[Diocesan Metropolitan of Madras Diocese, Malankara Orthodox Church]

When the Holy Spirit strengthened the disciples of Jesus Christ, though they were very ordinary people, they could make unusual, unnatural and extraordinary claims. The lost communication among the creation and between creation and God was restored on day of Pentecost with the strength of Holy Spirit. In addition, the sacrament of reconciliation also was restored on that day. Love makes us for a total surrender to the will of God.


All the Apostles of Jesus Christ were neither educated nor well placed. They were very ordinary people who were making unusual and extraordinary claims. Though the Jews considered Jesus as an ordinary man born as the son of Joseph and Mary, He too made extraordinary claim that He had come from Heaven. Even we Christians are making unnatural claims that we eat and drink the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, though we are not cannibals who eat human flesh and blood. With these unnatural and extraordinary claims of Jesus, His Apostles and we Christians; the world look at us and inquire: 'Who these people are? What kind of people these are?'.

Literally, the Christian Pentecost is originally an Old Testament Jewish agricultural festival of harvest originated during Exodus when it was called the Feast of the First Fruits, celebrating and giving thanks for the "first fruits" of their harvest. The disciples of Jesus were making supernatural claims during this day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost, they gathered at one place in the upper room of the current St. Mark Convent where Jesus believed to have arranged His Last Supper. These early Christian Believers, who were gathered in Jerusalem for the observance of this feast, experienced the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit upon them in a miraculous way. They gathered there as per the instruction of Lord, not to leave Jerusalem till they receive strength from heaven. The Holy Spirit descended on each individual who gathered there. The Spirit came upon them in the form of cloven tongues like as of fire.

The commission of the fire is to burn and possibly to cleanse or purify. Also fire is used to melt, unite or join things. In the Old Testament we read that the Prophets and Judges received strength when the Spirit came upon them. The Spirit of God was an invisible strength bestowed on man. It was then, when the Holy Spirit came upon them and strengthened them, they could make these unusual claims though they still remained as ordinary people. On the Pentecost day, when the Holy Spirit of God strengthened them they could talk of big things about the Kingdom of Heaven. On the very same day, around three thousand people joined this Congregation of those primitive Christians.

With the descent of Holy Spirit, they received the gift of the tongue to understand and use many languages, probably the power of a positive correlation between intelligence. When they started talking in different languages, the great concourse of people in Jerusalem from all parts of the country, started wondering; 'Who these people are?’ With these Spirit given gift of utterance, they were able to communicate with God and with multilingual people whose communications were lost at Babel. Every human being communicate with God in broken language. The lost communication among the creation and between creation and God was restored on this day with the strength of Holy Spirit. In addition, the sacrament of reconciliation also was restored on the day of Pentecost. They all became with one accord. The restoration of the communication and reconciliation between creation and creation with God is a visible sign of the Kingdom of God.

The gift of tongue was not making some meaningless noise or any empty symbol but it was substantial and weighty sayings. They could understand the expressions and talks of each other. When St.Thomas came to India, what language he might have used? In the history we read that there were many Jews in Kerala that time, who were migrated much earlier for trading. The people of Kerala understood what St. Thomas could speak intelligibly to them irrespective of the language and that is how they believed in Jesus Christ Whom Thomas professed.

The Language of heaven is hymns or music, which elevate the soul into the heights of spirituality; in turn it is the language of love. The language of love applies to everyone and is understood by everybody. Love makes us to surrender to the will of God. There is no question of prestige for this surrender. Prestige is fulfilled by submission to the full will of God. This is the Victory through Surrender. It is a great paradox! In all past, surrender has been synonymous with defeat or fall of prestige. But when Jesus surrendered to the will of God, he became victorious. The freedom has its own limitations. Freedom is defined in the 1 & 2 Chapters of Genesis. Acquiring or needing everything is not freedom. The beautiful Garden of Eden was given to man to live happily. Freedom for human being is essentially the courage to say 'No' to certain environment and it is the real freedom to be in the sovereign will of God. Environment is circumstances or conditions that surround you except you. Son of man had all the authority of this world and the world above, but He had chosen to say 'No' to His own will, but he submitted to the will of His father.

When Jonah boarded the ship, his comrades and the Captain challenged him. They needed a confession from him and judge him out of his own mouth. They confronted Jonah and asked him; 'Who are you? Who is your God?' He could have defended himself. Being a prophet of God, without doing anything in his own case, he inquired God and surrendered to the will of God and proposed it likewise in submission to the will of God: 'Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea.' This manifested the token of his courage and exhibition of his freewill to reveal the truth.

It was with this divine courage of these ordinary people, acquired through the Holy Spirit, made them for all those unnatural and extraordinary claims. It was not the inborn courage in them, but it was the moral courage given by Jesus Christ to defend Him. They were ready to surrender for the sake of Jesus Christ. They were ready to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ.

In Chapter 6 of the Gospel according to St. John, a brief conversation between Jesus and His disciples is recorded. After the miracle done by Jesus for feeding five thousand men and women and children, the disciples went off alone, and left Jesus among them on their side of the water. Jesus reproved them for their fondness of the miraculous bread and bade them to set their hearts upon the meat which endures to everlasting life unto the world; 'I know that you seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you need to eat. Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.' Further He told them; ' I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst'.

To the Jews of that time, it was something surprising that someone come from heaven, which was impossible to human and scientific laws. With this, they were directly questioning Him. But He tried to convince them that this is the bread not that Moses gave them in the wilderness. Apart from the broad assertions, Jesus manifested His direct connection with His Father in Heaven. It is the bread for our spiritual nourishment that we supplicate through the Lord's Prayer. Without the Lord's sustenance we are powerless, just as a body starve of food can do nothing but languish.

When they heard this, they said it is a positive blasphemy. The bread came from heaven was as per the will of the father. There is a definite relation between the bread and the will. Even in Christian Churches, in families and everywhere it prevail that my own will be done, as it has not surrendered fully to the love that would have made the truth live in them. Truth must always surrender to love and the will of God. Son of man was confessing that He had come down not to establish His will, but to accomplish the will of His Father. Thus, the divine love of God became at one with the divine truth of the Lord through the Lord's complete surrender. This submission and humility makes us eligible as partakers for the table.

Repentance is the process of turning around. If we are submitted to our own will we are not eligible to the Kingdom of God. It is this submission, which a disciple is kept in discipline. Disciple is the one who is totally disciplined. Submission to the will of God is the discipline of the disciple. It is the prestige of Christians and it gives us a dimension of new life.

[Extract from Address delivered at Melbourne, Australia: Reported by E.S. John Australia]
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The Lord clearly told his friends and believers that the Christian path is narrow and rugged, and only few could truly pass through while the world’s ways are very attractive and broad. Believers will have a share of suffering which is an integral and built-in part of Christian life in this world. Our case is not a helpless situation at all. Within every believer the Spirit of the Lord dwells to comfort and council in the midst of sufferings.

When our Lord was about to close his public ministry, he warned his disciples about the suffering and sadness they would experience during his crucifixion and death, and they would be persecuted when they would go out to preach and teach the good news of the salvation. But he also promised that their hearts would be filled with peace and joy that could never be taken away from them. During his ministry Jesus challenged his prospective followers to deny everything and themselves, and to take their own crosses and follow him if they wanted to be true and dedicated disciples .In other words, the old saying “ No crown without a cross” is one of the basic Christian reality and experiences. The Lord clearly told his friends and believers that the Christian path is narrow and rugged, and only few could truly pass through while the world’s ways are very attractive and broad.

Jesus Christ himself is called “ Man of Sorrows” and the suffering servant in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 53). All his disciples and followers suffered all kinds of persecutions and death. Apostle Paul himself gave a litany of sufferings (2Corinthins 11:23-29) though he was encouraging all believers to rejoice always in the Lord. Early Christians and true believers all through the centuries suffered a lot for the sake of faith, and even today Christian believers are being persecuted in several countries where Jesus Christ and his gospel are not accepted at all.

Very often we wonder why do we have to suffer in our lives. We probably can attribute to several causes for man’s sufferings in this world. First of all, according to the Word of God the entrance of sin in man’s life began to bring sufferings. Man was created in God’s image to have continuous and harmonious fellowship with the Creator himself and to his other creation around. Once sin was introduced by the power and persuasion of Satan, sufferings and sadness became a part and parcel of human life (Genesis 3:14-24). In other words, Satan has a major role in bringing pain and sufferings in our lives. The peace and joyful fellowship between man and God was destroyed and thus sufferings became an unavoidable reality and experience of human life. The fallen and sinful human nature as described in Galatians (Galatians 5:19-21), which is capable of committing sins and mistakes, is another cause for our sufferings. It means for all our pains and problems we are partially responsible. With the help of God, self-help and help from our fellow being, we will be able to minimize or eliminate some of our sufferings.

The world we live in can cause a lot of sufferings and pain. We cannot change the world completely for our sake. But we can try our best to make a better world for us and for others. Remember what our Lord taught us that we the believers are the salt and the light of this world. That means that we all can contribute a lot to reduce the sorrows and sufferings originated from this world through our unselfish love, services and sacrifices as the Lord taught us through his own life and his several teachings and many parables such as the good Samaritan. There may be several other causes for our sufferings, which we may never know the exact reasons. For example, once when our Lord was asked the reason why a particular man was born blind, he said that blindness was meant to reveal the power of God and for His glory!

In short, all believers will have a share of suffering which is an integral and built-in part of Christian life in this world. This cup of pain has to be shared along with our Lord Jesus Christ who drank his own cup! One who denies taking part will have no share in the glories life which is eternal, and that is free of tears and pain. Our case is not a helpless situation at all. Within every believer the Spirit of the Lord dwells to comfort and council in the midst of sufferings. The Heavenly Father and the Savior himself are always with us. Remember what the good Shepherd promised that he would give us rest when we carry the burdens of life (Mathew 11: 28-30)! Amen.

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The age, country, administrative experience, holiness of life, knowledge about the teachings of the Church, scholarship, attitudes, Curia membership, knowledge of languages – especially Italian and Latin, travels…all count in the selection of the proper candidate. The new regulations do not permit election of the Pope by Acclamation or by compromise, only election by private individual voting is allowed.

[Prof. George Menachery is a freelance Indian Journalist and Editor of the St. Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India and the Indian Church History Classics. After teaching university classes for thirty years, he gave up the job as Head of the Department of Post-Graduate Teaching in order to concentrate on research and publication. SARAS (South Asia Research Assistance Services) provides information and research assistance for topics dealing with India in particular and South Asia in general. He has to his credit a large number of publications, research papers, articles, radio talks and TV programmes. His research activities and lectures have taken him to more than 20 countries in 4 continents. He had read and written much about PAPAL ELECTIONS.]

