Dearly beloved in Christ,

I would like to deliberate here of two persons described in the Bible during the birth of Jesus Christ. The first one is Simeon. There is a very a important traditional story behind this Simeon. He was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel and the Holy Ghost was upon him. Simeon was a Scribe. The job of Scribe is to maintain the scripture, read it, make copy of it and make it available. The Holy Scriptures were kept as rolls that time. Simeon was engaged in this job. In God's temple, there were group of industrious devout people who sit at a holy place and would like to meditate the divine Word of God and get experienced out of it. Simeon was one among them. Once, while he was copying from the book of Isaiah, he noticed in the Isa. 7:14. "...Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." This was the prophecy of Isaiah about the birth of Messiah about 700 years before His birth. These are very remarkable and noteworthy words. These are the words you and me should learn attentively, practice, believe and behave accordingly. We are bound to believe it. This word cannot be denied or defied. It cannot be forgotten.

Naturally Simeon found it difficult to conceive the words ‘Son of a Virgin’. He had an apprehension about this prophecy of Isaiah. He used his imagination and changed the word 'Virgin' as 'Woman'. The very next day while referring to the text he found the word is changed back as Virgin. He thought it is done by some of his colleagues. Again Simeon changed the word as Woman. To his astonishment, he noticed the word was again changed back as Virgin. Simeon prayed to God, O Lord, reveal me the truth.. reveal me the truth. To his prayers, he received an oracle of a gracious promise from the God. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death until he could have a sight of the Messiah, the Lord’s Anointed, with his own eyes.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, it is written that Joseph, her husband did not want to disgrace Mary and planned to send her away secretly as she was found conceived before they came together. Joseph wanted to protect his would-be wife somehow and refused to make her a public specimen. Joseph did this because he was a man of justice. In the night, the Angel of God appeared to him and told, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." This is the mystery of the birth of the Son of God. If this part was not there in the scripture we would not have praised God as we do it today. It is the biggest astonishment among the worldly scholars. However, there are many human organs which believe that Jesus is born by a natural marital relationship.

The Book of Genesis, which is written many many years ago, refers to this point. It is mentioned there that the Messiah should be born of a virgin, when it was said that he should be the seed of the woman; so the seed of the woman as not to be the seed of any man. The sign given in the prophecy of Isaiah was also that the Messiah shall be born of a virgin. Bible contains many mysteries and secrets. Bible is the most mysterious holy book in the world. There is no other book in the world which contains such big treasure of the mystery of godliness unfolded.

Just then, when Joseph and Mary brought in the Child, to be registered as it were in the church-book, among the first-born after the custom of the law, Simeon came, by direction of the Spirit, into the temple. The Spirit of God whispered in his ear, "Go to the temple now, and you shall see what you have longed to see.’’ He immediately rushed to the Temple and with abundant satisfaction he welcomed this sight: He took the Child up in his arms, he embraced Him with the greatest affection imaginable and with full of joy as it could hold. He proclaimed that he could see the salvation of God with his own eyes. The solemn declaration he made here upon: he blessed God, and said, Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. It was a most honorable testimony borne to the Child by Simeon that this is the Child he and the whole Israel was waiting for. How big a mystery is contained in this incident? This mystery is beyond our imagination. It is divine. It is out of the extents of the human brain. It is the mystery man cannot think of. St. Augustine said; “Spiritual truths are beyond human reasoning." This is for you and me to believe without any reservations.

The second person I would like to depict here is Anna. Anna was a prophetess. She was of a great age, and had been a widow of about eighty-four years. She had lived with her husband only for seven years after marriage, yet she never married again, but continued to be a widow to her dying day, which is mentioned to her praise. She was a resident in the temple abounded in devotions, for she served God with fasting and prayers night and day, always lived a mortified life, and spent that time in religious exercises. Like others, she was also looking for the redemption of Israel. She too came in at that instant when the child was presented, and Simeon discoursed concerning Him.

Here it favors us with the testimony of two special witnesses regarding the birth of the long promised Messiah, one a woman and the other a man. These both show us for what reason we had to rejoice. What is the biggest comfort you can enjoy in this world? Like this Simeon and Anna, to be in communion with God and to keep intimate fellowship with God, with out any breakage of sliding away or any recession, is the biggest fortune in our life. I witness and confess very clearly and specifically this truth to you. Our life will be gratified if we can safeguard our life in the presence of God like that of Simeon and Anna each of a different gender. If this communion is lost, we lost everything. If we fail in it, we fail in everything.

I do not know where I will be during this time next year. Therefore I enjoy the happiness to be with you all. I consider you all as my own children. The divine experience Simeon and Anna enjoyed in the presence of God, their aspiration to see the Lord face to face and their courage to look to heaven are the most enjoyable moments in our life. We are bound to hold the Cross of Christ. While we encounter with the Cross of Christ, we should not severe our relation with Him. St. Paul told whether he is with the body or without the body, he did not want to please anybody except God. He thought it is good to be with the body for the sake of his people. We should read and study the Bible very carefully. We should meditate the Word of God. O' my brethren, you should not loose this. There will be hardships and hindrances in our life. But we should not fail. We should not loose. We have to bear many deserving and undeserving crosses in our life. But we should prepare ourself to any type of cross God gives to us. Our prayers should be to attain the courage to bear all the crosses very happily. When we leave this world we should get the fortune to be in the footsteps of our savior.

What I want to exhort you, out of my cherished love and affection to you, is that you should safeguard your communion with God and uphold your intimate relationship with Him. Preserve that affection which is showered upon you with out any dimness or damage. He sees you, He watches you! God had granted the aged Simeon and the aged Anna a chance to see and enjoy face of God. In the same way let us also get the great fortune to live in the joy and happiness in Him and to conclude our life to join our forefathers in the presence of God with holiness.

God bless you all.

[Inaugural Speech delivered at Mid-Tranancore Convention-2004 at Makkamkunnu, Pathanamthitta]
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It is only appropriate and timely to think and reflect on the pains and passion of our Savior during this season of lent. Across America Mel Gibson’s controversial film “The Passion of the Christ” has enhanced our awareness about the sufferings of our Lord to a great extent. The film is remarkably dramatizing about His physical and mental agony of Jesus Christ during the last few hours of His life.

According to the scripture, God had already set the plan of salvation of mankind before the creation and the fall of man to sin and spiritual death. In the Garden of Eden when the Lord God proclaimed, “Her offspring will crush your head and you will bite their heel” Genesis 3:15, our Lord’s sacrificial death and sufferings was already prophesized. There are more than 300 prophesies about our Lord in the Bible and all are being fulfilled according to God’s own timetable. Prophet Isaiah’s book, chapters 9,11,42,50,53, several psalms, very specially psalm 22 and several other books of the Old Testament proclaim about the birth, life, mission, sufferings and resurrection of the Messiah. Actually the people of Israel was chosen among other nations and prepared for the arrival of the Savior for the entire mankind.

