Jesus in the Maronite Liturgy

By Roger AbiNader
Studies and writes on Maronite Spirituality

He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." (Mark 8:29)

Although all Catholics and most Christians share the same Creed of Faith, their views and experiences of the Trinity are not completely identical. This is most evident in the manner in which prayer expresses praise, thanksgiving, supplication, sorrow, reconciliation and love. The Creed, adopted late in the 4th century, was an attempt to codify into dogma the doctrines of "orthodox" believers in the face of heresy, and the demands of the rapidly expanding official religion of the Roman Empire. The Creed established the core belief about the nature and persons of the Trinity and its presence in this world through the church.

This codification of doctrine accommodated the mindset of Greek and Roman culture and law, which followed linear, logical patterns, based on intellectual and philosophical reflection. In essence the Creed settled the debates about the nature and origin of Jesus, and sent theological speculation off in other directions. However, in the East the debates continued because of the more dynamic, experiential nature of spirituality. For centuries afterward, Christians of the East literally fought over the nature and person of Jesus.

As the "Jesus People" movement grew, the teaching and preaching focused on pastoral concerns rather than philosophical and theological speculation. They Showed believers how their new faith was to be lived. As they moved into pagan Syria of the Canaanites, the evangelizers found it necessary to develop a variety of arguments to explain why our ancestors should change their religion. In this effort, they encountered both fertile ground and formidable opponents. Syria enjoyed one of the highest cultures and standard of living in the region. With the development of great centers of Greek culture and learning, Syria had something for everybody.

Syro–Canaanites loved learning, the arts, construction, engineering and business. They had a highly developed religion with "monks", ascetics, missionaries, evangelists, priests, a plethora of divinities and cultic practices, and plenty of fanatics. Unlike many other religions, the Syrians practiced private prayer and devotions. On the other hand, the Syrian culture reveled in its brutality and severe business practices. Their pagan faith provided little dignity and hope to the human condition. To relieve the day–to–day pain and despair, the religion exaggerated cultic practices, fed on immediate gratification, dabbled in magic and divination, and developed an eschatological sense that all would be set right in the future by an apocalyptic act of El. The gospel message was a clear sign of hope and fulfillment to the Canaanites as to the Jews.

Maronite spirituality, descendant of both Judaism and Canaan, reflects more on the experience of God rather than on man–centered philosophical ruminations. We are more interested in God's role in our lives and in the events of time as revealed and interpreted in written word and through preaching and teaching. Despite a strong Greek influence and centuries of Romanization, the Semitic character prevails in our liturgical prayers. In reaction to tan in concert with our spiritual roots, our liturgy primarily honors and praises the Trinity through the experience of relationship: Who the Trinity is in relation to its Persons and its Creation. Who the Trinity is in what it does to enhance that relationship. In other words, "who are you? What have you done for me lately?" Very simple. Very concrete. Real persons in relationship. We know who persons are by what they do and how they do it in relationship to others.

The Maronite liturgy answers these questions simply: Jesus is the fullness of revelation by showing God to believers and in bringing Truth to them. Jesus completes this revelatory function by giving us slavation and , thus, being our Redeemer, the Christ and Savior. A survey of the five liturgical books, including the Fenqitho and the Mystery of Crowning, provides a rich number of references to Jesus which follow this two part format. Part one states, in praise and glory, a specific title for Jesus derived from the creative and salvific experience, followed by part two, which states these experiences and blessings. Reflective of our spiritual roots, these proclamations are made in a milieu of hope, unity, immedicacy, repentance, eschatology, evangelism, reverence, piety, dignity, asceticism, resurrection and eternal life.

