Thursday, October 09, 2014

24. Rite of Preparation

Rite of Preparation includes everything connected with the arrangement of Eucharistic gifts on the altar.  This section of the Qurbana is also considered an immediate preparation for the central part of the celebration, namely, the Quddasa or Anaphora.  Thus it includes elements of Spiritual and Material Preparation.

           Symbolically, this part of the Qurbana is a proleptic celebration of the suffering, death and burial of our Lord Iso’-Msiha.

            The Eucharistic gifts, as is already described are prepared during the Karozutha Prayer.  The chalice is prepared in the Bet-Gazza on the southern side.  The water mixed with wine during preparation is the symbol of the Holy Spirit (Jn 7, 38-39).  The paten is prepared in the Bet-Gazza on the northern side.

            The Gifts are transferred to the altar during the Onita d-Raze, “anthem of the Mysteries”.  The transference-procession, namely, the procession from Bet-Gazze to the altar is seen as the transference of the Body of our Lord to the sepulchre.  The presentation of the Gifts at the altar in the hands of celebrant in cross-form proclaims the reality of Iso’-Msiha’s death on the cross.  The deposition of the gifts on the altar is equal to laying the Body of our Lord in the tomb; covering the Gifts with Soseppa is the same as covering of the Holy Sepulchre.  All these liturgical actions are normally led by ordained deacons.

            There are several prayers, hymns and liturgical actions involved in the Spiritual Preparation.  Prostration in the Raza is an expression of unworthiness to celebrate the Mysteries.  Washing of hands symbolizes internal purification.  Solemn approach with special prayers and actions after professing the faith is another act of spiritual preparation.  The exchange of peace and everything connected with it also stress the internal silence and recollection necessary for a worthy celebration.

            Peace is the embodiment of the risen Lord for Mar Toma Nazranees.  Hence, the wish of Peace repeated several times in the Divine Liturgy, expresses the intimate relation the people of God keep up with the risen Lord during liturgical celebrations.

23. Liturgy of the Word

The section of Holy Qurbana, from Trisagion to dismissal rites, is known as the Liturgy of the Word.

            Liturgy of the Word in the Qurbana celebrates the public ministry of Iso’-Msiha.  With baptism in Jordan Iso’ began his public life.  During his public life, he moved among the people as one among them, selecting and calling the disciples, teaching, guiding and correcting them.  All such realities are celebrated in the Liturgy of the word.

            Mar Toma Nazranees emphasize more the celebration and commemoration aspect involved in the Liturgy of the Word than the content of biblical readings.
            Liturgy of the Word, for them, is the most sublime moment when the liturgical assembly accepts and confesses the whole of Bible as the source of its faith.

There are four readings in the Qurbana on Sundays and Feast days: two from OT (of which one from the Law and the other from the Prophets), and two from NT (of which one form the Apostle and the other from the Gospels).  Thus the four readings typify the inclusion of the whole Bible.  Relevant psalms or hymns or prayers are also added in between the readings in order to make the celebration more solemn and meaningful.
The OT readings (Qeryane) are read by Qaroya, the Reader and the Epistle or Sliha or Enggarta is read by the M-Samsana or Deacon.

            Evangalion is always proclaimed by the principal celebrant, usually, from the Bema.  Homily befitting to the occasion is also a speciality of the Liturgy of the Word.

            Karozutha Prayers” which follow the readings and homily is, in fact, a proclamation of the faith of the concrete liturgical assembly.  Its horizontal and vertical reality of existence is beautifully confessed in the ordinary Karozutha.  There is also provision in it to integrate itself to any special situation.
            The Eucharistic gifts are normally prepared during the Karozutha prayer.  This liturgical action clarifies how the concrete reality of the worshipping community is incorporated into the Eucharistic gifts.

            Dismissal rites conclude the Liturgy of the Catechumens.  In the early Church, this part of the Qurbana was considered also as a preparation of catechumens.  Since they could not participate fruitfully in the rest of the Qurbana celebration, they were sent home with a special blessing.  The dismissal rites are optional today, but kept up in the text because of their enriching theological insights.  Anyone who seriously reflect on those formulae of dismissal can understand the emphasis on Eucharistic communion in Mar Toma Margam.  Communion is understood to be the culmination of Qurbana celebration and hence a must.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

22. Enarxis : Introductory Rites

            'From the beginning of the Qurbana up to the Resurrection-Hymn, “Lord of all, we praise you; ..  .” is known as Enarxis.'

