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Indian Catholicism #41880 07/13/03 12:49 AM
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PaxTecvm Offline OP
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This may or may not be the poper forum in which to address these questions. Still, I know that this board is frequented by Catholics from other Eastern traditions that the Greek and Slav, and so perhaps some knowledge is had of these, concering Indian Catholicism:

1) Why are there two autonomous Indian ritual churches: the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankar; what's the difference, both in what they are and how they came to be?

2) I recently found out that there's a Syro-Malabar congregation meeting at a Latin Catholic parish down here in South Florida. I do wish to worship with them one Sunday. Before I go, I would like to know if anyone can tell me what to expect, as well as what etiquette Ishould observe. For example, how do they cross themselves, how do I receive communion, etc?

3) How Latinized is the Syro-Malabar church? I've seen a couple of pics online, and they look very Latin; in fact, some look veryvery Modernist Latin. Are these flukes, or the norm?

4) Is there an English translation of their liurgy available online for me to print or download, in case there aren't any "Syro-Malabar Missals" at the parish I go to?

Thank you for your assistance. God bless you all and keep you.

Re: Indian Catholicism #41881 07/13/03 01:32 AM
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Jenny Offline
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Hi Pax!

I'm also in Ft. Lauderdale. I don't know anything about Indian Catholicism, so I can't answer your questions, but I would love to know in what parish the Syro-Malabar are worshipping.

In Christ,

Jenny

Re: Indian Catholicism #41882 07/13/03 01:35 AM
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PaxTecvm Offline OP
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Saint Maximillian Kolbe Church in Pembroke Pines has a Syro-Malabar "Mass" every Sunday at 4:00.

I might go next week; let me know if you're going.

Here's the address:

701 North Hiatus Road
Pembroke Pines, Florida 33026

Here's a map:

http://www.miamiarch.org/locator/pmapview.cfm?p_id=71

The parish itself is Modernist; I don't know about the Syro-Malabar community.

Re: Indian Catholicism #41883 07/13/03 01:41 AM
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Jenny Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by PaxTecvm:
Saint Maximillian Kolbe Church in Pembroke Pines has a Syro-Malabar "Mass" every Sunday at 4:00.

I might go next week; let me know if you're going.

Here's the address:

701 North Hiatus Road
Pembroke Pines, Florida 33026

Here's a map:

http://www.miamiarch.org/locator/pmapview.cfm?p_id=71

The parish itself is Modernist; I don't know about the Syro-Malabar community.
Thanks for the info! I think I might be able to go on the 20th. I'll definitely let you know.

In Christ,

Jenny

Re: Indian Catholicism #41884 07/13/03 01:42 AM
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PaxTecvm Offline OP
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It'll be good to be able to go with another cracker. wink

Re: Indian Catholicism #41885 07/13/03 03:17 AM
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Dear Pax:

Again I think it would make things easier if you were to deal in specifics rather than vague generalities. What exactly do you mean by Latinized and modernist?

Re: Indian Catholicism #41886 07/13/03 05:10 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by PaxTecvm:
concerning Indian Catholicism:

1) Why are there two autonomous Indian ritual churches: the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankar; what's the difference, both in what they are and how they came to be?
Greetings all,

While I am no expert on this topic I have always been interested in Indian Christianity, particularly because they make some very credible claims to Apostolic origin. This amazed me so much years ago that I have always maintained an interest in their churches.

I would hope that a knowledgeable Indian Christian would venture on to this topic to correct my errors and suppositions but I will try to address this question.

The region of Malabar at the extreme southern end of India is pretty tropical and an ideal area for growing certain plants like peppers. From ancient, even pre-Roman Empire times a vigourous trade was carried across the Indian ocean from places in the Middle East such as Egypt, Israel and Mesopotamia and also at some time the African coast, Arabic coast of Yeman and Oman, etc. and Persia. Traders would have to round that southern tip of India to get to points further east and the whole coastline must have been visited by boats stopping off for provisions. We know the area as the Kerala coast and the whole stretch of coastline south of Mumbai (Bombay) is the Malabar Coast.

Apparently in Roman times there were colonies of Jews in the region with synagogs. It shouldn't be a surprise due to the trade, there were probably a few other foreign minorities there as well. The local Jews today are called Cochini Jews and were reputed to be regarded as an upper caste.

Saint Thomas is believed to have come to the area in his journeys, he preached the Gospel there and established some church communities, my guess would be the first converts were Jews but who can say? I am not sure what the Mar Thomas Christians think about that theory. Thomas later moved inland and was killed at or near Madras. I guess he really did try to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

The Thomas Christians (as they refer to themselves) have a legend about a second Thomas who led a colony of seventy (I think) Christian families to the region at a later date. So there we have two legends, both having a Thomas as the principal figure and both of which may be true. This immigrant group came from a port of Chaldea-Mesopotamia (Iraq) but may have originated further inland. They are believed to have been Jewish Christians, from the time when that was still a quite real possibility.

To this day there is a Jewish Christian group in India called the Knanaya Christians. They are endogamous which means they do not mix with other ethnic groups, nevertheless in the pictures I have seen they don't look much different from other Kerala Indians to me but they are very serious about this. Rome has even given them a diocese of their own! So just as with the Felasha Jews of Ethiopia one has to keep an open mind about such things.

From the earliest days the ecclesiastical ties were with the Chaldean Patriarchs of the East-Syrian tradition. This means that they were probably on the Nestorian side of that early schism although we could not know how much they were influenced by it. The contact with Chaldea must have been difficult after the Muslim conquests since the Indians were beyond the Muslim zone and Mesopotamia was continually occupied.

The Kerala Christians were of the Syro-Malabar type in our current terminology and were supposed to have been largely autonomous from the Patriarch during that period. The arrival of the Portuguese messed all that up. The Portuguese pretty much had a church of their own at the time, the King of Portugal ran the church like an agency of the state, although they did not differ in theology from other Roman Catholics.

The Portuguese opted for total control and began a process that alienated the majority of native Christians. These rebelled and it took some serious mission work to reconcile most of the parishes back with Rome. Those that would not reconcile to Rome needed bishops. They got the best response from the Jacobite Patriarchs of Jerusalem, a West-Syrian tradition and Monophysites. Eventually the West-Syrian liturgical practices and Jacobitism became the norm for these communities.

The Portuguese were expelled by the Dutch and the British. In the next era all these Christians had to face the influence of Protestant missionaries and a Mar Thoma protestant church was eventually created.

Very recently, around 1930 a group of West-Syrian Jacobites entered into communion with the Catholic Churches (for this group historically, a second time) and are known today as the Syro-Malankar church. They were allowed to keep their liturgy and the bishops were confirmed in their sees. Their numbers are much smaller than the Syro-Malabars.

The difference between the two groups then would be East-Syrian vs West-Syrian liturgical practices. But they share a common history until the sixteenth century. The Syro-Malabar church has a bishop in Bellwood, IL. I am not sure if the Syro-Malankar church has a hierarchy in the USA.

Quote
Originally posted by PaxTecvm:

3) How Latinized is the Syro-Malabar church? I've seen a couple of pics online, and they look very Latin; in fact, some look veryvery Modernist Latin. Are these flukes, or the norm?
It is possible that they need to find facilities on a tight budget and must settle for whatever they can get right now. The proper way to view the church would be to get a look at their temples/churches in India.

I really don't think we can judge this group with our common Byzantine/Latin yardstick. Our ideas of what is or is not appropriate to a tradition or desirable or deplorable can go right out the window with these Christians.

As far as latinizations I could not say, they may indeed appear to have adopted many Latin or modern practices or vestments or architecture but there is such a thing as normal development in a church. It would be hard for someone looking in from the outside and say that this or that thing does not belong or is not appropriate to them. Especially if they themselves are content with it.

If we found out that they had an iconostasis we might say "hey, cool, they have an iconstasis too!" and not realize it's a borrowing and happily incorporated by them. Likewise if we see stained glass windows we might think "latinization = bad" when in fact it might be nothing of the sort.

For instance, if you carry that argument far enough the Syro-Malankar church might be compelled to drop their West-Syrian identity and restore the East-Syrian liturgical practices. That would basically wipe out their identity as a church and I don't think they are interested in that.

In Christ,
Michael

Re: Indian Catholicism #41887 07/13/03 11:39 PM
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Dear Friends,

I know a little something about this. wink For the most part, Coalesco's post is correct, and so I will try not to repeat things.

I recently found out that there's a Syro-Malabar congregation meeting at a Latin Catholic parish down here in South Florida. I do wish to worship with them one Sunday. Before I go, I would like to know if anyone can tell me what to expect, as well as what etiquette Ishould observe. For example, how do they cross themselves, how do I receive communion, etc?