[This Article is continued from the Previous Issue]


Election Process:
The papal election and election processes are keenly watched and studied by the world; especially by politicians all over the world, irrespective of country, religion, or political ideology.

The various steps and procedures for the election of the new Pope as revised and promulgated by John Paul II in 1996 may be summarized as follows:
The cardinals assemble in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope 15-20 days after the death of the reigning Pope. The utensils necessary for voting - pen, paper, ink, ballot papers etc. will be on each Cardinals’s table, distributed by the Masters of Ceremony. The names are selected by drawing of lot, from among all the Cardinal electors, three Scrutineers, three persons charged with collecting the votes of the sick, called for the sake of brevity Infirmarii, and three Revisers. The Cardinals are not to have any contact with the outside world during the duration of the Conclave. They cast their secret ballots, disguising their handwriting, into a chalice with a paten. Though in theory any Roman Catholic can be chosen, only a Cardinal is chosen in practice. Four ballots are conducted each day -- two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Each time, after both votes of a session, the papers are all burned, along with chemicals or other material [wet or dry straw for example] to produce black or white smoke as the case may be. In the last Conclave I especially noticed the small bundles of straw, two bags of charcoal, a box of firewood, iron sticks, pokers, and spoons for feeding and stirring the fire, and sticks of chemicals with the labels “White” and “Black”.

If a Pope has not been elected after three days, nobody having secured two-thirds of the votes, according to the new regulations there will be a short break - of a day - for prayer, an exhortation by the top Cardinal Deacon, Cardinal Priest, or Cardinal Bishop, and discussions. There will be similar short breaks after each seven unsuccessful ballots. After thirty ballots if still no one obtains two-thirds majority, the Cardinals will elect the person who gets simple majority, i.e. 50% plus one votes. The election is announced after the newly elected person consents to be Pope and chooses the name by which he will be known. The newly elected pope then emerges and gives his first papal blessing: Urbi et Orbi ["To the City and to the World"] to the crowd in the St. Peter’s Square.

Cut off from outside Contacts:
John Paul the First died on 25th September 1978. On October 14th the doors of the Conclave were locked and sealed from inside and outside. From the next day onwards voting took place twice in the morning and twice in the evening. However this time it is possible that a single ballot may be taken in the first afternoon itself. The ballots were deposited in the golden chalice kept on the white cloth spread over the papal altar of the Sistine Chapel. Following previous practices tape-recorder, Vidieo, newspaper, cell-phone, TV, camera - all are forbidden in the Conclave areas. Periodic eclectronic checking will be carried out to ensure this. In fact there are no candidates in this election, no ‘proposers’ and ‘seconders’. In one sense it is only the Holy Spirit who proposes, in the privacy of each voter’s heart.

Election by Acclamation Forbidden:
The scene was the funeral ceremonies of Pope Alexander II in the 11th century. Suddenly a voice arose: “Let Hiederbrand be Pope!” Everybody repeated that demand. Thus all the assembled congregation took Hiederbrand to the church and enthroned him as Pope Gregory VIII. But the new regulations do not permit election by Acclamation. Or by Compromise. Only election by private individual voting is allowed. In any case election by acclamation and by committee has not been resorted to for many centuries.

Criteria for Election:The age, country, administrative experience, holiness of life, knowledge about the teachings of the Church, scholarship, attitudes, Curia membership, knowledge of languages - especially Italian and Latin, travels…all count in the selection of the proper candidate. Agatho from Sicily was elected when he was a hundred years old, and yet ruled for three years. Among the nine recent Popes only Benedict XV died before 80 - and of course John Paul I. The longest reigning Pope was Pius IX who ruled for 31 years. The second place goes to John Paul II - 27 years. It is traditionally believed that St. Peter ruled the longest. Stephen II died two days after he was elected Pope. In 1605 Leo XI ruled only for 27 days. The third shortest rule was that of John Paul I - 33 days.

[This Article is concluded]

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OUR BODY, HIS TEMPLE [1 Corinthian 3:16/6:19-20] - PART 1


Once we surrender ourself to Lord, we add a new dimension to our being. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. With the Spirit indwelling in us, every word, every thought, and every deed is in Lord's purview. Holy Spirit pervade in us to build us up in the body of Christ to the glory of God. We are not of our own as we are bought at a price. Surrender our body to the Lord and glorify God in our daily life.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body," [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].

This is a body conscious world. Many products to clean up, paint up, and fix-up. Concern about physical shape is ever on the increase. Diets abound: low fat this, low fat that. Diet pills industry is on the boom. Exercise clubs, exercise machines, etc. There is a great investment on physical health. Watch that cholesterol, reduce that salt, and eat more roughage. It is good for the body to be health conscious and will enhance our performance physically, mentally and spiritually. The Christian adds another dimension to concern for the body. The day you became a Christian, something happened to your body. Another dimension was added to your being.

  1. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
    This reminds us of the temple in the O.T. What great care was given to its design? What immense wealth was placed into its construction? (1 Chronicles 29:1-5).

  2. The eternal covenant, God's desire to fellowship with His creation, the walk in the garden, Exodus 25:8, John 1:14, 1 Corinthians 1:9.
    "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). Your body is the temple of God. Be careful where it goes. Be careful what it does. Be careful what it ponders. Be careful how it reacts.

