The Quddasa has a specific set of rites and rubrics as an introduction apart from treating the first G’hantha cycle as an introduction. This is sandwiched between the first and the second G’hantha cycles. It comes with two very important rites viz., the exchange of peace and dialogue prayer, the former is the traditional inaugural rite of every Mar Toma Nazrani liturgical ceremony and the latter is in all Eucharistic liturgies.
Kai-kasthoori – Exchange of Peace
The celebrant turns towards the congregation, blesses them with the sign of the Cross and says, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:19) This is immediately after the qanona of the first G’hantha cycle. The congregation replies, “with you and with your Spirit” (Gal 6:18; Phil 4:23) while drawing the symbol of the Cross on themselves. The first deacon then approaches the entrance of the Mad’baha. The celebrant goes up to him, places his folded palms into the open palms of the decaon. Both of them withdraw their palms, bring them close their own lips and kiss them in the folded position. These set of actions is known as kai-kasthoori. The deacon then turns towards the congregation and announces, “my brethren, give peace to one another in the love of Christ.”
The celebrant then gives kai-kasthoori to the Archdeacon or to the one close to him in the Mad’baha. As a chain this is repeated among the others. Simultaneously, the first deacon gives kai-kasthoori to the second deacon and both of them go to their respective sides in the Haikala and give kai-kasthoori to the first ones in the first rows. It then is continued as a chain reaching the last ones in the last rows. In some places, the deacons give kai-kasthoori to each of the first ones in each of the rows in either sides of the Haikala. Kai-kasthoori is a beautiful external expression of the Christian unity among the entire gathering in the church (1 Cor 10:17). This also helps the people to forget all ill-feelings and to forgive the evil-doings of others (Mt 5:23-24). Moreover, this helps them to seek forgiveness from their brethren (1 Cor 11:27-28). In the beginning and at the end of each of the Liturgies of the Hours and in ecclesiastical gatherings, Mar Toma Nazranis give kai-kasthoori.
Diptychs is the book that contains the names of all those who are to be specially remembered during the Holy Qurbana. Deacon reads out from the diptychs the names of those who are dead and living while the congregation continue with the exchange of peace. It is to be remembered that no special intentions are read out at this time. As the Holy Qurbana is for “our life and for the peace of the world, and for the crowning of the year that it may be blessed and filled with abundance through God’s goodness,” neither at the beginning of the Holy Qurbana nor during its celebration, particular intentions are placed. Moreover, it is to be noted that the Holy Qurbana is not to be traded for temporal favours, gifts and goodness.
Deacon now helps the congregation to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the participation in the “awe-inspiring Mysteries that are being sanctified” by making a detailed announcement. He says that through the intercession of the celebrant peace is to be flourished in the world. The community well bound by the exchange of peace, is further made aware that the ultimate peace is through God, and the Holy Qurbana is the perfect instrument for that in the world. The deacon calls for thankful and prayerful mind, pure and contrite heart, attentive and reverential disposition, closed eyes and opened heart and internal and external silence from each of the participants. He concludes his announcement by declaring that, “peace be with us.” This assures the community of the flourishing of peace among them through the Holy Qurbana.
Unveiling the Mysteries
The celebrant prays in a low voice while the deacon makes the announcement. The celebrant reiterates his weak and frail nature and seeks God’s blessings to proceed with the celebration. He thanks God for sending His Grace on him for making him “worthy to offer before Him the Holy Qurbana which is a living and holy sacrifice.” Through this prayer he reaffirms that the Holy Qurbana is for the “praise of the Holy Trinity and for the sanctification of the whole congregation.”
The celebrant takes the soseppa that veiled the Body and Blood, rolls it and keeps it around the Body and Blood. As soseppa symbolizes the stone that covered the Holy Sepulchre, the above action symbolizes the Great Resurrection itself (Jn 20:1). Soseppa also is the symbol of the sacred linen cloth that covered the Body of Jesus when he was buried. Hence, the additional significance of the above action is the rolled up line cloth at the place of the burial of Jesus (Jn 20:5-9).
The celebrant then prays with deep gratitude, “O Lord, by Your grace, You have made me worthy of Your Body and Blood.” He then devotedly implores for the blessings to “be present before God with confidence on the day of judgement.” The celebrant generously incenses the Eucharistic gifts and the altar which now displays the resurrection scene.
The formal commencement of the Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari is with the recitation of the Pauline Salutation (2 Cor 13:14). The celebrant recites it with a loud voice and blesses the Eucharistic gifts by the sign of the Cross. The most important significance of the usage of the Pauline Salutation is the open proclamation that the Quddasa is through and through an act of the Holy Trinity.
The Dialogue Prayer
A dialogue type prayer is seen in almost all Eucharistic liturgies irrespective of the tradition. Here, at the commencement of the Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari too, there is this dialogue prayer. The celebrant reminds the congregation that “their minds must on high.” To this, the congregation reply that “it is to God who is the God of the virtuous and venerable patriarchs that the minds must be raised.” The celebrant then tells that “the Holy Qurbana, the most fitting thanksgiving, is offered to the same God, who is the Lord of all.” The community then affirms that “it is the most righteous and just act of human beings.” The dialogue prayer assures the participation of the congregation in the celebration of the Holy Qurbana. It also ensures the congregation that they are part and parcel of the celebration, symbolizing the communitarian dimension of the Holy Qurbana.
The deacon recites “peace be with us” and with this, the introductory rites and rubrics of the Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari come to an end.
Joseph Varghese Kureethara CMI