Manna Light of Life - Archive Vol:1 Issue:1 Dec 1,2001
December 1, 2001 ARCHIVE
Vol:1 Issue:1


His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas Diocesan Metropolitan of American Diocese of Malankara Orthodox Church

The whole world is in need of a spiritual revolution. The world is in sin and spiritual death.

What is sin? It is the rebellion against the will of God. Since God is love, His will is goodness for everyone. The opposite of love is sin, which is selfishness, hatred, and enmity. Sin is not only lack of love, but also a destructive force. St.Paul speaks of this force in the following passage: 

I do not do what I want; but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So it no longer I that do it, but the sin which dwells in me ….wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom.7:15-24) On another occasion St.Paul says "Let not sin there fore reign in your mortal bodies.(Rom. 6:12).

It is true that through creation, God has given us His image and likeness (Gen. 1:27) hence we have an inborn loving nature. But through the sin of the first parents, Adam and Eve, the whole mankind is in sin. "For as in Adam all die …" (1 Cor.15:22) says St.Paul. Not only those who commit great crimes like robbery, massacre etc, are under the dominion of sin, but also almost every one of us, to some extent at least. As a result of better upbringing and civilization, many of us seem to be good. But when some one , a servant or a neighbor or a co-worker causes friction, all kinds of bad things come out of us. Some of us may suppress our emotions. But internally most of us are filled with evil. There are those who cherish never-ending enmity and rivalry, and those who are not so hard-heartened, that they care only for their own comforts and persecute others mercilessly. There are those who deceive people and shift their blame to other people, as Adam and Eve did. There are those who are so jealous, and they never allow others to rise up in life. There are those who blow their own trumpets and try to ridicule and criticize every one . Also there are those who are slaves to sexual perversions and those who are addicted to liquor and drugs committing crimes. As the palmist says. "They have all fallen away, they are all alike, depraved, there is none that is good, no ,not even one (Ps. 53:3).Sin is universal. Should we not be redeemed from this destructive force and spiritual death?


Eternal life means the life of the eternal one. God, it is a life of power, joy and peace. It is a godly life, and life of love. Those who have overcome sin, and are filled with godly love, will and serve God and His children, freely, gladly, spontaneously and whole-heartedly, without any ulterior motive. Is this not the kind of love, that we all long to get from others. There for should we not try to cultivate this love in us, first of all? Can there be anything more fascinating than the love, that is ever seeking to help others in full enthusiasm, even sacrificing one self? The love that forgives whole-heartedly, as our Lord did on the cross? And the love that respect last and the least, counting him / her as better than themselves irrespective if how they believe. We find the fullness of love, in the fruit of the spirit. "The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness (generosity ,faithfulness ,gentleness( meekness ) self -control. (Gal. 5:22-23) This is transference from death to life, , hell to heaven. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love, abides in death." (1 Jn : 3:14 ) Those who love one another make the world a heaven on earth.


Our Lord started the work of salvation through His sacrifice on the cross. "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins." (Matt. 26:28) Now our Lord is continuing His work of salvation in every individual. "God having raised up His servant, sent Him first to bless you, and turning everyone of you from your wickedness." (Acts 3:26). The resurrected Lord or the blood that passed through death and resurrection, continues to redeem us and perfect us .This is what is meant by the saying of St.John "The blood of Jesus, His son, cleanses us from all sin." (Jn. 1:7) His work is being continued through the Holy Spirit, who perfects us in the image of our Lord. "We….are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18), as the Holy Spirit fills us with love (Rom. 5:5)


We must believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, repent of our sins and dedicate ourselves to a godly life. This is to be followed by Holy Baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts. 2:38) and rebirth. (Jn. 3:5)We are anointed with Holy Mooron (Acts 8:17), in order that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit, who fills us with godly love (Rom. 5:5) The child who is given Holy Baptism, Holy Mooron and Holy Qurbana is brought up in faith, repentance and dedication. In the Holy confession, the grown up child dedicate himself sacramentally . St.Peter says that infants can receive Holy Spirit (Acts. 2:39).The word used in this passage for children in the Greek original, is "tekna", which means infants. We receive Holy Qurbana in order to receive our Lord into our hearts (Jn. 6:56) Besides all these, we have to crucify our sins daily. Our Lord said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Lk. 9:23) The Lord who was crucified for us about two thousand years ago must abide in us and help us to crucify our sins. St.Paul said, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you, fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness which is idolatry." (Col. 3:5) When we realize the magnitude of the pain God has, on account of our sins and when we are filled with love for God, we can crucify our sins.

Imagine how painful we are when a beloved one suffers. If so, even the smallest of our sins, will cause unbearable pain to God. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, we must realize the magnitude of God's pain and repent whole-heartedly.


We must realize the blessing we receive every moment, that sustains us. The air that we breathe, the water that we drink and the food that we eat, are all blessings from God. Without these, we cannot even survive. The autonomous nervous system, is also the product of God's infinite wisdom. It is in God that we live, move and have our being (Acts. 17:28). Our body is given the ability to fight against many diseases. God has also given us medicines and wisdom to treat diseases. The human brain that produces scientific inventions and technologies, making life so comfortable and enjoyable, is a creation of our God. In short we have to thank God for everything, as nothing good has come into existence with-out God. God is also protecting us from so many possible sufferings and dangers. Some times He allows sufferings, as He can bring good out of sufferings when we co-operate with Him. It is through sufferings that we are filled with sympathy and humility. Sympathy helps us to love sincerely those in suffering, and humility helps us to respect whole-heartedly even the last and the least. Hence , we should be thankful to God for sufferings also. More over we should remember that it is in our unworthiness and sinfulness, that God does all these for us. Over and above all these, God has redeemed us from eternal damnation through the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross and the sending down of the Holy Spirit. Let us thank God for all these and love Him whole-heartedly.

Our Lord working in us through the Holy Spirit, every moment, repentance (Jn.16:8), faith (1 Cor. 12:3), love (Rom. 5:5), help in prayer (Rom 8:26), guidance in all truth (Jn. 16:13) and perfection in the image of God (2 Cor. 3:18), all these are the result of the working of the Holy Spirit.

Visualizing the love of the Holy Trinity, we must love God whole-heartedly." You shall love the Lord, our God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind (Mtt. 22:37).

We know that according to the depth of our love for others that we are grieved by their sufferings. Utmost love means utmost pain. Then just think how deeply God is grieved by our physical, mental and spiritual sufferings.


1.Our love for God should prompt us to love His children also. There is a saying "Love me, love my child." Our Lord asked St.Peter to feed His lambs and sheep after asking him whether he loved Him (Jn. 21: 15-17). This implies that if we love the Lord, we have to love His children also. More over on the day of the last judgment, our Lord will say that whatever we have done to our brethren, will be counted as having done to Him (Mtt. 25:31-45), just think, how much God and people love us, when we love people as God's.

2.In order to cultivate love for mankind, we have to think of the amount of good that we receive from others daily, especially from our near and dear ones. We generally ignore their services considering as their duties. But thankfulness makes us all the more noble and lovable. See the gratitude of the Samaritan leper, who expressed his thanks to our Lord in all humility. The other nine lepers who were healed, went away without a word ( Lk. 17: 11-19). Just think, how pained people will be when we are not thankful and how pleased they will be, when we are thankful.

3.Yet another way to cultivate love for others, is to identify with them. Then their needs and sufferings will become our own. Then spontaneously we will help them, forgive them and respect them, as much as we desire the same from them. On the other hand, when there is selfishness, hatred and enmity, we cannot identify with people. Hence we have to pray for the help of the Holy Spirit, to give us the spirit of sympathy and forgiveness through identification.

