Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective

Malankara World Journal
Penta Centum Souvenir Edition
Volume 8 No. 500 October 14, 2018


Chapter - 30: The Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist by HH LL Ignatius Zakka I Iwas

This bloodless sacrifice is a remembrance of the Sacrifice on the Cross and an extension of it and the continuation of its benefits. Furthermore, its true offerer is the Lord Christ, who gave Himself as a redemptive offering on the cross. ...

Jewish Antecedents of Christian Liturgy by Rev. Fr. Dr. Binoy Thattankunnel

Christian liturgical practice is derived from the Jewish worship practice. Studying Jewish background of Christian liturgy will help us understand the hidden meanings of Christian liturgy in a deeper level. ...

The Marvelous Value of the Holy Mass (Qurbana) by Rev. Joseph Dwight

The Mass is not just a simple representation of the Sacrifice of the Cross; it does not have only the value of a simple remembrance; but it is a true Sacrifice as that of Calvary, which it reproduces, continues and of which applies the fruits. ...

Why Call It Eucharist (Thanksgiving)? by Shane Kapler

By calling what we Christians "do" Eucharist (the Greek word for "thanksgiving"), we make a profound statement.  ...

How To Prepare For Holy Communion by Fr. Alexey Young

Receiving Communion isn't a right but a gift. It involves preparation, thought, repentance, confession, and so on. We should receive as often as possible, but in a state of preparation! ...

Chapter - 30: The Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist

by HH Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, LL Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Mass (Qurbana)

The Lord Jesus set the foundation of the marvelous Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist by declaring Himself truly to be: "The bread that came down from heaven". This proclamation surprised His listeners, who belonged to different sectors of society of the old order, along with their varied religious, cultural and social levels. Also their opinions, judging the mission of the Lord Jesus, were contradicting. Many of them recognized Him as the expected Messiah: The hope of nations and generations. Others thought He was one of the prophets. Yet, others rejected Him and were waiting for Him trying to trap Him into saying something He could be arrested for. Therefore they asked Him to perform a miracle by reminding Him of the incident of the descent of Manna from heaven upon their forefathers in the wilderness.

" Then Jesus said unto them, very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father Who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world "
( John 6:32-33 ).

He continued saying:

" I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty "
( John 6:35 ).

The multitudes could not comprehend this truth which is beyond the grasp of the human mind. In the Holy Gospel, the apostle John says:

"Then the Jews began to complain about Him because He said: "I am the bread that came down from heaven."
( John 6:41 ).

These words were even difficult to some of His disciples who interpreted them materially for they were asking each other saying: " how can He give us his body to eat?" And in order to reaffirm this divine teaching to them, our Lord explained it fully, and added further to clarify the effects of the Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist saying,

"…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood have eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day; for My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood abide in Me, and I in them"
( John 6:53-56 ).

Yes, whoever contemplates in the Lord’s teaching, the great sacrifice of the Lord, will be transfigured before Him. His self-denial is not only by bearing great pains and dying on the cross for the salvation of the world, but also by giving Himself to the believers, as spiritual food. They will be nourished by receiving Him, and they will grow in grace and be fortified and will abide in Christ, and finally, they will be worthy to inherit with Him His Heavenly Kingdom.

The Lord gave Himself to His pure disciples in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He gave the Eucharist in the form of bread and wine before He delivered Himself willingly into the hands of His enemies the Jews for crucifixion and death, as a redemption for humanity.

On the night of His passion, and after eating the Jewish Passover Meal with His righteous disciples,

"Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it He broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said: Take, eat; this is My body. Then He took a cup and after giving thanks He gave it to them, saying: Drink from it all of you; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
( Matthew 26:26-28 ) and ( Mark 14:22-24 ).

Thus, the Lord established the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and granted His pure disciples the authority to offer the bloodless, divine sacrifice by saying to them: "…do this in remembrance of Me."
( Luke 22:19 ).

In fulfillment of this Commandment of the Lord, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the disciples set up the ritual of offering this divine sacrifice which is called The Order of Service of the Divine Eucharist.

The Book of Acts of the Apostles mentions that the early Christians "Continued steadfastly in the .. fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." ( Acts 2:42 ), which indicates their actual participation in the Divine Sacrament and the receiving of the Holy Eucharist which is His holy body and blood.

This bloodless sacrifice is a remembrance of the Sacrifice on the Cross and an extension of it and the continuation of its benefits. Furthermore, its true offerer is the Lord Christ, who gave Himself as a redemptive offering on the cross.

The Lord Jesus offers Himself on the Holy Altar as a bloodless sacrifice in the form of bread and wine. The Holy Bible said about Him, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." ( Hebrews 5:6 ). Melchizedek was a king of the Holy City and its priest during the time of Abraham, the father of the Patriarchs, and his sacrifice was bread and wine; symbolizing the sacrifice of the new covenant just as he Melchizedek was a symbol of Jesus, the great priest.

The priest who offers the sacrifice of the new covenant, represents the Lord Jesus. Therefore, the believers who participate in the Holy Eucharist, should be of one accord with the priest, who offers the sacrament, in order to receive Christ’s blessings. They should also receive the Holy Communion. For, if the physical food nourishes the body, the Holy Eucharist the body and blood of Christ is the food of the soul which makes its partaker worthy to be united with Christ. Concerning this matter, the Lord says: "Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood abide in Me and I in them" ( John 6:56 ). St. Paul explains this relationship between Christ and the true believer by saying: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…" ( Galatians 2:20 ).

Therefore, the Holy Eucharist, grants us the Spiritual life in Christ and makes us abide in Him; so we grow and become strengthened spiritually. If that is so, then our abstinence from receiving it will be a terrible and irreplaceable loss. For we will be compared to the branch which is separated from the vine; it will dry up, whither, die and be thrown into the fire. That’s why the Lord Jesus warns and cautions us saying: "Unless you eat the body of the Son Of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves." ( John 6:53 ). Hence, the church imposed punishment upon the heretics, schismatics, and criminals by denying them the receiving of the Holy Eucharist and the participation in the Divine Liturgy.

Dearly Beloved; Because of the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist, it is required that the believers be prepared, body and soul, before they receive it. Their bodies must be clean, and they must be in a state of grace; meaning that they had offered a true penance and lawfully confessed before the lawful priest. They must also adhere to the order of communion abstaining. Concerning this matter, Saint Paul says: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner, eats and drinks judgment to himself not discerning the Lord’s body". ( 1 Corinthians 11:28,29 ). Thus, Whoever comes to receive the Holy Eucharist must gather his thoughts and proceed, with the fear of God, with humility and meekness, and with a burning desire that matches "the desire of the deer to the streams of water " ( Psalms 41:2 ). Thus thanking God for His indescribable grace, for who has redeemed us by His sacrifice on the Cross; and bestowed upon us the sacrifice of the Holy Communion which is called "Eucharist" or the Sacrament of Thanksgiving.

Beloved, it is regrettable that many of the church sons and daughters, nowadays, have neglected to come forth to the table of the Lord, not comprehending that they are exposing their souls to eternal perdition. So, let us all return to God, with true penance, so that we may be worthy of partaking of the Lord’s Table. Let us be united with Him, the Lord of Glory, and He with us, to grow in grace and be worthy to inherit His Heavenly Kingdom.

May the Lord God bless you and accept your prayers and alms. May He have mercy upon your faithful departed. Amen.

Source: The 1991 Patriarchal Lental Encyclical of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas

Jewish Antecedents of Christian Liturgy

by Rev. Fr. Dr. Binoy Thattankunnel

Fr. Dr. Binoy Alexander


Liturgy is the celebration of the mystery of salvation through signs and symbols. In the Christian sense, liturgy means “The public worship of the Church”. The public worship of the Church is worship of God through actions, words and gestures that are instituted by Christ or by the Church. It is carefully noted that public work or exterior does not excluded the interior or sanctifying elements but that all the elements coalesce to form one, sole, concrete both as regards the minister and the recipient and the intrinsic power of sanctification of the act itself1. The items of public worship instituted by Christ are the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. Those items instituted by the Church are the sacraments.

