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Solemn High Mass of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church celebrated its Qurbāna (Eucharist/Divine Liturgy) in Rome this Sunday at Chiesa di Santa Caterina dei Funari. This is the first time this rite of the Church has been celebrated in English in the City, and we were blessed to be a part of the celebration.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the churches which belong to the liturgical family known as the Chaldean, or East Syrian, Rite. The others are the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church, which were the focus of our study with Bishop Bawai Soro the last few weeks. Of these, the Syro-Malabar is the largest, and is one of the groups of “Thomas Christians” tracing their conversion back to the apostle Thomas, originating mostly in Kerala, India.

The liturgy was not too dissimilar, of course, from other rites I have experienced, but at the same time new and clearly a distinct tradition. Familiar elements included the Trisagion (the Thrice Holy Hymn) and a clear institution narrative, but there was also a lot more antiphonal prayer and response with the assembly. There were five concelebrating presbyters, and one deacon (who, unfortunately, was the only one without a mic, so I could never hear any of his few lines).

The hymnody was English, not just in language but in cultural context. I felt like i had walked into a British Methodist Church, or Anglican perhaps.

The liturgy was translated and presided by Fr. Joseph Palackal, and sponsored by the Chavara Institute of Indian and Interreligious Studies in Rome. One of my friends got pictures, I hope to add them when I get hold of them!

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