See how the good Samaritan identified with the injured man on the road and helped him to the utmost, even risking his own safety. Also see how our Lord identified with people where ever He went and served everyone never seeking their services. He identified with the disciples and washed their feet, giving them the highest honor and respect ( Jn.13: 12-15). Also He laid down His life a ransom for the whole mankind (Mk. 10:45). Our Lord identified with those who crucified Him, praying to the heavenly father, to forgive them (Lk.23:34). Our Lord identified with St.Peter, who denied Him thrice and gave him the commission to feed His sheep (Jn. 21:15-17).

We should try to follow the example of the good Samaritan and our Lord through the help of the Holy Spirit. Just think, how much people will love us, when we treat them as we wish to be treated.


This salvation or eternal life, is for us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have eternal life (Jn.3:16) Unless and until the last sheep is found and saved , the good shepherd, the Holy Trinity, will not find rest. "He will not fail or be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth.(Is. 42:4) This work of the servant of the Lord is the expression of the preserving love of God. He says, "I will not fail you or forsake you." (Josh. 1:5) Our Lord says, Him that comes to me ,I will in no-wise cast out." (Jn. 6:37) "Heaven and earth will pass away, But my words will not pass away." (Mtt.24:35) Hence we need not fear anything. "Sleep quietly, God is awake."

The transference from death to life is also transference from darkness to life and transference from falsehood to truth. This can be had through Jesus Christ, who said " I am the way, the truth and life. No one can come to the Father but by me." (Jn. 14:6)


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By Dr. Rajan Mathew Thumpamon

Every person in this world aspires to lead a worriless, sorrow less and a hassles free life. There is no yardstick to measure the intensity or quantity of each ones’ worry. Also as we cannot sense clearly worries and burdens of others, each one thinks their worries are severe than that of any body else.

Stress and anxiety come to us from all directions in many different shapes and forms. Many of them are unknown or the cause is unknown. I read a quotation from Winston Churchill ‘ When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his death bed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.’

In the heaven there is no worries. The reason for this is that in heaven only God’s will be done. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray ‘Thy will be done as it is in the heaven. ’Most of the times we wish for ‘Mine should be done ‘ against ‘Thy will be done.’ This is one of the major reasons from where our worries start.

Many a times we hear some people say, ‘After my son get a job my worries will be over.’ Or ‘After the marriage of my daughter my worries will be over.’ Do we really get relieved from our worries after accomplishment of these aspirations?  No. Never! Then we will get a different type of worry and we will be puzzled to compare our previous worries from the current one.

Really Is there a cause to worry in true Christian life? No. Read (Mathew 6:25-30) 'Do not worry about our life, what you are to eat or what you are to drink, nor about your body, what you are to wear. Is not the life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of heaven, for they do not sow nor reap nor gather into storehouses, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Which of you by worry can add one cubit to his lifespan? And why do you worry about clothing? Observe the wild lilies how they grow; they do not labor or spin [cloth], but I tell you that even Solomon in all his splendor did not dress as well as one of them. Now if God so clothes the wild grass, which is here today but tomorrow is thrown into an oven, will he not much more surely clothe you, you men of little faith? '

Worry is the most unproductive of all human activities. Many of the fear and anxiety we have never come to pass. There is a story of a little cheerful and happy girl never seen a lion. After she saw a lion once, she started fearing and get feverish quite often. Many of the worries or burden we have, if we analyze, come to know that they are base less. I read a story of a 'Worry Tree'. In short the story is, each day when a man come from work he used to pause before going into his house, write and hang all his worries of the day on a little tree in front of his house. He discovered that when he comes out next day morning there are not nearly as many worries as he had left the night before and many of them turned to be of fun and a laughing stock for him. Many of our worries are like that. We do not have sufficient reasons what for we are worrying about.

What are the causes of worries and burdens in human life?

One of the reasons for the worries is our committed sins and sinful nature. The sins we commit cause a blot in our life and spoils our joy and happiness. Loveless ness, grudges, jealousy, these all bring heavy burdens in our life. King David and Job decry this theory 'For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.' (Psalms 38:4) 'I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? Why has set me a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?' (Job 7:20) Anger is a leading killer of love, health, happiness, loving relations, family harmony ,success and prosperity, a killer of everything that we inherently desire, everything that is good, lovely and fair. Long-standing sins lead to mental agony and sickness. (Genesis 18:20) we read 'the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous.' 'To rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep', as St.Paul told (Romans 12:15) , we need a clear heart, non blemished with sin. Medicine for the worries due to our sin or sinful nature is repentance and absolution. Let us look the 2 disciples of Jesus Christ. Peter did sin by denying the Lord 3 times. He was worried about the sin, repented and wept bitterly, and Lord never discarded him for his sin, but he waited eagerly for the resurrection. Lord knew his mind and that is why the angel messaged to

the ladies who went to the tomb 'Tell his disciples and Peter' by emphasizing the message to Peter. At the same time Judas denied Jesus Christ, but he did not have the mind of repentance. He became victim of his own sin.

We get worries due the bodily and worldly afflictions. Afflictions are a part of human life. Psalmist proclaim 'The days of years seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty years; Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, For it passes quickly and we fly away.' (Psalms 90:10) We cannot ascertain any specific reason for the afflictions of mankind. But one great thing, our God is compassionate and is the consolation for us in all our afflictions. 'And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said unto her, weep not.' (Luke 7:13)Worldly consolations we receive at the time of our afflictions are in vein.' Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and comforters, but I found none.' (Psalms 69:20) God is our ultimate and only consolation. God always hear us at the time of our afflictions.' In my distress I called upon the LORD , and cried to my God and he did hear my voice out of his temple and my cry did enter his ear.' (2Samuel 22:7) 'Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry.' (Psalms 106:44) Prayer is way of consolation in God 'Is any among You afflicted ? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing Psalms.' (James 5:13) God's living words comforts us in our afflictions. 'My eyes fail with longing for Your word, "When will You comfort me?" ' (Psalms 119:8) 'This is my comfort in my affliction, That your word has revived me.'(Psalms 119:50)

Many times our worry comes out of anxiety and fear. This comes basically due to lack of hope in God. We should keep a strong hope in God.' This hope we have as an anchor of the soul' (Hebrews 6:19) Do not carry over our worries and losses of yesterday as yesterday is gone forever. Do not worry about tomorrow, as we do not know tomorrow exist.'Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God' (Philippians 4:6) We have to realize that no matter how well our life may be going, will always have problems and concerns. There always going to be things to worry about. As Psalmist say ' Take refuge in the shadow of our God, we can rest there until all the worries and calamities passed us by.' A blind hope in God remove all fears from life. 'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.' (Psalms 23:4) God's words make us strong in our hopes.'…we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.' (Romans 15:4) We do not have to worry or fear about anything as we got a caring God.'Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground with out your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows' (Matthew 10:29-31) We got a living God to put our hope. 'Cast thou burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be move' (Psalms 55:22)

Losses and Calamities reach us to great worries and sorrow. With great losses and calamities sometime we get totally disheartened and desperate in life. But strength in God is the relief for our dismay. God is the biggest comforter.'… he hath send me to bind up the broken heartened , to proclaim liberty to captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.' (Isaiah 61:1) 'As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.' (Isaiah 66:13) It is the duty of the Christian fellowship to comfort each other at the time of distress. 'Wherfore comfort one another with these words.' (1 Thessalonians 4:18) Many times the Losses and calamities for a transformation in life. '…tribulations bring about perseverance; and perseverance proven character; and proven character ,hope.'(Romans 5:3) At the time of mass calamities we have to come together to the God and heed to the mass prayers.' Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distress.' (Psalms 107:19) 'Go and cry unto the Gods which ye have chosen, let them deliver you in the time of tribulation' (Judges 10:14) Losses become a rejoice if we keep our strength in God. 'Verily, verily, I say unto you , That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.' (John 16:20) 'The Lord is my strength and my shield , my heart trusted in him, and I am helped : therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth ; and within my song will praise him.' (Psalms 28:7)

Conclusively we derive following formulas:

Committed Sins & Sinful Nature    +  Repentance & Absolution    = Christian Bliss & Happiness.
Bodily & Worldly afflictions          +  Consolation in God              = Christian Bliss & Happiness.
Unknown Worries & Anxieties       +  Strong Hope in God             = Christian Bliss & Happiness.
Worldly Losses & Calamities        +  Strength in God                   = Christian Bliss & Happiness.

