Eucharistic rites

The Holy Ourbana, or Eucharist, is contained in the Hudra and Taksa. It contains three anaphoras or eucharistic prayers: Addai and Mari, Nestorius and Theodore the Interpreter. If there were other anaphoras at one time, these have not survived. Addai and

Mari seems to be the most ancient. Those of Nestorius and Theodore may have been the work of Mar Aba the Great, who was Catholicos from 540 to 552. The anaphora of Nestorius is inspired by those of John Chrysostom and Basil; that of Theodore seems to have been inspired by Nestorius and Addai and Mari, and the liturgical homilies of Theodore of Mopsuestia. However, both show considerable cultural and linguistic inculturation, and are very far from being just translations (Spinks 1999).

Addai and Mari is the main rite used. Nestorius is used on five occasions: Epiphany, the Friday of John the Baptist, the memorial of the Greek Doctors, the Wednesday of the Rogation of the Ninevites, and Maundy Thursday; and Theodore is used from the first Sunday of the Annunciation-Nativity period until the Sunday of Hosanna. Addai and Mari has a structure peculiar to itself; Nestorius and Theodore follow what is called the East Syrian pattern, in which, after the narrative of institution and anamnesis, come the intercessions, and only then, as a climax before the doxology, the epiklesis or calling on the Spirit to come upon the bread and wine.

The structure of the eucharistic liturgy can be divided as follows:

1 Entrance

2 Liturgy of the Word from trisagion to dismissal of catechumens

3 Pre-anaphora: from the transfer of the elements to diptychs

4 Anaphora

5 Preparation for communion: from 'Have mercy' to sancta sanctis

6 Communion and concluding rites.

At least for understanding the commentaries, it should be remembered that the older arrangements of many East Syrian churches included a bema in the nave from which the Liturgy of the Word was celebrated. Only at the equivalent of the Great Entrance did all the clergy move from the bema into the sanctuary.

Beginning with a Trinitarian invocation, the rite commences with an eastern short version of Gloria in excelsis and Lord's Prayer, interwoven with a qanona, which in fact is a form of the sanctus. There follows a prayer, the marmita, prayer of the anthem of the sanctuary, the anthem of the sanctuary (onita d'qanke), the procession to the bema, veneration of the cross, the Prayer before Laku Mara, Laku Mara, and a concluding collect. The marmita is in fact three psalms with farcings and gloria. The aqqapta, which is said when there is no marmita, seems to have been the original entrance versicle of the bishop. The Laku Mara is a form of a troparion, celebrating Christ as the source of our resurrection; it is repeated together with the psalm words, 'I have [sic] washed my hands in innocency.' From the commentaries we surmise that the earliest rites began with a greeting and the Liturgy of the Word. The onita d'qanke and marmita were added by the seventh century, and, in the ninth century, the Lord's Prayer, and finally Gloria and Veneration of the Cross.

The Liturgy of the Word opens with the trisagion. There is a reading from the Law and Prophets (Prophets and Acts on Sundays of Eastertide). There is a suraya (respon-sorial psalm), prayer before the Epistle, Epistle reading, followed by turgama (commentary), the zummara (alleluia chant), gospel procession and reading of the Gospel, and homily. This is followed by the litany-style prayers, blessings, and dismissal of the catechumens. There is nothing particularly East Syrian about this section, though, like the West Syrian, it has retained or replicated the Torah and Neviim readings as in the synagogue.

In the pre-anaphora the manuscripts vary on the sequence, since some presuppose at least two priests, with certain ceremonies taking place in the sanctuary, and others taking place in the bema at the same time. Other manuscripts seem to attempt to rationalize the structure for one priest. We have the anthem of the mysteries; the washing of the hands; the transfer and unveiling of the mysteries, during which the onita d-raze is chanted; procession to the sanctuary; the Creed; diaconal proclamation; prayers of access, and the first ghanta and kussape, which are here preparatory prayers; the kiss of peace; and the diptychs. The mysteries are censed. The three eucharistic prayers used have been mentioned above. Unlike other traditions, the prayers are interrupted by kussape prayers by and for the priest, and the text of the eucharistic prayer is also rubrically divided into ghanata and qanone.

The communion rites are mainly concerned with an elaborate fraction, with the Lord's Prayer and sancta sanctis. The old rite of penance has, in truncated form, been placed before the peoples' communion, as a communion preparation. After communion there is a teshbota, a kiss of peace in the sanctuary, and blessing. The custom of blessed bread is also known. Peculiar to the East Syrian tradition is the malka, or holy leaven, which is required to be added to the bread baked for the communion. Made of wheat flour, salt, olive oil, and a few drops of water, it actually contains no leaven at all. However, it is regarded as a raza (mystery), and is mentioned frequently after the tenth century. It has attracted a legendary explanation, that it represents loaves given to the twelve Apostles at the Last Supper.

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