If you have been to this church by now, you will know that, as far as etiquette goes, it is pretty much the same as the Latin Church. The Sign of the Cross is the same, Communion is given with hosts (the only time I've been to one of these Liturgies it was done through intinction). I don't know about genuflections; I presume not.

How Latinized is the Syro-Malabar church? I've seen a couple of pics online, and they look very Latin; in fact, some look veryvery Modernist Latin. Are these flukes, or the norm?

Well, this gets to the heart of the matter. When the Portuguese came in and took in many of the Indian Christians following the East Syrian rite, they gave them the "Tridentine" Mass in Syriac, which was later changed to the same Mass in Latin. This did not last long, and the people got their old Liturgy back, but in a "cleaned up" version. Any perceived Nestorianisms were purged, the formula of consecration of the Roman Canon was added to the Anaphora of Mar Addai and Mar Mari, vestments were Latin, etc. In more recent days, since the Vatican is keen on restoring Eastern traditions (or rather, getting the Eastern Catholic Churches to return to them), there has been a struggle in that Church regarding liturgical matters. The bishops are in favour of returning to Eastern (in this case, Assyrian) usages. The priests and laity, for the most part, are interested in an indigenous "Indian" rite. They seem to think that the move to become more "Chaldean" is an attempt to put the Malabar Catholic Church under the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, and they wish to be independent of them as a Major Archiepiscopal Church. On the other hand, because the Portuguese burned all of our liturgical books, we have no idea what the actual indigenous Indian rite looked like (in all likelihood, it was the Assyrian rite, with much inculturation...how that took form is up to debate, and thanks to the Portuguese, no one really knows). The "indigenous Indian rite" they want to follow is nothing more than a Latinised Chaldean Liturgy. Rome is supporting the Malabar Synod, the priests and people are largely opposing both the Synod and Rome for trying to subordinate their Church to another, while on the other hand desiring what amounts to "legalised Latinisation" (pardon the expression). It is a tough situation.

At the services I've been to (in India), the churches were very Portuguese/Spanish looking. The Liturgy was celebrated on an altar facing the people. Statues of Roman saints abound, as well as the Stations of the Cross. The vestments are Syrian, except for the stole, which is Latin (but perhaps this is something genuine to the Assyrian tradition?). Communion--hosts and intinction. No incense, although, to my surprise, no pews.

I haven't seen very many of their churches in this country. Usually, I know there are communities that have services in Roman parishes, and some Roman parishes...look less Roman than they should. Perhaps those communities with their own church buildings also look like that? It wouldn't surprise me. That's what some of the RC churches here look like. And in India, the Malabar churches look like what the RC churches there look(ed) like.

Is there an English translation of their liurgy available online for me to print or download, in case there aren't any "Syro-Malabar Missals" at the parish I go to?

There is an Eastern Catholic site with a lot of music on it, I don't have the URL, but I seem to recall they had the English translation of their Liturgy there. Perhaps someone knows the site I'm talking about and will provide the link.

Saint Thomas is believed to have come to the area in his journeys, he preached the Gospel there and established some church communities, my guess would be the first converts were Jews but who can say? I am not sure what the Mar Thomas Christians think about that theory.

It is possible, but I've never heard of that. But I am not familiar with some points of the early history. Mar Thoma did convert several Hindu families, though, baptising them and ordaining some of them to lead the Church.

The Thomas Christians (as they refer to themselves) have a legend about a second Thomas who led a colony of seventy (I think) Christian families to the region at a later date. So there we have two legends, both having a Thomas as the principal figure and both of which may be true. This immigrant group came from a port of Chaldea-Mesopotamia (Iraq) but may have originated further inland. They are believed to have been Jewish Christians, from the time when that was still a quite real possibility.

::Cough:: They are true. smile

The "second" Thomas is Knai Thoma, "Thomas of Cana".

From the earliest days the ecclesiastical ties were with the Chaldean Patriarchs of the East-Syrian tradition. This means that they were probably on the Nestorian side of that early schism although we could not know how much they were influenced by it. The contact with Chaldea must have been difficult after the Muslim conquests since the Indians were beyond the Muslim zone and Mesopotamia was continually occupied.

The Kerala Christians were of the Syro-Malabar type in our current terminology and were supposed to have been largely autonomous from the Patriarch during that period.


The Indian Church was relatively independent. Bishops came from "over there" in order to oversee things and ordain, etc. Contacts were made with Assyrian and Syrian (Orthodox) bishops, although I do not think you can call the Indian Church at that time "under" either one or the other. It's debatable, though, and I readily admit that. It gets confusing.

The Portuguese opted for total control and began a process that alienated the majority of native Christians. These rebelled and it took some serious mission work to reconcile most of the parishes back with Rome.

The cynic in me wonders what exactly this "mission work" consisted of. I think, for example, of Mor Hidayatullah, Patriarch of Antioch, who visited India upon hearing of the troubles brewing there (the Syrian Orthodox patriarchs of Antioch always regarded the Indian Church as falling under the jurisdiction of the Catholicosate of the East, which indeed it was, but both Nestorians and Orthodox claimed this title; the Orthodox claimant was the Maphrian, and the See was moved, I think to Tigris). He was kidnapped by the Portuguese and thrown in the Arabian Sea with a millstone tied to his neck. Other bishops were similarly dealt with. Then the Latin missionaries went about saying that without bishops, there were no valid orders, and so the sacraments were invalid, etc., and this worried the people. "But, not to worry...WE have valid bishops!"

I'll ignore the remarks referring to the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch as Monophysite. wink

The Malankara Catholics have an apostolic visitor for the US, I think his name is H.E. Isaac Mor Cleemis (Clement).

Re: Indian Catholicism #41888 07/14/03 01:50 AM
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Dear Mor Ephrem,
Thank you for your corrections. I apologize if I may offended you anyone else. smile

I always appreciate your well written and informative posts.

In Christ,
Michael

Re: Indian Catholicism #41889 07/14/03 02:47 PM
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Dear Friends,

For us Canucks up here, "Indian Catholics" are Native Canadians who are Catholic, whose ancestors were converted by the Jesuit Missionaries and their successors wink

The Jesuits are even developed a "Native Rite" in Manitoulin that will involved the peace-pipe and other Native traditions.

Alex

Re: Indian Catholicism #41890 07/15/03 01:18 AM
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Some Liturgical Texts for the Indian Churches are at:

http://www.homestead.com/Easterncatholichymns/SpasiHospodi.html

Quote
Originally posted by Mor Ephrem:


Is there an English translation of their liurgy available online for me to print or download, in case there aren't any "Syro-Malabar Missals" at the parish I go to?

There is an Eastern Catholic site with a lot of music on it, I don't have the URL, but I seem to recall they had the English translation of their Liturgy there. Perhaps someone knows the site I'm talking about and will provide the link.

Re: Indian Catholicism #41891 07/15/03 01:55 AM
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here is a really good site on indian christianity in general including catholic and orthodox.

http://www.indianchristianity.org/catholic.html

Re: Indian Catholicism #41892 07/15/03 02:56 AM
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I'm sorry if this is drifting, but here in the (Roman Catholic) Diocese of Nashville there are about 4 or 5 Syro-Malabar Carmelites that are pastors/associate pastors of Latin parishes.

They have established a Carmelite 'spirituality center,' but I have yet to learn whether or not they celebrate their own liturgy there.

I had breakfast with one of them once and when I asked him whether he ever got to celebrate the liturgy of his Church, he indicted that he had recently at a sort of conference of other Syro-Malabar priests serving in the US (all Carmelites I think). In their parishes they celebrate (obviously) the Latin rite.

Perhaps someone will know the answer to this: it part of the charism of these Syro-Malabar Carmelites to go and serve where needed, or is this an odd occurence of Eastern Catholic priests being "imported" to serve Latin parishes in light of the shortage of Latin priests?

In Iesu et Maria,
Justin


The "Tridentine" Mass..the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.
Re: Indian Catholicism #41893 07/15/03 05:29 AM
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I don't know the answer to your question, Justin, but I do know that here in the S.F. Bay Area there are a number of Malabar Jesuits who are either filling in at Latin parishes or studying at the Jesuit school in Berkeley. So it would seem that this isn't just the Carmelites.
One of the priests said he was in a Latin Parish for the time being because he didn't want to return to India until the hot summer was over!

Re: Indian Catholicism #41894 07/15/03 09:58 AM
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Hi everyone!

This topic is very interesting but I really cannot contribute much here except for the 2 links below:

http://www.malankara.net [Syro-Malankara Church]

http://www.thesyromalabarchurch.org [Syro-Malabar Church]

God bless all of us!

Pray for me, a sinner!
Antonio

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