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Chaldean Liturgy – Lecture 7

Lecture 7

(Wednesday, October 18, 2006; St. Peter Cathedral, El Cajon, California)


The Insertion of Kollan b-Dhihiltha “Let us all approach” (Wednesday, October 18, 2006)
With the rejection of the Council of Chalcedon A.D. 451 by many Syrians, and the campaign that Bishop Jacob Boradai conducted to establish a Monophysite Church west and east of Euphrates, the Mesopotamian Hierarchy felt it appropriate to formulate an expression of orthodox faith before Communion, in addition to the penitential act.   The Karozutha “Let us all approach” had therefore been added as a doctrinal and penitential preparation to Communion.  Two synods confirmed its permanent status in the Mass: the Synod of Mar Sabrysho’ (A.D. 596) and of Mar Gregory (A.D. 605) and it was somehow blended with the following penitential formula that predated it

Fully Developed Structure with ‘Yshoyahb III (AD 650-659):

– Deacon:  Dismissal of Catechumens. – Priestly benediction for catechumens
– Washing of the hands and Access to the Altar
– The Procession with the Gifts to the Altar for the Offertory. –  ‘Onytha d-Raze.
– The Creed has been added, cutting the Offertory prayers in two.
– Clergy and Congregation exchange the Sign of Peace taken from the altar.
– The reading of the Book of Living and Dead.

The Anaphora: (Mar Abba introduced the 2nd and the 3rd Anaphoras)
– Deacon: In calm and awe remain… Peace be with us.
– Celebrant: The grace…etc.- People: Amen.
– Celebrant: Lift up your minds.- People: Towards you God of Abraham…etc.
– Celebrant: The oblation is being offered to God the Lord of all.- People: It is fit and right.
– Celebrant: recites the Quddasha of Addai & Mari as presented in Mar’ysha’ya Hudhra.
– Kushapa for universal peace.

The Breaking and Signation:
– Devotional Kushapa- The ceremonial approach to the altar – Qsaya & Rushma.
The Communion:
– Celebrant: The grace…etc.
– Deacon: Let us all approach…etc.
– Priestly Prayer, – The Lord’s Prayer. – Collecting Prayer
– The Holy is fit to the holies.  One Holy Father …
– Communion. – The Hymn Maran ‘Ysho’
– Deacon: Karozutha- 2 Prayers of Thanksgiving
– Final Blessing

Later Additions and Modifications:
Though ‘Ysho’yahb III is recognized as the Patriarch who organized the Chaldean liturgy in a comprehensive and stable way, by the passing of time several additions and modifications were introduced in the Eucharistic ritual that was developed through the first millennium. I will mention first the additions that remained until the present time:

First: The four fixed verses, that were added to the variable ‘Onytha d-Raze in our extant missals, are not mentioned at all by the Commentators, but they appear first in the ms. of Diarbekir (A.D. 1240) then in other manuscripts even with additional verses.  They were probably composed as a summary of the Book of Living and Dead and as a replacement to it. They still maintain the same function in our missal with a stronger theological connection to the offering.

Second: Regarding the Anaphora, the addition of the 2nd and 3rd Quddasha to the primordial Quddashe of the Apostles is to be noted. Using the three anaphors, definitely since the time of ‘Ysho’yahb III has effected a gradual tendency to align them in matter of structure and content.  The kushape found in Addai & Mari after the 10th century are clearly the result of this alignment. The addition of “it is fit and right” before the first Gehanta of the anaphoral text is also to be attributed to the same tendency.

Third: The insertion of the penitential Psalm 50 –before the Breaking and Signation– whose existence is denied by all commentators until the 14th century.  They all state indeed that no hymn of the Old Testament is used after the chanting of the Mazmora before the Gospel. This late and redundant addition has been eliminated in the current Reform.

As far as the modification is concerned, I mention here only two of the kind, because they are still relevant to our actual liturgical condition.
First: The borrowing of some parts from of the ancient text of the Pre-Sanctified D-Razana’yth Liturgy–I would rather call it the Rite of Communion—in order to arrange a ritual for the daily Eucharistic celebration. This arrangement became needed as a devotional and pastoral alignment with Catholic piety. The initial prayer and the introductory Psalm of the ferial ritual, in fact, were borrowed from the Liturgy of D-Razana’yth, as well as the ‘Onytha D-Raze Paghreh damshyha, that was allocated also for the Offertory (unfittingly, because this ‘onytha speaks of the gifts as already consecrated).  The current Reform maintained the prayer and the Psalm for the ferial Mass but replaced the ‘Onytha.
Second:  Catholic theology requested, furthermore, the insertion of the Last Supper narrative into the Anaphora.  In addition, three imitations of Latin Ritual were also inserted in the Chaldean Ritual: a) (Mysterium Fidei) interrupting the text of the Narrative; b) Agnus Dei before the Communion; c) The repetition by the celebrant of a communion formula in imitation of Domine non sum dignus.  The actual Reform maintained only the Narrative within the text of the Anaphora, though not in the first section but in the third of the Quddasha.

