In the Maronite Church there are three unique feasts that celebrate Mary, they are Our Lady of the Seeds, Our Lady of the Harvest and Our Lady of the Grapes. The Syriac Churches developed the earliest Marian theology, focusing on typology, symbolism, creation and the Incarnation. There are textual records of these feasts from the fifth and sixth centuries in the Antiochene Church, but tradition maintains their origins go back to late apostolic times. The feasts are celebrated on the following dates:
15 January – Our Lady of the Seeds
15 May – Our Lady of the Harvest
15 August – Our Lady of the Grapes
It is possible that these feasts grew out of earlier agricultural feasts and they are linked with the natural seasons of the Earth. In Syriac thought, creation does not only contain symbols of God, rather in it, everything has been placed to reveal God in his hiddenness.
There is a connection between these feast and the Mystery of the Eucharist. The three feasts yield the ingredients for bread and wine and link the Virgin Mary to the Eucharist. They reveal God’s divine plan.
Their symbolism is best captured in the celebration of Maronite Mass. As the gifts are being received on the altar, we chant;
Alleluia! Our Lord Jesus said
“I am the Bread of Life.
From the Father I was sent as Word
without flesh to give new life.
Of the Virgin Mary I was born,
taking flesh as man;
as good earth receives a seed,
her womb received me.
Priestly hands now lift me high
above the altars.”
Alleluia! Our gifts, Lord, receive.
Through Mary the Word was made flesh. Through faith and reason she chose to bear the Son of God who would save the world from their sins.
On this glorious feast, we given thanks to Our Lady! Through the harvest of wheat and grapes, we gracefully receive the gifts of bread and wine, which have become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Theresa Simon and Christina Maksisi
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