Monday, August 25, 2014

The Quddasa in the Syro Malabar Qurbana

The central part of the Holy Qurbana is the Quddasa, the Hallowing. In the Quddasa, the celebrant, as the representative of the congregation, thanks the Father through the Son and the Holy Spirit, for the ineffable gifts they have received. During the Quddasa, the climax of the Christ-event, death and resurrection of Jesus, is celebrated and proclaimed. The Resurrection is proclaimed as the supreme action of the Holy Spirit.  Moreover, the decisive action of the Holy Spirit in human salvation is also proclaimed in the Quddasa.

In the other two major liturgical traditions, the Quddasa is known as the Anaphora (Greek) and the Canon of the Mass (Latin).

Mar Toma Nazranis inherit three Quddasas from its East Syriac tradition. They are:

  1. The Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari, the Apostles of the East
  2. The Quddasa of Mar Theodore of Mopsuestia
  3. The Quddasa of Mar Nestorius of Constantinople

These three Quddasas are among the oldest Quddasas used in the entire Christendom. The Quddasa of Mar Nestorius is reserved for five days in a liturgical year, viz., the Denha, the first Friday after Denha (John the Baptist), the fourth Friday of the Denha (the Greek Fathers), the Thursday of Pes’ha and the Wednesday of the Ascension of Our Lord. The Quddasa of Mar Theodore is used from the first Sunday of the Weeks of Annunciation to the Oshana Sunday. All the other days the Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari is used.

The Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari, the Apostles of the East

This Quddasa is the oldest existing Quddasas in all liturgical traditions. Several scholars consider its final redaction to the end of the second century. It was originated in Edessa and is attributed to the Apostles Mar Addai and Mar Mari. Mar Addai was a disciple of Mar Toma and Mar Mari was a disciple of Mar Addai. The eastern tradition also counts them among the seventy two disciples of Jesus. Being the pioneer apostles outside the then Roman empire, it was quite natural to attribute this Quddasa of great antiquity to them.
The Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari in its original form does not contain an explicit Institution Narrative. Among the Mar Toma Nazranis, in the Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari, the Institution Narrative found a place at only around the 16th century. However, on January 17th, 2001, at the end a long and careful study undertaken of the Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari, from a theological, liturgical and historical perspective, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Rome concluded that this Quddasa can be considered valid even without Institution Narrative. Pope John Paul II subsequently approved this decision.
The Quddasa of the Apostles Mar Addai and Mar Mari is celebrated in four cycles of prayers and actions called G’hantha cycles. They are:
  • Prayer Request
  • Kusappa
  •  G’hantha
  • Qanona and
  •  Kissing of the Altar

1.    Prayer Request

The celebrant requests the congregation to pray for the proper celebration of the Holy Qurbana by him. Prayer request is to be understood in multiple levels. It is a prayer request for the celebrant, it is a request for all the participants, it is a request for a worthy priesthood etc. It is yet another formal and explicit display of the unworthiness of mortal being preparing to meet with the awe-inspiring mysteries.

2.    Kusappa

Kusappa is a Syriac word means mainly “prayer in a low voice.” It is an extended prayer request by the celebrant. In ancient times, the celebrant humbles himself by kneeling down for reciting the kusappa. Though this practice is not observed in these days, this supplication prayer demands that attitude.

3.    G’hantha

The G’hantha Prayer in literal sense is a prayer of inclining or prostration. Through the g’hantha prayer, the celebrant offers the thanksgiving prayers in state of extreme humility and subservience. While the celebrant recites the prayers, the congregation puts on the attitude of the celebrant and is lead through the redemptive mysteries of the Holy Trinity. The theological vacuum only is displayed if the g’hantha prayer is recited as a prayer relay among the priests participating in the Holy Qurbana or by the congregation in an audible voice.

4.    Qanona

Qanona which means the ecphonetic doxology is the conclusion of the g’hantha prayer. Usually, it is chanted with the Sign of the Cross.

5.    Kissing of the Altar

The celebrant kisses the altar at the beginning and at the end of the g’hantha prayers. Through this action the celebrant expresses his dearness and that of the congregation towards the throne of God.