CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
JANUARY 2004 ARCHIVE
VOL:3ISSUE:P1
DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE


BIRTH OF CHRIST : AN EXPRESSION OF LOVE

By YUYAKIM MAR COORILOS EPISCOPA
(
PRESIDING BISHOP OF AMERICA-EUROPE-CANADA, MARTHOMA CHURCH)

Birth of Jesus is an expression of God's love. It is the countenance of God's devotion to His creation. Hate regenerates hate until love stimulates to love. Christmas gives us the challenge to love, challenge to share and challenge to live.



RT.REV. YUYAKIM
MAR
COORILOS

Birth of a new child at home provides happiness to the whole household; the Birth of Jesus Christ imparts joy to the entire world. That is the reason the whole world is celebrating the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. The world received the most precious gift from God that is His only begotten son Jesus. What makes Christmas to be a meaningful celebration? Mar Athanatius, the Church father, had told that God became human so that man becomes divine.

Birth of Jesus is an expression of love. God loved the world so much as to offer His beloved and only begotten son to us. This is an era with an upsurge of hate by reason of region, religion, cast and creed. Hate regenerates hate until love stimulates to love. This is the essential message heaven has conveyed to the world, but the world swing to absorb it.

When the God created this world, everything was perfect. After His creation, God said himself that it is found good. He was quite happy. He found only one shortfall. God filled it up with creation of family. Then He was quite pleased. We all comprehend that when we look around we see disorder everywhere in God's creation. God created human being in His own image. God is so concerned about His creation. That is why He sent His begotten son to this world. It is the countenance of God's devotion to His creation.

There is a story of a twentieth century European missionary who took up the mission to serve in India. He went back to his town, got married and returned to India. He was expecting his wife to join him soon. Unfortunately the Second World War broke out and his wife could not join him as scheduled. He was sending gifts to his wife quite often along with his letters. In all the letters he expressed his hope that she will join him soon. While receiving the gifts from her husband, his wife said; "I hope my husband himself is wrapped in these gifts." That is what exactly happened with the birth of Jesus Christ. God Himself is wrapped and presented to this world as the most precious gift from heaven and from God. This is the love of Christmas.

We all know that we are living in a world where love is naked. While we look around, we see people who are expecting an expression of love from others. We can perceive the failure of sharing the love of God, even though we claim that we experience the love of Jesus Christ.

The challenge of Christmas is the challenge to love, as the love is naked. Secondly God became poor and born in a manger so as we become rich. God left all the possibilities of heaven, and came to this world to become a servant of the poorest of the poor to make him rich. How it is possible? It is easy to say the world that He loved you. But in reality, it became an illustration of the love of God. The Christmas becomes meaningful only when we share, whatever we have, to the needy one. If we are not ready for the same the celebrations turn out to be hollow.

There is a story of two children, who lived in Germany in seventeenth centuary in the Muller family. Their father was working in a factory and struggled to meet both the ends. During a Christmas season he had fallen sick and life became so hard and family had to virtually starve. The children were of age nine and ten years. On the Christmas eve, after coming from the school they asked their dad for the Christmas cake. He found it very hard to share the predicament with the children. Eventually he conveyed the boys that he does not have money to buy the cake this year and proposed the children to pray to God. To their candor, the children wrote a letter about their needs and addressed it to 'The God in Heaven' and posted. While collecting the letters from the post box, the postman found this letter with an undeliverable address. He opened the letter and decided to submit the letter to the Chairman of that Municipality. The Chairman was celebrating his Christmas Eve with friends, subordinates and dignitaries of the city. When he returned home he read the letter of the children and discarded same with out giving any heed to it.

However the Chairman could not sleep during that night. The letter of the children was haunting him and made him disturbed. It was written in the letter that their mother is sick, father stopped working, and they do not have money to celebrate birthday of Jesus. He could not evade his consciousness. He found out the address and reached the children's house with a Christmas cake and gifts. The little children who were eagerly waiting for the reply from God, to their surprise, had seen the Chairman of the Municipality at their door step with cakes, gifts and money for their Christmas needs. This is connotation of Christmas.

If we are not willing to share our God given resources and gifts with the less fortunate ones around us we do not have the right to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Sometime our next-door neighbor may be the needy one. We should encourage children to visit the homeless, poor and the needy ones. Our new generation children are less exposed to poverty. Marthoma Church had taken up a project to adopt an island on the east coast of Mexico. There are forty-five poor families staying in that island. During the last summer, our youths and children visited that island. After visiting the island and seeing the state of the people there, they told 'now we know what is poverty.'

God came to his world, so that we may live. We are living without a life. We are living for our self. We cannot celebrate birth of Jesus Christ unless Jesus is born in our heart. The birth of Lord gives us the challenge to love, challenge to share and challenge to live. How we respond to these challenges? The success defines our response to respond to it positively. We must take a decision to love share and live. This is my prayer. Let this Christmas season become meaningful and let us enter into a meaningful new year. Let Lord bless you, strengthen you and help you to be helpful to others.

[Message given at United Ecumenical Christmas Celebrations at Philadelphia]
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COVER MESSAGE


WHO IS A CHRISTIAN ?

By THOMAS KOSHY WASHINGTON

It is absolutely impossible for one to be a Christian unless he/she have a personal redemptive relationship with Christ. The new birth only spearhead towards the maturity of becoming ‘Christ like'. A Christian is one saved with blood of Christ, surrendered to God and committed to serve God.

The title “Christian” has been cheapened by common usage. Depending on the environment, it could mean a religious affiliation generations ago when there is no current religious affiliation, may mean rationalistic modernism and sentimentalism on the other. It can mean gross worldliness and sometimes pharisaic self-righteousness. There are Christian groups that require the church proclamations to hold more value than Bible, cannot accept Jesus as Son of God, not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus or resurrection, make modern interpretations of the Bible to justify same sex marriage, but would still choose to be identified as a Christian.

The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26b). This was probably a term of ridicule because they were followers of the “Crucified Galilean”. Evidently, they thought and talked and acted in a manner that reminded their contemporaries of the Christ. Would my neighbors and co-workers see me as a Christian? We must demonstrate that genuine Christianity is something more than beautiful church pews, sermons that make you feel good, enjoyable music, and business as usual during the week.

1. A Christian must be saved:
It is absolutely impossible for one to be a Christian who does not have a personal redemptive relationship with Christ. Being born to Christian Family does not make you a Christian. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7) An individual must repent-change his mind about the nature of God, the nature of sin, about self, and about others. Inseparable from genuine repentance, sincere faith must be placed in Jesus Christ as the Lord of life (Acts 20:21). As a man responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith, the Spirit of God brings about the miracle of the new birth within the soul. The believer becomes a child of God (Gal. 3:26) and a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)

The new birth alone does not produce ‘Christ likeness’. The new birth makes possible a growth and development into ‘Christ likeness’. It is impossible for one to be genuinely Christian who has not first had an experience of commitment and conversion.

2. A Christian must be surrendered:
Jesus surrendered completely to the will of God. “My food” said Jesus “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34). His surrender led to Gethsemane and Calvary. “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)

In order to be a Christian, one needs to identify with Christ. Baptized into the Body of Christ, partakers of the Holy Communion and accept the demands and discipline of Christ the Lord. The institutional relationship offers an opportunity to grow in Christ through fellowship of the faith community.

3. A Christian must be serving:
Jesus said “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.” (John 5:17) “As long as it is a day, we must do the work of Him who sent me.”(John 9:4). There are many inactive church members, but an inactive Christian is a contradiction of terms, for when we cease to serve, we cease to be truly Christian.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Col.3:23) Every human endeavor should be an opportunity that proclaims Christian character and to glorify His Mighty Name.

The genuine Christian deliberately gives himself to the task of doing good and does so with humility, with gratitude, and without display. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal 6:10)

There is divine assistance through the Holy Spirit that dwells within the heart of the believer to direct his steps (Gal 4:6). The Holy Spirit dwells within to produce the fruit of ‘Christ like’ spirit and a ‘Christ like life’. (Gal. 5:22-24)

Let us examine ourselves in the light of the following explanations for Christian Character:

To know Christ, is Christianity intellectual;
To obey Christ, Christianity practical;
To enjoy Christ, Christianity perfected.

A Christian’s
Knowledge of Christ is treasure,
The mind of Christ - the evidence,
The love of Christ - the song,
Conformity to Christ - the life,
Being with Christ - a preeminent desire.

A Christian is
Born of God,
Engrafted into Christ, and
An inhabitation for the Holy Spirit.

A Christian
Speaks the language of Savior’s kingdom
Reveres the Savior’s statutes and laws
Obeys His ordinance
Wears His costume, and
Lives to His glory.

A Christian is Christ’s representative on earth, His witness before men, follower before God.

The Christian is in the world, but not of it; Among the world but yet separate from it; Passing through the world but without attachment to it.

A Christian’s nature is renewed, mind illumined, spirit changed.

A Christian may err, be imperfect, and may sin; but will always be renewed and shall have His fruits unto holiness and at the end receive everlasting life.

These above descriptions were adapted from an unknown author



May this be our song:
Lord, I want to be a Christian,
In my Heart, in my heart.
Lord I want to be more Holy,
In my heart, in my heart.
Lord, I want to be like Jesus,
In my heart, in my heart.



Forward your comments or questions to tomkoshy@aol.com

Thomas Koshy, of Washington Mar Thoma Church, is a Senior Nuclear Scientist serving US federal government. His primary service area is Sunday school where he held several offices for the Diocese and Southeast Region. He devotes most of his time in teaching and preaching the Word of God to reaffirm our faith. He lives in Maryland with his wife Elizabeth and two children Benjamin and Annie.

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ARTICLE 1


THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS

By REV. FR. ALEXANDER J. KURIEN
Vicar, St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church of Greater Washington, DC.

The birth of Immanuel assures us eternal salvation for those who believe, boundless security in God, unrestrained freedom from fear and compassionate upkeep from God; all summed up as "I will be with you".

When the only begotten Son of God was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, the promise God made through Isaiah so many years before was finally fulfilled. St. Mathew says, all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us." (Mt 1:22-23).

While traveling in the wilderness, the Israelites only had to lift their eyes forward and upward to see that the Lord indeed was with them, even as He promised. As we read in Exodus: By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light ... Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Ex 13:21-22).

"I will be with you." What a beautiful, comforting, sustaining promise! What does it mean?

  1. The birth of the "Immanuel" means salvation from sin for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16), for everyone who opens their heart to Jesus.

  2. The birth of the "Immanuel" means that God will not leave, forsake, or fail His people. The name "Immanuel" is a watchword among God's people; it is a word of hope. No matter how desperate conditions become we know that God is with us. Countless Christians around the world have derived great comfort from how the Apostle Paul puts this in Romans: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8:38-39)

  3. The birth of the "Immanuel" means we have no reason for fear. If God is for us and with us, who can be against us, asks Paul (Rom 8:31)? Just before Israel fought the inhabitants of Canaan to take possession of the land, the Lord gave the people a comforting word of assurance: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them ..." Why not? "For the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deut 31:6).

  4. The birth of the "Immanuel" means our God is sympathetic with us. When God took on our flesh, when He entered time and space, He became fully one with us. He didn't come to keep us from suffering; He came to suffer as we must suffer. He didn't come to keep us from being afraid; He came to be afraid as we are afraid. He didn't come to keep us from dying; He came to die as we must die. He didn't come to keep us from being tempted; He came to be tempted as we are tempted. About this the book of Hebrews says, "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses". Therefore, we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb 4:15-16).

Let us, therefore, resolve to make this Christmas the day in which we come to meet God in the person of Jesus Christ, and prove to ourselves that Jesus Christ is Immanuel, which means "God is with us." (Mat 1:23). Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

[Rev. Fr. Alexander J. Kurien is a Senior Advisor for the US Department of State. Wife is Ajitha. Blessed with three wonderful children.]

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ARTICLE 2


THE CHILD GREW STRONG IN SPIRIT

By Fr. K.K. JOHN PHILADELPHIA

Intellectual growth without wisdom is incomplete. Wisdom enables personality to discern deeper spiritual and moral insight. Spiritual growth is nourishment to soul and attainment of a state of proximity to Creator.

St Luke throws light on very important aspects essential for growth of a child. After explaining birth of Jesus and wondrous events that followed Luke sums up, verse 40, how Jesus grew up until 12 years of age. Mary and Joseph fulfilled all religious obligations and rituals required at birth of child before settling down in Nazareth, hometown. Infant Jesus grew up physically and spiritually and filled with wisdom and grace of God. Verse 52 deals with the next phase of growth of Jesus as adolescent to youth after his first temple visit at the age of 12. He grew up in wisdom and age keeping proper relation with God and men. St Luke is stressing the essential criteria for a well-balanced growth. Second phase of growth is very crucial because children become inquisitive and turbulent as they face new physical and psychological conflicts, challenges, social interactions, etc which forms the future foundation. In this phase it is important that kids establish good relation with God and people around. Jesus grew up in the favor of both God and men.

Grew up in wisdom: wisdom has distinct connotation from knowledge. Intellectual growth without wisdom is incomplete. Wisdom is not an outward sensory perception but discerning truth and hence a matter of heart rather than brain. Wisdom is the talent that develops a superior faculty that enables personality to discern deeper spiritual and moral insight. Wisdom is ability to differentiate between right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and bad and ability to choose, that which is right, good and moral, self-restraint in tantalizing situations and shun evil. It begins with the fear of the Lord, Pro 1:7. Wisdom enables to know God, hence revelation. Present predicament is that people are too much intelligent but lack wisdom, which is the principal reason for many pitfalls in the society. Parents are expending lion share of their time and money to teach their kids music and dance. They feel complacent when kids exhibit talents in public forums. Not that it is wrong but one cannot overlook the apathy most parents show to teach the kids Sunday school, punctuality, sense of justice, self-reliance, fidelity, moral values and train them up in the Lord’s discipline. The result is not far to seek; to the perennial sorrow of parents in their old age such children when they grow up despise God, church, society and traditions. Knowledge without wisdom of the Lord is undesirable and often dangerous. One immoral individual in influential position could cause thousand times deadlier acts than all world wars combined.

Became strong in Spirit:God fashioned man carefully from matter, which already existed and breathed into it His spirit by which it acquired life, image and likeness of God. There are two realms of creation, Spirit and matter, invisible and visible. Animals are created from matter and hence earthbound. Man was created with both, the matter and the spirit of God; hence he is superior to other creations, including angels. For this reason God treated the fall of angels and man differently. When angels rebelled, God cast them out and decided to finally judge them but when man fell out, God was merciful and promised redemption through “Seed of Woman.” St Paul expounded this superiority, “Do you not know that we shall judge the angels,” 1 Cor 6:3. Man has inalienable right to seek and be with God at all times. Psychiatrist Eugine d’Aquili and Radiologist Andrew Newberg conducted extensive experiments on the link between brain and meditation and found man’s brain is genetically wired to seek God, Readers Digest December 2001, page 141-145. St Augustine perceived this saying, “I am made for thee. My heart will not rest until I rest in thee.” Spirit does not simply mean breath but an agent of life. Spiritual growth is nourishment to soul. It is the state of proximity to Creator. The soul starves in the absence of spiritual growth. Perfect individuality is sum total of balanced growth of body and spirit.

Grace of God was with him:God’s grace dwells upon those who mature in wisdom rather without the grace of God one cannot mature in wisdom. This highlights how inevitable the need for nurturing children in the Lord’s discipline. Therefore parents should first be God-fearing. Grace of God makes one wise and successful. Grace is unmerited favor. God favors the one who fears Him and whom He pleases by mere mercy. Grace and favor are mutually complimentary.

Favor with God and men:Here favor means proper relation. Without first enjoying the favor of God no one can receive the favor of men. People who work hard to gain favor of men without seeking God’s favor ultimately fail. Being Incarnate-Word it was not difficult for Jesus to grow and mature physically, mentally and spiritually and gain favor of both God and men. Certain people interpret that growth and conduct of Jesus was due to good parenting of Mary. Imputing goodness of Jesus as a whole in Mary is an error. Mary was no doubt an exemplary role model, without parallel in the history for all mothers to emulate, which was a contributing factor. Yet Jesus was not mere human but perfect God and human at once right from the time of conception, Holy Spirit being the progenitor. Fact is, our children could also grow and mature physically, mentally and spiritually and gain favor of God and men and prove fruitful to themselves, society and God through good parenting and proper discipline.

Good parenting is key factor in child’s growth. Worldly expertise alone is insufficient for good parenting. Parent should have firm faith and absolute trust in God, follow His statutes and guide his/her child to God. House should be a miniature church where prayer, worship and bible reading, meditation, lovely discussions, etc are regular. Godly principles, good manners and ethics, hospitality, care for poor and sick, respect for customs, traditions and older people, patriotism, social responsibilities, etc are learned from parents. Parents should provide reasonable opportunity for kids to develop interpersonal skills, good manners and moral standards. A good parent is not the one who gives anything that a child wants but the one who gives what the child needs for a balanced growth. Infants are endowed with special talent to emulate what the parents do and say. What the children do, good or bad or say, curse or bless when they are grown up is natural reflection of what they learned from the parents. Parents spend lavishly on lifeless toys but spare no time with them, celebrate birthdays but never teach values. Instead, if they limit the extravaganza and give the saved portion to the needy kids will learn to love the less fortunate.

Primary responsibility to bring up children in Lord’s discipline is vested with fathers. “You fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord,” Eph 6:4, Col 3:21. Abraham was the first one God chose with the very purpose to teach the Lord’s discipline to his children. “For I have chosen him that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice,” Gen 18:19. Wherever Abraham went he made altar and offered sacrifices to God. Isaac and Jacob learned the obligation to worship God and the need to keep the ways of the Lord seeing what Abraham did. Moses, prophets and priests fortified, Jesus fully revealed, Apostles taught and generations followed this practice unto this day. “And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your hearts and you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk to them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise,” Deut 6:6-7. “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep his commandments,” Ps 78:5-7. Mothers are not exempt. They are included in the term ‘fathers’. Mother’s influence lingers more on kids than father’s and is more capable of imparting faith and morality to children. Timothy learned his faith from his grand mother Lois and mother Eunice, 2Tim 1:5. This is a call to every parent.

Good parenting models are rare in the Bible. Righteous need not be good parent-model. Eli was a good priest but he failed to discipline his children and he met violent death. Priesthood was removed from his household forever. As a child Samuel knew God, was trusted prophet but failed to pass on his trait to his children, ending judge’s era with Samuel. King David was “man after God’s own heart” but failed as a parent that resulted in rebellion, incest and strife within. Solomon was wisest but behaved most foolishly and died in disgrace seeding the destruction of a great empire, the list goes on. May this Christmas be an eye-opener for parents to assure children a balanced growth of body, mind and spirit so that they are fruitful blessing to themselves, parents, church and society. Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year, Johnachen.

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ARTICLE 3


ST.THOMAS - APOSTLE OF INDIA

By H.G. GEEVARGHESE MAR COORILOS
Metropolitan of Mumbai Diocese Malankara Orthodox Church and President of NCCI

The Indian Churches believe that St. Thomas is the founder of it and the saint was martyred with a spear on 18th December and the Saint breathed his last on 21st December at St. Thomas Mount and buried at Mylapore, near Madras in AD 72.

St. Thomas, whose surname was Didimos meaning the twin, is believed to be born in Galilee, where he lived until he became the Apostle of Lord Jesus Christ. His calling and trade are not recorded in the Holy Gospels. But from the brief information we could gather from the Holy Scriptures, we could come to the conclusion that St. Thomas had certain uniqueness and special qualities than many of his colleagues. The first thing comes to our notice is that he was genuinely committed to Lord Jesus. So he impetuously declared himself ready to go and die with his master at the raising of Lazarus. (St. John 11:16)

But posterity remembers him best for his skepticism; when told by other Apostles that Lord Jesus had appeared before them while he was absent, he answered that “unless I put my hands in his side I will not believe”. When however he saw Lord Jesus Christ and was asked to touch his wounds, St. Thomas fell before him and cried “My Lord and my God”. In the Holy Bible it is not mentioned that St. Thomas had put his hand in our Lord’s side, still there is a strong traditional faith that St. Thomas had put his finger in the hole of nail and the side of the Lord. It also says that when the Saint touched the blood and flesh of our Lord, all the other Apostles rushed to St. Thomas and kissed his hand, which touched our Lord’s blood and flesh. And it is believed that this incident is the basis of our “Kai Muthu” soon after the Holy Eucharist. (The faithful kisses the hands of the celebrant/might be a priest or a Bishop, who has handled the flesh and blood.)

It is the first confession of the divinity of our Lord after his death on the cross and the resurrection on the third day. (St. John 20: 24-) The saint wanted solid proof for the faith and this approach has earned him the name doubting Thomas’ in all languages, including our mother tongue Malayalam. In fact it is a wrong interpretation when valued in the light of his confession on the divinity of our Lord. There is no doubt that empathy and love of common Christian and his confession on the divinity of Lord Jesus Christ would ring powerfully throughout the ages of the Holy Church.

Eusebius has recorded that St. Thomas went on to Parthia and found the Christian Church there. The traditional faith that the Saint came to India is ancient and more prevalent. The Indian Churches believe that St. Thomas is the founder of it and the saint was martyred with a spear on 18th December and the Saint breathed his last on 21st December at St. Thomas Mount and buried at Mylapore, near Madras in AD 72. It is believed that the holy mortal remains of the saint was entombed at Mylapore. The holy relics were translated to Edessa in Mesopotomia in AD 394.The Church in Edessa must have received the holy relics for the first time on 3rd July. So they started celebrating the feast of the Saint on 3rd July.

Due to our frequent contacts with the Persian Churches, the idea of celebrating the feast of our Patron Saint was wrongly fixed on 3rd July. The Indian Churches have to observe the day of our Patron Saint, on the day on which he entered his heavenly abode. Our Patron saint was wooing his blood from 18th Dec till 21st Dec on our soil to incorporate us in the Kingdom of God and on the third day of his attack he dropped the last drop of his blood for us. But still we are not observing these days with its due importance and we express our interest to observe the day on 3rd July. At the earliest we have to make urgent decision to observe the St. Thomas day on 21st December every year.

