Saturday, April 2, 2011

West Syrian Liturgical Theology by Fr. Baby Varghese - Book review

West Syrian Liturgical Theology by Fr. Baby Varghese - Book review

This book is so useful in my eyes to the Church in India than Fr. Alexander Schmemann of eternal memory could write for the OCA.

It made me realize how sinful as a people we the two factions of Malankara with the only difference being who they chose as their Prelate - The Patriach at Syria or the Catholicose of the East in India have become. Our Church from 16th Century atleast could have put to use wonderful experience of the Syrian Church in Liturgy which Fr. Baby Varghese portrays wonderfully in this book. The future on how we live as Church is up to us and pray this book encourages.

For reflection a quote from Introduction and Concluding chapters of the book

" The West Syrian fathers have not given a definition of liturgy. Perhaps it is felt unnecessary to define something self evident, and so intimate to one's experience. For the West Syrians, worship is the vocation of man, the very purpose for which he was created. He was created to live in communion with God, as a liturgical being . This idea is fundamental to understanding the meaning of leitourgia, as lived and expressed by the West Syrian tradition. Liturgy is not something external to Christian witness. It is not an accessory, but an essential element of Christian tradition. It is the very expression of Christian identity. According to West Syrians , to be a Christian means to be a liturgical being. Worship is not a supplementary or practical discipline in the life of a Christian. It is the realization of his vocation.."

" Liturgy is an eschatological act, for the ultimate unity of all in Christ has been manifested in it. Christian eschatology is not future-oriented. It implies that something has been ' restored' in Christ and that it bears the presence of the Spirit. Church and its liturgy are eschatological,because they imply a new relationship in Christ sealed with the permanent presence of the Spirit. It is the presence of the Spirit - a unique characteristic of Christian liturgy,according to the New Testament - that makes liturgy an eschatological act. It is an act in Christ, in the Spirit - an act of the new humanity. Liturgical assembly manifests the Church as the community that incorporates the entire creation,the entire culture and brings them back to God. It manifests the ultimate destiny of each and everything in relation to Kingdom of God. Material objects,gestures, movements,music,art,architecture,poetry and literature serve as 'symbols that reveal the Creator and His infinite wisdom. Liturgy express a whole network of relationships. It celebrates the interdependence and interrelatedness of God, man and the world. The task of liturgical theology is precisely to bring out the implications of these relationships in man's search for the meaning of life "

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