Well Known Titles of Jesus in the New Testament

Christ (Anointed One, Chosen) Lord (God)
Messiah (Christ) Savior (Redeemer)
Son of Man Son of God
Good Shepherd Bridegroom

Other New Testament Titles Used

Advocate Just One Righteous One
Alpha - Omega

First - Last

Beginning - End


Light of the World

Morning Star

Faithful Witness

Faithful & True

Author of Life and Finisher of our faith (Chief) Shepherd and Bishop of your souls Blessed Ruler, King of Kings, Lord of Lords
Bread of Life Captain of ..., Pioneer of ... salvation Chief Cornerstone

Architect and Builder

Teacher, Rabbi, Master Amen Deliverer
Emmanuel Eternal Life Apostle of our Profession

Beloved Son

Ruler of the Kings of the Earth Word of God

Word of Life

Head of the Church High Priest Hope of Glory
I Am Vine The Resurrection
The Way, the Truth and the Life Root and Offspring of David King of Israel

King of the Jews

Lion of Judah Our Passover Power and Wisdom of God
Righteous One Rising Sun Lord God Almighty

Titles of Jesus with Found in the Maronite Liturgy

The following titles specifically refer to Jesus and are found in

F Fenqitho
MC Mystery of Crowning
I Vol. I, Maronite Liturgical Year
II Vol. II, Maronite Liturgical Year
III Vol. III, Maronite Liturgical Year

Although these titles overlap in their meanings and references to various aspects of Jesus, we can separate them into specific categories or themes. Column one presents a short-hand notation referencing these central themes.

H-H: The Humanity and Humility.

The humanity of Jesus is a predominant theme in Eastern spirituality, for without Jesus becoming truly man, justification, and therefore, salvation are not possible. In His divine compassion and love, God "humbled" itself and condescended to take on the person of a human. In complete and humble submission to the Father's will and because Jesus was like us in all things except sin, Jesus, in his divinely inspired compassion, humble himself to the creatures and creations of those who He had created. Jesus humbled himself before the Law when he was presented in the Temple. Jesus responded to the supplications of the people in his healing and teaching. Jesus modeled behavior by washing the feet of his Apostles. Finally, Jesus died on the cross for us.

T = 3P: Revealor of the Mystery of the Trinity.

Judaism and Christianity are based on religions initiated by the Deity. This is rather unique, for other religions are man's attempts to be in relationship to a deity. Jesus revealed the mystery of a loving Trinity, three person in one God; hence, T = 3P. This theme is closely related to Jesus' divinity. Yet, the Answers provide sufficient definition for a separate theme.

Holy: Divinity and Pre-Existence of Jesus.

The divine pre-existence of Jesus is central to our Christology, and had been the determining factor in recognizing heresy for many centuries. Jesus' divinity authenticates the Church and the Priesthood. The Canaanite and Jewish tradition necessitate divine authorship.

PX: Christ, Savior, Redeemer.

This theme identifies statements which directly relate to the many messianic ideas stated in the Old Testatment. Especially in Isaiah and the Psalms, the expected messiah would be a king, a priest, a healer, a teacher, a nurturer, a sustainer, a liberator, the suffering servant, and an acceptible sacrifice.

Own: More intimate, personal God.

This new relationship between God and man is demonstrated by a number of unique and beautiful references to the infancy and death of Jesus.

We formulated these themes according to the function and intent of the "Call" statement, in column two, as modified and defined by the "Answer" in column three.

The Call extols Jesus by a title stating "Jesus is ..." or "Jesus You are ...". The Answer designates what quality or action we are extolling by the Call. The general headings in bold print separate the information by title, while column one provides overriding themes. Finally, column four cites where you can find these statements in our liturgical books according to the key above.

An example helps to explain the arrangement of this information.

Under the general heading "BREAD - FOOD - WINE", we listed five separate titles which refer to Jesus as spiritual sustenance: Bread of Life, Food, Life of the Word and Wine. Rather than calling Jesus' name repeatedly, we proclaim Him by His various attributes demonstrated in the dynamism of His relationship to the Trinity and to His Creation. These "Answers" tell us that Jesus feeds us, saves us from hunger, and makes us a family through the common meal of the Eucharist.

T=3P Your Son is the Agent Who was baptized ... the Father made known His glory F-8
HOLY Ancient of Days Descended and became man. Concealed in the virgin's temple. F-40

I: 40, 66, 237

HOLY Architect Fashioned the Church in the likeness of heaven. I; 7, 124
HOLY Divine Architect Who fashioned a Church on earth in the likeness of the heavenly gathering of the saints. F-141
PX Bread of Life You came to earth to feed us. I: 77
PX Food For famished souls F-136
PX Life of the World and Pledge of resurrection Who made His Body and Blood a Food and Drink... F-136
PX Wine O sweet cluster, of fruits of the Holy Spirit ... pressed ... mixed in the chalice of salvation and offered for the holy Church ...