  3. The Holy Spirit lives within you.
    Jesus makes the promise (John 14:15-26)"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever --the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you" (John 14:15-17). With the Spirit indwelling you, every word, every thought, and every deed is in His view. The Holy Spirit knows you. He knows your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows your sinful acts and your holy deeds. He knows you better than you do.

  4. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to build you up in the body of Christ to the glory of God.
    He regenerates (John 3:3-5). He indwells (Rom. 8:11). He anoints (1 John 2:27). He baptizes (Acts 2:17-41). He empowers (Micah 3:8). He sanctifies (Romans 15:16). He comforts (John 14:16-26). He gives joy (Romans 14:17). He gives discernment (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). He bears fruit (Gal. 5:22-23). He gives gifts 1 Corinthians 12:3-11).

Surrender your body to the Lord. Glorify God in your daily life.

  • God is the owner of the whole man. Soul, body, and spirit are his. God gave his only begotten Son for the body as well as the soul, and our entire life belongs to God, to be consecrated to his service, that through the exercise of every faculty he has given, we may glorify him. We are God's workmanship, and his word declares that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." He has prepared this living habitation for the mind; it is "curiously wrought," a temple which the Lord himself has fitted up for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

  • Man was the crowning act of the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God. Man is very dear to God, because he was formed in his own image. This fact should impress us with the importance of teaching by precept and example the sin of defiling, by the indulgence of appetite or by any other sinful practice, the body which is designed to represent God to the world.

  • Have I not the right to do as I please with my own body? -- No, you have no moral right, because you are violating the laws of life and health which God has given you. You are the Lord's property, -- his by creation and his by redemption. Every human being is under obligation to preserve the living machinery that is so fearfully and wonderfully made.

  • Live in the present moment: “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We can only make decisions in the present moment, and we can only encounter God in the present moment. “One day at a time.” No one is saved alone: “We are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). “Action requires interaction”. We are healed by sharing our experience with each other, by listening to each other.

  • We depend upon a Power greater than ourselves: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). “I cannot, God can, and am going to let Him”. What God does is immeasurably greater than what we do, but the active involvement of our free will is also essential. Repentance (like forgiveness) is not a feeling but a decision. There should be a spirit of humility and self-questioning, and it will speak to our hearts and to do our will.

    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5: 17)


    1. Bishop Kallistos, “Our Body as a Temple of God” in Eastern Christian Review
    2. Jeanne Guyon, Sexual Ethics
    3. Andrew Walker and Consta Carras, Living Orthodox in a Modern World
    4. Giorgios Mantzarides, Orthodox Spiritual Life
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    'DOWRY - A CURSE?'


    Christian ethics dictate that we have to abide with the secular laws. Matrimony is a sacred sacrament, not celebration or parties. The share of the wealth that the parents give excels anything as a bastion of enhancing the monumental sentiments attached to it. What all philosophy, religion or spirituality we speak or moralize, our relationship even with our parents and God can be counted at the roots of things in terms of money.

    The Law governing the sacrament of Matrimony, however, after centuries of damnation and vituperation, abolished the conventional practice of ‘Dowry’ that outbursts into the passions of fury and fire, despite it is still haunting us malignantly by the mockery of illicit backyard operations. Anything that goes underground cost us detrimentally in financial as well as in ethical standards of performance. What all philosophy, religion or spirituality we speak or moralize, our relationship even with our parents and God can be counted at the roots of things in terms of money. Money and power corrupt everyone and everything, particularly in this Iron Age that swallows up anything fine and delicate. There are societies that uphold patriarchal and matriarchal systems in the world, but Christianity and Hinduism that used to value dowry as a bridge in connecting the marital relationship hails to be the majority of the world population. The societies that embrace the dated marriage system as the best of form of life partnership that allows the couple to move together and understand the balancing and reciprocating roles of complementing post-marital life shudder in horror of the inadequacies of arranged marriage that the odd and sinister couple who doesn’t know each other live together for a whole life of bondage, where also divorce is an anathema. Despite the dating plague that obliterated the arranged marriage system, the parent of dowry malpractice, the remnants of the conventional marriage values, which still infest the bride’s family to spend money in the stereotyped way of conducting the ceremony in highly, sophisticated ways.

    The arranged marriage system is clogged with so many irrelevant pagan customs that give license for man to predate upon the weaker sex in undiluted forms, despite the communal life has evolved by the life style that affected by new inventions, discoveries and technology. The sobbing parents have been selling their under aged or teenaged and inexperienced virgin girls like milking cows to unfamiliar and strange households, together with a huge sum of money, valuable assets and ornaments for their lifelong maintenance. Customs and conventional practices vary from region to region and community to community. Apart from these briberies, the expenses and time- consuming efforts and travels in finding out a strange and suitable partner by crisscrossing various topographical areas on vehicles and foot, conducting the ceremony by entertaining the relatives, parishners and invitees for weeks for betrothal and wedding celebrations are of apocalyptic proportions, together with the formalities of mutual visits of the families and their relatives for a considerable period of time before and after the luxurious ceremony. It doesn’t stop there because it is the duty of the bride’s family to bring her to her own home and meet the expenses of at least 2 childbirths. The expenses and headache that associate with giving birth is another miniature wedding. It will break the backbones, financially also, of parents who have many daughters, as in the case of old life styles that had no other past time other than the nuptial hobby. The rewards of such sacrifices of parents and her siblings who conduct the wedding arrangements and parties are mere criticisms and gossips from the dear and near ones also for sometime.

    Tortures inflicted upon the bride:
    Physically and mentally immature girls who suffer at the hands of their muscular husbands, crocodile- like parents-in-law and groom’s siblings are of beyond description and imagination. When poverty was the main menu of the olden life style, the fall out of everything was upon her head. Torn between 2 families, she wades through a river of tears and abuses. Small huts and cottages are not ideal venues for leading a newly- wed married life, while some others with evil eyes dwell under the same roof. There have been number of cases of brutal tortures that ended up in the death of helpless brides and young mothers. In many cases the girl has to go back to her parents for more money and assets that doesn’t counter with her dowry and other benefits. There have been cases that ended up in sending the girl back to her home for good. In certain cases the war that engulfs between the new pair and old pair become unbridgeable, consequently the former ones will be either evicted or they themselves flee away. The reminiscences of the extended family system that had haunted upon the bygone periods are incalculably horrendous and unforgiving. These are the apparent reasons for making dowry system as illegal, despite the hiding thrill of voluptuous dating underneath of modern times roots out the traditional values automatically.

    Christian ethics dictate that we have to abide with the secular laws- 1.Pet.2: 13-14; 1.Tim.6: 1. How come then the Nazranis continue the behind the curtain dowry bargain? Both Christian secular and religious ministers follow this old custom in pomp and ceremony; the law is blind and mute in this regard just as Jesus violated the 6th Mosaic commandment of ‘ not to kill’ by killing Death by the weapon of His own death. Rules are made for men, but men are not for rules is the other side of the coin.

    Extravagant Wedding Parties- A Pagan Tradition:
    Matrimony is a sacred sacrament, not celebration or parties. It was not a cruel tradition because man, a social animal, needs support and help from his kiths and kins and fellow beings. Once when we were mere farmers, marriage ceremony was a rare opportunity that comes generally only once in life. Blessings from the celebrant, parents, relatives and well-wishers are the co-travelers for the couple and their children in the years yet to unfold. Marriage welds a social acceptance of the couple with the system and the people; hence it was a good tradition in the days when we led a natural life. When starvation was a daily fact of life, giving a feast was considered to be a type of almsgiving, particularly for the local destitute and beggars. But we made this tradition as a curse lately because of the affluence of a minority. Firstly, they made the sacrament itself as a mockery by borrowing every filth from the pagan society, like the wedding choir, beautification of the bride and groom by the cosmetic doctors, decorations, audio video systems and all other paraphernalia that goes with it. Catering by offering alcoholic drinks for a multitude of invited guests convert the religious occasion as babel of tongues. Most of the invitees can’t have the food that is catered to, because of the chronic sicknesses that forces the guests to abstain from regular foods, consequently it is a burden for people who come from distant places to attend the ceremony by taking leave from their work. But the invitees don’t ignore the invitation on account of superficial prestige and social harmony. This is a display of one’s opulence and social position that everyone always craves for. It becomes a fashion and a malaise for the community once the screen stars, politicians and infamous wealthy minority invent many frills with it. The middle class follows them blindly to be in par with the upper class that conjures up the lower class to be ignited with their mode of life. This is very easy because the business classes who accrue money out of it makes it as an opportunity to fish in troubled waters for their gains.

    How many businesses do thrive by wedding and other parasite celebrations? Catering is a small ocean of different opportunities. It triggers the price rise of all the commodities, edible and non-edible things. Taxi service that transports about average of an 800 people for each occasion is another area that consumes some money for the hosts and the guests. Unless the whole village and the hosts’ far of relatives are not invited from house to house, a tsunami is in the offing. Sari and jewelry shops are crowded with weird mob that is caught up in the mania of frenzy shopping. Chief of all, the main celebrant, the Beautician is the lodestar of the whole show; if she/he is late everything else, including the celebrant shepherd and other celebrant clergy who come from far distances, will have shock wave chain reactions. While the choir conducts the wedding, the invitees roam around the church for cheap talk and gossiping. There is no sanctity within or without the church. The sacrament and the celebrations shroud in cultic and pagan rituals that laminate by electronic displays. The romantic portrayal of the bride and groom sends heat waves all around, particularly for the unwed youths to follow suit without any delay because of business interests of the commercial entities. The commercialization of all our sacraments and religiosity is the death knell of Christianity. The cheap money that brought in all the electronic equipments, facilities and all other pompous living styles worked as cancerous cells that served as the nails on the coffin of our sacraments. I don’t want to make any comments on the bargaining dowry system that spins the bride’s parents’ head. In addition to the 5 or 6 digit cash dowry, there are other costly gifts of cars; houses and electronic items are other areas that invite mental torture.

    It doesn’t start there. To find out a suitable partner it takes so much of energy, vexations of spirit and money and time. There would be a betrothal ceremony one similar to the wedding prior to the marriage; the expense for the same will be smaller to the main function. Then arranging of the venue, purchasing of costumes, invitations, caterings for a big crowd, etc. exhaust our spirit and finance. It is a good fun and thrill for those who have money, conveyances and other amenities in life. The post-wedding cosmetic show and expenses are other matters of concern. It doesn’t come to an end there. It then leads to the agonies that relate with birth of children, baptism, for which many other formalities that involve so much of expense is the ensuing matters of stress. These are merry- making ceremonies for the rich and the extroverts showing the colour of their money and eminence. The ass majorities who always follow the affluent charlatans by jumping from the fire into the frying pan feel the pinch of their wounded low status and financial burdens only at a later time. This is the consequential backlash and allergies of a system that flirts with marrying lucrative jobs, positions, connections and foreign money of the spouse, not the complementing partners who could dedicate their life in all walks of life, especially in the spiritual or religious fields.

    A small thinking minority cannot do anything to put an end to this social pest while it brings money to all the sections of the business and religious communities that stifle and negate our spiritual and moral sensibilities. Once the so-called equilibrium of the society is in imbalance due to horse-trading economy, we can’t go back unless irreparable cataclysms hit us once in a while during this apocalyptic age. Religious hierarchies should have nipped such luxuriant celebrations at the very outset long time back, to protect the social and vulnerable followers by imposing with orders and reminders one after the other and their total non-cooperation by stamping and attesting the parish vicar as the only person celebrating the sacrament of any kind. Ultimately the middle and low -income families are the burning victims of this social anarchy of celebrations, precipitated by the notoriously wealthy miscreants of the modern celebrities. Unless we revert it back to the nuclear celebration similar to the one that cemented the social cohesion in the past, the suicidal death will increase in the geometrical progression.

    No solution, dowry is the lingua franca of marriage contracts in arranged marriages. It started as a fair system that guarantees the girl to be provided with the share of her wealth in currency. This system of giving the share in money at the very outset has an advantage of not dividing the property into fragments that invite the groom, the symbol of masculinity to come and live in the neighborhood, which of course can trigger tensions and fight within the household and between other neighbors. Woman being the physically weaker section of the community used to adjust anywhere if her husband is co-operative and upright in all dealings. Even if the parents are poor, they want to give their daughter to a well-placed household, for which they, together with the support of her siblings, arrange the marriage by paying higher values of her share, exceeding in some cases more than ten times. This system of marriages of paying higher share values, without dividing the properties into smaller parts that invite unwanted pains, strengthened a cohesive and robust system, eliminating the distresses that are prevalent in other religions that followed matriarchal or patriarchal conventions and customs. The extended family culture that used to divide the property for the patriarchal and matriarchal heirs that finds the degeneration of the Hindu communities was rejuvenated lately in line with the Nazranis who used to thrive and flourish by buying their divided properties.

    The share of the wealth that the parents give excels anything as a bastion of enhancing the monumental sentiments attached to it. In many cases, the share that one girl brings in may be used as a dowry given to her husband’s sister, however a close knit family unit is welded by such give and take web that cannot be broken by flimsy reasons. To wait and divide the property in the last days when the parents are mentally imbalanced is likely to show partiality that creates disharmony among the children, carting away the parents between different households for care and nursing in their dying days. The cohesion of the whole community with the thread of religious fervour is an institution that cannot be faced out from Indian culture. The financial security that serves as a catalytic agent is the guardian of all other mental and religious stability. A marriage is not only a bond between 2 individuals but also a contract between 2 families that affiliate and adjust within each other, leading the way for the incoming girl to nurture and care the in-laws at the evening of their lives for the judicious way of handling or investing the money that she brought as a share to foster a welding family life that cares and looks after the interests of one another. This dowry system is the one that keeps the family unity that disallows the family to fall apart. If the dated marriage is a sacrosanct system, how come the divorce rate soars up in many times than the arranged marriages? Just like the principle of democracy that upholds the integrity and welfare of a sound secular system, the dowry that synchronizes the pecuniary, religious and spiritual strata of our seen and unseen life is a fortress of our progress in all the spheres of life. Dowry is the shield and weapon of arranged marriages that only can balance the religious and social life of a community in the wider ocean of life.

    Same- sex Relationship:
    Our parents and the community continue this dowry system, though illegal, because of the security and safety that cemented and welded of our family life for further progress. Arranged marriage system that protects chastity and serenity of spiritual life will vanish once when the dowry system disappears. Dated marriage that precipitates moral corruption which destroy the fibre of family and social harmony is in geometrical dimensions than the inherent evils, if any, of the arranged marriages. While the fair and smart ones grabs their fit partners, the weak and ugly get into short relationship for sex gratification, leaving behind a good number of people roaming around only to have temporary or permanent defacto relationship that culminated in same-sex relationship. On the basis of money and status, the arranged marriage system used to find out a partner for everyone that helped to solve the problems of sex corruption to a minimum. The defacto encroachment and same-sex connections were not at all common during the days when arranged marriage system was prevalent.

    Evils of Dowry:
    The sanctity of this noble custom evaporated everything when it turned out to be a bull trade that is to be condemned as bullshit. The petrol money that pumped billions of dollars converted this sacrament as a bull market, finding couples to be joined by money, jobs, and high- profile sophisticated social survival diplomacy, the explicit exhibition of one’s megalomania. This trend cannot be bridled because the influx of money that drove time to its evening twilight, which culminated by the historical sign of Palestinian Intifida and 9/ 11 catastrophes, and we are approaching towards the moonless and starless mid-night darkness of an aeon of visible and invisible cataclysms that wipes out the endangered species for ever. Bartering sky- rocketing dowry that ended as a bargaining bull trade has landed the sacrament of marriage as a sacrilegious business enterprise. This sacrament that caters to many other business opportunities cannot be reduced to its bare minimum unless the artificial economy falters to its extinction to a time -old farming life style.

    There are brokers who live their livelihood by false advertisements and deceits. The unsold commodities are sold by these treacherous methods that make marriage as a bed of thorns, whereas previously the relatives who knew and mingled with both parties together made the marriage connections. Dowry, together with high commodity presents, is a status symbol now. This noble and well-established and meritorious basis of an institution has become a horse-trading commerce that degenerates life to its decadent marketing of apocalyptic proportion. The money spinning of any sacrament that lands in profligacy degenerates the qualities of inner life, the guardian of our soul. Man minus Divine glow makes a human animal, chimpanzee, in its crude form. The time old customs, conventions and traditions are necessary to harness the human animal, but when it goes out of control, our life on earth becomes worth nothing other than celebrations, merriments and mimicry, the sign of an ape culture that wraps up everything in ashes. This type of arranged marriages come in par with dated marriages that ends in disharmonies of the animality of divorce, the main recipe for the annihilation of family and society.

    Dowry has been a well-experimented partner of the bride that links to her husband as a financial guardian also. Instead of getting her landed property share after the death of the parents, getting dowry in currency at the beginning of her married life help the couple to build a shelter and other paraphernalia that goes as a bonanza in the beginning of one’s married life. To live as a couple in a big family of siblings will certainly make acrimony of various kinds; to avoid such incidents of bitterness it is a good thing to move into another dwelling, for which the dowry is her helpful partner in the years that last.

    Minority commission:
    There is a M.Commission that looks into the rights and welfare of the minorities in India. They allow us to keep all our religious rights, customs and traditions to be upheld, so that we can live as independent entities by keeping all our religious and social rites and rights and traditions. We had golden opportunities to present our cases and validate dowry as a legal and noble institution. But our religious stalwarts who represented our religion couldn’t visualize the importance of dowry that helped the Syrian Christian community to survive without fragmentation and molestation of other deviant practices. A minority of our religious spoke persons hasn’t yet understood the patriarchal system and its values that contributed the complementing roles of family life and its imprints upon the social and spiritual values. In order to reap cheap glory, the minority spoke persons who follow the mass media and real estate spirituality pleaded for making dowry as illegal, a weapon that forced to do backyard operations flourishing now. By giving importance to sentimental values and their shallow social glory they carted away our sacred tradition to be a backyard and illegitimate wholesale business that curtails the income of the parishes and many other future social blessings, inviting the system to be completely wiped out if the lawgivers enforce the law.

    The problems of such bargaining dowry system have made social divides that embrace problems of similar ones of the dated marriages. There is not a vast difference between the dated and arranged marriage systems as both are bordered into the same territory of an irreligious culture of surface paradise. The affluence of money invites defacto relationship, sexism, feminism, divorce, marital disharmony that end in suicides and many other unhealthy social allergies. The illegitimate relationship that begets separation, biological father, social father, maintenance father, court battles, legal custody, divorce, alimony, vengeance, tensions, Juvenile Justice System that make the next generation as the vassals of infernal powers. Is this short life meant for all these vices that drive us as the heir-apparent of a nether world system? If our hierarchies had an inkling of such thoughts, they would have tried to continue the dowry system that fostered our communities for propagating their values and traditional blessings that we inherited from the past.

    We don’t have any insight that could have precipitated for a farsighted solution of similar problems. As we give importance to immediate ephemeral gains, we betray the long-standing traditions and conventions that have fostered the communities in healthy conditions for all the antique years. Do nonsense in haste and repent at leisure that accumulates problems and irreparable damages for the next generations. This sacred tradition will vanish if the custodians of the law enforce it rigorously. However, slowly it may unlikely be wiped out by the fleeting trend of dated marriages that gulp the sanctity of the sacramental life style of arranged marriages. When people harvest the bitter fruits of dated marriages that transmit the genetics of future proofing-guilt and disorders that predate upon the next generations, they may throw away the pop musical symphony of lax marriages, and weep like the uprooted and exiled Israelites who wept at the banks of the Babylonian waters at the loss of their freedom of continuing the traditional way of worship and life (Ps.137). Nonetheless, it will be too late to mend the fences that are erected on the edifice of the exotic and erotic passions of the flesh, not on the Passions of Christ.

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    H.G. ALVARES MAR JULIUS [1889-1923]


    Alvares Mar Julius started the Brahmawar Mission at Karnataka in 1888. The peripatetic missionary work of Brahmawar Mission slowly and steadily spread to many places in Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra. Currently there is one Degree College, one Junior College, two U.P School, one English Medium School functioning here. The liturgical services conducted here are in Malayalam, Konkani and Kannada.

    [Prof. Joseph K. Alexander is the former Director of Collegiate Education of Kerala State. He is currently Chairman of Kerala regional branch of Indian Institute of Public Administration [IIPA] and Member of Governing Board, IIPA Delhi. He is also the founder member and Vice President of Mar Gregorios Rehabilitation Center [MGRCB] which is an offshoot of Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Students Movement (MGOCSM)]

    Alvares MAR JULIUS

    Born on 29th April 1836 in the region of Goa, currently a State of Indian Republic, H.G. Alvares Mar Julius was ordained as a Priest of Catholic Order in 1869. As a priest and a staunch freedom fighter of Goa, the eminent personality, Fr. Alvares, served in his land for spiritual and social upliftment of his countrymen for a span of eighteen years during 1869-1887. His philanthropy, patriotism and yearning for freedom from foreign Portuguese yoke, journalistic acumen and his aristocratic birth had won a good number of followers for him in Goa and South Canara. Due to the political and religious constraints of that time in his own region, Fr. Alvares left Goa in 1887, geographically rerouted his mission area and started to concentrate his social and spiritual activities among his folks in Brahmawar. [Brahmawar is a place situated in South Canara near Udippi, which is currently in the Karnataka State of India]

    After a while of landing to Malankara in 1887, Parumala Mar Gregorios Metropolitan of Malankara Orthodox Church ordained Fr. Alvares to the monastic order of Ramban. On 29 July 1889, Ramban Alvares was consecrated as a Metropolitan with title Alvares Mar Julius at the Old Seminary, Kottayam by Malankara Metropolitan Pulikkottil Mar Joseph Dionysius II and St. Geevarghese Mar Gregorios [Parumala Thirumeni, the first canonized Saint of Malankara]. The newly consecrated Metropolitan Mar Julius was appointed as the Archbishop of India and Ceylon for the diocesan area of outside Kerala of the Malankara Orthodox Church.

    Brahmawar Mission:
    Alvares Mar Julius started the Brahmawar Mission at Karnataka in 1888. This mission was started in order to give spiritual leadership and to help them to learn liturgy and catechism of the Church for those people newly joined to the Orthodox Church from the surrounding regions. He was the shepherd of over 5000 faithfuls in Brahmawar who bestowed their allegiance to him. After organizing the community under the able guidance of the Arch Bishop they started the Malankara Syrian Worship and Qurbana. While expanding the services and mission of the Brahmawar Mission, Mar Julius requested help and support to the then Malankara Metropolitan Pulikkottil Thirumeni for appointing a missionary to Brahmawar. Mar Dionysius selected a very dynamic and successful evangelist and orator Rev. Dn. K.J. Alexander Kanianthra to help Mar Julius in the mission work at Brahmawar. Because of his marriage at the age of 20 years to a very young girl of 11 years, the Deacon was also yearning for an out-of-home work. [This type of child marriage was standard prevailing custom in Kerala that time] So Dn. Alexander eagerly accepted the work and went to Brahmawar in 1903 to commence his mission work there. [The first lap of the journey of Dn. K.J. Alexander Kanianthra by all modes of travel including bullock cart was reported in the Malayala Manorama in 1903]

    Dn. Alexander was a matriculate from S.B. College, Changanacherry. According to the wishes of the community and his family, he was ordained as a Deacon by H.H. St. Gregorios of Parumala. Further, he joined old Seminary, Kottayam and started learning Syriac and Theology. Dn. Alexander started publishing a magazine on behalf of the Church called 'Suviseshakan'. To increase circulation and to pursue evangelical work he used to visit and deliver sermons at almost all Parishes in Travancore. In 1902 Dn. Alexander married Achiamma, daughter of Shri Chandy Kunju Marett. [Quoted by Prof. Joseph K. Alexander & Achamma Ammini Joseph]

    The peripatetic missionary work of Brahmawar Mission slowly and steadily spread to many places in Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra. Dn. Alexander learned the languages of these places, so that he could directly converse with the congregation in their own vernacular language. Bibles in Kannada, Marathi, Telugu and Hindi were found in Achen's collection of books. The Church continued its mission work by sending priests for the St. Mary's Church of Milagris and other mission works at Brahmawar. Priests who later served at Brahmawar are: Thumpamon Koshy Achen, Kuriakose Achen, Geevarghese Achen.

    A Primary School was started at Brahmawar with donations and from the fund raised by conducting a lottery with help of lay workers like Vettiyil Ms. Annamma of Vakathanam. She was serving among the women in Brahmawar till 1930, when parents called her back for a late marriage. In 1930's girls from Brahmawar who studied in Primary School were brought for high school education to Balikamadam Girls English High School at Thiruvalla. This practice was continued till the school at Brahmawar was upgraded to a high school. During the short Onam vacation these children were accommodated as honourd guests in Christian houses at Thiruvalla. The author recollect 3 girls each staying in our house at Mepral, probably in 1936 and 1937.

    It is this school that has eventually bloomed into a College. Currently there is one Degree College, one Junior College, two U.P School, one English Medium School functioning here. The liturgical services conducted here are in Malayalam, Konkani and Kannada. As part of the Brahmavar Mission there are 5 Churches, which belong to the Madras diocese. Now Rev. Fr. Lazer of Pathanapuram Dayara is in charge of the Institutions at Brahmawar.

    As the Anglican Bishop of Bombay gave Dn. Alexander a scholarship to study theology at the Bishop's College, Calcutta, the Deacon had proceeded to Calcutta for his theological studies. When the St. John's Church at Mepral was re-opened and Vicar Kanianthra Vathapallil Achen was too old to do the ecclesiastical services, Dn. Alexander was recalled from Calcutta by the Parishners. Thus, the deacon had to return from Calcutta in 1911 without completing his studies. He came to Manglore and Archbishop Alvares Mar Julius ordained him as a priest in 1911.

    While at Brahmawar, one Fr. Noronha a Manglorian was his friend and a coworker in the mission field. