The Maronite Divine Liturgy
The Maronite Church in its Liturgy is fortunate to be the heir of at least two rich traditions, those of Edessa and Antioch. The Church of Edessa traces its origins to the preaching of the Liturgical contributors including St. Ephrem and James of Saroug. The first Christian converts to the Church of Edessa were among the earliest Jewish-Christians. Therefore, its Liturgy is strongly influenced by the world-view of the Bible. As one of the oldest established churches, it developed its prayer forms before being influenced by Greek thought.
The Church of Antioch was the ancient See of Peter and developed its Liturgy with influences from the Church of Jerusalem. The Maronite Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles represents the oldest tradition of the Church of Antioch. St. John Chrysostom took this Anaphora with him to Constantinople and it became the basis of the Byzantine Liturgy. As heir to the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Maronite Church represents the Antiochene Liturgy in its fullness. Thus, the Maronite Church, in its prayer life, preserves the way of worship ofthe Apostles and their earliest disciples.
We are a Catholic Church of the Eastern Rites, and are in communion with the Holy See; therefore your obligation to attend Sunday Mass or on Holy Days of obligation is fulfilled by attending a Maronite Divine Liturgy. The Maronite Divine Liturgy may be strange to some of you because you will hear the Liturgy and some songs in two different languages. Besides English, you will also hear Aramaic.
One of the most precious traditions which were retained is the use of Syriac/Aramaic in some parts of the Maronite Liturgy. Aramaic was the language Jesus Christ and his disciples spoke among themselves. During the Liturgy, at the moment of consecration of the bread and wine, the Priest chants the narrative of the Institution in Syriac/Aramaic. In that way, we are hearing not only the story ofthe Last Supper, but we hear it in the language Christ Himself used!
The Kiss of Peace is another difference between our two cultures. In the Maronite Liturgy the kiss of peace is taken from the altar, through the priest, given to altar servers and distributed to the congregation with joined hands. A hand shake is not a form of the kiss of peace in the Maronite community.
Communion is received by Intinction. That means the Priest dips the Body (host) into the Blood (wine). Because both the Body and Blood are present in the Communion, the Priest puts them onto the tongue, and not in the hand.
Like all Catholics, as Maronite Catholics we believe that the Eucharist is the REALITY, not merely a symbol, of the Presence of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ here on our Altar. Therefore in order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sins, and normally should have fasted for one hour. A Person who is conscious of Grave Sins is not to receive the Body and Blood ofthe Lord without prior reception ofthe sacrament of Confession.
If you are unable to receive Communion but would like a blessing please approach the priest in the communion procession, cross your arms over your chest and bow your head.