Seasons of Dedication of the church and Annunciation - Nativity
The liturgical year of the Syro-Malabar church begins with the period of Annunciation. The four weeks in preparation to the feast of the Nativity of Jesus, celebrated on 25th December in preparation for Christmas, we call this period "25 days of Lent"
The salvific acts which found fulfillment in Jesus Christ begin with th ebirth of Jesus. This seasons is called 'subbara' in Syriac language. The meaning of this term is 'declaration', 'announcement' etc. What angel Gabriel announced to holy Mary was the greatest glad news to humanity that eagerly waited for the Savior. Thus, this season is developed in the context of the mystery of incarnation completed in the fullness of time. The Church recalls during these days the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist, the predecessor of Jesus, and also the joyful event of the birth of John the Baptist. As a preparation for the celebration of the mystery of incarnation, this season also recalls creation, disobedience of our first parents and its consequences, the miserable state of the broken humanity, the promise of salvation offered by God, God's covenant with humanity, and the prophecies about the Savior. During this season we also meditate on the role of Mary in the history of the plan of salvation.
The readings, prayers and hymns of the season remind us that like the people in the Old Testament who became aware of their miserable conditions and their hope for the Savior, the people of the New Testament also should become aware of their helplessness and sinful situation and walk towards Jesus and give place in their hearts of Jesus to be born. The season of Nativity commemorates the important themes like the birth of Jesus, the visit of Magi, the escape into Egypt, presentation of Jesus in the template and the infancy of Jesus.
Seasons of Epiphany
The word Epiphany is Syriac is known as 'Denha'. It means 'dawn', 'revelation', 'manifestation' etc. In this season, the church recalls the manifestation of Jesus which began with his baptism at Jordan. Jesus reveals Himself to this world; Father and the Holy Spirit witness to it: 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased' (Mt. 3:7). The mystery of the Holy Trinity is revealed at his baptism.
The Feast of Denha which is celebrated on 6th January is called 'Pindikuthiperunnal' by faithful who live in the northern part of Kerala and 'Rakkuli' by people of the south. 'Pindikuthiperunnal' originated from the practice of going around the 'vazhapindi' decorated with lights and singing 'God is light' commemorating Jesus the light of the world. The name 'Rakkuli' came from the ritual bath that our forefathers used to have in the river or pool near by, on the eve of the feast. It was a religious ceremony.
The saints who witnessed the revealed mystery of Christ through their lives and remembered by the church on the Fridays of this season. The most important themes commemorated during these days are the baptism of Jesus, His public life, His divine and human nature, His intimate relation with the Father and the Holy Spirit and his self-emptying love. In this season the Scriptural proclamations (readings) chosen are mainly connected with the public life of Jesus. This period reminds us of the baptism of Jesus and our own baptism and the responsibilities we have undertaken with it. Hence, let us strive hard to know Him more intensely and to live like the children of God during this season.
Seasons of Lent
The passion, dath and resurrection of Jesus mark the climax of His salvific acts. The seven weeks between Denha and the feast of Easter are set apart of prayer, fasting, abstinence and reparation. The bvasis of this lenten season is the forty days fast of Jesus. Still, we call this period 'Anpathu Nombu' (50 days of fasting). Probably, because St. Thomas Christians feasted and abstained from 'pethurtha' Sunday to Easter Sunday. The Syriac term 'pethurtha' means 'returning', 'ceasin' etc. Lent is a season set apart for repentance and reconciliation.
We who became God's children and new creation in baptism drifted away from God by committing sin. During this season we meditate upon man's sin and its consequences, the need for repentance and conversion, the infinite love and mercy of God towards repentance and conversion, the infinite love and mercy of God towards repentant sinners and the passion, death and burial of Jesus Christ. Lenten season calls our attention in a special way to the need of reconciliation with God and fellow beings. Therefore, in this period, the Church persuades the faithful to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
The church reminds us to spend the lenten period in fervent prayers, sincere fasting and generous almsgiving and to eradicate our evil desires.
Like Jesus who conquered death and entered into life, let us also die to sin and enter into eternal life.
Seasons of Resurrection
The season of Resurrection consists of seven weeks from Easter to Pentecost. It is a time of joy recalling the new life obtained through the cross which was a sign of filly becoming the sign of redemption and glory, the resurrection of Christ as a pledge of our resurrection, His resurrection as a basis Christian faith etc.