Dynamics of the Eucharistic Section
The Chaldean liturgy has formulated an impressive theological and ceremonial design for its Eucharist, faithful to the Scriptures, cohesive and balanced in its structure, dynamic and rich in its expression.  Since the 4th century, 1500 years before Gregory Dick exposed it to western liturgists in his classic The Shape of the Liturgy, Mesopotamians made clear the division of the Eucharistic Section in four segments: He took, He blessed, He broke, and He gave.  Moreover, Mesopotamian liturgy expressed clearly the difference between the first instructional section of the Mass and the second Eucharistic one in their comprehensiveness.  A procession would carry the Gifts and the clergy from the Bema to the Altar, with the celebrant making his solemn access inside the Holy of Holies.  Some details of each segment are warranted:



Jesus Took: The Offertory
The celebrant stands at his chair during the Ba’utha, washes his hands immediately after, then proceeds to make his solemn access to the altar while pronouncing the accompanying prayer.
The elements are brought up in procession from the Bema to the upper steps of the altar, the bread on the right (as one faces the Altar) and the cup on the left. The priest takes them from the deacon and turns facing the Cross behind the altar, and crosses his arms, keeping the positioning of the elements the same, that is, the cup being always underneath the representation of Christ’s right side, out of which blood and water spilled.  Christ is the first-born of many brothers and sisters.  His offering is the offering of the Head of the Church that she renews in fulfillment of his command.  Once the gifts are placed on the altar, we commemorate, as an offering, our brethren in the Church as well: first of all Mary, the Mother of the Lord, then the Apostles, then the Patron Saint, and finally all the faithful deceased.
Requirements to continue the offering:  After the Offertory, the priest leaves the Sanctuary and, facing the people, begins the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed. The Profession of Faith is followed immediately by the Kiss of Peace. This is in precise accord with the Lord’s command in Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”. We become reconciled with all of our brothren, first in our mind by expressing the same Creed, then in our hearts by the kiss of peace, that is, in faith and in love, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 13:11: “Be of the same mind; live in peace.”

Jesus Blessed :The Quddasha
After the gifts have been placed on the Altar and the reconciliation made among the community, in faith and love, the gifts of bread and wine are consecrated. The Anaphora Proper begins with the 1st Gehanta that includes the usual Sanctus-Benedictus.
The basic structure of the Anaphora in Mesopotamian tradition is as follows: 1) Praise and Glorification of God for the creation of the world and of men; 2) Thanksgiving to God for the redemption through Christ; 3) Remembrance of Christ by the Church in response to the Remembrance by Christ of his Church.
Since the early centuries up to modern times, the Apostolic Quddasha of Addai & Mari has been adapted to the theological and liturgical developments following the practice of the Universal Church.  Consequently, the Narrative of the Last Supper and the Epiclesis were incorporated inside the structure of the Anaphora, and the Kushape were attached to it as well, one Kushapa before each Gehanta.

Jesus Broke :The Breaking and Signing Rite:
While the Offertory and the Anaphora are performed with the face of the celebrant to the Cross, the ancient ritual allows us to perform the Breaking and Signing Rite facing the congregation, for while the Rite of Consecration is the act whereby the Sacrifice of Christ is offered to the Father through Christ, who is liturgically represented by the Cross, the Breaking Rite does not take the form of a prayer, but is a sacramental representation of the breaking of Christ’s Body that was done for the sake of the Church – “this is my Body, which will be broken for you.”  In fact, the words that accompany the breaking and signing are not in the style of an invocation but in the form of an explanation of the act.  Therefore, in full harmony with the ancient text, the celebrant should do a ceremonial approach to the eastern side of the altar and perform the Breaking and Signing in front of the congregation, representing sacramentally the death and the resurrection of the Lord.

Jesus Gave : The Communion Rite:
After the Consecration and the Breaking and Signation, the Mysteries are ready for Communion, but a purification of the heart and mind is required.   Consequently, the deacon will address an admonition expressing first of all the basic creed of our Faith, then inviting the congregation to a genuine repentance and reconciliation. A priestly prayer of absolution is followed immediately, in order to prepare all the participants to receive “The Holy.” The community then together prays the Lord’s Prayer asking particularly for the “Daily Bread”, and receives Holy Communion.

Problematic of the actual Missal and its actual implementation

  1. The Preparation of the Gifts–imitating the Latin Rite–is arranged wrongly, in direct disagreement with the original Chaldean Rite.  Oddly enough, the celebrant first goes to the side to prepare the chalice of wine and water, then washes his hands, afterwards, and returns to the center of the altar to perform the Offertory.  Evidently, the holding of the chalice and the washing of hands are in reversed order. All ancient rituals have the ceremony of Preparation of the Gifts completed immediately before the Mass, in which the gifts of bread and wine are prepared in a short, separate rite, called “Preparation,” in accord with the command of Christ in Lk 22:8: “Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.’”

  1. The Creed was inserted into the Eucharistic service before the middle of 6th century, cutting the formulary of Offertory into two segments.  In fact, the memory of Saints is made before the Creed, and again after the Creed with a concluding Ending.  Obviously, this is not a good arrangement, and had to be addressed.

