by Sister Marla Marie
It is impossible for Maronites to hold a Liturgy or a devotion without a hymn, or prayers and petitions to the Virgin. Have you noticed how our Divine Liturgy is interwoven with prayers to Mary?
“…pure word without flesh I was sent from the Father.
Mary’s womb received me like good earth a grain of wheat…”.
This is not a imposed design, but a natural expression of the Divine plan for our salvation. This plan begins with creation and stretches to the end of time in Christ’s second coming. Every Sunday, as we gather for Divine Liturgy, we are entering into the God’s Divine plan for our salvation through Christ.
And naturally, this Divine plan places Mary in her rightful place as the Mother of God.
We see this clearly in the major feasts that we celebrate in honor of the Virgin: the Annunciation, the Visitation; the Praises of the Mother of God (the day after Christmas); also, her sharing in the Passion, Death, Resurrection, Pentecost, and her Assumption. Mary is inseparable from Christ. “She bore the One who set the universe in order.” (St. Ephrem). In addition to the feasts, there are many memorials we celebrate in Mary’s honor: her conception, her birthday, her presentation in the temple, memorials of planting, harvesting, grapes, the rosary, Our Lady of Lebanon, and others.
In the Maronite tradition every Wednesday is dedicated to Mary because it is considered to be the day of her Dormition. During the year, the months of May, August, and October hold special honor to the Mother of God.
Our Maronite Marian devotions are dear to us, especially the procession and blessing with the icon of Mary, litanies and hymns, and the rosary (a devotion from the West). What is your special devotion, hymn or prayer honoring the Mother of God?
A Maronite Marian prayer adapted from a hymn to Mary:
“O Mary, Queen of the Mountains and Seas, Queen of our beloved Lebanon, whose glory is given to you, and whom you wished to be your emblem. O Virgin, whose purity rivals the snow of Lebanon, …rise in glory like the cedars of Lebanon. We beg you to lay your motherly eyes on all your children and extend your pure arms to bless us. Amen.”
These photos were taken at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Washington NJ on the May 9, 2009 pilgrimage hosted by Our Lady of Lebanon parish in Easton, PA. I was invited by Abouna Paul Damien to join with his parish in a day of prayer in honor of the Mother of God. We had a rosary procession and blessing with the Icon of Our Lady of Ilige.