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A GUIDE TO THE LITURGICAL SERVICES OF THE ORTHODOX SYRIAN CHURCH:

TRANSLATION AND ANALYSIS

MARIAM CEENA VARGHESE

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Masters in Theology at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, New York.

MAY 3, 2010

Dedicated to

His Grace Philipose Mar Eusebios

&

His Grace Yuhanon Mar Severios

of blessed memory

Abstract

Author : MARIAM CEENA VARGHESE Title : A GUIDE TO THE LITURGICAL SERVICES OF THE ORTHODOX SYRIAN CHURCH: TRANSLATION AND ANALYSIS Total pages : 83 Advisor : Fr. ALEXANDER RENTEL

Worship has a significant role in strengthening man’s communion with God. The prominence of worship in Orthodox churches is expressed in the practice of liturgical services. The Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church, like most Orthodox churches, is rich in liturgical services that help one’s spiritual growth, and it follows West-Syrian liturgy. However, to properly understand and practice these services, one must be given proper guidance and therefore, guides with liturgical instructions are very important. Regrettably, no effective rubrical guides exist in English in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, even though it is a need. The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the book, Shushroosha Samvidhana Sahaayi’ (A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church), one of the most widely accepted and used liturgical guides in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. This book was written by Yuhanon Mar Severios in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, a state in India, and is a valuable source to those who can read and understand Malayalam, but not easily accessible to many in the Diaspora communities. This thesis aims to translate the second part of the book that includes the instructions for the services of Feast days and to use his instructions to make conclusions regarding the degree of influence of local Indian customs on the liturgical practices that the Malankara Orthodox Church practices today. It is the hope of the author that the translation of the rubrics for the services would help the clergy and the faithful in the Diaspora, as they strive to worship God through the liturgical services and stay in communion with God, the way it was originally intended at the time of creation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter I Introduction ……………………………………

………………………

1

A. Introduction

B. Previous Studies

C. Goal of this Work

D. Methodology of the Study and Structure of this Work

 

Chapter II Yuhanon Mar Severios: Life and Roles …

….………………………

7

A. Childhood, Youth, and Early Monastic Years (1920 - 1943)

B. Diaconate and Priesthood Years (1943 – 1964)

C. Monk, Priest, Metropolitan (1964 – 1990)

D. Roles Yuhanon Mar Severios played in the Malankara Orthodox Church

1. the Malphono

2. the Translator

3. the Prophetic Figure

Chapter III A Closer Look into the Book

…………….…………………………

14

A. Publication details

B. Composition

C. Liturgical Settings during the Making of the Book

1. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

2. West-Syrian Liturgy

3. Language of Worship - Transition from Syriac to Malayalam; The liturgical setting that motivated Yuhanon Mar Severios

D. Genre and Audience

E. Structure of the Book Content of the book – an outline Part 1 - About Worship Services Part 2 - Sacramentals – Feast Days Part 3 – Sacraments

Chapter IV Evaluation of the Book

…………….………………………………

25

A. Other liturgical instructional guides

B. Strengths of Mar Severios’ book

C. Weaknesses of Mar Severios’ book

Chapter V Analysis of the liturgical practices

…………….……… ………….

34

Chapter VI Translation …………………………………………………………

39

A. Methodology of Translation and issues faced during the translation

B. Table of Syriac and Malayalam words

Translation: Liturgical Services of Feast days

Liturgical Services of Feast days

Nativity / Yeldo

Epiphany / Danaho

Reconciliation service / Forgiveness Sunday / Shubqono

Mid-Lent

40 th Friday of Great Lent

Palm Sunday / Ooshana

The Entrance in the Haven / Vaadhe d’almeeno

Holy Thursday/ Pesaho

Holy Friday

Holy Saturday

Holy Resurrection / Qyomtho

Ascension

Pentecost

Feast of the Holy Cross

Conclusion …….………

………………………………………………………

81

A. Introduction

Chapter I

Introduction

In the service of Holy Matrimony practiced in the Malankara Orthodox Church 1 ,

there is a unique feature that is not seen in non-Indian Orthodox traditions. It is the

distinctive Indian custom called ‘minnukettu’, when the groom ties a pendant (minnu)

around the bride’s neck. Though the Malankara Orthodox Church seems to follow and

preserve ancient liturgical traditions, it has incorporated this local Indian custom into the

liturgical service. This made me wonder if adoption of local practices of this kind is

common in the Malankara Orthodox Church and if its current liturgical practices vary

significantly from the West-Syrian liturgical traditions from which it inherits the

liturgical practices. 2 The adoption of ‘minnukettu’ in the service seems to be an example

of how liturgical practices may change over time in the light of local customs and

practices, even while preserving and practicing the ancient liturgical traditions with order

and discipline.

Order and discipline is a striking feature of the liturgical services in Orthodox

worship. Having born in an Orthodox family and growing up being nurtured by the life in

the Church, I have witnessed this and have been blessed to be nourished by the liturgical

1 Also known as the Indian Orthodox Church. 2 The Malankara Church began following West-Syrian liturgical traditions as a result of its association with the West-Syrian Church of Antioch. This will be briefly explained in a later chapter.

1

services in the Church. The more I learned about what is being done during the services,

about the order of various movements and prayers, and about the importance of discipline

within worship, the more I was able to comprehend the blessings from God through one’s

participation in these liturgical services. And to improve participation, one must be

instructed properly regarding these services. Realizing the need for liturgical instructions

in English as the Malankara Orthodox Church expands beyond the borders of the

Malayalam 3 speaking world, the following work is dedicated to help the cause of proper

instruction to the faithful, both clergy and laity, as understanding what is done in the

services help improve the quality of our participation in the liturgical life of the Church.

The Orthodox Church is rich in liturgical services and holds within its worship a

heavenly mystery. It allows communication with God, the way God intended it when he

created man. Worship is considered to be the vocation of man – “the expression of our

longing to live in communion with God, and to regain our former inheritance and

dwelling place.” 4 In the Church, therefore, worship has a prominent place and it is

important that liturgical practices maintain order and discipline in order to pay the due

praise to God and to provide spiritual nourishment to the faithful, even when they

develop in the midst of varying cultures and changing local circumstances.

In order to maintain order and discipline, those who are practicing the liturgical

services must be properly instructed and guided, as mentioned above. This was the

aspiration of Yuhanon Mar Severios, 5 the author of േഡാക്സ് റിയാനി

3 Malayalam is the language of Kerala, a state in India. The headquarters of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church is located in this state.

4 Baby Varghese, West-Syrian Liturgical Theology: Liturgy, Worship and Society, (Ashgate Publishing Company, 2004), 9.

5 Mar Severios was a bishop of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church. More details about him are given in the next chapter.

2

സഭ െട ഷാ സംവിധാന സഹായി 6 (A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the

Orthodox Syrian Church), 7 the most used rubrics manual in the Malankara Orthodox

Syrian Church. Through this book Mar Severios attempts to unify the various liturgical

practices that existed in the Malankara Orthodox Church during his times, and to pass

those traditions to future generations so that order and discipline will continue to remain

key features of the Church’s worship and liturgical practices, and that the faithful will be

nourished through their participation in the Church’s liturgical life. The following work

primarily is an attempt to study this book of Mar Severios and begin translating his work

to English, so that like him, I may also help the rising need for instructions for the orderly

practice of liturgical services. However, my secondary task is to also evaluate in the light

of Mar Severios’ instructions, if and how the liturgical services practiced in the

Malankara Orthodox Church have been influenced by the local culture.

B. Previous Studies

Liturgical worship is central to the life of the Church and like other Oriental

Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches, 8 the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church also

possesses a wealth of liturgical rites, according to the West-Syrian tradition. Instructions

that help us to understand and conduct these services are also important as mentioned

above; regrettably, in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, no effective rubrical guide

6 Orthodox Suriyani Sabhayude Shushroosha Samvidhana Sahaayi.

7 Yuhanon Mar Severios, Orthodox Suriyani Sabhayude Shushroosha Samvidhana Sahaayi, (Kottayam, India: Malankara Orthodox Church Publications, 2007), translation mine. The original text is in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, a state in India. 8 The Malankara Orthodox Church belongs to the family of Oriental Orthodox churches of which the other churches are Coptic, Syrian, Armenian, Ethiopian and Eritrean. Unlike the Eastern Orthodox Churches who recognize seven ecumenical councils, the Oriental Orthodox churches recognize only the first three councils, namely, those held in Nicaea (AD 325), Constantinople (AD 381) and Ephesus (AD 431). The division between these two families of churches exists in connection with the proper way to speak of the two natures (human and divine) of Christ, since the council held in Chalcedon in AD 451.

3

such as the one authored by Mar Severios, exists in English to date, even though it is a

growing need. As stated earlier, the purpose of this paper is to translate and evaluate the

book written in Malayalam by Yuhanon Mar Severios and examine if and how local

conditions has changed the West-Syrian liturgical practices adopted by the Malankara

Orthodox Church. This thesis is the second step of a project I have undertaken to translate

the book into English. The first step, which was an introduction and brief evaluation, was

my own thesis which was done as part of my Master of Arts degree. 9 That thesis offered a

brief introduction to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the aforementioned book

and its author, as well as a sample translation of one of its chapters: The Foot-washing

Service of Holy Thursday.

C. Goal of this Work

The goal of this thesis project is not merely to translate the book. In fact, the book

will be translated only partially. While the translation is the major portion of this work, it

is my hope to evaluate the book, understand its author’s motivation and make conclusions

regarding the development of liturgical practices in varying localities and cultures. Has

the local conditions in India affected the practices that were inherited from the West-

Syrian liturgical tradition? Has present-day practices changed significantly from the

practices of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Antioch, from whom the Malankara

Orthodox Church adopted liturgical services? Why did Mar Severios think that it was

necessary to write this book? What was his motivation? Is his book still relevant today?

What are some of the difficulties that arise when translating this book into English? It is

9 Mariam Varghese, A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church: Introduction and Translation, unpublished (Crestwood, NY: 2009).

4

my hope to answer these questions by supporting them with the translation of the second

part of his book – the liturgical services of Feast days.

D. Methodology of the Study and Structure of this Work

I begin with a brief biography of the author, Yuhanon Mar Severios. Then I lay

out the liturgical setting under which Mar Severios wrote by briefly surveying the history

of the Malankara Orthodox Church. Afterwards, I evaluate the book and point out some

of its advantages and disadvantages. Then I address the question regarding how the

current liturgical services in the Malankara Church vary from the West-Syrian liturgical

practices. Next I translate the rubrics for the liturgical services on Feast days. The

translation is accompanied with the rules by which I translated as well as the issues that I

encountered during this process. I also include a table of Syriac and Malayalam words

and their equivalents used in my translation. More details about the methodology for my

translation are included in that chapter. Following this introductory chapter, the work

contains five more chapters before the conclusion. Here is the chapter-wise breakdown of

this study:

Chapter Two provides a biographical sketch of the author, Yuhanon Mar

Severios and mentions the roles he played in the Malankara Orthodox

Church;

Chapter Three offers a detailed look into the book, including the liturgical

settings under which Mar Severios wrote and an explanation of the

structure of the book. To lay out the liturgical setting, the chapter presents

a brief history of the Malankara Orthodox Church, its associations with the

5

Syrian Church, its adoption of West-Syrian liturgical practices and its

transition from the use of Syriac to Malayalam as the language of worship;

Chapter Four evaluates the book, providing some of its strengths and

weaknesses and mentions other available liturgical guides;

Chapter Five is an analysis of the liturgical instructions to make

conclusions regarding the development of liturgy over time in different

cultures and geographic locations, especially regarding the development of

liturgical services within the Malankara Orthodox Church.