We must influence the central Government to declare 21st Dec as St. Thomas day instead of 3rd July. From the time I became the priest of the Holy Church, I am expressing this opinion wherever I could.

St. Thomas is highly respected and honored as the Patron Saint of builders, architects, Theologians, involved against blindness. In the art he is usually shown before the wounded Christ. Some times he carries the spear of his martyrdom and often with builder’s rule. May the intercession of the Saint be a fort of protection from the evil forces? May God be pleased in us through the continued patronage and prayers of St. Thomas.

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ARTICLE 4


VEDIC HINDUISM Vs. CHRISTIANITY IN KERALA ON A TIME SCALE

By PROF. GEORGE MENACHERY

[A Research Paper presented by Prof. George Menachery in the World Syriac Conference 2002 - SEERI - KOTTAYAM with title ‘Christianity Older than Hinduism in Kerala?’]

It may even be that the Syriac script and liturgy - surely the Pahlavi script - were in Kerala much before the Devanagari and the Vedas found their foothold here. The original name for it (Hinduism) was Sanatana-Dharma, meaning the Eternal Religion.

01.01

When it is suggested that, Christianity is older than Hinduism in Kerala it is quite likely that much may be argued in favour of the opposite view, as it has been argued, in place and out of place, by many, down the decades of the past century or two. Only there is something to be said against the stand often taken for granted that Hinduism was here in Kerala from time immemorial, and that Christianity here was the late-comer, “ and that is what, on the present occasion, I have to say”.[1] As Stevenson goes on to say, to state one argument is not necessarily to be deaf to all others.[2] All the same the title “Christianity Older than Hinduism in Kerala,” even if it appears like an Irish bull.[3] Or ludicrous inconsistency in speech, in truth only states a fact, a fact often well understood by scholars of Kerala History, but generally not honestly admitted or boldly stated.

It may even be that the Syriac script and liturgy - surely the pahlavi script - were in Kerala much before the Devanagari and the Vedas found their foothold here. In spite of the many statements in Keralolpathy most historians today believe that the Parasurama story is only a legend and Brahmins arrive in Kerala for all practical purposes only in the 4th century or later, and the Brahmins or Namboodiris establish dominance only around the end of the first millennium C.E. In the time available for this paper it will be possible merely to have a passing glance at some facets of the problem, and that too in a most cursory manner.

02.01

To commence with, it may be useful to examine a few definitions / descriptions of the terms Hindu and Hinduism.” Hinduism is the religion of the Hindus, the people of Hindusthan. The land lying to the east of the river Sindhu was called Hindusthan by the Persians, the word Sindhu being pronounced by them Hindu. Thus the name Hinduism is geographical in origin.”[4] Even today the river Sindhu for the westerner is the Indus. In this sense ‘Hinduism is a western term for religious beliefs and practices of most of the peoples in India’[5] referring to almost everything in the land or lands across the Indus sometimes even up to China.[6] In this broad sense Kerala formed a part of India and thus could be considered Hindu from the first century onwards (cf. the first century B.C./A.D. writings of Roman authors like Pliny,[7] which author calls Muziris primun emporium Indiae). It is possible that many Greek and Roman writers when they spoke of India had mainly Kerala in their mind.[8] In this geographical sense of Hinduism, and only in that sense, was Kerala the abode of Hindus and Hinduism from the earliest centuries.

02.02

However there is another definition for Hinduism. ”It (i.e. Hindu) is not a very ancient name, for it is not found in any of the early literatures. The original name for it (Hinduism) was Sanatana-Dharma, meaning the Eternal Religion. It is so named because it is based on certain eternal principles, beliefs and practices. Another name for it is Vaidika-Dharma, the religion derived from the Vedas. In this sense it is also known as Brahmana-Dharma, Brahma here standing for the Vedas.”[9] Vedic Hinduism, i.e. the religion now considered Hinduism, does not have a very long history in Kerala. In fact Vedic Hinduism in Kerala is not as old as Christianity in Kerala.

02.03

Before proceeding further, for a clearer understanding of what is today understood by Hinduism, let us examine the rest of the modern description of Hinduism earlier quoted: [I RUSH THRU THIS PART] For the religious beliefs and practices of most of the people of India the ”Corresponding Indian term is dharma [law]. It has no fixed scriptural canon, but Veda, Brahmanas, and Bhagavad-Gita have elaborate theological commentary. Brahmanism substituted (c.550 B.C.) for Vedic religion a complex system of ritual and theosophy expounded in Brahmanas and Upanishads.

Brahmanas regulate sacrifices to gods and personify moral qualities. Upanishads, foundation of modern Hindu philosophy, develop doctrine of a universal soul or being to which individual souls will be reunited after maya (illusion of time and space) is conquered. Buddhism and Jainism, which flourished from c.300 B.C. to A.D. c.400 in India, attacked this complex ritual and theology. However, Brahmanism adopted features of those religions and codified its own ritual in Laws of Manu. Several schools of interpretation of Upanishads appeared and Yoga was developed. A later stage of Hinduism is represented by Tantras and Puranas. Tantras are mainly prescriptions for securing divine favor; Puranas comprise poems addressed mainly to Siva (or Shiva) the Destroyer and Vishnu the Preserver. These and Brahma, a remote deity who created the universe and is equated with it, form triad at center of modern Hinduism.”[10]

02.04

Even much before the nineteen-seventies historians were fully convinced that Vedic Hinduism and the Brahmins must have arrived in Kerala only much later than the first centuries B.C./ A.D. The extensive studies made by Dr. M. G.S. Narayanan, the then head of the department of history at the University of Calicut, and at present the chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) together with Dr. Veluthat Kesavan, now in the department of history, Mangalore University, shed much light on the beginnings of the Brahmin community in Kerala. Here it is important to note what Dr. Narayanan says concerning the new trends in Kerala Historical studies, “Historicalresearch had a delayed start in Kerala in the absence of History Departments in the University until the sixties of the last century. This gave the opportunity for interest groups to popularize their pet ideas and pass them on as authentic hiistory. They had come to associate these myths with their own status and privileges.

Once the community leaders and political leaders published their ‘theories’ about ancient history, their followers developed a frame of mind that resisted interpretations based on evidence. With the establishment of History Departments in the Universities it was possible for the present writer and his colleagues to build upon the foundations laid by Professor Elamkulam, sometimes extending and modifying the conclusions, sometimes demolishing and re-building too. This introduction becomes necessary because it is often found even today that the discussion of problems in ancient history are cluttered and obstructed or vitiated by earlier legendary notions which have been thrown out and exposed long ago with the availability of contemporary evidence.”[11]

02.05

To understand the origin and spread of Brahmins or Namboodiris in Kerala let us go through the words of Dr. Kesavan Veluthat in some detail: ”The Brahmans of Kerala are known as Nambudiris. Historical evidences as well as their own traditions suggest that they came from North India and settled down in Kerala, migrating along the West Coast. It is clear that they constitute links in a long chain of migration along the West Coast of India, carrying with them the tradition that Parasurama created their land and donated it to them. In fact, one sees this tradition all along the West Coast from Sourashtra on; and the Brahmanical tradition in the Canarese and Malabar Coasts is nearly identical to one another. According to that tradition, Parasurama created the land between Gokarna and Kanyakumari and settled Brahmans there in sixty-four gramas or “villages”.

As a result, the Brahmans of Kerala share several common features with the Brahmans of the Canarese coast; this also distinguishes them from their counterparts in the rest of South India. In a historical inquiry, this is extremely important. What is necessary is not to look for the place of their origin or the identity and date of Parasurama but to ascertain the social function of such a tradition and examine the extent of linkages between the two regions and their cultures. It is stated that thirty-two out of the sixty-four gramas are in the Tulu speaking region and the remaining thirty-two in the Malayalam speaking region in Kerala. Recent historical research has identified these settlements on either side of the border. Those in Kerala proper are listed in the Keralopatti, the narrative of Kerala history.

They are:

a) Between rivers Perumpuzha and Karumanpuzha:
1. Payyannur, 2. Perumchellur, 3. Alattiyur, 4. Karantola, 5. Cokiram, 6. Panniyur, 7. Karikkatu, 8. Isanamangalam, 9. Trissivaperur, 10. Peruvanam.

b) Between rivers Karumanpuzha and Churni:
11. Chamunda, 12. Irungatikkutal, 13. Avattiputtur, 14. Paravur, 15. Airanikkalam, 16. Muzhikkalam, 17. Kuzhavur, 18. Atavur, 19. Chenganatu, 20. Ilibhyam, 21. Uliyannur, 22. Kazhutanatu.

c) Between river Churni and Kanya Kumari:
23. Errumanur, 24. Kumaranallur, 25. Katamaruku, 26. Aranmula, 27. Tiruvalla, 28. Kitangur, 29.Chengannur, 30. Kaviyur, 31. Venmani and 32. Nirmanna

Of these, most survive today with the continuing Brahmanical traditions and the structural temples known as Gramakshetras. Many find mention in the epigraphical records dating from the ninth century and a few are mentioned in literature. Moreover, every Nambudiri house claims to belong to one or the other of these thirty-two settlements in Kerala. The historicity of the grama affiliation of the Nambudiris, therefore, cannot be doubted. It is possible that these (Brahman) settlements came up between the third and ninth centuries of the Christian era, i.e., the close of the early historical period in the history of South India, which historians describe as the “Sangam Age”, and the establishment of the Chera kingdom of Mahodayapuram.”[12]

02.06

And Dr. M. G. S. Narayanan concurs: “This situation helps us to confirm that the ancestors of present day Nambudiris established their temple-centred Gramas in the span of the 8th-9th centuries. As the Brahmins in the historical epochs have always been clan-conscious and conservative, they must have been Brahmins by birth only. They are found to have followed the laws of Dharmasastra texts according to the internal epigraphic evidence. There is no question of conversion of non-Brahmins or the recruitment of non-Brahmins as Brahmins into the Brahmin fold, as these practices are foreign to Dharmasastra literature. As we know from the contemporary records that these Brahmins had brought all the paraphernalia of the Vedic-Sastric-Puranic Brahminism of the Gangetic valley, they could not have been indigenous to Kerala.[15]

02.07

The above authorities incontrovertibly establish the fact that Brahmins and Brahminism along with Vedic Hinduism arrive in Kerala only many centuries later than the commencement of the Christian era. The Nairs, who belong to the Chaturvarna or four castes, though they form the lowest rung of the caste system as they are Sudras, appear on the scene even much later than the Brahmins, perhaps as late as the 12th century C.E. Centuries before there is any trace of Vedic Hinduism in Kerala there are many well established evidences for the existence of Christians in Kerala. Christianity would appear to be the oldest existing religion in Kerala, much older than any other organized religion including Islam.

03.01

Vigrahas or images of vedic Hindu gods and goddesses appear in Kerala only after the 11th century, much later than the rock crosses.[14] Even at the Salem, Erode portions of the Chera Kingdom and the Venad, Kanyakumari sector they appear only mostly after the 9th century. In fact all the Vigrahas or images of Hindu gods and goddesses appearing anywhere in Kerala are datable to a period much later than the time of the Pahlavi crosses of St. Thomas Mount, Kottayam, Kadamattam, Muttuchira, and Alangad.