In the Greek Septuagint (the Greek Version of the Old Testament), the word ‘Leitourgeia’ and the corresponding verb ‘leitougein’2 generally refer to priestly worship in the temple service, particularly the offering of sacrifices. The New Testament seldom uses the term, and when used it generally refers to Old Testament practice3. But the same meaning is found in the New Testament too (LK 1,23; Heb 9,21; 10,11). When Jesus Christ, the messiah and the High Priest ( Heb 7) offered Himself Once for all, he abolishes the first-the bloodly. Sacrifices – in order to establish the second – the bloodless sacrifise – in whom and by whom all the symbols of the old covenant were accomplished. It is clear in the central theme of the letter to the Hebrews, ie, Christ is “minister” (liturgist) in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle (8,2). Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ‘ministry’ (liturgy), and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises (8,6). Other references that describe the ceremonial and sacrificial worship of the old covenant, can also be seen in New Testament, (Rom 9,4; Heb 9,1; LK 2,37; Acts 26,7; LK 1,75; Acts 24,14; Phil 3,3; Heb 9,14, Rev 7,15; 22,3 etc.)

Hence, the liturgy of the Christian Church is a religious service offered by the public to the Lord. It is not an individual activity, but a service of the community. It is not the private and subjective prayer of one or some individuals, but it is the prayer which is “together” and in common with the church. Liturgy, therefore, is a service of all for the One, the Lord. It is the unanimous prayer of the community, the organized cultic action of the church. Thus the church and liturgy are integral and interdependent. Because, as liturgy is the public prayer of the church, the voice of the body of Christ, it is a sign and indication of “The Communion of Saints” through the whole length of time and across the reaches of space. It constitutes one of the marks of the catholicity and ecumenicity of the church4.

Liturgy – the terminological meaning.

The word liturgy comes from the Greek term “leitourgia” which is a combination of two terms – ‘leitos’ and ‘ergon’. The Greek term ‘leitos’, is an adjective which means ‘pertaining to the people’ and ‘ergon’ is a noun which means ‘work’5. Etymologically, therefore, the word liturgy means ‘any service done for the common welfare’. In the Christian perspective, the term liturgy is used both in the general sense of public service as well as in the spiritual sense of prayer and sacrifise. In the New Testament, it is employed as an act of service or ministry (Phil 2,30). The New Testament does not provide a detailed description of the worship of the early church, because worship was a regular element in the lives of the first Christians. It is clear that the Eucharist was of great importance in virtue of Jesus’ institution at the ‘Last Supper’. The early Christian Eucharist followed the pattern of the ‘Last Supper’:-Bread was taken, blessed, broken and distributed before a meal. And wine was taken, blessed and distributed after it.

Definition of Liturgy

According to Odo Casel “ The Liturgy is the ritual accomplishment of the redemptive work of Christ in and through the Church”6. He further defines it as “a holy ritual action in which a salvific act is made present and brings salvation for the worshiping community, which participates in it”7.

“Liturgy is a personal meeting under the veil of holy signs, of God with his church and with the total person of each one of her members in and through Christ and the unity of the Holy Spirit”8. On the basis of this definition, we derive following aspects of the liturgy.

1) The liturgy is a personal meeting with God. ie theocentric character of the liturgy.

2) This takes place in and through the Mediator Christ. ie the theocentric character of the liturgy.

3) The ecclesial aspect of the liturgy is that which takes place in the living community of the Church.

4) Liturgy does not takes place directly, but under the veil of signs and symbols.

5) The pnuematological aspect of the liturgy is that which takes place in union with the Holy Spirit.

Liturgy is the congregational worship of the Church, celebrated by Christ, the Eternal Priest, the Head of the Church, together with the faithful. Christian liturgical practice is derived from the Jewish worship practice. Studying Jewish background of Christian liturgy will help us understand the hidden meanings of Christian liturgy in a deeper level.

John Paul II once stated;

Our common spiritual heritage (with Jews) is considerable. Help in better understanding certain aspects of the church’s life can be gained by taking an inventory of that heritage, and also by taking into account the faith and religious life of the Jewish people as professed and lived now as well. This is the case with the liturgy. Its roots have still to be more deeply traced and above all need to be better known and appreciated by the faithful. 9

This itself shows the importance of studying the Jewish background of Christian liturgy This is not an undemanding commission since certainty evades in many of the stuff and matters, concerning Jewish worship. Nonetheless, if there is foregoing and ensuing, we are in feel with these things in our liturgical revels, as later practices have much bearing and deportment on the profile of things in the beginning and the search must be reinforcing and worthwhile. Though evolved in later years Rabbinical literature gives a good volume of Jewish liturgy and certain monographs are good guides to this field and of course the Scriptures. Here I focus mainly on four areas of Jewish liturgy; Temple, synagogue, grace at meals and feasts. My intention is to take an inventory of those things which are considered as the generative and formative components of the Christian liturgy.

Sources of Jewish Liturgy

The early stages of Jewish liturgy are obscure.10 Apart form Old Testament, most of the liturgical practices of Judaism are enclosed in Mishna and Talmud.11 Old Testament contains the written Law and is the primary source of Jewish worship; especially a good portion of Pentateuch is liturgical stipulations.12 Other documents on the reckoning are New Testament, and writings of Philo13 and Josephus.14 Rabbinical literatures15 are a further area of significance where liturgical materials are accessible.16

The Scriptures

The priestly rites at the Jerusalem temple are treated in the Bible in great detail. Private prayers found in the scriptures show an attitude of praise and thanksgiving, confession and intercession;

Regard your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. Here the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.
1 Kings 8, 28-30.

Psalms were recited or sung in the temple as adjunct to the sacrificial rite. 17 The prayers found occasionally in the Old Testament are spontaneous reactions to the personal experiences. We find a formal prayer in the Old Testament as confession to be recited when bringing the first fruits and the tithe. 18

You shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number… So I bring the first fruit of the ground that you, O Lord have given me”… Dt. 26, 5-15.

The New Testament bears abundant witness to the existence of the Jewish liturgy. The witness there is indicative rather than descriptive. It is because that the Apostles were familiar with the realities.19

The Mishna

Most important source of Jewish liturgy is the Mishna, though compiled ca. 200 AD materials therein go back to much an earlier date. A. Cronbach opines;

Though produced two generations later than NT time, the Mishna contains fairly reliable accounts of Jewish practices that prevailed during NT times. The authorities quoted in the Mishna were mostly persons who lived the first 130 years of the Christian era.20

It was Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi who collected and edited the vast accumulation of tradition. The result was compilation of Mishna which later became the Core of Talmud.21 Mishna derived from the word ‘shanah’ meaning to repeat.22 Mishna is divided in to six parts called ‘Orders’ and the ‘Order’ is again subdivided in to ‘Tractates’.23

The Talmud

Solomon Schecter says, Talmud as “Bottomless Sea with innumerable undercurrents”.24 Talmud is the critical commentary on Mishna. The word Talmud comes from the root, ‘lmd’ which means to study. It has two parts first a reproduction of the Mishna and the second part is the analysis of the Mishna known as Gemara an Aramaic word meaning interpretation or completion.25 The Talmud embodies approximately a thousand years of Jewish religious thought. Made up of teachings from Palestinian and Babylonian scholars, it exists in two versions, one edited in Palestine, 350-400 CE and the other edited in Babylonia, ca. 500-600 CE.26

The Siddur or Prayer Book

Siddur is the prayer book of Jewish liturgy in which all the official prayers are given. Though traditionally attributed to Moses the first historically attested book is that of Rav Amram Gaon in 785 AD known also as ‘Seder’ coming from a Hebrew word meaning order. Now commonly known as ‘Seder tefillot’ meaning order of prayers.27

Place of Worship

Rabbis taught that men should have a set place for their worship, the Talmud writes;

Whosoever has a fixed place for his prayer has the God of Abraham as his helper…-now do we know that our father Abraham had a fixed place [for his prayer]? For it is written: And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood. And ‘standing’ means nothing else but prayer.28


Priests and Levites were to carry out the services in the temple according to the designated plan.29 The religious life of Jews revolved around temple. Cult of sacrifice was the center of temple worship. The animals offered are ritually either eaten at the sanctuary or burned on the altar. There are number of sacrifices for various purposes. In 70 AD the temple was destroyed and sacrificial cult came to an abrupt end.30