Chapter Six contains the rules I follow for the translation as well as the

difficulties I encountered in the process. A table of relevant Syriac and

Malayalam words is included with an explanation. This is followed by the

English translation of Mar Severios’ instructions for the liturgical services

of feast days.

6

Chapter II

Yuhanon Mar Severios: Life and Roles 1

A. Childhood, Youth, and Early Monastic Years (1920 - 1943)

Yuhanon Mar Severios was born to Mr. Varghese Avira and Mrs. Mariamma

Varghese on January 14, 1920 in a place called Thrikkothamangalam, near Puthupally, in

the district of Kottayam in Kerala, India. 2 His baptismal name was Yohannan. 3 Joseph

Cheeran, who wrote a biography of Yohannan, 4 says that even as early as his school

years, he had a sense of “the calling to serve as a priest in the future.” 5 This was

developed because of the atmosphere provided at home especially with the keen interest

of his paternal grandmother in Syrian

Christianity. 6

During those days, his cousin, Fr. K. V. Geevarghese (Yohannan’s father’s

sister’s son) established a monastery in Thrikkothamangalam in Kerala by the name

Sharbeel’ and started living there. 7 This monastery influenced Yohannan’s liturgical life

as well as his view on life. He attended various services with Fr. Geevarghese, says

Yohannan’s biographer. Cheeran mentions some of these events which were influential in

1 For this chapter on the author, I am resuming the work I did for my M. A. Thesis. Mariam Varghese, A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church: Introduction and Translation, unpublished (Crestwood, NY: 2009).

2 Samuel Chandanappally, Malankara Sabha Pithakkanmar (Malankara Church Fathers), (Chandanappally, India: Ceedees Books, 1990), 974, translation mine.

3 ‘Yohannan’ is a variant of ‘Yuhanon’ and both are equivalents of ‘John.’

4 Joseph Cheeran, “Yuhanon Mar Severios: Malankara Sabhayude Pravachaka Prathibha,” Puthupally Church Dedication Magazine (2003): 145-153, translation mine.

5 Ibid., 146.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

7

the spiritual growth of the young Yohannan. The consecration service of Mar

Geevarghese II as the Catholicos in 1929 became an unforgettable event in this nine-

year-old’s memories. Another experience of the same year was his full participation in

the Holy Week services at the Sharbeel Monastery. Witnessing the foot-washing

ceremony done by Mar Geevarghese II, brought tears to the young boy’s eyes, and also

encouraged him to have a love for liturgical services. 8 According to Cheeran, this event

made a great impact on his life.

Fr. Geevarghese sent Yohannan to Augen Mar Timotheos (later Catholicos) in

Muvattupuzha. 9 The seventeen months of teacher-student relationship renewed

Yohannan. Yohannan who had learned Syriac, English and Malayalam, was now lead

into deeper scholarship of the languages and their grammar, as well as into the study of

the Canons, Rubrics, Church History and Theology. 10 The teacher, Mar Timotheos, who

himself was a liturgical scholar, saw Yohannan as the instrument through which he can

transfer his knowledge to the future generations, says Cheeran. 11 Yohannan made much

8 Cheeran, 147.

9 Muvattupuzha is a town in Ernakulam district in Kerala.

10 Cheeran, 147.

11 Ibid., 147.

8

use of the Konat library 12 , and developed a friendly relationship with Malphono

(Teacher)

Abraham Konat and learned much from these experiences. 13

B. Diaconate and Priesthood Years (1943 – 1964)

After Yohannan’s teacher, Mar Augen, became the Catholicos, he ordained

Yohannan as deacon on April 7, 1943. On July 7 of the same year, Mar Augen ordained

him a priest 14 and the little boy who had once sensed the calling to be a priest now

became Fr. Yohannan. Before becoming a priest, Fr. Yohannan had stayed in the

monastery in Pambady 15 and had received training in monastic life. The atmosphere there

surely must have had an impact on the young priest. Cheeran says that Fr. Yohannan

lived a celibate life with a strong prayer life, keenly observing liturgical services, and

displayed patience, obedience, humility and tolerance. 16 Because of these characteristics

and his excellence in Syriac and liturgical music, he was appointed as the Malphono of

the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kottayam in April, 1949. And with his

appointment, the theological students at the seminary were blessed with the presence of a

disciplined and exemplary priest who instructed them and led them in liturgical services.

12 Project for Preserving the Manuscripts of the Syrian Christians in India. May 2, 2009

<http://www.srite.de/index?id=2&cikk=67>.

The Konat library contains a collection of the most ancient manuscripts, mostly in West Syriac but also in East Syriac. The library is located in Pampakuda, in the Indian state of Kerala and contains over 300 manuscripts. It is owned by the Konat family, who had played a major role in the development of Syriac scholarship and liturgical translation in the Malankara Orthodox Church. Upon the order of Malphono Mathew Konat, many texts, including liturgical texts and commentaries, were copied by Matthew of Mosul, a famous scribe active towards the end of the 19 th century. Malphono Mathew Konat as well as his son, Malphono Abraham Konat contributed much to the translation of texts from Syriac to Malayalam. Getting access to this rich library seems to have helped increase Mar Severios’s knowledge in Syriac as well as in liturgical practices.

13 Cheeran, 148. Malphono is the Syriac word for ‘teacher’ and is the title given to the most important teacher of Syriac in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

14 Cheeran, 148.

15 Pampady is a small town located in Kottayam district in Kerala.

16 Cheeran, 148.

9

In addition, the Catholicos also found in Fr. Yohannan, a suitable priest to assist him as

Archdeacon during liturgical services, reports Cheeran. Fr. Yohannan served as

Malphono for seventeen years at the seminary, from 1949 to 1966. 17 During these years,

it was to him that Malankara Orthodox Christians came to seek answers regarding the

liturgical practices of the Church. 18

C. Monk, Priest, Metropolitan (1964 – 1990)

On December 8, 1964, the Malankara Syrian Christian Association that met in

Kottayam elected to consecrate Fr. Yohannan as Metropolitan. 19 Catholicos Augen

tonsured him as Ramban (monk) on February 26, 1965 at the seminary in Kottayam and

consecrated him as Metropolitan on August 28 of the same year at the church in

Kolencherry. 20 And thus he became Yuhanon Mar Severios. He took charge as

Metropolitan of the Diocese of Cochin 21 on October 21, and led the diocese into spiritual

growth. 22 He trained priests and solved the lack of priests in the diocese. Cheeran

conveys that probably no other bishops have conducted as many ordinations or church

consecrations as Mar Severios. 23 As Mar Severios aged however, sickness and physical

weakness slowed him down. His final project was to renovate the Catholicate chapel and

he was able to complete it. 24 He fell asleep in the Lord on May 16, 1990 and he was

buried in the seminary in Koratti. 25

17 Ibid.

18 Chandanappally, 969.

19 Cheeran, 149.

20 Cheeran, 149. Kolencherry is located in Ernakulam district in Kerala.

21 Cochin is a city in Kerala, India.

22 Chandanappally, 974.

23 Cheeran, 149.

24 Ibid.

25 Chandanappally, 974. Koratty is a town located in Thrissur district in Kerala.

10

D.

Roles Yuhanon Mar Severios played in the Malankara Orthodox Church

1. Yuhanon Mar Severios: the Malphono

Mar Severios had the title of Malphono, a Syriac term that means ‘teacher.’ The

responsibility of a Malphono is to teach Syriac and rubrics to theological students and

make them proficient in conducting liturgical services. Though there have been many

Malphone (teachers) in the Malankara Church at all times, Mar Severios was exceptional

because in addition to teaching, he wrote down what he taught and consequently passed it

on to future generations. It is his instructions that are now available in Malayalam in the

pages of the book, േഡാക്സ് റിയാനി സഭ െട ഷാ സംവിധാന

സഹായി (A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church). In the

foreword of this book, Metropolitan Mathews Mar Severios, the Vice President of the

Malankara Orthodox Church Publications, says that Yuhanon Mar Severios contributed

much to unify the services in the Malankara Orthodox Church by providing a liturgical

instructional guide. 26 Perhaps the Malankara Church has never seen a Malphono who

excelled in the knowledge of liturgical services like Mar Severios. His contributions to

the Church in his role as Malphono appear to be substantial.

2. Yuhanon Mar Severios: the Translator

In addition to being a teacher, Mar Severios was also a translator. Though he was

a Syriac scholar, he loved Malayalam dearly. There already was a revolution in the

Church that sought to have the worship services in the mother-tongue, Malayalam,

26 Severios, 3.

11

instead of Syriac, about a century before the days of Mar Severios. 27 But only selected

liturgical texts were translated. Mar Severios contributed greatly to this transition from

Syriac to Malayalam as the language of worship. His translations include the Liturgical

Prayers for the Priests, the Service Book of the Great Lent, the Service Book of Holy

Week, and the Service Book of the Nineveh Lent. 28 As the use of Syriac was on the

decline in India, he took special interests in translating these into Malayalam so that the

use of the liturgical texts written in Syriac will not lose its place in the Church.

3. Yuhanon Mar Severios: the Prophetic Figure

Yuhanon Mar Severios’s biographer, Cheeran, says that in addition to his

contributions as a Malphono and a translator, Severios also acted like “a prophet” in the

Malankara Church. 29 Whenever he saw lack of reverence for the Church or for the

liturgical practices of the Church or towards the Body and Blood of Christ, he put on the

face of a prophet; he had the courage to point out what is wrong, and correct his people.

Like John the Baptist, Yuhanon (John) was able to call people to repentance. And he used

his love for liturgical services to teach his people. Even in his instructions for liturgical

services, he emphasized that the liturgical services are for our blessing and for our

transformation and renewal. 30

Mar Severios was and is a great asset to the Malankara Orthodox Church. An

examination of his life and roles as given in this chapter shows how he was a man of the

Church, who responded to the needs of the faithful in his church. This chapter on his life

27 Cheeran, 151.

28 Chandanappally, 974.

29 Cheeran, 151.

30 Severios, 63.

12

might seem a bit too hagiographical. But as it is probably the case for other church

leaders of his kind also, his life is known to us today mostly only through his writings or

through the eyes of people who have been positively influenced by his life and his love

for liturgical services. As the past is known to us only from the present, and because all

history, including biography, is an interpretation, I have tried to incorporate as many

sources as I can, to study the life of Mar Severios. But yet the outcome is the

hagiographical nature of this chapter. However, this also is perhaps indicative of the kind

of life Mar Severios lived – a life that was dominated and transformed by a love for the

liturgical practices of the Church.

