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Document Details :

Title: West Syrian Commentaries on the Eucharist
Subtitle: A Study of the Methodology
Author(s): VARGHESE, B.
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 56    Issue: 1-4   Date: 2004   
Pages: 271-292
DOI: 10.2143/JECS.56.1.578707

Abstract :
Since the beginning of Christianity, Mystagogia or the exposition of the meaning of the liturgical celebrations, especially those of Baptism and Eucharist, was an integral part of the Christian kerygma. Mystagogia, an introduction or an initiation to the mystery, has two dimensions: celebration of the mystery and its interpretation. They are inseparable. The meaning of a rite is communicated to the faithful primarily by the prayers of the celebration. But an understanding of the rite grew up in the Church along with the development of the liturgy. By the third century, the tradition to give symbolical interpretation to the rites became normal. In the fourth century, we find a distinction between the Catechetical Homilies addressed to the Catechumens and the Mystagogical Catechesis delivered to the neophytes. The subject of the first was the basic Christian doctrines as expressed in the Creed along with a partial exposition of the baptismal rites, whereas in the second type of homilies the sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation and Eucharist were explained. The only West Syrian Catechetical homilies known to us, are those of Severus of Antioch. Though the later West Syrian festal homilies have followed the style of Severus, his Catechetical homilies have not left much traces of influence on the commentaries on baptism.
The West Syrian commentaries on sacraments, with a few exceptions, belong to the category of ‘Mystagogical Commentaries’. West Syrian writers had a special preference for the sacraments of Baptism, Myron and the Eucharist. However, they had written commentaries on different rites such as Ordination, Consecration of the Church, Monastic Profession or Funeral.