Starting today the Chaldean Church begins its yearly three-day commemoration of the supplication of the Ninevites.
Ba’utha is a singularly meaningful liturgical mini-season for the Chaldean Church, because it exemplifies how unforgotten, important, and cherished the Chaldean nation is to God, and how wrapped up it is in salvation history. God had not hesitated to destroy many of His past offenders throughout the Old Testament (Sodom, Gomorrah, Jericho, etc.), typically reserving His mercy only for His chosen people the Hebrews; this second chance given to Nineveh reminds us of how the Hebrews are descendants of the Chaldeans, explaining why God sought their repentance rather than their demise.
Thanks to Christ, salvation has reached the gentiles, and God offers all mankind a chance to turn back and be saved. But what does it mean to be saved? Monday’s Ba’utha prayers give us hints:
You who come to Ba’utha, cleanse your soul from empty thoughts,
And prepare your ears to hear, like the earth prepared for sowing:
For the Seed of life will come, if your soul awakes for him.
There may be a twisted will, one who needs Life’s medicine.
There may be a body here, but its thoughts are gone astray.
We only his shadow see, while his mind cannot be seen.
This suffices for our guilt: against you, Kind One, we sinned.
To one with an open mind; guilt is worse than punishment.
To one who knows his own sin, it is worse than any stick.
A free man is more ashamed, knowing the sins he has done;
To one with intelligence, guilt hurts worse than punishment.
Man is a rational animal composed of body and soul, with a will and intellect. We are physical beings unlike the angels, and spiritual beings unlike the animals. We have a mind capable of rational thought, designed to guide our earthy emotions to proper ends. Soul, mind, body, and feelings comprise a human, and when God wishes to save us, wishes to save all of us in our entirety. Every aspect of mankind must be lifted up, cleansed, purified, and rightly ordered.
What good is a soul if it does not awaken for the Seed of life?
What good is a man’s mind if unsound? If he loses his rationality he is but a beast, and only a shadow of a man remains.
What good is a body if it does not properly function, and aid the mind in its search for truth? What good are ears if they do not hear that truth when it comes?
What good are the passions? The emotions? If we do not feel correctly, our mind becomes a slave to our own baseness. If we do not feel guilt for wrongdoings toward our own Creator, then in our attempts to become gods we become less than men.
Though the age of prophets ended with John the Baptist, God continuously calls the faithful to repent through the Church; we are reminded every year by the liturgy to commiserate with the self-inflicted suffering of our predecessors in a last-ditch effort to order our souls, uplift our minds, prostrate our bodies, subject our emotions, recognize our faults and beg God’s forgiveness.
For more information on Ba’utha as well as obtaining the text and audio of the prayer services, visit the following: