October 18, 2007
The Chaldean Raze
by Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo
- 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, brokeand gave.
Theological Scriptural Background:
The Christian Eucharist is the completion of the Jewish Passover in the messianic redemption, originating with the Exodus (Ex 12:1-11; Lv 23:4-8, Nm 9:1-5 & 28:1-25) and developed in Jerusalem in relation with the Temple ceremony ( see 4 kings 23:21-23; 2 Chr 30:13-20 & 35:1-19; Deut 16:1-8). It can be summarized as follows: the Passover celebration at the time of Jesus the Lord had two phases, the first one was done in the Temple, where the lambs were slaughtered and offered by the priests upon the altar on April 14, the eve of the 15th (see Ex 29:28-24; Nm 28:1-5), and the other is accomplished in the houses where the families would consume, according to the ritual, the lambs offered earlier in the temple.
Lord Jesus instituted his Passover in the context of the Jewish Passover, in anticipation of his own crucifixion and resurrection, being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29, 35); he is our Passover (I Cor 5:7); his body, offered for our communion, is the one that is broken for us, and his blood is that which was shed for the remission of our sins; and the whole of his body was raised to heavenly glory, being seated at the right hand of the Father. Here again the main sections are two: the offering of the sacrifice–the Lord himself, now in divine glory– and our communion with it. Whereas in the Jewish Passover, altar and banquet are in two locations, in the Christian Eucharistic celebration, altar and banquet are in the same sanctuary. Nevertheless, the distinction between the two complementary functions should be maintained with clarity, having each one of them its own modality and fitting expression: the offering is addressed to the Father by the celebrant in the name of the congregation, while the communion is given by the celebrant and concelebrants to the congregation.
Historic Context: 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: ‘Toward you, O God of Abraham…’ 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 began 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.
With Mar Issac (Synod of 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; 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.”
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 3rd Anaphoras 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 for the holy ones.”
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. 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 means of introduction and conclusion, accompaniments and insertions, it being evident that these compositions and formulas are a harmonic and organic developments of the basic Apostolic structure, recognized to be identified with the Apostles of the East Addai and Mari.
First of all, the Mesopotamian liturgy expressed clearly the difference between the first instructional section of the Mass and the second Eucharistic one in their comprehensiveness: a) the celebrant makes a solemn entry toward the altar after cleansing his hands; b) a procession would carry the Gifts from the bema to the altar; c) a proper hymn would accompany the procession. Moreover, since the 4th century, Mesopotamians made clear the division of the Eucharistic Section into four segments: he took, he blessed, he broke, and he gave.
Jesus Took: The Presentation
The instructional section ends with the sermon (or with the Ba’utha/Petitions), then the celebrant washes his hands immediately after, and proceeds to make his solemn access to the altar while pronouncing the accompanying prayer. 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.”
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 iconographic depiction 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. A concluding formula of presentation summarizes the meaning of this part of the Eucharist.
– Requirements to continue the Offering: After the Presentation, the priest leaves the altar area 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 to be sanctified. The Anaphora Proper begins with a salutation, then an invitational formula, followed by 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 eachGehanta.
The prelude: The common “Lift up your hearts (or minds)”, has in the Chaldean rite a very uncommon response: “Toward you, O God of Abraham…” It evidently reflects the era and ambiance of origin of the Anaphora Addai & Mari: the Aramaic Judeo-Christian Mesopotamia of the First century.
- a) The Glorification: In similarity with the Benedictions of the Meal at the time of Jesus, this first section of the Anaphora praises God for the gift of creation and the gift of redemption. This praise is a cosmic glorification involving heavenly and earthly beings; it expresses three acts of worship to the Name of God, which is the Holy Trinity: adoration, benediction and praise, and the proclamations of Holy, Holy, Holy, and of the Hosanna.
- b) The Thanksgiving: Its theme is the gifts of salvation granted to the human race by the redeeming acts of the Lord Jesus. The Mesopotamian anaphora differs from other Eucharistic prayers by treating the subject of redemption not as a series of events or as chronology of facts but as events affecting the human condition so that it is healed and elevated to a glorified state.
- c) The Memorial: The general stylistic frame of this section is constructed in the following fashion: we ask the Father to remember us, the Church in its diversified groupings, while we do his memorial as he commanded us. Other imported elements are inserted within the general frame of commemorations:
1) A supplication for peace, based ultimately in recognizing Lord Jesus as the Son of God and his gospel, to be preached by the Church to all nations as the source of purity and sanctification.
2) The narrative of the Eucharistic institution, which connects the present act of the Church with its founding paschal supper, has been located in the Reformed Missal within this section, because it is proper that it be part of the memorial.
3) The Invocation of the Holy Spirit to bless and sanctify the offering of the Church and make us share the divine gifts of salvation.
A final thanksgiving-glorification-adoration to the divine Name concludes the Anaphora, as a closure in perfect harmony and fulfillment with its beginning.
Two accompanying roles:
- a) The deacon’s invocation and incensement: The invocation is addressed to the congregation, to elevate their minds and hearts to the spiritual and divine realm of faith, in order to become aware of the sanctification that is being accomplished at that holy moment. Note also the presentation of the incense, by the hands of the deacon, reminding us of the aromatic spices that the women brought to the tomb of the Lord, as a preparation for his resurrection.
- b) The following ‘onytha (Kahna ma d’a’el) sung by the people: it describes the climax of the act of the consecration of the Offerings, making the congregation aware and part of the act of the Church, declaring and making clear that, at this stage of the liturgy, the offerings are sanctified and consecrated as the body and blood of the Lord.