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Presentation of the Reformed Chaldean Mass

Presentation of the Reformed Chaldean Missal

Presentation of the
Reformed Chaldean Missal


Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo
Chairman of
the Chaldean Patriarchal Liturgical Committee

June 2006

Presentation of the Reformed Takhsa

Introduction on the History of the Reformed Text 

The Patriarchal Liturgical Committee, Its Formation and Mandate: The Chaldean Patriarchal Synod, held in Baghdad on the days between the 14th and 18th of January 1992, and presided by his Beatitude Mar Raphael I Bidawid of blessed memory, in accordance with Canon 124 of the Eastern Code, decreed the formation of a Patriarchal Liturgical Committee, to be composed of three hierarchs: Mar Andrews Sana, Mar Estephan Babika, and Mar Yohannan ‘Ysayi, and three expert priests, the Reverends: Jacques Isaac, Peter Yousif, and Sarhad Jammo.  Their mandate was to present to the Holy Synod a historical study and a draft of reform for the Divine Raze and the other sacraments of the Church.  For practical reasons, of the three hierarchs only one could join the three experts in their endeavor, Mar Andrews Sana, who acted as President of the Committee until his retirement in 2003.

Acts of the Committee: The Committee held six meetings between June 1994 and March 1997, five in Rome and one in Paris, and presented its first draft of the Divine Raze to the Holy Synod on April 15, 1997, with the related explanation. The Fathers of the Synod, during their meeting in Lebanon in May 1997, reviewed the Draft as presented by the members of the Committee, and requested, later, the opinion and comments of their dioceses. The Committee received the comments and suggestions from the Chaldean clergy during the following months, and held two meetings in Rome to give them due consideration: from May 25 to June 2, 1999, then from May 8 to 13, 2000, and presented an updated draft of the Takhsa d-Raze to the Holy Synod in Rome on the following day, May 14, 2000.

Acts of the Holy Synod: The Fathers of Holy Chaldean Synod, during the period of their meeting in Baghdad, from the 16th to the 24th of October 2002, after listening to the presentation of the members of the Liturgical Committee, gave their approval to the proposed Reformed Takhsa, and decided on the practical measures and directives of implementation to be adopted following the Recognitio of the Holy See.

Recognitio of the Holy See: On April 12, 2003, the Reformed Takhsa, with a complete English translation, was presented to the Holy See for the canonical Recognitio.  The Congregation for the Eastern Churches responded on July 20, 2004, with appropriate observations and directives. In fulfillment with the instruction of the Holy See, the Liturgical Committee held a two-week meeting, on July 12-26, 2005, in San Diego, California, and updated the text of theTakhsa accordingly. In a Special Synod held in Rome on November 8-12 2005, the Chaldean Hierarchs gave the Chaldean Ordo of the Divine Raze their final retouches, as well as their final approval. On  November 15, 2005, His Beatitude Mar Emmanuel III Delly presented the final version to the Holy See for the final Recognitio, which was communicated to His Beatitude by a letter of the Oriental Congregation dated February 18, 2006.

The History of the Chaldean Divine Liturgy

 I. Review of the Instructional Section

General Remarks: The Chaldean rite is very close to the Scriptures. The Eucharistic celebration, in particular, is based, for its Instructional segment, on the encounter of the Risen Lord with the two disciples in their journey to Emmaus, as described in Luke 24:13-35. Therefore, in a solemn celebration (for Sundays or Feasts), two readings are provided “from Moses and the Prophets,” respectively, followed by two readings from the New Testament: one of these being the exposition and interpretation of God’s word as found in the writings of the Apostles, especially Paul, then the other one the exposition of Christ’s words and actions as reported in the Gospels.

After the homily on Sundays and Feasts, the Petitions (Ba’utha) are presented, in accordance with the request of Paul in the First Letter to Timothy: “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings, be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.  This is good and pleasing to God our Savior.” (1 Tim 2:1-3).

Around this Scripturally guided structure, pertaining liturgical elements were developed through the centuries, including glorifications and Psalmody, hymns and responsories (‘Onyatha), deaconal salutations and priestly prayers. The passage from the informal ambiance of a house celebration to a church building ceremonial required the composition and arrangement of many of the processional elements, such as the Responsory of the Mysteries (‘Onytha d’Raze), etc.

The above-mentioned passage occurred in two major historic periods: the first one happened in the early centuries of Christianity, i.e. before the era of major persecutions (A.D. 340-380), the second one occurred with the official recognition of Christianity and of Church status before 410 by the Persian King of Kings Yezdegerd.  The first period, in its early stage, could hardly suffice to compose and organize prayers and hymns, lectionaries and Psalmodies, and provide the means to diffuse them uniformly throughout the dioceses east of the Euphrates. But, with the growing of Ecclesiastic organization, the needed compositions were gradually provided for in a fairly systematic way. Accordingly, we can table the different phases of development of the Instructional Section of the Mass as follows:

1st & 2nd Century

(in-house Eucharist or in a primitive church building)

– Deacon: “Peace be with us. Be seated and silent”

– O.T. Readings (Moses & Prophets)

– N.T.: (early) Apostolic Sermon, (later) Epistle & Gospel

3rd & 4th Century

(in-church celebration)

– Deacon: “Peace be with us”

– People: Lakhu Mara (processional hymn with incense and candles)

– Priest: Improvised priestly prayer

– Deacon: “Be seated and silent”

– O. T. Readings (Moses & Prophets)

– N. T. Readings (Epistle, Gospel & Sermon)