  1. The Salutation of Peace is given with a short Invitation of the Deacon without sufficient explanation of meaning.  It would be preferable to add some exhortation to clarify and enhance the meaning of the gesture, i.e. the fraternal reconciliation.

  1. The text of Addai & Mari is left to be recited by the celebrant, alone, while the choir and congregation are often singing unrelated hymns.  It is a serious disorder that must be corrected.

  1. The devotional pieces, expressing penance before the fraction, are noticeably redundant: a kushapa, the psalm 50, a prayer of purification with incense.

  1. The approach of the celebrant to the consecrated elements, in order to Break and Sign, expressed emphatically and ceremonially three times, is done, in actual implementation, without approaching. This should be rectified whenever the design of the sanctuary allows it.



1) Regarding the general structure:

* It restores the ceremony of the Preparation of the Gifts to its original place, i.e. at the threshold of the Mass. The gifts should be placed on a particular table in the Bema, which is either a platform in the middle of the Nave, or a side table in the Qanke area, and be brought to the altar with the chanting of the ‘Onytha d-Raze for the Offertory.

* It provides the clergy and the faithful of distinct rituals for different solemnities: 1) a weekday simple ceremonial, 2) one for Memorials, 3) a more solemn Sunday ritual, 4) a solemn Ritual for the Feasts of the Lord; making it quite practical to follow for both the celebrant and the participants.
The difference among them is clear, particularly in regard to the opening of the Liturgy, the solemnity of the entrance procession, the number of the readings, the inclusion or not of the Supplication, the solemnity of the celebrant’s approach to the altar, the procession for the presentation of Gifts, the Introduction to the Anaphora, the invitation to the Lord’s Prayer, the prayers after communion, and the Final Blessing.
Moreover, forming four categories of formularies will allow, as well, the adoption of an improved system for the collection of variables pieces to be used in the Eucharistic celebration.  It will become feasible, indeed, to assign variant groups of prayers or ‘Onyatha for different commemorations or liturgical seasons, and organize them accordingly.

* It restores the ceremonial distinction and movement between the two major sections of the Mass: the Service of the Word of God, and the Service of the Eucharist.  Therefore, it allows the performance, in the solemn celebration, of a ceremonial expression of the dynamic relationship between the two services, by the means of a processions between the Qanke and the Bema, for the first part, and vice versa for the second part, as well as to solemnize the veneration of the Gospel by a procession between the Bema and the Pulpit.

2) In regard to specifics:

* It restores to the different sections of the Mass the purity and harmony of the original structure, without neglecting anything of the valuable liturgical pieces that are contained in that part, as in the Offertory section cut in two by the Creed and restored in the actual reform to its cohesiveness.

* It makes a more balanced distribution and use of “doubles” (i.e. more than one text for the same function) accumulated through centuries of liturgical life, as in the case of prayers before the Readings.

* It takes in consideration that the Dismissal of the Catechumens is not an actuality in the contemporary reality of the Chaldean Church. Therefore, it has been relocated in the Proper of the Mass.  Nevertheless, the implicit meaning of the dismissal is that all the baptized in good standing are invited to the banquet of the Lord, and consequently the ancient text has been replaced by the Herald’s calling for the divine banquet addressed to all baptized, a perennial actuality.  The text of the Diaconal Calling has been inspired by the liturgical ‘Onytha D-Raze’ (3rd Sunday of the Cross), itself based on the evangelical parable of the Royal Banquet.

* It assigns to the congregation a ‘Onytha for each of the main sections of the Eucharist (Offertory, Epiclesis, Fraction, and Communion), enhancing the participation of people in the celebration, and assigns as well a more appropriate text or hymn to replace a current one, whenever this substitution is required and justified, as in the selection of the ‘Onytha D-Raze for Ferial Days, since the actual one is taken from the Liturgy of the Presanctified, treating the gifts as already consecrated.  Furthermore, it directs the celebrant to share with the congregation, through the elevation of his voice, several of the prayers restricted in the current Missal to himself.

* It resolves ceremonial inconsistencies of the old ritual: a) in the solemn Access to the altar, being made two times in the actual Missal, one time for the Offertory, another time after the Creed;  b) in the approach for the Breaking and Signing, having the text inconsistent with the movement (or lack of movement) of the celebrant.

* Regarding the Anaphora of Addai & Mari: the new ritual first restores the text of Addai & Mari to its original status and inserts the Narrative in the third Gehanta according to the genuine structure of Mesopotamian Anaphora, then, makes minor corrections of inconsistencies that are found in the actual tenure.

* It allows the performance of the Breaking and Signing facing the people, in full adherence to the ancient text itself.

* It improves the use of Karozutha Let us All Approach by assigning its different sections to different solemnities, clarifying its meaning and its function.

* Furthermore, it makes a more appropriate use of a liturgical masterpiece, a genuine spiritual pearl hidden in the actual Missal behind the Proclamation Let us all approach, assigning it as a prayer of Thanksgiving immediately after the Final Blessing.