Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland
(UNDER THE HOLY SEE OF ANTIOCH AND ALL THE EAST)
Faith and Traditions
The faith and liturgy of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland are same in meaning to those observed by the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, but uses Malayalam language. These include the belief in Trinity, Jesus Christ's incarnation as the saviour, Nicean creed, the Church, Holy Bible, the observations of the sacramental rites, intercession of St. Mary and Saints, rites after death, prayers for the departed, daily prayers, lent, fasting, celebrating Holy Qurbana (Eucharist or Holy Mass)on Sunday and other sacred days, Church consecration, the three stages of Priesthood which has the Apostolic succession that comes from St. Peter through the Holy Throne of Antioch preserving the Canonic laying of the hands, Baptism, the Holy Cross, the three Holy Synods and (veneration of) the Relics of Holy Fathers.
Ecumenical Synods and Nicene Creed
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland accepts only three Ecumenical Synods as the Universal Synods. These are: Nicea (A.D.325), Constantinople (A.D. 381) and Ephesus (A. D. 431). The Church meticulously observes all faith declaration of the Nicean Creed. (The Western Church at a later stage appended a statement to this Creed attributing the Holy Ghost to be originating from the Son also, (Filioque) which The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland does not accept.) The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland believes that Jesus Christ is one Person out of two natures, namely Human and Divine. He is perfect man and perfect God.
Bible and Holy Traditions
Holy Bible is revered as the word of God. Every Sundays and other sacred days, Bible is read. (A lectionary specifies what to read.) During the sacramental rites and common prayers, the Bible is read by the Priest and, as a mark of reverence, candles are lit and held on either side. The traditions of the Church that have been handed down by the early Church Fathers are revered and observed strictly as that of Bible. The Holy Bible and the traditions of the Church are esteemed as the criteria of the Church's faith.
Church and Sacraments
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland teaches its members that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church enshrined with all elements of a full-fledged Church and it paves the way for salvation. It is the duty of each member to obey the directions of the Church. The sacramental rites such as Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Confession, Priestly Orders, Matrimony and Sacrament to sick are held sacred and the members must have ardent belief in their efficacy. The first three Holy rites (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) are the most important and each member has to receive these without fail. They are given together at the time of Baptism. (The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland believes in infant Baptism.)
Holy Qurbana (Eucharist/Holy Mass)
The Eucharist is believed to represent the Body and Blood of Christ. The Syriac/Syrian Orthodox Church does not accept the 'transubstantiation' as taught by the Roman Catholic Church, whereby the bread and wine are transmuted into the very Body and Blood of Christ. Leavened bread and wine are used in the Eucharist and given to the believers as the sacred Body and Blood.
Prayers for Departed
The departed souls are remembered in prayers. The Church believes that they are part of the Church and with us today. Holy Eucharist is conducted in their memory. The Church observes the practice of annually celebrating the day of demise of any person at his/her house with prayer and offering of incense at the tomb (Sradham).
Role of St. Mary and Intercession to Saints
St. Mary is the perpetual Virgin and Mother of God who is esteemed as the first among the Saints. Intercessory prayers are offered in the names of the Saints, Churches are built in their venerated memory and their relics are honoured and their memories are celebrated. (Immaculate Conception for St. Mary, as taught by Catholic Church, is not accepted by the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland.)
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland teaches that observing lent, refraining from rich food, etc. are good for the spiritual awakening. The Church observes every Wednesday and Friday as days of lent. Also there are five Canonical Lents annually. These are: 50 days lent before Easter (Valia nombu), the 12-day lent of Apostles, the 15-day lent in the name of St. Mary, the 25-day lent before Christmas and the 3 day lent (Nineveh). In addition to these required Lents, many believers also observe the optional 8-day lent (ettu nombu) from September 1-8 that ends on the birthday of St. Mary on September 8.
Priesthood and Apostolic Succession
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland believes that it receives Apostolic Benediction and succession through the Patriarchs seated on the throne of St. Peter at Antioch and the Patriarchs are the Successors of St. Peter. The Apostolic laying of the hands is regarded to be absolutely essential for the Order of Priesthood. Only those Priests who have received such ordination have the authority to perform liturgy and give sacraments.
The Church teaches that the Priests are the delegates of Christ. Thus they are empowered to forgive sins. The believers make secret confession before the Priest who can forgive the sins in the name of Christ.
Rites for the Sick
The Sick are anointed with sacred oil for recuperation and atonement of sins. This sacrament has been conceived for the healing of the sick.
Sacred Days (Feast of our Lord)
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland expects its members to observe Sunday and sacred days as Holy and to refrain from routine engagements such as sexual relations during those days. Traditionally there are nine such sacred days a year. They are: Christmas, Baptism of Jesus, Jesus' entry into the Jerusalem Church, Gabriel's Announcement to St. Mary of the impending birth of the Saviour, Ascension, Transfiguration, Feast of the Cross, the ascension of St. Mary the mother of God and remembrance of St. Peter & St. Paul. In addition to these, other important occasions are St. Thomas day, Passover, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Resurrection (Easter) during Passion Week.
Prayer and Worship
The Syrian/Syriac Orthodox Church members do not worship idols. The pictures of Jesus, St. Mary and other Saints are displayed in the Churches and houses. The devotee faces East during prayer. The laity is expected to pray twice a day (morning and evening) while the Monks in Monasteries should pray seven times. Only Canonical prayers can be used in public worship.
The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland believes in the second coming of Jesus and in the last judgment when the righteous would be rewarded with eternal heavenly tranquillity and the wicked will be banished to perpetual hell.
We, Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Ireland, hereby declare that, till the world exists, we will remain unaltered from the faith and beliefs of Universal Syriac Orthodox Church and shall be in allegiance to the Holy Throne of St. Peter, the Head of Apostles and its legitimate successors of Holy See of Antioch and All the East.