03.02

For example, according to the studies published by K.P.Soundrarajan, Directoe, Archaeology Survey of India, 1978 the Vigraha of

  1. Aja Eka Pada: First appears in Thondamandalam in the 8th C., in Cholamandalam in the 11th C., in Pandimandalam in the 13th C.
  2. ArdhaNareeswara: Appears in S.India only after the 7th C. and in Kerala only after the 9th C.
  3. AnanthaShayi: South India 6th C. and Kerala 8th C.
  4. DakshinaMoorthy: Kerala 8th C.
  5. Ganesha: Kerala 8th C.
  6. Harihara: Kerala 11th C.
  7. Jvarahareshvara: 13th C.
  8. Jeshta: 11th C.
  9. Lingothbhava: Post-11th C.
  10. SapthaMatha: 14th C.
  11. TriMoorthy: 8th C.[15]

Oldest Hindu idols of Kerala are found in areas outside our present Kerala, beyond the ghats in Kongunadu from Salem-Dharmapuri or beyond Trivandrum. Thins would mean that in central Kerala the homeland of most of the ancient christians Hindu images appear even later. The oldest Hindu and even Buddhist statues of Kerala are attributed to the 9thC or later by Dr. M.G. S. Narayanan also.[16] Hence of all the rock images in existence in Kerala the Pahlavi crosses are much older than any Hindu Vigraha.

03.03

One might here genuinely ask about the existence of innumerable old temples in Kerala, and temple festivals. Most of these temples are Kavus dedicated to Bhagavathy or an ancient mother-goddess. The well-known Trichur Pooram festival, for example, is only a get-together of a dozen Bhagavathies, and Shiva or Vadakkumnathan has nothing whatsoever to do with it, although the festivities rtake place around the Vadakkunnathan or Shiva temple. The Thidambu or image in gold or silver carried by the elephants depict only or chiefly the Bhagavathy of Paramekkavu, Thiruvambady etc. and there is no proper Hindu god or goddess honoured during these festivals.

04.01

Any discussion of Hindu origins and development, especially w.r.t. Kerala, would be quite inadequate without reference to Adi Sankara, the great reformer, teacher, scholar, and author. Sankaracharya flourished ca. 8th C C.E. or in the first century before or after the commencement of the Malayalam or Kollam Era in 825 C.E. The great sage was born at Kalady or at Veliyanadu on the opposite shore of the river in his mother’s house. In either case he was born in the midst of a great christian population affiliated to churches established many centuries before his birth at nearby places like Malayattoor, Angamaly, Parur, Edappally &c. on the river banks or Churni or the Periyar. How far his life and thoughts have been influenced by this strong christian presence around him remains to be explored in full.

04.02

Sankara in his 64 Anacharams or code of conduct for Namboodiris or Malayalee Brahamins specify that only white dress must be worn by members of the community. Now it is well known that Brahmin women in S. India in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu or Andhra wear only dark coloured Chelas from Kancheepuram or elsewhere. The christian women of Kerala are well known for their white dress with the beautiful fan-like arrangement at the back called Njori which adds to their beauty and testify their admirable modesty. By adopting the white dress and the Njori the Brahmins of Kerala were trying to ensure their aristocracy.

04.03

Sankara further enjoins his community to eschew all nasal ornaments: Nasabharanam Nishidham, although Brahmin women elsewhere in India are addicted to nasal ornaments. It is for the christian community of Kerala alone that Nasabharanam is Nishiddham and nasal ornaments still remain taboo to ancient christian women of Kerala and to the Antharjanams.

04.04

Into the similarity of many other customs of Brahmins and Christians it is not necessary to enter here. Although the similarities in the birth ceremonies, marriage ceremonies, and funeral ceremonies of these two communities are quite striking, often indicating that, the Brahmins when they arrived in Kerala borrowed the customs of the then ruling community of Kerala viz. the Christians.

05.01

Although many of the matters mentioned in this paper must have been well understood by the Brahmin and upper caste scholars, somehow efforts to make these matters common knowledge were never made or suppressed. One theory that helped keep things hidden was the Lacuna theory or Dark Chapters theory. Those who wrote history said that the second half of the first millennium in Kerala history was a dark age and a lacuna existed in our knowledge of this period. These 500 years between 500 C.E. and 1000 C.E. were precisely the centuries when age-old Christian dominance in Kerala declined giving way to Brahmin ascendancy. However there are many documents dealing with this period which are ignored or deliberately overlooked by such historians.

05.02

Many of the earliest existing documents in Kerala history deal with the Christians or Mar Thoma Nazranies of Kerala often called the Syrian Christians. The half a dozen Pahlavi crosses are one set of such records. The Kinayi Thoman copper plates, the Thazhekkad Rock inscription, the Tharisappalli copper plates, are another set of records. All these belong, certainly, to the first millennium C.E.

05.03

The oldest places in Kerala are connected with the ancient Christian community of kerala. Palayoor, Parur, and Kodungalloor are instances of this. It may be remembered that these three places, which occupy a place of pry in the St. Thomas Apostolic story are all on the oldest and biggest geological plate underground, so that generally these places were never affected by earthquakes.

05.04

By the reverse projection of Kerala’s population we may arrive at a figure like 300,000 for the population of Kerala in the Ist century.If the stories of conversion of people by St.Thomas has any credibility the majority of people in Kerala, mostly inhabiting the 7 places where the apostle worked, must have become Christian’s-and the types of political and social systems and institutions of the Sangham age were perhaps very much influence by this huge and powerful Christian Community.

05.05

The large of 1st century BC/AC Roman Gold coins of Augustus, Tiberius and Nero discovered from the Palayoor and Parur belts indicate the close contact these areas had with countries and cultures on the western side of the Arabian Sea.

05.06

They are records from practically every century, every civilization, every church, and in every language, not only about Kerala and her products but also about the beginnings and developments of Christianity in Kerala and India. All that can be done here is to give a short list of these writings:

06.01

Just two more paragraphs: One about the status and social position of the Christians in the early centuries. Only hundred and fifty years back when women in Kerala tried to cover the upper part of their body there was a huge commotion which resulted in the Channar Lahala or the mutiny of the Channar caste. But then 1500 years back Christians in Kerala were wearing silk gowns, silk turbans, gold ornaments above their head and on their body. Even today the gold business in Kerala is mostly in the hands of Nazranies: Alappatt, Palathingal, Josco, Thottan, Alukkas..etc. The 72 privileges enjoyed by Christians even before the different copper plate grants reassured their right to continue to enjoy those privileges indicate that the Christians were the predominant and ruling community of Kerala before the Brahmins gained dominance towards the end of the first millennium. The marriage customs of the Christians described here yesterday will throw considerable light on the royal privileges and aristocratic status of the Christian community in Kerala during the past well nigh 1900 years.

06.02

The art and architecture of these Christians - with their rock work, metal work, wood work, ivory work and artistic creations in every known medium - and with their deepastamba or lampstand, dwajasthamba, or flagstaff, rock crosses inside and ooutside the churches, their baptismal fonts-bear ample testimony to their place in society in bygone centuries. The base or pedestal of the open-air crosses is like the Balikkallu or Sacrificial altar stone of the temples. But the bali on the Balikkallu in the rock crosses is the supreme bali of Jesus symbolizes by the cross - the MahaBali. Also it is interesting to note that all the crosses rise up from the lotus. In fact the national flower lotus, the national bird peacock, and perhaps even the national animal the tiger first appear in Kerala art on the rock crosses. Some of these you must have seen yesterday when you visited the Valiyapalli.

07.01

All these facts indicate that Brahmins and Brahmanism and Vedic Hinduism arrive in Kerala at a very late date and become powerful only by the end of the first millennium, while Christianity was here many centuries prior to that, and was here perhaps a strong presence even in the first centuries.

07.02

These facts are presented here to elicit your valuable opinions and comments. Thank you.

Notes:

  1. R. L. Stevenson, “An Apology for Idlers” in “Virginibus Puerisque.” 1 & 2 Same.
  2. R. L. Stevenson, “An Apology for Idlers” in “Virginibus Puerisque.”
  3. But see: G.K.Chesterton, “George Bernard Shaw,” Bodley Head Library, 1937, chapter one, third paragraph.
  4. Swami Siddinadananda, Hinduism, in the St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India, Vol.III (in the press), Ed. Prof. George Menachery.
  5. The Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia, Dell, 1964, p.803.
  6. Here is an early 20th century definition of Hinduism (The New Standard Encyclopaedia, 1936, p.641): “Social and religious organization in India. It is a development of Brahmanism and is divided into a number of groups. There were in 1931 altogether 239,195,140 Hindus in India, and they are thus the dominant people in the land. Buddhism affected early Brahmanism and both existed down to about A.D. 800, when the latter disappeared from the peninsula, leaving a new Brahmanism, the product of both philosophies. This modern Hinduism, based on the Puranas, gives less prominence to Brahma than to his associates Vishnu, the preserver, and Siva, the destroyer and reproducer. They are worshipped in innumerable forms, both in their male and female aspects, the latter being emphasized by Saktiism, which derives its teaching from the Tantras.”
  7. Pliny described Cranganore (Muziris) in Kerala as Primum Emporium Indiae
  8. For a scientific but short discussion and proofs of early Greek and Roman knowledge of India and Kerala nothing better can be suggested than “The Apostles in India, Fact or Fiction?” by A.C.Perumalil S.J. first published in 1952 (Patna). Also cf. Pliny, 6.23 (26); Schoff, H. Wilfred, The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Longmans, 1912, p.232; McCrindle J.W, Ancient India as described in Classical Literature, Westminister, 1901,p.111.
  9. Swami Siddinadananda, op. cit.
  10. The Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia, id.,pp.803,804
  11. M.G.S. Narayanan, Namboodiris - Background and Early Settlements in Kerala, paper presented at LIREC, Mt. St. Thomas, 4th Sept., 2000.
  12. Kesavan Veluthat, The Nambudiri Community: A History, paper for the LIREC seminar, Mt. St. Thomas, 2000.
  13. Emphasis by the present writer.
  14. Kesavan Veluthat, op. cit.
  15. M.G.S. Narayanan, op.cit.
  16. Prof.George Menachery, Social Life And Customs Of The St.Thomas Christians In The Pre-Diamper Period, in The Life and Nature of the St.Thomas Christian Church in the Pre-diamper period, Ed. Bosco Puthur, Kochi, 2000, p.197.
  17. Id., Ibid, p. 202, f.n. 27

[Prof. George Menachery is the Editor of the St. Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India and the Indian Church History Classics. He was teaching university classes for thirty years and gave up the job as Head of the Department of Post-Graduate Teaching in order to concentrate on research and publication.]

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ARTICLE 3


MARRIAGE BREAKDOWN

By E.S. JOHN AUSTRALIA

Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulteress. Chastity in mind, thought and body is a prerequisite for the procreation and parental processes.