There is no sense of certainty and exactitude, in the matter of the origin of Synagogue.31 C. Travers writes;

In all their long history, the Jewish people have done scarcely anything more wonderful than to create the Synagogue. No human institution has a longer continuous history, and none has done more for the uplifting of the human race.32

The synagogue originated in the exile. But we cannot sideline the other factors which necessitated the origin of the Synagogue; it was their desire that religion should penetrate more deeply into daily life that perpetuated the system of Synagogue.33 The original object of the synagogue was to be a place of teaching and instruction, it tended to become, especially in places far distant from Jerusalem, a place of public worship also, and prayer gradually became a substitute for sacrifice.34 The pattern of worship followed is three times in a day called shahrit in the morning, minhah in the afternoon and marriv in the evening.35

Home worship

Home in Judaism was as well a center of worship. Parents had the duty of circumcising the children and the ceremony was performed at home. Parents had the obligation of instructing them too in religious tenets.36 And house is the locus of celebrations like religious meals, Sabbath and Passover where liturgy draws finest manifestation.37

Time of Worship

Pious individuals seem to have prayed thrice daily.38 The statutory daily services were consisted of Shema and Tefillah. The Services are known by the name Shahrith (morning) Arbith (evening) and Minhah the afternoon prayer which had only Tefillah. The Talmud assigns that the service originates with the three patriarchs;

Abraham instituted the morning Tefillah, as it says, And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood, and standing means only prayer… Isaac instituted the afternoon Tefillah, as it says, And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide, and ‘meditation’ means prayer… Jacob instituted the evening prayer, as it says, As he lighted [wa-yifga ‘] upon the place, and ‘pegi ‘ah’ means only prayer.39

But more likely explanation is that they correspond with the temple offering.40 Scripture narrates a probable custom;

Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. Dan. 6, 11.

Usually there were sacrifices in the morning and after noon. On certain occasions there could be additional sacrifices.41 The daily hours of individual prayers were three, connected with the hours of daily sacrifices in the temple.42 One of the three hours as we know from Acts was the 9th hour (Acts 3,1) the time of the evening sacrifices the Tamid in the first century.43

Forms of Prayers

Carmine Di Sante reflects that the centre of Jewish prayer is the Berakah, and all other prayers circle around this structure. The main circles are shema‘ Yisra’el, tefillah and Qeri’at Torah.44 Performance of shema, Tefillah, priestly blessing and reading of the Scriptures requires a community and these were the elements of Sabbath Synagogue worship.45

The Berakah

The berakah comes from the verb ‘barak’ means to bless.46The Berakah is the inner pattern or architecture of Jewish prayer from where any extension is possible.47 In the words of E. Garfiel;

Neither minor variation nor the major additions for certain special occasions nor the prayers added by later generations can blur that pattern for those who understand the essential structure of the service. 48

In Berakah the entire Jewish thought is summed up.49 When a Jew pronounced a “blessing”, he would offer praise to God as Creator of all things. Since God had been blessed and thanked, the person or object which was the motive for the prayer of blessing was thus made holy.50 Thus berakah changes the profane in to sacred.51 Berakah brings all things to the original goodness.52 St. Paul writes;

For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer (1 Tim. 4, 3-4).

An expanded berakah would include narrative of God’s works; “… “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my Father David,” (1 Kings 8, 15), and also supplication and intercession for continued action; “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses” (1 Kings 8, 56). Confession of faith and unworthiness are also found and this prompt for a doxology at the end.53

Praised art Thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to love the revered and awful Name-that was, is, and will be –to hallow thy name among the many. Praised art Thou, O Lord, who hallowest thy name among the many54

Parts of Berakah

Berakah consists of three parts; the stylized beginning, the statement of the motive for the praise, and, in the longer version, the concluding statement which would return to the theme of praise and blessing again. This last concluding statement is called the “chatimah” or seal. Longer berakah contained a proclamatory section also.55 The following is the first benediction of the marriv service;

Praised art Thou O Lord our God, king of the universe, who at thy word bringest on the evening twilight, with wisdom openest the gates of the heaven and with understanding changest times and variest the seasons, and arrangest the stars in their watches in the sky, according to thy will. Thou createst day and night; Thou rollest away the light from before the darkness, and the darkness from before the light; Thou makest the day to pass and the night to approach, and dividest the day from the night, the Lord of hosts is thy name; a God living and enduring continually, mayest Thou reign over us for ever and ever. Praised art Thou, O Lord, who bringest on the evening twilight.56

Berakah is the basic structural element out of which Jewish liturgy is constructed. Millgram says; “The benediction is essentially an utterance of gratitude for God’s manifestations in nature and for the privilege of performing the commandments of Torah”.57 Maimonides classifies berakah formulas in to three classes.58 Talmud ascribes the origin of berakah to men of great assembly.59

Shema‘ Yisra’el

This is the first core unit of the Synagogue liturgy. It is an affirmation and profession of faith.60 It is the creed, all men from their twelfth birthday has to recite it.61 The shema‘ Yisra’el is composed of three Biblical passages. It got its formulations in the pre-Christian period.62 The first scriptural passage, Deut. 6, 4-9 is the most important. The other two passages, Deut. 11, 13-21 and Num. 15, 37-41 are variable.63 shema succeeded and preceded benedictions.64 Mishna presupposes that it is recited twice daily.65

The Tefillah

Tefillah means prayer. It is recited immediately after the Shema. Shema and Tefillah forms a unit.66 Since Tefillah comprises of eighteen benedictions it is called shemoneh-esreh.67 Tefillah is also known as amidah which in Hebrew means standing. This prayer is recited in standing posture facing Jerusalem.68 “A.Tanna stated: The same rule applies to Hallel, to the recital of the Shema, and to the Amidah prayer… From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof [the Lord’s name is to be praised].”69 It was prayed by one on behalf of all called hazzan, the attendant of the Synagogue.70 On weekdays all the eighteen are recited while on feast and Sabbath the number is open to reduction.71 It was only after the destruction of the temple that the order of the benediction and exact wording of their concluding blessings were established.72 Mishna says it is to be said three times a day.73

Composition of Tefillah

The Shemoneh-esreh is grouped in to three sections. The first three as an introduction is praise of God for His love, power and holiness. The thirteen intermediary benedictions are petitions for daily needs. The final three as conclusion is an expression of gratitude.74 Contrary to the berakoth before the Shema, it has always been the role of a hazan to recite them, standing before the ark of the scripture and facing Jerusalem.75 Its origin is traditionally attributed to the Men of Great Assembly.76 This may be the forerunner of the intercessory prayers in Christian liturgy.77

Qeri’at Torah

The third important part of Jewish liturgy is the Qeri’at Torah or reading of the Torah in the synagogue, on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and feast days.78 The command for this practice can be seen in Deut. 6, 7 “And thou shalt teach them…”.79

Study of the Torah was part of one’s daily worship. To quote George Foot Moore; “The conception of collective and individual study as a form of divine service has persisted in Judaism through all ages”.80 The Torah was not read at random but divided in to parashah meaning parts or quantities. In Palestinian usage, Torah was divided in 153 parts and was completed in a cycle of three years.81 The prayer elements of the Jewish worship developed around the teaching of Torah.82

Liturgy of the Reading

The following are the ritual elements connected with the reading. 1) The scroll is unrolled and held up in the sight of the congregation. 2) And people stand up. 3) Benedictions are recited before and after the reading. 4) The reading is being translated in the vernacular. 5) Explanation and homilies.83 It is interesting to note the resemblance of these practices in the Christian liturgy of the Word.

The Haftarah

The reading of the Torah is followed by the reading from the passage of Prophets on certain days. This custom is known as haftarah interpreted as conclusion or opening (‘ptr’ means to open)84

The Derashah

The parashah and haftarah was followed by derashah or homily.85 C. Perrot writes;

The Seder [that is, parashah], the haftarah, and the homily, in which the petihtot are used are the three pillars of the scriptural liturgy. The elements are closely interrelated to form an organic unity that gives a distinctive character to each Sabbath and an original aspect to the entire cycle. 86

Acts 13, 15 is a perfect example for stating that this practice was wide spread in the Christian era.

After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the Synagogue sent them a message, saying, “Brothers if you have any message of exhortation for the people, give it.

From our analysis the following structure can be suggested for the Synagogue liturgy of the word.

Call to worship 87
Tefillah - Only seven on Sabbath and festivals
Reading from Pentateuch - Prophets on Sabbath and festivals
Sermon 88

6. House Liturgy

Jewish homes have a primary place when it concerns their liturgical celebrations. The home becomes a sanctuary and parents the officiating priests therein.89 Home was an official place of worship. The prayers recited in the home constituted a substantial part of the established liturgy. Millgram writes; “The family table was regarded as an altar, each meal was a holy ritual, and parents were the officiating priests”.90 There are three principal celebrations connected with home. One is a daily celebration connected with meals, second weekly connected with Sabbath and the third annual connected with the Passover celebration.91

Liturgy for the Meals

Mishna says nothing is to be eaten without first blessing God; 92

If a man ate figs, grapes or pomegranates, he should say the three Benedictions after them. So Rabban Gamaliel. But the sages say: One Benediction, the substance of the three. R. Akiba says: Even if he ate but boiled vegetables for his meal he must say the three Benedictions after them. If he drank water to quench his thirst he should say, ‘[Blessed art thou…] by whose word all things exist’.93

For Jews family meal is a religious action. And meal is a time of God human encounter.94 The meals came to take on the place and significance of sacrifice especially in the Qumran community.95 The obligatory prelude is the ritual hand washing. In the ceremonial meal they drank a first cup reciting the following blessing; “Blessed be thou, JHWH, our God, King of the universe, who givest us this fruit of the vine.” This is the first cup mentioned by Luke in the last supper.96 When the father breaks the bread and give to the participant, the meal begins officially; “Blessed be thou, JHWH, our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth”, It is general blessing for the whole meal. The courses and a cup of wine then follow. The lamp was brought in normally by the mother and a benediction is recited over it. Following this incense was burned with a proper blessing. Then there takes place the second hand washing. It is after these various preliminaries that the president with the cup of wine mixed with water before him solemnly invited those assisting to join in with the act of thanksgiving.97 Steuart finds four elements in a ritual meal;

1. Preliminary course

Informal, eaten seated everyone blesses the food and drink for himself

2. Formal meal

Taken reclining, opened with blessing and breaking of the bread by the leader

3. Grace after the meal

Called food blessing, said by the leader, on special occasion said over a cup, known as cup of blessing

4. Kiddush cup

Common cup and blessed by one leader

One can look for the ‘scheme’ of the Last Supper in this description. 98 Dix writes, “The various formulae of blessing for the different kinds of food were fixed and well-known, and might not be altered”. 99

Birkat ha-mosi

The benediction before the meal is known as birkat ha-mosi; “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth”. Jewish tradition calls the flesh of the sacrificed animals “the bread of God” (lehem Elohim); “They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God; for they offer the Lord’s offering by fire, the food of their God; therefore they shall be holy” (Lev. 21, 6). It also recalls the manna. Therefore in a meal there is the nuances of the sacrificial act and reliving of the miracle of the manna.100 And this benediction brings to their memory, past as well as future.

The Birkat ha-mazon 101

It is the blessing after the food or thanks giving after the supper.102 This ritual is regarded as the oldest and most important. The basis for the benediction is Deut 8,10; “And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord…”. It is made up of three benedictions in which God is thanked for food, land and Jerusalem.103 Birkat ha-mazon express the spirit of the universal providence of God for all the living things “thou nourishest and sustainest all beings”.104 This is the prayer that concludes the Jewish ritual meal and that is usually considered as the text from which the Christian Eucharistic prayer derives.105

Birkat ha-ares

In this second benediction God is thanked for the gift of the land; “We thank you…good and ample land”. In the first benediction the approach is cosmic where as here it is historical and particular.106 The three initial benedictions of the birkat ha-mazon are among the most ancient prayers in the Jewish liturgy. The Rabbis emphasize their antiquity. Talmud says;

Moses instituted for Israel the [first] benediction [of the grace] “who feeds” at the time when manna descended for them, Joshua instituted for them the [second] benediction of the land when they entered the land. David and Solomon instituted the [third] benediction which closes “who buildest” Jerusalem temple.107

When three or more participated in a meal it becomes a formal service with a leader and official call to worship.108

Bone Jerushalaim

This benediction has the taste of supplication, asking for being merciful towards Israel and rebuilding of Jerusalem.109 The festive form of this berakah is noteworthy;

Our God and the God of our fathers, may the remembrance of ourselves and of our fathers and the remembrance of Jerusalem, the city, and the remembrance of the Messiah, the son of David, thy servant, and remembrance of thy people, the whole house of Israel, arise and come, come to pass, be seen and accepted and heard…110

And here we can see the basic development of the Eucharistic anamnesis. 111

Worship on Important Feasts

From ancient on festivals became associated with important historic events. Thus festivals assumed additional religious significance and were endowed with transcendent importance.112 Jews divide their feasts into three classes namely the Pilgrim feasts, Solemn feasts and Lesser feasts.113

The Feast of Pascha

Originally an agricultural feast became the supreme remembrance of the redemption.114 The Seder starts with the answer to children.115 Pascha is the transliteration of the Aramaic form of the Hebrew ‘Pesach’. In biblical tradition it refers to the passage of Angels and for that reason it is regularly translated as Passover. It also refers to feast as a whole and the sacrifice itself. 116

Temple Ceremony

In the afternoon in the Jerusalem temple a trumpet is blast that marks the beginning of the slaughter and dressing of the paschal lamb. The priests collect the blood of the sacrificed animals and splashes at the altar, Levites sang the Hallel (Ps. 113-118). The dressed lambs are returned to the worshipers.117

The Structure of the Seder 118

According to Philo Passover Seder is not to indulge the belly but to fulfill with prayers and hymns the custom handed down by the fathers.119 Passover Seder is the most solemn celebration of the Jews. It is a ritual supper of narration and catechesis of the Paschal event in the families.120 Unfortunately description of the Seder varies from book to book. Therefore I make an effort for the following construction of the pattern of the Seder compiling the orders given in different books. 121

- Kaddeesh

Kaddesh means sanctification. This benediction is over a cup. This is blessing of the day. In which God is praised for giving festivals to Israel.122
All the requisite foods are brought.

- Rehazah

Means ‘wash’. This rite is the ritual purification of the hands.

- Karpas

Means ‘greens’ In this ceremony the parsley is dipped in to salt water.

- Yahas

Here the middle maztah is divided in two and one half is hidden. This later potion is known as ‘afikomen’, meaning the after meal, this is eaten at the end of the meal as the reminder of paschal lamb.

- Maggid

Maggid means recitation. The haggadah or story of the Passover is recited. At this time a second cup is drunk

- Rehazah

The ritual washing of the hands before the breaking of the bread.

- Mozi

This means ‘bringing forth’ the grace before the meal is recited.

- Maztah

Peaces of the top Maztah and the broken middle one are eaten.

- Maror

The bitter herbs are dipped in the haroset and eaten.

- Korek

Means binding, a sandwich is made of the pieces of the bottom Maztah and bitter herbs are eaten as a reminder of eating paschal lamp and unleavened bread.

- Shulhan arukh

This means ‘prepared table’ the festive meal is eaten now.

- Barek

Means Blessing, grace after the meals is recited and the third cup is drunk.

- Hallel

This is psalms of praise (Ps. 115-118).

It is customary to have on the seder table a full cup of wine known as ‘Elijah’s cup’ a hope for final redemption, Elijah being the herald of Messiah, is welcomed toward the end of the seder.


The investigation all the way through the liturgical sphere of Judaism was to mark out the ostensible resemblance, likelihood or milieu where Christian liturgy might have begun its first steps. We have seen that the three centers where Jewish liturgy was being celebrated were Temple, Synagogue and Home to which Jesus and the disciples were participants. Since Jesus and disciples were followers of Jewish religion, Jewish worship was the model and pattern for them to articulate their new faith content. Therefore, from Jewish sources come the basic outlines of the liturgy of the early church.123 No one can start anything from a zero point. F.E. Warren argued that “the law of evolution would lead us to expect a natural continuity between Jewish and Christian worship”. However, he has recognized the fact that there are difficulties, when it comes to deciding the specific resemblances.124 It seems every shade of Jewish worship had a formative and generative role in the shaping of Christian liturgy together with unique teaching of Christ. Therefore, the knowledge of the Jewish liturgical practices is essential to understand the early history of Christian liturgy as well as its theology.

References and Notes

1 Ambrosius Verheul, Introduction to the Liturgy (London, 1968) 20.

2 Richard Paquier, Dynamics of worship (Philadlphia, 1967) 47.

3 N. Kollar, “Liturgy”, In Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, VI F-N (Washington, 1979) 2144.

4 Richard Paquier, Dynamics of worship (Philadlphia, 1967) 51.

5 John H. Miller, Fundamentals of the Liturgy (Notredame, 1959) 5.

6 John H. Miller, Fundamentals of the Liturgy (Notredame, 1959) 9.

7 John H. Miller, Fundamentals of the Liturgy (Notredame, 1959) 9.

8 Ambrosius Verheul, Introduction to the Liturgy (London, 1968) 19.

9 From Pope John Paul II’s address to the representatives of Catholic Bishops’ Conference in March 1982. Quoted by, EUGENE J. FISHER, “Introduction: Jewish Liturgy and Christian Liturgy: Roots and Tensions” in EUGENE J. FISHER ed., The Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy (New York\Mahwah, 1990) 1. Hereafter FISHER, “Jewish Liturgy and Christian Liturgy”.

10 CECIL ROTH - GEOFFREY WIGODER, eds. in chief., Encyclopaedia Judaica II (Jerusalem, 1971) 392. Hereafter ROTH- WIGODER, Judaica.

11 Although contents of this collection are much earlier, it did not reach its definitive form until the end of the second century AD. See, A. GELSTON, The Eucharistic Prayer of Addai and Mari (Oxford, 1992) 3. Hereafter GELSTON, The Eucharistic Prayer.

12 Priestly code for sacrifice is found in Leviticus chapters 1-7 and also in Ex. 12, 6. Paschal stipulations are seen in Ex. 12, 3-6. Stipulations for ritual purifications are found in Lev. 4, 67; 17-18; 16, 14 etc. Whole through out the Pentateuch we find references for the cultic practices of Judaism. Cfr., ROTH- WIGODER, Judaica V, 1158-1162.

13 Philo of Alexandria (20? B.C. – 40? AD) is Jewish philosopher. He has written on contemporary events, philosophical and religious essays and homilies on Pentateuch. MICHAEL J. COOK, “Philo of Alexandria” in Encyclopedia Americana XXI ( Alan H. Smith ed. in chief., Danbury, 1984) 922.

14 Josephus Flavius (37?-100AD) was Jewish historian. He was noted for his classic work on the history of the Jews and Judaism. MICHAEL J. COOK, “Josephus” in Encyclopedia Americana XVI ( Alan H. Smith ed. in chief., Danbury, 1984) 179.

15 Rabbinical literature is a modern scientific term used to describe the literature of halakhah which is based upon the oral law. They are homiletic and ethical in nature to give practical guidance to everyday life. Cfr., ROTH- WIGODER, Judaica XIII, 1462.

16 Writings in the inter-testamental period, such as Jubilees, Macabees etc contain liturgical matters. Other writings started to be written down in the end of the second century the date usually given to Mishna. Jewish prayer book appears only in the 9th c. B.T. BECKWITH, “The Jewish background to Christian Worship” in The Study of Liturgy (ed. Cheslyn Jones et al ) 68-69. Hereafter BECKWITH, “The Jewish background”. Cairo genizah contains fragments of Palestinian rites (genizah is a storage chamber of a synagogue, in which old documents are kept) PHILIP SIGAL ed., Synagogue and Chruch: The Early Centuries (Michigan, 1983) 8. Hereafter SIGAL, Synagogue and Church.

17 ABRAHAM E. MILLEGRAM, Jewish Worship (Philadelphia, 1971) 56-60. Hereafter MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship.

18 Hannah’s prayer, is a prayer of personal experience; “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite…” (1 Sam. 1, 11). See, ROTH- WIGODER, Judaica, 392.

19 CARMINE DI SANTE, Jewish Prayer: The Origins of Christian Liturgy (trans. Mathew J. O’Connell, New York, 1991) 9. Shortened to SANTE, Jewish Prayer.

20 A. CRONBACH, “Worship in NT times, Jewish”, in Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible IV (Nashville, 1962) 895. Shortened to CRONBACH, “Worship”.

21 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 126.

22 BERNARD McGINN, ed. in Chief, The Talmud: Selected writings (trans. Ben Zion Bokser, New York\ Mahwah,1989) 10. Hereafter McGINN, The Talmud. Repetition is a means of teaching. Mishna can stand for both teaching and substance of teaching. See note 1 in HERBERT DANBY, The Mishna (Oxford, 1933) V. Hereafter DANBY, The Mishna.

23 Mishna is primarily a juridical work and does not completely record synagogue or Domestic liturgy, SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 27.

24 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship 128. Comparative prosperity of the Diaspora Jews in Babylonia, led to collection and recording of tradition under academies in Babylonia by the end of the 8thc.

25 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 26. If Mishna is taken as the core text of Talmud, Gamera is a supplement. See, McGINN, The Talmud, 10.

26 McGINN, The Talmud, 9.

27 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 27-28. Cfr., EDWARD FOLEY, From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist (Chicago, 1991) 17. Hereafter FOLEY, From Age to Age. Siddur is one of the most sacred books of Judaism, second only to the Scripture. The central core of the book is Shema and benedictions. Tefillah and readings from the Scriptures occupies the rest of the volume. See, MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 90.

28 I. EPSTEIN ed., “Berakoth” in The Babylonian Talmud Vol I (trans. Maurice Simon) 6b.

29 It is important to see that Jesus did not oppose this temple cult. JOSEPH A. JUNGMANN, The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great (trans. Francis A. Brunner, Notre Dame, 1959) 10-11. Hereafter JUNGMANN, The Early Liturgy.

30 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship 41-49. Daily offering based on Ex. 29, 38-42 and Num. 28,1-8. The rule in these passages requires a burnt offering and a cereal oblation both morning and evening. The morning sacrifice was offered between dawn and sunrise, the evening between sunset and dark Ex. 29, 39. See C.W. DUGMORE, The Influence of the Synagogue upon the Divine Office (Westminster, 1964) 59. Hereafter DUGMORE, The Influence of the Synagogue.

31The origin of the Synagogue is neither recorded in the Bible nor in the post Biblical records. A plausible conjecture is that it originated in the informal gatherings of the Jewish exiles in Babylonia. See, MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 64. ROBERT E. WEBBER, Worship Old and New (Michigan, 1982) 27. Hereafter WEBBER, Worship. Julian Morgenstern asserted that it originates in pre-exilic time as a substitute for the ‘high places’ (bamoth) which were destroyed by Deutronomic reformation. SIGAL ed., Synagogue and Chruch, 6-7. KENNETH STEVENSON, The First Rites: Worship in the Early Chruch (Collegeville, 1989) 23. Hereafter STEVENSON, The First Rites.

32 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 67

33 SOFIA CAVALETTI, “The Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy” in EUGENE F. FISHER ed., The Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy (York\Mahwah, 1990) 7. Hereafter CAVALETTI, The Jewish Roots. It was Gamaliel II of Jamnia who brought some uniformity in the prayer life of Jews towards the end of the first century. SIGAL, Synagogue and Chruch, 7.

34 The service held both evening and morning on the Sabbath (Saturday) and on the Tuesdays and Thursdays. DOM BENEDICT STEUART, The Development of Christian Worship: An Outline of Liturgical History (London, 1953) 9. Hereafter STEUART, The Development of Christian Worship. The congregation was lead by sheli-ah tzibbur, the messenger of the congregation. Ordinary people would listen to him and respond with ‘Amen’. SIGAL, Synagogue and Church, 8.

35 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 170. ROBERT TAFT, The Liturgy of Hours in East and West: The Origins of Divine Office and its Meaning for Today (Collegeville/Minnesota, 1993) 7. Hereafter TAFT, The Liturgy of Hours.

36 SHARON BURNS, “The Beginnings of Christian Liturgy in Judaism” in EUGENE F. FISHER ed., The Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy (York\Mahwah, 1990) 41. Hereafter BURNS, “The Beginnings”

37 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 141.

38 ROTH- WIGODER, Judaica, 392. Dan. 6, 10; 9, 21; Ps. 55, 17. STEVENSON, The First Rites, 23.

39 I. EPSTEIN ed., “Berakoth” in The Babylonian Talmud I (trans. Maurice Simon) ber. 22b.

40 DUGMORE, The Influence of the Synagogue, 13-15.

41 ROTH- WIGODER, Judaica , 394.

42 “At evening sacrifice I got up from my fasting…”, Ezra 9, 5. Daniel 9, 21; Judith 9, 1 also referrers to the evening sacrifice. “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon”, Acts 3, 1. Acts 10, 3 and 30 also referrers to the 3 o’clock prayer. “Now at the time of incense offering…” Lk. 1, 10.

43 BECKWITH, The Jewish background, 72. See also MARTIN McNAMARA, “The Liturgical Assemblies and Religious Worship of the Early Christians” in Concilium 2-5 (February 1969)13. Hereafter McNAMARA, “The Liturgical Assemblies”.

44 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 33.

45 PAUL F. BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship (Oxford, 1992) 117-18. Hereafter BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins.

46 This simple anamnesis of God might be expanded into a more complex structure by the addition of other elements. Eucharist of Christians must be a perfect example for this if berakah is accepted as the formative nucleus of it. BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 16. Pathikulangara gives different shades of meaning like to kneel down, genuflect, to give account, to pay homage, to adore, to implore, praise, to give thanks, to consecrate, to invoke God’s favor and son on, VARGHESE PATHIKULANGARA, Qurbana, 12.

47 Birkat ha-mazon the blessing after the meals had tripartite structure. First a blessing for the gift of food, Then a hodayah or thanksgiving for the gift of land, covenant and the law. And a supplication for mercy for people, Jerusalem and the temple. BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 25.

48 These words are those of E. Garfiel, cited in SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 34.

49 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 34.

50 DENNIS C. SMOLARSKI, Eucharistia: A Study of the Eucharistic Prayer (New York\ Ramsey, 1982) 13. Hereafter SMOLARSKI, Eucharistia.

51 SANTE, Jewish Prayer: The Origins of Christian Liturgy, 42.

52 LOUIS BOUYER, Eucharist (trans. Charles Underhill Quinn, Notre Dame\London, 1968) 58. Hereafter BOUYER, Eucharist .

53 BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 16.

54 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 92.

55 SMOLARSKI, Eucharistia , 14.

56 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 93.

57 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 92.

58 1) The benediction that is inspired by the reception of good things, starting with the formula: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe”. 2) The second formula as this: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has hallowed us by thy commandments, and commanded us…”, is for carrying out a prescription. 3) The third occasion is a petition or gratitude, most common and begins and ends with the same formula, “Blessed art thou, O Lord”. SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 48. MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 93.

59 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 94. Men of Great Synagogue are the body of teachers who taught Law after the period of Ezra. See HERBERT DANBY, The Mishna (Oxford, 1933) XVII. Hereafter DANBY, The Mishna.

60 It derives its name from the initial word of the opening verse. Shema gave Jews courage to resist temptations and endure persecutions MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 97-101. SIGAL, Synagogue and Chruch, 11. PATHIKULANGARA, Qurbana. 22.

61 PAUL F. BRADSHOW, Daily Prayer in the Early Church (London, 1981) 1. Hereafter BRADSHOW, Daily Prayer.

62 Must have been recited by Jesus and the early church. SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 49. This prayer is the supreme creed of Judaism. It is the first principle of thought and guide for the family and community. This prayer defines God as the One, See page 52.

63 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 58. In the morning shema there are two benedictions preceded and one followed while in the evening shema there are two each benediction before and after the shema. They are names after the opening words therefore we have in morning service the preceding benediction called the yoser (who forms light) and ahavah rabbah(with abounding love) and the concluding one emet-we-yasiv (true and firm). Same way the evening shema also has benedictions, the preceding two known as mariv aravim (thou who…bringest evening twilight), ahvat olam (with everlasting love), emet we-emunah (true and trustworthy) and haskivenu (cause us …to lie down). See pages 63-72.

64 Temple Shema was preceded by Yozer’Or and followed by Geullah. DUGMORE, The Influence of the Synagogue, 20. See. BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 18-19.

65 BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 18. SIGAL, Synagogue and Church, 12.

66 SIGAL, Synagogue and Chruch, 11.

67 From the fact that its contents came to be fixed at eighteen, BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 19. Early Palestinian rite had eighteen in number. While Babylonian form had nineteen in number. SIGAL, Synagogue and Chruch, 10.

68 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 78-79. DAVID INSTONE-BREWER, “Eighteen Benediction and the Minim Before 70 CE”, The Journal of Theological Studies 54-1 (April, 2003) 25.

69 I. EPSTEIN ed., “Berakoth” in The Babylonian Talmud IX (trans. Maurice Simon) ber. 17d.

70 PAUL F. BRADSHOW, Daily Prayer, 17.

71 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 83. MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 101. SIGAL, Synagogue and Church, 8.

72 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 104. Petitions were generally avoided in the Sabbath. But there was an additional tefillah praying for the restoration of the temple. See page 106.

73 BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 19.

74 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 85-86. See also BOUYER, Eucharist, 70.

75 BOUYER, Eucharist, 71.

76 Original wordings are impossible to reconstruct, it is probable that there was no single official version, and these forms goes back before first c., DAVID INSTONE-BREWER, “Eighteen Benediction and the Minim Before 70 CE”, The Journal of Theological Studies 54-1 (April, 2003) 25. Talmud states that the benediction was arranged by Simeon ha- Pakoli in the time of Gamaliel c. A.D. 80-120. See, DUGMORE, The Influence of the Synagogue , 23.

77 The supplication was done by the faithful. After that the leader would sum them up. As years passed these extempore prayers became stereotyped. DUGMORE, The Influence of the Synagogue, 23.

78 Bradshaw thinks the reading on Sabbath and Feast days was the regular feature of the Synagogue from the very out set. So this would have constituted the fundamental reason for the institution of the Synagogue. BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 21. Any room can become a synagogue when a Pentateuchal Scroll is brought in. Torah was read on Sabbath , festivals, High Holy days, Hanukkah and Purim, New Moon and the intermediate days of the festivals. SIGAL, Synagogue and Church, 13.

79 The Talmudic tradition assigns the origin of this custom to Moses. They take water as a synonym for Torah. As life is in danger if deprived of water for three days, Israel is in danger if for three days they are not fed by Torah. Reading of the Torah is the most important of the three structural units of the Jewish liturgy, because the other two shema and tefilla gets its origin and fullness in the Torah, SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 112-114.

80 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 15-16.

81 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 119. SIGAL, Synagogue and Church, 11. JOHN COVENTRY, The Breaking of the Bread: A Short History of the Mass (London, 1960) 23.

82 The ceremonial accompanying in the reading of the Torah at public service is the climax and the most impressive part of Synagogue liturgy. It was preceded and followed by a benediction. Mainly thanks giving for the benediction of Torah. There is also a call to worship, MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 109-110.

83 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 70.

84 In early Christian congregations probably a portion from the NT formed as a haftarah, more or less like the current practice of reading Gospels and Epistles. SIGAL, Synagogue and Church, 14.

85 For the homily other scriptural passages from writings, Psalms and the like were quoted. The verses thus called for is known as petihtot (from root ‘pth’, to open). SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 120.

86 Cited in SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 120.

87 The daily morning service began with the readers call to worship: “Praise Ye the Lord who is to be praised,” to which the congregation responded: “Praised be the Lord who is to be praised for ever and ever”. MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 98-99.

88 The structure is as formulated by, SIGAL, Synagogue and Church, 14.

89 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 140.

90 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 289-290.

91 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 144.

92 BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 24. Mishna directed that when three or more people ate together, one of them was to say the grace on behalf of all and it is prescribed before the prayer a formula of invitation and communal response. (Ber 7,1-3) See page 26.

93 DANBY, The Mishna, 7.

94 The benedictions recited before and after have a transfigurative function that is to take one from materiality of things to the reality of the creator SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 142.

95 BOUYER, Eucharist, 79.

96 BOUYER, Eucharist, 79.

97 This could be the origin of the ancient Christian use of the lucernarium, which has survived in our own day in the blessing of the paschal candle. The one who presided received the water first from the hands of a servant, or in his absence from the youngest of the table. This explains to us John 13, 3 probably John brought the water. BOUYER, Eucharist, 80-81.

98 The consecration of the bread would have taken place at the blessing and breaking of the bread by Jesus after the preliminary informal course. The meal proper then followed, and the consecration of the wine would have been during the grace-after-meals or ‘food blessing’. As this Supper was a special occasion of joy, there was a cup of blessing. St. Paul uses explicitly the term ‘cup of blessing’ (1 Cor. 10, 16). St. Luke, mentions the first cup of wine before the supper proper began, speaks of the consecration of the bread, and then “in like manner the chalice” (Lk. 22, 17-20). The first cup was probably that of the preliminary course of the meal. St. Paul, too, expressly states that Our Lord blessed the chalice after supper. The whole rite ended, after the communion of the chalice, with the singing of the hymn (Mt. 26, 30; Mk. 14, 26), and the usual hand washing. STEUART, The Development of Christian Worship, 4-5.

99 GREGORY DIX, The Shape of the Liturgy (London, 1945) 51.

100 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 144-145.

101 ‘mazon’ means food. SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 145.

102 PATHIKULANGARA, Qurbana, 21.

103 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 145.

104 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 145.

105 T.J. TALLEY, “The Literary Structure of Eucharistic prayer” Worship, 58, (1984) 404-420.

106 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 147.

107 I. EPSTEIN ed., “Berakoth” in The Babylonian Talmud I (trans. Maurice Simon) 48, a-b. See also MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 293-294.

108 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 295.

109 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 148.

110 BOUYER, Eucharist, 84.

111 The memorial here is a sign given by God. A pledge given by God to his faithful, precisely so that they will re-present it to him as the homage of their faith in his fidelity, and becomes a form of sacrifice. This ‘memorial’ formula was added similarly to the Abodah prayer which originally consecrated the temple sacrifices. BOUYER, Eucharist, 84-86.

112 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 200.

113 In the pilgrim feasts the saving events of Israel is commemorated. Solemn feasts celebrate human events and lesser feasts are known in that name because they are not commanded by the Torah SANTE, Jewish Prayer: The Origins of Christian Liturgy, 189.

114 SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 195.

115 MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 302.

116 THOMAS J. TALLEY, The Origins of Liturgical Year (Minnesota, 1991) second edition. 1. Hereafter TALLEY, The Origins.

117 TALLEY, The Origin, 2.

118 Passover is the most impressive domestic ritual. The symbolic meal celebrated recall the event of redemption from Egypt, the bitter herbs recalling the suffering, leg of the roast lamb recalls sacrifice of the Passover lamb and fruits and nuts recalls the joy of freedom. The text used for Passover supper is called Haggadah which means story or narrative. SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 159.

119 GILLIAN FEELEY HARNIK, The Lord’s Table: Eucharist and Passover in Early Christianity (Philadelphia, 1981) 121.

120 PATHIKULANGARA, Qurbana, 21.

121 DANBY, The Mishna, 137-151. MILLGRAM, Jewish Worship, 304-306, JENNY ROSE, Jewish Worship, (Winston, 1985) 44-45. SANTE, Jewish Prayer, 160-161. ROTH- WIGODER, Judaica, 167-168. GILLIAN FEELEY HARNIK, The Lord’s Table: Eucharist and Passover in Early Christianity (Philadelphia, 1981) 121-24. CEIL & MOISHE ROSEN, Christ in the Passover (Chicago, 1979) 52-58.

122 Also transliterated as Kiddush, customary for the head of a house to say prayer of sanctification of the day over a cup of wine which was drunk by him and the others who were present. See, A.J.B. HIGGINS, The Lord’s Supper in the New Testament (London, 1964) 14.

123 CARL A. VOLZ, Faith and Practice in the Early Church: Foundations for Contemporary Theology (Minneapolis, ND) 94-95.

124 BRADSHAW, The Search for the Origins, 27.

About The Author:

Rev. Fr. Dr. Binoy Thattankunnel is Professor of Theology at South University, Novi, Michigan, USA. He is the vicar of St. Ephreim (Jacobite) Knanaya Church, Madison Heights, Michigan and a member of the Board of Advisors of Malankara World.

© Copyright 2018, Rev. Dr. Binoy Thattankunnel and
Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.

The Marvelous Value of the Holy Mass (Qurbana)

by Rev. Joseph Dwight

The Mass in a certain manner has as much worth for our Souls, as the death of Jesus Christ had on the Cross.
(St. John Chrysostom).

It is more acceptable to God the Holy Mass than the merits of all the Angels.
(St. Lawrence Justinian).

All the steps that one takes to go to participate in the Holy Mass are written and numbered, and for each step there will be granted a supreme award on earth and in Heaven.
(St. Augustine).

The Mass is medicine to heal the infirm and holocaust to pay for the faults.
(St. Cyprian).

I assure you, Jesus said to St. Gertrude, that he who participates devotedly in the Holy Mass, I will send in the last instants of his life as many of my Saints to comfort him and to protect him, as the number of Masses at which he assisted well.
(Lib. 3. c. 16).

Every Mass before the justice of God will perorate your pardon.

At each Mass you can diminish the temporal pain due to your sins, more or less according to your fervor.

Assisting devotedly at the Mass, renders to the holy Humanity of Jesus Christ the maximum honor.

He makes allowances for many of your negligences and omissions.
He forgives you the venial sins that you never confessed of which you had repented.
There is diminished over you the rule of Satan.
You can procure for the Souls in Purgatory the greatest suffrage possible.

A Mass at which you assisted in life will be more salutary for you than many others offered for you after death.

You are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which would have befallen you.
You diminish your Purgatory with each Mass.

Christ, by means of men, renews his Sacrifice
(D. C. Marmion).

The Mass is not just a simple representation of the Sacrifice of the Cross; it does not have only the value of a simple remembrance; but it is a true Sacrifice as that of Calvary, which it reproduces, continues and of which applies the fruits.
(D. C. Marmion)

The fruits of the Mass are inexhaustible since they are the same fruits of the Sacrifice of the Cross.
(D. C. Marmion).

Oh! If we might know the gift of God! If we might know what treasures we can draw for ourselves, for the entire Church!...
(D. C. Marmion).

In the hour of death, the Masses which you will have devotedly participated in will form your greatest consolation.

Every Mass will procure for you a greater degree of glory in Heaven.

You will be blessed in your work and personal interests.

Might you know, Oh Christian, that you merit more participating devoutly in a Holy Mass than distributing to the poor all of your goods and making pilgrimages all over the earth. (St. Bernard).

The Lord grants to us all that we ask for in the Holy Mass, and moreover, he gives us that which we do not even think of asking for and yet is also necessary.
(St. Jerome).

If we might know the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, what ever greater zeal would we offer in participating in it.
(St. John Mary Vianney).

It is worth more participating devoutly in a Holy Mass than fasting a year on bread and water.
(St. Leonard).

The Mass is the only Sacrifice which causes the Souls to quickly come out of the pains of Purgatory.
(St. Gregory).

Why Call It Eucharist (Thanksgiving)?

by Shane Kapler

Jesus said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer"… And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My Body which is given for you." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood"
(Luke 22:15, 19-20).

