A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)
The feast of the Assumption of Mary is a very important feast in the Maronite Church. Traditionally, because of its importance, in all the Apostolic Churches, there was a two-week fast in preparation in the lead up to the feast. It appears that the Assumption Fast may have been further regulated by the Maronite synod of 1736 to eight days abstinence from 7 – 14 August. Fasting means not eating and drinking from midnight until midday the next day. Abstinence means abstaining from eating all meat, oil, wine and animal products (vegan).
It Maronite Eparchies across the world, the requirements differ depending on the location. However, this feast remains a cornerstone of the Maronite Liturgical calendar and of Maronite spirituality.
In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told that everything has its time and for “everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Our spiritual forbearers assigned the time to the lead up to this important feast as a time for realignment and preparation of our spiritual and interior life. There are good reasons to continue such traditions in our families. There will also be time to celebrate the feast. That time will come on the eve of the feast on 14 August and indeed there are celebrations in Maronite Churches throughout the world. In his book “The Virgin Mary in the Maronite Church”, Archbishop Boutros Gemayel recounts the words of Father Eliano describing the feast of Our Lady of Qanoubeen on August 15 in 1580”
“Throughout the eve of the feast, people from all different regions flocked to Qanoubeen. The Patriarch and those who already arrived, watched from the monastery rooftop the throngs of people who are still coming. Meanwhile, Church bells ring, peasants fuel bonfires and light fireworks. Others discharge firearms while people’s jubilations and shouts of joy escalate! On the day of the feast itself everyone shares in the celebration of the pontifical Qurbono, Bishops, clergy and the entire assembly.”
Starting tomorrow, consider preparing yourself and your family for this great feast through abstinence, fasting or by increasing your focus on your prayer life. You might consider taking up praying the rosary each night as a family or reading the Gospel of the day.
We are also presently putting together a family prayer with Old and New Testament scripture readings showing how the birth and assumption of Our Lady was all part of God’s plan of salvation. You will be able to use it over 8 days to learn as a family the theology of the assumption.
Date created: July 31st 2017