Quite often we sing the very old Malayalam songs in our family worship:

'To sing songs during the worries and hardships
To celebrate at the time of losses,
O'God give me strength and full fill me with your allegiance.'

'The more I get worries and losses,
The more lucky I become.'

The real experience of these songs in us, turn our worries to an enjoyment and eventually we emerge to a  'NO WORRY ZONE'.

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Fr. Dr. K. M. George ( Principal, Orthodox Theological seminary, Kottayam )

Our theme has a beautiful word in it. It is the word 'horizon.' Horizon comes out in a perfect circle joining the earth with the vault of heaven. It is the meeting place of the earth with the sky. But it is an imaginary meeting place. We know that in fact there is no meeting between the heavens and the earth. Horizon is simply the limit of our vision. The Greek word denotes a condition of limitation and boundedness. Horizon reseeds when we try to approach it. That is to say, it opens up infinitely. So it is the symbol of infinite freedom and new space. The word thus conveys to us at the same time our limitation and our freedom.

The 20th century produced the myths of progress, of infinite scientific advances, of unending growth of national economies and myth of the socialist paradise. Some of these myths like the socialist dream of classless society exploded before our eyes. Some like the myth of unhampered scientific advance as well as economic growth are faced up with deep ecological and moral dilemmas. Recent advances in biotechnology like cloning and Human genome project are raising fundamental issues for the nature of humanity. The new awareness of our physical universe in the ecological movement and of gender sensitivity in the feminist movement are altering human consciousness to a point of no return.

As you remember last year at this time the world was under the millennium frenzy . Many people , especially in the civilized west, were really terrified that the world would have a cataclysmic end as the year approached its end. Even in the world of technology and business the Y2K problem loomed large as a catastrophic possibility. Prophets of doom abounded. A crazy American prophet even booked hotels in Jerusalem offering his followers front seats when Jesus would appear in Jerusalem at the dawn of the new millennium .

In 1998 I had the privilege of attending the Asian Bishop's Synod at the Vatican with three other 'fraternal delegates.' One evening Pope John Paul II customarily invited the four of us for dinner with him in his private apartment. He spoke to us informally like an affectionate father at table with the family. As we sat eating a simple supper in the rather small personal dinning room of the Pope, I gathered courage to ask him about the widespread millennium fear of people , regarding the end of the world. I wanted to know what the Pope thought about it and also requested him to give the people some pastoral guidance. He was silent for a minute or so. I thought my request was ill-advised. Then he slowly came out with a response. He said " If you think about all the terrible things that happened to humanity in the 20th century, nothing worse will probably happen in the new century".

I thought this was the strength and common sense of a man who had witnessed the hell of concentration camps like Ausehwitz and Brikinau in his native Poland where 5 million Jews were systematically poisoned and burn to ashes by a dictator from one of the most civilized, rich and scientifically advanced nations in the world.

We left the papal apartment at about 8 pm. In about an hour, the commander of the famous Swiss  Guards was shot dead in his apartment just below the Papal residence. Next morning some Italian papers came out with sensational headlines like 'murder in the Cathedral; Blood bath in the Vatican' and so on. Dooms day prophets took it up. But that morning, the Pope totally unperturbed, appeared punctually as usual to preside at the Synod session.

We have now crossed the terrible transition point. The fear of the apocalypse seems to have receded . Many people may be inclined to engage in a more relaxed reflection about future.

Let me point out some limitations as well as possibilities suggested by the word horizon in our theme

First of all, it seems the world is entering an age of new slavery. Globalization is simply an euphemism for this neo-slavery. It is a highly sophisticated contemporary counterpart of the old imperial order.

There is all round economic growth in many parts of the world according to the advocates of globalization. The G-7 countries are certainly gaining. While nations often measure their growth in economic terms, the subtle and surreptitious eroding of the cultural roots of their peoples will have will have very serious consequences. Unknowingly we are all subscribing to a fatal standardization or ironing out of our particular cultures according to the norms set by the west. From physical posture and gestures to dress codes and eating habit's the world is undergoing a tremendous transformation. Even the taste buds of the younger generation arte certainly in mutation. It seems they can now relish only a few flavors popularized by western fast food enterprises." We live, move and have our being." in this new culture which happens dimensions from peoples lives, religions returns with power, in some places with violence and fanaticism. Harward Professor Samuel Huntington's clash of civilizations postulates that the future world conflicts will not primarily be economic and political but civilizational . He writes, " In the post cold war world the most important distinctions among people are not ideological, political or economic- they are cultural". But he places religion as the most important constituent of culture. According to this the social conflict within India and between India and other nations will have religion as a decisive factor.

Thirdly, we should not assume that the tremendous scientific and technological progress we have achieved in information and biotechnologies is a guarantee that our civilization will survive and survive well. In fact our scientific progress needs a cultural support system to function. Peter Berger, the American sociologist, speaks about " plausibility structures for maintaining   religions faith in the sea of secularization systems of the support that keep the faith of isolated groups or individuals alive in a rather unfriendly or indifferent environment. I think this is true of scientific and technological progress as well.

Fourthly, we need to keep institution and charisma in proper balance. A friend of mine in government service in the northern part of Kerala asked me why many Hindus and Muslims in Malabar consider Christians in general as Crooks and greedy self-seekers in spite of all the significant contribution of Christians in education, health care and numerous other service sectors. It is difficult to answer this question. It could be a prejudiced generalization created in certain particular circles. It is true however the Christian compassion, charity and generosity have been often overshadowed by the institutional power of the Church. This can happen to any well-meaning philanthropic initiatives. The power of institution can mask and distort the grace of self giving and many other charisma.

Finally, we need to shape a new time and a new space for the new millennium. The 20th century has witnessed the liberation of almost all nations from colonial domination stretching over five centuries. The time and space which we presently experience are the creations of the colonial master. For us in India real and efficient time was English time. Indian time was mentioned disparagingly as a symbol of our inferiority. Time and space have been conditioned by oppressive cultures to the point of dehumanizing the subject nations. Our space has been desecrated by racial arrogance, economic exploitation and political domination. In the new millennium, can we look for a new configuration of our world in a new space for our communities and nations, a new psychic awareness of time and environment, a new equation for respectful mutual relations instead of the subject-object dichotomy with which we usually operate?

We need to have some fresh reconsideration of what we as Churches and institutions can do for our country. A lot of imagination and some bold initiatives are required. What we should recognize is that human awareness and human nature are now undergoing some sweeping changes. Our sensitivity to the emerging humanity will be the test for our commitment and the quality of our service.

( This is the text version of the speech delivered by Rev. Fr. Dr. K. M. George at YMCA national Conference.)

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By Paul CiniRaj

My Child,

I know everything about you. I know when you sit down and when you rise up. I am familiar with all your ways (Ps 139:1-3). You were made in my image (Gen 1:27). In me you live and move and have your being; for you are my offspring (Acts 17:28). Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Mt.10:30).

I knew you even before you were conceived (Jer 1:5). I chose you when I planned creation (Eph 1:11). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). I knit you together in your mother's womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book (Ps 139:13-16). And brought you forth on the day you born (Ps 71:6). 

