Liturgical Year of the Chaldean Church
The Mystery of Salvation, accomplished by the Father in Jesus Christ with the work of the Holy Spirit, is wholly and fully re-enacted in every Eucharistic Sacrifice celebrated in the community of the faithful. Every community realizes its own salvation through these acts.
Patriarch Isho-Yahb III has made the arrangement of the liturgical year in 587AD as we know it today. It is crafted in such a way that it begins with the Divine Providence manifested through the advent of our savior and ends with the crowning of salvation, namely, the
perpetual union of the redeemed community, the Church, with its Lord in the eternal bliss. Under this background we may analyze briefly the arrangement and spirit of each period.
Subara, or the Annunciations
The promise of God after the sin of Adam tarts here and the beginning of salvation is recalled in this period. Subara speaks of two things: the gift of God to Mary as choosing her as Mother of Jesus Christ. Then, in connection with this, in order to refine the image of Adam (our Fathers call this the image Holiness). The four Sundays teach the different stories of the Incarnation. Not penitential, but joyful, because God is returning humanity to the original order of holiness! The West focuses more on the corrupted image of Adam, and we focus on the joy that God is redeeming us. From the spirit of the prayers this season does not seem to be one of Penance, however, traditionally it includes a 25-day fast, that the whole Church used to practice.
The season of Subara is composed of four weeks. Subara begins on the 1st of December if it is a Sunday. If the 1st of December falls between Monday-Thursday, the Sunday previous to those days is Subara. If the 1st is Friday or Saturday, the following Sunday is the first. Subara always lies between 11/27 and 12/3.
Yelda, or Nativity
Nativity speaks of the gift from God of Christmas that Jesus is coming to save humanity. Afterward, we congratulate Mary in this season because of her fiat which was the initial act of salvation becoming a reality.
The season of Yelda varies from 1-2 weeks. They are called the 1st after Christmas and the 2nd after Christmas. If Subara begins on Dec. 2nd or 3rd, then there is only one week of Christmas.
Dinha, or Epiphany
Mostly stressed in this season is the Baptism of Christ, wherein we are revealed the mystery of the Trinity in Christ’s humanity, the manifestation of God in the man Jesus of Nazareth. This feast was the first feast in the Eastern Churches because this was the first act of the mission of Jesus. He did not begin His mission for 30 years but until this event. In the prayer for Epiphany we say that the Divinity was mixed with the humanity.
Every Friday is a feast day during this season and all of the Friday feast days are in relation to the Epiphany. The first Friday is the Feast of John the Baptist, because he was the first to witness this manifestation. Followed by Peter & Paul who stand as the pillars of the Church to whom is confided this Mystery to be manifested to generations. The Evangelists are next and are those who recorded this revealed Mystery for future generations. Stephen, the protomartyr, was the first to bear witness to this revelation by the shedding of his blood. The Doctors of the Church taught the people to interpret this revelation authentically. The Patron Saint of each church is a constant inspiration to live and realize this Mystery. The Friday ends with the Feast of those who have departed and who faithfully bore witness to this revelation in their daily life to their death. We move on to fasting in Lent and a considering of how we live this Mystery in our life.
Dinha is from 4-8 weeks. During this season Bautha occurs, always three weeks before Lent. The Sunday previous to Bautha is always the 5th Sunday of Epiphany so the season can conclude on the 7th Sunday. There can be 1-4 Sundays before Bautha, but depends on where Easter falls that year.
This is a penitential mini-season, which is also known as The Supplication of the Ninevites. During this season we recall the preaching of Jonah to the Ninevites. It was a declaration of fasting by the Patriarch so that the Lord will have mercy on His people. The exact origin of Bautha is unknown, but it was started either by Patriarch Elias or Mar Emneh.
Sawma Raba, The Great Lent
During the 7 Sundays, it insists on two or three topics: fasting, praying, and almsgiving, but with more an emphasis on praying and fasting. One prayers from St. Ephrem says, that if you fast only from the meat and don’t pray or fast from sin, you are changing nothing. This is a time for conversion to God. The time of the Great Lent is also an imitation of our Lord’s 40 days spent in the desert after his baptism. The season is specifically dedicated in preparation to the Passion and Death of our Lord. During this season it is good to meditate on the sins of our first parents, our own inclination to sin and its consequences, separation from God, the call to repentance and return, God’s infinite love and mercy, etc. Death especially is one consequence of sin and is good to meditate on for repentance and reconciliation.
The season is 7 weeks. It has always been the case that the fast begins at midnight on Sunday, 50 days before Easter. Anointing with ashes is not an Oriental custom. In fact, we celebrate the First Sunday in Lent the Sunday before the Latin Church celebrates Ash Wednesday.
During Holy Week we follow Jesus’ steps every day in the Gospels. Hosanna Sunday, or Palm Sunday, is the day we focus on the Messianic identity of the Lord as savior and king, hence palms.
On Holy Thursday, we follow him carrying his cross. On Good Friday, we remember His passion. Passover Thursday contains the most solemn Eucharistic celebration, THE MYSTERIES THEMSELVES. Bread and milk would traditionally be eaten in light of the Passover. The bread would have a cross over it when it was baked with the previously blessed palm branches. In ancient times, people used to spend the whole night in prayer in their houses of the church, reading the Bible and singing Psalms. This is to remember the agony of our Lord.
On Passion Friday, we would be encouraged to set all work aside and to spend the whole day in fasting and prayer. We are the only Church that has a reflection on Tatian’s diatessaron because our readings for the liturgy are taken from the diatessaron. The diatessaron was compiled by Tatian, probably written in Aramaic, in an attempt to harmonize the four Gospels in one book. We read this reflection at ramsha, or evening prayer. Ramsha is the most important liturgical celebration this day. A cross would stand in the center, covered in a white cloth with a stole over it. After the Gospel reading, it would be processed to the bema, then washed, then laid there, to show the more intimate participation on the Passion and Death of the Lord. Then Ramsha would be concluded.
On the Saturday of Light, baptisms would be conducted.
The Feast of feasts. This season focuses on the resurrection and the effects of the resurrection. Humanity was taken and held ransom by the devil and Jesus brought and bought humanity back. The price that had to paid was that He had to shed His blood in order to get humanity back. On the Sundays, we speak of strengthening the faith of the apostles. Jesus is trying to make them stable until they have no doubt anymore. The weeks of weeks is Eucharistic centered. We celebrate the victory over death.
This season is 7 weeks. It occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. It cannot fall before March 22. Easter Sunday is always the 1st week. The second Sunday is called New Sunday, but the readings, coincidentally, also reflect Divine Mercy Sunday.
In these Sundays, the office (prayer) of the Church explains that the apostles are taking the mission of Jesus on their shoulders. They are convinced that they have to be witnesses to the world of Jesus Christ only. It was the duty of the Apostles to spread the Word of God and baptize all the nations.
This season is 7 weeks. The first Sunday is also called Pentecost Sunday.
This season is also called (Mhelilayn) “Purify Me” by Patriarch Isho Yab III. The Word of God is spread (sowed) and the world is repenting and coming to the apostles to receive the message of Jesus Christ. Summer is the weather season when the trees and plants flower and produce fruits. It was the mission of those men to clean the world from sin. On these Sundays, wherever there is evil or a sin, they go after to clean and purify it! Why? Because they are waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is a period for preparation for the last judgment. The Transfiguration happens during this period, which is a symbol for that which happens in each individual and in the whole creation by assimilating the salvation accomplished by Christ.
This season is 7 weeks.
Called Elijah because before Jesus comes, we believe Elijah will come again (Revelation). There is a focus on the end times during this feast. The Feast of Elijah leads into the Feast of the Holy Cross, September 14.
During the Feast of the Holy Cross there is a focus on the victory of the cross over the world. It summarizes the whole teaching of Jesus Christ and the Christian must be proud of having a cross of Jesus Christ. We read of the benefit that we receive from the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the sign of God. From the very beginning the Cross was considered a unique symbol of Christian worship as a sign of the historical data of Jesus’ life. It is a theological symbol containing the power of the Resurrection of Christ and his eschatological Coming. It’s the sign of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:30) and the perfection of the Christian life. It is considered to be the expression of the saving power of Christ’s passion. In theological discussions of the Church, it is the tree of life, the stem of Jesse (Christ), staff of comfort (Holy Spirit), Ark of Noah (Church), and more. It gathers all who are north, south, east, & west. In short, from the Early Church until the present day, the Cross is a unique symbol which proclaims the whole salvific action accomplished in Jesus Christ. The Cross is the sign of life in Jesus Christ and thus it is the sign of salvation.
The season of Elijah lasts 4-7 weeks, essentially, as long as it needs to until September 14th, which is the 1st of the Holy Cross (and at the same time the 4th of Elijah). It follows afterwards as the 2nd of the Cross and the 5th of the Elijah, then the 3rd of the Cross and the 6th of Elijah, etc. There is not a fixed number of weeks, because we do not know how late Easter will be.
There are four weeks in the season of Moses. Before concluding the Liturgical year, we sometimes need a couple of Sundays from Moses in order to bring the Old Testament together. Depending on when Easter falls, there is or is not a season of Moses.
Qudesh Edta, Sanctification of the Church
Jesus is coming with His cross to take all of His faithful with Him to heaven. This speaks of the relationship between Jesus and His Church (the bride and the groom). The ritual of the wedding for us is taken from the 4th Sunday of the Church. On that Sunday, the Church speaks about the relation between Jesus and the Church as a model for the husband and wife.
This season is 4 weeks. If the 1st of November is a Sunday, that Sunday will be the 1st dedication of the Church. If the 1st is a Mon-Tues, then it will begin on the Sunday before. If the 1st of Nov. is a Wed- Sat, it begins on the following Sunday.