The smoking gun that eventually leads to separation and divorce is called marriage breakdown. Of all the weapons of mass destruction in the social contexts, divorce is the most lethal one, followed by abortion. Abortion being done by the firing squad, death comes instantaneously, where as divorce starts like cancerous cells sending heat waves and distress signals to all directions. It is the agent of death of the inner man, stretching its tentacles to the physical man and social fabrics of life. It is like a conflagration that starts kindling its focus from one corner to the other for a total devastation. The aim of this life meant by God is to replenish the fallen angels’ myriads by getting substitutes from the human race for singing the glory and power of God in the time Eternal. If the main aim of God meant for man is to worship God, the corollary aim is to procreate children as the agent of the Creator and bring them up in the Heavenly order. Procreation means to create children as agents of God (pro means for+ creation) and the nuptial ecstasy is only a bonus, not the aim of marriage, given for a work that is accomplished perfectly. Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulteress (Heb.13: 4).

God’s promise made in the Garden of Aden to redeem mankind by His sacrifice was clothed with the inevitable sacrifice of the first parents were to eat bread by the sweat of the face and giving birth children by labour pain and raising them up by fighting against Satan who hijacked the first parents for the perdition of mankind, forcing the Creator to become an ideal creation. Just as St.Mary brought for the unblemished Lamb into this world, it is the duty of every parent to bring forth children resembling the angel of Heaven, where every body is expected to sing glory for God in Eternity. Hence marriage is a covenant set in the serenity of Aden, renewed to Noah (Gen.3; 9:1-7) later. As it is a holy sacrament, Moses’ commandment of not to do adultery was reiterated by prophets, Jesus and apostles. The first step of curtailing this evil sin is to refrain from the lust of the eyes and other organs (Mt.5: 27-32).

Chastity in mind, thought and body is a prerequisite for the procreation and parental processes. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, without that spark our body is a mere carcass (1Cor.3: 16-19; 6:16-20). Sex is an organ like hands or ears, but the permeation of sexuality in every cell of the body if works in contravention against the will of God’s Spirit, the body becomes a prey of infernal tyrants who eventually eclipse the grieving Holy Spirit for His inaction and desolation, the lethal ingredients for disintegration. Divorce is a sin granted to the Israelites because of their heart’s hardness, despite it was not the aim of the Creator in the beginning (Mt.19: 4-12). Marrying the divorced one is the procreation of another sin.

Causes of Divorce:Whoever rebels against the laws of God to perish is inherently imprinted in our system. Defacto relationship whether pre-marital or extra-marital is an abhorrent infringement of the Creator’s justice, the ripples of the same will haunt the culprit at one stage or the other, unless abated by contrition and non-repetition. The freedom and cheap fleeting pleasures the couple lavished and enjoyed before accepting any responsibility vanish away, the resultant inertia that creeps in may likely to swallow the good seeds, eventuating in finding affinity and refuge somewhere else. The defacto relationship invites rivalry and vendetta from other fiancées as well.

There could be hiccups in married life, whether arranged one or not, but the relatives and the spiritual hierarchy are at their beck and call for mediation in an arranged marriage, where as in the defacto relationship they are left to themselves for their own choice in a frigid zone of antipathy, as in the case of their union before. In an arranged marriage, there is nothing to compare with, where as the dated marriage involves so many other flirted ones from one after the other. There is an evil spirit behind for each vice; it will try to predate upon the victim all through out the rest of one’s life. Their last resorts are the team of doctors, psychiatrists, counselors and solicitors who are not the doctors of the souls; it is only a qualified profession; it is not easy for them to find out where the shoe pinches really, while the confession is restricted due to sensitivity and privacy.

The bargaining decision between the evil and good angel’s for 40 days for the final destination in the eternity after the death of a person rely on the record that presented by the devil. Eating the forbidden fruit before it is ripe by the accomplishment of the marriage is a sin, which will have far fetching whirlwind in one’s later life and beyond the grave. Therefore, every action will have an equal and opposite reaction in every realm of life. The sex compatibility is the primary factor that aligns the relationship in a defacto marriage, added with so many other spices like mutual care, fidelity, independence and detachment as also in the cases of other wedlock. Once the gender balance of nuptial life is upset in a dated marriage, everything else tends to be in turmoil. Just as electricity is the mother of all other inventions, dating is the prime mover of fornication, adultery, divorce, abortion, sexism, feminism which drives away chastity, sanctity, sanity, charity and all other excellences of life.

The flesh means magnetism, disregarding the poles of attraction, like or unlike poles, notably in these days of subterranean culture of social intercourse. The head weight that creates by having two or more breadwinners in a household is another dimension of family feud and disharmony. It becomes difficult for the female one to cope with work place culture and drone like behavior at home, fuelled by disciplining and caring children of belligerent nature and character. Tongue is another powerful weapon, which can even kindle to a conflagration consuming everything good in life. Any kind of abuse will work like a boomerang to sever the delicate bond that electrifies the affinity of family life. If there is no identity with regards to the secular and religious morals and common aptitude and attitude in arts and culture and sports, the collision of ideas and individuals is likely to happen.

A wrong life partner is like an ever-burning fire that can devastate all the highly cherished aspirations and noble concepts. A life devoid of practicing religion is a morbid zone where nothing good can grow or flourish. Religious vacuum is certainly substituted with all the laxities of morals: alcoholism, hard drugs, smoking, loose tongue, carousal, slander, deceit, envy, licentiousness and the like. The pride that led Lucifer to challenge God goes before a fall. Hard heartedness is a wintertime Antarctica that can be melted away only by the solar energy of celestial love. Mutual consultations and discussions may thaw away many of such problems. Domestic violence is another volcano sending lava into so many other delicate and unknown centres and corners of our domestic and social arenas at large.

Children:The children that we give birth will be the duplicate nature of our make-up, depending on the purity and serenity at the time of conception, pre-natal and post-natal nurture and above all the quality of the soul that we are bequeathed with. Like parents, like children. One-mile journey from the time of conception to mature adolescence is a milestone for the future life of the individual. The household feud and terrorism implode violently, shedding debris and shrapnel all around for adverse ripples affecting many in the society.

Separation and divorce kills every household members and relatives inch by inch, pouring poison into the heart flower of the innocent and immature children. It affects their mental and physical health, education, mental revolutions and growing- up. Caught up between the cross fires of parents and siblings, the young ones become the causality and convert themselves unknowingly as muffs and morons. Thus, our mission in life becomes unripe and incomplete. Such children become a nuisance and burden to the society and the taxpayer because they become wet clay in the hands of criminals, thugs, drug barons and perverts of all types. They become a prey of sex perverts and sex perversions, pornography and pedophiles. Life with stepparents and street maniacs make a veritable hell on earth. There is nothing like home. The life of the separated couple also is not anything different; they also end up in the wrong hands one after another, which help them to transplant hell on earth. The fleeting pleasures of life make a fleeting life of erotic for everyone who goes astray from the normal track of life. Is this nomadic life of hectic chasing of partners better than the assuming slavery of arranged marriage?

Grand Parents:Grand parents in their second childhood are the best peer group for the children for communication and breaking down the barrier of head weight in the family. Woman being the natural enemy of woman, a good mother-in-law is an ideal person to neutralize the family tensions, so that the young pair comes closer because of the animal magnetism generated by each pair. It is the only panacea for the young ones to get attention and attain inner and mental maturity, which paves the way for continuing the chaste family traditions. The Nuclear family is a curse for the modern generations that are gulped by all forms of depravities.

Arranged marriage is under the ethos of so many value systems and unseen forces intermingled together, where the connection between the spouses of two families do play an important and salient role in welding up the family unit together. There are only two protagonists for a long time in a defacto home with out having a chorus and stage managers as children and grand parents to accompany the main drama of life. Having two children at any time in these days in life is a luxury; childless family is a fashion that proclaims that the couple is free from all burdens and sufferings of life. Then comes all of a sudden the pang of divorce. The trinity of the family consisting of grandparents, grandchildren and their parents fit together for the completion of the gig jaw puzzle of a family unit.

Solutions:Love and obedience are the cardinal principles that can be applicable in any arena of life. Obedience to God’s commandments and the rules of conducts of life, which includes the laws of Nature and the secular laws, govern the days of our sojourn life. We have abandoned God’s commandments, together with it the natural rules that propels our life, which culminate in finding loopholes to run over or ignore the secular laws inadvertently. Where love is, there God is. The absence of love and righteousness in our system has made it imperative for the secular rulers to regimentalise the iron rule of their laws with an eye of eyeless and heartless codes. Instead of abrogating the defacto relationship and fornication anything is legally condoned after the age of consent (16 years) on the basis of a utopian notion of liberty, a mockery of God’s laws and His overall authority is an abomination. Man-made laws are to violate.

The solutions to under aged sex and rape are not yet found out. When the under aged sex is zealously addressed, same- sex and pedophile problems multiply in geometrical progression, leading the way for precipitating the most lucrative business of child pornography. The secular laws that have no eyes and hearts cannot control and discipline the most undisciplined species called man. What we need are not secular laws but an environment of creating mental discipline by tuning with Infinite powers, the foundation stone of which is religion that propagates love and righteousness. Something that comes from within can only change a man from without. Change the whole system before it changes us totally, drastically and detrimentally. Punishing a culprit for number of corollary counts of crimes with the major crime doesn’t regress the loss made by the crimes.

What is the use of ill-treating a criminal without rehabilitating him from within, while he has no repentance for his repugnant sins, nor does it alleviate the grief and loss of his victims and relatives? Make the culprit understand the seriousness of the crime he has committed and the bitter fruit that he is going to taste after death. Here is the role of the religion. We have to aim at the life after death saga, not the sufferings that we have to endure here because both the criminal and the righteous do drink the poisoned cup of chalice on this side of the grave. The lawmakers who make laws only for this world are also criminals because they make an opaque picture of the other world, barring people to peep into the luminous joy of other eternal world. The overall aims of rulers and kings are not to give sensational thrill to the body parts but create a conducive atmosphere for the subjects to practice religion and morals that could purchase a place for them in the City of God beyond the other side of River Jordan. As the profligacy one after the other is brought with in the gamut of the State Laws, we are ripe for a violent crackdown from the other side of the veil that separates the grave.

John the Baptist lost his head for reprimanding the adultery and divorce committed by Herodias who jettisoned her husband Philip with his brother king Herod (Mt.14). Adultery and divorce has been the oldest profession, embroiled with devious perversions, but legitimizing it by blinding the entire population is a reprehensible and unforgivable sin done by the rulers and the ruled. The majority rule of sinners gives birth to more mortal sins and criminals to commit more abominable depravities and plunge the whole world into an abysm of bottomless darkness. Dating is the mother of all sexual perpetrations that give birth to all other deadly vices. In a general sense, the wrongs done before the onset of puberty are innocent ones but the intensity of the nature of sins and crimes since then can hurl us all into a plane of unfathomable darkness, unless addressed properly at the right time.

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POEM


THE GOSPEL TRAIN
By Ms. AJU JACOB, NEW JERSEY, USA

There's the train going to heaven
I wish I were on that train
I know that's the train destined to heaven
The only train for Jesus Children
A train I will never have to suffer.
The Gospel train is the only way to heaven.

