Saturday, October 11, 2008

Consecration of Myron (Chrism)

On SEPTEMBER 25 2004, H.H Ignatious Zakka I, Patriarch of Antioch and H.B Baselious Thomas I Catholicose of the East of the Syriac Orthodox Church consecrated Myron (Chrism) at Marthoman (St.Thomas) Syriac Orthodox Church, Kothamangalam, India. The commentry is given in Malayalam language; the language spoken by the people of Kerala State in South India.

Myron, the holy oil, is used to anoint persons receiving baptism by water. Annointing by Myron is called confirmation. It is the Holy Mooron which gives the faithful the strength of the Holy Spirit.

The consecration of the Holy Mooron is preceded by elaborate preparations. Fruits are collected from selected olive trees in the months of September and October. They are cleaned and squeezed. To this juice is then added pepper, spices and perfumes. The whole thing is then ground to a fine flour, which is mixed with oil and kept in jars which will then be heated by steam for three hours. After so heating, mea, a preservative is added. Again steam heating is done for one hour. On the day of consecration balsam is added.

For the consecration of Holy Mooron the Patriarch wears vestments. Besides the Catholicos and the Metropolitans, 12 priests, 12 deacons and 12 yavuppadeacons take part. 12 censors, 12 maruvahatas and 12 candles are taken for the procession. In fact there are two processions. During the first the Patriarch leaves the church through the door on the northern side, censor in hand, accompanied by two deacons with maruvahatas and two yavuppadeacons with candles. After going round, the Patriarch re-enters the church through the southern door. Long prayers follow.

The readings from the Old Testament and the Acts and Epistles, normally read by deacons, are read by Metropolitans at the time of consecration of Holy Mooron: it shows how important the occasion is. After the reading from Isiah the Patriarch accompanied by the Catholicos goes to an area in the sanctum sanctorum covered by curtains, and mixes balsam in secret. Then the Patriarch enters the tent, hiding a bottle under his vestment. Four Corepiscopos hold the tent during the second procession which now starts. The tent is preceded by 12 yavuppadeacons with candles, 12 deacons with maruvahatas covering the tent, a Corepiscopo with the cross, another with the gospel, the archdeacon with sceptre, and 12 priests fully attired and holding the censors. Before commencing the procession, the Patriarch says Halle-luiah thrice and the congregation says 'Tesubuhato Laloho Bamerowme'.

All priests, deacons and sub deacons present, join the procession with lighted candles in their hands. At the doors of the church - north, west and south - the Catholicos puts frankincense in the thurible. At the end of the procession the tent covering the Patriarch is taken to the Madboho. The bottles containing the oil to be consecrated is then covered with sosappa and the service begins, with 12 deacons holding maruvahatas around the altar and 12 priests offering incense.

The service is very similar to the Holy Qurbono. There is recitation of the creed, the prayer of peace, call to lift up the hearts, the angelic glorification, invocation of the Holy Ghost and the Lord's prayer. Finally there is the "celebration of the bottle" and the blessing of the people with the bottle containing the consecrated oil.

The yavuppadeacons represent the prophets and the deacons the apostles. The maruvahatas stand for seraphins. The 12 censors remind that God who live sin all is the same; censors are twelve, but all give out the same good smell. The 12 candles stand for the orthodox teaching of the 12 apostles. The Patriarch wears white vestments because in this service he represents Christ who is the lamb without blemish. The first procession symbolizes the Old Testament and the sinful woman's journey to the shop to buy the perfume; the second, the New Testament, the anointing by the woman, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the Pentecost. The Patriarch is hidden in a tent to remind us of Moses having a veil on his face, vide Exodus.


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