13

Chapter III:

A CLOSER LOOK of:

Yuhanon Mar Severios, Orthodox Suriyani Sabhayude Shushroosha Samvidhana Sahaayi, (Kottayam, India: Malankara Orthodox Church Publications, 2007).

A. Publication Details

Original Title

: േഡാക്സ് റിയാനി സഭ െട ഷാ സംവിധാന സഹായി

Translated Title

: A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church

Publisher

: Malankara Orthodox Church Publications,

Devalokam, Kottayam - 38

First Published

: 1983

Revised 1 st Edition

: 1996

2 nd Edition

: 2007

Printed at

: Catholicate Offset Press, Devalokam, Kottayam - 38

ISBN

: 81-86631-14 3

B. Composition

The book was written after Mar Severios was made bishop, and was first

published in 1983. However, Mar Severios realized that the book could be improved.

Thus he began his revisions right after its first publication. 1 An example of an addition

1 Fr. Philip C. Abraham, who stayed with Mar Severios from 1984 to 1986 and served as his deacon, and continued to travel with him to liturgical services even after those years, testify to the commitment the bishop had to properly instruct the priests and thus preserve the ancient liturgical practices in the Malankara Orthodox Church with order and discipline. During those years, Fr. Abraham had many discussions with

14

that appears in his revised publication of 1996 is the detailed diagram of how to make the

sign of the cross on the throne and the Tablet in the altar while blessing them during the

consecration of church buildings. 2 The new and improved book that is the primary text of

this thesis project is a testament of the author’s skills and talents as well as his love for

the orderly practice of liturgical services.

C. Liturgical Settings during the Making of the Book

In order to properly understand the liturgical settings under which Mar Severios

wrote, it seems appropriate to briefly look at the history of the Malankara Orthodox

Syrian Church, its associations with the Syrian Church, its adoption of West-Syrian

liturgical practices and its transition from the use of Syriac to Malayalam as its language

of worship. 3

1. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

It is believed that the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church was founded by one of

the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ – St. Thomas – who brought the Gospel to India in AD

52. According to traditions, the apostle landed in the port of Muziris near Kodungallur

(Cranganur) in the Malabar Coast of Kerala. 4 On arrival, St. Thomas is thought to have

preached the Gospel to the scattered Jews as well as the local population in Kerala. 5 The

first converts to Christianity were Jews and many among the other converts were high

Mar Severios regarding this book and as his secretary, helped in the writing of this book. Several conversations that I had with Fr. Abraham contributed to this thesis. 2 Severios, 178.

3 For this, I am drawing from my thesis I did for my Master of Arts degree at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Mariam Varghese, A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church: Introduction and Translation, unpublished (Crestwood, NY: 2009).

4 David Daniel, The Orthodox Church of India, (New Delhi, 1986), 2-3.

5 Ibid., 6.

15

caste Brahmins and Nairs, which were the elite in the Hindu caste system. David Daniel,

in his book of history of the Orthodox Church of India, says that Saint Thomas

established churches and ordained priests to carry out ecclesiastical duties wherever he

went. 6

According to historians, the Indian Church entered into a close relationship with

the Persian or East-Syrian Church at least from the 4 th century. 7 Daniel states that from

the early centuries the Church in Persia played an important role in nurturing the Church

in India since the Persian Church used to send Metropolitans to India, train and

strengthen the clergy, edify and sustain its faith and provide ecclesiastical leadership to

the Christian community. 8 From the Persians, the Indians inherited East-Syrian language

and liturgies and gradually came to be known as Syrian Christians. Later, in the 17 th

century, the Church came to a relationship with the West-Syrian Church of Antioch. As

this relationship grew, the Church slowly accepted the West-Syrian liturgical tradition,

during the succeeding 18 th and 19 th centuries. 9

The Malankara Church continued to be under the Syrian Patriarch in those

centuries. However, as Daniel points out, many in the Malankara Church wished to be

not under a foreign Patriarch as it limited their freedom, both in administrative matters

and in liturgical matters, and thus wished to have their own Catholicos and to have the

Catholicate established in India. 10 This dream of those in the Malankara Church came

6 Ibid.

7 Johns Abraham Konat, Syrian Heritage of the St. Thomas Christians. April 26, 2010

<http://malankaraorthodoxchurch.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=127&Itemid=218>.

8 Daniel, 50.

9 Konat, April 27, 2010. 10 Daniel, 221.

16

true in 1912 with the establishment of the Catholicate in India. 11 However, the Orthodox

Church in India today is composed of two groups.

The two ecclesiastical bodies of the Orthodox Church in India have the same faith

and the same liturgical prayers. The difference lies in the administrative matters of the

two churches. One body is under the autocephalous Catholicos in Kottayam, in the state

of Kerala, India. The other is the one which still exists under the administration of the

Syrian Patriarch of Antioch whose seat is in Damascus, Syria.

Mar Severios, the author of the book addressed in this thesis was a bishop of the

autocephalous church – the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

2. West-Syrian Liturgy

Though the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church became autocephalous, it

continues to follow West-Syrian liturgical practices and continues to do so till this day.

As a history of the West-Syrian liturgy is not the focus of this thesis, only a few

distinctive features of the West-Syrian liturgy will be discussed here.

One of the notable features of the West-Syrian liturgy is the richness in its

collection of anaphoras. 12 Among the Christian Churches, according to Baby Varghese,

the West-Syrians have the richest collection of anaphoras; about eighty anaphoras are

known. 13 Another feature is the very powerful presence of symbols and symbolic actions

which carry the mystery of the life of Christ.

11 Ibid., 223.

12 ‘Anaphora’ or the ‘Eucharistic Prayer’ is the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy where the offerings of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ.

13 Varghese, 6.

17

The powerful sense of mystery has given way to an elaborate use of symbols,

processions and gestures in the West-Syrian liturgy. An example for this is the Foot-

washing Service on Holy Thursday. 14 Though this service is not unique to the West-

Syrian liturgy today, I use this as an example as it shows how symbolic actions in liturgy

help nourish the faithful. The service is done in commemoration of Jesus washing the feet

of the disciples before he was crucified (John 13:1-11). During this liturgical service, a

bishop, who represents Jesus, washes the feet of 12 people, who represent the disciples.

From my own experience and from talking to others who have attended this service, it

seems that when one sees the humble act of Jesus unfold before their eyes, they gain a

deeper understanding of the mystery of this event and are encouraged to imitate the one

who called them to be humble. These kinds of services that contain various gestures seem

to make the West-Syrian liturgy lively.

I. H. Dalmais says, “from the earliest times, it was characteristic of the

Antiochene liturgy to give a big place to singing and processions in order to satisfy a

people whose religious devotion was very demonstrative.” 15 The processions, hymns,

gestures, people’s responses etc make the celebration ‘lively’ and ensure the involvement

of the entire community in the leitourgia, the common work of the Church. 16

3. Language of Worship - Transition from Syriac to Malayalam; The liturgical

setting that motivated Yuhanon Mar Severios

Due to the relations of the Indian church with the Syrian Orthodox Church in

Antioch, liturgical texts in West Syriac spread in the Malankara Church. Thus, for over

14 See the translation of Mar Severios’ instructions of this service that appears later in this thesis.

15 I. H. Dalmais, Eastern Liturgies (New York, 1960), 128.

16 Varghese, 7.

18

the last three centuries, West Syriac was the language of worship in the Church.

However, during the second half of the 20 th century, most of the liturgical texts were

translated to Malayalam, the language of Kerala. “Eminent linguists like St. Dionysius

Vattasseril, Konat Mathen Malpan and Mattackal Alexandreos Malpan gave the lead to

this trend while H. H. Mar Baselios Augen I, H. H. Mar Baselios Mathews I, H. G.

Yuhanon Mar Severios and Konat Abraham Malpan followed suit in the next

generation.” 17 Due to the efforts of these mentioned above, many liturgical texts are

available in Malayalam now. Yet the structure and characteristics of the liturgical

services continue to be that of the Syriac liturgy. And as seen above, Mar Severios lived

in a time when this transition was taking place and he played a major role in it.

Yuhanon Mar Severios lived in a time when Malayalam was becoming the major

language used in worship. As just mentioned above, he was one among those who

contributed to this transition. Unlike before, liturgical texts were available in Malayalam

at that time and people were able to follow along and understand the services. Yet, it was

important that liturgical instructions were written down in Malayalam so that the

community that has made the West-Syrian liturgy their own would be able to thoroughly

understand the services, practice them and faithfully pass it on to future generations. Mar

Severios’ motivation to write this book seems to be two fold: one was his desire to

properly instruct new priests and guide them in their ministry in the Church; the second

was his desire to unify the varying practices that existed in the different parts of Kerala.

Mar Severios had a desire to properly instruct new priests to conduct liturgical

services with order and discipline, testifies Fr. Philip, who served as his secretary. 18 This

17 Konat, April 27, 2010.

18 Philip C. Abraham, Interviewed by author, May 3, 2009.

19

seems to be an effect of how he himself was nourished by these prayers and practices in

his own life. This might be why he was able to witness to the mystery of Orthodox

worship through his words in the preface of his liturgical guide, “Orthodox churches give

worship the most prominent place. Orthodox churches believe and teach that without a

real experience of worship, nothing else would be fruitful.” 19 He describes worship as

“the key that opens the treasure houses of heaven.” 20 And his book appears to be his

endeavor to help the faithful access that key. His work seems to suggest that he realized

that in order to faithfully practice in this rich liturgical tradition of worship, the priests as

well as the faithful have to be properly instructed and guided in the ministration of these

services in the Church.

The other side of his motivation to write a liturgical guide was perhaps his

longing to unify the various liturgical traditions within the Malankara Church. Regardless

of what his motivations were, this unification was an outcome of his endeavor, as

mentioned by the Vice President of the Malankara Orthodox Church Publications in his

introduction to this book. 21 From my interviews with two priests who now serve as

liturgical instructors to seminary students, I learned that there existed within the state of

Kerala two traditions – one that was practiced in the north of the state and the other in the

south. 22 These two liturgical traditions did not differ greatly, but perhaps had some

19 Yuhanon Mar Severios, Orthodox Suriyani Sabhayude Shushroosha Samvidhana Sahaayi, (Kottayam, India: Malankara Orthodox Church Publications, 2007), 9, translation mine. The original text is in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, a state in India. േഡാക്സ് സഭക ആരാധനയ് ാഥമിക

ാനം െകാ ിരി . യഥാ മായ ആരാധന െട അ ഭവമി ാെത മ കാര വിജയി യിെ ് ഓ േഡാക്സ് സഭക വിശ സി ം പഠി ി ം െച .

20 Severios, 10.

21 Mathews Mar Severios, Vice President of M.O.S.C Publications in Severios, 3.

22 Johns Abraham Konat, Interviewed by author, May 3, 2009. Fr. Konat is the Professor of Liturgics at the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kottayam, India. Philip C. Abraham, Interviewed by author, May 3, 2009. Fr. Abraham now teaches liturgics to the Malankara Orthodox seminarians studying at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, PA.

20

slightly varied practices based on the local culture and circumstances. Neither tradition

varied much from each other or from the original West-Syrian liturgical practices. More

will be discussed on any variations from West-Syrian liturgical services in a later chapter

and on the contributions of Mar Severios in unifying these services.

