KOCHI: The Synod of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church on Friday decided to implement the uniform way of conducting the Holy Mass across its churches from November 28 this year that marks the beginning of the next liturgical calendar in the Church.
The complete transformation of the Holy Mass, in the new format, will be in place from Easter Sunday, 2022.
As per the newly approved format, the celebrant of the Mass would face the faithful during the introductory part, during the Liturgy of the Word (three readings of the Bible), and during the concluding part.
The celebrant would face the altar during the Anaphora (the Liturgy of the Eucharist). Simply put, for most parts of the Holy Mass, the celebrant would be facing the altar.
The second summit of the 29th Synod of the Church, held through the online platform, concluded on Friday. In the post-synod statement, the Church said that the bishops of the Church have decided to conduct the new mode of Holy Mass from November 28 itself.
Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church, which has about 42.5 lakh people across the world, has been facing division over the mode of celebrating the Holy Mass more than 20 years after the Synod of Bishops agreed to standardize the Eucharistic Liturgy.
As per the statement, in dioceses where it is difficult to implement the newly-approved format all at once, the standardized format should be implemented at least in Cathedrals, pilgrim centres, minor seminaries and possible parishes from November 28.
"By spreading proper awareness about the liturgy, the new unified way of celebrating the mass should be implemented in all churches in dioceses by at least April 17, 2022, the Easter Sunday," the statement said.
The decision to unify the mode of celebrating the mass was initially taken in the 1999 synod of the Church. The present Synod’s decision to implement a uniform way was taken in the aftermath of receiving a letter from the Pope, exhorting all to proceed to prompt implementation of the uniform mode of celebrating the Holy Qurbana.
Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese to file complaint to Pope
The priests of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese opposed the implementation of the new mode of celebrating the Holy Mass without proper discussions. With the Synod's decision out, they have decided to file a complaint against the Synod's decision to the Pope.
"We strongly believe that Pope Francis will never support an attempt to destroy the unity of the Church for enforcing a uniform style. Based on the complaint by the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese and other dioceses, where the mass has been going on facing the people, there will a suitable solution," said Fr Jose Vailikodath, in a statement representing a body of priests in the Ernakulam Angamaly archdiocese.
The Church in the statement said that the Synod considered the Pope's letter as a response from God to the prayers and research that the Church conducted in the past four decades for reforming the liturgy.
Meanwhile, laity activists of the Ernakulam Angamaly archdiocese in which Mount St Thomas, the headquarters of the Church is located, staged a mock synod and a street play at the entrance of the headquarters to protest against the Synod’s decision to implement the new 50-50 formula.