1. The Church or the House of God
In olden days the Holy Qurbana was celebrated in houses and caves. But later on according to Jewish tradition separate places was set apart as church. There are four parts for it.
(1) Holy Sanctuary (Madbaha) (Holy of Holies)
(2) Place inside the rails (Azhikakam) (Holy place)
(3) Nave (Hykala) (Main Hall for Congregation)
(4) Portico (Northex) (Poomukham) (Place for gentiles)
Portico is not seen in all churches. In the Jewish churches the Holy of Holy place is at the extreme west where as the Madbaha which is equivalent to the Holy of Holy places is on the extreme east. There is so much difference.
2.The Holy Sanctuary (Madbaha)
Here there is an altar, a table of sacrifice. In the Madbaha there is censer, a cross instead of the budded staff of Aaron, Paten and Chalice in the place of the life giving Manna and the vessels of sacrifice, burning candles to lighten the vessels of sacrifice as the glorious Ark like cherubims overshadowing the covenant box. (heb: 9:4- 5).The Madbaha is depicted as equivalent to Golgatha. It is compared as the Mount of Sinai where God descended down and visited. It is also compared to paradise where there is tree of life and unending songs of the sacred congregation. Above all it is held as heaven itself.
3. The Veil (Altar Curtain)
The Veil, which separates the Madbaha and the Hykala, signifies the sky, which separates the Heaven and Earth.
4. The Equipments :
The meaning of the word is ‘throne’. There are also such names as ‘Table of life, tomb of the Lord. The step (Darga) infront of the altar signifies the mansion of Sehion where Old Testament gave way to New Testament.
b. Thablitho (the portable altar)
This is a piece of wooden slab upon which the paten and the Chalice are placed. It can also be made of marble slab. Wood is better. If it is wood, it should be made of tree which contains a kind of milky or oily substance. Jack wood slab is used ordinarily. Teak and Rose wood etc. Are not used. It will have only 18 inches long and 9 inches broad. Though there is no altar, the Holy Qurbana can be celebrated any where with this slab. With out this, the Qurbana cannot be celebrated.
It is depicted as the tree of life in the Paradise of Aden. This is to be consecrated only at the time of Consecration of a church. At any time it cannot be consecrated.
On this slab silk covering in red, green and white in colors are spread one above the other, upon which the Paten and the Chalice are placed. The red colour represents the Omnipresence of God on all universe, Green the world and white the church. Only one Qurbana can be celebrated on one tablitho, on the same day.
c. The Cross
The Cross installed in the middle and top most part, signifies the budded staff of Aaron. It reminds that we are protected from Satan in a wondrous way.
Candles are lighted on the altar (Mathew: 5:14) Seven based on the golden lamb of Jerusalem Temple or 12 representing the apostles. It reminds us the saying of our Lord “ I am the light of the world”. John 1:8, 8:12. The apostles lighted so many lambs when they were meeting to break bread. Acts 20:8. It reminds us that like these candlesticks our souls should also be lighted brightly by Holy Spirit.
e. Chithola (The covering of the Altar)
It is a beautiful covering decorating the altar. It represents the winding sheet in which the body of our Lord was wrapped at the time of burial.
f. Chalice (Kasa)
It is a cup of sacrifice, to keep wine, with a stand to handle.
g. Paten (Peelasa)
A flat plate of sacrifice to keep the bread
h. Spoon (Tharvodo)
It is used to take wine to pour over the bread.
i. Star (Astaric - Kavukubo)
This is a support in the sign of cross over the Paten so that the covering over it may not touch the holy body. It represents the star, which appeared over the manger.
j. Viri Kottam (Group of coverings)
• Viri- A piece of satin cloth with pieces of different colors stitched together of size 2 ˝ feet or 3 ˝ feet long and wide to cover the Tablitho.
• Shooshepo (Sosaffa) (Air) It is a white cloth to cover both the Chalice and Paten. It signifies the swaddling clothes of Baby Jesus in the manger (Luke : 2:7). The seamless clothes (garment with out stitches) of our Lord (John 19:23). It also signifies the light called “Shekina” over the mercy seat or covenant box. (Numbers 9:15) More over it is considered as the bright cloud that overshadowed at the time of transfiguration. (Mathew 7:15). We can think that the glorious veil covering the ministry of the spirit, in the Old Testament which is not removed for long is removed in Christ. 2 cor: 3: 7-18). When it is covered by the Shoosepo, one corner is folded up. This signifies the transformation of the Old Testament to New Testament .
This is a piece of cloth to cover the Chalice and Paten separately when they are not covered together with Shooshepo.
