Let us pray, peace be with us:

"The Cross that has been the cause of our good and by which our mortal humanity was set free,
O Lord, be for us a strong fortress. And by this Cross, we shall overcome the wicked one and All his devices."

(Syro-Malabar Qurbana)

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              Update on Delhi Syro-Malabar Mission

 

We read in the Synodal News Vol. 16, Nos. 1 & 2, of November, 2008 ….the Bishops Synod had decided and clarified (XV Synod 2007 Session 2) that the alternate hymns for 1. Psalms, 2. Zummara (Pre-Gospel Hymn), 3. Onitha d' Raze, 4. Sanctus and 5. The Hymn at the time of fraction were to be faithful to the content and spirit of the text of the Holy Qurbana.  The Committee for the scrutiny of liturgical texts was entrusted with the task of approving the hymns of the liturgical hymnal.  …..the Commission requested the eparchies to send the alternate hymns for 1. The Psalms, 2. Zummara (Pre-Gospel Hymn), 3. Onitha d'Raze, 4. Sanctus and 5. The Hymn at the time of fraction, with the copy right to publish them as well as their tunes.  Though the Commission received responses from some of the dioceses, they are not according to the specification requested.........." Thus so far no alternate hymns are approved by the Central Liturgical Commission. 

 

However in Delhi, all the above mentioned hymns in the Qurbana are replaced by unauthorized Hymns outside the Taksa and priests also encourage the choir to sing any devotional cinematic song according to their whims and fancies. Most of these songs are sung by the Latins in their Mass. Many of the priests in Delhi skip even the G'hantas! Even those who accuse the Latins for anything and everything are happy to sing any Latin /album/cinematic hymns! The choir is only interested in showing off their singing skills and garner the attention of masses without any liturgical spirituality. Thus the Choir is mutilating the structure of the Qurbana by singing unauthorised hymns.  

 

In the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy of the Vatican Council II, we read as follows:

 

22(1) Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See, and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

 

22(2) In virtue of power conceded by law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of bishops' conferences, legitimately established, with competence in given territories.

 

22(3) Therefore no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority

 

It is to be noted that when Fr Sebastian Vadakumpadan was in charge of the pastoral care of the Syro-Malabarians, he had given strict instructions to the priests to follow the Synodal directives of 50/50 formula. But now, under the leadership of  Fr Jose Edassery, most of the priests are not following the Synodal directives of 50/50 formula with regard to the celebration of Qurbana.  Even in our own churches where we had proper Bema, the liturgy is now celebrated completely facing the people by removing the Bema. It must be noted that during the annual Syro-Malabar Conventions they follow the Synodal directives just to deceive the visiting Arch/Bishops and the SMB Synod! Fr Vadakumpadan had never allowed any hymns outside the Taksa.  However, this is not the case any more. 

 

In the decree on the Oriental churches we read as follows:

 

(No. 2) It is the mind of the catholic church that each individual church(rite) retain its traditions whole and entire...."

 

(No. 4) of the same decree says that "……separate parishes and dioceses should be established for each individual church.

 

(No. 5) of the same decree emphasises the need of self government to protect and promote the venerable heritage proper to each church

 

(No. 6) of the same decree says that all Easterners should know and be convinced that they can and should follow their liturgical tradition... and if they have improperly fallen away from them, let them take pains to return to their ancestral ways.

 

As the Council clearly teaches, we have a deep spiritual wealth to give but we are loosing it and fighting even inside our church.  Through our unity we have to prove that we inherit the deep oriental spirituality.  There are people who are unable to understand and appreciate the rich diversity within the Catholic Church.  Only those who have openness will be able to appreciate the richness of the diversity. The Catholic Church is known for its unity in diversity. It is because of an inferiority complex that the oriental Catholics who are not aware of their rich heritage conform themselves to Latin customs.   

 

What is essential for all is openness to truth, sincerity and leaving aside false prestige. All our thoughts about ourselves constitute our ego. It is our ego which tempts us to make mistakes. But the Fathers of the Church teach us that true human identity is not found in the self but in God. Only by overcoming the passion through a complete cooperation of human will  along with Divine will - synergy - can authentic human life be experienced. The question at issue in the Syro-Malabar Church is her identity, individuality, heritage and patrimony.  There cannot be any compromise on these sacred matters.  It is not to be determined by counting the heads on each side.  The tragedy is that most of the people in the Syro-Malabar Church today are trained and brain washed under Latins or are thoroughly Latinised. So they have lost their capacity to recognise their own mother.  Some of them feel at home when they recite Latin prayers, Latin hymns and even Latin way of worship because they have consciously or unconsciously got themselves Latinised.  So they look down upon the Thomas Christian heritage.  For them whatever is western / Latin is modern and progressive.

 

We believe the teachings of the Fathers of the Church are something to be put into practice in the life of the Church. The Catholic Church needs unity and not uniformity.  There is no meaning in having a separate parish or diocese for the Syro-Malabar church if they have got nothing of their own to preserve and contribute. Separate jurisdiction without spiritual and liturgical identity will only lead to pure racism which is not Christian. Let them be satisfied with the Latin liturgy and Latin way of worship. A hybrid identity or an artificial individuality is like an empty shell without its own kernel. It has no right to exist and nothing is lost if it disappears from history because it has got nothing of its own to share with. Infact, those who have studied seriously the richness of the Oriental heritage, Latins and Orientals, are of the conviction that the Orientals have something to contribute positively to enrich the Catholic Church.

 

Liturgy is not a thing to be fabricated by any Tom, Dick and Harry by additions, deletions and taking unauthorised hymns outside Taksa, etc, but it is something given to us by our forefathers, the purpose of which is adoration of God, and to which we have to adapt ourselves, and not to make the liturgy something of our making or liking.