In a recent discussion with a Maronite friend of mine I was advised that the celebrant had said something in Syriac right before the prayers of the faithful. After a few questions, I realised that what the celebrant actually said in Syriac was the Epiclesis. The celebrant was Bishop Tarabay, the new Bishop for the Maronite Eparchy in Australia.
In the East we do not define the very moment that the Bread and Wine change into the Body and Blood of Christ. Rather, we still maintain the tradition of it being a Mystery. The Epiclesis is the high point of the Qurbono. That is not to say that the Epiclesis is more important than the Institution Narrative (or what is called in the West the consecration), but rather, it is the point of completion for the whole process of consecration. The Epiclesis is the high point because it finishes off the consecration. The Epiclesis in the Syriac Traditions (depending on the Anaphora) is usually worded like this:
Cel: So that He may, by His descent, make this bread the Body + + + of Christ our God.
Cel: And the mixture in this cup to the Blood + + + of Christ our God.
In the the Syriac-East (and East in general) all the prayers from the Preface (Remembrance of the Father), til the Qadish (Santus), Institution Narrative, Amnesis (Rememberance of the Son) until the Epiclesis (Invocation of the Holy Spirit) are of a consecratory nature. What has been done recently in Maronite Churches (post-V2) is to emphasise the Institution narrative and say this in Syriac, while saying the Epiclesis in Arabic or English, and hence placing less emphasis on it.
Nevertheless this return by Bishop Tarabay to use Syriac during the Epiclesis invites Maronites to re-think the Epiclesis. I congratulate and thank Bishop Tarabay for taking this small step of restoration.
It also seems that various other Priests in the Sydney area have also taken on this practice. It could be due to the Bishop celebrating Qurbono for popular organisations like Maronites for Life and the Maronite Lawyers Guild. Either way, it seems that Bishop Tarabay has made a difference and this is a very good step forward.
Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.