Between the 5th and 7th Century

The Synod of Mar Isaac (A.D. 410) was an opportunity for the hierarchy of the Church of the East to commonly adopt and approve liturgical structures and texts, as is explicitly mentioned in its 13th Canon:

 “Concerning the ordinances and canons which are appropriate to the liturgy, and to the Holy Mysteries, and to the glorious feasts of the Savior, (it has been ordered):

The western liturgy which Isaac and Marutha the bishops taught us, and all of us saw them celebrating here in the church of Seleucia, henceforth shall we celebrate ourselves in like manner. The deacons in every city shall proclaim the proclamation like this, and the Scriptures shall be read thus, and the pure and holy Oblation shall be offered upon one altar in all churches, and the argument of that ancient memory shall no longer exist among us. The Oblation shall no longer be offered from house to house.”

This is how the Instructional Section would have looked at the time of Mar Isaac in the Cathedral of Seleucia:

Entrance Ceremony

– Priest: Priestly prayer “Before the Throne…”

– Choir: Responsory of the Sanctuary (‘Onytha d-Qanke)

Procession to the Bema

– Deacon: “Peace be with us”

– People: Lakhu Mara (processional hymn with incense and candles)

At the Bema

– Deacon: “Be seated and silent”

– Readers: 2 Readings of the O.T. (Moses & Prophets)

– Choir: Interval Psalmody

– Deacon: Epistle Reading

– Choir: Halleluiah with Psalmody

– Priest: Gospel Reading & Sermon

– Deacon: Supplication

With Mar Abba the Great (A. D. 540-552), the Trisagion (Qaddysha Alaha) found its place before the Readings. Then, before 600 A.D., the monastic Psalmody gradually established itself as a practical way to fill the waiting time immediately before the beginning of the ceremony, making its two last verses (Aqqapta) as the official Invitational Acclamation to start the Solemn Mass (Awde lakh b’edta rabtha…). With Isho’yahb III (650-659) a standard structure and texts were organized and adopted, not only for the common or fixed elements of the Mass but also for the variable or proper pieces. With Timothy (780-823), the Lord’s Prayer with its responsorial Qaddysh was introduced at the beginning and at the end of all services, and soon after it found its place at the very opening of the Eucharistic celebration, preceded by the Angelic chant Gloria in Excelsis.

However, the structure and ceremonial of the Eucharistic celebrations were not uniform, especially in regard to the opening ceremony of the Instructional Section:  Feasts of the Lord would open with the Acclamation: “I will give you thanks in your great assembly;” Sundays would begin with “Glory to God in the highest;” Lenten Eucharist would continue Vespers with the prayer preceding Lakhu Mara. Some priestly prayers, as well, were assigned to different solemnities. Nevertheless, by the end of the first Christian millennium, a general structure could be outlined for the instructional section of the Eucharistic celebration as follows:

Fully Developed Structure (10th century)

Entrance Ceremony

(The clergy standing in front of the altar)

– Priest: “Glory to God in the Highest…”

– People: Lord’s Prayer with “Qaddysh” refrain

– Priest: First priestly prayer pro clero (“Envigor, Our Lord…”)

– Deacons: Psalmody

– Priest: Second priestly prayer pro populo (“Before the Throne…”)

– Choir: Responsory of the Sanctuary (‘Onytha d-Qanke)

– Deacon: “Peace be with us” (with the opening of the curtain)

– People: Lakhu Mara (processional hymn with the cross, the book of the Gospels, incense and candles)

– Priest: Priestly prayer following Lakhu Mara (“Lord, you are…”)

At the Bema

 People: Trisagion (Qaddysha Alaha)

– Priest: Priestly prayer following Trisagion (“O Holy, Glorious…”)

– Deacon: “Be seated and silent”

– Readers: 2 O. T. Readings (Moses & Prophets)

– Choir: Interval Psalmody

– Priest: Priestly prayer before the Epistle. (“Enlighten, O Lord…”)

– Deacon: Epistle Reading

– Choir: Halleluia with Psalmody for the Gospel Procession

– Priest: Gospel Reading & Sermon

– Deacon: Supplication

Theological and Liturgical Dynamics of the Section

The design of the church building, reflecting, from one side, the Scriptural temple and synagogues, and the Mesopotamian architecture, from the other, were carefully Christianized to fit the liturgical performance of the Mystery of Salvation. The celebration would begin in front of the altar, inside of the veiled sanctuary, with the heavenly and divine words of glorification, i.e. the angelic glorification announcing the coming of the Son of God to our earth, followed by the first words of praise of the Lord’s Prayer. The celebrant then presents to the Trinity, in the name of the people, the opening prayer, followed immediately by the‘Onytha d-Qanke formulating the seasonal theme of celebration.

Now the gate of heaven opens; the Deacon announces with his salutation the beginning of the divine drama of the descent of the Son of God to our earth. The procession towards the bema will parade the basic visible signs and means of Christian salvation and faith: the cross and the book of the Gospel. The archaic hymn Lakhu Mara summarizes it eloquently. The tri-Qaddysha will enhance the theme of glorification, preparing us to be submitted and committed to the plan of God that will guide us in our earthly journey.  At thebema the clergy will sit, among the people, to listen to the Word of God in the obedient attitude of the disciples.  At the proper time, a procession will take the Gospel to the designated stand to be proclaimed to all nations; another procession will take the gifts to the altar for the Presentation, leading in Spirit the whole congregation to the heavenly sanctuary.

Problematic of the Old Missal and Situation

A.   Accumulation of Elements

Since ‘Ysho’yahb III (in the mid-Seventh century) until recent times, no competent and comprehensive study was ever made of the Chaldean Liturgy. At the present time, however, as a result of the last century’s scholarship, we are made aware that through generations of liturgical life, the original meaning and the correct use of some elements of the Mass may have been lost or misunderstood, resulting today in a ritual that contains some confused or unjustified arrangements of liturgical structure, or entanglement of ceremonial elements. The following are a few instances with their solution:

  1. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer three times during the same Mass is obviously redundant. The proper place of the Our Father is before Communion, as it is in all Rites of the Church. Nonetheless, the opening glorification of the Lord’s Prayer is very fit for the opening of the liturgy and was retained by the Reformed Text.
  2. The prayer “Envigor, our Lord and God …” is a prayer for clergy and was thus allocated for that function.
  3. The monastic Psalmody (Marmytha) is out of context, and was therefore eliminated.
  4. The “Gloria” of the Responsory of the Sanctuary (‘Onytha d-Qanke) is often in reference to the cross, even when the liturgical season has a different theological focus. An adjustment was therefore needed.
  5. The prayer introducing Lakhu Mara was mutilated, and was thus reconstructed to express the fullness of its meaning.
  6. The Petitions (Ba’utha w-Karozutha), in the practice of last century, were either eliminated or reserved to the Lenten season.  They have been therefore restored to their place, though in their shorter form.
  7. Several prayers relating to the Readings and to the Incensing are duplicates that needed better distribution and arrangement.

B. The Elimination of Bema and Veil

The Mongolian attacks on Christianity during the 14th and 15th Centuries caused a devastating and lasting destruction of church structures all over the territory of the Church of the East, including church buildings and monastery chapels, and affected also the liturgical ceremonials and rituals. Having very little leftover from that spiritual glory of the ancient Mesopotamian cathedrals, we will miss forever their archaic sanctuaries, altars and bemas.  According to the latest research, the most ancient remnant of the original Mesopotamian altar with its canopy is in the chapel of Rabban Hormizd Monastery, behind the actual wooden altar. The most ancient bema to be found today, in clear archaic shape, is within the archeological remains of a church-monastery complex south of Sulaimanya in Northern Iraq.

By the elimination of the bema in all Chaldean churches, the Entrance ceremony became quite static.  Also, by eliminating the veil in the past decades, by explicit or implicit approval of the Chaldean hierarchy:

  1. The sanctuary has been made an open field for the public;
  2. The awakening and dramatic sign that indicated the beginning and termination of the liturgical act, that is, the opening and closing of the veil, disappeared;
  3. The atmosphere of holiness to be reserved for the sanctuary is diminished;
  4. The Chaldean Church has been deprived of her particularity and her genuine characteristics that are deeply Scriptural.

Doubtless, a serious Reform could not but restore the Bema and the Veil to their original state and function.

C. Prayer with the Back to the Cross

Furthermore, a most drastic change has happened, again during these last decades, in many Chaldean dioceses and churches, wherein the Chaldean celebrant, imitating the Latin Rite celebrant, reversed the direction of prayer and, without concern, mingled both sections of the Mass.

In fact, in the historic design of the Chaldean Mass there is a clear distinction between the first Instructional Section, perceived as a journey of the Church – like the disciples of Emmaus – and the Eucharistic section, which begins with the Presentation. The first part proceeds in a movement between the qanke and the bema and has for its focal point the stands of the readings. The second section occurs in the sanctuary and has for its focal point the altar, which is directed toward the cross. As the Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Holy Father Benedict XVI) said in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy: “For the Liturgy of the Word is about speaking and responding, and so a face-to-face exchange between proclaimer and hearer does make sense…On the other hand, a common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord.” (p. 81)

As far as the direction of prayer is concerned, sadly enough, this is what happens in many Chaldean churches today: the celebrant goes, immediately after the prayer precedingLakhu Mara, to stand behind the altar, with his back to the cross; he leaves that location for the reading of the Gospel and the sermon; then he returns to the same position to perform the Presentation; he then descends toward the people for the Creed, and returns again with his back to the cross to recite the Eucharistic Prayer, the Our Father and what follows until Communion, and doing the same for the final prayers after Communion. This unjustified recent use, or abuse to be more accurate, contradicts the whole tradition of the Chaldean Church in celebrating the Eucharist, as well as the historic comprehensive design of the Chaldean Mass and the harmony of its texts, and disregards gravely the Instruction of the Holy See for the Application of the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches: “This practice (i.e. praying towards the east), threatened in many Eastern Catholic Churches because of a new and recent Latin influence, has thus a profound value and must be safeguarded, it being strongly coherent with the Eastern spirituality.” (Vatican: 1996, No. 107). The Liturgy therefore becomes disoriented in the manner described by the same above-quoted eminent author in the same book:

Now the priest – the “presider”, as they now prefer to call him – becomes the real point of reference for the whole liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing…Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by the human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a “pre-determined pattern”. The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself. The common turning toward the east was not a “celebration toward the wall;” it did not mean that the priest “had his back to the people:” the priest himself was not regarded as so important. For, just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian liturgy, the congregation looked together “toward the Lord.” (p. 80)

Thus, the new Reform preserves duly and fully the Celebrant’s attitude of standing in front of the Cross at the moment of the Divine Offering, as alike at Golgotha did Mary the Blessed Mother, John the Beloved Disciple, and the holy women (John 19: 25).