God is the only way to heaven
The Bible tells us the way to heaven
God sent his only son to save us
Jesus died on the Cross, Shedding blood for our sins.
That we may go to heaven once we die.
God is the only way to heaven..

God wants us to go to heaven.
God hates to see us suffer in the hell.
He loves his children very much.
Put your trust in the Lord.
You will never miss the train to heaven.
God is the only way to heaven..

God's children never miss the train.
The train is full with God's children.
The Gospel train has only one track.
And the only track is Jesus Christ.
Believe and trust in Jesus Christ,
You will never miss the Gospel Train.

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SATIRE

Long time ago, before Christ, there was a Rabbi in ancient Judea by the name Solomon, who was very famous for his wisdom, honesty and generosity. Every Sabbath day, many youngsters, both men and women of Judea, after worshipping Yahweh, gathered in the shade of the trees of Synagogue to hear and discuss with Solomon whose wisdom they appraised as comparable to that of Wise King Solomon. Rabbi Solomon was so scholastic to answer any questions of the Youngsters with reference to the Holy Scriptures. Yohanes, Martha, Ezekiel, Esther, and Ahaz were some of the active participants of the group discussions with Rabbi. Esther, a young girl, summarized all the sweet discussions with Rabbi day to day as follows:


QUESTIONS OF LIFE AND DEATH - SERIES 7

ESTHER RECORDED ON THE SEVENTH DAY:
HOW TO THINK AND SPEAK OF THE UNKNOWN?
Authored By: JOHN D. KUNNATHU

Today our discussion was about the language of religion. It was Ezekiel who started the discussion.

Ezekiel:Rabbi, one day we discussed the question "why we live," and you answered the question like this: We live because God our creator wants us to live. Thus, faith in God gives purpose to our life. So, certainly, I want to believe in God. But, there is a problem. Whenever I think of God, what comes to my mind is the cruel face of God who sends Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. It fills my heart with fear, and I often think that it is better not to believe in such a God. I have also heard that God loves and forgives our mistakes. If so, why couldn't God forgive a silly mistake of Adam and Eve?

Rabbi:You are honest enough to admit that you find it difficult to believe in such a God. I admire your courage and honesty, without which no one can know the truth. The cruel face of God--that is the problem, isn't it? Really the problem is not with God, but with us--our inability to understand the language of religion. We are going to see how it is different from the ordinary language.

We perceive and understand the world around us using the five senses. We have no other way to know the world. Ezekiel, can you tell me who is standing at the other side of the synagogue now?

Ezekiel:Can I go and see who there is?

Rabbi:The rabbi said: So it is clear that you have to see to know who there is. Unless we see, hear, feel, smell, or taste, we cannot know anything. All knowledge comes through our senses.

We believe that the world depends on God for its existence. Though we perceive and understand the world around us with our senses, we cannot perceive God like that. Therefore, we cannot know God. We can talk about God only in negative terms because God is not like anything we are familiar with. The world exists within the limits of time and space, but God does not exist within those limits. All living beings in the world have birth and death, but God has no birth or death. The world changes, but God does not change. Thus we cannot think or talk anything positively about God. However, people have always talked about God, and about the relationship between God and the world using metaphors. For example, we have seen how our ancestors compared God to a farmer, and the world to a farm. They have also used other metaphors: God, like a potter, and the world, like a pot; God, like a king, and the world, like a kingdom. However, none of these metaphors bring out the real nature of God, or God's relation with the world. They are nothing but human attempts to think and speak about God.

In the story of Adam and Eve, God is compared to a feudal lord. God owns the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve are, like tenants, placed there to "keep the garden and till the ground”. Absolute obedience is expected of them. When they disobey God, they are sent out without any mercy. Here, God behaves exactly like a typical feudal lord.

Our ancestors have used other metaphors to represent God-Human relationship, such as that between father and children. Like children, we have to grow to maturity. While being immature, we can't distinguish between right and wrong, and so, we commit mistakes. Then God, like a responsible father, may correct us, but will never cast us out as Adam and Eve were cast out.

Thus our ancestors have compared God to a farmer, potter, king, shepherd, feudal lord and father. However, the real God is not like any of them; nor is he a mixture of all these. But to speak of God, we have to use a metaphor like this. We have no other alternative. However, we are not obliged to use all these metaphors that our ancestors used. We shall choose the one we like or the one that suits our needs most. Or, we are free to use a new one our ancestors haven't used.

The metaphor that I personally like is that of father. I think of God as my father, and of myself as God's child. I believe that God loves me as a father loves his child. If I make mistakes, God corrects me, but never hates me. Even if I hate God, God loves me. I believe that God is always with me sharing my worries and problems. It makes my mind peaceful and healthy day after day. Moreover, this image helps me to see all people as my brothers and sisters. If God loves all people in the same way, I must also love all people.

Ezekiel was very happy. He said: Thank you very much rabbi. You have helped me to overcome a great problem.

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FEATURE

EXALTATION OF HOLY CROSS

Before the time of Christ, Cross was an instrument for humiliation, punishment, torture and death. With death of Christ on the cross, it became the symbol of love, victory and salvation. Cross gives Meaning to our Human Existence. Cross is the epitome of Love. It is a victory over the power of Evil.

Roman Catholic Church and all Orthodox Churches in the world celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross as one of their greatest ecclesiastical feast. Ecclesiastical Feasts are considered as a holy day which are celebrated in commemoration of the sacred mysteries and events recorded in the history of the redemption of the mankind by God. This ecclesiastical feast of the Exaltation of Holy Cross, as it is written in the ecclesiastical writings, has its object the triumph of Christ, his resurrection and the veneration of the holy cross, the sign of his victory over death.

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated each year on September 14. The Feast commemorates the finding of the True Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ by Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine. The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, started in the city of Jerusalem. In AD 326, during the twentieth year of reign of Emperor Constantine, he sent his mother Helena to venerate the holy places and to find the site of the Holy Sepulcher and of the Cross. As per the traditions of the early Christians, it is known that Helena could excavate the precious cross along with the crosses of the two thieves crucified with our Lord. Patriarch Macarius of Jerusalem identified the True Cross of Christ by touching the three crosses in turn on a dead body and when the Cross of Christ touched the dead one, he immediately came to life. Empress Helena and her court venerated the identified precious cross.

The Emperor Constantine built Church of the resurrection and Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The date of dedication of these Churches was chosen as September 13 in order to supplant the pagan feast of the Temple of Jupiter in Rome. The Church of the Resurrection had five naves and in the interior a circular structure covered by a dome, which protected the sanctuary of the sepulcher or tomb of Christ. During Christmas time "Manger Square" in Bethlehem is thronged with pilgrims coming to worship at the Church of the Nativity. At Easter, Christians follow the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem After Crucifixion of Jesus:
The sacred places of our Lord's Public Mission, sufferings and crucifixion were scorned by the pagans. In 70 A.D. Roman Emperor Titus conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the city and leveled the Temple on Mt. Moriah truely as our Savior foretold to His disciples as not leaving even a stone upon a stone. (Mark 13:1-2). The Emperor Hadrian (117-138), a zealous backward pagan, constructed a new city in place of the Jerusalem destroyed by Titus. He named the new city as Helio-Hadrianopolis and forbade to call this city by its previous name of Jerusalem. As per his order the Holy Grave of the Lord was covered with earth and stones, raising on it an idol. On Golgotha, where the Savior was crucified, he erected a temple dedicated to the goddess Venus. Sacrifices were offered before the statue and pagan rites were celebrated at all these Holy locations. An idol to Adonis was erected at the birth place of Jesus in Bethlehem. He did all these with the intention that people completely forget about Christ the Savior and nevermore recollect the place where He lived, taught, suffered and resurrected with glory.

Emperor Constantine:
Constantine was born in Naissus to Constantius I Chlorus and his mother's name was Helena. Constantius was a Roman General, who later became the Roman Emperor. Constantius reigned over Byzantium, westward of the Roman Empire while Maximianus reigned over Rome and Diocletian reigned over Antioch and Egypt. Constantius, though he was a pagan, was honorable, compassionate and merciful. He protected the Christians, seeing that Christians were faithful servants and honest citizens of his country. It is indicated that Constantius met Helena in the city of Edessa, liked her and he married her. She was a Christian, and she conceived Constantine. Constantius left her in Edessa and returned to Byzantium as political reasons forced him to marry another princess.

Helena brought up Constantine and raised him up with great piety and rendered elite education in all knowledge. She sowed the seed of adoration to Christ and compassion in his heart for the Christians, however she did not dare to have him baptized. Eventually he became disposed to accept Christianity by the early teachings from his mother. Constantine grew up well matured and he was a bold and skilful horseman. At his father's elevation to the dignity of Caesar, Constantine reached at the court of Diocletian. Constantine witnessed the horrors of persecution by Diocletian and his determination to ruin the confessors of Christ and this also predisposed him in Christian favor. After the death of his father Constantius, in AD 306, Constantine was offered the kingdom and he reigned with justice and great integrity. All his subjects loved him and his righteous judgment spread all over the Empire.

The Roman people who were grieved from the injustice of a tyrant and profligate Emperor Maximianus, sought help from Constantine. In 308 AD Constantine marched with his army toward Rome to save them. In 312 AD, a new war arose between the Emperor Constantine and the Ceasar Maxentius, the son of Maximianus. During the war Constantine saw a symbol at the sky, in the middle of the day; a Cross made of stars, and on it was written in Greek words which being interpreted as "With this you shall conquer." That night, the Lord appeared to him in a dream with the same sign of the Cross and said that by this sign he would defeat the enemy. The next day morning, he prepared a large flag with the sign of the cross on it and by his order; images of the holy Cross were made on all the armaments of his army. By the power of the Cross, he gained a glorious victory over enemies greatly superior in number. The enemy Maxentius drowned himself in the river Tiber.

Having gained the victory over Maxentius Constantine triumphantly entered Rome and its people welcomed him with joy and gladness, and the scholars praised the Holy Cross and considered it the Savior of their city. Then they celebrated for the Cross seven days and Constantine became the Emperor of the East and the West. Constantine along with many of his court men and subjects believed in Jesus and got baptized. Constantine was chosen by God's Providence to accomplish the greatest turnabout in the empire and in the whole world. In AD 313, Constantine together with his brother-in-law, Licinius, issued the famous Edict of Milan, to put an end to the persecution of Christians and permitted everyone to accept Christianity without fear. He declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Conquering Byzantium, he built a beautiful capital city on the Bosphorus, which from that day was named Constantinople.

The relations between the Emperors Constantine and Licinius did not last long. The conflict arised between the Emperors was putting the fate of Christianity in Roman Empire on test as Licinius suspected the patronage of Constantine for the entire eastern Christians. Constantine always safeguarded the Christians. The conflict turned out to a battle. The oracles foretold victory to Licinius, while the Christians prayed for Constantine. In AD322 God gave the victory to Constantine in the Battle of Adrianople. Constantine became the sole ruler of the empire and Christianity triumphed. The Emperor Constantine dedicated his whole life to the good of the Church and benefits of the Christians. It was during his reign the Holy Council of the Three Hundred and Eighteen bishops assembled at Nicea in the year 325 A.D. During the reign of Constantine, the name of the city of Jerusalem was restored in place of Elia Capitolina, which it had been given under the Emperor Hadrian.

