Excerpts taken from the book, “Captivated by Your Teachings”, by Rev. Anthony Salim.
In the Maronite Church, the Entrance into Lent begins with “Cana Sunday”. The Wedding at Cana has, as its central theme, transformation. On the one hand we see this pattern: in the Gospel, water becomes wine; in the Liturgy, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. On the other hand his physical body, changed in the Resurrection, the greatest miracle, a new creation, is symbolized by the water-made-wine. This focus on change should lead us to make the necessary changes in our own spiritual lives. We move from an earthly wedding story to considering our life at the eternal Wedding Banquet.
Great Lent is above all the time of the Great Fast. Fasting, acts of penance and self-denial, as well as intense self-reflection, mark this season. One remedy for sin that the ancient Christians saw as helpful was fasting. Maronite Tradition has always encouraged heroic fasting, and our ancestors excelled at it. Maronites are obligated to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Monday (February 12, 2018) and Great Friday of the Crucifixion (March 30, 2018), and also to abstain from meat on all Fridays throughout Great Lent.
On the Fridays of Lent, the traditional Veneration of the Holy Cross is prayed, and at some parishes, Stations of the Cross are also prayed.
Great Lent is above all a time of purification and reflection before the wondrous celebration of the Glorious Resurrection, a time designed to lead us to personal and communal conversion. In view of our common sinfulness and need of purification, this season is as relevant now as ever.