In this part of the Qurbana, the Mar Toma Nazranees celebrate through various signs and symbols the salvific events like the Incarnation of the Son of God, its background, namely, the Old Testament history, the private life of Iso’-Msiha and His manifestation in Jordan.
The priests and other ministers in their proper liturgical vestments, enter the Bema, stand facing the Sanctuary, bow deeply as usual, together with the whole congregation and begin the Holy Qurbana.  The Sanctuary remains closed with the veil in the beginning of the Qurbana.

The Angels’ hymn, “Glory to God....” with which we begin the Qurbana is in fact a proclamation of the mystery of Iso’-Msiha’s Nativity - a confession of the mystery of Incarnation - a trumpet of the decisive call of God for salvation.

The Lord’s Prayer is a joyous response to the Lord’s call from the liturgical assembly.  Lord’s Prayer, we know, is the prayer taught by our Lord and thus is the supreme response to God’s call.

Psalms summarise the life of Old Testament, which, in fact, is the raison d-etre of Incarnation.  Thus the singing of psalms in the Enarxis is the recognition of Old Testament as part of the history of salvation and Iso’-Msiha’s private life according to its regulations.

'Sleeva Chumbanam'
The singing of psalms is followed by blessing of incense, unveiling of the Sanctuary, incensing of the sanctuary and the nave, and singing of the Resurrection-Hymn.  In Raza, the most solemn celebration of the Qurbana, there is the singing of the Anthem of the Sanctuary and kissing of the Cross before incensing and unveiling of the Sanctuary.

Blessing of Incense
The Mar Toma Nazranees proclaim the baptism of Iso’-Msiha in river Jordan and the divine manifestation through these special rituals.  The unveiling of the sanctuary symbolizes the opening of heaven.  The Trinitarian economy of salvation was revealed in the baptism of Jordan.  Here, at the conclusion of Enarxis,
the liturgical assembly confesses the same economy of salvation through the incensing rite.

The altar, being the throne of God or Sornos, is the unique place of contact with the Holy Trinity here on earth.  The Evangalion and the Mar Toma Sliba on the right and left sides of the altar proclaim the presence of the Son and the Holy Spirit on either sides of the Father.  Thus the incensing at this moment is a confession of and adoration to the most Holy Trinity, present in the Sornos.
Unveiling of Sanctuary
To listen Holy Raza Qurbana in Suriyani:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

21. Special Things Used in Divine Liturgy

1. Paten and Chalice.  2. Soseppa.  3. Lectionaries (a. Evangalion.  b. Enggarta.  e.  Qerjane)  4. Thaksa d-Quddasa.  5. Censer.

            People know that special articles are needed to do special purposes.  Painter uses brush and paint for painting.  A doctor needs quite different things to do treatment or operation.  Similarly, a carpenter uses chisel and hammer to give shape to the wood before him.
            In order to celebrate the Holy Mysteries becomingly we also need some special articles.

Chalice is a special vessel to mix wine and water required for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.  As the Quddasa or Anaphoral part of the Qurbana is completed, the mixture of wine and water in the chalice is transformed into the blood of our Lord Iso’-Msiha.  The water that we mix with wine in this context is the Symbol of the Holy Spirit.

            Paten is the circular plate or vessel of metal where the bread for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries is kept.  As the mixture of wine and water becomes the blood of our Lord, so too the bread in the paten becomes the real body of Iso’-Msiha by the completion of the Quddasa or Anaphoral part of the Qurbana.

            Censer or thurible is the vessel used to burn incense during the Divine Liturgy.  Incense appears to be an essential element of the celebration of Qurbana.  Incensing in divine liturgy is the sign of forgiveness of sins, total surrender to God, perfect adoration, and of praise and thanksgiving that rise up continuously to God.  If so, how can there be a proper liturgical celebration without incensing?  Only when there are not sufficient ministers, one can celebrate without incensing rites.