II. Review of the Eucharistic Section

General Remarks: The Eucharist of the Church is an implementation of the command of the Lord in the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of me.” The basic outline of the founding Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper, as narrated in Paul’s Letter (1 Cor, 11:23-26 ), in the Synoptic gospels (Luke 22:14-20, Mt 26:26-29, Mk 14:22-25), as well as in Luke’s description of the acts of Jesus at the banquet in Emmaus, is summarized by Luke as follows: “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.”(Lk 24:30). Thus the four sections of the Eucharistic Rite of the Church follow the four actions of the Lord as described in this narrative: He took, blessed, broke and gave.

The Church of the East has developed its Eucharistic ritual in fulfillment of that command of the Lord and according to that very pattern as delivered by the Apostolic tradition of Addai and Mari.  Like the other Apostolic Churches, the Mesopotamian Church formulated a liturgical context fitting the celebration, both in its totality as well as in its individual sections, by way of introduction or conclusion, accompaniments or insertions, considering these compositions and formulas as an organic development of the basic Apostolic structure.

The following are tables that illustrate the principal phases of development of the Eucharistic celebration in the Church of the East:

1st & 2nd Century

(in-house Eucharist or in a primitive church building)


– Deacon: “Peace be with us”

– Immediately the Gifts are brought to the Celebrant


– Deacon: Invitational: “Lift up your minds”

– People: “Towards you God of Abraham…etc.”

– Deacon: “The Oblation is being offered to God the Lord of all”

– Priest: the Quddasha of Addai & Mari in its primitive form

Breaking and Signing:

– The Qsaya & Rushma, in a basic and simple form


– The Lord’s Prayer with improvised priestly introduction and conclusion

– Communion with improvised prayers

As we discover from the documentation of early Christianity, the Eucharist of Apostolic times was celebrated in houses of the faithful with simplicity and minimal ceremony. Established hymns or fixed prayers were not yet composed or commonly approved. Evidently, the Lord’s Prayer made an exception as well as the Psalter for the Judeo-Christians. For the Mesopotamian Church, the Eucharistic tradition of Addai & Mari was the point of reference in liturgical practice. Indeed, we know that the people’s response: ‘Towards you…’ belongs to the earliest Christian era because it reflects the Judeo-Christian character of the congregation, as were the first communities of converts in Mesopotamia.

From the mid-second century, at the time of Tatian and Bardaisan, we begin to have an organized Christianity in Mesopotamia and farther East.  Pagan converts were joining the new Faith, and churches were built to formalize the Christian worship and allow the shaping of its ceremonial.  Liturgical compositions started to be redacted by the spiritual Fathers to fit the needs of liturgy.  In regard to the formulation of Eucharistic Prayer, the Epiclesis made its appearance inside the Anaphora, west and east of Euphrates, as did the Isaian Qaddysh, which was added to the first Gehanta of Addai & Mari.

3rd & 4th Century

(in-church celebration)

– Deacons: Dismissal of the Catechumens – “Whoever has not received baptism…”


– Deacon: “Peace be with us”

– The Gifts are brought to the altar

– Choir: Responsory of the Mysteries (‘Onytha d-Raze)


– Deacon: Invitational “Peace be with us. Lift up your minds”

– People: “Towards you God of Abraham…etc.”

– Deacon: “The Oblation is being offered to God the Lord of all”

– Priest: The Quddasha of Addai & Mari with the insertion of Qaddysh & the Epiclesis

Breaking and Signing:

– Qsaya & Rushma, with their ceremonial approach, i.e., encirclement of the altar


– People: “O Lord, forgive the sins…” (Marya Hassa Hta-he…)

– Priest: priestly prayer for forgiveness and introduction to the Lord’s Prayer

– People: The Lord’s Prayer

– Priest: priestly prayer concluding the Lord’s Prayer

– Communion with its prayers

– Final Blessing

With Mar Issac (Synod 410 A. D. and after)

Since A.D. 313, when Constantine won his battle under the banners of the cross and Christianity enjoyed its freedom in the West, Christians of the East became the scapegoats of the military misfortunes of the Persian Empire, and had to curtail all contacts with their brothers in the West. A century later, the atmosphere was much more relaxed and Mar Marutha, as delegate of the “Western Fathers,” came to the East to restore relations and update ecclesial communion.

By the year 410, when the Synod of Mar Isaac decreed its canons, the anaphora of theApostolic Tradition had long been formulated, the Apostolic Constitutions with their ideal-anaphora were edited, and the Liturgy of St. James was composed and became the model Eucharistic Prayer for Jerusalem and Antioch.  Consequently, the updating effected also the Eucharistic liturgy in Mesopotamia, as stated in the text quoted above: “Also, the western liturgy which Isaac and Marutha the bishops taught us, and all of us saw them celebrating here in the church of Seleucia, henceforth we shall celebrate ourselves in like manner.”


– Deacons: Dismissal of the Catechumens – “Whoever has not received baptism…”

– Priestly benediction for Catechumens


– Procession with the Gifts to the altar for the Presentation, during the Responsory of the Mysteries (‘Onytha d-Raze)

– The congregation exchanges the Sign of Peace


– Deacon: “In calm and awe remain standing and praying”

– Deacon: Invitational “Peace be with us.  Lift up your minds”

– People: “Towards you God of Abraham…etc.”

