Friday, October 03, 2014

The first G'hantha cycle in the Quddasa of the Syro Malabar Qurbana



The first G’hantha cycle is often considered as an introduction to the Quddasa. In the text of the Holy Qurbana this cycle is placed just before the Quddasa of Mar Addai and Mar Mari. Apart from the five structural components, a set of other meaningful rituals and prayers are also incorporated at the end of this G’hantha cycle.

Prayer Request

The first G’hantha cycle begins with an engaging prayer request. This request has two parts. At first the celebrant seeks the blessings from God by praying, “Bless me, O Lord.” He then turns towards the congregation and requests, “My brethren, pray for me that this Qurbana may be completed through my hands.”  The request of the priest in this two-fold manner reveals the awareness of the celebrant and his unworthiness to carry on with the celebration. It also accentuates the salvific action of God the Father through the Son for the humanity. The multiple roles adorned by the celebrant are also worth noticeable. He stands in the place of Jesus, for all the priests of the Old and New Testaments, for himself, for all the faithful in the Church and for the entire humanity. (Heb 5:1-3)

The reply of the congregation, “May God, the Lord of all, strengthen you to fulfill His will and accept your Qurbana and be pleased with the sacrifice you offer for us, for you, and for the whole world through the goodness of His mercy forever,” is deeply theological. Through this reply, the Church proclaims that God is the Lord of all and everything in this world is eternally done through the goodness of His mercy. The duty of a faithful is to fulfil the will of God. Holy Qurbana is referred to as a sacrifice here. The reply also lists the triple beneficiaries of Qurbana viz., the community gathered, the priest himself and the entire humanity. It is worth mentioning that the prayer by the faithful is not just for the priest and the completion of a particular Qurbana but for all the priests and the priesthood in the Church. This is more explicit in the other G’hantha cycles.

Kusappa

The celebrant in a low voice says the first kusappa.  The healing and cleansing effect of Qurbana is acknowledged by the priest in the first kusappa. He intercedes for blotting out the countless sins of humanity through the grace and virtue showered through the Holy Qurbana. It is stressed that God alone is the source of all grace and grace is showered only in His sight. The purpose of human life is to sing praises with the hosts of angels. It is the liturgy and liturgical life that are helping the faithful for this. The first kusappa teaches that the end of time is the second coming of Jesus in his glory.

G’hantha

The first G’hantha has the typical Thomistic salutation, “My Lord, My God.” The celebrant acknowledges and expresses gratitude for the abundant graces showered by God on humanity. The greatest gift in this life is to become the ministers of the Body and Blood of Christ. Christian life in every manner is this ministry. The priest admits that Qurbana is the true gift from God the Father. He requests for strengthening the love and faith among everybody.

Kissing of the Altar

The celebrant kisses the Altar and pays respect. Traditionally, it was at the beginning and at the end of the G’hantha, the kissing of the altar happened. But in the current text of the Holy Qurbana, the kissing is only at the end of the G’hantha.

Qanona

The celebrant stands straight and keeps his hands close to his chest in the form of cross. This is one among the many occasions the celebrant uses the symbol of cross. The direct or indirect use of the symbol of cross is the acknowledging of the unique role of cross in the salvation of the world. The priest in a reasonably loud voice recites the qanona, “We offer You praise and honour, worship and thanksgiving, now and always and forever.” The qanona unambiguously ascertains the place of God in Christian life. God is the only one who is worthy of praise, honour, worship and thanksgiving. This is true for every moment. The qanona is ended with the priest blessing himself and the congregation.

The ending of the qanona is by the recitation of the words, “now, always and forever.” When the priest pronounces “now,” he raises his right hand, opens the palm and touches the lower tip of it on the forehead so that the congregation could see his stretched palm. He then brings the palm down to the navel thus drawing the vertical stretch of the cross on his body. While pronouncing “always,” he reaches his right hand palm to his right shoulder, touches it and moves it horizontally to the left shoulder and touches it, thus drawing the horizontal stretch of the cross in his body. The priest then holds both his palms together and recites “forever.” The qanona clubbed with this series of action display the abject surrender of the celebrant and the congregation to God the almighty. The congregation replies in a loud voice, “Amen.” With this comes the end of the first G’hantha cycle.