The Season of Great Lent marks the Church’s period of preparation for the feast of feasts, the Resurrection of our Lord. This season recalls the forty day period the Lord spent in the desert in prayer and fasting and, at the same time, it invites us to personal conversion through penance, fasting, prayer and alms-giving. During this season we follow the Lord as he goes up to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise to a glorious new life.
The seven Sundays of Great Lent are:
Cana Sunday: Entrance into Lent
Sunday of the Leper: Second Sunday of Lent
Sunday of the Hemorrhaging Woman: Third Sunday of Lent
Sunday of the Prodigal Son: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Sunday of the Paralytic: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Sunday of Bartimaeus the Blind: Sixth Sunday of Lent
These Sundays of Great Lent place the miracles of the Lord before us, especially his healing miracles, which are the messianic signs of his power over sin and death. They point to the greatest wonder of God, the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Each of this miracles are signs of the faith of the one being healed. We are called to respond to Jesus as they did by deepening our faith in the Lord and giver of life.
Great Lent is a time for change, for transformation. 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.
Mary had only to mention to Jesus that something was going wrong: “They have no wine.” Jesus understood that his Mother was not simply making an observation, but was seeking his powerful intervention. On her part, Mary was confident that he would listen to her. She had given birth to him and had lived with him for thirty years, so she had faith in him. At first, Jesus responded with an apparent refusal, “Woman, (a term of respect which he would also use on the cross) how does this concern of yours involve me?” The reason for his response was that his hour had not yet come, namely the hour of his death and resurrection, after which he would answer all the prayers of his Mother.
Jesus came into the world for a definite purpose and task, as we all do. He did not see his life in terms of the immediate needs of any particular moment, but only in terms of his purpose and the eternal plan of the Father. All of his deeds had to correspond and lead to the ultimate fulfillment of his life.
Mary knew her prayer would not be refused; she told them to do whatever he told them. Mary trusted her Son and her request was fulfilled. She told the servants as she tells all of us: do whatever my Son tells you
Aside from the rich theological significance of the transformation of water into wine, let us reflect on the simplicity and “homeliness” of the act. Jesus knew that the lack of wine would be source of embarrassment to the groom and misfortune for the guests. He did not rejoice in the misfortune for the guests. He did not rejoice in the misfortune of others, but used his great power to save a simple man of Cana from humiliation. Let us imitate his example and be concerned with the simple needs of those around us and how we can fulfill them.
Lent in the Maronite Tradition will begin on Monday, March 3rd. Ashes will be distributed during both Liturgies at 8 am and 7 pm. Please make every effort to attend Liturgy as you begin this journey of repentance and prayer.
The Ladies Society will hold their monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 4th at 7 pm in the Lebanon room. All ladies are encouraged to attend and participate.
The Men’s Society will hold their monthly meeting on Thursday, March 6th at 6:30 pm in the Lebanon Room. All men are encouraged to attend and participate.
Dear high school and college students:
We are happy to announce NAM’s Annual Scholarship Program.
1. The John A. Solomon Memorial NAM.MYO Scholarship. 2. The Naomi & Paul Kassouf Scholarship. 3. The Thomas and Jennie Ayoob Memorial Scholarship. 4. USEK Scholarship. 5. NDU Scholarship.
The deadline for application is May 15, 2014. This is a hard and fast deadline and, in fairness to all applications, absolutely no applications will be accepted after this date.
Anyone wishing to apply; please contact the rectory for application forms.
Lenten Observances 2014
The Most Reverend Bishop A. Elias Zaidan has issued the following Lenten guidelines:
All Maronites who are physically capable are to abstain from meat on Ash Monday ( March 3, 2014) and all Fridays in Lent.
Ash Monday and the Great Friday of the Crucifixion are also days of fasting. Fasting in the Maronite Church involves eating and drinking nothing at all (except water & medicine) from midnight until noon. The rest of the day normal meals can be taken, but without meat. All Maronites who are physically capable are to fast on these two days.
Fridays of Lent
Every Friday during Lent, we will celebrate the service of the Benediction of the Cross at 7:00 pm here at St. Raymond’s. Following the service, everyone is invited to the “Lebanon Room” for a Lenten meal. The schedule for serving the meal is as follows:
March 7—Ladie’s Society
March 14—Men’s Society
April 4—Religious Heritage Group
April 11—Parish Board