D. Genre and Audience

The main focus of the book is to guide priests through liturgical services and the

chief audience of this book since its publication seems to be priests. This is

understandable as Mar Severios wrote this mainly for the instruction of new priests, and

those who were undergoing liturgical training in the seminary. Yet, he includes what the

bishops, the deacons, the altar servers, and the faithful do or are expected to do in many

sections. The book is useful to anyone who is interested in learning about the liturgical

services of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, but it also serves those interested in

learning West-Syrian liturgy in general.

E. Structure of the Book

The book is divided into three main parts: Part 1 explains the structure and

contents of liturgical prayers and services; Part 2 guides the reader through the Feast

Days of the Church; Part 3 is about the blessing services including sacraments, church

consecrations, ordinations, blessing of Holy Chrism, tonsuring etc. A brief outline of the

book is given below. 23

23 For a summary of each section and a more detailed outline, please see my M. A. Thesis. Mariam Varghese, A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church: Introduction and Translation, unpublished (Crestwood, NY: 2009).

21

Part 1

ABOUT WORSHIP SERVICES

1.

Hours of Prayer

2.

Physical symbolism in liturgical services

3.

Terms used in liturgical services

4.

Materials used in liturgical services

5.

Components of a worship service

6.

Contents of liturgical services

7.

Arrangement of daily prayers

8.

Arrangement of weekly prayers

9.

Sundays and Feast days

10.

Lenten prayers

11.

Prayers of the Holy Week

12.

Prayers of Repentance

13.

Tones of songs

Part 2

ABOUT FEAST DAYS – SACRAMENTALS

1.

Liturgical services of feast days

2.

Nativity / Yeldo

3.

Epiphany / Danaho

4.

Reconciliation service / Shubqono

5.

Mid-Lent

6.

40 th Friday of Great Lent

7.

Palm Sunday / Ooshana

8.

Entrance in the Haven / Vaade d’almeeno

22

9.

Holy Thursday / Pesaho

10. Holy Friday

11. Holy Saturday

12. Holy Resurrection / Qyomtho

13. Ascension

14. Pentecost

15. Feast of the Holy Cross

16. Special prayer services

House blessing

Vows and offerings

Post-death prayer services

Praise for child-birth

Order of prayer at time of death

Order of prayer during funeral

Funeral of priests

Funeral of bishops

Eucharist for the sick

1. Sacraments

2. Baptism

3. Chrismation

Part 3

ABOUT SACRAMENTS

4. Giving communion to the baptized

5. House baptism

6. Matrimony

7. Remarriage

8. Anointing of the Sick

9. Candle service of anointing of the sick

23

10.

Holy Liturgy / Holy Qurbana

A. Church and altar

B. Other areas of the church building

C. Preparation for celebrating Holy Qurbana

D. Public celebration of Holy Qurbana Part 1 – Public worship Part 2 - Worship of the believers

11. Confession

12. Dedication and blessing

1. Laying of the foundation of church building

2. Church dedication

3. Temporary dedication

4. Ordination (Pattabhishekham)

a)

Msamrono - Singer

b)

Korooyo - Reader

c)

Youpedyakno – Half Deacon

d)

Mshamshono – Full Deacon

e)

Kasheesho – Priest

f)

Cor-Episcopos

5. Consecration of bishops

6. Enthronement

7. Blessing of Holy Oil (Saithu)

8. Blessing of Holy Chrism

9. Tonsure

Chapter IV

Evaluation of the Book

The goal of this chapter is to evaluate the contents of the book and provide some

of its strengths and weaknesses. 1 It will also mention other instructional guides that are

available in the Malankara Church and compare Mar Severios’ book with them. In

addition it will assess its value in the Church today.

A. Other liturgical instructional guides in the Malankara Orthodox Church

Mathen Konat, Nadapady Kramangal, (Pampakuda: Pampakuda Publications, ~1900).

Joseph Mar Pachomios, Orthodox Sabhayude Aaradhanayum Aachara

Anushtaanangalum, (Kottayam: Malankara Orthodox Church Publications, 1991).

Both these books are very brief and is not as complete as the book by Mar

Severios. Nadapady Kramangal was an earlier attempt than Mar Severios’, and perhaps

the first such attempt, but is not as elaborate or complete. It is now out of print. The one

by Mar Pachomios is very brief and does not contain all the services. It must be noted

that the book by Mar Pachomios is more useful than Mar Severios’ book in

understanding what the services mean. This book gives more importance to the

1 Here I resume and revise my M.A. thesis. Mariam Varghese, A Guide to the Liturgical Services of the Orthodox Syrian Church: Introduction and Translation, unpublished (Crestwood, NY: 2009).

25

significance of the liturgical practices, while Mar Severios’ book is a step-by-step guide

through the services. In other words, Mar Severios’ book is more useful as a guide to the

celebrant while Mar Pachomios explains why we do what we do during the services. Also

what distinguishes Mar Severios’ book is its organization into three main parts, within

which all topics are categorized for ease of access.

Instructional guides that were produced from within the Malankara Orthodox

Church are not many as can be seen from the list above. There are few books that are

produced by the Syrian Orthodox Church, which practices the same liturgical services.

Some of the prayer books contain within them the instructions for how to conduct the

services. One such book is Ma’de’dono, The Book of the Church Festivals. 2 For the

purposes of this paper, only those books produced from within the Malankara Orthodox

Church are listed above and compared with Mar Severios’ book, even though The Book

of the Church Festivals is used for analytical purposes in a later chapter as well as in the

translation.

The Book of the Church Festivals was published by Metropolitan Mar Athanasius

Yeshue Samuel, the Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in the United States of

America and Canada in 1984. This book contains the special liturgical services conducted

on the various feast days of the Lord from the Nativity through the Feast of the Holy

Cross, and includes the special Lenten forgiveness rites as well as services for the various

feasts of the Virgin Mary and the other saints of the Church. The book contains the

Syriac text of the prayers on one side and the English translations on the other, with

instructions within them on how to conduct each service. This book was helpful not only

2 Metropolitan Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel ed., Ma’de’dono: The Book of the Church Festivals According to the Ancient Rite of The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, (New Jersey: Metropolitan Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, 1984).

26

in the translation, but also in comparing the Syriac services with the current practices in

the Malankara Church. It also was helpful to detect any practices that were dropped or

picked up and adopted within the Indian culture, and thus assess how liturgy develops

within varying cultures and geographic locations, if it does. Some analytical observations

of the liturgical services are given in the next chapter, where the instructions for the Feast

day liturgical services in this book is compared with those in the liturgical guide of Mar

Severios, the translation of which is included in this thesis.

B. Strengths of Mar Severios’ book

Mar Severios’ book, as indicated earlier, has a prominent place in the Malankara

Orthodox Church. This is mainly because this was the most complete liturgical

instructional guide. As indicated earlier, the book written by Fr. Mathen Konat was

available earlier. But compared to that book, this book was more effective in unifying to

certain extent, the practices that existed in the two liturgical traditions in Kerala – one in

the north and one in the south – with minor differences between them. Mar Severios was

able to unify these because of the liturgical training he received from both traditions. 3

From his teacher, Augen Mar Timotheos (later Catholicos), Mar Severios had learned the

traditions of the north. And he was exposed to the traditions of the south while he served

as the Archdeacon to Catholicos Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II, the Catholicos

before Catholicos Augen. Mar Severios’ exposure to both these traditions is what aided

his love for liturgical services, because in order for anyone to be effective in unifying

liturgical practices, he must be aware of the varying practices. Mar Severios attempted in

3 Philip C. Abraham, Interviewed by author, May 3, 2009. Fr. Abraham had served as deacon to Mar Severios during the production of this book and personally knew him very well.

27

this book to give more importance to the service itself and bring these two traditions

together. It seems as if Mar Severios was trying to standardize the services so that priests

in different traditions will have a resource to which they can refer, and understand what is

truly important to keep unchanged in their practices, even if they bring in local practices

into the services. How much did the two traditions vary? This will be discussed in

Chapter V.

While one of the strengths of the book is that it helped unify the practices in the

Malankara Orthodox Church, another is that the book is very well organized. The

organization of Mar Severios’ book is easy to follow. Perhaps this is the feature that is

most commendable. The book is categorized into three main sections and is further

broken down into subsections. 4 The ease of finding a specific service as well as the

simplicity of the language used is what makes this book very accessible. The Malayalam

used by Mar Severios is that of the common people and is thus easily comprehensible.

Malayalam is a complex language with many of its words rooted in Sanskrit, an ancient

language. While the vocabulary and grammar of Malayalam is hard to learn, Mar

Severios uses conversational Malayalam instead of academic Malayalam, thus making it

is easy to follow for any native speaker.

Another feature that is worth mentioning and extremely useful for those

administering the services is the section called ‘Things to prepare in advance,’ especially

for the liturgical services of Feast days. In this section, Mar Severios gives directions for

the things that need preparation before the service. For example, for Palm Sunday, the

palm leaves need to be made in the shape of a cross for the priest to hold during its

4 Exact organization is given in Chapter 3 of this thesis.

28

blessing. 5 Another example is the preparation of the fire pit for the Feast of Nativity. 6 He

begins the instructions for each feast day by clearly stating the day and time of the

service.

One fact that is indicated by Severios’ instructions is that he wrote in the light of

his experiences as a celebrant of these liturgical services. He clearly knew what kind of

questions would normally arise from the celebrants. The book gives the reader the feeling

that someone who was in his position is guiding him through the services. Perhaps what

gives a prominent place to this book is the fact that it is the most complete and elaborate

liturgical guide that exists in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church today. It is an asset

to all celebrants, especially priests, who practice the liturgical services following the

West-Syrian liturgy, especially in the Malankara Orthodox Church.

C. Weaknesses of the book

Mar Severios’ book is definitely an asset to the Malankara Orthodox Church. But

the book is not without disadvantages.

One flaw is that it does not indicate the specific sources that the author used while

writing this book. In the preface, he states that the instructions given in the book are

based on the Syriac Service Books and their translations which have been in use in

Malankara for three centuries. 7 However, beyond this, he does not provide any

information of his sources. Thus, the audience of the book cannot really know where Mar

Severios learned what he learned or which service books he is referring to. For example,

in the section in which he describes the service held on the Feast of Ascension, he gives

5 Severios, 74. See the included translation.

6 Severios, 66. See the included translation.

7 Severios, 14.

29

instructions on how to conduct the Service of the Veneration of the Cross. But he says

that according to “old books” 8 this service must be conducted. He implies that as it is not

in the new books, this service may or may not be done. In such a statement, the audience

does not understand what these “old books” are, which leaves them confused. So, lack of

an indication of primary and/or secondary sources is a disadvantage of this book.

The book does contain occasional errors and incompleteness. An example for this

is what Mar Severios says in the introduction to the book. While discussing the liturgical

language of the church, Mar Severios states the following: “The infant church

worshipped in Aramaic, the language of communication in Palestine during the time of

Jesus and the Apostles. When Apostle Thomas came to India, as there were Jews in India,

the use of Aramaic did not have to cease.” 9 The accuracy of this statement could be

questioned as the role of the Jews in India in bringing the Malankara Church to use

Syriac as the liturgical language is doubtful. The Malankara Church accepted Syriac as

the liturgical language due to her associations with the Syrian churches, and perhaps not

because of the Diaspora Jews in India. Having said this, Mar Severios is correct to say

that there is no much difference between Aramaic and West and East Syriac and thus the

use of these Semitic languages were kept up due to the communications with the Persian

and the West-Syrian churches.

Another drawback of the book is the occasional lack of flow in the descriptions as

Mar Severios addresses a wide audience. As said earlier, though this book is primarily for

the priests, it is not restricted for the clergy alone; it is also a teaching tool for the laity of

the Church. But the instructions are not always clearly differentiated in the text. The

8 Severios, 91.

9 Severios, 13-14.

30

instructions for everyone are given together in paragraph format, without indicating

whose role is being discussed. So the reader has to figure out whose role is given after

reading the whole paragraph. And some prior experience and knowledge of liturgical

services is often expected from the audience.

One of the strengths of Mar Severios’ work was that he tried to unify the varied

practices in the Malankara Church. Yet it is not so sure if this unification is complete.

The existence of the varied practices is conveyed in the book when occasionally Mar

Severios says that a particular service can be done in one way or another. An example for

this is the Service of the Veneration of the Cross on the Feast of Ascension. 10 He says the

service may or may not be conducted. But he does not indicate which tradition still

practices this liturgical service and which does not. So to a reader who is reading these

instructions, especially after many years, it is not clear if the service must be conducted

or not. Thus, a lack of authority in the ‘unification project’ is sometimes a drawback of

this book. But considering that liturgical rites do evolve and develop and that “liturgical

diversity” is a feature of West-Syrian liturgy 11 , this drawback might not be that

significant.

There is another drawback that has to be mentioned, even though it is a drawback

only when this book is used in a setting other than for which it was written. This book

was published in 1983 in India, and was written even before that. Some of the things

might not be applicable word per word to someone living in a different time and place.

For example, in the section on how to prepare the bread for Holy Qurbana, Mar Severios

explains how to preserve the leaven. The directions given by Mar Severios does not take

10 Severios, 91.

11 Varghese, 2-3.

31

into account the availability of refrigerators, even though refrigerators are in common use

even in India. Therefore, one does not have to follow these instructions exactly if other

means are available.

Being in a different setting again brings another difficulty. Mar Severios indicates

most of the hymns and the prayers in Syriac (for example, those in the service on the

Feast of Nativity). 12 Until the services were translated from Syriac to Malayalam, perhaps

even the laity might have understood these. But today, someone who is not familiar with

Syriac, even though proficient in Malayalam will have difficulty following these

instructions. Perhaps, as almost all Malankara Orthodox priests have at least a basic

knowledge of Syriac, they might not have much difficulty. Yet it will be hard for

someone who has no knowledge of Syriac to figure out the hymns and prayers to which

the author refers, as most liturgical services are not done in Syriac today.

It must also be noted that this book is only a guide. It does not include the service

itself. One must have the accompanying service books not only to conduct the service,

but also to follow along and understand what Mar Severios says. Service books of most

liturgical services discussed here are available in Malayalam and some are already

available in English. Reading this book along with those service books will certainly

make the reading easier.

There are other ways in which this book can be improved. One possible section

that I think will be a useful addition is a section that suggests what to do in some unusual

circumstances. For example, what must be done if the Eucharistic elements are accidently

dropped during the service? What must be done if the celebrant is unable to finish

12 Severios, 67.

32

celebrating the Divine Liturgy? These are exceptions, but yet will be useful for any

celebrant as well as his altar assistants to know.

Despite the shortcomings, Mar Severios’ book is perhaps the most complete and

widely accepted liturgical guide available in the Malankara Orthodox Church and still

widely used by the priests in the church. The book is appreciated much even to this day

as it is truly a guide to the celebrants of liturgical services. Thus, the translation of the

book into English is very needful to make the systematic instructions of Mar Severios

known to those who are not fluent in Malayalam.

33

Chapter V

Analysis of the liturgical practices of the Malankara Orthodox Service

The goal of this final chapter is to examine the instructions of Mar Severios and

investigate if the current liturgical practices of the Malankara Orthodox Church differ

much from the Syrian practices from which the Malankara Church received her liturgical

tradition, as a result of the influence of the Indian culture and geography.

In the introduction of this thesis, a distinctive feature that appears in the

matrimonial service of the Malankara Orthodox Church was mentioned, namely the

minnukettu.’ This is an example for the fact that even while accepting and feeling proud

of their Syrian liturgical heritage, the Malankara Orthodox Church adopted those

traditions in combination with local customs and practices. For example, “customs

related to birth, marriage and funeral have a lot of local elements,” says Johns Konat. 1

The Indian custom of ‘minnukettu’ is the classic example of this – the custom in which

the groom ties a ‘minnu’ (a pendant) around the bride’s neck. Mar Severios indicates in

his book that though this is not part of the sacrament, this Indian marriage tradition has

become part of the service. This local custom has undergone Christianization as a cross is

placed on the ‘minnu’ used by Christians. 2 Such practices show that though the

Malankara Orthodox Christians inherited West-Syrian liturgy, their culture is still Indian.

1 Johns Abraham Konat, Syrian Heritage of the St. Thomas Christians. May 2, 2009

<http://malankaraorthodoxchurch.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=127&Itemid=218>.

2 Severios, 118.

34

Severus includes these practices also in his book. Therefore, a book such as the one

authored by Mar Severios is of great value as it guides the Malankara Orthodox

Christians in their liturgical practices that combines West-Syrian liturgy with local

customs.

But has the local culture greatly influenced the Orthodox Church in India

resulting in much variation in liturgical practices from the Syrian tradition? A comparison

of the current practices in the Malankara Orthodox Church with those in the Syrian

Orthodox Church of Antioch would help answer this question. The Book of Church

Festivals of the Church of Antioch, 3 as mentioned earlier, is of much assistance for this

evaluation.

When the services in the Syrian Orthodox prayer books and the Malankara Syrian

Orthodox prayer books are compared, one can find that there have not been significant

changes. The addition of the Indian custom of ‘minnukettu’ that appears in the

matrimonial service is a rarity. This ‘minnukettu’ is a Hindu wedding custom that is

adopted not only by the Orthodox Christians in Kerala, but also by other Christian

communities there. It is indicative of the fact that as liturgy develops over time in

different localities, it will adopt local customs, and will respond to the needs of the time

and the society.

Mar Severios, as he gives instructions, often allows for minor adjustments. He

himself conveys that his instructions are not written in stone. The celebrant may make

minor adjustments for the sake of convenience, based on geographical locations and the

needs of the people. An example of this is in the Feast of Nativity, when Mar Severios

3 Metropolitan Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel ed., Ma’de’dono: The Book of the Church Festivals According to the Ancient Rite of The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, (New Jersey: Metropolitan Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, 1984).

35

gives instructions for preparing for the special service around the fire. He says, “A fire-pit

must be made in the church courtyard where it is convenient. Dig a pit in the shape of a

cross and arrange in it some dried wood broken into small pieces. Along with the wood,

also arrange the leftover dry palm leaves from Palm Sunday. Add whatever appropriate

burning material is available in that geographic location.” 4 What are used in Syria are

probably not the leaves of coconut trees. But Kerala being the land of coconut trees

would convenience the use of tender coconut leaves for this service as well as for the

service on Palm Sunday. And moreover the different geographical locations within

Kerala might produce different ‘burning material,’ as indicated by Mar Severios. This

again is indicative of the fact that adaptations are possible as liturgical services are

practiced in varying localities.

It was indicated earlier that Mar Severios through this book has attempted to unify

the varying liturgical practices in Kerala. As mentioned earlier, the existence of the

varied practices is conveyed in the book when occasionally Mar Severios says that

something can be done in one way or the other. These differences between the north and

south, however, were not major. More importantly, these differences did not affect the

sanctity of the services. From my interviews with priests from the south and north of

Kerala, what I can conclude is that the practices were not and are not much different from

what is given in Mar Severios’ liturgical guide. The so-called difference in tradition was

mainly in who the teacher was. There was a succession of liturgical instructors especially

in

the south; they include bishops such as Mar Gregorios of Parumala and Gheevarghese

II

(also known as Kurichi Bava). There seems to be no such prominent names in the

north, but yet this idea of succession of instructors was considered significant, as these

4 Severios, 66.

36

teachers learned liturgics from different teachers. 5 Even though their teachings did not

vary much, over time it sounded as if they were two traditions. Mar Severios however

was able to bring these ‘two traditions’ together in his book with his exposure to both

traditions and thus help standardize the liturgical practices.

When Mar Severios says that something can be done this way or that way, it is

only in those situations where what is addressed is not something that will affect the

validity of the services. Those things which must not be changed are clearly and strictly

stated by Mar Severios. His strictness in the practice of liturgical services can be read

from the pages of his liturgical guide. His instructions for the procession held in

association with Feast-day services make this clear. He says,

“Even though processions may be made more grand and elaborate with adornments that exist in the particular communities or localities, and with umbrellas and flags, and with musical instruments, much care must be taken to avoid unnecessary conversations and behaviors that can distract people from what is important for their spiritual devotion and growth.” 6

This demonstrates that while Mar Severios takes the local conditions into consideration

and allows modification, he was insistent that whatever is done must be done for the

orderly and disciplined worship of God and for the edification of the people through the

celebrations.

As he was exposed to the different traditions in Kerala that varied slightly in

various localities, he evaluated them and put together the book bringing those traditions

together. Ever since the publication of this book, the priests in the Malankara Orthodox

Church had a valuable manual to which they can refer to when questions and confusions

5 Philip C. Abraham, Interviewed by author, April 22, 2010.

6 Severios, 64-65.

37

arose. With the increased use of this book among the newly ordained priests since the

time of Mar Severios, the practices have been standardized to a great extend.

Though the Orthodox Christians in India have adopted one or two local customs,

the traditional practices of the ancient church of Antioch have not significantly changed

as a result of their practice in India. The feast day services have almost not changed at all.

A survey of the Syriac text of the Feast day services in The Book of Church Festivals

mentioned above conveys this. As a matter of fact, the instructions that are given in that

book are very close to the instructions given by Mar Severios in his liturgical guide. Even

though these services were practiced in India for a few centuries by the local Orthodox

Christians, the liturgical services have not undergone significant changes. It must be

noted however that there are Feast day services as well as prayers in the West-Syrian

tradition that the Malankara Church still has not included in its prayer books and in Mar

Severios’ instructional book. This is simply because these services have not been

completely translated into Malayalam or practiced in the Church. An example for this is

the Order of the Blessing of the Candles on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in

the Temple. 7 Currently, there is only the celebration of the Holy Qurbana on this day,

and no additional services.

In the light of the survey of The Book of the Church Festivals and Mar Severios’

instructions in his book, I am concluding that the local conditions in India have not made

much impact on the liturgical tradition that the Malankara Church adopted from the

West-Syrian tradition. The ceremony of ‘minnukettu’ in the matrimonial service is a rare

case in which the Malankara Orthodox Christians have incorporated a local practice.

