November 9, 2007
Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo
The Eucharistic Banquet
The Eucharistic Banquet: While Presentation of the Gifts and their Offering are connected intimately with each other, as parts of the Eucharistic sacrifice, breaking the Bread and giving it with the Chalice are connected together liturgically, and in accordance with the sample shown to us in the Passover Supper, being parts of the communion.
Jesus Broke : The Breaking and Signing Rite
- a) Purification of the hands and the heart with the incense: The celebrant was requested to purify his hands before his access to the altar, hence before touching the offerings, now that he will have to hold the consecrated hosts he must purify his heart with penitence and his hands with incense that signifies the forgiving divine love of sweet fragrance; following this preparation, the celebrant makes his ceremonial approach to break and sign, facing the congregation.
- b) While the Presentation of the Gifts and the Anaphora, i.e. the Offering of the them, 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 it 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 liturgically the death and the resurrection of the Lord.
- c) With the Invocation to the Holy Spirit, the consecration is perfected, thus, the bread is no more mere bread but the body of the Lord, and the wine in the chalice is no more mere wine but the blood of the Lord; the real presence of the Lord in each of them is manifested and declared. Therefore, the Chaldean rite performs, immediately after, what the Lord did in the Paschal Supper when he broke the bread to signify what will happen to his body factually on Friday of the Crucifixion, when all his body was tortured and his blood was profusely shed for the remission of our sins. Then, to liturgically commemorate the resurrection of the Lord, when his humanity was fully restored and was glorified, being united to his divinity, the Chaldean rite signs the consecrated hosts with each other clearly signifying the liturgical readiness of the consecrated Qurbana for the Holy Communion.
- d) The meaning of the incensement at this moment of the liturgy is in connection with the Resurrection, i.e. to commemorate how the devout ladies brought spices to apply them upon the body of the Lord; indeed, after the Signing no more incensement is allowed around the altar, because the sacramental body and blood of the Lord are, after the double signing, declared as expressing the state of the living and glorious Lord.
- e) The ‘Onytha of the congregation expresses the awareness of the faithful regarding the liturgical act and its meaning, in participation with the heavenly worship of the celestial hosts.
Jesus Gave: The Communion Rite
After the Sanctification and the Breaking and Signing, the Mysteries are ready for Communion, but the purification of the heart and of the mind is properly required at this moment. 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. In order to prepare all the participants to receive “the Holy”, a priestly prayer for God’s forgiveness follows immediately; the community then together prays the Lord’s Prayer asking particularly for the “Daily Bread,” in order to receive Holy Communion as a divine gift.
Historical context of 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 sequent penitential formula that predated it, i.e. “O Lord, forgive the sins…” (Marya hassa htahe…), and with priestly prayer for forgiveness that follows.
The Lordly Prayer: All Eucharistic liturgies place the Lordly Prayer before and very close to the Communion; because it asks for forgiveness and for the daily bread. Moreover, the Chaldean Rite situates it within two formulas, an introduction and one collect to distinguish it from other prayers of ecclesial composition; while reciting it, the fitting ceremonial composure is to have both hands–of the celebrant and assemble–extended forward, in the manner of supplication, looking together to the one heavenly Father.
- a) Celebrant: “The Holy is fitting (to be given) to the holies (who are living) in the concord”; this is an acclamation, shared by all the eastern liturgies, announced here by the celebrant, whose meaning is not easy to understand, but it could be well suitable to signify: a) only those who are holy may dare approach the banquet of the Lord; b) a person who is in peace and concord with his surrounding is the one that is made ready, by the grace of God, to receive the Lord.
- b) Assembly: The common ‘Onytha d-Raze “Paghreh daMshyha, must be allocated here, instead of being at the Presentation section, being the popular expression of this liturgical moment and its implications; therefore the Hosts are treated in the ‘Obytha as already consecrated; the basic message is the following: the banquet is made ready, come then and approach, in a heavenly celebration and participation!
- c) Celebrant: with the loud announcement: “The graceful gift…” he presents the spiritual food of immortality to all the true faithful.
- d) Deacon: as a herald of the Church, in the name of the Church, reiterates the same invitational message “O ye come receive the body of the Son….”
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.
Communion of the faithful: The faithful shall receive communion at the foot of the Qanke. The proper eastern way is: a) to have the faithful, first, purified the hands with the incense that should be place in the vicinity; thus, churches are encouraged to make this ceremonial purification available whenever possible; b) to place the right hand on top of the left to receive the Holy in the palm; c) each one to receive it directly from his/her right hand’s palm with the inclination of the head; d) regarding the Chalice, the faithful will be given to drink from the Chalice, everyone individually. Today, for many practical reasons, receiving communion directly from the hand of the Eucharistic Minister to the mouth is proper as well; it is also admissible to receive communion of both hosts in the mouth, being joined together through intinction.
Congregational Hymn, Diaconal acclamation, and Priestly Prayers of Thanksgiving: Several liturgical pieces, uttered by all the ranks of the faithful, follow the communion; all of them expressing the immense gratitude to God the Father and the Son Redeemer, for the divine gift that was given to mortal men as a leaven of immortality and eschatological glory.
Final Glorification: The initial glorification of the Lordly Prayer, as expanded by the Fathers of the Chaldean Rite on the theme of Qaddysh, is not only the opening popular acclamation of the Eucharistic liturgy, but the concluding one as well, thus to be considered as the liturgical frame of the whole celebration, so that the whole act of worship is summarized in one fundamental attitude of the redeemed creature toward the Trinity: to raise a hymn of glory, and live accordingly.
Finale Blessing: It is fashioned in accordance with the image of the Lord blessing his disciples when departing to heaven at the moment of the Ascension; that scene in mind, the Chaldean liturgy formulates the final imploration, asking the blessing of Lord Jesus upon his people, and the protection of his cross over their lives and endeavors forever.