The Book of Offering
Introduction and Explanation
Liturgical Reality of the Maronite Church and the Norms of Reform
Principals of the Liturgical Renewal
The Structure of the New Maronite Qurbono
Particulars of the Rite of the New Qurbono
GENERAL INTRODUCTION AND
The Ancient Sources
First of all, we must look back at the liturgical sources
of the Antiochene Church of which the Syriac Maronite Church is a part. From the time of
the Apostles, Antioch has been an important Christian center. There the Christian Good
News originated, and from there it spread by sea and land, to the seashores and the
After the Byzantine rule, Antioch was connected to the
city of Jerusalem and to the liturgical movement which flourished around the two churches
of the Nativity and the Resurrection. With the erection of the Cathedral Church of the
Resurrection, the rites of the Church of Jerusalem became the focus of attention for
pilgrims, as well as the source of liturgical blossoming throughout the whole East.
When the Maronites emerged as a Christian Syriac
Antiochene community, during the fifth century and later, the Antiochene rites were under
the influence of those of Jerusalem, particularly the liturgy attributed to Saint James,
the first bishop of Jerusalem. However, the Maronites also had a liturgical tie to another
important center, that is the Syriac center of Edessa. Edessa, indeed, was the first
Christian state as well as the first great political and cultural Syriac center. Its rites
were connected to the Semetic Aramaic Syriac legacy. They were not influenced by the
Hellenistic Greek legacy as was the Antiochene rite of Jerusalem; rather, they preserved
their own distinctive features and expressions which were closer to the Holy Scriptures
and to the original Christian theology.
According to the few documents we have at hand, the
Maronite rite is closer to the Semetic Syriac rite of Edessa than to the Antiochene
Hellenistic rite of Jerusalem. However, in the fifth century, the differences between the
two rites were barely noticeable.
The Maronite Liturgical Evolution Until the Tenth
Because of the scarcity of documents, it is not easy to
define the liturgical evolution undertaken by the Maronite Church from its beginning until
the tenth century. However, we are able to detect such an evolution through the liturgical
prayers we have, mainly the Anaphora of Sharar and the prayers and hymns of the
office known as the Shimto (that is, the simple office): In them the Maronite
rite appears to have grown closer to the Antiochene sources of Jerusalem.
The Maronite Rite From the Tenth to the
The Maronite liturgical manuscripts now in our possession
belong to the period between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. The oldest manuscript of
the Maronite Book of the Qurbono is dated back to the middle of the fifteenth
century (1454) and contains a few pages which belong to the twelfth century (Vat. 309).
These manuscripts show us that the Maronite rite became extremely close to the Antiochene
rite of Jerusalem (known as the Western Syriac) and more and more, perhaps definitively,
distancing itself from the Eastern Syriac tradition of Edessa.
We do not intend to elaborate this here; rather, we refer
everyone to the studies, however minimal in number, dedicated to this matter. In fact, the
manuscripts of the Maronite Qurbono, and most of the anaphoras used at that time,
had become common with the Western Syriac rite; however, they preserved the Eastern Syriac
anaphora known as the Anaphora of the Apostles or Sharar. This anaphora
is very close to the Eastern Syriac anaphora in use by the Eastern Syriac Churches,
Catholic and non-Catholic.
First Edition of the Book of the Maronite
The first edition of the Maronite Book of the Qurbono
was published in Rome between 1592 and 1594. The students of the Maronite College in Rome
edited this edition under the supervision of the superiors of the college. This edition
was taken from a manuscript written in 1566, in the Monastery of Qozhaya, Lebanon by the
hermit Mikhail (al-Razzi), who later was elected patriarch (1567-1581), and who was the
brother of Sarkis al-Razzi, his successor to the Patriarchal See (1581-1596).
The publishers of this edition altered the prayers of the
eucharistic institution of the al-Razzi manuscript: in fact, they translated the words of
consecration from Latin to Syriac. When the new edition reached the patriarch, he rejected
it at once and prohibited its use. Then pressured by the papal delegate, Dandini, he
accepted it on a temporary basis (1596), provided that things would soon be straightened
out and the edition would be revised in accord with Maronite sources.
The Succeeding Editions
One hundred twenty years later, despite strong objections
formulated in the writings of some Maronite scholars of the beginning of the seventeenth
century, the second edition was published (1716). This edition proved to be more Latinized
than the first one. In fact, the anaphora of the Latin Mass, translated into Syriac and
Arabic, was inserted here, while the Anaphora of Sharar was removed. However,
this edition, being the work of the students of the Maronite College, did not register any
The succeeding editions appeared as exact copies of this
second edition, save some trimming in the pages for economic reasons: for example, the
third edition (1763) included eight anaphoras instead of the fourteen in the previous
editions. The same happened in the four editions published by the Monastery of Qozhaya
(Lebanon) in 1816,1838,1855, and 1872. The two last official editions appeared in Beirut
in 1888 and 1908 under the care of Bishop Youssef Dibs, Archbishop of Beirut. Bishop Dibs
placed the Roman anaphora before the other anaphoras and amended the language of the
prayers and hymns. The first edition in the Arabic alphabet was published in Jounieh
(1959) by the Society of the Lebanese Missionaries. Finally, an abridged rite, called the
"Simple Rite" was published in a booklet in 1973, including only one anaphora.
It was used experimentally for only one year.
All these editions, save the " Simple Rite"
(1973), were published without the seal or the signature of the patriarch, but "with
his knowledge" or "after his consultation," or without any reference to the
Projects of the Reform of the Maronite Qurbono
The first project for the reform of the Qurbono
was planned by some of the students of Rome at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
They intended to give back to the Maronite Qurbono its Syriac Antiochene sources,
which were missing in the first edition. However, the project failed to see the light.
The Synod of Mount Lebanon (1736) decreed that a
commission should be established for the reform of all the rites, but mainly the Qurbono.
This project never materialized. Before that, Patriarch Stephen Duwaihy, of blessed memory
(1670-1704), took pains to assemble the liturgical manuscripts, review them and prepare
projects of reform for the Qurbono and for many of the other liturgical rites. He
himself wrote that he was "hoping to delight his eyes with the sight of the
publication of the liturgical books". However, he left this world with a heavy heart.
During the forties and fifties of our century, there were
some other projects of reform for the Maronite Qurbono, but with no result. Then
came Vatican Council II (1963-65) with its call for renewal, particularly in the
liturgical field. A series of new projects attempted the reform of the Maronite Qurbono.
Between 1963 and 1982 we personally witnessed about forty of them. Then, at last, the
Patriarch Commission on Liturgy and Synod of Bishops focused their attention on the
current project. Indeed, since 1980, this project has undergone a great deal of study and
revision through the care and solicitude of the Patriarchal Commission on Liturgy.
The Current Project
This project was presented to the Patriarchal Synod of
Bishops in 1980; then it was revised and presented a second time in 1982. When all texts
of the project were at last assembled, it was accepted, definitively, and in all its
details, by the Patriarchal Synod of Bishops and by the Vatican Congregation for the
Oriental Churches. Ready for publication, this project is now published, for the first
time, with an official decree attested to by the signature of the Patriarch and with his
THE LITURGICAL REALITY OF THE MARONITE CHURCH AND THE NORMS OF REFORM
The actual liturgical reality in the Maronite Church is
the result of various historical ramifications and accumulations, interacting with
multiple intellectual, cultural, and social trends. All of this was reflected in the
liturgical status quo.
We have seen an active liturgical movement, especially in
regard to the prayers and hymns. The "reformers" grew in number, each following
their own inspiration. And for the rite of Qurbono itself, we come across various
books with different rites, some of them old, some recent, and some even more recent.
However, such a positive liturgical movement has often led to a great amount of confusion
and chaos. In fact, the clergy as well as the laity were no longer able to distinguish
which rite to follow. Furthermore, a great number of supporters of this liturgical
movement had allowed themselves to create new liturgical rites, in imitation of the
renewal taking place within the Western Latin rite.
This particular situation caused division among Maronites
in the community. A true liturgical reform, thus, became of dire necessity for the sake of
discipline and unity. The Church leaders, using understanding and wisdom, realized that
the time has come to publish one single book for the Maronite Qurbono, a book
capable of unifying all Maronites, in Lebanon and in the other countries of the world: one
Qurbono for all, used by all Maronites wherever they are and in any Maronite
church they attend.
THE PRINCIPLES OF THE LITURGICAL RENEWAL
The Principles of Reform for the Qurbono
For renewal of the rite of the Maronite Qurbono, the
Commission on Liturgy abided by some norms and regulations:
- To be faithful to the authentic sources of the Antiochene
Syriac Maronite liturgy and to preserve its identity intact from foreign elements, be they
Western or Eastern;
- To oppose innovation, except in that which the welfare of
the Church would require in a sure and judicious manner;
- To oppose the return to what is of the past, except in
what may preserve the authentic Maronite identity;
- To make the rite of Qurbono appealing, from a
pastoral point of view, so that the movements and the diversity of the prayers and hymns
may lead to the fully conscious and active participation of the congregation;
- To return to the Maronite liturgical cycle, placing this
cycle at the core of the whole year: each Sunday and its following week, will have its own
proper prayers and hymns, to fit perfectly within the framework of the liturgical year and
to focus on the mystery of Christ and on the main Christian mysteries;
- To make room, in agreement with the signs of the times,
for the possibility of change in liturgical intercessions, prayers and movements, that
they may be suitable to the needs of the various groups of society such as children,
students and young people, etc., and may enable them to take an active part in them,
provided that the general liturgical structure of the service is not tampered with.
Tradition and Renewal
The liturgical renewal is not a mere return to tradition;
it is, rather, a pastoral need stemming from the basic principles of the liturgy and
leading toward a new and active participation of the community, in agreement with the
spirit of the rite and with common sense. Here we did not create new prayers and hymns; on
the contrary, we went back to prayers and hymns selected from our Syriac sources and
roots. Most of the time we used the Syriac text as a basis for the translated texts.
Indeed, the inherited Syriac text has such a depth and such an authenticity, as to allow
it to insure the life of the liturgy, that noble legacy perpetuated by past generations,
and to express, at the same time, needs and requirements beneficial to each generation in
We must declare that we did not offer here liturgical
texts that would last for ever; only liturgical texts that are authentic. We must rely on
them in every ecclesial change deemed necessary, in their content as well as in their
form, according to our legacy and to the pastoral requirements. In fact, the future and
the true liturgical and pastoral praxis of the Church will demonstrate the need for new
directions. The Church itself, through its Commission on Liturgy, will follow these
directions and will find a solution to each problem, while affirming the two basic
principles: identity on one hand and evolution on the other. Here lies the norm of life
itself in all things.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE NEW MARONITE QURBONO
The New Service of the Qurbono
The new Service of the Qurbono is divided into
two main parts: the Service of the Word and the Service of the Eucharist or Qurbono.
The Service of the Word
By "Word" we mean the word of the Holy Gospel
which announces the saving liturgical event. This word is preceded by the Service of the
Day, that is, and ensemble of prayers and hymns proper to the special feast or
commemoration announced by the Gospel itself.
The Service of the Word is a unified, independent
liturgical rite, composed of:
- Opening Prayers
- Service of the Day
In the past, the celebration of such a rite took place in
the center of the church on a platform called the "bema". Traditionally this
platform was located between the section of men and that of the women, not at the altar as
is the case today. Indeed, the altar is not a platform for the word; it is for the
sacrifice and the Eucharist/Qurbono.
For that reason, we chose a proper place for this rite:
within the sanctuary itself, yet outside the altar; to the right side or before the
lectern of the readings, or wherever necessary.
The Service of the Eucharist/Qurbono
This service consists in the consecration of the Qurbono,
that is, in its offering at the altar; in the remembrance of the Last Supper, death, and
resurrection of Christ; in the invocation of the Holy Spirit; and, lastly, in communion
shared by celebrant and congregation.
The proper place to celebrate the Qurbono in the
church is the altar, for the Qurbono is a sacrifice. Thus, the celebrant proceeds from the
place where the Service of the Word is celebrated to that of the Service of the Qurbono.
The Services of the Word and of the Qurbono are
preceded by lesser rites of preparation. The Service of the Word is preceded by the
vesting of the ministers, the lighting of the candles, and the entrance of the ministers.
The Service of the Qurbono is preceded by the access to the altar, the transfer
of the offerings, their actual offering, and the placing of them on the altar. The
transfer of the offerings is preceded by their physical preparation on a small altar, or
on the side of the main altar during weekdays, before the beginning of any other rite and
without the participation of the people.
The Structure of the New Text of Qurbono
The Common Part of the Preparation:
- Preparation of the offerings on a small altar
- Lighting of the church
- Entrance (with the proper hymn)
Service of the Day (Proper to the Feast)
- Opening Prayer
- Glory (Hymn of the Angels)
- Prayer of Forgiveness with the Incense (Hoosoyo)
- Prayer of the Incense (Etro)
- Qadeeshat (Trisagion)
- Prayer of the Trisagion
- Psalm of the Readings (Mazmooro)
- First Reading(s)
- Fetgomo with the Procession of the Gospel and Incense
- Gospel - Homily - Proclamation (Korozooto)
- Access to the Altar
- Transfer of the Offerings
- Their Offering and Placing on the Altar
- Rite of Peace
- Eucharistic Prayer
- Fraction, Consignation, Intinction, Commixture, and
- Lord's Prayer and Rite of Penance (in preparation for
- Invitation to Communion: "Holy things for the
- Thanksgiving and Conclusion
The Internal Order
We have arranged all these parts distinctly in the new Book
of the Qurbono without dividing them by numbers, in order to preserve the flow of the
rite. However, we have placed the titles and the rubrics in the texts and in the
introductions, in order to facilitate a clear understanding of the various parts of the
rite. Indeed, the liturgy is not only texts; it is also actions and movements which
accompany the texts and prayers in order to express their meaning. Most important among
them are: the Gospel, the Eucharist/Qurbono, the Memorial, the Rite of Penance,
These are liturgical actions associated to various readings, prayers
PARTICULARS OF THE RITE OF THE NEW QURBONO
The title appears in both Syriac and Arabic. The Syriac
word, Qurbono, is translated into the Arabic word, Quddas, even though
the translation is not literal. The two words were retained because of their common use in
each language. To complete the title, a subtitle was added: "According to the Rite of
the Syriac Antiochene Maronite Church". The Maronite Church, in fact, is not a
self-independent ecclesial group; it belongs to the Antiochene church in its Syriac
tradition. The publication of the book by "Bkerke" (the Patriarchal See) here
takes on a particular significance: except for the booklet of the "Simple Rite"
of 1973, this book is the only liturgical book for the Qurbono to be officially
published by the Maronite Patriarchate. As for the ten previous editions, beginning with
that of 1592, they were published elsewhere, not by the Patriarchate. Besides, the date of
1992 provides a meaning of its own: it reminds us that exactly 400 years ago, the first
edition of the Book of the Qurbono was printed in Rome (1592-1594). The first
edition was initially rejected, because it altered some of the tradition of the Syriac
Antiochene Maronite Church (in fact, the title of the edition was: The Book of the Chaldean Qurbono). Our present edition,
though after 400 years, makes the proper correction and brings back the Service of the Qurbono
to its authentic Maronite tradition.
Preparation of the Offerings
Today this rite is merely a routine act, without any
liturgical meaning. The bread is placed on the paten, then covered; the wine and water are
mixed in the cup then covered, waiting to be taken to the altar for the consecration. In
earlier times, when the offerings were composed of the collection of gifts presented by
the people to the deacon, the rite was full of meaning. The deacon would divide them in
two parts, one reserved for the consecration, the other distributed to the people at the
end of the Qurbono. The part reserved for the consecration was called Furshono
in Syriac, (hence the Arabic word Burshan) meaning: what is set aside for the
In this simple rite, we have kept the basic elements; we
provided each action with accompanying verses, one verse for the bread, another verse for
the covering with the veil, etc. We assigned this rite to the deacon according to earlier
tradition and as seen in the Book of Guidance (Kitab al-Hoda - eleventh
century). Hence, we encourage the presence of deacon in parishes in order to assist the
celebrant in this rite. In case of the absence of deacons, the ministers in minor orders
may replace them. This rite takes place at a side altar or on a table on the right side of
the main altar [the celebrant's right as he stands at the altar]. During weekdays, the
preparation of the offerings may take place on the main altar, to the right of the
celebrant. This represents, of course, a practical change for weekdays, since the Qurbono
is now celebrated on a daily basis.
The celebrant wears the proper vestments of the Syriac
Maronite tradition, as they appear in the old Maronite documents. The return to such a
tradition is necessary in order to preserve the Maronite identity from all foreign
elements (Latin and non-Latin). The vestments should show an "Eastern" Syriac
Maronite imprint. The prayers and psalms accompanying the vesting are optional. They are
well known in our liturgical books. The prayer, "O Lord, make me worthy...",
said at the foot of the altar before the start of the Qurbono, is of recent use
in our tradition; it was borrowed from the Western Syriac Orthodox rite.
Lighting of the Church
The first tangible liturgical action is the lighting.
Christ, in fact, is our Light; light symbolizes Him. Thus, the lighting of the church
(candles and lights) takes place before the entrance of the celebrant, while the
congregation sings a hymn to Christ the Light by whose light we are all enlightened.
The entrance includes the procession of the celebrant and
his assisting ministers. The cross bearer leads the procession followed by the candle
bearers, the incense bearer, and the bearers of the books needed for the celebration. The
procession starts from the sacristy, or better, from the main entrance of the church. The
procession is accompanied by a hymn or psalm appropriate to the feast and to the
liturgical event, putting everyone in the proper atmosphere of the liturgical day. The
entrance procession concludes at the entrance to the sanctuary: all stand before the
altar, bow before it, and sing the hymn, "I have entered your house, O
" in Syriac. This hymn must be sung in Syriac in the Maronite churches all
over the world. Maronites, wherever they may be, will then be able to hear the same hymn,
with the same melody, and in the same language in all their churches.
With the approval of the proper ecclesiastical authority,
we have decided to make mandatory the singing in Syriac the three following hymns; the
entrance dialogue at the beginning of the service (and the access to the altar at
beginning of the anaphora), the Qadeeshat Aloho, and the narrative of the
institution of the eucharist.
"The Service" (in Arabic Khidmat) is a
translation of the Syriac word teshmeshto. It means a special rite for a special
liturgical action. In fact, in our Maronite tradition, the name Teshmesht was
given to the liturgical book which contains the Church prayers for the various feasts. The
Khidmat (service) also means the book which contains the parts of the deacon and the
congregation. When we say the Book of Service, we are referring to the book
proper to the ministry of the deacon during the Qurbono.
As far as we are concerned, by "Service" we
mean here the prayers of the feast day throughout the whole liturgical season. It is a
movable element in the Qurbono that varies almost every week. Within the movable
frame of the liturgical seasons of the year, it brings depth and beauty to the liturgy.
Therefore, the celebrant of the "service of the feast" must be aware of the
basic rules of the liturgical year and the succession of its feasts and weekdays.
The Maronite Liturgical Year
The liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of
November and concludes with the last Sunday of October. It is centered around the mystery
of the Lord Jesus from His birth, to His baptism, to His saving teaching until His death,
resurrection, ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, and the
awaiting of His second coming. All these solemnities of the Lord are considered as
important milestones of the year, called "seasons". They are: the Birth [of the
Lord], Epiphany, Lent, the Passion, the Resurrection, Pentecost, and Holy Cross. They are
seasons full of meaning and rich in blessings, lived by the faithful Church week after
week, in preparation for a particular feast or as a part of its continuation. They are
known by the name liturgical year or liturgical cycle. In this new Book of the Qurbono,
we offer compilations of prayers and hymns, distributed throughout all the weeks of the
year; they accompany all the feasts of the Lord. They constitute the "rite of the
service" which forms the first part of the Qurbono. There are almost fifty
services, having the same number as the weeks of the year. They allow the community to
live the "great event" of the Lord Jesus and His mystery of salvation.
This cycle reflects a new and unique matter in the Qurbono
of the Maronite Church. At the same time, it represents a return to our rich Syriac
Maronite patrimony, which includes such a great number of "services," especially
during the liturgical period between the feasts of Pentecost and the Exaltation of the
Holy Cross. During this period we have focused on the two feasts of the Apostles (Saints
Peter and Paul, the Apostles in general), on the feast of the Assumption, and on the
general weekly memorials, common to all saints.
The individual faithful and the community are then able
to experience each Sunday of the year, and, even more so, each day of the week, a special
event connected to the life of the Lord Jesus. In this way, the liturgy becomes a living
event, not a repetition of the same prayers and hymns routinely recited indefinitely
throughout the days, weeks and years. The individual faithful and the whole community are
compelled, thanks to new living rites, to live a new life and to create a blessed movement
in the renewal of their faith and their Christian life.
The texts of these various services are taken from the
Syriac Maronite liturgical books. Their references are recorded in detail in the studies
accompanying the project of the new Qurbono.
Order of the Services
The prayers, hymns and actions of each service follow an
order which is common to all services:
Glory to God
Opening Prayer (Praise and Glory)
Praise of the Angels "Glory to God in the Highest"
Prayer of Forgiveness (Hoosoyo)
Proemion (Introductory Doxology)
Sedro (Order of Prayer)
Prayer of Incense (Etro)
The first group (a) is dedicated to the glory and praise
of God at the opening of every service. The second group (b) is a petition for forgiveness
through the commemoration of a saving event remembered in the services of each day. In
this second group, the sedro represents a more prominent feature: it is, in fact, a
remembrance of a saving event of the past as well as a theological meditation on the same
event for the sake of the present time, followed by a series of petitions inspired by the
event itself and by the needs of the community. The prayer of forgiveness is accompanied
by the burning of incense and the incensation.
The Meanings of Incense
The liturgy provides various meanings for the use of
incense. The three most important are the following:
- The offering of a burnt "sacrifice of incense"
to God for our sins, asking Him to be pleased with our offering and to pardon us;
- The purification from sin and the casting out of the evil
spirit who is the cause of sin. Thus the celebrant incenses the community and the area
around it, in order to purify them and prepare them to welcome the Lord, the God of glory;
- The giving of honor to God before whom the incense is
offered and the honoring of the righteous and just who are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
The rite of burning incense and the incensation itself is
part of the ancient rites in our Maronite liturgy. It gives the Eastern rites, in general,
a distinctive characteristic. This characteristic, indeed, generates within the liturgy a
symbolic and touching movement, as well as a profound feeling of awe and reverence. This
rite must be preserved. Each of the participants in this rite plays his own role: the
celebrant burns the incense, the deacon does the incensing, a concelebrant recites the
proemion and sedro, and the community participates in praying and asking for forgiveness.
The ministers at the altar themselves have their own role: they carry the censer and
present it to the celebrant. When the celebrant is alone for the Qurbono, he
himself burns the incense, incenses, and recites the hoosoyo. He may delegate somebody to
sing it with a good voice and pleasant melody; however, he should reserve for himself the
conclusion of both the proemion and the sedro.
This is the hymn of the Trisagion which is common to all
rites in the Qurbono and in other liturgical rites. In the Byzantine Church and
the Eastern Syriac Churches, this hymn is addressed to the Holy Trinity. However, in the
Western Syriac Churches, including the Maronite Church, and in the Armenian, Coptic and
Ethiopian Churches, this same hymn is addressed to the Lord Jesus alone. The Latin Church,
theologically speaking, considers this hymn as Trinitarian; however, from a liturgical
point of view, that is, in the rite of adoration of the cross on Great Friday, it
addresses this hymn to the Lord Jesus himself. A time honored tradition tells that Joseph
of Arimathea was the first to recite this hymn at the feet of Christ when he removed him
from the cross and buried him. The common response to the Qadeeshat Aloho is
"Have mercy on us". However, on the great feasts and during the liturgical
season that follows them, proper verses are added to this response, such as: "who is
born from the daughter of David
Have mercy on us" (Birth of the Lord), "who
was baptized by John
Have mercy on us" (Epiphany), "who was crucified for
Have mercy on us" (Passion Week), "who rose from the dead
mercy on us" (Resurrection). Such praxis is at the core of our Syriac Maronite
tradition. In spite of the opposition of those who deny the use as heretical, we still
hold it today: they consider the hymn as Trinitarian and believe that in proclaiming
"who was crucified for us", we attribute the crucifixion to the three persons of
the Holy Trinity, not only to the Lord Jesus alone. We preferred to keep these various
responses for the liturgical seasons, because they add wealth to the rite and depth to our
This hymn and its response must always be sung in Syriac
in the Maronite churches throughout the whole world, as a sign of unity among all
The Prayer After the Qadeeshat
This prayer is a traditional prayer proper to Maronites
in all their rituals. We selected a text serving as a junction point between the
conclusion of the Qadeeshat Aloho on the one hand and, on the other, the
preparation for the hearing of the Word of God, through the coming Scripture readings.
The Scripture Readings
The announcement of the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God,
represents the heart of this first part of the Qurbono. What preceded was but a
preparation to this living Word: to proclaim it, listen to it and live by it. The Church
gives it a great importance and surrounds it with hymns, instructions, and a procession in
order to display its full meaning. The texts of the Scripture readings vary according to
the celebrations and the liturgical seasons. We are preparing a complete and detailed book
for the readings, including texts from the Old as well as from the New Testaments.
However, for the time being, we limit the reading to two: for Sundays and feast days, the
letters of Saint Paul and the Gospel; for weekdays, the letters of Saint Paul or some of
the other letters and Gospel. In the near future, the choice will be wider and more
comprehensive embracing all the books of Holy Scripture.
The Psalm of the Readings
The psalm is a hymn proper to the Maronites. Currently it
is composed of three poetic strophes according to the Ephremic melody. The hymn assembles
verses from the psalms with verses inspired by the saving event which marks the theme of
the feast. This particular structure is an ancient part of the Antiochene tradition. In
the other rites, its equivalent is the psalmic verses sung before the epistles or readings
from the other books of Scripture, with the exception of the Gospel.
As we mentioned above, in the future we will select
readings from all the books of the Holy Scriptures. Each reading will be prefaced with a
brief explanation for a better understanding of the Scripture passage. The selection of
readings is a difficult and lengthy task. At this time, the Commission on Liturgy and a
Commission of Scripture Scholars are joining their efforts for that purpose. They will
assign the proper Scripture texts to all the days of the year according to the feasts and
The Procession of the Gospel
Before the proclamation of the Gospel, a procession takes
place inside the sanctuary in honor of the Word of God. In earlier times, this procession
used to be performed, according to Patriarch Duwaihy, in the midst of the congregation.
However, we limited it here to the sanctuary. It starts from and goes back to the place
where the Book of Gospels is kept, preserving the rite of procession, on the one
hand, and shortening the liturgical celebration, on the other. In addition, we have
retained the burning of incense before the Gospel, in honor of the Word of God and also as
an invitation for the congregation to stand well. The warnings of the deacon, such as,
", provide the congregation with a favorable religious
The Announcement of the Gospel in the Church
The reading of the Gospel is not a simple, hasty
recitation; it is, rather, an eloquent announcement made in no hurry; in some churches and
circumstances, it becomes a chanting of the text. Formerly, the Syriac text of the Gospel
was chanted to a simple tune; then the recitation of the translated Arabic text would
follow. The chanting of the Gospel during solemn celebrations has many benefits. We ought
to return to it. There is no need to repeat that the evangelical reading focuses on the
theme of the feast, that is to say, the saving event.
This liturgical text ought to be simple and easy to
understand. Our Maronite tradition chose the Syriac version called the Peshitta.
It is an ancient text close to the Aramaic in which our Lord, and his Apostles after him,
announced first the good news.
The Proclamation (Korozooto)
This proclamation is known as "the simple",
which is the first of three proclamations, in the Service of the Qurbono. It is
recited after the homily with the participation of the congregation. Inspired by the theme
of the feast, it is considered as a poetical and theological meditation on the
celebration. The compilation of these proclamations is conserved in books proper to the
deacon. They are now in the process of preparation, adding to the overall list of books
for the Qurbono. (This overall list includes books for the celebrants, their
assistants, their readers, and the congregation.)
With the present proclamation, Part One of the Qurbono
is concluded. The candidates for baptism or catechumens were allowed to take part in it.
Once done, they were dismissed. Then Part Two, reserved to the faithful, would begin. It
is the eucharistic part, preceded by the transfer of the offerings, their offering, and
their being placed on the altar.
The Pre-Anaphora is composed of a group of actions and
prayers linking Part One to Part Two and preparing for Part Two, the anaphora, which is a
Greek term meaning "the offering of the Qurbono". This part is opened
by the Creed and includes the processional transfer of the gifts, their offering at the
altar, and the incensation of the altar, gifts, and people.
It is the Nicene-Constantinopole that is currently used
in the Maronite Church. It was introduced in the Service of the Qurbono during
the fifth century. Formerly, it was considered as the testimony of the catechumens, made
before they were admitted to the Mystery of Baptism; later on, it became the profession of
faith of the baptized faithful before the eucharistic part, once the catechumens were
dismissed from the church.
The Access to the Altar
The celebrant and his assisting ministers proceed to the
altar, singing the hymn of access. This hymn is different from that of the entrance
dialogue at the beginning of the Qurbono. However, the two hymns have the same
meaning. In the use of this hymn, we did not differentiate between bishop celebrants and
priest celebrants, though in recent times it was reserved only to bishops. The access is
followed by kissing the center of the altar: the altar is, indeed, the symbol of Christ;
to honor it is to honor Christ himself.
Orientation of the Celebrant at the Altar
According to the Maronite tradition and to the testimony
of Patriarch Duwaihy, the altar must be separated from the wall of the apse, in order to
allow the celebrants to process around it. Traditional church architecture required that
the altar face eastward. It was customary for the celebrant to face east and to have the
congregation behind him facing in the same direction.
However, for pastoral reasons and a better understanding
of the Eucharist, as the banquet of the Last Supper, a new way of celebration emerged
within the Church, that is, to have the celebrant face toward the congregation. Thanks to
it, well-informed faithful have shown a greater participation in the Qurbono.
On June 6, 1992, the Maronite Patriarchal Synod of
Bishops decreed the possibility of celebrating in either direction, that is , facing
toward the congregation or, along with the congregation, facing toward the east. The final
ruling on the matter is left to the local hierarch. A large number of churches have been
built to accommodate this new orientation, which represents, in our opinion, a renewal
that agrees with the spirit of the Qurbono (as well as a memorial of the banquet
of the Last Supper), and also with the requirements of today's pastoral life.
Transfer of the Offerings
The offerings are transferred from their place of
preparation to the altar. They are carried in procession accompanied by candles, incense,
and the singing of the well-known traditional hymn: "The Lord reigns clothed in
majesty." Many meanings are attached to this rite, namely: the separation between the
two parts of the Qurbono, the Word of God in the Scriptures and the Word of God
in the Eucharist; also the invitation to the congregation to offer itself and be
consecrated along with the bread and wine which are offered in order to become the Body
and Blood of Christ.
The Presentation of the Offerings
The celebrant receives the offerings, then raises them in
a gesture of offering to God, saying one of the oldest Maronite prayers in this rite.
The Placing of the Offerings on the Altar
The placing of the offerings on the altar is a liturgical
priestly action; it signifies the setting aside the offerings as an official presentation
of the altar to God. The rite of consecration begins at this point. Following the placing
on the altar, the celebrant makes some commemoration, mainly: the remembrance of Christ
and His plan of salvation and the remembrance of the saints, among them the patron of the
church and the saint whose feast is being celebrated. Then he announces the general and
particular intentions for which the offerings are presented. The offerings are placed at
the center of the altar over consecrated piece of wood [or marble] (called a tableet),
or instead, over a consecrated piece of fabric.
For the first time, the celebrant incenses the altar,
prepared for the sacrifice with the offerings now placed in it. As for the previous
incensation, at the prayer of forgiveness (Hoosoyo) during the Service of the Word, it was
performed outside the context of the altar and the offerings. The incensation is
accompanied by a hymn of commemoration, the incense hymn, "Lover of those who
repent", another hymn, such as Salatookee Ma'na (May your prayer be with
), or some other hymn.
Anaphora is a Greek word meaning " the
offering" or "the Qurbono". It means here the compilation of
eucharistic prayers and actions; it starts with the rite of peace, through the
consecration and communion until the conclusion of the service. This second part of the Qurbono
is known today by the name anaphora. According to our Syriac Maronite tradition,
its prayers vary; they are attributed to the Twelve Apostles, or one of the apostles or
evangelists, or one of the forefathers or patriarchs or a noted bishop. The number of
anaphoras exceeds seventy in the overall Syriac tradition.
The Western Syriac Anaphora
There are two types of anaphoras in our Maronite
tradition; some originate from the Western Syriac model, such as the Anaphora of Saint
James of Jerusalem and the Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles; some others
originate from the Eastern Syriac model, such as the Maronite Anaphora of Sharar and
the Assyrian Chaldean Anaphora of Addai and Mari.
