Q & A on the Reformed
Q – When and how
was this Reformed Mass put together?
A – The
Reformed Chaldean Mass is the work of a Patriarchal
Liturgical Committee begun by the last Patriarch,
His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid of blessed memory,
interacting with the whole hierarchy of the Chaldean
Church and continued under the patronage of our beloved Patriarch Mar Emmanuel III Delly. The Committee, comprised of experts in the
Chaldean Liturgy, worked in cooperation with the
Chaldean Synod of bishops for fifteen years before
the Text of the Reformed Mass was finalized,
approved and presented to the Holy See for official
recognition. The most significant dates are as
November 12, 2005 – the Chaldean Holy Synod in Rome
approves the Reformed Missal.
February 18, 2006 – the Vatican gives the Reformed
Missal its official recognition.
January 6, 2007 – the date given for the beginning
of the New Mass by the Chaldean Holy Synod held in
Shaqlawa, Iraq on May 9-11, 2006.
Q – Why a new Mass?
A – The
Second Vatican Council gives reasons for a Reform of
all Catholic Liturgies at the beginning of its first
Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium:
impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian
life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the
needs of our own times those institutions which are
subject to change; to foster whatever can promote
union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen
whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into
the household of the Church.”
Constitution continues, regarding the Eastern Rites:
“Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the
sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church
holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal
right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them
in the future and to foster them in every way. The
Council also desires that, where necessary, the
rites be revised carefully in the light of sound
tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet
the circumstances and needs of modern times.”
It was first of all in response to
the call of the Council, then, that the Patriarchal
Liturgical Committee of the Chaldean Church was
formed and commissioned. In addition to the general
call of the Council, there were several particular
reasons for its commission:
it was a response to the chaos found in Chaldean
churches around the world, where Mass is being said
in drastically different ways in different parishes.
Because the Liturgy is not the prayer of any
individual but of the whole Church together, this
situation is contrary to the spirit of unity
demanded by Christ for his Church. And so, the
Reformed Mass is presented as the way to
celebrate Mass in the Chaldean Church, following
Christ’s command: “do this in memory of me…”
Secondly, over the centuries, the Chaldean Mass had
been added to and changed in a disorganized and
sometimes sloppy way. A Reform was needed to “clean
up” what was sloppy while keeping all that was of
value. This is especially the case with “Latinizations,”
or things added or changed in the Mass simply as an
imitation of the Latin Rite, which can be
contradictory to the flow and meaning of the
Chaldean liturgical structure.
Thirdly, recent scholarship in liturgy allowed the
Committee to further develop the Chaldean Mass into
an even more beautiful and meaningful ceremony,
closer to the Scriptures and to the Apostles, and
therefore to Christ himself.
Q – What are some of
the most dramatic changes?
While most of the changes in the Mass will be
noticed mainly by the priest, some changes are even
more visible, for example:
Eucharistic Prayer or Anaphora, the most climactic
moment of the Mass, is now said aloud by the priest,
where before it was said silently. This allows the
people to participate, by their conscious attention,
in the entirety of the Mass.
architecture of the ancient Chaldean Church was
encouraged. For example, the Sanctuary Veil,
symbolic of the veil of the Temple which was torn
open by Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross, is
is greater movement in the Mass in the form of
processions at the beginning of Mass, before the
Gospel reading, and at the Presentation of the bread
two Old Testament readings are re-stressed in the
Sunday liturgy, giving greater opportunity to the
Church to listen to the words of Holy Scripture.
Q – How will the people
A – The New Mass offers much more opportunity
for the participation of the people:
* In the
old Mass, there was a separation between the prayer
of the priest and that of the people: while the
priest was praying the Eucharistic Prayer, the most
important one of the Mass, the people would be
singing a song or praying on their own. In the New
Mass, the people are able to participate with the
priest by praying in their hearts the same prayer
the priest prays out loud.
addition to the hymns and spiritual songs that were
already a part of the Mass (Abun d-bashmayya,
Lakhu Mara, Qaddysha Alaha, Paghreh Da-Mshyha,
Cruwwe wa-Srape), more hymns were added, to
reflect the meaning of any particular moment of the
ceremony: Ha Mzamnyton at the Presentation of
the Gifts, Kahna Ma D-a’el after the coming
of the Holy Spirit, Shlama w-Shayna during
the Sign of Peace, etc. These hymns allow the people
to participate in what is actually happening before
them, rather than separating them from the events of
Q – Why does the
priest have his back to us?
A – During the
Presentation of the bread and wine and the
Eucharistic Prayer, the priest is, like you, facing
the Cross. The prayer that he prays on your behalf
is addressed to God, and so he faces the symbol of
Christ, the Son of God, as he prays it. He does not
have his back to you, any more than you have your
back to someone behind you. He is only facing the
same direction that you are, because he is praying
to the same God.
Q – Why is the priest
holding a cross?
A – The
New Mass did not make every priest a bishop. Using a
cross to bless the people is an ancient sign that it
is really Christ who blesses us, and the priest
blesses the people in his Name, through the power of
Q – Why
don't we have the announcements in the same place as
before? And why aren’t we praying an Our Father and
a Hail Mary for the deceased anymore?
Interrupting the connection between the Gospel
reading and the Sermon was always a distraction. We
used to forget completely the Gospel story by the
time we heard the sermon, because we had to think
about dead relatives, or second collections, or
fundraising parties. Now, there is no more
distraction – we hear the Gospel proclaimed, then we
hear it preached. The intentions for the Mass,
including the names of the deceased, and the
announcements, were moved to much more appropriate
names of the people that we pray for during the Mass
were made an integral part of the Offering itself,
rather than a side-issue. They are now part of the
“Book of the Living and the Dead,” the people who
are named as intentions for the whole Mass, not just
an Our Father and a Hail Mary.
with other Churches, the other announcements have
been moved to be right before the final blessing.
Q – Why doesn't the priest
prepare the bread and wine at Mass anymore?
Again, in a “return to our roots,” the bread and
wine are prepared before the beginning of Mass. This
is in conformity with the actions of Christ, who
before the Last Supper began sent disciples to
“prepare the meal” at the Passover supper.
Q – Why was the Creed
changed to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from
the Father,” rather than “from the Father and the
A – This
is another instance of the Holy See asking us to
“return to our roots.” The original form of the
Nicene Creed says that the Holy Spirit proceeds
“from the Father.” The phrase “and the Son” was
added, in the West, in the following centuries.
Though it is quite true to say that the Spirit
proceeds from both the “Father and the Son,” the
Eastern Church, encouraged by the Holy See, has
asked us to return to the original form of the
Q. What about the
other sacraments and ceremonies of the Church? Are
they also going to be reformed?
A – Yes.
As declared by the Patriarchal Commission, the
Reform of the Chaldean Liturgy has begun with the
Mass, and will continue its work of improving and
revising all the other official prayers of the
next phase of the Reform will be the Naqpayatha
or the Propers, the prayers and readings that are
arranged to be said on every particular Sunday and
Feast day of the year. In addition, this phase will
encompass also the other two Eucharistic Prayers of
the Mass, and provide readings and optional propers
for Daily Mass.
Reform will then look at the other Sacraments, such
as Baptism and Confirmation, Marriage, Forgiveness
or Reconciliation, Ordination and Anointing of the
Sick, and sacramentals such as the Rite of Funerals,
the Communion Service (“PreSanctified”), etc.
Finally, the Reform will turn to the Hudhra
or Liturgy of the Hours.
Other Questions about
the Reformed Mass?
Fr. Andrew Younan at: