Holy Baptism in the Syriac East

HOLY BAPTISM
IN THE SYRIAC EAST

LONAPPAN ARANGASSERY MST

SATNA- 2010

Title: Holy Baptism in the Syriac East.

Author: Lonappan Arangassery MST, D.Sc.E.O. St Ephrem’s Theological College, Satna 485001. lonappan55@yahoo.com

Published by: Ephrem’s Publications
St Ephrem’s Theological College,
P.B. # 26, Satna 485001, M.P., India.

First Published: 2010.

Type setting Lonappan Arangassery.

Imprimatur: Mar Mathew Vaniakizhakel V.C.
Bishop of Satna.

Printed at Akrati Printers, Ujjain.

Price: India: Rs 200.00; outside India: € 20.00.

Available at Ruhalaya Book Stall, PB # 4, Ujjain 456 006. M.P. India

St Ephrem’s Theological College,
PB # 26, Satna 485 001, M.P. India.
lonappan55@yahoo.com.

© All rights reserved to the Author.
———————————
ISBN: 978-81-86065-00-6

Table of Contents

Table of Contents………………………………………………………. iii

Preface…………………………………………………………………….. vi

Foreword…………………………………………………………………. xi

Abbreviations………………………………………………………….. xiv

Introduction………………………………………………………………. 1

Table of Contents

Table of Contents………………………………………………………. iii

Preface…………………………………………………………………….. vi

Foreword…………………………………………………………………. xi

Abbreviations………………………………………………………….. xiv

Introduction………………………………………………………………. 1

Chapter 1

Water and “Baptism” in the World Religions

  1. Water and Ablutions in Hinduism 6
  2. Water and Ablutions in Judaism 7
  3. Figures and Types of Baptism in the OT 9
  4. Baptism of John the Baptist…………………………………….. 10
  5. Baptism in the New Testament 10
  6. Baptism in the Apostolic Church 11
  7. Baptism and Water in the Church Usage 13

Chapter 2

Baptism in the Early Syriac Writings

  1. Baptism in Didachè………………………………………………… 16
  2. Baptism (@Jgs) in the Odes of Solomon 21
  3. Baptism in the Syriac Didascalia 26
  4. Acts of Judas Thomas…………………………………………….. 30
  5. Syriac Acts of John………………………………………………… 43
  6. Liber Graduum (A‡´²~´o°h¸‰É ACÉ´‡´É_)…………………………………… 45

Chapter 3

Baptism in Aphrahat and Ephrem

  1. Aphrahat, the Persian Sage ……………………………………… 46
  2. Ephrem of Nisibis………………………………………………….. 65

Chapter 4

East Syrian Interpreters on Baptism

  1. Theodore of Mopsuestia…………………………………………. 78
  2. Narsai of Nisibis……………………………………………………. 92
  3. Cyrus of Edessa ………………………………………………….. 108

Chapter 5

Commentaries on Baptism at the Dawn of Scholasticism

  1. Anonymous Author……………………………………………… 112
  2. Yohannan Bar Zo‘bi…………………………………………….. 129

Chapter 6

Commentaries of Abdisho and Timothy II on Baptism

  1. Abdisho bar Brikha (+1318) …………………………………. 134
  2. Patriarch Timothy II (+1332)………………………………….. 138

Chapter 7

Baptismal Liturgy in the Syriac East

  1. Baptismal Liturgy of the Church of the East 159
  2. Highlights of East Syrian Baptismal Liturgy 179
  3. Effects of the Mysteries of Initiation 188
  4. Baptism of Adults and SMC Innovations 193

Chapter 8

Holy Baptism: Theology, Law and Praxis

  1. Ecclesial Dimension of Sacraments 199
  2. Mysteries of Christian Initiation 205
  3. Necessity of Baptism for Salvation 209
  4. Infant baptism in the Church………………………………….. 210
  5. Requirements for Baptism and Chrismation 214
  6. Minister of Baptism in the East and West 215
  7. Minister of Chrismation in the East and West 216
  8. Formula of Baptism in the East and West 217
  9. Formula of Chrismation in the East and West 217
  10. Indelible Imprint of Mysteries of Initiation 218
  11. Sensus Ecclesiae and Church Enrollment 220
  12. Baptism of “Heretics” and “Schismatics” 221

General Conclusion………………………………………………… 223

Bibliography with Abbreviations                                     229

Preface

The moments of sacramental celebrations, the summit and source of ecclesial life,[1] are fundamental moments in Christian life, because the mysteries of Christ hidden in God from ages past (Eph 3:9-11) are communicated to us in reality, though mystically, through types and perceptible symbols taken from the Scripture and the created world. These types and symbols are organised by the Church to give glory to God during the celebration of the mysteries; and they effect the sanctification of humans by increasing their value as these created elements are taken up by the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit, recapitulated by him and entrusted to the Church as instruments of salvific sacramentality.[2]

In the Syro-Malabar Church (SMC), the process of restoration of the Qūdashakal (Rāzê /‘Pµ°@º) got momentum when Pius XI rejected the repeated requests of the Syro-Malabar hierarchs who wanted the Latin Pontifical translated into Syriac for use in SMC![3] The Pope ordered the revision of the Pontifical and other liturgical texts and set up a commission for the purpose on December 1, 1934 saying “Latinization is not to be encouraged among the Easterners. The Holy See does not want to Latinize but to catholicize”[4]. Accordingly, the texts of the Pontifical were compiled, edited and published by Vosté in 1937-38 and the Pontifical for liturgical use was approved in 1957[5] along with the text of the Eucharistic Liturgy, Ordo Celebrationis and Supplementum.[6]

The Congregation for the Oriental Churches (COC) gave a model text (in Latin) of the sacraments of penance, anointing of the sick and marriage to the SMC in 1965 and another model draft on Baptism and Chrismation in 1966. In fact, these drafts had already left out many prayers and elements that were in the original East Syrian liturgical texts. A latinized private text of «Qūdashakal»[7] composed by Rev. Abel CMI was published in Malayalam in 1968 without proper ecclesiastical approval. This text was neither faithful to the East Syrian Liturgical Tradition nor to the drafts given by the COC in 1965 and 1966. Many important prayers and rituals were omitted in the text and many new elements were added or changed[8] against the letter and spirit of SC 22:1-3; 26 and OE 6. In spite of disagreements from various quarters the SMC started using this text. [9]

In 1974 August, the Syro-Malabar Bishop’s Conference (SMBC) appointed a committee to prepare the text of the sacraments and sacramentals. This committee could not work on this project since the attention of liturgical committees was diverted to the preparation of the Order of Raza (Qurbana)[10]. In 1985, the drafts given by COC in 1965 and 1966 were again taken up for discussion and the text of the sacraments used by the Assyrian Church of the East of Trichur was made available to the members of the Central Liturgical Committee (CLC). The controversies related to the Order of Rāzā of 1986, brought discussions on the «Qūdashakal» to a standstill. Although in 1987 the «Qūdashakal» was taken up for discussion, it was postponed due to the disagreements regarding the preparation of the simple and solemn forms of the Eucharistic liturgy.

The meeting of CLC held in September 1991 discussed the drafts of «Qūdashakal», prepared by the sub-committees of CLC formed in March 1991. On the basis of suggestions made by CLC, the second set of drafts was prepared. In 1993 the SMC was raised to Major Archiepiscopal status and in July 1993[11] the CLC discussed the second draft on the sacraments and the third draft was prepared. The SMBS held from November to December 1993 examined the third draft on baptism and Chrismation and approved it with certain modifications. The SMBS held in March, 1994 discussed and approved the drafts on Penance, Marriage and Anointing of the Sick.[12] The English translation of the draft approved by SMBS was sent to Holy See for recognitio on November 25, 1997.[13] The COC communicated to SMBS on March 31, 2001 its decisions and observations with certain directives and recommendations to improve the text.