Constantine died peacefully in the city of Nicomedia during prayer in 337 AD. His body was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. Palestine born Greek apologist and church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, contemporary of the Emperor Constantine, had recorded that the Emperor judged it incumbent on him to render the blessed locality of our Saviour's resurrection an object of attraction and veneration to all; he issued immediate injunctions for the erection in that spot of a house of prayer: and this he did, not on the mere natural impulse of his own mind, but being moved in spirit by the Saviour himself.

Empress Helena:
The great victory of Empress Helena was that she could predispose her son Constantine toward Christian faith, while all his contemporaries despised Christianity. This had paved the way for Constantine to christain his Empire. Another very important contribution of Helena was the finding of the Lord's Cross. In memory of this event, the early Church established the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord. The Empress Helena built several churches in the Holy Land: On Golgotha, the Church of the Resurrection (and Sepulcher) of the Lord, where each year on Great Saturday the holy fire comes down; on the Mount of Olives (where the Lord ascended to heaven); in Bethlehem (where the Jesus was born) and in Hebron at the Oak of Mambre (where God appeared to Abraham). St. Helena stood by her son and encouraged him in all of his pious deeds.

When his troops proclaimed Constantine emperor in 306, one of his first acts was to call his mother from political exile and give her honors befitting the mother of the Roman Emperor. When Constantine embraced Christianity, Helena gave her strong support and encouragement. Helena worked enthusiastically to promote Christianity, and eventually went to the Holy Land, where she spent large sums on the relief of the poor and on building churches on sacred sites.

For about eight years Helena traveled throughout Palestine and the eastern imperial provinces, encouraging the establishment and spread of the Christian faith. In Palestine she sought out the original locations associated with the life of Jesus, and she oversaw the construction of churches Constantine had ordered built at such sites. A pagan temple to Aphrodite built on the tomb site of Jesus' resurrection was torn down and replaced by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Helena's tour became a pattern for Christian pilgrims to discover and honor the places where Jesus had lived.

Return Of Holy Cross to Jerusalem:
The second historical event, which is the source of the feast of Exaltation, was the return of the holy cross to Jerusalem under Emperor Heraclius. According to tradition, Three hundred years after Constantine, the Persians sacked Jerusalem. The wood of the cross had been preserved in the Church of the Resurrection until AD 614. When the Persians captured Jerusalem, they burned the Church of the Resurrection and carried off the cross. After the victory of Emperor Heraclius over the Persians, the cross was returned to Jerusalem on September 14, 628. It is said that the Emperor, dressed in his richest royal vestments tried to carry the cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Mount Calvary. The tradition says that when he tried to lift the Cross, he found that it was too heavy and he could not lift it up. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, seeing this, told the Emperor that the only way to carry the Cross was to do it as Christ had done it. So the Emperor changed into the simple clothing of a pilgrim, took off his shoes and carried the cross on his shoulder to the top of Mount Calvary.

Since its first destruction and subsequent restoration, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was alternately destroyed and rebuilt several more times. When the Arabs conquered Jerusalem in AD 638, they safeguarded the city's Christian sites. The Arabs left the Christian sites relatively undisturbed for almost four centuries, with the exception of a riot in 966 AD. during which the door and roofs of the Church were burned. The current structure closely resembles the building brilliantly restored by Crusaders, who conquered Jerusalem in 1099. Due to this tumultuou past of the site, the six Christian communities share the responsibility for the churches. At the end of 1996, a renovation project was completed.

Transformed Cross:
Crucifixion was an ancient barbarous form of capital punishment. This form of killing was degrading, shameful and caused agonizing pain. Due to its ferocious nature, crucifixion was used only for the meanest criminals, slaves or the murderers' punishment. Before the time of Christ, Cross was an instrument for humiliation, punishment, torture and death. It evoked fear and aversion. With death of Christ on the cross, it became the symbol of love and salvation. The sign of shame and discomfiture became the sign of victory. The two timber pieces joined together, on which the Son of God died to save the mankind became the most precious weapon and the treasured symbol in world for the peace, hope and salvation. The Church is born on the Cross with the blood and water oozed from the body of our savior. (John 19:36).

Christ said, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38). The Lord taught us, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their CROSS and follow Me. (Matt.16:24)" Self-denial is for the sake of carrying His Cross of the Lord Christ. Without the experience of Cross the life of a Christian become insipid. In Cross of Jesus the meaning of sacrifice and self-giving is discerned. And he humbled himself and was obedient unto death, the death of the Cross.” (Phil. 2:6a,7-8)

Cross gives Meaning to our Human Existence. Cross is the epitome of Love. It is a victory over the power of Evil.

“The message of the Cross to those who are perishing is madness, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . For the Jews ask for signs, and the Arameans seek wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to the Jews, and folly to the Arameans.” (1 Cor. 1:18,22)

(Excerpts from 'Light of Life - The Bible : A Family Companion' to be launched)

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CONVENTION SPEECH

WALLS TO BE DESTROYED AND WALLS TO BE REBUILD
FR.
MATHEW KOSHY - ATLANTA

The wall of Jericho could not have been fallen by the strength of the people of Israel or by the superiority of their weapons. To attain the promises from the High we have to break certain walls in our life. Only with the strength of God and with the spiritual efforts these walls can be collapsed.

The Word of God, we read or hear are taken to our hearts persistently and each word is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God, to grasp its inner meaning to a new horizon . Even a word secreted, may be the one by which the Spirit of God touches our heart and transform our entire life. Even though, mortal human beings are being used for the proclamation of the Word of God, they all are literally borne along by the Holy Spirit and the human wills of the speakers are not the originators or carriers of God's message. Our thoughts for today is chosen of two different walls described in the Holy Bible. The first wall is the one we see in the sixth Chapter of the Book of Joshua.

"On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times...So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. " (Joshua 6:20)

This scripture portion recount about the wall of Jericho. The Wall of Jericho could not have been broken by the strength of the people of Israel or by the superiority of their military arsenals, as it was made thick and strong. In order to fulfill and receive the promised deliverances from God to Israelites, Jericho wall had to be destroyed. The strength of God came upon them and hence they could break the the wall of Jericho and enter to the land of Canaan. The shout of faith as their spiritual effort and the might of God could put down the strong wall. Thus by faith, not by force, the walls of Jericho fell down.

The word of God demands us to tear down the walls in our own life to receive the great and precious promises from God. The walls to be fallen in our life are many. Inquire about the strong walls in our life and investigate our inner heart, in order to find where transformations are needed in our life. Our pursuit, for the exploration to detect the walls to be destroyed and the candid efforts for its devastation, should become the theme and culmination of our spiritual life. The walls to be destroyed in our life are the sins. The sin is the factor which alienate us from the presence of God. It may be our proud, deficit in our spiritual life, attractions to the world or any disposition which keeps us away from our God. The impulse to delve into the walls in us should be originated in our own self with the help of Holy Spirit of God. Through our earnest prayers He exposes the sin of our heart which is build up as big walls in our life. Sin may not be external, it may be the one which man do to himself. "...Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." (1 Corithians 6:18 )

Eskimos who live in Arctic Poles of earth use a special technique for hunting Wapusk (White Bear) for their skin. If they kill them by the spear the costly black skin will be distorted. So they pierce a double edged spear in the ice with its sharp edge upward and its tips tainted with blood. The carnivorous white polar bears, reliant on ice for their hunting, lick the spearhead for the blood. It goes on cutting their tongue and keep on drinking their own blood from the spear with out the knowledge that it is the blood of their own body and eventually they die. The bear does not know that their blood is oozed out while they are enjoying the taste of the blood. In the same way the sin which is against our own body is oozing out the blood of our spiritual life and alienate us from God. Many a times Sin keeps us in the bondage. So far we are not willing to peer into our internal, we try to denunciate others for our debacle.

Apostle St. Paul exhorts us that our life is a big race and a big battlefield. In this battle we become victorious only by the great Grace of God. We should attain strength to tumble these walls in our life. The battle that is typified here is the battle with the sin. In the circumstance we live in, where the western thoughts are prevalent, the psychological answers are being choked out for every questions. These deliberation firmly believe that any conflicts in life can be resolved with advancement of the scientific growth and psychological evaluation. That is the reason for the intensifying the counseling programs in the western culture. It is a big limitations in our country that we lack the facilities for the good counseling. We can notify its bad feedback also. We see that suicidal cases are maximum in Kerala. Especially the rate is seen very high in some weird locations. Man is trying to find solutions for his problems with his own worldly wisdom, knowledge, scientific advancement and popular psychology.

Amidst of these, man deliberately forget about the soul and its salvation. In his race to find his own solutions with his own codified principles and skill sets configured out his expertise, the man deprive of the nourishment or the explorations for the salvation of the soul. However as per our traditions, we find that our forefathers assimilated the energy to sustain the spiritual tenets and destroyed the walls which are to be destroyed by the communion with the God. They never confined their problems as problems of their self body or mind. In this world what we need is the reconciliation and communion with God for the nourishment, fulfillment, enlightening and rejuvenation of our soul.

As per the scripture; "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Even though we are sick, our soul is healthy. Even though we have bodily affliction, our soul is rejoicing. Even though we are killed, we live in our soul. This is the effects of spirituality. In the lives of the saints, inspite of that there were obstacle in their life to destroy their spiritual life, it did not have any effect in them. Notwithstanding we live in this world, our soul should not seek for worldly matters. That should be the real Christian life.

In order to open the walls between God and the man we have to break first the walls between man and man. In the Epistle to Ephesians, St. Paul talks about a wall. "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; " (Eph. 2:14)

Apostle here demonstrates that those who were in a state of enmity are reconciled and peace and fraternity is established. Between the Jews and the Gentiles there had been a great wall of enmity. There are walls between God and every unregenerate man. Jesus Christ is our peace. He made peace by the sacrifice of himself with his blood and came to reconcile and hence the middle wall between Jews and Gentiles are broken. In our community there are people who rejoice when they are not in the neighborhood of our own community people. Modern man desire for a life away from the society. Now Jesus had made all one, by reconciling between divisions so that we should not malign, hate or reproach each other.

The life cycle of the silkworm is fascinating in this aspect. When the larva is fully mature, it begin the metamorphosis to spin its cocoon with continuous and reelable thread which it secrets, moving its head around in regular order continuously. On completion of the cocoon, the chrysalis must be killed without damage to the cocoon. As worm spins the cocoon with one continuous thread, it should not be damaged. So Cocoons are boiled in vats. Workers remove the boiled cocoons from the vat and find the end of each strand of silk. In a similar way we are entangled in our own actions and get alienated from the society.

Western countries have taken as a virtual axiom to keep up an individuality culture. It is an attitude of those persons who refuse to subscribe for shared values and common welfare. This is a tendency to magnify individual liberty, as against external authority and individual activity, as against associated activity. Individualism which runs the note of emphasis upon the importance of self: ‘my comfort, my pleasure’; these ideologies can never be justified in Christianity. Modern philosophers started vouching for the dichotomy to establish a socializing community, which are talked in its fundamental terms as collectivism. In our community life and in the social atmosphere, we should establish the intimacy in our relations. The Bible words "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) should prevail in basics of our Christianity.