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me (Jn.8:41-44). I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1Jn. 4:16). And it is my desire to lavish my love on you simply because you are my child and I am your father (1 Jn. 3:1). I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Mt 7:11). For I am the perfect father (Mt 5:48). 

Every good gift that you receive comes from me (James 1:17). For I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Mt.6:31-33). My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jer 29:1). Because I love you with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3). My thoughts towards you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Ps.139:17-18). And I rejoice over you with singing (Zeph.3:17). I will never stop doing good to you (Jer.32:40). For you are my treasured possession (Ex. 19:5). I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jer 32:41). And I want to show you great and marvellous thing (Jer 33:3). 

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Deut.4:29). Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37:4). For it is I who gave you those desires (Phil 2:13). I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Phil 3:20). For I am your greatest encourager (2Thes 2:16-17). I am the father who comforts you in all your troubles (2Cor 1:3-4). When you are broken hearted, I am close to you (Ps.34:18). As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Is. 40:11).

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and will take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Rev 21:3-4). I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus (Jn.17:23). For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (Jn.17:26). He is the exact representation of my being (Heb 1:3). He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Ro.8:31).

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2Cor.5:18-19). Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2Cor.5:18-19). His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1Jn 4:10). I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Ro 8:31-32). If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1Jn.2:23). And nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Ro.8:38-39). Come home and I'll show the biggest party heaven as ever seen (Lk 15:7). I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Eph 3:14-15). My question is......Will you be my child (Jn 1:12-13). I am waiting for you (Lk 15:11-32).

Your perfect Father in Heaven (Mt 5:48).

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St,Gregory of Nissia : A Biographical Sketch

In the roll of the Nicene Fathers there is no more honored name than that of Gregory of Nyssa. Besides the praises of his great brother Basil and of his equally great friend Gregory Nazianzen, the sanctity of his life, his theological learning, and his strenuous advocacy of the faith embodied in the Nicene clauses, has received the praises of Jerome, Socrates, Theodoret, and many other Christian writers. Indeed such was the estimation in which he was held that some did not hesitate to call him `the Father of Fathers' as well as `the Star of Nyssa'."

Gregory of Nyssa was equally fortunate in his country, the name he bore, and the family that produced him. He was a native of Cappadocia, and was born most probably at Caesarea, the capital, about A.D. 335 or 336. No province of the Roman Empire had in those early ages received more eminent Christian bishops than Cappadocia and the adjoining district of Pontus.

In the previous century the great prelate Firmilian, the disciple and friend of Origen, who visited him at his See, had held the Bishopric of Caesarea. In the same age another saint, Gregory Thaumaturgus, a friend also and disciple of Origen, was bishop of Neo-Caesarea in Pontus. During the same century, too, no less than four other Gregories shed more or less luster on bishoprics in that country. The family of Gregory of Nyssa was one of considerable wealth and distinction, and one also conspicuously Christian.

During the Diocletian persecution his grandparents had fled for safety to the mountainous region of Pontus, where they endured great hardships and privations. It is said that his maternal grandfather, whose name is unknown, eventually lost both life and property. After a retirement of some few years the family appear to have returned and settled at Caesarea in Cappadocia, or else at Neo-Caesarea in Pontus, for there is some uncertainty in the account.

Gregory's father, Basil, who gave his name to his eldest son, was known as a rhetorician. He died at a comparatively early age, leaving a family of ten children, five of whom were boys and five girls, under the care of their grandmother Macrina and mother Emmelia. Both of these illustrious ladies were distinguished for the earnestness and strictness of their Christian principles, to which the latter added the charm of great personal beauty.

All the sons and daughters appear to have been of high character, but it is only of four sons and one daughter that we have any special record. The daughter, called Macrina, from her grandmother, was the angel in the house of this illustrious family. She shared with her grandmother and mother the care and education of all its younger members. Nor was there one of them who did not owe to her religious influencing their settlement in the faith and consistency of Christian conduct.

This admirable woman had been betrothed in early life, but her intended husband died of fever. She permitted herself to contract no other alliance, but regarded herself as still united to her betrothed in the other world. She devoted herself to a religious life, and eventually, with her mother Emmelia, established a female conventual society on the family-property in Pontus, at a place called Annesi, on the banks of the river Iris.

It was owing to her persuasions that her brother Basil also gave up the worldly life, and retired to lead the devout life in a wild spot in the immediate neighborhood of Annesi. Here for a while he was a hermit, and here he persuaded his friend Gregory Nazianzen to join him. They studied together the works of Origen, and published a selection of extracts from his Commentaries, which they called "Philocalia." By the suggestions of a friend Basil enlarged his idea, and converted his hermit's seclusion into a monastery, which eventually became the center of many others, which sprung up, in that district.

His inclination for the monastic life had been greatly influenced by his acquaintance with the Egyptian monks, who had impressed him with the value of their system as an aid to a life of religious devotion. He had visited also the hermit saints of Syria and Arabia, and learnt from them the practice of a severe asceticism, which both injured his health and shortened his days.

Gregory of Nyssa was the third son, and one of the youngest of the family. He had an elder brother, Nectarius, who followed the profession of their father, and became rhetorician, and like him died early. He had also a younger brother, Peter, who became bishop of Sebaste.

Besides the uncertainty as to the year and place of his birth it is not known where he received his education. From the weakness of his health and delicacy of his constitution, it was most probably at home. It is interesting, in the case of one so highly educated, to know who, in consequence of his father's early death, took charge of his merely intellectual bringing up: and his own words do not leave us in any doubt that, so far as he had a teacher, it was Basil, his senior by several years. He constantly speaks of him as the revered `Master:' to take but one instance, he says in his Hexaemeron (ad init.) that all that will be striking in that work will be due to Basil, what is inferior will be the `pupil's.' Even in the matter of style, he says in a letter written in early life to Libanius that though he enjoyed his brother's society but a short time yet Basil was the author of his oratory (logou): and it is safe to conclude that he was introduced to all that Athens had to teach, perhaps even to medicine, by Basil: for Basil had been at Athens. On the other hand we can have no difficulty in crediting his mother, of whom he always spoke with the tenderest affection, and his admirable sister Macrina, with the care of his religious teaching. Indeed few could be more fortunate than Gregory in the influences of home. If, as there is every reason to believe, the grandmother Macrina survived Gregory's early childhood, then, like Timothy, he was blest with the religious instruction of another Lois and Eunice.

In this chain of female relationship it is difficult to say which link is worthier of note, grandmother, mother, or daughter. Of the first, Basil, who attributes his early religious impressions to his grandmother, tells us that as a child she taught him a Creed, which had been drawn up for the use of the Church of Neo-Caesarea by Gregory Thaumaturgus. This Creed, it is said, was revealed to the Saint in a vision. Bishop Bull in his "Fidei Nicaenae Defensio" has translated it. In its language and spirit it anticipates the Creed of Constantinople.

Certain it is that Gregory had not the benefit of a residence at Athens, or of foreign travel. It might have given him strength of character and width of experience, in which he was certainly deficient. His shy and retiring disposition induced him to remain at home without choosing a profession, living on his share of the paternal property, and educating himself by a discipline of his remained for years unbaptized. And this is a very noticeable circumstance that meets us in the lives of many eminent Saints and Bishops of the Church. They either delayed baptism themselves, or it was delayed for them. Indeed there are instances of Bishops baptized and consecrated the same day.

Gregory's first inclination or impulse to make a public profession of Christianity is said to have been due to a remarkable dream or vision.