– Deacon: “The Oblation is being offered to God the Lord of all”

– Priest: the Quddasha of Addai & Mari, basically in its text as presented in the Hudhra of Mar ’Ysha’ya

Breaking and Signing:

– The Qsaya & Rushma, with their ceremonial approach


– People: “O Lord, forgive the sins…” (Marya Hassa Hta-he…)

– Priest: priestly prayer for forgiveness and introduction to the Lord’s Prayer

– People: The Lord’s Prayer

– Priest: priestly prayer concluding the Lord’s Prayer

– Communion

– Choir: The hymn Maran ‘Ysho’ of St. Ephrem

– Priest: Prayers of Thanksgiving and Final Blessing

Development of the Eucharistic Section between the 5th and 7th Centuries

With Mar Abba the Great:

The political honeymoon between East and West was of short duration, and soon after, that is, during the time of Mar Dadysho’ and his Synod of A.D. 428, relations were severed with the West. The situation worsened with the Christological controversy, and official contacts were not resumed until the patriarchate of ‘Ysho’yahb I (A.D. 586).  In the intervening years, the Church of the East had sent privately, around A.D. 530, two highly educated scholars, Mar Abba and Mar Toma, to become acquainted with the liturgical, theological, and ecclesiastic life of the Western Church.  The latter died in Constantinople, and the former became Patriarch. All the manuscript rituals attribute the 2nd and 3rdAnaphoras to Mar Abba.  To him is attributed also the arrangement of the Psalter, the prayers between the Psalms and the Giyyore.  He is also recognized as the author of the Chaldean text of the Trisagion Qaddysha Alaha and its insertion in the liturgy.  The addition of the Creed to the structure of the Eucharist belongs to the same period, and probably as well other elements of Greek characteristics like the Book of the Living and the Dead, and the acclamation “The Holy is fit to the holy ones.”

With Mar ‘Ysho’yahb I: The Breaking and Signing

Mar ‘Ysho’yahb I, whose letter to Bishop Jacob of Darai is attached to the Acts of his Synod (A.D. 587), gives us precious and interesting information about the Breaking & Signing rubric.  He states:

“(The Celebrant) at the end of each of the consecutive sections (Yubal Pasoqe), duly glorifying with his tongue, draws with his hand over the Divine Mysteries–according to the norm—the sign of the holy cross.

When he finishes the three sections (Tlatheyhon Pasoqe), he draws near to sign—not as you wrote, but as we write—lifting up upon his hand the upper Host, kissing (it) and placing (it) upon his eyes.  And fixing his mind and his eyes upon heaven, he says: ‘Glory to you, O living and life-giving bread, who descended from heaven that those who eat shall not die.’

And he begins to break, and while breaking says:

‘I thank you, O Lord God, Lord of heaven and Earth, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that though I am wretched and unworthy, you have accounted me worthy in your grace to offer the fearful, holy, and divine Mysteries of the Body and Blood of your Christ, that I may minister to your people and the flock of your pasture absolution, the forgiveness of their sins, the salvation of their souls, the reconciliation of all people, and the tranquility and peace of all creatures, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.’

He signs the Body with a broken piece, saying: ‘The holy Body is signed with the absolving Blood in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,  for ever Amen.’

And when he places the broken pieces in the type of the cross, he says: ‘These divine Mysteries are signed, sanctified, united, and fulfilled, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for ever Amen.’ Here he makes the sign of the cross, not over the Mysteries, but upon his forehead.

These things suffice concerning the signing of the Mysteries, for you also only asked us, in the matter of the canon of the Mysteries, concerning the signing of the Mysteries.”

Let us make few observations about this text:

a) Jacob the Bishop of Darai described to the Patriarch how he usually performs the ceremony of Breaking and Signing. The Patriarch answers back: No, he should not do it that way, but the way the Patriarch will tell him. Now, if a bishop does not know how to Break and Sign the Eucharist, it is presumably because of a new norm that has been introduced.

 b) Oddly enough, the Patriarch, with the new norm, eliminates all the liturgical texts containing the reference to the movement of “approaching,” which is quoted four times in all known Missals: three times as the celebrant implores: “Let your graceful mercy make us approach toward these …. Mysteries, though unworthy we are,” and a fourth time when the celebrant, at the point of Breaking, says: “We approach, Lord, … and we sign…in the name…”  Furthermore, the Patriarch assigns to the Breaking act a kushapa that obviously relates to the devotional attitude of the celebrant at this moment, but not to a theological and liturgical act.  Indeed, the Kushapa speaks in a generic manner of the “Offering” not of the “Breaking” of the Mysteries.

c) At any rate, not even one manuscript, nor any printed Missal, ascribes the “Breaking” ceremony as described by ‘Ysho’yahb.

Therefore, we must pose the question: What motivated ‘Ysho’yahb I to ascribe a new liturgical arrangement for the Breaking? And why did no one ascribe to it?

As to the first question: taking into consideration the fact that the Patriarch eliminated all reference to the act of “approaching” allows us to assume that he was concerned with altars where “approaching” was a problem or no longer applicable. That would be the case certainly if “approaching” would mean turning around the altar to face west, and if, in many churches, the altar were attached or were too close to the eastern wall of the sanctuary.

Other indications point to the same original practice of “Breaking and Signing” facing west, i.e. facing the clergy and people, otherwise the traditional text, found basically as it is in all manuscripts, would not make sense.  The indications are:

a) The threefold repetition of Bless me sir at every approach, being directed to the clergy that are around the altar, supposes a continuous movement in their vicinity.

b) If the celebrant is in front of the altar and the Breaking were to take place at the same spot, there would be no meaning to making a ceremonial approach.

c) The breaking of the consecrated Host and the fashion of its placing in the paten in the old Missal is quite awkward and hardly genuine, because the celebrant must twist his left hand to place it facing the chalice.

d) The literary style of the formulas of Breaking and Signing is not invocative in the fashion of prayer, but carefully composed to be descriptive, being meant to be performed before the congregation. That is, it is not a prayer addressed to God, and so it is appropriately said facing the people.

e) The Psalmic verse “I have washed my hands in purity, and encircled your altar, O Lord,” which the old Missal prescribes for this moment of the liturgy, is an indication of the ceremonial movement around the altar at this moment of the Celebration.

f) A ceremony with a similar structural pattern, namely the Rite of the Consecration of an Altar, gives us a rubric that prescribes the celebrant facing West when he presents the consecrated altar to the people, using the same formula used at the end of the Breaking and Signing Rite (“This altar has been set apart, sanctified…”).

g) Indeed, the Body “is to be broken for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

As to the second question, I respond that the directive of ‘Ysho’yahb I to use a private devotional priestly Kushapa as a formula for the Breaking and Signing implies the elimination of a traditional formula, liturgically genuine and quite fitting for Breaking and Signing; the circumstantial difficulty of “approaching” was a secondary matter, to be considered as a contingent element that could be dealt with according to the situation of the altar, without altering the formula of breaking. Consequently, the directive of ‘Ysho’yahb I, being an ill-conceived attempt of a solution, was not implemented factually, and is, indeed, never found in manuscripts.

The Insertion of “Let us all approach” (Kollan b-dihiltha)

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” was therefore 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, i.e., “O Lord, forgive the sins…” (Marya hassahtahe…).

From Mar Abba to ‘Yshoyahb III


– Deacons: Dismissal of the Catechumens – “Whoever has not received baptism…”

– Priestly benediction for Catechumens


– Washing of the hands and access to the altar

– Procession with the Gifts to the altar for the Presentation, during the Responsory of the Mysteries (‘Onytha d-Raze)

– The Creed was added, cutting the Presentation prayers in two

– Clergy and Congregation exchange the Sign of Peace taken from the altar

– The reading of the Book of Living and Dead


(Mar Abba introduces the 2nd and the 3rd Anaphors)

– Deacon: Invitational “In calm and awe remain… Peace be with us.”

– Priest: “May the grace…etc.”

– People: “Amen”

– Priest: “Lift up your minds”

– People: “Towards you God of Abraham…etc.”

– Priest: “The Oblation is being offered to God the Lord of all”

– People: “It is fit and right.”

– Priest: Recites the Quddasha of Addai & Mari as presented in Mar Ysha’ya Hudhra

– Priest: Kushapa for universal peace “O Christ, the Peace of the exalted…”

Breaking and Signing:

– Priest: Devotional Kushapa “I give thanks to you…”

– The ceremonial approach to the altar

– Qsaya & Rushma


– Priest: “May the grace…etc.”

– Deacon: “Let us all approach…etc.”

– Priest: priestly prayer of absolution and introduction to the Lord’s Prayer

– People: The Lord’s Prayer

– Priest: Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer

– Priest: “The Holy is fit for the holy ones…”

– People:  “One Holy Father …”

– Communion

– Choir: Maran ‘Ysho’

– Deacon: the Karozutha “As we were made worthy…”

– Priest: 2 Prayers of Thanksgiving

– Priest: 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 remain 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 Presentation.

Second: Regarding the Anaphora, the addition of the 2nd and 3rd Quddasha to the primordial Quddasha of the Apostles is to be noted. Using the three anaphoras, definitely since the time of ‘Ysho’yahb III, has affected 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 Signing is denied by all commentators until the 14th Century.  Indeed, they all state that no hymn of the Old Testament is to be 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 modifications are 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 Presentation (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 the 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 Reform has 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 into 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 Presentation

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 gifts 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, therefore, 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 Presentation, the priest leaves the Sanctuary and, facing the people, begins the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed. This 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 brethren, 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 sanctified. 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) Memorial of Christ by the Church in response to the Memorial 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 into 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 Presentation and the Anaphora are performed with the face of the celebrant to the cross, the text of 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 symbolically the death and the resurrection of the Lord.

Jesus Gave: The Communion Rite

After the Sanctification and the Breaking and Signing, 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 for forgiveness follows 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 Old Missal and its 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 pour and mix the wine and water in the chalice, then washes his hands afterwards, and returns to the center of the altar to perform the Presentation.  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.’ ” Indeed, at the Passover Supper, the Scriptural narrative says that the Lord “took the cup,” not that he “prepared the mixture of wine in the cup.”

2) Ysho’yahb I, in his letter to the Bishop of Daran, ordered that the designation of the celebrant of a specific Eucharist be done by the Archdeacon at the bema, when the clergy begin their procession toward the qanke to recite the creed. That arrangement had as a consequence the performance of the Presentation by a priest different than the celebrant.  In our times, having only one celebrant for the whole service, the solemn access to the altar is confused, and had to be rearranged with the respective texts.

3) The Creed was inserted into the Eucharistic Rite before the middle of 6th Century, cutting the formulary of the Presentation 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 was not a good arrangement, and had to be addressed.

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

5) The text of Addai & Mari, through many additions and adjustments, was made confused and distant from its Mesopotamian pattern. The main needs of the formerly used text are two: a) to clarify the address of the 3rd Gehanta to the specific divine Person to whom it is directed; b) to place the Narrative at the place that fits it into the Mesopotamian pattern of the Anaphora.

