Malankara World

What Shall I Do To Be Saved?

By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil

Question 77. What is an offering? Isn't it a way of collecting money for the church?
Does it have any significance?

We had discussed this before. Offerings existed in the church at all times.

St. Justin Martyr (AD 100 140)... He describes the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday in which the People partake in it. Then at the end, he writes: "Those who are wealthy and wish to do so, contribute whatever they themselves care to give; and the collection is placed with the president.. in short he takes care of all who are in need." (129)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem has written about these offerings. We had discussed some of it before. What is so unique about St. Cyril? He is a father who fought against the heresy that when Jesus was born he was not the Son of God and therefore, Jesus is not equal to the Father. He helped to establish the truth. Almost all fellowships believe in his teachings, that Christ is the Son of God. Since he has written about church procedures, we should believe that also. Why should one only believe in parts of what he has taught?

What were these church procedures in regards to the Holy Communion written by St. Cyril?

  1. The preparatory prayer first.

  2. St. Cyril gives a description of washing of hands by the priests.

  3. Then the kiss of peace.

  4. After this the priest cries out "Your hearts aloft." Then people answers, "We keep them with the Lord."

  5. Then the priest says, "Let us give thanks to the Lord."

  6. After this, we make mention of the heavens, Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Dominions, Principalities, Powers, Thrones of the many-faced Cherubim, saying in effect with David, "Magnify the Lord with me." We also make mention also of the Seraphim whom Isaiah, in the Holy Spirit, saw standing around in a circle at the throne of God "while they exclaimed: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord Sabaoth." It is for this reason that we recite this theology handed down by the Seraphim, and we may be participants with the super-terrestrial armies in the singing of their hymn.

  7. Then sanctification of the bread and wine into His Body and His blood using the same words that our Lord had used.

  8. We call up on the benevolent God to send out the Holy Spirit upon the gifts, which have been laid out that He may make the bread, the Body of Christ, and the wine, the Blood of Christ.

  9. After the completion of this procedure, we call upon our God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers, for the sick, and for the afflicted.

  10. Then we make mention of those who have already fallen asleep. "First, the patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petitions; next we mention of holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep and to put it simple, of all among us who have already fallen asleep; for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn Sacrifice is laid out."

  11. Next is the prayer, "Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name."

  12. After this the priest says "Holy things to holy." The offerings laid out are holy, having received the visitation of the Holy Spirit. And you are holy, having been deemed worthy of the Holy Spirit. The holy things therefore correspond to the holy persons. Then you say, "One is holy, one is Lord, Jesus Christ." For there is but One who is truly holy, holy by nature. We too are holy, but not by nature, rather by participation, discipline, and prayer.

  13. After this the singing which invites you with a divine melody to the Communion of the Holy Mysteries.

  14. Then the priest come to the people with holy Mysteries

Our church, which existed from the 1st century till this date, has the same procedure for our celebration of the Eucharist. Yes, the same Holy Communion in the 20th century as was during the 2nd century. St. James conducted the first celebration of Holy Communion in the house of St. Mark. The liturgy he created is called the liturgy of St. James and he testifies that, "I celebrate the Holy Communion as taught by our Lord, Jesus Christ." (For more details refer 'Syrian Church and its apostolic faith', Self Authored)

The Syrian Orthodox Church uses the Liturgy of St. James even today. The following quotation is a testimony that our service is genuine:- "The Syrian Rite is the first that we find formally drawn up. Liturgy of St. James is the one from which all other Syrian ones are derived.

The Liturgy of Constantinople seems to be a modification of the Syrian rite.The Armenian Liturgy is modified from that of Constantinople. It is only among the Copts, and Jacobites that the ancient Rites of St. Mark and St. James are celebrated." (The Orthodox Eastern Churches by Fortescue Adrian, page 395 - a Roman Catholic Scholar) (The Syrian Orthodox Church is also known as the Jacobites)

TOC Section 1 (Q 1-26) | Section 2 (Q 27-56) | Section 3 (Q 57-81) | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

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