His mother Emmelia, at her retreat at Annesi, urgently entreated him to be present and take part in a religious ceremony in honour of the Forty Christian Martyrs. He had gone unwillingly, and wearied with his journey and the length of the service, which lasted far into the night, he lie down and fell asleep in the garden. He dreamed that the Martyrs appeared to him and, reproaching him for his indifference, beat him with rods. On awaking he was filled with remorse, and hastened to amend his past neglect by earnest entreaties for mercy and forgiveness. Under the influence of the terror that his dream inspired he consented to undertake the office of reader in the Church, which of course implied a profession of Christianity. But some unfitness, and, perhaps, that love of eloquence that clung to him to the last, soon led him to give up the office, and adopt the profession of a rhetorician or advocate. For this desertion of a sacred for a secular employment he is taken severely to task by his brother Basil and his friend Gregory Nazianzen. The latter does not hesitate to charge him with being influenced, not by conscientious scruples, but by vanity and desire of public display, a charge not altogether consistent with his character.Here it is usual to place the marriage of Gregory with Theosebeia, said to have been a sister of Gregory Nazianzen. Certainly the tradition of Gregory's marriage received such credit as to be made in after times a proof of the non-celibacy of the Bishops of his age.But it rests mainly on two passages, which taken separately are not in the least conclusive. The first is the ninety-fifth letter of Gregory Nazianzen, written to console for a certain loss by death, i.e. of "Theosebeia, the fairest, the most lustrous even amidst such beauty of the adelfoi; Theosebeia, the true priestess, the yokefellow and the equal of a priest.J. Rupp has well pointed out that the expression `yokefellow' (suzugon), which has been insisted as meaning `wife,' may, especially in the language of Gregory Nazianzen, be equivalent to adelfoi. He sees in this Theosebeia `a sister of the Cappadocian brothers.'The second passage is contained in the third cap. Of Gregory's

treatise On Virginity. Gregory there complains that he is "cut off by a kind of gulf from this glory of virginity" (parqenia). The whole passage should be consulted. Of course its significance depends on the meaning given to parqenia. Rupp asserts that more and more towards the end of the century this word acquired a technical meaning derived from the purely ideal side, i.e. virginity of soul: and that Gregory is alluding to the same thing that his friend had not long before blamed him for, the keeping of a school for rhetoric, where his object had been merely worldly reputation, and the truly ascetic career had been marred (at the time he wrote). Certainly the terrible indictment of marriage in the third capof this treatise comes ill from one whose wife not only must have been still living, but possessed the virtues sketched in the letter of Gregory Nazianzen: while the allusions at the end of it to the law-courts and their revelations appear much more like the professional reminiscence of a rhetorician who must have been familiar with them, than the personal complaint of one who had cause to depreciate marriage. The powerful words of Basil, de Virgin. I. 610, a. b., also favor the above view of the meaning of parqenia: and Gregory elsewhere distinctly calls celibacy parqenia tou= swmato, and regards it as a means only to this higher parqeni/a (III. 131). But the two passages above, when combined, may have led to the tradition of Gregory's marriage. Nicephorus Callistus, for example, who first makes mention of it, must have put upon parqenia the interpretation of his own time (thirteenth century,) i.e. that of continence. Finally, those who adopt this tradition have still to account for the fact that no allusion to Theosebeia as his wife, and no letter to her, is to be found in Gregory's numerous writings. It is noteworthy that the Benedictine editors of Gregory Nazianzen(ad Epist. 95) also take the above view.

His final recovery and conversion to the Faith, of which he was always after so strenuous an asserter, was due to her who, all things considered, was the master spirit of the family. By the powerful persuasions of his sister Macrina, at length, after much struggle, he altered entirely his way of life, severed himself from all secular occupations, and retired to his brother's monastery in the solitudes of Pontus, a beautiful spot, and where, as we have seen, his mother and sister had established, in the immediate neighborhood, a similar association for women.

Here, then, Gregory was settled for several years, and devoted himself to the study of the Scripture and the works of his master Origin. Here, too, his love of natural scenery was deepened so as to find afterwards constant and adequate expression. For in his writings we have in large measure that sentiment of delight in the beauty of nature of which, even when it was felt, the traces are so few and far between in the whole range of Greek literature. A notable instance is the following from the Letter to Adelphus, written long afterwards: -"The gifts bestowed upon the spot by Nature, who beautifies the earth with an impromptu grace, are such as these: below, the river Halys makes the place fair to look upon with his banks, and glides like a golden ribbon through their deep purple, reddening his current with the soil he washes down. Above, a mountain densely overgrown with wood stretches, with its long ridge, covered at all points with the foliage of oaks, more worthy of finding some Homer to sing its praises than that Ithacan Neritus which the poet calls `far-seen with quivering leaves.' But the natural growth of wood as it comes down the hillside meets at the foot the plantations of human husbandry. For forthwith vines, spread out over the slopes and swellings and hollows at the mountain's base, cover with their colour, like a green mantle, all the lower ground: and the season also was now adding to their beauty with a display of magnificent grape-clusters." Another is from the treatise On Infants' Early Deaths: -"Nay look only at an ear of corn, at the germinating of some plant, at a ripe bunch of grapes, at the beauty of early autumn whether in fruit or flower, at the grass springing unbidden, at the mountain reaching up with its summit to the height of the ether, at the springs of the lower ground bursting from its flanks in streams like milk, and running in rivers through the glens, at the sea receiving those streams from every direction and yet remaining within its limits with waves edged by the stretches of beach, and never stepping beyond those fixed boundaries: and how can the eye of reason fail to find in them all that our education for Realities requires?"The treatise On Virginity was the fruit of this life in Basil'sonastery. Henceforward the fortunes of Gregory are more closely linked with those of his great brother Basil.

About A.D. 365 Basil was summoned from his retirement to act as coadjutor to Eusebius, the Metropolitan of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and aid him in repelling the assaults of the Arian faction on the Faith. In these assaults the Arians were greatly encouraged and assisted by the proclivities of the Emperor Valens. After some few years of strenuous and successful resistance, and the endurance of great persecution from the Emperor and his Court, a persecution that indeed pursued him through life, Basil is called by the popular voice, on the death of Eusebius, A.D. 370, to succeed him in the See. His election is vehemently opposed, but after much turmoil is at length accomplished.

To strengthen himself in his position, and surround himself with defenders of the orthodox Faith, he obliges his brother Gregory, in spite of his emphatic protest, to undertake the Bishopric of Nyssa , a small town in the west of Cappadocia. When a friend expressed his surprise that he had chosen so obscure a place for such a man as Gregory, he replied, that he did not desire his brother to receive distinction from the name of his See, but rather to confer distinction upon it.

It was with the same feeling, and by the exercise of a like masterful will, that he forced upon his friend Gregory Nazianzen the Bishopric of a still more obscure and unimportant place, called Sasima. But Gregory highly resented the nomination, which unhappily led to a lifelong estrangement.

It was about this time, too, that a quarrel had arisen between Basil and their uncle, another Gregory, one of the Cappadocian Bishops. And here Gregory of Nyssa gave a striking proof of the extreme simplicity and unreflective ness of his character, which without guileful intent yet led him into guile. Without sufficient consideration he was induced to practice a deceit that was as irreconcilable with Christian principle as with common sense. In his endeavours to set his brother and uncle at one, when previous efforts had been in vain, he had recourse to an extraordinary method. He forged a letter, as if from their uncle, to Basil, earnestly entreating reconciliation. The inevitable discovery of course only widened the breach, and drew down on Gregory his brother's indignant condemnation, the reconciliation, however, which Gregory hoped for, was afterwards brought about.

