Leader in Worship

Primary tabs

Question: Respected Thirumeni, What I am raising before Your Grace is a simple silly question which have been haunting me for years and whoever I have discussed this with have not given anything more than beating about the bush. Every time we pray at home, we start the KAUMA with THRITHWA STHUTHI. We laymen are allowed to do it in our personal and family prayers as well as in public prayers. But once the THRITHWA STHUTHI gets translated to Syriac, lay men are not permitted. Deacons are also not permitted. In presence of a Thirumeni, achens are also not permitted. If some achen does it as habit when a Thirumeni is present, he is immediately corrected or stopped by the Thirumeni. Why is this? The " SHUBAHO LABO . . . . ." is nothing but exactly the same as " Pithavinum Puthranum . . . .". Your spiritual son (?), My Reply: Dear (?) Thank you for the mail and query. What you said becomes a question only when we have two languages in our worship. In Syriac tradition, prayers are always (except personal meditations) be corporate and in the context of a community. Prayers, for that tradition, can be begun and lead by the senior-most in the congregation. Suhabo labo, labro, val ruho qadiso is the declaration by the leader for the rest of the community to respond to. The rest of the community responds to it saying, Men olam v'adamo la olam olmin Amin. (from the beginning till eternity it shall be so). This is something like Joshua did when Israel entered in to the land of Canaan (Jos. 24:15 - 16 "... but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Then the people replied ..."). As for Malankara Orthodox Church, we follow the West Syriac tradition in our liturgical life. Congregation in our tradition can be the one in the family, in a Church or in a community. Senior can be the senior in that particular situation. That can be head of the family, head of the congregation or head of the community. When we apply that scheme, whether it is in Malayalam or in any another language, this particular phrase, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" or "Glory be to the Father and to the Son  and to the Holy Spirit" becomes the prerogative of the leader or head of that particular situation, father in the family, episcopo in the congregation, or leader in the community. It does not mean that no one else can say it. It is primarily a question of honoring the position of each and every member in that community and for that matter the leadership of the senior-most in that context . However, if someone says it accidentally or unintentionally, it does not need to be considered as a serious offense or an act of disrespect. Of course any one can say this phrase. But, as in the case of many other things, this is also a question of recognizing and respecting the structure of the community. If we go for a meal with a family in our context, the guest will be at the head of the table. In western culture, the head of the table is reserved for the host. In Kerala in certain region in the northern part, in a marriage feast priority seating will be given not the guests but to the family members. This will be humiliating for some one form another region. It can happen the other way also. Again, the question is which format we follow. Hope I answered your question. Regards and prayers Thirumeni