Many Syro-Malabar Eparchs found hard to accept certain directives of COC intended to re-orientate the SMC to her proper liturgical traditions as per OE 6. The draft «Qūdashakal» and the directives of the COC were printed and circulated in June 2001 in all the Syro-Malabar Eparchies eliciting the opinion of the public.[14] In November 2001, the SMBS discussed the suggestions collected from the different Syro-Malabar eparchies and the draft of «Qūdāšakal» (sacraments/ IqZmiIÄ) prepared in the light of the suggestions from the eparchies was sent again to Rome for Recognitio[15] on December 14, 2001. The COC gave its recognitio with certain modifications on June 22, 2004 and the Order of «Qūdāšakal» (sacraments/ IqZmiIÄ) was promulgated on December 1, 2004, for use in the SMC from January 6, 2005.

Although the new Order of the Sacraments is not fully faithful to the East Syrian liturgical genius and tradition, the SMC today can at least be proud of having an approved text for the celebration of the sacraments (IqZmiIÄ). It painful to see that the text promulgated on January 6, 2005, is not yet fully implemented in certain eparchies; and there is no uniformity in the celebration where the text is implemented. The reluctance of the eparchs, including the Major Archbishop who promulgated it, to effectively implement the approved liturgical books and the failure to impart proper liturgical formation to the clergy and the faithful are highly deplorable. The antipathy and indifference of the bishops and clergy towards everything oriental is traced to the loss of the Eastern identity of the Church as rightly pointed out by Fr Hambey SJ.

“More than any other Eastern Church in communion with Rome, the Syro-Malabar Church had almost entirely lost its basic character as an Oriental reality. That loss affected not only the liturgy, but also the spirituality, theology and law. Its own people hardly knew that they were ‘oriental’. After having been told during so many centuries that everything oriental was wrong, backward, unworthy of Catholics, one wonders how some clergy and laity could still hope for a restoration…”[16]

The lack of uniformity in the celebration and administering of the sacraments of Initiation has already triggered disorder and confusion in the Church. The bishops and pastors responsible for implementing the liturgical norms seem to be least worried about the negative pastoral consequences of this liturgical anarchy. Pope Paul VI stated that: “Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense.”[17] St Thomas Aquinas says: “The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him to truth”. The bishops, priests and religious who have been entrusted with the responsibility of initiating the faithful into the divine mysteries which are the treasures of the Church need to give due seriousness to these words of the angelic Doctor.

Praise, glory, honour and thanks are due to God Almighty who has entrusted the Church with the glorious Mysteries (rāzê-‘Pµ³@º) to be distributed faithfully to her children[18] as treasures of heaven[19] and medicine of life.[20] This book is primarily intended to help the bishops, priests, religious, seminarians and catechists in their task of teaching and forming the faithful liturgically and help them understand and live the sacred mysteries. It is our hope and prayer that the pastors come to the senses and implement the approved liturgical text with urgency recognising the legitimate right of the faithful to the true liturgy, “which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church”.[21]

I am very much indebted to Mar Abraham D. Mattam who is an eminent theologian and historian, for gracing this book with an excellent and relevant Foreword. My thanks are due to many who have helped me in one way or other to bring this project to completion. I remember with gratitude Msgr Petrus Yousif, Prof. Edward G. Farrugia SJ and Prof. Steven Hawkes-Teeples SJ who went through the original manuscript and gave valuable suggestions. I am thankful to my colleagues and students at various Theological Institutes for expressing their thirst for knowing the liturgical treasures. Finally, my gratitude goes to the management of Ephrem Publications, Satna, for including this book in the list of its publications.

Fr Lonappan Arangassery, M.S.T, D.Sc.E.O.

[1] SC 10. The expression “Source and Summit” is also part of the title of the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis of Pope Benedict XVI issued on February 22, 2007.

[2] Cf. SC 7; Instruction-1996, nos. 40-41, CCEO c.673.

[3] After 324 years of Latin jurisdiction (from December 20, 1599), an indigenous hierarchy was established by Pope Pius XI, for the Syro-Malabar Church on December 23, 1923. However, by this time the clergy had already become more Latin than the Latinisers themselves. See. Hambye, “Eastern Churches in India”, 373-374; Korolevsky, Living Languages, 133-138.

[4] Korolevsky, Living Languages, 137; Ritus Pontificales, Latin Text, Preface, 3; Vithayathil, Hierarchy, 73-74, foot note 6; For the list of the members of the commission see Vazheeparampil, Making and Unmaking, 145-150.