Nor was this the only occasion on which Gregory needed Basil's advice and reproof, and protection from the consequences of his inexperienced zeal. After he had become Bishop of Nyssa, with a view to render assistance to his brother he promoted the summoning of Synods. But Basil's wider experience told him that no good would come of such assemblies under existing circumstances. Besides which he had reason to believe that Gregory would be made the tool of factious and designing men. He therefore discouraged the attempt. At another time Basil had to interpose his authority to prevent his brother joining in a mission to Rome to invite the interference of Pope Damasus and the Western Bishops in the settlement of the troubles at Antioch in consequence of the disputed election to the See. Basil had himself experience of the futility of such application to Rome, from the want of sympathy in the Pope and the Western Bishops with the troubles in the East. Nor would he, by such application, give a handle for Rome's assertion of supremacy, and encroachment on the independence of the Eastern Church. The Bishopric of Nyssa was indeed to Gregory no bed of roses. Sad was the contrast to one of his genre spirit, more fitted for studious retirement and monastic calm than for controversies that did not end with the pen, between the peaceful leisure of his retreat in Pontus and the troubles and antagonisms of his present position. The enthusiasm of his faith on the subject of the Trinity and the Incarnation brought upon him the full weight of Arian and Sabellian hostility, aggravated as it was by the patronage of the Emperor. In fact his whole life at Nyssa was a series of persecutions.

A charge of uncanonical irregularity in his ordination is brought up against him by certain Arian Bishops, and he is summoned to appear and answer them at a Synod at Ancyra. To this was added the vexation of a prosecution by Demosthenes, the Emperor's chef de cuisine, on a charge of defalcation in the Church funds.

A band of soldiers is sent to fetch him to the Synod. The fatigues of the journey, and the rough treatment of his conductors, together with anxiety of mind, produce a fever that prevents his attendance. His brother Basil comes to his assistance. He summons another Synod of orthodox Cappadocian Bishops, who dictate in their joint names a courteous letter, apologizing for Gregory's absence from the Synod of Ancyra, and proving the falsehood of the charge of embezzlement. At the same time he writes to solicit the interest of Astorgus, a person of considerable influence at the Court, to save his brother from the indignity of being dragged before a secular tribunal.Apparently the application was unsuccessful. Demosthenes now obtains the holding another Synod at Gregory's own See of Nyssa, where he is summoned to answer the same charges. Gregory refuses to attend. He is consequently pronounced contumacious, and deposed from his Bishopric. His deposition is followed immediately by a decree of banishment from the Emperor, A.D. 376. He retires to Seleucia. But his banishment did not secure him from the malice and persecution of his enemies. He is obliged frequently to shift his quarters, and is subjected to much bodily discomfort and suffering. From the consoling answers of his friend Gregory of Nazianzen (for his own letters are lost), we learn the crushing effects of all these troubles upon his gentle and sensitive spirit, and the deep despondency into which he had fallen.

At length there is a happier turn of affairs. The Emperor Valens is killed, A.D. 378, and with him Arianism `vanished in the crash of Hadrianople.' Gratian, the friend and disciple of St. Ambrose, succeeds him. The banished orthodox Bishops are restored to their Sees, and Gregory returns to Nyssa. In one of his letters, most probably to his brother Basil, he gives a graphic description of the popular triumph with which his return was greeted.

But the joy of his restoration is overshadowed by domestic sorrows. His great brother, to whom he owed so much, soon after dies, ere he is 50 years of age, worn out by his unparalleled toils and the severity of his ascetic life. Gregory celebrated his death in a sincere panegyric. Its high-flown style is explained by the rhetorical fashion of the time. The same year another sorrow awaits him. After a separation of many years he revisits his sister Macrina, at her convent in Pontus, but only to find her on her deathbed. We have an interesting and graphic account of the scene between Gregory and his dying sister. To the last this admirable woman appears as the great teacher of her family. She supplies her brother with arguments for, and confirms his faith in, the resurrection of the dead; and almost reproves him for the distress he felt at her departure, bidding him, with St. Paul, not to sorrow as those who had no hope. After her decease an inmate of the convent, named Vestiana, brought to Gregory a ring, in which was a piece of the true Cross, and an iron cross, both of which were found on the body when laying it out. One Gregory retained himself, the other he gave to Vestiana. He buried his sister in the chapel at Annesi, in which her parents and her brother Naucratius slept.

From henceforth the labours of Gregory have a far more extended range. He steps into the place vacated by the death of Basil, and takes foremost rank among the defenders of the Faith of Nicaea. He is not, however, without trouble still from the heretical party. Certain Galatians had been busy in sowing the seeds of their heresy among his own people. He is subjected, too, to great annoyance from the disturbances that arose out of the wish of the people of Ibera in Pontus to have him as their Bishop. In that early age of the Church election to a Bishopric, if not dependent on the popular voice, at least called forth the expression of much popular feeling, like a contested election amongst ourselves. This often led to breaches of the peace, which required military intervention to suppress them, as it appears to have done on this occasion.

But the reputation of Gregory is now so advanced, and the weight of his authority as an eminent teacher so generally acknowledged, that we find him as one of the Prelates at the Synod of Antioch assembled for the purpose of healing the long-continued schisms in that distracted See. By the same Synod Gregory is chosen to visit and endeavour to reform the Churches of Arabia and Babylon, which had fallen into a very corrupt and degraded state. He gives a lamentable account of their condition, as being beyond all his powers of reformation. On this same journey he visits Jerusalem and its sacred scenes: it has been conjectured that the Apollinarian heresy drew him thither. Of the Church of Jerusalem he can give no better account than of those he had already visited. He expresses himself as greatly scandalized at the conduct of the Pilgrims who visited the Holy City on the plea of religion. Writing to three ladies, whom he had known at Jerusalem, he takes occasion, from what he had witnessed there, to speak of the uselessness of pilgrimages as any aids to reverence and faith, and denounces in the strongest terms the moral dangers to which all pilgrims, especially women, are exposed.

This letter is so condemnatory of what was a common and authorized practice of the medieval Church that Divines of the Latin communion have eudeavoured, but in vain, to deny its authenticity.

The name and character of Gregory had now reached the Imperial Court, where Theo-dosius had lately succeeded to the Eastern Empire. As a proof of the esteem in which he was then held, it is said that in his recent journey to Babylon and the Holy Land he traveled with carriages provided for him by the Emperor.

Still greater distinction awaits him. He is one of the hundred and fifty Bishops summoned by Theodosius to the second (Ecumenical Council, that of Constantinople, A.D. 381. To the assembled Fathers he brings an installment of his treatise against the Eunomian heresy, which he had written in defense of his brother Basil's positions, on the subject of the Trinity and the Incarnation. This he first read to his friend Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome, and others. Such was the influence he exercised in the Council that it is said, though this is very doubtful, that the explanatory clauses added to the Nicene Creed are due to him. Certain, however, it is that he delivered the inaugural address, which is not extant; further that he preached the funeral oration, which has been preserved, on the death of Meletius, of Antioch, the first President of the Council, who died at Constantinople; also that he preached at the enthronement of Gregory Nazianzen in the capital. This oration has perished.

Shortly before the close of the Council, by a Constitution of the Emperor, issued from Heraclea, Gregory is nominated as one of the Bishops who were to be regarded as the central authorities of Catholic Communion. In other words, the primacy of Rome or Alexandria in the East was to be replaced by that of other Sees, especially Constantinople. Helladius of Csarea was to be Gregory's colleague in his province. The connexion led to a misunderstanding. As to the grounds of this there is much uncertainty. The account of it is entirely derived from Gregory himself in his Letter to Flavian, and from his great namesake. Possibly there were faults on both sides.

We do not read of Gregory being at the Synod, A.D. 382, which followed the great Council of Constantinople. But we find him present at the Synod held the following year.

This same year we have proof of the continued esteem and favour shown him by the Imperial Court. He is chosen to pronounce the funeral oration on the infant Princess Palcheria. And not long after that also on the death of the Empress Flaccilla, or Placidia, herself. This last was a magnificent eulogy, but one, according to Tillemont, even surpassed by that of Theodoret. This admirable and holy woman, a saint of the Eastern Church, fully warranted all the praise that could be bestowed upon her. If her husband Theodosius did not owe his conversion to Christianity to her example and influence, he certainly did his adherence to the true Faith. It is one of the subjects of Gregory's praise of her that by her persuasion the Emperor refused to give an interview to the `rationalist of the fourth century,' Eunomius.