O desirable and good wine, as a family we received you.

II: 161


II: 13

OWN Bridegroom of my soul Is a fact, a result of baptism. F-9



Bridegroom - Groom Betrothed the Church.

Will bring the industrious servant to the joy of the kingdom.

Risen in glory.

MC: 21; II: 12;

I: 12; 126

III: 19

OWN Heavenly Bridegroom Mary's womb was the bridal chamber. F-32
HOLY Child before all ages Born in the Fullness of time. F-12
PX Child of Hope and Son of Compassion We send you our petitions and supplications. F-32
PX Savior You have reconciled heaven and earth by the blood You shed for us on the cross. II: 7
HOLY Savior Jesus Christ Almighty God F-8
HOLY   Way, Truth, Life F-16
PX Counselor Be our Counselor in distress... III: 148


Creator and Ruler of all things

Creator and Establisher of the earth

The heavenly and earthly creatures proclaim You as their Lord...

You took the dust of the earth ... fashioned Adam in Your glorious image, and formed our mother Eve from his rib.

The heavens tell of Your glory ... the star-filled firmament show forth the work of Your hands.

III: 61

MC: 15


I: 12

PX Careful Provider Who sees to the needs of His people. F-141
PX Forgiver and Healer You healed the body and revived the spirit. You brought the paralytic to his feet. II: 76
PX Giver



Giver of Life

Good things flow from the palm of His hand.

You arouse incorruptible from the tomb and raised the body of Adam and returned it to Him who sent You.

You gave out of love ... lifted the cross of sin from our backs and bore it for us.

II: 13

I: 106


II: 115

PX Giver of Life and Light Through Peter and Paul. F-85
PX Harvester Who tended the fruitful martyrs and brought forth blossoms of truth. F-98
PX Physician of souls and bodies Cleanse us and make us whole ... II: 89
PX Hope of Life, Haven of Rest In Whom the weary of this world find repose. II: 194
PX Hope of the faithful Strength of the weary (St. Maron). F-76
PX Hope for our weakness

Desire of our souls

True Hope

Heal us and save us in Your mercy.

Who never fails, plant the true hope of Your resurrection among those who have died ...

II: 80

I: 139

PX Limitless Sea, Sea of Good Things You fill up the world ... II: 13
PX Wise Provider Who planted the knowledge of His divine and human natures in the garden of His Church. F-98
HOLY God-Incarnate born of the flesh So that we may be born again by the Spirit F-4
PX God-Man The Redeemer was anxious for our welfare and granted us His forgiveness... II: 76
HOLY Hidden Being You became visible at Bethlehem... I: 76
HOLY Hidden Child You chose to reveal yourself through a humble virgin ... I: 77
PX Hyssop Who purifies those who come close to Him.

You washed the wound of our souls in Your compassion ...

II: 198

II: 200

PX Pleasing Fragrance Who filled the whole universe. F-82
PX Pure Incense Who has filled the earth, grant peace and consolation. F-25
H - H Almighty King and Sustainer of the universe Came to earth, incarnate; was consecrated at the Temple as was other infants. F-12
PX King of Glory Comes to put an end to the temple and to renew a people for Himself. F-14
HOLY King of Glory and of Hosts   F-17
PX King of Heaven For Whom martyrs did battle. F-47
PX King King of Zion; King of Israel, King of Glory II: 93

III: 51, 67

I: 149

HOLY Ruler and Prince our lives To Whom Christians dedicate their lives. F-50
PX Lamb

Paschal Lamb

Who was sacrificed and Who arose and reigns forever.

You immolate Yourself continually on the altars of the Church.

III: 42


PX Lamb of God John the Baptist proclaimed. F-9
PX Pasch, Pascal Lamb Granting us Bread which overcomes death. F-141
PX Paschal Lamb Continually immolated on the altars of the Church F-135
H - H Bread from Heaven, Law-Giver With the Father and the Spirit came to the Temple to fulfill the Law. F-13
HOLY Fair Dawn You enlighten the whole world. I: 76
HOLY Flaming Word of God A searing fire, a white hot coal. I: 33
T=3P Light of revelation To all nations and the Glory of His people, Israel. F-14
T=3P Light of the eternal Father Who made known to us the triune mystery of divinity. F-20



Light of creation

True light

Light and image of the Father

You are the brightness of all people ...

The Way which leads to the Father ...

Brightness of all people and splendor of truth ...

Enlighten us and dispel the darkness of sin from the world...

III: 265

II: 85

I: 222


H - H Living and consuming Flame Arose to wash his disciples' feet. II: 127
PX Son of Justice, Guide of men Who has taught wisdom to the simple and has exalted the Church with feasts ... III: 116
HOLY Sun of Justice Created the moon and stars... F-54
PX Sun of Righteousness You enlighten Your Church with the fearless faith of martyrs ... F-53
HOLY Sun of Justice Who created the moon and stars. Your fire burns within us. F-54
HOLY Sun of Justice Glorious light ... III: 84
HOLY Sun of Righteousness, Light from Light Enlighten the Church with Martyrs. F-53
HOLY True and Glorious Brilliance Of Creation. F-19
HOLY Lord of earth and sky Lord of all things F-18
OWN Lord of Priests Who was held in the arms of Simeon. F-12
HOLY Lord of Glory God transformed death's reign and made Him rise, for death had no power over Him. III: 46
HOLY Lord Lord of Life

Lord of Lords

Compassionate Lord

Lord of majesty

Generous Lord

III: 41

III: 51

III: 272

III: 282

II: 73

H - H Lord of oceans and rivers Asked the Samaritan woman for a drink F-7
H - H Lord of the seas Went to the river for baptism F-9
PX Love True love and source of all love and peace.

Lover of all people...

Lover of penitent sinners ...

III: 9

III: 159

III: 189

PX Ocean of love and pardon (We) Received forgiveness from our Lord ... II: 196
PX Gate of Mercies Open to sinners who knock on it ... II: 196
H - H Blessed Offspring Given by Mary. F-29
PX Chosen One Revealed by the hidden Father and the Holy Spirit F-8
OWN Divine One Bent toward sinners ... delivered them from the slavery of sin ... III: 281
OWN Exalted One Who exalted the virgin who bore Him. F-32
PX Good One Who sustains the struggling and encourages the faint-hearted. F-61
PX Good One F-16
H - H He Who carries heaven and earth Was carried in Simeon's arms. F-13
OWN Holy One Who sanctified the one who carried Him. F-32
PX Just One Like dew washing dimness from the eyes. I: 68
H - H Lofty One Who humbled himself by entering the womb. F-32
H - H Merciful one As a child brought to the House of Mercy. F-13
OWN Merciful One Inclined mercy to our salvation ... for our sake, became Man. F-8
PX One Who strengthens Crowns martyrs. F-49
H - H One Whom the heavens are too small to contain Dwells in the manager. I: 237
PX One Who transformed our race From slaves to sin and death to companions of His radiance. F-22
PX One Who perfected the symbols of the past With His wondrous birth F-4
H - H One Who carries the world and Who supports all mankind Was supported and carried by Joseph. F-81
H - H One who changed water into wine Drank as a poor one would II: 13
H - H One



Strong One

High and Exalted One

Good One

Living One

Crucified One

Lofty One

Who humble himself in the upper room and served His disciples at the supper ...

Who willed to humble Himself and accept death.

III: 80

III: 108

III: 278

II: 12

II: 129

II: 133

HOLY One Who rose from the dead Who raises the dead and is the hope of the living and salvation of all people. I: 140
H - H One Who bears us as Was born by Mary. F-13
PX One Who fulfilled the prophets By His amazing incarnation F-4
HOLY One Who bestows death and life Who has the power to send and to remove souls from Gahenna ... I: 140
HOLY Pure One Who purified the one who nursed Him. F-32
HOLY Strong One Who straightens the hermit priest for your purpose.