Our Lord Himself told the woman of Samaria, “it is from Jews that salvation comes” John 4:22. In Hindu Vedas the sufferings and death of “Praja Pathi” described in detail is said to be a shadow of the passion of God-Man of Jesus Christ! The writers of Hebrews, Romans clearly show the need and details of the process of sacrificial death and victory of the Messiah over sin and death, the hope and salvation of believers. Sins are forgiven only if blood is poured out Hebrews 9:22. During the passion our Lord’s blood was poured out profusely and painfully for our sins. When the Lord declared on the cross “it is finished”, it meant that the work for salvation was completed forever. “With one sacrifice, then He has made perfect forever those who are purified from sin. I will not remember their sins and evil deeds any longer. So when these have been forgiven, any offering to take away sins is no longer needed” Hebrews 10:14-18. Our Lord’s sacrifice can never be repeated, should not be imitated, but we can thankfully remember always and praise the Lord for the freedom from the sin and death He has set for every repenting sinner.

When the Lord cried out from the cross “I am thirsty”, He was revealing God’s everlasting thirst for every sinner and giving an invitation to all of us to come to Him and drink redemption freely from the Savior. When the Lord prayed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34, Isaiah 53:12, it was our eternal High Priest’s mediatory prayer for the forgiveness of all mankind. When one of the criminals repented the Lord unconditionally gave entrance to paradise that was lost to Adam and Eve because of their sins.

As human beings we can never know of the depth of the physical, mental and spiritual sufferings the Lord experienced when he was marked out for bearing our sins and curses. “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29. “Because of our sins He was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did.” Isaiah 53:5. “He was put to death for the sins of our people.” Isaiah 53:8. When the Lord cried out on Calvary “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me” Psalm 22:1, Mark 15:34, He was revealing a glimpse of the unbearable and excruciating pain He experienced when the Father turned His face from the Son of Man who became the sinner and curse for every one of us. In one of the Psalms it is written, “You turned your face away from me, then I was frightened.” The sinless Lamb of God bore our sins, curses and sickness and paid a price through the suffering and death.

Let us not forget the great truth that our Lord arose from the grave after three days. The Lord's sufferings without resurrection are just the sufferings of another martyr. Resurrection is the victory over death and hope for our own resurrection. Our Lord is risen, He is alive, He is with us to the end of time. It is the resurrection that makes and marks Christianity distinctly and uniquely different form other religions and religious teachers and prophets. It is the presence of the empty tomb that fills and strengthens our hope for the future eternal life. His sufferings on the cross for us become meaningful and fruitful because of His glorious resurrection and triumph over death. Because of His sacrificial suffering and death we are freed from sin. Because of His resurrection, we can hope for our own resurrection at the time of His second coming and eternal life with Him. Let us learn to identify our own trials and troubles with our Savior’s Pain and Passion and surrender our lives to abide within Him to produce fruits for glorifying the blessed Trinity, the true One and the Only Living God. Amen

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Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage: Ending of a marital relationship. Divorce occurs or happens when a husband and wife decide that they can not live together or get along anymore and no longer they want to be in the state of married. They agree to sign legal papers that make them singles again and allow them to marry other people if they desire.

Divorce is stressful and it’s full of new challenges. The laws and terminology can be intimidating and effects of how it’s handled can affect people rest of their lives. Divorce is a complex process that affects every part of life. Entire families are affected, not just the two parties divorcing.

It’s most often easy for a husband and wife to decide to end a marriage. Often they spend long time trying to solve problems before deciding to divorce, but sometimes they just can’t fix problems and decide “divorce” is the best solution. Sometimes both husband and wife desires to have divorce. Sometimes only one wants and the other does not want.

Every couple has their own reason for divorce. Lack of patience, endurance and ample sincerity to get problems solved is what makes matters worse in most cases. The husband and wife would have been bought up in two different family backgrounds, For a marriage to be saved there should be some sort of sacrifice from both the parties. Ego factor is also a cause. Willingness to come to term should be there. In a game there is always a winner and a looser. There is nothing wrong in one person loosing. If both parties win who will be the looser? If there is no trust and belief in a marriage. If there are repeated problems and harassments then it’s better to separate. Although one should try maximum to see that problem is not dragged to a family court, because once so, both parties become keener on wining the case. Remember that there is no families without problems. Prayer is one of the most essential thing in a family life. A family who prays together stays together. Try the maximum to solve things within the four walls of your home, atleast for the future of the children.

Higher education level often increases the chance of divorce between a couple not happy with their relationship. Factors such as increased number of women with higher education levels, more women entering the work force and wages that are nearly equal between men and women, play an important role. More women are able to support themselves and their children in the event of a divorce, and choose to do so rather than remain in an unsatisfying marriage.

It is suprising to see that those who are more religious and attend church regularly are more likely to divorce when they are less satisfied with their marriage. Another force increasing likelihood of divorce occurs when a couple has conflicting personal beliefs. The more children a couple has, the higher the likelihood of divorce becomes.

It’s really difficult to recognize how a divorce is affecting a child. The children are in crisis. When children are going through a seperation or divorce, one thing that’s really important to remember is that a lot of times they will hold back their own emotions in order to help the parent who is still left with them. Children sometimes feel that they were responsible for the divorce. There should be someone to remind them that divorce is not their problem it’s an adult’s problem. Children’s education are most affected by divorce. The child’s grades drop and they start acting as if they are not interested in anything. Children’s sudden behavior change in schools could be because of difficulty of coping with the break down of the parent’s marriage. School counsellors could be of very good help in such situations.

Divorce is difficult for children and they need coping. Through divorce the child loses both parents. One leaves and other one changes and both can’t be there for the child. Children who are unhappy, anxious and insecure is likely to find it hard to concentrate at school. When parents divorce, usually one parent moves out of the house & lives somewhere else. Some kids spend part of the time living with one parent and part of the time living with the other. Some kids whose parents are divorced will have to move to a new home or new neighborhood and that could be tough.

For a kid of divorced family, it means step families some day, don’t expect everything to go smoothly all the time. It can be really hard dealing with divorce, but try to remember that lots of kids go through what you are going through, and usually everything and everyone turns out fine. In fact as bad as things might seem right now - you just might be surprised at how good the future turns out to be

God’s own country - Kerala stands first among divorces in India. The most affected persons in divorces are the children. Couples find some relief but the children are the suffers. Children feel totally abandoned and orphaned. Children feel happy only when they grow with both their parents. A child seperated from a parent builds up a hidden character, which may make him dangerous person in future. Unsettled and unhappy families also nurture insecure children. Alcoholism, wayward parents, financial problems are such very common factors leading to divorces.