In our family life, quite often we notice that although we live together, we lack love, compassion and real concern in its root for our father, mother, brother or sister. Unless we are ready for the sacrifice of our own pleasure, we can not have the culmination of love. Man looking at his co-being with suspecian expose the paucity of real love in all sectors of life.

How the Jericho was broken? Joshua formulated a strict methodology. It was not an individual effort, but it was joint effort, a corporate endeavor. As per the Book of Joshua 6:4-22, we learn of three elements involved in this great effort. 1. The Ark of Covenant 2. Priest 3. Disciplined community. This joint effort gets simulated to the act of the Holy Church. "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." (1 Cor. 12:27) Worship together and share the Grace of God together. We share the Grace of God so that others become partakers of it with us. When we minister, or pray, we draw others into a communion with us of the grace we have received. The strength of falling the wall should be attained through our fellowship and spiritual ways. Our ability and talents are to be made use for others. Joshua orders them that you should keep silent till I order you. This refers to a disciplined community.

The second wall we perceive is in the book of Nehemiah, Chapter 2. "...Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?" (Nehemiah 2:3) When the King asks Nehemiah "Why is your face sad though you are not sick?”; he replies him these words. Now the holy walls of the city of God were fallen and Nehemiah was lamenting about it. During the public mission of Jesus Christ we see the Lord lamented about the city of Jerusalem. When some people spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, Jesus laments about Jerusalem: "As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Luk 21:6) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matt. 23:37)

Nehemiah was concerned that the wall of the city of God is to be rebuild. He assigns the miseries and ruins of Jerusalem as the true cause of his grief. Once the Community is broken, family is broken, society is broken or Church is broken we have to extend prayers for it seconded with our serious endeavors as Nehemiah had done. Any of our small effort to create a good atmosphere, let it be even environmental, it may help for a peaceful return. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. The Prophet beacon the multitude to rebuild the fallen walls of God's city. This attitude we should maintain in our family, church and community. We should be self subscribing for the group rebuilding of the social and moral infrastructure of our neighborhoods.

At the time of Napoleon, portrait of a Royal Lute (Veena) was exhibited on his Palace walls with its strings broken and parts disjointed. It depicted the fall of Napoleon. When the family threads were broken, his Empire also was broken. In the society wherever we are, when it pass through storms and difficulties, we should evaluate ourself whether the plummet is caused by our individual slip. In the society we live, at our professional places, in the Churches, we should not be the cause for its delinquency. The walls are to be build for two reasons. First need is Security. As per Scripture portion Eph 2: 23, we are the stones of God's temple and each stone has its own message. We are the safe guards for others. We are the living stones. As Nehemiah build the walls, we should be able to comprehend each other and build up our relations.

There are mainly three points of view to skulk away from the glitches of our society:

1. I do not have to do any thing in the current situations. 2 All commonly are with evils, but I am different. 3. Individually I cannot do much. As World belong to God, it can not be fully evil. If there is evil, we are also responsible for it. For the problems in our family, for the problems in our church, for the problems in our society, we are also equally responsible.

Second need for the wall is to secure our boundaries. We are living in a marginal society and also we opt to live a margin free life i.e. with no boundary. We are loosing many of our boundaries. As a father, children expect many things. As a wife husband expects something. As Children parents expect something. As a teacher student expects many thing. As a priest the people expects many things. Many of our social taboos are gone beyond its limits. We have to start building the walls to keep our boundaries. The freedom that we should enjoy should be the freedom we get through Jesus Christ. This is the freedom created out of sincere relationships and communion with God.

[ JOINT ORTHODOX CONVENTION - 2003 PHILADELPHIA ]

Original Vocal in Malayalam : Translated by Dr.Rajan Mathew

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FELICITATION


FELICITATION
MATHEWS MAR BARNABAS : APOSTLE OF SIMPLICITY
EPISCOPAL SILVER JUBILEE

H.G. MATHEWS MAR BARNABAS

Inundation of the Grace of God on his face, intense compassion in his eyes, acuity akin to Prophet Samuel in sacramental celebrations, graciousness in his words, precision in his mission, spirituality as his traditions; above all an icon of humility and simplicity by his outlook, conglomerated, H.G. Mathews Mar Barnabas, Shepherd of the Malankara Orthodox Church in North America had completed 25 years in the Christian ministry as a Bishop. This is an occasion to offer sweet savor of praises to the Lord our God for his noble leadership and laudable ministry to the Church and community. It is a blessed moment for us to enjoy the exceptional and cherished experience of being respected ourself while we respect the respectable.

It is the simplicity of Mar Barnabas that distinguish him as unique. His humility expresses his sincerity. Sincerity is faithfulness, which comes from love. His austerity reveals the trait of his uncomplicatedness to such an amazement while he achieves a grand level of Godliness through it. As per his own words 'A lot many people try to win the praise through pretension and these pretension is a type of hypocrisy and reveals the lackness of sincerity.'

H.G.Mathews Mar Barnabas was born on August 9, 1924 to the Mariamma and Korulla couple of Thombra Kallarakkaparambil family of Vengola, Perumbavoor. Mathukkutty, by the name he was known that time, had graduated in Science from Madras Christian College and postgraduated from Osmania University, Hyderabad. He was ordained as a Deacon in 1943 by H.H. Mar Basalios Geevarghese II. Dn.K.K.Mathews started his career as teacher in M.G.M. High School, Kuruppumpadi and later in M.D. High School, Kottayam. The Deacon was ordained as a full Priest in 1951 by H.H. Mar Basalios Augen I. Fr.K.K.Mathews served as a Chaplain in Christian Medical College Vellore, Malankara Medical Mission Hospital Kolenchery and as Vicar of St. Andrews Church Secunderbad, St. Peter's & Paul's Church Valayanchirangara, St. Thomas Church Calcutta, St. George Church Jabalpur and St. Luke Church Vellore.

In 1967 Fr. K.K. Mathews was assigned the post of the Warden of Theological Seminary, Kottayam. In 1977 he was ordained as Ramban and in 1978 May 15, he was consecrated as a Bishop by the name Mathews Mar Barnabas and taken over the charge as the Asst. Metropolitan of Ankamali and Kottayam diocese. Later he was assigned the charge of diocesan Metropolitan of Idukki and from 1993 onwards he is Metropolitan of American Diocese.

At different stages Mar Barnabas had officiated the positions of Assistant to Malankara Metropolitan, Manager of Malankara Orthodox Church Colleges, President of Malankara Sabha Magazine, President of Anti-Liquor Society, President of Women's Organization of the Church, President of Girls Association etc. His Grace is a good litterateur and authored many Spiritual and ecclesiastical Books.

His beloved and faithful believers of the American Diocese are celebrating the Episcopal Silver Jubilee of their prefect, at various provinces of the North American Diocese at different time of the Jubilee year, as token of their allegiance to their spiritual leader. H.H. Basalios Marthoma Mathews II has portrayed him in his Special Message ‘His life is a shining example of one live in love and righteousness and will provide necessary inspiration for others to emulate him,’

The encouragement and blessings given by Barnabas Thirumeni to us for this humble mission of edification is tremendous. We are gratified and exceedingly grateful to Barnabas Thirumeni for the same. In the fullness of prayer and purity of truthfulness we, The Christian Light of Life Publication along with all its associates, wish Thirumeni all the best and pray to God for the long life, health and prosperity in spirituality. May the God Almighty shower His Grace and strength to Thirumeni for many many years to come for the sacred service to the community and Christianity.

Dr. Rajan Mathew

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NEWS FEATURE


NEWS FEATURE
TEAM CHRIST
BY BINSU JOHNNY


David proclaims in Psalms 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Inspired by these words, a young Orthodox group came together last August to organize a small camp for the Dallas M.G.O.C.S.M. What resulted instead was a massive effort that produced one hundred and fifty young men and women, ranging in ages from 14 to 28, whom came together in fellowship and unity for the first annual Dallas Orthodox Youth Camp named Camp TeamCHRIST. Representing those in attendance were youth from the cities of Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and even Washington D.C.

TEAM CHRIST
GROWING TOGETHER WITH JESUS
(EPH. 2:19-22; 4:15)

By bringing all these kids to Cleburne, TX, we were able to promote the true purpose behind Camp TeamCHRIST, which was to promote the concept of Unity in an interactive and fun approach. Also, under the umbrella concept of Unity, four major sub themes of Loyalty, Patience, Humility and Friendship were taught, discussed and practiced through fellowship, outdoor activities, short interactive lessons, sermons, and praise & worship sessions.

Beginning on the Friday evening of August 29th, the attending youth were split into the four teams that they would spend the rest of the weekend with. Each team was asked to develop an identity by building a flag, a cheer and most importantly, a friendship. The next day included a rotation of teams through our sub theme centered outdoor activities. Each stop introduced new challenges to each team that prompted them to participate in physical competitions, physical challenges or mental challenges that reflected one of the sub themes. After each activity, the leaders took some time to discuss the importance and Christian perspective of each sub theme and how it related to the activity they had just finished participating in. All those lead to a combined large event for all four teams that culminated in a very physical but enjoyable “Capture the Flag” game.

In addition to the outside events, all of us were blessed by the inspirational words of the Rev. Fr. Alexander Kurien from Washington D.C. His message provided a definite highlight for the camp as he enriched his audience in the gospel of our Lord. Also, once in the morning and once by the candle lit night sky, the camp was dually blessed by the amazing Praise and Worship Band that lead the camp in song after glorious song. With candles in hand and a bonfire blazing behind us, this part of the weekend definitely drew a spiritual fire in everyone as we sang and worshipped together in the Lord’s name. As symbolic as any part of camp, the sea of candle flames showed what we hoped to convey about Unity in the Orthodox faith.

Finally, Sunday brought about what we thought was the best part of camp, which was appropriately saved for last. Alexander Achen performed an awe inspiring and touching English Qurbana on Sunday which was reciprocated by an equally moving church body made up of 150 youth wearing the same camp shirt, expressing the same camp spirit of unity and belting out the same English Qurbana songs. The Holy Spirit was truly in our midst and made the service and the weekend that much more blessed.

Our goal was to bring a camp atmosphere to help rejuvenate spirituality within the Orthodox youth through unity and a little good-natured team competition. The positive vibe felt from Camp TeamCHRIST connected all 150 people in a way that is hard to explain through these simple words. Hopefully, all of the participants left with the same sense of pride and excitement in the Orthodox Church that we as leaders came away with. So far, the feedback for Camp TeamCHRIST has been overwhelming and even better than what we expected.

We believe that this is just a beginning and that hopefully a sense of excitement for future MGOCSM events will arise from our work. We thank all those that attended, and everyone that prayed for its success. We are hopeful that events like Camp TeamCHRIST will inspire other youths nationwide in the Diocese to take a more active role in their MGOCSM. In the end, it is our own personal responsibility that the Orthodox faith stays alive and grows even stronger for generations to come. What has been most rewarding out of all this has been the ability to see genuine enjoyment and excitement inspired within the youth about our Orthodox brand of Christianity. In closing, one camper said it best when he said, “the camp was superfabulawesome!”

-Camp TeamCHRIST Planning Committee.

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