(St. Maron)

PX Peace On Sunday, Peace appeared to those who live at enmity and good hope showered on those who lay in the tomb. III: 16
PX Announcer Of peace to our race. F-32
PX Eternal High Priest Entrusted the Keys of your kingdom to the sons of the Church. F-58
PX High Priest You chose to become our sacrifice.

You died in atonement for our faults ...

II: 190

II: 200

HOLY High Priest Who gave the Priesthood to mankind forever. F-140
PX Promise of God from age to age Flower of the gospel! I: 87
PX Creator Redeemer F-16
PX Head of redeemed humanity Because of Your everlasting mission. F-16
PX The Redeemer, God-Man


Was anxious for our welfare and granted us His forgiveness.

Instituted the weding at Cana ... as the first sign and was the beginning of the gospel.

II: 78

II: 13

PX Good Shepherd Who gave Your life for Your sheep and gathered them into your pasture. F-57


Good Shepherd Laid down His life for His sheep and raised up a horn of salvation by His resurrection.

Who tends His Church and makes it a treasury of blessings for all people ...

III: 11

I: 124

HOLY Beloved Son Declared at the Jordan F-8
HOLY Beloved Son About Whom the Father spoke to creation and declared the truth F-8
H - H Brother - Son of Man Of all people. In all things but sin, You were human, and You moved among us to accomplish our salvation. III: 46
H - H


First-Born of the Father Became man and washed His apostles' feet.

Begotten before the light, from the bosom of the Father, the Creator ...

II: 131

I: 68

HOLY Son True Son

Saving Son

Son of Justice

Merciful Son

Adored Son

Beloved Son

Creator Son

III: 99

III: 109

III: 116

II: 12

I: 94

I: 94

I: 94

PX Son of David David's Lord. F-36
HOLY Uncreated Son Through Whom all things were created ... III: 46
HOLY Temple of the world In spirit and in truth, we worship the glory of the living God which dwells in You. I: 88
PX Atoning Sacrifice Through Your death sinful people live... II: 190
PX Easter Victim Died once upon the cross, but now lives forever, making us sons and daughters by adoption and sharers in the inheritance of His kingdom. III: 41
PX Forgiving Victim You offered yourself as a pleasing sacrifice to your Father ... II: 200
T=3P God of Silence In stillness your adorable and mysterious Trinity lives, loves and acts. (St. Sharbel) F-89
PX Divine Teacher Built his Church on Peter the Rock, and raised up Paul like the bright dawn of a new day ...

Instruct us ... that we may belong to the household of God as members of His living temple ...


I: 84

HOLY Divine Teacher and Revealer Of spiritual knowledge. F-73
HOLY Eternal Wisdom, Divine Teacher Enlightening the simple, teaching the lowly. F-85
HOLY Power and Wisdom of the Father Filled St. Ephrem with a gift bestowed upon no other man. F-73
HOLY Sea of Wisdom and Knowledge You filled the hearts of Your believers with true, divine knowledge ... I: 132
HOLY Sea of Wisdom and Knowledge In the plan of Your salvation, You filled the hearts of Your believers with true, divine knowledge ... I: 132
HOLY Splendor of Truth Brightness of all people ...

Resplendent light illuminating creation ...

III: 265

I: 222

H - H Wisdom of the Father You became a child to free the children of Adam ... I: 76
H - H Beginning, Bright and Shinning Word Shattering the darkness and erasing the shadows with His light. Guide leading us to the Lord. II: 86
HOLY God's own Word Brought us back to life. F-116
PX Message Which became a Man Witnessed to by the Prophets. F-116
HOLY Word of the Father   F-4
T=3P Word of God One of the Trinity F-8



H - H

Word Shattered the darkness and erased the shadows with His light ... guide that leads to the Lord ...

Consuming Word

Pure Word without flesh ...

Who reigns in glory but chose to be seen in humility ...

II: 86

I: 33

I: 149


T=3P Your Eternal and True Word Reveals the Father; perfects the role of the prophets. F-11

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