7 Samuel, 75-85.

38

Chapter VI

Translation

A. Methodology of translation and issues faced during the translation

For the translation of Mar Severios’ instructions for the liturgical services of feast

days, I did a literal translation for the most part. However, in some cases, it seemed

necessary to convey the message without a literal translation, considering the fact that

Malayalam and English vary in how they express certain ideas.

The names of most hymns Mar Severios includes in his book are given in Syriac.

When translating the instructions, I have provided the English translation of these. I

include the Syriac as well as the Malayalam names of the hymns in the footnotes for most

of the hymns. It must be acknowledged that as the translations of many of the services for

feast days are yet not in circulation, I have opted to include the translation of the

beginning of the hymns and prayers, even though there are no standardized services in

English for these services yet.

Though the use of Syriac in the Malankara Orthodox Church has been on the

decline since the translation of the services into Malayalam, there are many Syriac words

that have become part of the liturgical language. Many Malayalam words were derived

from its Syriac roots, but even then the words are essentially Syriac. And those words are

still needed today to properly identify them, as those in the Malankara Orthodox Church

are more familiar with certain Syriac words than its English equivalents. For example, the

39

word that refers to the Eucharist, Qurbana, is derived from the Syriac word, ܪ

(Qurbono). Thus words such as Qurbana are kept in my translation also, though I do

provide a table of such words as well as some Malayalam words in this chapter.

One of the issues with Mar Severios’ language is that he is not always consistent

with the tense. He often gives the instructions in the present tense. But then he switches

to the future tense. Thus, this inconsistency will be seen in my translation as well as I

attempted to do a literal translation of most of the instructions given by Mar Severios.

Another matter that I must acknowledge is the difference in the Syriac

pronunciation of certain words and letters in India and in Syria. One such difference is

the pronunciation of the syllable ‘sa’ in place of ‘tha.’ The Syriac letter, ܬ (taw) is mostly

pronounced with the sound ‘sa’ in India, while it is pronounced with ‘tha’ elsewhere.

Though I include the words in Syriac script in the table below, when these words are

transliterated within my translation, I am not following the Indian pronunciation. For

example, though the word for prayer, ܬ ܨ is pronounced in India as ‘Slooso,’ I

ܼ

transliterate it as ‘Slootho’ within my translation. It must also be noted that certain

Malayalam words in the liturgical language are modifications of its Syriac equivalent.

For example, the word ‘Denaha’ used in Malayalam to refer to the Feast of Epiphany is

derived from the Syriac word, ܐــܚــܢܕ (Denaho).

The following table might be a useful reference as it includes the words in Syriac

and in Malayalam, with a short explanation as well as the word that I used in my

translation. I include the Syriac in Estrangelo as well as Serto script, as Estrangelo is the

academic standard and Serto is the script used in the West-Syrian tradition.

40

B. Syriac and Malayalam words and their equivalents that are used in this translation

Syriac Estrangelo / Serto

 

Malayalam

Meaning/Explanation

Word(s) used

in translation

     

Means ‘daughter of king’. Refers to

 

ܬ

ܬ

ܼ

the Quqliyon of the Virgin Mary,

Besmalko

ܼ

 
 

“King’s daughter stands in glory…”

 

ܬ

ܬ

ܼ

 

It means ‘petition’ or ‘request.’ Usually the canonical prayers as

 

ܼ

േബാവൂേസാ

well as every sacraments end with Bovootho.

Bovootho

ܐــܚــܢܕ

ܐــܚــܢܕ

 

ദനഹാ

Epiphany

Epiphany

ـܝـ

ـܝـ

എനിേയാേനാ

Means ‘responsory.’ The congregation responds or gives answer to the priests or deacons.

Enyono

 

എക്േബാ

Means ‘feet’ or ‘base.’ It highlights the main theme of the Quqliyon.

Eqbo

ܪ

ܪ

 

എെ താ

Means ‘fragrance.’

Ethro

 

ܘܗ

   

െഹൗ

Means ‘the one whom angels serve.’ It refers to the festive Trisagion used in the Service of the Veneration of the Cross.

Hau

 

ܕ ܘܗ

̈

ܼ

 

̈

d’malaakhe

 

മാലാേഖ

ܕ

ܼ

   

ܬ

ܬ

ഹൂെ ാേമാ

Means ‘conclusion.’

Hoothomo

േകാനൂേനാ

Means ‘canon.’

Konoono

41

 

രാ തി

Night

Lilyo

ܪ

ܪ

മദറശ്

Means ‘a school.’ Here refers to certain hymns during Night prayers

M’d’rashtho

 

മദ്ബഹ

Refers to the Holy of Holies, the holy altar

Altar

ܘ

മറുവഹസാ

Liturgical fan

Fan

ܼ

 

ܼ

ܬ

 

ܬ

മ്േനാ

The stand on which the Cross is placed in the Church on Mid-Lent

M’northo/

Golgotha

ܘܐ

 

ܘܐ

ഓശാന

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

 

െപസഹാ

Thursday of Holy Week.

Holy Thursday

ܢ ܘ

ܘ

ܢ

പുമിെയാ

Means ‘preface.’

Prumiyon

 

െകൗമാ

Means ‘standing.’ Trisagion (Thrice Holy hymn). Also refers to the

 

ܼ

ܼ

hymns used during Holy Week instead of the Thrice Holy hymn.

Qaumo

 

േകാേലാ

Means ‘sound.’ But in liturgical music it refers to a special or important group of melodies.

Qolo

     

Means ‘cycle’ or ‘cyclical structure

 

ܢ

കു ിലിേയാ

of prayers.’ It is included in the

Quqliyon

ܼ

ܢ

ܼ

 

category of Litanies.

 

ܪ

 

ܪ

കു ബാന

Means ‘sacrifice.’ Refers to the Holy Eucharist

Qurbana

 

ംതാ

Refers to the Feast of Resurrection

Resurrection

42

ܪ

ܪ

െസദ്റാ

Means ‘a row of prayers.’ This prayer follows a Prumiyon

Sedro

ܼ

ܼ

ܼ

ܼ

ശുബെഹാ

Means ‘glory’

Glory

ܼ

ܼ

ܼ

ܼ

ശുബ്േ ാേനാ

Means ‘reconciliation.’ Refers to

the Service of Reconciliation

Service of

Reconciliation

ܬ ܨ

ܼ

ܬ ܨ

ܼ

േസാ

Means ‘prayer.’ Here refers to an

opening or introductory prayer

Slootho/Intro-

ductory Prayer

ܘܬ

ܘܬ

തൂേയാെബാ

Refers to the preparation rites done by the celebrant before celebrating liturgy

Preparation

rites

ܗ

ܘ

ܕ ܗ ܘ

വാെദ

Refers to the Service of the

Entrance in the Haven

ܕ

മീേനാ

Entrance in the Haven

െയൗേനാേയാ

Greek

Yaunoyo

േദാ

Refers to the Feast of Nativity

Nativity

43

 

MALAYALAM WORDS

 

Malayalam

Explanation

Word(s) used in translation

അഴി കം

Chancel; Refers to the space between the altar and the nave

Space between altar and nave

 

കു ിടീ

The act of kneeling down and prostrating

Prostration

കുരിശുമൂ

A cross or shrine established by a parish in the localities

Cross/Shrine

താേണാ

The altar table; Greek θρόνος

Throne/Altar Throne

നമസ് ാര േമശ

The table in the sanctuary that is used during the Hours

Prayer table

മാലാഖമാരുെട സ്തുതി

Refers to the prayer, “Just as the exalted angels and archangels…”; in Malayalam, “Melpetta Uyarangalil…”

Hymn of the Angels

 

ശു ശൂഷാ

Refers to any liturgical service

Service

44

Translation

LITURGICAL SERVICES OF FEAST-DAYS

Part 2 1 Sacramentals 2

1. Liturgical Services of Feast-days

A. Sacramentals : Introduction

Along with prayer, worship, and along with worship, sacramentals are important.

Sacramentals are conducted in association with the various events in the life of Jesus

Christ and as a means of blessing. For sacramentals, there might be special ceremonies,

rites and practices and therefore, more materials might be needed than those needed for

regular prayers and worship. Prayers and worship may be done at living residences or

during travel, when inconvenient to have it done in a church. And it is required to be

done even in such cases. However, sacramentals must be done where there is a

community of believers. They must not be done at living residences or while traveling.

Daily prayers must be done everyday. Sacramentals must be done only at specific

occasions. Daily prayers can be equated to daily food, sacramentals can be equated to

elaborate meals and sacraments can be equated to royal banquets where honorary awards

are given. As far as sacramentals are concerned, it is important to know when and how to

conduct them. Many sacramentals are related to feast days and are for commemorating

the salvific acts of Christ. The Church has arranged these in order that believers may

experience the commemorated events and hence be renewed in their Christian life. We

believe that they are means of blessings. Therefore those who attend the sacramentals

1 ‘Part 2’ here refers to Mar Severios’ numbering in the book. Instructions for Feast-day liturgical services are in Part 2 of his book.

2 ‘Sacramentals’ is the English word used by Mar Severios to refer to feast day liturgical services.

46

must attend with preparation and with devotion. Feast-day liturgical services are not

sacraments. They are sacramentals.

B. Processions

It is usual to have processions on liturgical feast days and parish feast days. In

modern days, processions and rallies have significance in public ceremonies. Processions

are held to show reverence and honor to individuals or materials that deserve such honor

and respect. It is usual to have joyful processions to show reverence to the Holy Cross,

relics of saints etc., and processions of repentance to pray for the removal of God’s wrath,

epidemics, natural disasters etc. Processions may be held on a smaller scale or it can be

done elaborately. If having elaborate processions on major parish feast days helps

spiritual growth, then it is good. If there are crosses or shrines 3 established by the parish

in different places, you may, according to convenience and the occasion, arrange to go to

all these places with celebratory processions and offer incense. In a procession, one priest

must vest and hold the cross in his hands. Other priests must wear black cassocks and

deacons and altar servers must wear their robes and hold candles in their hands. A

wooden cross must be held in front of the procession. The Gospel must be held well with

reverence. Those who attend the procession must not be mere observers. Instead, all

should participate by singing hymns or saying appropriate prayers. The arrangements for

these must be done earlier by those who are in charge. It is possible to assess the activity

of a church’s Sunday School, youth group or women’s group 4 by observing their

participation in such services of the church. Even though processions may be made more

3 Kurishumoodu 4 Martha Mariam Samajam

47

grand and elaborate with adornments that exist in the particular communities or localities,

and with umbrellas and flags, and with musical instruments, much care must be taken to

avoid unnecessary conversations and behaviors that can distract people from what is

important for their spiritual devotion and growth.

If it is a procession on the feast day of the Mother of God or of any saint(s), then

the Quqliyon of the Mother of God must be sung first and the priest should offer incense.

Then he must take the cross in his hand and proceed and exit the sanctuary through the

north door and after the procession reenter the sanctuary through the south entrance. He

then must offer incense again while singing the Quqliyon of the saints. During the

processions, the Quqliyon of the Cross may be sung at the crosses/shrines established

outside the church, and the Quqliyon for the Departed may be sung in front of the

cemetery. For the processions, in some places, there exists the practice of exiting the

sanctuary through the west entrance and reentering through the same door. For a feast

day of the Mother of God, sing the Quqliyon of the Mother of God as you exit, and as

you come back, you may sing an Eqbo about the Mother of God, 5 . If it is a feast day of a

saint, sing the Quqliyon of the Saint as you exit, and as you come back, you may sing an

Eqbo about the saint 6 . If it is a feast of bishops, sing their Quqliyon as you exit, and as

you come back, you may sing an Eqbo or any hymns that are about them.

C. Processions during sacramentals

These are brief or less elaborate processions done around the church. Service

books say that for these processions, you must take up umbrellas, flags, cross etc and exit

5 for example, “Thouneemar

6 for example, “B’dukhrono d’keene w’zadeeke

48

the sanctuary through the north door and reenter through the south entrance, all while

singing the suggested hymns of the feast day. There is no need to sing the Quqliyon at the

beginning and at the end of these processions. Neither is there a need to go to the outside

crosses/shrines or to go around the church three times. The feast days on which

processions are done are Christmas (Yeldo), Epiphany (Danaho), Palm Sunday, Entrance

in the Haven (Vaade d’almeeno), Good Friday and Easter (Qyomtho). Being part of the

Holy Week, the processions on Vaade d’almeeno and Good Friday are in the direction

opposite to the usual practice, i.e., you must exit through the south and after going around

the church reenter the sanctuary through the north entrance.

2. Nativity / Yeldo

Day

- December 25

Service

- Service around the fire

Time

- During the Hymn of the Angels 7 during Night Prayers

Things to know in advance

a. A fire-pit must be made in the church courtyard where it is convenient. Dig a pit

in the shape of a cross and arrange in it some dried wood broken into small

pieces. Along with the wood, also arrange the leftover dry palm leaves from Palm

Sunday. Add whatever appropriate burning material is available in that

geographic location. Also have one or two torches (rags dipped in oil and wound

around the end of a stick) to light the fire.

b. Inform people in advance to bring the incense and the candles that are to be used

during the service. Have the incense ready in a container.

7 Refers to the prayer, “Just as the exalted angels and archangels…”; in Malayalam, Maalakhamaarude Sthuthippu / “Melpetta Uyarangalil…”

49

c.

All items needed for making the procession solemn must be prepared on the

previous day itself.

As nights are longer in December, starting the prayers of the hours at 2:30 AM

will give ample time. Do the suggested prayers in the books and at the end of Night

Prayers 8 do the Quqliyon and the common Bovooso, and then the priest and the deacons

must temporarily retreat from the service so that they can enter the altar and wear their

vestments. The incense that is to be put in the fire-pit should be blessed now (* It is

customary in some places to let the people put the incense in the fire. But the incense

brought by the people must not be put into the fire as it is. It must all be brought together

and blessed by the priest and then distributed to all present). By this time, all should take

up the materials used for the procession and be ready to exit through the north door. The

priest must have the Cross in his hands. The procession begins with the accompaniment

of umbrellas, flags, censer, the Gospel and candles, and the singing of the hymn, “The

Virgin has begotten the Wonderful…” 9 Go to the west side of the fire-pit and after

finishing the hymn, sing “Paul the Blessed…” 10 and read the epistle. The epistle reader

must stand at the southeast side of the fire-pit when reading. After that the priest must go

to the east side of the fire-pit and facing the west, read the Gospel. After that the priest

should begin the Hymn of the Angels and everyone should join him in saying this prayer

while the priest lights the fire at the east, west, north and south of the fire-pit. Following

this, say the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, close not the door of thy mercy upon our

faces…” 11 and a Trisagion/Qaumo. End by singing “While going through Bethlehem, I

8 Lilio / Raathri 9 Bthultho yeldath dhoomoro…” / “Eeshanum ee marthyanmaarkum

10 Paulose Sleeha dhanyan…

11 Moran Yeshu Mashiha…”

50

saw…” 12 while going around the fire three times and putting incense in the fire. Finish

the procession around the church and proceed into the sanctuary through the south

entrance. On the Feast of Nativity, you may or may not do the Service of the Veneration

of the Cross. If you are conducting the Service of the Veneration of the Cross, you may

do it after you enter the sanctuary after the procession. Priest and deacons must enter into

the altar or on the bema and chant “Hau d’malaakhe…” and ceremoniously elevate the

Cross. If you are conducting the Service of the Veneration of the Cross, there is no need

to chant the Trisagion after the Hymn of Angels and “Lord Jesus Christ…” because “Hau

d’ malaakhe…” is a Trisagion. After the Service of the Veneration of the Cross, remove

the vestments and return to the prayer table and begin Morning Prayers with a Trisagion.

At the end of Morning Prayers, the celebrant of the Holy Qurbana must enter the altar

and begin the Preparation rites/ ‘Thooyobo.’ Others must continue with the 3 rd hour and

6 th hour prayers as usual and do the Old Testament readings. After the Preparation rites,

the priests and the people kiss the Cross and the Gospel and offer their offertories. If

offertories are not taken at this point, it will be sufficient to make the offertories after the

Holy Qurbana. If offertories are taken before Holy Qurbana, people must not leave right

after that. They must stay and participate in the Holy Qurbana. On this feast day, as many

as possible must prepare to receive Holy Communion. Those who wish may take the

ashes from the fire-pit to their homes for blessing crops.

3. Epiphany / Danaho

Day

Service

Time

January 6

- - Blessing of water - After Preparation rites (Thooyobo) of Holy Qurbana

January 6 - - Blessing of water - After Preparation rites ( Thooyobo) of Holy Qurbana
January 6 - - Blessing of water - After Preparation rites ( Thooyobo) of Holy Qurbana

12 Al Bethlehem…” / “Bethlehem vazhi pokumbol…

51

Things to prepare in advance

Have a glass bottle for the blessing of the water. Also have at hand a small cross

to close the bottle with and a veil/Shushefo with a cross on it to cover the bottle. If there

is any blessed water remaining from the previous Epiphany, you must drink it or pour it

into the baptismal font on the previous day itself. Clean the glass bottle, fill it with clean

water for the next day, close the bottle with the cross and place it on the altar throne.

The Order of the Service

After Morning Prayers and Preparation rites (Thooyobo) as usual, the clergy gets

vested. A table must be prepared outside the altar to place the bottle. Give the bottle to

one of the altar servers (* the priest himself may hold it instead) and cover that person’s

head and the bottle’s mouth with the veil/Shushefo. The people should take up the

materials for the procession (flags, umbrellas, cross etc) and exit the sanctuary through

the north entrance. Those in the altar also proceed from the altar by singing, “The voice

of praise of John” 13 or “Brethren, let us go….” 14 The Censer, the Gospel and the Cross

also must be carried. Do one procession around the church and reenter the sanctuary

through the south entrance. Place the bottle on the table, still closed with the cross and

covered with the veil/Shushefo and place candles on both sides and begin the prayers.

The chief celebrant says the introductory prayers (Slootho 15 ). After Psalm 51, Enyono,

Konoono-Yaunoyo, Prumiyon, Sedro, Qolo, Ethro, Scripture readings, the Gospel

reading, and the litanies (Luthiniya), the priest reads the second Prumiyon. As there is the

13 Qolo d’theshbuhtho…” / Yohannan thann sthuthi geetham…

14 Thau ahai…/ Sodarare varuveen pokaam…

15 Pronounced Slooso in India.

52

service of the blessing of the censer at the end of the Sedro of this Prumiyon, the deacon,

after censing all the people, must stand behind the priest swinging the censer, just like it

is done during Holy Qurbana. This second Prumiyon must be read by the priest leading

the service. While the Creed is recited after the censer is blessed, the deacon must go to

the back of the church swinging the censer, just like it is done during Holy Qurbana, and

he must stay behind the priest swinging the censer from the beginning of the next prayer

to the end of the service. The priest continues the prayers with his hands lifted up. During

the celebration with the veil/Shushefo, it must be done just as it is done during Holy

Qurbana and the veil/Shushefo must be kept on the side as it is usually done. Remove the

cross from the opening of the bottle. While touching the bottle, begin the prayer “The

love of God the Father…” 16 , and draw the sign of the cross on the congregation 17 as

usual. Do the next prayers, and say the prayer “This water is blessed…,” 18 while waving

over the bottle with the right hand, and blessing the water three times in the name of the

Holy Trinity. At this time, hand bells, fans etc must be used.

Next, put the cross back in the opening of the bottle and take the bottle in hands

and ceremoniously bless the water facing each of the four sides while chanting ‘hau

d’maalakhe.’ When chanting ‘hau d’maalakhe,’ “Holy art thou O God” etc, say “Thou

who received baptism for us, have mercy upon us” instead of “Thou who was crucified

for us, have mercy upon us.” Sing one of the procession songs and proceed to the

baptismal font. Remove the cross from the bottle’s opening and lay it inside the font.

Pour three drops of water on the edges of the cross. During this time Psalm 51 may be

16 Hoobo…

17 Rooshma

18 M’barkeen yenoon maayo len…” / “Pithavinteyum Puthranteyum Parishudha Roohayudeyum naamathil nithya jeevanaayi ee vellam anugrahikkappettirikkunnu.”

53

chanted. Leave the cross in there and close the baptismal font. Take the bottle of water

into the altar and keep it on the altar throne. Afterwards, say the prayer “O Good and

loving God…” 19 and begin Holy Qurbana. After Holy Qurbana everyone drinks the

blessed water and leaves. For those who are sick and those who were not able to come to

church, send the blessed water to their homes.

The remaining blessed water must be reverentially preserved in the church till the

day before the next Epiphany and shall be given to people whenever they need it. If water

is almost running out before the next Epiphany, pour some clean water into it and thus

increase it. But this must be done and given out by the priest.

4. Reconciliation service / Forgiveness Service / Shubqono

Day

Service

First day of the Great Lent

- - Service of Reconciliation. All who are present asks each others’

First day of the Great Lent - - Service of Reconciliation. All who are present asks

forgiveness and gives the kiss of peace Time - *At the end of noon prayers, after the Maneesa of Mar Severios and one Trisagion prayer (*this service is also now done in connection with evening prayers)

For this service, vestments are not needed. Begin the service with a cross and two

lighted candles at the prayer table 20 . Do the introductory prayer (Slootho) followed by

Psalm 51, Enyono, Prumiyon, Sedro, Qolo, Bovooso, Epistles, Gospel, Qolo and

Bovooso. The Gospel can be read from the prayer table itself. Say the prayer ‘Lord Jesus

Christ, close not the door of thy mercy’ 21 and a Trisagion/Qaumo. Afterwards, the priest

gives a sermon about forgiveness of sins. Thereafter, the chief celebrant stands at the

west side of the prayer table and makes the statement asking forgiveness, “Forgive me,

19 Aloho thobo’

20 Namaskara Mesha

21 “Moran Yeshu Mashiha…”

54

my brethren…” 22 and kneels down. Now the people also must kneel down and say,

“Barekhmor, we ask forgiveness.” 23 This must be done again when the priest makes the

second statement. Afterwards, the priest says the final prayer (“May the beginning and

the end of this Holy Lent be blessed…” 24 ), and continues with the rest of the service, i.e.,

the Nicene Creed and the 40 prostrations. Chant the Quqliyon and the Hoothomo of the

Mother of God as well as those of the Saints. During the Hoothomo, first the priests must

give the kiss of peace to each other. They should start lining up on the north side, from

east to west. Then the deacons should come forward (in order of their ranks/seniority)

and kiss the priests’ hand and give the kiss of peace to each other and continue lining up

next to the priests. Afterwards, the men should come forward and kiss the priests’ hand

and give the kiss of peace to the deacons and to each other and line up next to them.