6) The devotional pieces expressing penance before the fraction are noticeably redundant: a kushapa, Psalm 50, a prayer of purification with incense. The Psalm is the latest comer to this section. According to the Chaldean commentators, the Eucharist of the New Testament should not include hymns of the Old Testament.

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

8) The inclusion of many Kushape to be recited by the celebrant as private prayers while the deacon or the congregation are reciting their own segment is not a good liturgical practice. These redundant prayers had to be relocated to preserve their belonging to the Eucharist.

9) A few imitations of the Tridentine Latin Missal still persist in the Chaldean Missal, outliving paradoxically their original source. The main section concerned here is the rite and prayers of Communion. The present Reform restores the Chaldean text to its original purity.

General Observations Regarding the Reform

Since the liturgical Reform of ‘Ysho’yahb III, 1350 years ago, a fresh comprehensive Reform of the Chaldean Liturgy is an imperative; though this endeavor would prove to be an exhausting marathon, it is nevertheless absolutely needed. As far as the present phase of the Reform is concerned, the endeavor, though defined to the Commune of the Takhsa d-Raze, effected the formulation of a fresh outline that encompasses both structural features and textual and ceremonial elements. I may group the elements of novelty into two kinds of categories: Reform and Renewal; the first refers to the elements that were restored to their genuine origin and meaning, the latter to an organic growth of the liturgical expressions accomplished in vital harmonic connection with the traditional patrimony of the Church.

What was Restored to its Origin in the Present Reform

Over the centuries, the liturgical patrimony of the Church had accumulated elements that were either redundant or interruptive of the harmonic structure of the Mass, which often occurred through misunderstandings of original texts. The present Reform attempted to redistribute these prayers and adjust their position, without losing any of the richness of the tradition it inherited.

Regarding the Structure:

The Reform 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 Presentation.

The Reform restores also the ceremonial distinction and movement between the two major sections of the Mass: the Rite of the Word of God, and the Rite 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 theqanke 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.

The solemn entrance into the sanctuary, which had previously occurred twice, once at the Presentation and again after the Creed, is unified, allowing also the Presentation prayers to be said together, without the previous interruption of the Creed.

Regarding Specifics:

  • The Reform allows for a more practical use of processions to and from the functional bema which is nearer the sanctuary.
  • The prayer before Lakhu Mara, which had been mutilated, is given fuller expression and meaning.
  • The ‘onytha “Paghreh da-Mshyha,” which had been in a totally inappropriate place, since it assumes the elements to be already sanctified, is moved, during Ordinary Days, to before Communion.
  • Certain Latinizations, such as the Mysterium Fidei and the practice of hand-washing after having touched the sacred vessels, were removed.
  • The Reform makes a more balanced distribution and use of “doubles” or redundant pieces (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 and the Gospel, and the acclamation Brykh Paghrakh.
  • The use of Psalm 50 as a prayer for purification during the Eucharistic section of the Liturgy is removed, since the patrimony of the Church of the East considers it inappropriate to use texts of the Old Testament during the Sacrifice of the New.

Organic Growth and Renewal

The Liturgical Reform is not restricted to simply fixing inconsistencies and disconnections in the structure and text of the previous Missal, but is also an organic growth of the same harmonic patrimony, pushing the ceremonial to a further enrichment.

Regarding the Structure:

The Renewal provides the clergy and the faithful of distinct rituals for different solemnities: 1) a simple weekday ceremonial, 2) one for Commemorations and Funerals, 3) a more solemn ritual for Sundays and Feasts, and 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 Petitions, 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 variable 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 makes clearer the Biblical divisions within the Mass, from the division between Instruction and Eucharist, to that between each of the four sections of the Eucharist itself.
  • Following this division, it assigns to the congregation an ‘Onytha for each of the main sections of the Eucharist (Presentation, Blessing, Breaking, 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 Ordinary Days, since the previous one was taken from theLiturgy of the Presanctified, treating the gifts as already consecrated.
  • The participation of the people in the Mysteries is furthermore enhanced through the elevation of the celebrant’s voice during several of the prayers restricted in the old Missal to himself.

Regarding Specifics:

  • The Sign of Peace is made a section of rich content, enhancing its meaning and ceremonial.
  • Regarding the Anaphora of Addai & Mari: the new ritual first restores the text of Addai & Mari to its original status; also it inserts the Narrative into the third Gehantaaccording to the genuine structure of Mesopotamian Anaphora; then makes minor corrections of inconsistencies that are found in the previous tenure.
  • It allows the performance of the Breaking and Signing Rite facing the people, in full adherence to the ancient text itself, and removes the merely theatrical “movement” of the priest before the Breaking in the old Missal.
  • Furthermore, it makes a more appropriate use of a genuine spiritual pearl, hidden in the old Missal behind the Proclamation Let us all approach, editing and assigning it as aPrayer of Thanksgiving to be said immediately after the Final Blessing.

Conclusion: All of this has been done in full appreciation of the eminent value of the liturgical patrimony of the Church of the East, and in total faithfulness to its genuine apostolic tradition.  Moreover, it is to be noted that the new reformed ritual is only Phase A of the projected Liturgical Reform, containing only the Commune of the Mass with its apostolic Anaphora of Addai and Mari.  God willing, Phase B will encompass the Niqpayatha, i.e. thePropers of the Mass, in addition to the other two Anaphoras, and Phase C the other sacraments and sacramentals; the reform of the Hudhra, i.e., the Liturgy of the Hours, will certainly be included as well in the global project of this liturgical reform.