            Soseppa is a square shaped linen vestment with a Mar Toma Sliba in the middle, made out of the same stuff as that of the Paina or cope.  It is big enough to cover the chalice and paten together.  It is used in the Liturgy as the tomb-stone of our Lord Iso’ -Msiha and as the kerchief which had been on his head, when he was buried (Jn 20, 7)

            Lectionaries are special books prepared for the ministry of the word in Divine Liturgy.  There are three kinds of Lectionaries for Mar Toma Nazranees: 1.  Evangalion: This book which contains only the Gospel pericopes, proclaimed during liturgical celebrations, is the living symbol of Iso’-Msiha, and kept always on the right hand side of the altar.  When needed, it is brought to the Bema in procession and is proclaimed therefrom.  2.  Enggarta: This special book contains all liturgical readings from the Epistles, and is kept on the lectern on the Gospel side of the Bema. 3.  Qeryana: This book contains all the liturgical readings from the Old Testament books, and is kept on the lectern on the southern side of the Bema.

            Thaksa d-Quddasa is the special book, which contains the prayers, hymns and rituals for celebrating the Holy Mysteries.  It is brought to the altar and kept on it only during the celebration of the Mysteries; otherwise, it is kept becomingly in the sacristy.  It is also good that the faithful have the full Thaksa with them during the celebration.
            Other special things like M-Qablana (pall), Sankeenj (purificator), Ketana (corporal), and so on are also used for the celebration of the Mysteries.  They are helpful either to cover the chalice or to purify the sacred vessels or to spread over the altar.

Friday, April 26, 2013

20. Furnishings of the Church

Chaldeo-Indian Church or Chapel
 1.  Altar.  2. Evangalion.  3 + 7.  Mar Toma Sliba 4+5 Bet Gazze.  6. Tabernacle.  8.  Madbha.  9. Sanctuary lamb 10. Seats for Ministers.  11. Sanctuary Veil.  12. Qestroma.  13. Steps to Sanctuary.  14. Step to Qestroma.  15. Bema. 16. Haikla 17. Sacristy.  18.  Bet-Sahde.  19. Baptistry  20. Doors.  21. Lamps.  22. Lectern for Engarta 23. Lectern for Qerjane 24. Veranda.

There are special places for special objectives.  Schools for study, Hospitals for treatment, Library for reading books, play grounds for playing and so on.

“In order to commemorate the Holy Mysteries, it is necessary to have places and arrangements befitting them.  It is in the church that the Mar Toma Nazranees usually celebrate the Holy Qurbana.  There are three parts for their churches: Madbha (Sanctuary), Qestroma (Chancel) and Haikla (Nave).  Qestroma is made one step higher than the Haikla and the Madbha, three steps above the Qestroma.  There is also a Bema (raised platform) in the Haikla.”

            Madbha (Sanctuary) is the most elevated and important space inside the Church.  It is the heaven on earth.  The altar is erected in its centre nearer to the eastern wall.
            Altar: Altar remains as tomb of our Lord, Iso’-Msiha and as the throne of God. Iso’-Misha’s tomb
means the empty tomb, namely, the tomb of Risen Lord.  In short, the Altar is the Image of the Risen Lord.
     The Syriac word Misha means “the anointed one”.  During the consecration of an altar, the altar is completely anointed with holy oil in order to proclaim the reality that it is the Icon or Image of Iso’-Misha himself.
            Sornos: Aged Mar Toma Nazranees of traditional training call the altar, “SORNOS”.  It is the Malayalam rendering of Tronos, the Greek word that reached them through Syriac.  Tronos in Greek and in Syriac means the “throne”.  Thus altar is the throne of God in the Madbha, which is, in fact, the heaven on earth.
            In the Symbol of Faith (Creed), we proclaim that we believe “in one Lord ...  ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of his Father”.  The very same fact we proclaim by action when the Gospel Lectionary (Evangalion) is enthroned solemnly on the right hand side of the Altar.
            Evangalion: Evangalion, i.e., the Gospel Lectionary, represents the risen Lord.  It includes only the Gospel pericopes, proclaimed in the Liturgy and it is taken out of the Madbha only for proclaiming it in the Liturgy or for carrying it in procession.  Whenever it is to be taken out, it is done only with the accompaniment of lighted candles, incense and so on.
            Mar Toma Sliba: Mar Toma Sliba is placed or enthroned on the left hand side of the altar.  Symbolism of Mar Toma Sliba has already been described.  It is also the Image of God the Holy Spirit, since the resurrection of our Lord happened by the work of the Holy Spirit.  Hence the altar for a Mar Toma Nazranee is the throne of God: he or she sees the Father seated in the centre, the Son on the right and the Holy Spirit on the left.  A priest who solemnly approaches the altar to celebrate the mysteries, kisses it first in the centre, then on the right and again on the left in order to confess the Trinitarian economy of salvation.
            A Mar Toma Sliba of bigger and proportionate size is fixed at the centre of the eastern wall in the Sanctuary.
            Bet-Gazza: The Bet-Gazze, “Treasuries” are arranged on both sides of the altar.  Usually they are made as niches or recesses in the eastern wall itself or the northern and southern walls of the sanctuary.  They are places for preparing the Eucharistic gifts.  The chalice is prepared in the bet-Gazza on the southern side and paten in that on the northern side.  If properly arranged, the bet-Gazza on the northern side could be used to preserve the Holy Body of our Lord.  But today usually a tabernacle is arranged near the northern bet-Gazza to preserve the Holy Eucharist.