Next, the women also should come and kiss the priests’ hand and stand on the south side

and give the kiss of peace to each other. After Hoothomo, say the Lord’s Prayer and end

as usual. Even though the book says that the Service of Reconciliation must be done after

3 rd hour prayers, as that is inconvenient, it has become a common practice to do this

service at the end of Noon prayers.

5.

Mid-Lent

Day

- Mid-Lent Wednesday

Service

- Veneration of the Cross

Time

- Either after Preparation rites (Thooyobo) of Holy Qurbana or after Besmalko. Usually it is done after Besmalko.

22 Sh’bookhlee ahai…

23 Barekhmor Al Shubqono.

24 B’reekho nehwe…

Things to prepare in advance

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The M’northo/Golgotha on which the Cross will be placed must be cleaned and

placed in the middle of the church on the previous day. Cover the Golgotha with its cloth.

Black covering cloth is needed for Holy Week and red for other days. This cloth cover

may be stitched in two ways – either get the red and black made separately, or make a

double sided cover with red on one side and black on the other. On both sides of where

the Cross will be placed at the top, there should be provisions to place two candles and

two fans 25 . The Cross also must be cleaned and covered nicely with the red uroro. 26

In the beginning of Evening prayers on the previous day, after the Trisagion, the

priest places the Cross on the Golgotha while singing one of the hymns of the Cross. The

prayers are Lenten. But because there will be Holy Qurbana on Wednesday, during the

Night prayers, say these usual prayers – “Be compassionate toward us in your

mercy…” 27 , “And Mary said…” (Magnificat/Mavurbo), “Behold, how good and

pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity…” 28 etc. After “Praise to the Holy Trinity…” 29

do the Quqliyon of the Mother of God, of the Saints, of the departed and the common

Boovoso. Continue with the Morning prayers and the 3 rd hour prayers of Lent. Do the

Noon prayers from the Common Prayers 30 , namely Trembled Mount Sinai…31 etc.

During Holy Qurbana, after Besmalko, take the Cross from the Golgotha and bring into

the altar. Chant the Qolo of the Cross and do a procession outside the church (if

25 Maruvahsa

26 Urarion / stole

27 “Be compassionate towards us in your mercy, O God of compassion; in our sacrifices and our prayers we make memory of our father who taught us, while they were alive, to be children of God; Son of God, raise them up in the heavenly kingdom with the just and the righteous in the world which does not pass away.”; Malayalam – “Naam daivathinte makkalaayi theeruvaan…”

28 Psalm 133; Malayalam – “Sahodaranmar orumichu vasikkunnathu….

29 Thrithwathinu sthuthi…

30 i.e., Sh’eema Namaskaram

31 Seenai Giri Nin…

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inconvenient, do it inside the church) and reenter the altar. Thereafter, do the Service of

the Veneration of the Cross on the four sides. This can be done in the altar, or on the

bema or on the four sides of the M’northo/Golgotha. If the Exaltation will be done on the

four sides of Golgotha, then there is no need to enter the altar at the end of the procession

(The procession is not mentioned in the service books. It is done just as it seems timely

for the occasion, but it is not seen in the books as mandatory). After the hymn is sung at

the end of the Slootho towards each side, the people together chant ‘Kurieleison’ three

times, while the Cross is elevated ceremoniously by the celebrant. At this time, use bells,

fans etc. When the exaltation is done with ‘Hau d’malaakhe…’ all should respond by

saying “Holy art Thou O God” etc. After the Veneration of the Cross, end with the Lord’s

Prayer. Then place the Cross on the Golgotha, place the fans on both sides and light the

candles on both sides. Offer incense and cense the Cross while singing the Quqliyon of

the Cross. Thereafter, complete the remaining of the Holy Qurbana. After Holy Qurbana,

everyone kisses the Golgotha, receives blessings and disperses.

At noon, do the remaining Lenten prayers. Prostrations during the service or the

40 prostrations after the Creed are not done.

When one candle is lit at the altar during prayers, light one candle on the

M’northo/Golgotha also. When two candles are lit at the altar, light two candles on the

M’northo/Golgotha as well.

6. 40 th Friday of Great Lent

The forty day lent ends with Holy Qurbana on Friday. There is no special service

for this. The hourly prayers are Lenten. Do the prayers after the pattern of Mid-Lent

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Wednesday. This means not to give up Lenten patterns but since there is Holy Qurbana,

make necessary changes to the Night Prayers and do the Noon Prayers from Common

Prayers 32 and celebrate Holy Qurbana. The 40 prostrations are not mandatory.

7. Palm Sunday/ Ooshana

Day

Service

Time

6 th Sunday of Great Lent 33

- - Blessing of palm leaves - After Preparation rites (Thooyobo) of Holy Qurbana (Some do this after Besmalko for the sake of convenience)

leaves - After Preparation rites ( Thooyobo) of Holy Qurbana (Some do this after Besmalko for
leaves - After Preparation rites ( Thooyobo) of Holy Qurbana (Some do this after Besmalko for

Things to prepare in advance

The palm leaves must be cut well and tied into bundles in advance. In the bundle

that the priest will hold, place palm leaves made into the shape of a cross. Mix cut pieces

of palm leaves with flowers and put them in few baskets so that they may be used during

the reading of the Gospel and other appropriate times. Flowers are strewn during evening,

night, and morning prayers, during the procession, during the Palm Sunday special

services, during Holy Qurbana, and during the hymn at the reading of the Gospel.

Therefore, the arrangements must be made in advance to prepare these. Have the

umbrellas, flags etc ready for the procession.

The Order of the Service

After the prayers of the hour and the Preparation rites/Thooyobo as usual, the

clergy should get vested. To conduct the service, prepare a table outside the altar, in the

space between the altar and the nave, and arrange the bundles of palm leaves on it.

Distribute palm leaves to the children to hold during the procession. The children should

32 Sh’eema

33 Sunday before the Feast of Resurrection/Qyomtho. Mar Severios says 6 th Sunday. However, if you count the Miracle at the Wedding in Cana as the first Sunday, then this is the 7 th Sunday.

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go in the front of the procession. They should be trained to hold the umbrellas, flags etc

in an orderly manner. During the procession, no one should stay away from participating;

instead all should attend with devotion. Only take enough flowers for use during the

procession; do not take everything with you. Arrangements should be made to begin the

procession from the north entrance. When those arrangements are complete, the priests

and the altar servers (acolytes) should come out from the altar while singing the

procession hymn 34 and exit through the north entrance. The priest should have the cross-

shaped bundle of palm leaves in his hands. On his both sides, there should be candles and

fans and in front, there should be the Gospel and the censer. After the hymn is sung once,

it is good to say the words, “Hosanna to the son of David” in a loud voice. This can be

done just by the children or by all. This way you can alternate between the hymn and the

verses, in an orderly manner. It is usual that the chief celebrant reads Luke 19:28-40

when the procession reaches the west entrance of the church. Continue the procession as

before with hymns and verses and complete one round around the church and enter the

sanctuary through the south entrance. Place all the palm leaves on the prepared table. The

palm leaves that the children used must also be collected and placed there. On the table,

there must be a cross and candles on both sides. (If it is not convenient to do the service

in the space between the altar and the nave, the table can be prepared in the altar, and the

service can be done from there).

Do the beginning prayer, Psalm 51, Enyono, Quqliyon, Eqbo, Prumiyon, Sedro,

Qolo, Ethro, Hoothomo, Bovooso, Scripture readings and the Gospel reading as

prescribed in the order. During the Gospel reading, when the priests and the deacons

34 Man dein asqan…” / “Yerushalemile Vanmalamel…”; Translation of the hymn – “O that I might climb the high mountains of Jerusalem to behold the Son of God, the Word Incarnate, riding on a dumb colt and entering into Jerusalem…”

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chant the hymnal verse that begins with “Hosanna,” the children standing on both sides

can strew and scatter the flowers, in an orderly and reverential manner. At this time bells

and fans must be used. When this verse is chanted once, the priest should say the

Malayalam prose 35 to this verse and all should repeat it after him. Repeat this three times,

with the hymn and the Malayalam prose (this may be done during the other Gospel

readings as well on this day). When the Gospel reading is complete, the acolytes read the

litanies (Luthiniya).

The most important part of the service is next. As done in the Holy Qurbana, the

priest lifts up his hands and says the prayers. At the end of the prayers, he blesses the

palm leaves in the name of the Holy Trinity while gently waving over them with his right

hand and chanting the prescribed prayer 36 . At this time use fans, bells etc are used. Next,

the chief celebrant takes the cross-shaped bundle of palm leaves and blesses it chanting

Hau d’malaakhe.’ To this all should respond with “Holy art Thou O God…” and instead

of “Crucified for us” say “Son of David, Hosanna. Have mercy upon us.”

After the celebration with the Palm leaves and the Lord’s Prayer, decorate the

altar throne, the Golgotha etc with palm leaves. The priest should give the palm leaves to

those in the altar in order of seniority and then come to the people and give them the palm

leaves. When distributing the leaves, you may sing the hymn “Holy Holy…” 37 or another

hymn. Those receiving the palm leaf must put out both hands and receive it with

reverence and kiss it and they should hold it throughout the Holy Qurbana. They should

take it home as a means of blessing and preserve it with reverence. Those who are not

35 Here I am translating what Mar Severios says. He says so as Syriac was also used. Of course English may be used instead of Malayalam.

36 M’barkeen enoon…”; “These branches that are set before us are blessed, in the name of the Father + … and of the Son + … and of the Holy Spirit + for everlasting life.”

37 “Qadeesh Qadeesh…

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taking it home must return it to the church. The blessed leaves that remain after

distribution must be preserved in a safe place, and can be burned on the feast of Nativity,

during the service around the fire. Those palm leaves kept at home may be burned and

the ashes may be mixed in water and used for the blessing of crops and for the relief from

diseases.

8. The Entrance in the Haven commonly called the Parable of the Ten Virgins / Vaade d’almeeno

Day

Service

Time

Monday of Holy Week

- - Procession based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins - After second Qaumo of Night Prayers

Monday of Holy Week - - Procession based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins -
Monday of Holy Week - - Procession based on the Parable of the Ten Virgins -

For this service, the priest and the deacons must be vested. Begin the service at

the prayer table with a cross and two candles. Chant the introductory prayer (Slootho),

Psalm 51, Enyono, Prumiyon, Sedro, Qolo, Bothe d’hasho,