Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
Of the Antiochian liturgy, the noted Latin liturgist and scholar, Adrian Fortescue, remarked, “[it] is one of the most beautiful in Christendom” [The Lesser Eastern Churches (London: Catholic Truth Society), p. 350]. In the course of her history, the Malankara Church inherited this beautiful and profound liturgy from the West Syrian bishops who arrived in India following the unfortunate schism of 1653, and brought this ancient, theologically-rich, and beautiful liturgical tradition into the Catholic communio in 1930 with the Reunion of Archbishop Mar Ivanios. The liturgical and spiritual patrimony of the Malankara Catholic Church is that of the Antiochene Rite, though its celebration is uniquely Indian. The Anaphoro of Mor Yacob (St. James), which is in use in the Syro-Malankara Church, is considered the most ancient and apostolic of all Christian liturgies, a tradition cited by the great Syriac theologians, Dionysius Bar Salibi and John of Dara in their liturgical commentaries, and affirmed by Fr. Fortescue.
The Divine Liturgy of the Malankara Church is most commonly referred to as the Holy Qurbono. (Qurbono is a Syriac word meaning “offering”). The Qurbono is an offering of praise, thanksgiving, worship, and adoration. It involves not only the human participants, but is a cosmic act which involves the heavenly beings as well as the earthly, the living and the departed, the far and the near. In the Holy Qurbono, the Church commemorates the salvific events in the life of our Lord, from His preexistence, to His Incarnation and His Public Ministry, to His Death and Resurrection, to His Ascension, and anticipates His glorious Second Coming. The Antiochian Liturgy as celebrated in the Malankara Church is rich in symbols, poetic in language, and speaks to the heart of the worshipper and leads him/her to a deeper encounter and communion with the Triune God. To aid the human person in his/her encounter with the Most Holy God, the ancient Fathers of the Church have painstakingly created and preserved the beautiful liturgy and traditions of the ancient Antiochene rite and given them expression in the Syro-Malankara Church. Thus, the Malankara Liturgy is rightly considered to be among the most beautiful in all of Christendom.