The 3rd Apostolic visit of His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch & All the East to INDIA

 

 

CONSECRATION OF THE HOLY MOORON (CHRISM)

 

One of the most important programs of H.H. Patriarch during the 3rd apostolic visit to India was the consecration of the Holy Mooron at the Kothamangalam Marthoma Cheriaplly on Saturday the 25th September. In the divine ceremony, the Patriarch led the Holy services assisted by the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I and all the Metropolitans of Indian Church and three Metropolitans from Syria.  This is the 4th time in the history of the Church and also after a gap of 22 years, the Holy Mooron consecrated in India. The first two consecration ceremonies were at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church in 1876 & 1911 and the third was at the Manarcad Marth Mariam Church in February 1982.

The details of the earlier consecrations in Malankara are given below:

 

1st Consecration of The Holy Mooron in Malankara

Venue: Mulanthururthy Marthoman Church
Date of Consecration 27 August 1876
Consecrated by: H.H. Ignatius Peter IV (also referred as Petheros III in Malankara)
Assisted by: H.E. Mor Gregorios Abded Aloho, H.E. Mor Divansios Joseph (Pulikottil II),
a Ramban Geevarghese of Chathuruthy (popularly Parumala Thirumeni)

 

2nd Consecration of The Holy Mooron in Malankara

Venue: Mulanthururthy Marthoman Church
Date of Consecration 19 August 1911
Consecrated by: H.H. Ignatius Abded Aloho (Abdulla II)
Assisted by: Mor Ivanios Mathews (Murimattom), Mor Koorilose Paulose (Kochuparambil),
a Mor Athansius Paulose (Valiya Thirumeni), Mor Severious Geevarghese (Edavazikal)
a & Mor Osthatheos Sleeba (Patriarchal delegate)

 

3rd Consecration of Holy Mooron in Malankara

Venue: Marth Mariam Church,  Manarcad
Date of Consecration: 27 February 1982
Consecrated by: H.H. Ignatius Zakka I Iwas along with H.B. Catholicose Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II
Assisted by: Mor Athanasius Samuel (U.S), Mor Thimotheos Aphrem (Canada),
a Mor Meletos Barnaba (Homs), Mor Theophilus Saliba (Lebanon),
a Mor Julius Yeshu Cicek (Europe), Mor Clemis Abraham (Knanaya),
a Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (Kottayam), Mor Dionysus Thomas (Angamali),
a Mor Kurillos Kuriakose (Niranam), Mor Julius Yacoub  (Simhasana),
a Mor Philoxenos Samuel (Malabar), Mor Thimotheos Yakub (Seminary)
a Mor Theophilos Thomas (Outside Kerala) & Mor Ivanios Philipose (Kandanad)

 

4th Consecration of Holy Mooron in Malankara

Venue: MarThoma Cheriapally (St.Thomas Church), Kothamangalam
Date of Consecration: 25 Septemeber 2004
Consecrated by: H.H. Ignatius Zakka I Iwas along with H.B. Catholicose Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I
Assisted by: Mor Philoxenos Yuhanon (Malabar), Mor Polycarpus Geevarghese (E.A.E),
a Mor Thimotheos Thomas (Kottayam & Outside Kerala), Mor Gregorios Joseph (Kochi), 
Mor Yulius Kuriakose (Simhasana Churches), Mor Koorilos Markose (Niranam),
Mor Ivanios Mathews (Kandanad), Mor Dionysius Geevarghese (Manjanikkara),
Mor Milithios Yuhanon (Kollam Thumpamon), Mor Dioscorus Kuriakose (Malecuriz),
Mor Athanasius Geevarghese (Thrissur), Mor Theophilos Kuriakose (Seminary),
a Mor Severios Kuriakose(Knanaya),  Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi (Patriarchal Assistant),
a Mor Silvanos Pathros (Homs), Mor Milithios Malki (Australia)

 

Below is enclosed two articles on Holy Chrism (Holy Mooron), the first  is reproduced from the book titled 'Veni, Vidi, Vici', published by Dr. D Babu Paul in 1982 & the second is an article by Chev. Prof. Dr. C. A. Ninan, Ph.D.,D.Litt, D.D., provided to us by Dr. Paul Samuel.

 

I.  HOLY  MOORON

The Holy Mooron is one of the seven sacraments in the church. It is called confirmation. It is so called because it confirms the Christian in his faith and it strengthens him in his fight against satan. It is the Holy Mooron which gives the faithful the strength of the Holy Spirit. Again it is the Holy Mooron which gives the Holy Spirit's gifts to stand firm in true faith and to grow spiritually. The consecration of Holy Mooron is the sacrament of sacraments.

Traditions

The priests in the Old Testament times were from Aaron's family. But after our Lord's incarnation any man who is a good Christian can became a priest. In that sense all Christians are called to priesthood. St. Peter says (I Peter 2:9) we are chosen generation and a royal priesthood. That is why the New Testament Church gives Holy Mooron to all Christians while the Old Testament gave it only to members of Aaron's family.

As the church grew it became impossible for the Apostles to reach everywhere to lay hands. Therefore, inspired by the Holy Spirit, they consecrated Holy Mooron. The Apostles took the perfumes which were used at the burial of Jesus, mixed it with oil and consecrated it in the Upper Room. Since then, whenever Holy Mooron is consecrated, a little Holy Mooron consecrated earlier, is also added. This is to ensure continuity from apostolic times.

Holy Mooron is the mark of the Christian. Clemis of Rome says that without anointing and thereby accepting the grace of the Holy Spirit the baptized do not become Christians. St. Paul says that we are unto God the sweet savour of Christ (2 Cor. 2:15). That sweet savour, we become, through the Holy Mooron. By Holy mooron we are sealed in true faith.

When man sinned, God declared that he will not let Holy Spirit dwell in man. Now that we are saved by Jesus, Holy Spirit dwells in us. Holy Spirit comes to us through Holy mooron. When Holy Spirit dwells in us we must smell the sweet smell of Jesus, as St. Paul tells us. Otherwise the gift of God will be in vain. We are to be in Christ and Christ is to be in us: it is the Holy Mooron which helps us to do so.

Preparations for the Consecration of Holy Mooron

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 first procession during the Consecration of Holy Mooron (1982 - Manracad Church). The picture shows Korooso Dashroro the Rt. Revd. Dr. Kurien Kaniamparambil, Corepiscopo the Very Revd. Kuriakose Vettikummel and Revd. Frs. Kurikose Ittyadathu and Jesus Chirapurath besides others

The readings from the Old Testament and the Acts and Epistles, normally read by deacons, are read at the time of consecration of Holy Mooron by Metropolitans: 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'.

The second procession with His Holiness hidden in the tent
As the second procession end the tent is brought into the Madboho

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.

Consecration of Holy Mooron

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.

(The content of the article is from the book Veni Vidi Vici, by Babu Paul. He has written it on the basis of the Holy Patriarch's sermon during the Consecration of Holy Mooron at the Manarcad Church in 1982)


II.  HOLY  MOORON

The Church is the mystic body of Christ and so the life of the church is life in Christ. Christians live, move and have their beings in Christ (Acts 17:28).This is sacramental life for which Christians are called. 

Sacraments are means of grace instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. Through them the grace of God descends and indwells upon the Church and its members. In the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, there are seven sacraments of which Holy Baptism, Holy Chrism and Holy Eucharist are the most important. Baptism is the sacrament of entry into the church and only those who are baptized according to the teaching of the Church can partake of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. The Holy Chrism is the holiest of anointing oils of the Church, also called the fragrance of the Holy Spirit and is used to chrismate the water of Baptism( in the baptismal font),signing in the name of Holy Spirit and also for post-Baptismal anointing. It is also used to consecrate church buildings, the altar and the altar stone (tablitho).The Holy Chrism itself is consecrated in the longest of the ceremonies of Syrian Orthodox Church by the Supreme Head of Church viz, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. In our Church, only the Patriarch consecrates the Holy Chrism. The Bishops alone can transfer into smaller bottles and duly ordained priests can only sacramentally handle. Other clergy or laity is forbidden to even to touch it. The Holy Chrism is kept in a special casket in the ‘Holy of Holies’ (madbho) in the church. 

The Apostles of Christ received Baptism in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost: and on the next day they consecrated the Holy Chrism using olive oil and spices (John 19:40) collected from the tomb of Jesus Christ .Using this Holy Chrism they consecrated the upper hall of St: Mark’s as the first church in Christendom in the name of St: Mary, Mother of God. 

