The Maronite Rite is an Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church. It is named for St. Maron, a 4th century hermit. Interestingly enough, it is the only Eastern Rite that was never separated from Rome; they were always in communion with the Pope. (Other Eastern rites separated from Rome, but were later brought back into communion with the Catholic Church.) I also believe they are one of the only Eastern Rite churches that use statues (not icons only) in their churches. Correct me if I am wrong.
The Maronites use a hybrid liturgy based on the Antiochian St. James. Although 59 percent of Lebanese are Muslims, Christians also have a strong presence. Maronite Catholics are the country's largest Christian group, representing 21 percent of the total population. and by the law of that country the president of Lebanon is always a Maronite.
While you may not be interested in reading about Lebanon I can say it is important when you read about the Maronites to know that Christianity, Maronite and Lebanon are inseparable.
When I say I am Lebanese so many times people ask me how did I become Catholic. I found my duty, as a Maronite Catholic, calling me to shed the light on christianity and Maronite in Lebanon.
The Maronites and Lebanon
Maronite history is colored with the romance that attaches itself to a struggle of a determined people. Most nations in their history often have to make a choice between confrontation or cooperation and time has shown us that minorities usually pay for their continued existence through deformation of character or out right collaboration. The Maronites through perpetual resistance and the preservation of a precarious independence have escaped this fate. Not only have they survived, but they have survived uncowed.The remarkable nature of their history lies hand in hand with that of Lebanon, for centuries being their retreat and fortress. Lebanon and the Maronites are inseparably attached. The Maronites have survived the storms of invasion, occupation, repression and suppression for over 1600 years, preserving their religion, traditions and state. Through the ages they refused to bow to their occupiers, at the height of the Umayyad dynasty the Maronites even exacted tribute as a price for their good behavior, in due course their Christian neighbors all succumbed to Islam but not Lebanon, holding a Maronite majority well into the 20th century, even their Syriac (Christian Aramaic) language was widely spoken well into the late 18th century and still survives today in their liturgy and in some of their villages. The mountain Maronites remain much as the earliest travelers found them, not having lost the virtues for which they have been admired. The ingenuity and perseverance with which they have tamed the hillsides is remarkable, striving for soil, capturing it from rocks laboriously, foot by foot. Their terraced vines, piled vertically one above the other, climb to the snows. Their minute orchards are often wedged in the faults and crannies of precipices. Such industry has its reward, the very rocks have grown fertile. Their long political struggle and the effort to squeeze a livelihood from the rocks and precipices have made them independent, courageous and provident.
Read more:Phoenicia: The Maronites and Lebanon, A Brief Historyphoenicia.org
Interesting link if you like to enlarge your knowledge about this subject.
Now when Maronites say that the Maronite Church contributes in a unique way to the ongoing renewal and upbuilding of the entire Catholic Church. It is important to know what is the history of the Maronite church and who are the Maronite Catholics
Here is a little more information on the Maronite Rite from the Maronite Monks of Adoration in Petersham, MA. I think you will find it helpful!
This is a Lebanese very helpful site talking about the Lebanese Maronite Order and saints. www.saintcharbel.com You can stop the songs if you want at the bottom of the page