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Comme il faut
A Look at English Qurbana

by Susan Eapen, Bangalore

I read somewhere about 'comme il faut' and 'pas comme il faut"- 'as it should be' and 'not as it should be.'

We all have, said the author, many attachments. Some are the attachment to people, places, and things external. They can influence us and even keep us in bondage. But greater than these are the bondages of attachments to things internal-concepts and notions that are within which have been inculcated in us through our education, training, experiences etc.

Tolstoy was a prisoner to 'comme il faut'- 'as it should be'-, and he said 'My 'comme il faut' meant, above all, to be able to speak and pronounce French with absolute perfection. Anyone who pronounced French badly fell instantly in disgrace before me. My ruthless reaction within was, "If you are not able to speak properly, don't speak with me at all".

The second condition for a proper comme il faut had to do with fingernails---' and thus he goes on.

Mostly, it is our 'comme il faut'- that Liturgy in English is not proper Liturgy that Malayalm is 'as it should be', that makes us oppose English Liturgy. Sometimes it is, Like Tolstoy, a matter of the pronunciation.

Here, I wish to raise one question. There was a time when most of the Liturgy was in Syriac. I am sure there would have been opposition to the Malayalam services in the beginning. But now we are comfortable with it. We understand it and we participate more meaningfully. However, many of us are not willing to challenge the comfort of familiarity further, for the sake of our next generation.

Yesterday, the Church which I attend had its monthly English Service lead by the Vicar himself. He may not be a perfect English man, but what he said, we could easily follow and he was good. The Choir is really good, and even my 'comme il faut' could find no fault there. The songs and tunes are arranged such that the words are not unnecessarily split into meaningless jumble, but are grouped meaningfully. I saw that many were trying to follow the tunes, even middle aged pucca Malayali Moms like me. Soon we will learn and be comfortable with it, if we try with an open mind.

The monthly English Qurbana is for our English Speaking Youth. I even saw someone's European/American wife there.

The Key Board was as essential as the Thamburu is to a concert in Carnatic Music, giving sruthi and arranging the Thaalam. There was no jazz or Reggae or Rock.

There are traditions that are timeless and we should not disturb them, however there are customs that were in tandem with the times and we need to adapt these a bit. How many of our children grow in the exact environment of our growth? Do we give them the food we ate, the attention we got from parents and grandparents, the same pastimes, the same stories, the same lifestyles, the same country? When we do not, can we question their need for English Liturgy?

Are we not selfish? Are we not suffocating the future life of the Church?

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