• Gmurtho (Small Cushion)
It is used for placing the spoon. It is also used to wipe the lips of children after communion. It is equivalent to the tongs with which the Seraphims took the live coal. (Isa: 6:6)
It is used to wipe the priest’s fingers which touched the Holy articles. Also it is used to wipe the vessels of sacrifice.
p. Gospel Stand (Lectern)
It is decorative table to place the Holy Bible. It depicts the sermon of mount of our Lord. This also depicts as the second altar in the Madbaha.
q. The Censer (Doopakutti)
This vessel which brings forth sweet smell of incense represents the church. It makes us to remember the dedication of oneself to God. (Eph: 5:2) “ He gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. It also makes the worship heavenly. Rev 8:3-4 “ Another angel who had a golden censer came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints went up before God from the angels hand”. The lower cup of the censor represents the earth and the upper cup the heaven. The chain represents the Holy Trinity. Two chains represent the Human and Godly nature of the Son .One for the Father and the other for the Holy Spirit. The 12 bells represent the 12 apostles. The 72 links stands for 72 evangelists. The charcoal represents sinners. Fire represents the Holy Spirit and the Frank-incense good deeds. The incense shows the grace of the Holy Trinity. As the smoke goes up to the high so also our prayers should go high (Psalm 141:2). The censer in a silent language exhorts us to please others by filled up with the glorifying fire of the Holy Spirit. (Hebrew 12 :29)
At certain time when worship is going on the altar, two persons standing on both sides make jingling and pleasing sound by shaking a round object on the top of a long stick. It represents the angels and the fluttering of their wings.
It is a beautifully decorated box round in shape with rays alround to preserve the Holy Qurbana for days and days. This is not seen in all churches. This signifies that Christ resides with us always (Mathew 28:20)
t. Hand bell
The deacons use this to proclaim the important occasions. Occasions (1) When informing the Holy birth at the start of the Holy Qurbana. (2) When we say “ Oh thou who was crucified for us” three times. (3) At the time of reading of the Gospel. (4) Blessing of the Censer. (5) Celebration of the shooshepo. (6) Waving the hands over the Qurbana. (7) Blesses the bread. (8) Again when the priest raises his hands. (9) Waves hand over the Paten and Chalice . (10) In the midst of the song “Hearken, gracious Lord”. (11) Elevation of Paten and Chalice. (12) Proceeds towards the west with Paten and Chalice.
u. Big bell
It is used to inform the time of the worship and to make us to remember the important occasions in between the worship. This bell is fixed at the top of the church. We should make the sign of the cross when we hear the sound of the bell considering it as the bugle sound of salvation. The sound of the bell attracts the believers to the church like the bugle sound of the Shepherd which attracts all the scattered sheep together or like the sound of the mother bird which attracts the young ones to the protection under her wings. The wise, when he hears the sound hasten to the Holy place with enthusiasm.Occasions to use:- (1) Before the start of the worship the first bell rings 33 times, in remembrance of the age of our Lord. (2) The Second bell informs that the worship will start soon. (3) When the Qurbana starts publicly. (4) At the elevation of the Paten and Chalice. (5) When proceeds towards the west with the Paten and the Chalice.
In the celebration of Holy Qurbana the priest wears 8 and the Bishop wears 12 pieces of vestments.
1. The white robe denotes original purity
2. The black robe (the Kootheeno) (Black cassock) denotes the sinful nature.
3. The surplice (the white robe) denotes that the sins are cleansed and made white and bright by the blood of Christ and it reminds us to worship the Lord in holiness.
4. The stole (Hamniya) the two ends of the Oororo which the deacons wore over the shoulders are stitched together and put over the neck to hang down to the front. It is the gird of strength to defend the attack of enemies. (Psalm 18: 39-40) and the breast plate of righteousness (Ephe: 6:14) It is also said to be the wings of angels and the breast plate of Aaron
5. The Girdle (the belt) It is the belt or sword upon the thigh to fight against Satan. (Psalm 45:3) Job 38:3 It is the belt of truth buckled around his waist. (Eph 6:14)
6. The sleeves (The zindo) wears on both hands. It denotes the hands are extended for righteousness and good works (Psalm 18:34-35)
7. The Chasuble or cope (Kappa) (Phino) It is the ecclesiastical outer vestment wore over all other garments. The priests are clothed with righteousness. (Psalm 132:9-10) It is the robe of glory and salvation. It denotes the precious robe of Aaron the robe of angels of heaven, the robe of the Lord, the mantle of Elijah.
8. The Shoes It is the fitted feet of the gospel of peace (Eph : 6:15) (Isai 52:7) (2 cor : 10:5)
The Bishop’s special additional vestments
9. Sheelamudi It denotes that the blessings of the Holy spirit is the Bishop
10. Pallium (Patraseen) A garment wears over the cope or Kappa to the front and to the back. It denotes that he is the watcher of sacrament and faith. (Exodus 28:6-12). Also it declares that he is the ruler of the church. Further it denotes the protection in the shadow of the Tabernacle. (Psalm 27:5)
11. The crosier (The pastoral staff) This is the mighty scepter extended from Zion by the Lord (Psalm 110:2) It makes evident that he has the authority like the shepherd,. This is equivalent to the rod of Moses and Aaron.
12. The cross (Sleeba) It reveals the perfection of the sacrament in the Holy Church (Psalm 34:5) “Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame”. Like this those who look at the cross will be strengthened, enemies pushed back, foes trampled upon (Psalm 44:5)