Introduction to the New Missal

The Church Building and Practical Matters

I. The Church Building

The ceremony of the Divine Mysteries finds expression in a building, which we call a church. Because the purpose of this building is precisely to house this ceremony, it should be fitted accordingly – that is, the architecture should fit the ceremonial needs. This is to implement seriously what is formulated in the Letter to the Hebrews (8:1-6/9:11-12):

 “…They worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, as Moses was warned when he was about to erect the tabernacle. For he says: ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’…  But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood,  thus obtaining eternal redemption.”

Indeed, at the cross “Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.” Then, “The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mk 15:38).

Therefore, the liturgical focal point of the church building is the sanctuary or beth qudhsha, which is separated from the nave by a veil or curtain (sitra or wela). The term qanke,(literally: doors) is the most common term for the sanctuary.

Inside the qanke is the altar, at the east end of which is the cross and icon representing the glorified human image of the Lord, facing west and representing dawning sun. Golgotha and the empty tomb are the main points of reference for the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, and therefore, the cross and altar are focal features of the New Temple built for the perpetual Offering.  It is upon the altar that the Sacrifice of the Divine Mysteries is offered, and therefore nothing should be placed upon the altar except the linens proper for the sacred vessels, the gifts to be consecrated, and the book of the ritual. That is, candles should not be on the altar but close to it, quite conveniently under the cross. It is advisable that the book of the Gospels be placed on a stand to one side of the cross, and the tabernacle to the other, so as to give no ceremonial conflict between consecrated and unconsecrated elements. Theqanke should be covered by a veil, to be opened and closed at the noted points in the Holy Liturgy.

The other side of the veil is where the episcopal chair should be situated, and where the celebrant also should be seated during the Instructional section of the Divine Mysteries, that is, during the readings, homily and supplication.  Moreover, two pulpits, one for the Old Testament readings, and the other for the New Testament readings should be placed in theOuter Qanke, one to the right side of the cross, the other to the left side, respectively.  Not far from the celebrant’s chair, a table should be arranged, on which are to be placed the paten containing the bread together with the chalice, as well as the cruets of wine and water.

Adjacent to the qanke is the qastroma, a large platform in which the deacons and, if there is one, the choir, are situated, representing the angels who chant in worship at the Heavenly Liturgy.

In the nave of the church (haykla), the bema is the place where the clergy sits for the readings, surrounded by the pews of the faithful.  According to the present directives, there are two types of beme: original and functional. An original bema should be in the middle of the nave, while a functional bema should be off to the side of the qastroma, at some distance from the center of the qanke, in order to allow for the possibility of some procession during the entrance of the Divine Liturgy and for the presentation of the Gifts. The aisle between the original median bema and the qanke is called the shaqona.

II. Practical Matters

A. The Sign of the Cross and the Ceremonial Cross: The original eastern form of making the sign of the cross from the forehead to the chest, then from the right shoulder to the left, has been reinstated, initially as a “liturgical” form, while keeping pastoral concerns in mind when applying this change to congregations. In addition, the eastern practice of allowing any celebrating priest, not only a bishop, to hold the ritual cross during the Liturgy, has been reinstated.

B. Facing the Cross and Facing the People: During the Instructional section of the Liturgy, the priest may sit for the readings facing the reader, or facing north or south according to the position of his chair, or also stand, while reading or preaching, facing the people, after the pattern of a dialogue. But when the he prays to God and offers the Sacrifice, i.e. during the Presentation of the Gifts and the Anaphora, he must face the cross. As far as the Breaking and Signing Rite is concerned, wherever possible in a particular church building, the priest shouldface the people, but he must receive Communion facing the cross. As a general guiding principle, what is addressed to God is to be performed facing the cross, and what is addressed to the congregation should be performed facing the people.

C. “Concelebration”: In the Chaldean Rite, there should be only one main celebrant and he is the only one who may: 1) say the first prayer of the Liturgy, all the salutations, and the final blessing, 2) make the Presentation of the Gifts, 3) pray the Eucharistic Prayer, 4) perform the Breaking and Signing Rite, and 5) receive Holy Communion first. The meaning of con-celebration in the Chaldean Rite is that other priests or bishops assisting the main celebrant at the Liturgy may, in addition to praying for him according to his request, pray any of the prayers besides the ones noted above; for example: the prayers of the hymns Lakhu Mara andQaddysha Alaha, the prayers said before and after the Lord’s Prayer, or the prayers said after Communion. They may not pray the Eucharistic Prayer “together” with the celebrating priest, except the paragraph in the third Ghanta beginning “And we also, O Lord…” and ending, “as he taught us,” and the Epiclesis, that is, the section beginning “Thus now…” and ending “who have pleased you.”

D. Communion of the Clergy: 1) Only the celebrant and the attending bishops and priests may receive Communion at the altar. 2) Only the main celebrant, be he bishop or priest, may self-communicate; that is, even an attending or con-celebrating priest or bishop must be “given” the Sacred Host and Cup, and  may not directly take either one, reflecting the reality that Communion is a Gift or mawhawtha. 3) The Communion of the rest of the clergy should take place off to the side of the altar or at the threshold of the qanke.

E. Vestments: The celebrating priest wears a kotinazunarahurara (an alb, cincture and stole, respectively) and on top of them a payna or cope. Deacons and Subdeacons wear a kotina,zunara, and hurara, while those of lower orders wear a kotina and zunara.