Maronite Rituals

From Maronite History

Special feasts and rituals during the church year give earthly things spiritual significance. Water, a common object, is blessed in various ways to give it a spiritual meaning. For example:

• At Epiphany water is blessed with a lighted coal to signify the fire of the Spirit who divinized the Jordan waters at Christ's baptism.

• At Pentecost water is blessed with the priest's breath to signify the Divine Breath over the waters at creation.

• At the Holy Cross water is blessed with a hand cross to signify the divine power that flows from the saving cross.


Funeral Ritual

Prayers are addressed to Jesus Christ, the High Priest. The dead enter a dialogue with God and living loved ones to be companions on the journey home. Death is not the end but a passage from life on earth to life in glory. Specific Ginnazat (i.e. hymns) are sung for men, women, adults, children, clergy, religious and laity.

Maronite (Antiochene) Cross

• 3 horizontal bars signify the unity of bishops, patriarch and pope - also unity of the Triune God.

• The leaves signify the life that flows from the saving cross of Christ.

• Syriac poets refer to the cross as the Tree of Life.

Fasting Rituals

The practice of fast and abstinence was regulated by the Maronite synod of 1736.


  • Fast: Eating and drinking forbidden until midday.
  • Abstinence: abstaining from eating all meat, oil, wine and animal products (eggs, milk, cheese etc.)
  • Forbidden food: Like most oriental Christians, the Maronites kept the Mosaic ban on eating blood, suffocated animals and certain animals considered impure; and which Oriental Church Councils have many times renewed.


  • Weekly Abstinence: Every Wednesday and Friday except: From Christmas to Epiphany.
  • The Friday before Great Lent.
  • From Easter to Pentecost.
  • June 24th and 29th.
  • August 6th and 15th.
  • Great Lent: from Quinquagesima to Easter abstinence every day; fasting every day except on Sundays and Saturdays (with the exception of Holy Saturday).
  • Apostles Lent: Abstinence four days 25th - 28th June.
  • Assumption Lent: Abstinence eight days 7th - 14th August.
  • Christmas Lent: Abstinence twelve days 13th - 24th December.


(Cf. Fr. R.. Janin, A.A. Les Eglise orientales et Les Rites orientaux, Paris 1922)

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