[5] See Vosté, Pontificale; Pontificalium or Ktaba d-takse kumraye.

[6] Syriac: Taksa d’ Quddashe (1960); Malayalam in Alwaye,1962; English-Hindi in Allahabad, 1970; Ordo Celebrationis, 1959; Supplementum, 1960.

[7] The term «Qūdasha» and its plural «Qūdashakal» are used to refer to the individual sacraments in Malayalam.

[8] Narikulam, Koodashakal, 13-14.

[9] To the disgrace of the Church even today this unapproved text is being used in certain Syro-Malabar eparchies.

[10] Approved on Dec.19, 1985 and came to effect on Feb. 8, 1986.

[11] Present author was member of the CLC from July 1993 to 2000.

[12] See Synodal News, February 1994; Synodal News, May 1994.

[13] Narikulam, Koodasakal, 16.

[14] Discussion on the directive in Synodal News, VIII/2, (December 2000) 14-15; Decision of SMBS, no. 9, Synodal News, IX, 1-2 (December, 2001) 37; Certain drafts prepared by members of the sub-committees of CLC were more faithful to the liturgical tradition than the drafts of «Qūdashakal» finalised by CLC and SMBS.

[15] See the Decree in the Order of «Kūdashakal», (OK), v.

[16] Hambye, “Eastern Churches in India”, 373-374.

[17] Cited in Inaestimabile Donum, Foreword, AAS 72 (1980), 331.

[18] 2nd Sun. of Qudasa d’Edta, Mawtba d-lelya, Breviarium III, 410.

[19] 3rd Tue. Qudasa d’Edta, Mawtba d-Lelya, Breviarium III, 425.

[20] 4th Sat. Qudasa d’Edta, Onita d-Ramsa, Breviarium III, 441.

[21] Inaestimabile Donum, Foreword. AAS 72 (1980), 331.

Foreword

For the last few decades the Syro-Malabar Church was engaged in the work of restoration and revision of the liturgical texts of the Church. Most of the texts have already been published. The new text of Sacraments (Order of Sacraments) came into effect on 6th January 2005. The Book of Ordination services was effective from 14th September 2007. But the work has been hazardous. In the process to come to a consensus at the Synod, a number of compromises had been made. As a result, several texts are not fully satisfactory; a revision is needed.

Vatican II gives clear norms with regard to the restoration and renewal of liturgical texts in general, and for the Oriental Churches in particular in the decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum. The Decree OE says: “It is the mind of the Catholic Church that each individual Church or rite retain its traditions whole and entire while adjusting its way of life to the various needs of time and place” (OE 2). Further it states that changes are to be made with fidelity to tradition and only when changes are needed. “All members of the Eastern Churches should be convinced that they can and ought always preserve their own legitimate liturgical rites and ways of life, and that changes are to be introduced only to forward their own organic development” (OE 6).

While revising the liturgy there are various aspects of the question to be born in mind: “In order that sound tradition be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress, a certain investigation – theological, historical and pastoral – should always be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised” (SC 23). One is compelled to say that these norms have not been fully observed in the whole work. For this reason a critical study of the texts is welcome to make sure where a revision is needed.

The understanding of the mysteries of Christian Initiation and their historical and theological development differed in the Latin West, Greek Orient and Syriac East. Among the Oriental Christian Churches, those within the Syriac liturgical tradition have a pride of place since they represent and are heirs to the Semitic world where Christianity was born.[1]

In general terms the Decree on Ecumenism affirms: “In the study of revealed truth East and West used different methods and approaches in the understanding and confessing divine things. It is hardly surprising then, if sometimes one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed them better.”(UR 17).

Ecclesial traditions being part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the Universal Church and handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers have unique and inalienable role to play in the formation and growth of each and every Church sui iuris. Pluralism and diversity in theology, liturgy, spirituality and discipline are no more merely permitted or just tolerated but are recognized as true and genuine signs of ecclesial growth in tune with particular traditions and cultural values. Diversity does not in any way harm the unity of the Church, rather enhances it and this diversity is at the basis of the formation of different ecclesial traditions.

