the one that gives meaning to who we are and what we do. Every celebration of the eucharist and the other mysteries refers to it as the source of inspiration and meaning. The resurrection is the feast of feasts, the queen of all feasts. The Maronite Church celebrates the Season of the Glorious Resurrection up until the Feast of Pentecost, fifty days later. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Focus events on Light and Faith and Renewal; Rolling back the stones in our life; preaching the Gospel of the Risen Lord in our everyday lives.
Event Idea: Have the youth create a “New Year Resolution” for their relationship with the Resurrected Lord.
Insight from the Catechism: What changed in the world as a result of the REsurrection? Because death is now no longer the end of everything, joy and hope came into the world. Now that death “no longer has dominion” (Rom 6:9) over Jesus, it has no more power over us, either, who belong to Jesus. (YOUCAT 108)
Wisdom from Scripture: “But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.* Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.” (Lk. 24: 1-12)
Reference from the Divine Liturgy: “Great and joyful is this feast of our Lord’s rising [...] for all things are new.” (Qurbono, 316)
“O Great Peace, you were lifted up on the cross and have broken down the wall of division and hostility.” (Qurbono, 330)
Season of Pentecost
Background: Pentecost is a Greek word which means ‘fifty.’ Though this feast is celebrated fifty days after Resurrection Sunday, the significance of the number comes from the ancient Jewish feast which was celebrated fifty days after Passover. It was on this feast that the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus’ Apostles were gathered in an upper room, when God appeared to them in the form of Spirit, settling upon them in the form of tongues of fire. The Spirit gave them the power to evangelize the world. It is on the feast that God called all his people to unity and mutual understanding. Because of this, the Season of Pentecost invites us to meditate on the “one, holy, catholic, and apostlic church,” which Christ founded and the Holy Spirit sanctified. The length of the season varies as it is dependent on when Resurrection Sunday falls in a given year, and then it stretches from Pentecost Sunday until the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Focus events on the Holy Spirit and our relationship with the Third Person of the Trinity.
Event Idea: Plan an event focused on the gifts we receive at Chrismation and how we use these in our life.
Insight from the Catechism: In [Chrismation], the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal that can be received only once and marks this individual forever as a Christian. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts grace of his Baptism into practice through his life and acts as a “witness” for Christ. (YOUCAT 205)
Wisdom from Scripture: “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17)
Reference from the Divine Liturgy: “In the Spirit, Christ made us children of the loving God.” (Qurbono, 406)
“O Holy Spirit [...] Fill us with the wisdom of your teachings. Make us temples worthy of your dignity. Quench our thirst with your grace. Enrich us with the knowledge of your Mysteries. Ilumine us with your light.” (Qurbono, 410)
Season of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Background: The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14th, (which begins this Season) is one of the greatest feasts of the Eastern Churches. It is frequently mentioned in church writings and always has as its object the triumph of Christ, his resurrection, and the veneration of the holy cross, the sign of his victory over death. In the Maronite Church, this feast kicks off the final season of the liturgical calendar. The season is dedicated to the Holy Cross and is seven weeks in length. It focuses heavily on the Second Coming of Christ, which is why our Liturgical readings for this Season all revolve about this theme. (excerpt from the Maronite Synaxarion)
Theme: Focus events on the power of the Cross; We all carry a cross in life, but Christ turned the Cross from a life-taker to a life-giver.
Event Idea: Plan an event where the youth come together to build a large ‘team cross’ and have them nail their fears to the Cross, which is our strength and protection.
Insight from the Catechism: Christians should not seek suffering, but when they are confronted with unavoidable suffering, it can become meaningful for them if they unite their sufferings with the sufferings of Christ. (YOUCAT #102)
Wisdom from Scripture: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)
Reference(s) from the Divine Liturgy: “Holy Cross of Jesus Christ…Without you where would we be? What would be our destiny?” (Qurbono, 611)
“Your cross is our shield, our refuge, and strength. It gives us great pride and fills us with joy.” (Qurbono, 631)