It is one of those realizations that leave you speechless. There was something significantly more, qualitatively more, going on in Jesus' prayer than the traditional, "Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth" (Passover Haggadah, translated into English). Jesus gave thanks to His Father for the True Bread, His Body, that would be broken for us. He thanked the Father that He was able to offer Himself for our redemption! We see how difficult this was for Him when, just a few hours later, we glimpse Him in the Garden of Gethsemane; and yet, almost paradoxically, it was an offering He "earnestly desired" to make.

Historically at Calvary, and sacramentally at Jesus' final Passover, we see our Lord living out as a man, Who He is from all eternity - the Son of the Father. For it is the Son Who receives all He is from the Father and reciprocates by pouring out Himself to the Father, in the Person of the Spirit. This is the same Trinitarian movement we see in the Cross/Eucharist - but with the Son's humanity now fully caught up into His outpouring of Love. The Son, Who has received all He is, "gives thanks," by pouring Himself out in a return of Love. And because He does this as man, His action overwhelmingly atones for - and superabundantly redeems - all sin, man and woman's rejection of God.

By calling what we Christians "do" Eucharist (the Greek word for "thanksgiving"), we make a profound statement. We have been made sons and daughters in the only Son, and we enter into His Gift of Self to the Father. Like Him, we who have received all we are from the Father, give ourselves back to Him in a movement of thanksgiving/Love - the Holy Spirit pouring forth from Jesus, and carrying us into the arms of the Father. It only makes sense that the Eucharist, what the Church calls "the source and summit of the Christian life," should be a manifestation of its central Mystery - God's own Trinitarian Life.

Source: Catholic Exchange

How To Prepare For Holy Communion

by Fr. Alexey Young

The seeds of holiness are planted within us at Baptism and Chrismation, but we must nourish these seeds by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in imitation of Christ and His saints. The spiritual equivalent of the sun is the Holy Spirit - He acts upon us in the Sacraments, especially in Chrismation. In this way, the Church is the seedbed of holiness. We must water the seeds and pull out the weeds and thereby discover that the spiritual path is a tremendous adventure all about going home to God!

Secular institutions even used to help with this. Taverns, for instance, used to observe the fasts. In Russian it was against the law for establishments to provide non-fasting foods during a fast. Taverns and inns and such places had icons, vigil lamps, and so on, as a constant reminder that Heaven is watching. Old Orthodox lands didn't even have a word for homosexuality because it was so rare.

In America we lack this outside help - it's more like the times of persecution in some ways. Even here in our "freedom" we are persecuted by materialism, coldness, and so on. This brings the Sacraments even more sharply into focus in terms of what we need to do. In Russia even those who were not particularly observant communed at least once a year, and you could even be arrested if you didn't.

All grace comes from Christ and is shared out in the Church. When we participate in the liturgical life and receive the Sacraments we affirm that Christ keeps His word and bestows grace on the Church to build it up. The normal spiritual life has frequent contact with Christ in the Sacraments, such as Confession and Communion which are channels of grace. In Confession we receive Christ Who said go and sin no more. In the Eucharist we receive the full humanity and divinity of He Who resurrected and ascended.

We cannot enter into the Kingdom without it and will die spiritually, as the Lord teaches us in John 6. The Eucharist is the medicine of immortality and the antidote to death. Christ thus said I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is a problem that too many receive Communion lightly. We need to approach the chalice more seriously. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep, the Apostle Paul tells us. There can be physical illness from receiving Communion without proper preparation - it's not just a nice ritual but rather the divine banquet, and the Host is the King of Heaven Who feeds us with Himself.

The founders of the Meteora monasteries were not priests, and thus were dependent upon priests to come to them. The first time a priest came they all received Holy Communion and after the Divine Liturgy they said to one another, "We have the same Blood in our veins now. By this we are true brothers." This is how we all should think about the Eucharist. We are more closely united to one another through the Eucharist than we are to our own children. A husband and wife become one as they receive the Eucharist together, not through the legal procedure. Weddings should thus be in the context of the Divine Liturgy, whether in it, or following after it.

Receiving Communion isn't a right but a gift. It involves preparation, thought, repentance, confession, and so on. We should receive as often as possible, but in a state of preparation! It is very important to attend Vespers or Vigil on Saturday night, and we shouldn't receive Holy Communion if we don't. Earlier on Saturday we should already be preparing for Saturday night and Sunday morning, with a sense of approaching the Lord as a beggar - when He comes to me, will my house be clean? What do I especially need help with? He can give me the power that I need to deal with all of it.

At the moment of receiving Christ we can and should tell Him what we need. He is ours at that moment. The whole Liturgy should be a pouring out of ourselves in preparation. Many saints used to prepare for Communion from Wednesday through Saturday, and offer thanksgiving to God from Sunday through Tuesday. We have little divine energy in our lives if we don't do this, and otherwise we might as well not receive, and it might even be dangerous.

The holy Bishop Nektary Kontzevitch exhorted: "be not quick to spill out the grace you've received." After having received Communion don't go out and chatter in the parish hall, but reflect on the grace given to you. When you fall in love you don't run from that person, and likewise, you've just received Christ, His Blood is literally in your veins, so stay and spend some time with Him. Take at least ten minutes for thanksgiving (St. John Maximovitch would take three hours). Pray, don't talk, don't rush out.

This idea of preparation correlates with people arriving to Liturgy just on time, or even late - it demonstrates a lack of preparation. Of course there can be unforeseen circumstances, but I'm speaking generally. You arrive to work on time to please your earthly bossy - what about He Who has power over life and death? There may be times when you shouldn't receive if it's your fault that you didn't properly prepare. We need discernment though - maybe you didn't prepare because of a stressful even in your family - then you need Communion.

The Lord expects a tithe of our time as well as our treasure and talent - we should spend more time in prayer at home and in Church. When Christ will you not watch with Me for a while, this has to do with keeping vigil both at home and in Church and the spiritual practice of nepsis, that is, of watchfulness. The energies of God enter our hearts through Communion and ascetic practices prepare the soil of our hearts to receive. The Son of God enters into our world through the window of the Mysteries.

In the West asceticism and hesychasm were last as necessary preparation for the laity, and this is a great danger for us today. St. Gregory Palamas teaches us that the healing that must take place is achieved through the sacramental and hesychastic life in combination, and outside of this combination there is no Orthodox life, no spirituality, and no theology. Without this combination we received unworthily. Grace is granted freely through the Sacraments to those who have prepared, and it is necessary to cooperate with divine energy in order to receive the benefits and to receive repentance.

The grace of the Sacraments doesn't operate magically. In John 6:27 we are told: Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you. We must work to receive eternal life in the Eucharist. We must read the post-Communion prayers. God is an all-consuming fire. He is bliss for the saved and torment to the damned. In the lives of the many saints, such as St. Basil the Great and St. Seraphim of Sarov, fire has even been seem coming down into the chalice.

Question: What about those who don't celebrate the true Eucharist?

Answer: They don't even believe that they're receiving the Body and the Blood, so it isn't the Body and the Blood. They'll be judged according to the life they've been given. We can't judge what's going on between them and God.

Question: Is God in us more when receive Eucharist? Is He in us when we're not thinking about Him?

Answer: God is everywhere, filling all things. He sustains all things - if He ceased to love us we wouldn't exist. He who dwells in love dwells in God and God in him. Perfect love casts out fear. We can't quantify how much God we have, but in the Eucharist we receive the fullness, while at the same time His grace and Spirit are everywhere.

It's not a question of quantity but of concentration on the presence of God.

Question: The body is a temple of Holy Spirit, but do we remain a temple even when sinning?

Answer: We are always a temple from Chrismation on, but the temple need a good cleaning from time to time. It becomes an unfit abode for the Holy Spirit and we prevent Him from acting by our uncleanness. We keep the seeds from growing, but they're still there.

Question: How is it that we get off the path?

Answer: It's like a trip - many things can get us off track. There's no real guarantee that we'll arrive safely, or at all. The spiritual life is the same - we're in a process that hasn't yet ended, so we don't yet know the outcome.

Don't worry too much about the end as long as you're living a spiritual life. But be aware that you could have an accident, so be sober and careful. God loves us unconditionally despite sin. We can back away from Him, but not He from us.

We want to get away with stuff and still have all our prayers answered, otherwise we have a problem with God. It's amazing that He puts up with this. In the end it's because He has such respect for our free will.


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