The early church was administering the sacrament of baptism in connection with Easter. As St. Paul reminds us, 'We are buried therefore resurrection of the Savior. In fact, the prayers and hymns of this period reflect this joy. Some of the important themes of this liturgical season are the resurrection of Christ, his victory over sin, death and Satan, with him by baptism into death, so that as christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in resurrection like his.' (Rom 6:4-5). The week after Easter was set apart for the newly baptized. It is worth imitating this ancient tradition of administering baptism in connection with Easter.
Seasons of Apostles
This season comprises seven weeks from the day of the feast of Pentecost. In this season we give importance to the working of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is a feast intimately connected with history of Salvation. In the Old Testament, we read that the Israelites celebrated Pentecost in connection with harvest. The term 'Pentecost' means 'fifty' - the feast on the fiftieth day. It was a feast of first fruit connected with the harvest. Later this feast turned out to be the commemoration of the covenant by which the Israelites became the people of God.
In the New Testament, this feast is given a new meaning. It was on the fiftieth day after Easter that the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. It is the birthday of the new people of God. On that day, God our Father sealed the new covenant in the Holy Spirit, the personification of love. This covenant is written not on stone tables but in human hearts. It is only after Pentecost that the spirit-filled apostles went around the world with the message of the New Covenant and laid the foundation of the communities of faith. The term 'apostle' means 'one who is sent'. This season reminds us that all those who have received baptism and anointing are 'being sent'. The main themes of this period are work of the Holy Spirit, deep relationship between the apostles and the church i.e., the people of God, the spirit and unity of the primitive Church and the mission and missionary nature of the church. Let us join the apostles who moved around the world with the message of their master and formed new communities of the faithful.
Seasons of Kaitha
This season commences commemorating the twelve apostles of Christ. The seven week long period is called Kaitha. The term 'Kaitha' means summer. It is the season of harvest. This season reminds us of the growth of the church as a result of the missionary activity of the apostles.
The criteria to measure the growth of the church are the life of witness of the individual Christians. Hence the commemoration of apostles and martyrs who were faithful to the Church is a special feature of this season. It reminds also of our responsibility to follow their life-style. This season reminds us of a total conversation which is affected by the renewal of mind and heart through the obedience of the law.
It can be seen also as a preparation of the season of Elijah-Cross-Moses that points to the second coming of the our Lord. It directs us to the need of repentance and conversion. We have to be prepared for the second coming of our Lord. May this season help us to renounce our sinful ways and lead a life of holiness.
Seasons of Elijah - Cross - moses
This season points to the second coming of our Lord and the ultimate success of the cross. The central point of this period is the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross celebrated on 14th September. The early Church believed that Elijah would come before the second coming of Jesus Christ (Malachi 4:5). The fact that at the moment of the transfiguration of our Lord, Elijah was present with Him strengthened this belief. The transfiguration of Jesus is a symbol of His second coming. The presence of Moses at the scene of transfiguration may have been the reason why his name is added to the Period of Elijah-Cross-Moses.
The main themes during this period are, the end of the world, death and the last judgement. It exhorts us to be always alert agains the temptations of the devil and to eradicate sin from our lives.
The early Church believed that the sign that would appear in the sky before the second coming of Christ would be the Cross. Hence we specially remember and celebrate the power and glory of the Cross in this season. IN addition, we come across reference to the Emperor Constantine's vision of the cross and the finding of the cross by his mother Helena, in the prayers and hymns of this season. Just as Moses extended his staff over the Red Sea and showed the path of Israel across the sea, Jesus has saved humanity revealing the way to paradise through the cross. Referring to the tree of life in paradise and the bronzes serpent raised by Moses in the desert, this season reminds us of the glory promised to us through the cross. Here we have a foretaste of the heavenly Church to come.
Seasons of Dedication of the church
The last four weeks of the liturgical year belong to this season. Though there are different views regarding the origin of this season, the prayers indicate that it is the period of the dedication of the Church. In the beginning of this season, we remember Jesus offering the Church, His spouse, to the Father after the last judgement. At the end of the ages, the Church, with her children, meets her bridegroom in heavenly Jerusalem. It is a foretaste of the eternal bliss to come. This the liturgical year reminds us that the Christians are called upon to attain the eternal glory through the Church