In the previous editions of the Qurbono (except
the "Simple Rite" of Bkerke, 1973), the anaphora used to include, in addition to
the complete Western model, some prayers from the Anaphora of Sharar, which
belong to the Eastern Syriac model. The anaphora was then a mixture of the Western and
Eastern models. In this new text of the Qurbono, we omitted such a duplication.
We set the anaphora according to the Western Syriac model only, without the prayers of the
Eastern Maronite Anaphora of Sharar. However, this does not mean that we have
totally neglected the Anaphora of Sharar (see below).
A great number of the Western Syriac Anaphoras are used
by the Maronites. We find some of them in the Maronite manuscripts, mainly in the
compilation of anaphoras prepared by Patriarch Duwaihy. This compilation contains thirty
anaphoras, some of them bearing non-Maronite names. Their texts vary from one manuscript
to another. However, some of these anaphoras are well known and go back to before the
tenth century; they have been adopted by several manuscripts and also by all the
succeeding editions of the Book of the Qurbono.
As for us, we have adopted in this edition six anaphoras
only, hoping that later on we will be able to complete them, until we reach at least
twenty-four anaphoras. The six anaphoras currently selected all belong to the Maronite
tradition prior to the tenth century. Here they are listed as they appear in the book:
Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles;
Anaphora of Saint Peter, Head of the Apostles (O God
Anaphora of Saint James, Brother of the Lord;
Anaphora of Saint John the Apostle;
Anaphora of Saint Mark the Evangelist;
Anaphora of Sixtus, Pope of Rome.
These anaphoras were the subject of a number of studies,
some of which were published in a scholarly manner. We have adopted here the scholarly
text of the published anaphoras, and, for the non-published ones, we have relied on the
liturgical text in common use.
The Eastern Syriac Anaphora of Sharar
This anaphora bears various names, such as Anaphora
of the Apostles, Anaphora of Saint Peter (the third), and Anaphora of Sharar (Sharar
is the first Syriac word of the anaphora and means "confirm"). Several
studies have been dedicated to this anaphora which shows a similarity with the Eastern
Syriac Anaphora of Addai and Mari in use by the Assyrian Chaldean Churches. These
two anaphoras may have a same Edessian origin dating back to the fifth century.
In the Maronite rite, the Anaphora of Sharar
uses the same internal order in the Qurbono and in the rite for the consecration
of chrism (myron) and for the consecration of the baptismal water, on the eve of
Epiphany. Without the shadow of doubt, the Maronite Church used the Anaphora of Sharar
in the Qurbono, prior to the sixteenth century. In the first edition of the Book
of Qurbono, this anaphora was placed after the other anaphoras, while it was omitted
in the second edition (1716). It then became known as the Qurbono of the Signing of
the Chalice, which is but a rite of communion for Great Friday.
The Anaphora of Sharar has its own order which
is neither clear nor easy. As it stands now, it cannot be used, yet is should be studied
and given a new order. The Patriarchal Commission on Liturgy has assumed this task in
order to bring back to the Maronite liturgical life, as soon as possible, the Anaphora
of Sharar, corrected and arranged in a definitive way. From this it appears clearly
that the Maronite Liturgy extends its roots to the Eastern Syriac sources. There is no
need to note here the difficulty of our task; to restructure, on one hand, an anaphora
which for hundreds of years has fallen from use, and to prepare, on the other, a similar
rite for the consecration of the chrism (myron) and the baptismal water. We have
thus postponed this work to the near future, God willing.
The Six Anaphoras of the New Text of the Qurbono
We adopted the six anaphoras, indicated above, with some
The words of consecration, that is the narrative of the
eucharistic institution during the Last Supper, originally varied from one anaphora to
another. However, we could not go back to the literal text of each anaphora, since the
text of the words of consecration in the present situation of the Maronite rite has
assumed a new shape, in its content as well as in its form. Thus, we have limited our
choice from all the anaphoras to one single text for the words of consecration. We have
selected the text of the Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles; we have added to it
those slight touch-ups deemed necessary in order to round out the content as well as the
form, and to accommodate the musical melody.
We have provided the texts of all anaphoras, without
exception, with an Arabic translation facing the Syriac text. We wanted this translation
to be elegant and abridged, especially in the commemorations.
The Structure of the Anaphoras
We will not concentrate on each individual anaphora;
rather, we will follow the overall structure of the six anaphoras, for they are totally
similar to each other. We will explain their prayers and actions in the order assigned to
them. We, however, will not list our sources and the many references to our explanations.
Prayer of Peace
This prayer is the first prayer of the anaphora, known as
the Prayer before the Peace, is a preamble to all the prayers of the anaphora. It prepares
the congregation for the giving of the peace. Once the prayer has been said, the celebrant
passes the peace from the altar, and the faithful exchange it in the nave of the church,
singing the proclamation of peace (Korozooto) known as the "Median" in
the original Syriac.
The second prayer is the Prayer of the Veil. Formerly, it
preceded the removal of the great veil from the offerings placed on the altar. However, it
lost its meaning in many of the anaphoras, as is the case, for example, in the Anaphora
of the Twelve Apostles where it followed the rite of peace itself. This prayer may
have also the meaning of "prayer of the curtain" which partitioned the temple.
The celebrant used to recite it before the curtain and prior to turning to the altar.
This is the Prayer for the Imposition of the Hand. It is
a prayer of blessing, said by the celebrant over the people, as they await the celebration
of the Eucharist. The meaning varies according to the anaphora. In the Anaphora of the
Twelve Apostles, for example, it becomes merely a preparatory prayer for the
celebration of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist Prayer
This is, essentially, the basic prayer by which the Qurbono
is consecrated. It is composed of a single, yet multifaceted prayer. Its unity consists in
being one prayer that is Trinitarian. It begins with the thanksgiving to the Father, moves
to the memorial of the Son's plan of salvation, and concludes with the invocation of the
Holy Spirit. In fact, it is the Holy Trinity, the One God, who saved us through the
incarnate Son. It is the Holy Trinity, the One God, who himself consecrates the Qurbono
and the Church as well through the incarnate Son.
The eucharistic prayer is composed of several elements:
Introduction: a Pauline greeting and an
invitation to the celebration of the Eucharist;
Thanksgiving to the Father who created
us and gave us the promise of the Savior;
Memorial of the Son in His plan of
salvation for us and in the giving of His Body and Blood for the Church;
Invocation of the Holy Spirit to perfect
the consecration of the Body and Blood.
The celebrant introduces the eucharistic prayer by
greeting and blessing the present assembly of God. He greets it with a verse from Saint
Paul's second letter to the Corinthians (13:13). The verse is altered by liturgical
tradition, for the sake of preserving the ecclesial order of the Divine Persons: first the
Father, then the Son, last the Holy Spirit. Following the greeting and blessing, the
celebrant invites the faithful to begin the prayer of thanksgiving, "Let us thank the
Lord with fear": this is, strictly speaking, the eucharistic prayer.
The Introduction to "Holy, Holy, Holy"
The celebrant continues, announcing that it is truly
right to thank the Lord, since He is the source of all blessings and gifts from the
creation of the world to the incarnation. God must be glorified, not only by the people on
earth, but also by the angels in heaven, as clearly appears in the vision of the prophet
Isaiah (6:3), in which the prophet listened to the seraphim, shouting: "Holy, Holy,
Holy". The Church shouts with them: "Holy
", adding the words of Psalm
Sunday: "Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
The Thanksgiving to the Father
The celebrant continues the prayer of thanksgiving.
Depending on each anaphora, it is sometimes long, sometimes brief; it centers on the
never-ending thanksgiving to the Father who created us and, though we have distanced
ourselves from Him, never let us down; on the contrary, He promised us a Savior, sent to
us the prophets, and in the fullness of time, sent us His only Son. Each anaphora recalls
these stages of our salvation and expands on them. However, the theme is one and the same,
that is; thanksgiving to the Father for the principal stages of our salvation, and the
announcement of the infinite love of God for us.
The Memorial of the Son
The history of salvation, within the prayer of
thanksgiving, leads to the events of the incarnation and redemption. It stops specifically
at the Last Supper, on the eve of the passion of the Lord Jesus, in which He gave us His
Body and Blood. At this point, the anaphora recalls what happened at this Supper, as
recorded in the Gospel and in the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. The
celebrant repeats here the text of the institution of the eucharist; it is an essential
text to the consecration, because it includes the same words with which the Lord Jesus
consecrated the bread and the wine for our sake.
While talking about consecration, we do not need to dwell
on the differences between the Eastern and Western outlook. The Western Latin rites
consider these words alone and not other words, as the words of consecration. The Eastern
rites in general, including the Maronite rite, ties these words to the calling of the Holy
Spirit; they look at them together as a liturgical unity, complete and undivided. There is
no doubt that the words of the Lord Jesus in the Last Supper, according to the theology of
the Church, are sufficient to consecrate the Qurbono. This is the meaning we give
to the profound bowing of the celebrant after each of the Lord's words over the bread and
wine. Yet, the liturgy has its rules, and the theology of the Church, its own diversity
and wealth. Therefore, we consider the eucharistic prayer as one, likewise the Trinity is
One; it is perfected only by the invocation of the Holy Spirit.
We have accorded to the words of consecration all the
importance due to them now in our tradition and Church. We have arranged these words in
one common text for all the anaphoras, in order to preserve our Syriac Antiochene
tradition; yet, we took into account the evolution that took place in our tradition during
the last 400 years of history; for the rites, as we said, are a living tradition, not a
dead archaeological science.
The narrative of the institution is followed by the
memorial of the Son and His plan of salvation, especially His death and resurrection. The
Eucharist is but the remembrance of the Lord's death and resurrection, as a Savior, and
the awaiting of His second coming, as a judge. The Eucharist is the time in which the Lord
appears in truth. The first Christians who were expecting Him and hoping for Him
proclaimed in their liturgical and eucharistic gatherings: Maranatha, Come, O
The Invocation of the Holy Spirit
The deacon warns the faithful about "the awesome
moment when the Holy Spirit will descend and overshadow the Qurbono
Afterwards, the celebrant kneels on both knees, invokes the Holy Spirit and proclaims,
"Hear me, O Lord
" The congregation responds three times, "Lord, have
mercy." The celebrant signs the Mysteries with the sign of the cross, then says words
which embody the result of his invocation, that is: to "make" the bread and
wine, through the overshadowing of the Spirit, the Body and Blood of Christ. The Mysteries
become the eucharist consecrated for the forgiveness of sin and for a new life given to
the community which shares in it, a community which is also "consecrated" by
this overshadowing of the spirit. With this invocation, the liturgy of the Eucharist is
accomplished and the Qurbono is consecrated.
The commemorations are known by different names: e.g.,
intercessions, dyptics, etc. They encompass the living and the dead. The living are
divided into three categories: The Church authorities, the civil authorities and the
people. The dead are also divided into three categories: the saints, mainly the Virgin
Mary and the Apostles, then the fathers and teachers, and lastly the faithful departed in
general. In our Arabic translation, these commemorations are abridged to make them
suitable to our times. The congregation may add appropriate intercessions and
The proclamation of the commemorations belongs to the
ministry of the deacon; however, the general rule reserves the first intercession and the
final doxology to the celebrant himself.
The Fraction, Consignation, Intinction,
Commixture, and Elevation
This rite is complicated, yet complete in itself; through
symbolic actions, it embodies all that has preceded, particularly the death and
resurrection of the Lord. In the narrative of the eucharistic institution, the Church
remembers the Last Supper of the Lord, His passion and saving death. With grief, she sings
the story of His passion. She remembers, after that, His resurrection, especially when
invoking the Holy Spirit. In fact, she turns her eyes to the resurrection, for it is the
Holy Spirit who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. He is the living Spirit who provides
life; thus the invocation of the Holy Spirit is a new resurrection achieved through a new
Pentecost. All the above is symbolically embodied by the celebrant in the rite of
fraction, consignation, intinction, commixture and elevation: the bread placed on the
paten has become the Body of the Lord, and the wine in the cup, His blood. The Body and
Blood, separated on the paten and in the cup, symbolize the death of the Lord and His
passion. Likewise, the fraction [breaking] of the bread symbolizes the death of the Lord
and His passion. The consignation of the Body and Blood symbolizes their unification
accomplished by the Lord, through His death and resurrection, between His divinity and our
humanity. Indeed, the celebrant, in the concluding prayer of this whole rite, states this
when he says: "You have united, O Lord, your divinity with our humanity
Lastly, the celebrant takes the broken bread, the living
Body of the Lord, and places it on the paten, above the cup of the living Blood. He then
elevates them, symbolizing by this elevation the resurrection, ascension, and
glorification of the Lord. This rite takes place before communion, as a preparation for
the community to participate in the life-giving Eucharist. The Eucharist revitalizes the
congregation; it brings a new life to it and makes it an active and living congregation,
witnessing to the living and risen Christ who is for ever glorified.
Preparation for Communion
This is an independent rite; it begins with the Lord's
Prayer and includes penance, contrition, forgiveness, imposition of the hand, and
absolution. For the conscientious community, this is a rite of communal penance for the
absolution of sins, those sins which do not require an individual confession through the
Mystery of Penance. With confession itself, this rite becomes and true and complete rite.
In fact, the Mystery of Penance is but a rite of admission of sins, contrition for them,
and absolution received through the power bestowed upon the priest by the Lord Jesus. All
these elements are found in this rite. We must clarify this point in order to encourage
the faithful to participate in the communion, without having to confess their sins, except
in the case when more serious sins urge the necessity of confession through the Mystery of
The Lord's Prayer
The congregation either recites or sings the Lord's
Prayer, with extended hands. It is placed in the Qurbono, for through it, we ask
for bread and forgiveness: "Give us our daily bread and forgive us our
trespasses". The Lord's Prayer is truly a complete act of contrition. The extending
of hands is a sign of supplication and petition for pardon. The following prayer has the
The Bowing of the Heads
The deacon warns the faithful to bow their heads before
the merciful Lord in order to receive His blessing. This warning enforces the importance
of the action for which we prepare ourselves, that is penance before communion.
The celebrant greets the congregation with peace; he
places his right hand over the people and gives them the blessing, accompanied by prayer.
This prayer changes according to each anaphora; however, the meaning remains the same:
"Bless, O Lord, your people
make us worthy to participate in these mysteries
May the holy Mysteries be for the forgiveness of our sins
The celebrant concludes the prayer of imposition of the
hand with a Trinitarian blessing. The deacon once more addresses the faithful with another
call for penance and for mercy from the Lord, in preparation for the great event, that is
Invitation for Communion
At this point, all that is left for the celebrant to do
is to invite the congregation to receive the Mysteries. He elevates the consecrated
offerings and proclaims; "Holy things for the holy". The expression is crystal
clear and very ancient, dating back to the Didache in the second century. The
"holy" intended here are those who are sanctified by baptism. They are the true
"Christians" who bear this name with truth and merit. The response to the
invitation is also crystal clear because their holiness is but a reflection of the
holiness of the Trinity over them: "One Holy Father, one Holy Son, one Holy
blessed be the name of the Lord
Conclusion of the Rite of Preparation for
The rite of preparation for communion is concluded with a
prayer: "Make us worthy, O Lord God, to sanctify
" This prayer previously
was a silent prayer reserved to the celebrant alone. We desired it here to be a public
prayer for the whole congregation, in order to incite all the faithful to approach Holy
The celebrant receives communion first, then his
assistant ministers, and lastly the congregation. The distribution of communion has varied
according to times and places. Communion under the two species of bread and wine, as
willed by Christ, was the constant rule, unless particular circumstances required
otherwise. It is difficult today for the congregation to receive the Blood directly from
the same cup or from the same spoon. The current practice for communion - it is not the
only one - consists in dipping the Body into the cup and giving communion to the faithful
directly in the mouth.
There is another form of distribution for communion; to
let the faithful personally take the Body from the paten and dip it into the cup. But it
is difficult to make this a general norm, especially in the presence of a large crowd of
During communion, the congregation sings traditional and
well-known hymns. They may also, during the memorial of the faithful departed, sing in
Syriac and Arabic [and English] the traditional strophes proper to the occasion. People
like these strophes for their simplicity and beauty. There are many hymns appropriate for
communion, some of them old and some new.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving
After communion the celebrant says a prayer of
thanksgiving; it varies according to the anaphora, yet the meaning remains the same. It
consists in giving thanks to the Lord for the great gift He has granted us, that is His
Body and Blood.
The Prayer of Blessing
The celebrant greets the congregation with peace; he
places his right hand over them while he recites a prayer which varies according to the
anaphora. This was the way Christian gatherings in which the faithful were given the
blessing of the celebrant were concluded. Then the celebrant recites the prayer of
conclusion whose purpose is to mark the faithful with the sign of the holy Cross.
The celebrant dismisses the congregation inviting them to
"Go in peace
May the blessing of the Most Holy Trinity be with you."
Farewell to the Altar
The celebrant bids farewell to the altar with affection.
He kisses it with fervor, praying: "Remain in peace, O altar of God
I know not
whether I will be able to return to you again to offer sacrifice." This is a
well-known, ancient, and venerable prayer.
The End of the Qurbono
The celebrant and his assistants return in procession to
where they came from; the congregation sings and the bells ring. The Qurbono
comes to an end in the church, but will be perpetuated in the life of the faithful.
Indeed, they were enriched by the Eucharist, so that they might be able to pursue the
journey, awaiting for another Qurbono, in order to be again enriched by the
Eucharist. This will go on till the end of their life, when they will participate for ever
in the heavenly banquet of the Lord.
The liturgy in general, and the liturgy of the Qurbono,
in particular, is an earthly image which reflects among us the liturgy in heaven. The
word, the music, the light, the gestures, the vestments, the prayers, the hymns, the
presence of God in the heart of the congregation; all these invite us to get close to God
who establishes His dwelling in our midst. The main thing is to pay our pastoral attention
to liturgical matters and to give them the necessary seriousness and preparation in order
that we be worthy of the Divine Lamb.
Let us not celebrate the Qurbono unless we
prepare for it. The priest cannot celebrate the Qurbono as if he were alone. The Qurbono
is a communal action. The community must take part in it and the priest must make
them participate in it. From now on, every parish should prepare a complete team for the
celebration of the Qurbono: deacon, cantor, reader, server, choir, congregation,
and as their leader, the priest celebrant. If all participate, all will benefit and God
will be in all.
The Book of the New Text of the Qurbono
This book represents a common task achieved by the
Patriarchal Commission on Liturgy, for the welfare of the Maronite Church, in the East as
well as in the West. It is an instrument of unification for the gathering of the Maronites
wherever they live. The Commission on Liturgy has worked with one heart, with
determination and love, representing all dioceses, religious orders, and people; likewise
may this new book be for all dioceses, religious orders, and people a sign of eternal love
and a pledge of total unity.
A Word of Appreciation for the Commission on
A word of appreciation for the members of the Commission
on Liturgy is overdue. They are the Reverend Fathers: Youhanna Tabet, Emmanuel Khoury
(+1993), Sem'an Atallah, Youssef Merhej, and Augustin Mouhanna. This commission worked
unceasingly during many years, from the beginning of this liturgical endeavor until now. A
special word of gratitude goes to the Secretary of the Commission, Rev. Fr. Youhanna
Tabet, and to all his associates in the Department of Liturgy of the University of the
Holy Spirit in Kaslik. Another word of thanks is directed to the Lebanese Missionary
Fathers who committed themselves to the printing, publication, and distribution of this
May the blessing of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son
and Holy Spirit, the One God, be with us all. Amen.
on the feast of the Disciples of our Father Saint Maron,
31 July 1992
+ Boutros Gemayel
Archbishop of Cyprus for the Maronites
Chairman, Patriarchal Commission on Liturgy
English translation by Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi
Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn
reprinted with permission