In the light of the above mentioned norms and principles several of the new liturgical texts need a revision. In this context the book Holy Baptism in the Syriac East by Rev. Dr. Lonappan Arangassery MST is a praiseworthy attempt for knowing and understanding deeply the East Syrian perspectives on Christian Initiation. Fr. Lonappan Arangassery who is a well known liturgical theologian makes a detailed study of the Mystery of Holy Baptism and analyzes all the important East Syrian patristic and liturgical sources while exposing the Mystery of Holy Baptism in the Church of the East. The author gives lots of useful pieces of information on the theology of baptism and its praxis in the Assyrian, Chaldean and Syro-Malabar Church.

“The faithful have a right to a true liturgy, which means the liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes, creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized books texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex ordandi and the lex credendi.[…]. And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that: “Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense” (Inaestimabile Donum, Foreword )

In the present liturgical text of the Sacraments in the Syro-Malabar Church, especially in the celebration of the Mysteries of Christian Initiation many elements and rituals are ambiguous and confusing leaving them to the whims and fancies of the parish priests or the celebrating priests. On the one hand when priests fail to celebrate the Mystery of Holy Baptism as stipulated and ordered by the legitimate authority of Church, it causes confusion and bewilderment among the faithful and offends ecclesial sense. On the other hand it is equal to denying the faithful their right to a true liturgy and rendering the Mystery ineffective.

Fr Lonappan Arangassery has a done a valuable service to the Syro-Malabar Church for his clear exposition of the important rituals. The clarification given on the meaning and mode of making the three separate signings, the fingers used in these signings, and the oils used for the various signings, for consecrating the oil and water of baptism etc. are of great help to the pastors who respect the rights of the faithful and heritage of the church. The work is a very useful handbook for pastors, priests, ministers at sacred Mysteries, students of theology and those engaged in catechesis. It is my earnest desire and hope that this book will have wide readership and circulation.

Mar Abraham D. Mattam, Bishop Emeritus of Satna

[1] Cf. S. P. Brock, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life, Kalamazoo 1987, x; S. P. Brock, “The Syriac Orient: a third “lung” for the Church?” in OCP 71 (2005), 5-20; S.P. Brock, “The two poles of Syriac Tradition”, in C. Payngot, Homage to Mar Cariattil, Rome, 1987, 58-62.

Holy Baptism in the Syriac East by Rev. Dr. Lonappan Arangassery MST is a praiseworthy attempt for knowing and understanding deeply the East Syrian perspectives on Christian Initiation. Fr. Lonappan Arangassery who is a well known liturgical theologian makes a detailed study of the Mystery of Holy Baptism and analyzes all the important East Syrian patristic and liturgical sources while exposing the Mystery of Holy Baptism in the Church of the East. The author gives lots of useful pieces of information on the theology of baptism and its praxis in the Assyrian, Chaldean and Syro-Malabar Church. “The faithful have a right to a true liturgy, which means the liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes, creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized books texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex ordandi and the lex credendi.[…]. And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that: “Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense” (Inaestimabile Donum, Foreword ) In the present liturgical text of the Sacraments in the Syro-Malabar Church, especially in the celebration of the Mysteries of Christian Initiation many elements and rituals are ambiguous and confusing leaving them to the whims and fancies of the parish priests or the celebrating priests. On the one hand when priests fail to celebrate the Mystery of Holy Baptism as stipulated and ordered by the legitimate authority of Church, it causes confusion and bewilderment among the faithful and offends ecclesial sense. On the other hand it is equal to denying the faithful their right to a true liturgy and rendering the Mystery ineffective. Fr Lonappan Arangassery has a done a valuable service to the Syro-Malabar Church for his clear exposition of the important rituals. The clarification given on the meaning and mode of making the three separate signings, the fingers used in these signings, and the oils used for the various signings, for consecrating the oil and water of baptism etc. are of great help to the pastors who respect the rights of the faithful and heritage of the church. The work is a very useful handbook for pastors, priests, ministers at sacred Mysteries, students of theology and those engaged in catechesis. It is my earnest desire and hope that this book will have wide readership and circulation. Mar Abraham D. Mattam, Bishop Emeritus of Satna

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