Kids can’t cause divorce. Many children of divorced parents believe that they are the reason their mom and dad got divorced. They think that only if they had behaved better, got better grades or helped around the house, divorce would never have happened. But that’s not really true. Children remember - “Divorce is between mom’s and dad’s only”.

No matter what age your child is - Seperation or Divorce will have an Effect. Impact is more easily recognizable in school aged children.

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Indigenous advances in archaeology, numismatics, anthropology, epigraphy, geography, geology, ocean studies, art, architecture, culture, literature, folk arts, place name studies,etc. in recent years have shed considerable new light on the origins and situation of early Christianity in Kerala and as such serve scholars as meagrely used but excellent resource tools for Syrian Christian studies .This is an attempt to survey the rock-work in the art and architecture of the churches of Kerala.

The St. Thomas Christian Encycloppaedia (STCEI), Vol.II, and the Indian Churh History Classics (ICHC), Vol.I (i.e.The Nazranies), may be consulted for illustrations. In those volumes there are scores of pictures of rock objects from churches. Rock art in churches, viz. the Nazraney Sthamba or rock obelisk cross, the rock Deepa Sthamba, or lamp-stand, the copper-sheathed Dwaja Sthamba or Kodimaram/flagstaff, are all found in front of the typical early Nazraney churches, and the baptismal font or Mammodisakkallu in the baptistry, often situated at the west end of the nave, immediately after the portico or Mukhamandapam, and the Aanavathil. However in the west-Syriac tradition the baptismal fonts are today to be seen near the altar. True, this will only cover the front courtyard of the church and just take us beyond the threshold of the nave into the baptistry. But we must stop with that for the present.

Places of worship in Kerala as in many other climes were generally constructed on hilltops or the highest available spot in a locality, except of course those on the sea-coast and river banks. People reached the place of worship climbing the steep slopes, afterwards replaced by granite steps. The Thrissur Vadakkunnathan temple of Pooram fame is still reached by climbing the slopes, but most churches today have steps and side roads leading to them, as at Ollur, Kuravilangad, Uzhavoor, Parappur, Ramapuram, Kaduthuruthy, and Changanassery.

Festival related and liturgical processions in Malabar are of at least four kinds : certain pradakshinams or processions starting near the altar end at the mukhamandapam or portico of the church, many others, importantly, enter the courtyard and go round the rock cross, others go round the church, still others wind along the valley-roads surrounding the church-hill, commencing and concluding at the foot of the rock-cross.

There are three striking objects of significance in front of the typical Malabar churches, either inside the courtyard or just outside it: the open-air granite(rock) cross which the present writer has christened Nazraney Sthamba or flag-staff made of Keralas famed teak wood (e.g. at Parur), and often enclosed in copper sheaths / hoses or paras (as at Changanassery, Pulinkunnu, or Chambakkulam), or made out of some other wood or other material.Stambas or pillars of some type or other are to be found among the Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, etc. in India. Such pillars and structures were part of the Christian heritage of Kerala much before the ascendancy of Vedic Hinduism in these parts , although James Fergusson did not know or care about these.

The ubiquitous cross of Malabar churches is best represented by the rock crosses, mostly outside the churches.The open-air rock-cross of Malabar is an obelisk, a tall stone column, with four, sometimes decorated, slightly stapering sides. Rome has many obelisks (from Egypt and the East) which have been sometimes made into cross-bearing structures decorating the piazzas and squares); London has one on the banks of the Thames (Cleopatras Needle); Paris has one at the place d la concorde; and even New York has one in the central park. Many memorials like the Washington Memorial are obelisk-shaped. The Asoka Pillar and other such Indian pillars must have been inspired by the Graeco-Parthians, under Egyptian-Persian influence. The Nazraney sthamba is a direct descendant of the obelisk.,and much closer to it than the other Indian pillars - in shape, method of constuction and transportaion, method of erection, function, and solar symbolism. The Roman obelisk, bearing crosses today, have been converted to Christianity, while Keralas cross-shaped obelisks were born Christian.The obelus and the double-dagger reference marks in printing may be profitably recalled here.

The three-tier gabled indigenous architecture of Kerala churches, which lacked facades until the coming of the Portuguese, immensely gains in richness, symmetry, and beauty because of the open-air rock crosses, some of them more than 30 feet in height including the intricately carved pedestals, and monolithic shafts. No other community in Kerala has such a huge monumental stone structure, and no other Christianity has such a universal and huge emblem in front of the churches. The indoor counterparts of these crosses have the earliest carvings in Kerala of the national flower lotus and the national bird peacock. Perhaps even the national animal tiger is first depicted in Kerala art in church sculpture. There was no rock carving in South India prior to the period of these indoor crosses. The motifs, message , and images on these crosses and their pedestals display a remarkable degree of Indianness and Malayalee Thanima or identity. Vedic Hindu Gods and Goddessess like Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Sapthamathas , Jeshta etc. appear in the art of the central Guruvayoor/Palayoor-Quilon part of Chera country only after the 11th-13th centuries, and even in the Salem-Erode section, and the Trivandrum-Cape Comorin section Vedic Hindu deities appear in art only as late as the 9th century A.D.

The base with a socket, the monolithic square and slightly tapering shaft with cylindrical terminals, the horrizontal piece forming the arms with a double(hole) socket in the middle, and the capital with a cylindrical bottom end are the four members of the open air cross.They are so well chiselled and proportionate that when put together the socket and cylinder arrangement enables the cross to stand by itself. However for the bigger crosses, pedestals in the form of sacrificial altars or Ballikallus are found, often carrying exquisite reliefs of the flora and fauna of the land in addition to scenes from daily life and biblical scenes.The cross representing the supreme Bali (sacrifice) or Mahabali appearing on the Balikkallu most appropriately represents the Calvary/Bethania events and sheds plenty of light on the ideological, historial, cultural and technological bent of mind of the forefathers. Compare with the base of the Obelisk of Theodosius, Constantinople, A.D.390.

The obelisk is a ray of the sun - here a ray of Christ (of Horus -Xt. the sun-God). This ray helps the lotus near - universally depicted on such crosses to blossom forth representing in a typical Indian poetic conceit the grace received by the sin - bound human soul(panka jam) from Christ. Lotus, representing the sun is found in other early Indian art also. The Buddhist Padmapada concept also comes to mind. The half dozen interior Pehlavi inscribed crosses, some of them surely of pre 7th century origin, which were mostly tombstones before they were put up on the altars, have generally the dove (Holy Spirit) depicted on top of the clover or flowertipped equal-armed Greek cross, in addition to the lotus at the bottom.