            Sanctuary Veil: There must be an opaque veil in all churches of Mar Toma Nazranees.  It separates the Sanctuary from other parts of the church.  Generally, the Sanctuary is kept veiled.  It is, in fact, a proclamation of our faith in heaven, which is beyond our ordinary human perception.  It is during liturgical celebrations that we are given an experience of heaven.  Hence the sanctuary is opened at determined times during such celebrations.

            Sanctuary Lamp: At the entrance of the sanctuary, there must be a lamp.  Usually it is hung from the roof of the sanctuary and lit always as a sign of the presence of God in the sanctuary, which is heaven on earth.

            Qestroma, “Chancel”, is the space in between the Sanctuary and the nave.  It is made three steps below the sanctuary but one step higher than the nave.  Traditionally, it is the place for the trained Choir.  According to the directives given in the recently approved Order of the Raza, the Bema table, where the first part of the Liturgy is conducted, could be well arranged in the Qestroma.

             Haikla, the “Nave,” is the spacious place for the community at the western portion of the church.  Symbolically it is the earth, the place for the lower or earthly choir in the Liturgy.
            Bema: Bema, the “Dais”, is a raised platform in the middle of the nave.  There must also be a table on it.  The table is the symbol of Calvary and the platform (Bema), itself of earthly Jerusalem.  There must be a Mar Toma Sliba on this table and candles or lamps on either side of it.  Candles or lamps symbolize the Old and New Testaments.

            On either side of the table on the Bema lecterns are arranged for Old Testament readings (Qeryana) and the Epistle (Enggarta).  The Epistle is read from the lectern on the north and the Old Testament readings from that on the south.

“The church, for Mar Toma Nazranees, is the symbol of the whole universe.  As heaven and earth, and everything related to them, are also related to the Mystery of redemption, the divine Liturgy, which is its commemoration in signs and symbols, must also be celebrated against that background.  Liturgy is a celebration where the heavenly and earthly choirs mingle together.  The design of the churches in Mar Toma Margam ought to be seen in this light.”

            Baptistry is built close to the Sanctuary on its south side.  The baptismal font and everything needed
for the celebration of Baptism are arranged in this particular space.  Baptistry must be accessible also from the Sanctuary.  Rites exclusive for Baptism are conducted in the Baptistry.

            Sacristy is the place where the priests and other ministers vest themselves for liturgical rites.  Usually it is built on the northern side of the sanctuary, having possibility of direct entrance to it.

            Bet-Sahde is a convenient place or room, usually adjacent to the Sacristy, where the relics of the saints are venerated.  It was in fact the burial place for saintly priests and bishops.  The people began to come together there and seek their help and mediation.  Slowly the community began to deposit there the relics they got from other Churches.  Thus it became a place of saints’ veneration.  In the present day context, the cemetery chapel itself could be very well so arranged.  The Mar Toma Nazranees would better express their respect and veneration to saints and martyrs relating it to this special place and not associating it to the church itself as it is in the Latin tradition.