Scarcely anything is known of the latter years of Gregory of Nyssa's life. The last record we have of him is that he was present at a Synod of Constantinople, summoned a.d. 394, by Rufinus, the powerful prfect of the East, under the presidency of Nectarius. The rival claims to the See of Bostra in Arabia had to be then settled; but perhaps the chief reason for summoning this assembly was to glorify the consecration of Rufinus' new Church in the suburbs. It was there that Gregory delivered the sermon that was probably his last, wrongly entitled `On his Ordination.' His words, which heighten the effect of others then preached, are humbly compared to the blue circles painted on the new walls as a foil to the gilded dome above. "The whole breathes a calmer and more peaceful spirit; the deep sorrow over heretics who forfeit the blessings of the Spirit changes only here and there into the flashes of a short-lived indignation." (J. Rupp.)

The prophecy of Basil had come true. Nyssa was ennobled by the name of its bishop appearing on the roll of this Synod, between those of the Metropolitans of Csarea and Iconium. Even in outward rank he is equal to the highest. His death (probably 395) is commemorated by the Greek Church on January 10, by the Latin on March 9.

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By Fr.Shebaly 

Dearly beloved,
Greetings to everyone in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And the Lord God said , "It is not good that man should be alone...." and He made Eve to be a helpmate for him in all his life. (Gen. 2:18)

We all know that family is the greatest  and the most beautiful institution ever established in the world by our Lord. I feel that it is the most blessed place of the world , for  it is the miniature form of the paradise or garden of Eden.

There in the paradise, man and his wife worked for God and God took care of them in a special way. They were want of nothing in the paradise. Everything was in surplus there.

Along with the man and his wife,  animals and birds were also there to enjoy the garden. They were all well placed to live in harmoniously there in the beautiful garden of God.  No anger , no hatred,  not selfish, everything was shared or were common.  Love was the only known feeling to all of them in that garden.

Man and his wife were naked while they were in the garden. They were never ashamed of their nakedness. In the paradise nothing was kept covered in between man and his wife. They were quite comfortable of the state of life they lived in .

One day Evil entered into him . He became corrupt. As goodness and evil do not go along, God took them  out of the garden for a repair and placed them in a new  planet called earth . But God never forsake him. He promised them that, one day He will come to save them from their damned state.  He still loved them and knew that man could live in and grow only in paradise.

So God  created a miniature paradise and put the  man in  to it, to grow in perfection. And that is the family.  In family also everything is same as in the paradise . Still  man and his wife are not ashamed of their nakedness, everything is common for them , no anger....the most known language is love only.

But is that all ? We all must understand that we are here for a correction. We were living in the paradise in harmony with the nature . To learn love the family is given here in this world.  What we imbibed from a family life is, the selfless love . We have to part that selfless love and concern with our fellow beings. That is the correction God expects from us.

Help ourselves to get corrected . Help others to get repaired .Once this correction is over we become eligible for the paradise once again.Until and unless we reach that stage there will be  no rest for man. If not get repaired within the given deadline , he will be taken to another correction center. Bible says that this place is Hades.

This is the message that Bible gives us.

May God bless us all.

Yours in Christ

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(H.H. Baselios Marthoma Mathews I (Vattakkunnel Bava Thirumeni), the Catholicos of the East enrolled Bro. Paul Ciniraj Mohamed as a member of the Indian Orthodox Church and granted permission to do evangelization works in the Orthodox Church. The Holy Episcopal Synod under the President ship of H.H. Baselios Marthoma Mathews II (Present Bava Thirumeni) appointed him as the official missionary of the Orthodox Church and declared as the "MALANKARA SABHA MISSIONARY

Bro. Paul Ciniraj Mohamed is the only official laity missionary declared by the Episcopal Synod as per decree No. 29/91 of the Catholicose of the East. It is first ever in the history of the Indian Orthodox Church.)


I was born on 25th May, 1954 as the fourth child of Janab Kassim Pillai Labba, a retired headmaster and Fathima Beevi. My house is known as 'Kochera';. It is an ancient, prominent and orthodox Muslim family at Kalloor, a rural area in Trivandrum, South India.

More than 4000 Muslim families inhabiting in our area and some hindus at suburbs. No Christians at all. There was not even a single Christian in the schools where I was studied.

Our mosque is around thousand years old. My ancestors spread the religion of Islam in that place and built the mosque. My ancestral home is very close to the mosque. The land revenue and the auxiliary records of the mosque were kept in my father's name well into my boyhood. My ancestors were entitled to Muslim priesthood by heredity. They had the designation as "Labba" with their names to indicate the priesthood.

In these circumstances, I was brought up with great regard and love for Islamic teachings and its practices and of my family. I did my religious education before I started regular schooling. No bad habits existed in the way of our family life. I even wrote a book about the Qur'an.

My college education was held at a Christian institution called Mar Ivanios College, which is in Trivandrum city. The vast majority of my college classmates were Christians. I was only Muslim in the class. I had difficulty to mingle with my classmates in the beginning. But gradually I became close and intimate with them. Actually it led me to evil associations and wretched habits. I started smoking, began to use drugs and alcohol, done streaking, being known as rowdy in the city. Damaging reports and ugly pictures concerning me began to appear in the news papers. As a result my parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones were greatly disturbed. It seemed I may have to discontinue my education. If so I wanted to prove I could succeed on my own by going to the Arabian Gulf even as a stow-away.

By this time I became addicted on drugs and alcohol. My body began to shiver and I became very tense if I did not use drugs at the habitual times. I was on the watch-list of the Police. My parents cut off the money which they were giving me regularly. I had lot of friends, ready for any adventure, when I had money in my pocket. As a matter of fact my earlier friends became my sworn enemies in my period of trial. I lost my peace of mind.

It was at this juncture that some missionary students gathered courage to talk to me. They claimed that Jesus is the Son of God, who was crucified for the mankind. He rose from the dead and He is the king of peace. They further claimed that if one believes in Him and confesses all sins he will become a new person. I could not even imagine that Prophet Is a (Jesus) is the son of God or that he was crucified and rose from the dead. In turn exhorted them to reach heaven by believing in Islam which is the true religion. I had heated arguments with them on many occasions. They could only find fault with my wretched life, but could not prevail over my arguments or prove my ideas wrong.

But without losing heart, one day they brought some leaflets. The leaflets were based on the Bible which I considered forbidden, for it is abrogated. Hence I went into a rage. The thought that the advice that I had given them earlier regarding Islam, had made no impact on them increased my rage. I tore the leaflets into pieces. With despicable words I threw the pieces into their faces and I gave warning that I would destroy them if they continue misleading others.

It was a serious matter that the students of priesthood in cassocks were publicly insulted and persecuted, specially in the compound of a Christian institution. It looked almost certain that I would be expelled from the college. I could also expect troubles from any direction. The next day I went to the college armed with weapons, intending to cause violent incidents. When I entered the class the missionary students ran to me and embraced with love and joy. They surprised me by expressing regret for having caused mental distress on me. If the college was run by my religion and I was in the place of a missionary, surely I would not have let one, persecutes me, Scot free. In fact, I was touched by their love, kindness and gentle nature. The Holy Spirit, which reminds us about sin, righteousness and judgment, began to work upon me.

That night I found a piece of paper in a text book in my room. On it was written, "The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners, for whom I am the foremost (1Tim 1:15). On the reverse side of the paper was written, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 6:23). I did not know those were the verses from the Bible. But I was overcome with thoughts.