In this three piece (Thri-kanda) cross one might, perhaps, with considerable effort read the lotus represented Brahma (Father), Vishnu, and Shiva. The arrangement to hold wicks found on the open air crosses may be related to the preservation of fire, and the effort to make it available to the common people in the dim past, when Homakundams were rare in Kerala or beyond the reach of the common folk. It is perhaps in connection with the need to preserve fire that the oil-Nerchas and oil Araas of the churches, and the compound -wall rocklamps are to be evaluated. The oil related objects in the churches also indicate the connection of this christianity with the trade of the land, especially oil-trade.The bell like arrangement on some crosses also are noteworthy. Veneration of the cross, angels, Adam and Eve... and of course the Indian Cross itself are some of the religious carvings on these structures.

The square or polygonal shape of the individual pieces in the granite or rock lampstands at Kallooppara, Kundra, and Chengannur indicate the antiquity of such lampstands in the churches.Unlike in the churches, in the temples, the tradition of these lamps continued and thus developed into the present-day round shape of the pieces. In art history generally the simpler forms make their app- earance first , and refinements and complications indicate a later date. Even when the tradition of lampstands declined in the churches, many open-air crosses had wickholders incorporated into them, with the advantage that wind and rain do not put off the flames. Church walls still display rows of rock lamps. Inside the churches the tradition of bronze lamps continued many churches still displaying rows of rock lamps. Inside the churches the tradition of bronze lamps continued vigorously, representing a variety of shapes and types, and some lamps having even hundreds of wickholders, e.g. the Aayiram Aalila lamps at Arthat or Angamaly.

In front of the church the third interesting object is the flagstaff, sometimes covered with copper paras. Every festival is announced with the Kodiyettu or flag-hoisting, a tradition going back to early Buddhist times at least. All these three objects in the courtyard of the church have a variety of liturgical functions associated with them.

Let us now climb and go across the portico and enter the Haikala or nave beyond the Aanavathil to look at the rock baptismal font in the baptistry.

The Architraves and doorposts in many churches are good examples of south Indian rock-carving. (e.g.old Kayamkulam, Chengannur, Kanjoor). But the rock-baptismal fonts are the real pride of many an old church.

There are interesting rock baptismal fonts at Edappally, Kanjoor, Mylakkombu, Muthalakkodam, Changanassery, Kothamangalam, Kadamattom etc. The similarity of these baptismal fonts with illustrations of the fonts used for the baptism of Constantine (4thC.) and Clovis (RheimsC.496) is remarkable.

All the old baptismal fonts are of granite or very hard laterite. They are all huge in size indicating that baptism by immersion must have been the order of the day. Most of the old baptismal fonts depicted in the STCEI II & the ICHC I were probably of a date prior to or very near the decree of the Synod of Diamper which made permanent fonts more or less compulsory. Although most of the old baptismal fonts/ baptistries are found near the west end or middle of the nave on the northern side - Kaduthuruthy(Big), old Edappally, old Kanjoor, Changanassery (Southern side), in many churches, mostly Jacobite/Orthodox they are found close to the sanctuary e.g. Angamaly (Middle-church), Kallooppara. They are exquisitely carved with reliefs of the baptism of Christ, Mary feeding the Child, angels, Indian crosses, etc. There are also wonderful motifs of leaves, the basket pattern, coir pattern, etc. engraved on these stones. By the way the very Malayalam word Mammodisakkallu indicates a font made of stone. Another term is mammodisath-thotti. The Holy Water Font is called Annavella Thotti.

Alexander the Great and his general Selucus both westerners were in Takshashila or cut stone (Taxila) in Gandhara, the land of Gandhari and Shakuni on the banks of the Indus, before the architect and builder Thomas arrived in those parts. The daughter of Selucus supposedly married Chandra Gupta Maurya. Their (?) son Bimbisara was the father of Ashoka the Great. Was Ashoka a foreigner? Until James Pincep deciphered the writings on an Ashoka Pillar in the 19th century, our knowledge even of this great Indian emperor was minimal. Compared to this our knowledge of Apostle Thomas Indian sojourn must be considered quite adequate. But that is another story.

The national emblem of india is derived from one of the Ashoka pillars.One can see this emblem of four lions and the wheel on any Indian currency note in ones pocket.Those lions of Ashoka roared not in hostility but in love.The roar of these four lions for love we next hear from the amazingly attractive ancient rock baptismal fonts of Malabar, at Edappally, Kanjoor, and elsewhere.These four lions support the hemispherical basin of the font, as the Ashoka lions were supporting a globe, in the very same manner in which the Egyptian obelisks were supporting the shining disk of the Sun. But in the midst of our other interests we failed to give our ears to these voices and to preserve these great Malabar lions , an endangered species , indeed , in our own midst.

For at Edappally e.g. the stone baptismal font was dismantled into three pieces and strewn about the courtyard of the church, at the mercy of the innumerable, pilgrims and pick-pockets freqenting the spot .

At Angamaly one could still see the old baptismal font in many pieces near the priests kitchen. In Punnathra the font is used to collect rain-water, an euphemism this writer has been using for a salty human out pouring.At Kudamaloor the font once used to baptise the Blessed Sr.Alphonsa, had to be rescued from the layers of plaster on the wall.This list it is not necessary to prolong. Cry, the beloved country. (Adapted from a paper presented by the author at the Societas Liturgica Congress, Kottayam.)

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The Biblical character Job, a sort of a hero in epic dimensions, is the prototype of Christian endurance and sufferings. A true Christian life is a battle of Golgotha, a battle between the infernal guards and man who is equipped with the weapons provided by the angels of light. Every man, like Job, is a guinea pig in the war industry of Satan’s laboratory. “Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night, which said, ‘a man-child is conceived’. Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it.... Let it not rejoice among the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months...let that night be barren.... because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hide trouble from my eyes.... For my sighing comes as my bread, and my groaning are poured out like water”..... (Job.3). Despite he sobs bitterly, saying, “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward”(Job.5: 7); he consoles himself, muttering, “ God bandages the wounds he makes; his hands hurts you, and his hand heals”(Job.5; 18). The prophets, Christ and apostles have been warning us to remember four things in life always: death, Heaven, hell and the Last Judgement, not the birthday. It is, therefore, obvious that the life after death is more important than life before it, but the thorny part is the one that which moulds the crown of jewels for next life. The day of death is more meaningful than the day of birth; hence we give a ceremonious burial, with musical bands, at the time when they are born among the departed souls and angels. Carrying the yoke of sufferings patiently and passively is the panacea prescribed by the Redeemer for next life.