The Holy Chrism of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch has a history dating back to the first consecration by the Holy Apostles headed by St: Peter. This again is a continuation of Old Testament oil of anointment of Moses as dictated by “YHWH’ (God) (Exodus 30:22-33) for anointing the Arc of Covenant, Levites, Kings and Prophets. In fact the Prophets carried the anointing oil in horns along with them. 

In the New Testament Church, the Holy Chrism signifies Christ himself. In its constitution and consecration, the mysteries of incarnation of the word and of the person of Christ himself are signified in and through the Holy Chrism. 

The consecration ceremony of the Holy Chrism (Mooron Koodasha) is conducted in two parts. Sufficiently before the date of actual ceremony, pure olive oil is mixed and boiled along with the following spices in the measures given below. 

1. Pure Olive oil -         400 suso
  (prepared from seed coat of Olea europea) 
2. Nardeen (Nardostachys jatamansi) root -  60 suso 
3. Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) flower bud ( Mal. – grampoo)–20 suso 
4. Myristica fragrance seed  (Mal.- jathi)     -  20 suso 
5. Crocus sativus flower bud  - 20 suso 
6. Zingiber officionale   (Mal.-  dried inchi / chukku) rhizome – 20 suso 
7. Piper nigrum (Black pepper) – 20 suso 
8. Cinnamomum verum (Mal.-Karuva patta) – 50 suso 

Items 2-8 are powdered and mixed in olive oil ( item 1).And the bottles containing these are suspended by iron wires in boiling water in a copper vessel for 3 hours. After this, 60 suso of green ‘njerias’ is added into the bottles and boiled for one more hour. On cooling the oil is filtered and transferred to bottles and is ready for consecration. On the day of consecration it is taken into the ‘Basgasa room’ of the church. Side by side with this is also brought and placed Balsamoun oil (prepared from immature seeds of Balanites aegyptica). 

The consecration service of the Holy Mooron is conducted in two parts with elaborate prayers and songs. At the end of first service, the Chief Celebrant( Patriarch) with full vestments enters the Basgasa room and mixes the medicated olive oil with balsamoun signifying the fusion of divinity and humanity in the person of Jesus Christ( Unity indivisible). It symbolizes that Christ accepted our humble humanity  and gave us His Divine Godhood. 

There are two processions during the service. The first procession in the first part of the service is headed by a Metropolitan and is symbolic of the way of sinful woman who went out to buy oil for anointing Christ for expiation of her sins. The second procession takes out with the Patriarch carrying the sacred oil and covered on all sides with ‘Cububso’ which is again covered by twelve ‘marvahthos’ carried by 12 deacons signifying seraphims which cover their faces by 12 wings. With this procession goes all the attending Metropolitans with full vestments, 12 priests in full vestments with burning censors and 12 yapudyaknos with 12 candles. The first procession also sets the route in which the second procession is to go. As the procession of dignitaries goes by, the congregation stays around the church. At the end of the service the Holy Chrism is waved in four directions (Howde malache) and the congregation is blessed with the newly consecrated Holy Mooron. 

The consecration of the Holy Mooron is the most sacred and magnificent ceremony of the Church. It is highly charged with spirituality and link back in OT connection to the fragrant oil prepared by Moses according to divine recipe received at Mount Sinai. It is through use of the Holy Chrism that all members of Church become heirs of the Royal Priesthood the Church is .(1 Peter2:9). 

It is the teaching of the Church that where the Holy Chrism is, there Christ himself is. Baptism in chrismated water signifies death and resurrection along with Christ (Romans 6:4).One wears Christ via chrismation of his entire body at the close of the Holy baptism. Here, he is also signed with Holy Chrism for eternal life in the form of cross in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Without chrismation baptism is not completed at all.

Just as the bread and wine of Holy Eucharist becomes the body and blood of Christ, the Holy Chrism represents the life and self of Christ. These three mysteries together constitute the centre of the inner life of the Church to which all its members belong together. These three sacraments bring purity to the Church and protects her form the evil designs of the adversary (Satan). The Church flourishes under the banner of the Cross, the anointing of the Holy Chrism and partaking of Holy Eucharist in its march to life everlasting.

Chev. Prof. Dr. C. A. Ninan, Ph.D.,D.Litt, D.D.

 

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