All the sins, the excessions and violations that I had committed since childhood began to appear before me as if on a screen. I recognized all my inequities, big and small. Each one of them transformed into a blister on my body. The blisters burst open and became sores. The flesh and bones, from where pus began to flow out, became very hot and began to melt. Worms were competing to get at the marrow of the bones. The pain was unbearable. The stench could not be described. I was being pulled into a bottomless pit. There was nobody to save me. I cried out, 'God, save me'.

Then a man, holy and bright, descended from heaven and touched me. I understood it was Jesus. For a moment I closed my eyes with a heavenly joy, for His touch cooled my body and mind. When I opened my eyes all the blisters and sores had disappeared from my body. I am purified as if washed with a perfumed ointment. But Jesus who came in bright and spotless was now infected with blisters and sores. Pus and discharges were flowing out of them. Worms and maggots were roaming freely on his body. It was like an abominable, foul smelling creature.

Yes! Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our inequities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

Christ had taken on himself all my afflictions. I should have been condemned to death for all my sins. But I saw Christ taking on all my sins and being crucified in my place for my sake.

Earlier I never believed that Christ was crucified. I used to ask how our sins would be washed away by his death, even if he was crucified. But now I was convinced how and for what Christ died.

'For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God' (2 Cor 5:21).

I saw Jesus breaking the tomb and rising up from the dead. He was more glorious and resplendent in resurrection than he descended from the clouds. I fell at his feet crying, "My Lord and my God".

I do not know whether this experience which occurred me in my own house in an area where there are no Christians, is a dream, or a revelation or a vision. I was not at all believing such kind of matters. But this experience transformed me into a Christian. It enabled me to throw away the old man and made me to become a new man. I received joy and peace the like of which I never knew before.

I shared my conversion of mind and joy at the same night to my parents. Although they listened me, but tried to dissuade saying this was only a trick played by Iblis (Satan). But I was convinced that the loving God has saved me through His only Son and that I would inherit eternal life. As a result I had to face torture and threats in my life.

I was baptized in the water as soon as I accepted Him as my personal Saviour. God baptized me with the Holy Spirit too.

One day I was narrating my Christian experiences to some of my friends near the mosque. Suddenly one of my cousin brothers named Salim stabbed me with a knife. My lower jaw was split. Everybody thought that I may die. But God saved me and made me a witness again at that place. Salim was making arrangements to murder me in another way and had a plan to convert it into a suicide. For the same he was busily making a noose at the top of a tree. But a whirl wind blew and Salim fell with the branch of the tree. He was near to death. Instinctively I wished for his death. But Jesus ordered me to love and nurse Salim as He had loved me when I was His enemy. At my initiative Salim was taken to the hospital and was in plaster for more than six months. When Salim recovered he accepted Jesus as his Savior.

The Jama'ath authorities chained me, shaved my head, locked me in an underground cellar when yet another person became a Christian. When I tried to escape acid was sprayed on me. I was beaten up several times and even lost a few teeth. I considered these experiences as lucky de in the name of Jesus and as symbol of my spiritual fervor.

The Lord visited a few more people who caused trouble on me. Most of them led to believe in Jesus. My parents and siblings who banned me from the entire area is now visiting me, and are willing to pray with me, though in private. My family and I can now visit with confidence our ancestral home and the adjoining Muslim neighborhood as witnesses to the Gospel. The Living God is helping us in that.

I have a deep burden about those who go astray. Also He empowered me to preach Gospel. By Gods grace I have already preached before thousands of crowds. Preaching the Word of God, using the gift of healing, counseling, sharing the testimony are the part of my preaching ministry. While many who take pride in calling themselves Christians look upon gospel work with contempt, I consider it only God's grace that I look upon proclaiming the Gospel as a great honor. My goal is to win the Muslim world as well as the third world unto the Salvation.

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Bible Word to by heart:

'The young lions do lack and suffer hunger but those who seek the Lord shall not want anything.'

                                                                                   (Psalms 34:10)

An Old Testament Story

The people who came after Noah, quickly  forgot everything they had received from God and how God rescued them from the deluge. They became thankless to God and started boasting their might. And God is far, far more wonderful than they were. They said one to another, "Let’s build a glorious city to ourselves. And in that city, let’s build a tower that reaches into heaven!" "Let us make a name for ourself so that we will not be scattered off.“Excellent! ”And so they all agreed. So they started building the city and tower.

In the time after the flood , everyone spoke the same language. All the people in the world had one language and one speech. They all could work together. They traveled from the east , that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they started living there. When you work together, you can do almost anything. But we should remember that we should never depend on our self as everything we have strength, health, beauty, wealth ; no limit everything is given by God as gift. We should always be thankful for everything what we received from God. But the people of Babel was rebellious to God and they thought they can do everything out of their strength and unity, and God is not needed for them.

They went on building the tower, and each day it has gone up and up and it became a huge tower. They used the bricks and the sticky clay as mortar. Every day evening they looked the height of the tower and rejoiced on their skill & power and danced around the tower. They needed the tower should go up and up and reach heaven where God is residing.

When the work of the tower was half way, one day God came to visit the magnificent city building, and to see the great tower. “This isn’t good,” God said. “Because they all speak the same language, there won’t be anything they can’t do! “Every great thing they do, they will think that they are even greater - and there will be no end to the trouble that will bring. We will have to put a stop to this.” And so right then, God began to confuse the language of the people on earth. People started calling things by different names. “Bring me the Bricks,” if one mason ask to the other they were not able to understand as the other had different tongue. All were speaking in so many different languages. Some started speaking English, some German, some French, some Hindi, some Malayalam, some Tamil etc. If someone ask for something another thought he is abusing him. So they started quarrelling each other and stopped the work of the city and the tower. They further spread all over the world.

All the people that spoke one same new language decided to get together and live in a new place, while the people who spoke another language went to find another place somewhere else. And because of that, people began to move all over the earth. So the magnificent Tower of Babel never got finished. It became known as the Tower of Babel.(The word 'Babel' means confusion)

This is the origin of the different languages in the world.

Can You make a list of all the languages You can speak ?
Can You make a list of all the languages you heard of ?

Bible Reference: Genesis 11: 1-9

What we study from this is:

'We should never rebel against God. We should never depend on our strength. Never do anything with out the will of God.'

A New Testament Story

Once Jesus was preaching to a crowd on a hillside. Evening came. Jesus knew that they needed food and he never wants to leave them starving. So he asked his disciples to supply food for them. No food outlet was nearby. The disciples got worried about what to tell Jesus. Then came a small boy to their rescue. He told the disciples not to worry about the food and the boy gave his food packet to them. But the disciples smiled at him for the food was insufficient for the crowd.

They appeared to be more than five thousand people there. Jesus was watching all of this. He asked His disciples to bring that packet to him. It contained 5 loaves and 2 fish. Then he smiled at the boy and took it in his hand and blessed it and gave it back to the disciples to distribute to the crowd. All ate and were filled. There were about 5000 men besides the women and children.

Children are always willing to share what they have. Jesus loves that. Because the boy shared what he had with God , Jesus could perform a miracle. Your talent, your time, your money ,anything what you have u share it with God_ he could feed the hungry. ………………….God

Jenny Joy, Philadelphia, USA (13 years)

The word is defined in the dictionary as a warm feeling towards others. During this time we have experienced many bad things. Bombing, terrorism etc which have devastated many lives.

This act of evils definitely undermines the concept of love. In these times there is no love going around, only hatred. The Bible says we have to love one another. We have to love our neighbors : we have to love our family and friends. If Jesus were there at this time, He would have said, "Those who love God, never makes other people suffer or inflict in pain. I am love. In me there is no hatred.

By Rengi Thomas, Philadelphia, USA

God bless the master of this house,
The mistress also,
And all the children
that round the table go.
that dwell both far and near;
I wish, God bless
the master of this house,
And the mistress too   

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