In order to restore Adam who ate the forbidden fruit the Redeemer’s first step was to abstain from food for 40 days, despite he was tempted by His adversary in the same coin. His next step in rehabilitating the fallen race that was preyed upon by the opening of the nakedness by disobedience was by blessing the sacrament of marriage by transforming the colourless, odourless and tasteless water as wine at Cana, symbolizing wine as His blood that we use in the H.Eucharist (1.Jn.5:8). This is the likely reason for the second Eve to instruct the servants to obey whatever He commands (Jn.2) for the reparation of the disobedience at Eden. “Obedience is better than sacrifice”. Offering His own H.Blood at Cana, signaling that ideal family life is a sacrosanct institution that can sublimate all the havoc done by the gall fruit, He reinstated the relationship that ruptured between man and God. He is a role model who enlightened Himself by prayer and fasting before He did the first miracle publicly during his onward journey to Calvary. A true Christian also should become an Elect of the Spirit first by private practice (1.Pet.2: 21), before embarking into the arena of selfless and unblemished public service. We live for others, not for us.

The mention of birthday celebration was neither made in the Judeo- Christian literature and traditions nor was practiced by the H.Fathers. As all our worship and religious life is only centered on the Redeemer, no importance is being given to any person other than the celebrations of saints’ memory. The church declares a holy man as a saint only after 50 years of one’s death, depending on the witnesses of miracles. We don’t celebrate the feasts of saints’ on Sundays, fearing that it may overshadow the glorification of the Lord’s resurrection. The Christmas celebration is the birth of the messiah in Bethlehem, the ONE begotten before the creation of the world. He lives in us, and we in Him. Man cannot live without Him; hence no separate entity for man here (JN.6: 63). We are born above at every moment of our life, not on the birthday only. Thus it is a sacrilege to sever us of from the Living One by celebrating our birthday and declaring oneself as a living saint. The Lord prescribes only the daily bread, not for the next day as in the case of collecting manna by the Israelites. It is ludicrous for the clerical hierarchy to pray for one’s earthly blessings during the Eucharist, overriding the authority of the Creator. While I was attending a H.Eucharist 2 weeks back in a foreign country, I witnessed that the birthday and wedding anniversary prayers were incorporated in the prayer of intercession in the middle of the worship, unlike done at the end in other parishes. Individuals make lot of such changes (Mt.18: 17) without the H.Synod’s approval that is read in each parish. A number of people do meet unnatural and untimely death on the same day of their birthday despite the prayer for earthly blessing stands for the next one-year. Praying for a posh life for the following year is a trespass into the Creator’s territory. So far we have been praying only for a peaceful end of our life; the ambitious time limit is not within our jurisdiction. How despicable is the celebration of the birthday of the departed! The list is added on one after the other: wedding anniversary and high students’ performance...

These occasions are the ploys of collecting money for the parish, as well as for the shepherd, by invoking perfidious sentiments, worshippers’ fears and worries which later on add more fuel for making a dupe of Lucifer for the irreligious and unrighteous ones by eclipsing the sacramental life to the subordinate level. The shepherd sends prior birthday cards, enclosing an envelope for donation, and with a request to attend the following Sunday service and accept the H.Mysteries. Thus the Compunction of heart and the sacrament of Confession are no longer the pre-requisites for taking the Mysteries. As unusual, he comes in the beginning of the worship like a prince hailed for his coronation, wearing special cloths and luxuriant grooming. Giving salutations and shake hands is a special status to be enjoyed; similar to that we give to the bride or bridegroom. They also bring birthday cakes and sweets to distribute to the adulators. The clergy also will be invited to the previously arranged venues for big parties nurtured by dances, cultural shows and decorated cake cutting. The person gets the presents, and the shepherd gets the golden handshake. It is only the money that can speak in this Stone Age spirituality set apart for Kaliyuga. We drain so much money for parties such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, baptism, house blessings, memory celebrations, superfluous weddings, consecration of churches, rasas (processions) that culminate in drunken revelries and fire works, advertisements, for earthly achievements at various stages under the auspices of religious elites, ignoring the Christian stewardship of sharing the wealth with the poor. Thanks to the mushrooming of catering, medical and other chain industries that thrive by adulterations and gluttony that manufacture chronic diseases for good. The clerics won’t curtail these extravagances because they lose benefits that sustain their opulence. In this age of sub-terrestrial culture, the culture of giving and accepting the unaccountable money and favours by the clergy are to be treated as bribery or robbery.

Lately, women are the hinge pins everywhere, at home, workplaces, and social places...because they are in the work force earning money like men. People everywhere try to exploit their favours and money; hence the flavour of feminism is also added as a spice in the church agenda. A special deity is set apart for women for their favours. In order to nurture and nourish special sympathy for women, St.Mary’s birthday on September 8th is elaborately celebrated with fasting and praying for 8 days, despite this is not in the church calendar. The clergy also encourages this unofficial feast as they get more money for the church and for themselves. To ensnare the student community into the web the clergy and the church offer special prayers for their envious achievements in their studies and approaching examinations. The next list may be the prayers for the job seekers. To put in a nutshell, the clergy, women and children are mere pawns in the hands of business communities; they conjure up all such business mantras for their gains. The politicians make nets for the trading communities, but the tentacles of money also ensnare them. The whole world is under the magic of money that derived from petrol and war industries. Sacraments, feasts and festivities are done under the witchery of money, wealth and unclean passions. “ Your Father knows what you need before you ask him”(Mt.6: 2-8), the Lord gives the answer to these craving passions. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well”(Mt.6: 33). The sanctimonious faith is in a whirlpool of material wealth that propels the passions of the flesh. Those who stand against to such paranoia are trampled over, insulted and jeered at to their perdition. The seers saw this peril well in advance. “ the last days there will come times of stress... For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money,.. holding the form of religion but denying the power of it”(2.Tim.3; 1-5).

The amassment of money made by hook or by crook impels man to be a hero of the public. The fair-minded and sane members consequently abstain from the parish organizations and committees and the meetings, which give room for the irreligious ones to play the holy politics. He makes church as a platform to whet his appetite for expanding his commercial instincts with the support of the members of the sub-culture. The clergy also cultivates such opportunities to fish in troubled waters for their personal gains at the expense of pure faith enshrined by the H.Fathers. The laity that neither honours nor practices the chaste faith of the church make the clergy as a puppet by bribing with favours and money. They try to attract the attention of the members with number of innovations and renovations, so that they can enhance their business enterprises and embezzle the church funds to their personal gains. They build and consecrate glamorous parish buildings, auditoriums, demolishing the strong antique structures. Decorations with costly materials, new architecture of the modern technology, angel- resembling electric display, Heavenly materials and colours ...are the features of the gigantic cement structures of the modern era. Just before Jesus gave the signs of His second coming, He answered them at the time of pointing out the architectural beauty of the Jerusalem temple: “You see all these, do you not?there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down”(Mk.13: 1-2) Mt.24: 1-2).

Together with the structural changes of the buildings, the faith of the virgin church also is toppled down. The modus operandi of the worship and sacraments are of great concern. Embracing a club culture by forming choir for every sacrament has made a mute clergy whose main role is to collect money by conducting concerts by the non-believers, parish dinners and dramas...on Saturday nights, the only congenial night meant for any hooliganism. I know one case where a trio, which includes the vicar, without discussing and letting know neither the committee nor the General Body, legally silenced a member who sent letters for clarification of the discrepancy in the accounts. He accepted the lawyer’s ultimatum with equanimity of mind.

The medieval type feudalism of the church makes deep claws into the flesh of the vassals in the 21st century! . Even for Jesus silence was His only ammunition left. A Pilate-like spiritual father gets support from the majority commercially- interested people as long as enough money is thrown into the cloak pocket. The ministerial cloak is a solid shield, which brings everybody under the iron fist. The theology of small, small deities of the flesh ignites the tyranny of the clerical cloak. A new culture of birthday and wedding anniversary celebrations on a sub-cultural standard, with particular reference to the 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th...of the clerics, has dynamited irreparably the very foundations of the church and true faith. The church thrives by open and public ceremonies, inviting religious, secular and political leaders for a showing off. The ritual processions are organized for satisfying the drunken groundlings that make them alive by importing street culture and fire works. Is it not a mockery of the spiritual role of the clergy in organizing an orchestra? Condescending down to the level of club culture only will help to torpedo the real faith. Despite there won’t be any faith on earth at the time of the Lord’s 2nd coming (Lk.18:8), we shouldn’t be an exponent of destroying the sacrosanct faith of the virgin church. To abide by the apostolic faith, the rock of life is a virtue and gift of God. It is the duty of the church to swim across the filthy and swirling currents and save the sinking sinner by the sacrifice of the clergy and responsible laity. Focusing on the 2 events, which happened within the last few months, I would like to portray the only current missionary work of the church in general.

The silver Jubilee celebrations in an overseas parish of the St.Thomas Christians
One overseas parish constructed few small houses in Kerala for the downtrodden people. One telecast the celebrations a fortnight ago. The parish brought so many leaders from Kerala belonging to all religious and political spectrums by spending a huge sum as their airfare, accommodation, advertisement and other paraphernalia, possibly squandering thrice the amount of money spent for the houses. Is it justifiable to waste so much money of the middle and low-income families who are working under the scorching sun of the vast desert, not even knowing whether their jobs and visas last for another day? The megalomania for socialization and cheap popularity is the aim in such projects and charity work. There are many instances where people adopt Judas’ methods, too (Jn.12: 6). People want to immortalize their mortal names without making adequate sacrifices. What is given by the right hand should not be known to the left hand. Sponsorship for anything in the parish life should not be encouraged, give their excess money as a gift to the parish, let them do the alms work without corroding the pure faith of the church. Beware; everybody is equal in the church. The majority argues that advertisements and all other things are done by sponsorships by minority individuals, not realizing the fact that marketing and business interests are the keynote of some people’s large heartedness. A parish should be run only by the benevolent contributions made by its members, without attaching any frills to them, not by the funds raised for God by selling commodities and food and by gambling. No advertisement, the weapons of Pharisees and Sadducees (Mt.23), is needed for a parish or religious institution, so also the provision of food except in unavoidable circumstances. The churches have lately been mesmerized as pawns in the hands of marketing mafia, the ripe herald for the coming of the Lord.

Individual sponsoring:
I have a copy of poster advertising the festival celebration that lasts for a week in February in a parish in Central Travancore. The agenda centres around the H.communion, concerts, drama, mega show presented by Arts clubs, Eucharist for the departed, cemetery visiting, music bands comprising of all the instruments, with special arrangements of videotaping the festival and expensive decorations and the handing of keys of 15 houses built in memory of the sponsor’s parents, and blessed by the presence of some bishops, professional priests, ministers, political and other religious leaders and film stars. The highlight of the show is the very expensive and luxuriant fireworks. Free food for all will be given on retreat days. The estimated expense is over Rs.50 lakhs (Rs.5 million). Is it justifiable to spend this enormous money for a parish festival sponsored by a parish member? In similar consecrations and mega shows, the mass media is brimmed with advertisements covering 4 or 5 big pages, displaying the colour photos of the newly built parish buildings, bishops’ and committee members’ photos and the history of the parish in meticulous details by consuming a lofty amount of the parish funds, either received from sponsors or the compulsory subscriptions imposed on the members. It is a great mania to see one’s name or photos in the mass media because it broils up their ego for various other purposes. What is on the surface is paradise now. The inter-rivalry competition between the churches and religions unite the members of the same group. Can the half-starving, half- naked sub-continent slum dwellers that are even denied to get pure drinking water afford to squander such large amounts for a parish feast? Does it prick the conscience of the shepherds, the minority elites having no accountability of their roles, and live in the revelries of all kinds at the expense of the spirituality of the believers and the starvation of the underdogs? Think aloud about the role of the churches in an era of unending miseries and sufferings caused by exploitation, suppression and repression. The true faith and church is strangled to death by the cord of inhuman atrocities and demonisation.

If the tendency of sponsorship bait is not nipped in the bud, other families will fall into the same pit with belligerent strength of spending more in the later years because competition is a race to establish the supremacies of families and individuals. The church should not become the notorious stronghold of business mafia. The church of today is a venue for the commercially- interested people to expand their safety and security net socially and commercially. Such social pests have destroyed the faith of the believers and the clergy and converted the church as a business lobby for the perpetual glorification of their name and power. No wonder why Jesus whipped such hypocrites out of the Temple premises (Jn.2: 13-25). That which started by birthday celebration has invited a multitude of celebrations that denigrated the House of prayer as a den of robbers (Mt.21; 13). “They all look after their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ”(Phi.2: 21). While the virus of widespread sex scandals and materialism infects the shepherds in the Western churches, the churches in the rest of the world are haunted by corruptions of multiple natures. The paganization of Christianity is complete by the influx of heterogeneous stuff from all over the world. The infusion of heretical elements into the Body of Christ is the survival technology in an age of apostasy. Just as the High priests, in collusion with Pilate, wanted the removal of Jesus, the Saviour in turn will collect the faithful remnants by dumping the corrupt secular leaders and religious hypocrites to their ruin in His second coming.

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Naturally, husband and wife relation is the most exclusive and private. Newly wed wife comes to her husband leaving behind everything she held dear with numerous castle dreams. She expects undivided attention and time from husband and does not expect intruders, constraints either and considers the mother-in-law imposing controls as genuine enemy in her way. Wife ought to think that by marriage she became integral part of a family where other relations matter. Drawn in between two selfish interests, mother on one side and wife on the other, in between the deep sea and the devil, whom to take and whom to reject is a great problem to son. If the son is impartial and keeps his cool both parties will blame him for inactivity and enemy favor that sometimes take a toll. None can serve two masters at the same time. He is the actual sufferer. Great deal of diplomacy and equanimity is essential if he were to lead a normal life. Family feud and divorce is on the increase is the outcry we often hear. But chief villain behind most marriage break-ups is the undue in-law interference and a feeble or biased handling husband.

Here is a typical instance: Donald’s mother is 72 years old, talkative, talkative in such a way, that anything is subject and would go on speaking throughout night without a listener. Don married Daisy. Don, Daisy and mother live together. Don leaves for work at 8.30 AM and returns at 5.30 PM. Don’s father was short-tempered and mother ill tempered. This typical couple never loved or cared each other. Persuaded by mother-in-law Don’s father tortured her quite often. Mother had thus a rough and turbulent marital life with her abusive husband. Even after mother died and sisters left, the torture continued because of disturbed relation, which had negative impact on all children but the husband was unmindful. It is beyond imagination these days how they pulled on together for long but they did! Please don’t throw stones at them for they lived in a social situation different from ours and both are dead. Don’s mother had a vision about his future and despite adverse conditions it was mother’s perseverance enabled Don’s education. She underwent untold miseries and so he was truly indebted to mother. Don was always considerate and sympathetic about the sorry plight his mother endured and vowed to give her some relief in her old age and thus he took her with him. Daisy on the other hand hails from a family where parents were loving and caring each other but she had certain sister-in-law squabbles. Every time Don came in, he made it a point to greet mother first. Don was particular also that mother sat with him to eat every time. This however gave a negative notion to Daisy. She thought Don loved and cared mother more and neglected Daisy. Though she did not make a loud complaint Don could make out her lost feeling and decided to accommodate her. He visited friends and relations in the evenings with Daisy, of course, with mother’s permission. Once or twice mother did not mind but did not please her. But when it repeated a few times she began to express displeasure.

In the absence of Don, the mother confronted Daisy recounting old stories, “See how time has gone bad, people perverted, women lost manners, no respect to husband. Nowadays, women have no shame to walks with men; we kept distance and never looked at men’s face. Women from good family would not loudly laugh, sit equal with husband in the presence of older people, ate only after giving to husband, woke up early,” etc. After two months Daisy fell ill with high fever. Doctor diagnosed Malaria. Unresponsive to treatment, fever, weakness, emaciated and appetite decreased. Mother started mumbling after Don is gone for work, “What is this fever for young women? This is some sort of fatal contagion brought from home. This is incurable, fate of my son,” etc. Despite doctor’s daily visit Daisy’s condition deteriorated and admitted in hospital. Hospital diagnosis was urinary infection and responded to treatment. Daisy silently listened but the insults continued unabated. At times she wept in night. But Don admonished that it was unfair to rebuke mother disregarding her age and pacified Daisy to be patient assuring his love and care. Don knew mother’s weaknesses and yet asked her not to dissuade Daisy for she had no blood relatives. Daisy did not know what ordeal mother had gone through. Although Daisy did not react violently she was not content and at times felt being fish out of water. She misunderstood Don, that he did not love her enough being more attached to mother. Mother often alleged that Don favored Daisy too much. After a few months, mother returned to native place. A great ordeal thus ended without complications. But for her untamed tongue the old mother was not acting villain.

Instance 2: Bahu works in a transport office. His sisters negotiated a marriage. Parents were in Kerala. Dian was lone sister of three loving brothers of lower middle-class Hindu family whose father died long ago. They agreed 25 pavan (200 grams) gold, other things being extra. Marriage was over and newly weds went to groom’s sister’s residence as arranged. Shortly, the sister-in-law who controlled the whole affairs asked Dian to remove ornaments. They took it to a nearby shop and weighed it to find that there was shortage of half pavan (4 grams). The sister took it a breach of promise, uttered profane language on the girl and her brothers, insisted Bahu to leave Dian until shortage was made good. Dian very politely pleaded that it was not intentional (panikuravu) but to no avail. The brothers when contacted took it an offence. Nothing worked out and Bahu was in troubled waters. He finally obliged to sister and left Dian in her house. Much brick batting between in-laws, cousins and mediators followed making it a prestige issue for both parties and neither party yielded to other. After two months whole matter took a decisive turn, as Dian was found pregnant. Bahu was in between his sisters, pregnant wife and her brothers. Having failed all warnings and attempts to reconcile the brothers hired coolies to deal with Bahu.

One day Padmanabhan, a friend (Padu) visited Bahu. They walked along side of KH Road near Lalbaugh. 5 people surrounded Bahu who was visibly terrified. One was an agent of the brothers who came to introduce him to them. Padu interfered and offered to mediate and bring Bahu to a settlement and with the assurance to get back within three days they departed warning serious consequences if failed. They had a full discussion in the house. Though Padu was not much educated he had good sense. Padu requested me to help. I did not know Bahu but went with Padu hoping if I could help save a marriage. I had a first hand study from Bahu. I took a detailed class to convince that it was terribly wrong to heed to his unruly sisters and wreck the marriage and forsake wife. We made it very clear that we were thoroughly opposed to demanding money or material from wife and we would not talk to any of his relatives and we shall involve only if Bahu agreed to unconditionally accept his wife as she was and never again talk to her about money or gold. He came to senses and solemnly assured of his ardent desire to reconcile but was too terrified to go ahead. Next day I called the girl’s house and fixed a date for discussion. Padu and I went there as arranged only to see a large crowd gathered to negotiate. At first they were dubious about our intension for we both were strangers. It took time to convince them the validity and good intensions of our mission. However after long discussion and on the strength of my indemnity another date was fixed for uniting the couple and it went well as planned. Bahu became a new man and they live happily ever after. Here the real villain was gold obsession of the sister-in-law and cowardice of an ignorant husband.

[To be continued in next issue....]

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[Late Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios is considered as one of the greatest philosopher, theologian, thinker and religious personaility of the past century after swami vivekananda. The text is based on the Profile of Late Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios and his speech in Chicago Nov, 1989 at the inaugural address of the centennial of the World Parliament of religions published by Delhi Orthodox Center.}


Fr. Paul Varghese's field of work soon shifted to Geneva, with the World Council of Churches. There he headed the Division of Ecumenical Action as an Asociate General Secretary. Later, he was a member of the Central Committe and of the Executive Committe, Moderator of the Commission on Church and Society (197-83), and one of its Presidents 91983-91). He led WCC delegations to major conferences including the UN General Assembly Special Sessions on Disarmament (1983,1988). In WCC forums and beyond, he persistently opposed apartheid and the old and new colonialism. He chaired the World Conference on Faith, Science and the Future in Cambridge, USA (1979). He was the vice-president of the Christian Peace Conference (1970-90).

In 1975, Fr.Paul Varghese was elevated as a bishop with the name Paulos Gregorios. He took charge of the newly formed Diocese of Delhi, a position he held until his death. He established the Delhi Orthodox Centre, where he began such ambitious projects as the Neethi Shanti Kendra for promoting peace and justice, and Sarva Dharma Nilaya for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.

Concurrently, Mar Gregorios was the Principal of the Orthodox Theological Seminary at Kottayam, the premier teaching and training institution for priests of the Church. He raised it to a college recognized for the award of graduate and post graduate degrees. He established the Sophia Centre linked to the Seminary.

Mar Gregorios was

  • A member of the Senate of Kerala and Serampore Universities for a number of years,
  • A visting Professor at Denver, Harward, Wooster, and Princeton.
  • He was a fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study at Shimla,
  • The vice-president of the Kerala philosophical Congress, and
  • The president of Indian Philosophical Congress.

    Among the honours and awards received by Dr.Paulos Mar Gregorios are:

  • Harmony Doctorates in Theology (Leningrad, Budapest and Prague);
  • Hall of Fame Award for Extraordinary Service and Inspired leadership of the World Church, Dictionary of Informational Biography (Cambridge);
  • Order of St. Vladimir (USSR);
  • Order of St. Sergius (USSR);
  • Order of Mary Magdalen (Poland);
  • Otto Nuschke Prize of peace (General Democratic Republic);
  • Sobiet Land Nehru Award (India);
  • Man of the year Award 1990, American Biographical Institute (USA);
  • Bhai Param Vir Singh International Award (India);
  • Golden Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement (USA);
  • Eminent Ecumenical Education Award (India);
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award (Princeton Theological Seminary);
  • Oscar Pfister Award, American Psychiatric Association (USA);
  • Social Service Award, Goshen College (USA).

    The honours made him happier for the cause, but humbler for himself.

    The unusual versatality of Mar Gregorios consistently found expression in several ways:

    1. A capacity to transmit the essence of spiritual, philosophical and socio-political concepts with a lucidity springing from the depths of his own study and reflection.
    2. A constructive compassion, rooted in an ancient faith, that reaches, father than just help, to those various forms of oppression and helplessness, to ways of social restructuring through an ethical-intellectual renewal, to address the deeper causes of human condition.
    3. The illuminating search for the fundamental principles shared by the different religions of the East as a possible basis for common understanding and endeavour.
    4. A spontaneous interest in natural and social sciences, as well as in historical processes, resulting in holistic contributions to contemporary thought.

    [To be continued in the next issue....]

    [Document: Gregory of India : - A Profile of the life of H.G. Late Metropolitan Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios, Delhi Orthodox Centre, December 1996.]

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    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:


    Authored By: JOHN D. KUNNATHU

    Today the discussion began with a question that I asked.

    Esther:Rabbi, I have had a question in my mind for several days, but I couldn't gather enough courage to ask it to you. Anyhow I shall speak it out now. What do you think about sex, rabbi? What is its place in our life? Is it good or bad? Usually we young people are ashamed to think and talk about it. I hope you will not get angry at me for asking this question.

    Rabbi:[With a smile on his face] I am very happy to know that you have such confidence in me to ask about sex. Sex is nothing but a natural device for reproduction. As we exist in the world limited by space and time, we have birth and death. Dying people are regularly replaced by newborn children. Without reproduction, humankind cannot continue to exist.

    A child inherits the appearance and behavior of its father and mother, which makes each human being different from any other human being in the world. It is to attain such variety that nature employs the device of sexual reproduction, that is, making two human beings participate in reproduction. Based on their role in reproduction, all human beings (in fact, most of the living beings) are classified into male and female. To make a male and female participate in the act of reproduction, nature gives them some pleasure as an incentive. Thus the immediate objective of a couple in having sexual contact is pleasure, though the ultimate objective, which belongs to nature, is reproduction. Each culture develops its own pattern of behavior in choosing a mate, and in bringing up children.

    The reproductive system in our body doesn't start functioning as soon as we are born. It becomes fully active when we become physically mature. Therefore, children do not have sexual feelings as much as adults do. After, let us say the age of ten, the reproductive system slowly becomes active. For this reason, there is a gap between children and adults. Adults have the knowledge of sex and they feel its pleasure, but children do not have such knowledge of sex. If a child witnesses a grown up couple engaging in sexual act, s/he will be greatly confused. Therefore, adults always try to hide sexual activities from children. As sex is hidden from them and forbidden to them, children develop the feeling that sex is indecent or evil. If they happen to carry this feeling to adulthood, guilt feeling will be a close companion of any thought or act related to sex. Even a couple married with the blessing of the society will find it difficult to enjoy the pleasure of sexual contact if guilt feeling persists. When one can't enjoy its pleasure, s/he blames the partner, and it may ultimately lead to their separation, leaving their children fatherless or motherless. Hence, although sex should be hidden from children, they should be informed well about it while they grow to adulthood.

    Our ancestors seem to have had some clear ideas about sex. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they became conscious of their nakedness, and tried to cover their nakedness. The implication is that sex turned out to be a thing of shame for them. When they were in good terms with God, they were not ashamed of sex. In this story, our fathers agree that sex has become a thing of shame in our world, but they do not believe that it is the ideal state. It is God who created human beings male and female, and it is God who blessed them to have children. Also in the creation story, we read that God saw all creation to be good, which of course includes sexual distinction. Therefore, there is nothing bad or shameful in sex. The pleasure of sex is the gift of God, and we must be able to enjoy it without any guilt feeling.

    Sex gives us great pleasure. However, it can become the source of the gravest misery if we are not careful of certain things. Like fire, kept under control, sex makes us happy. Gone out of control, it burns us.

    Sex is, of course, a very important part of life. But we should not forget that it is only a part, not the whole of life. If we give undue attention to sex, we will not be able to enjoy life itself. Sex for life--that should be our motto. Enjoy life as a whole, and enjoy sex as a part of it. It should not go to the other extreme of "life for sex".

    Sex involves the co-operation of two human beings. If one forces the other, neither of them can enjoy it. Also, it is a crime to force someone to do something against his/her will.

    It is natural for someone to be attracted to a person of the other sex; however, it is unrealistic for someone to make a family with every one he/she is attracted to. Family is a stable and age-old institution primarily meant for bringing up children in a healthy and caring environment. No society that sacrifices the institution of family for the pleasures of sex will last long.

    It was a very lively discussion and I am so grateful to the rabbi for clearing our doubts about sex.

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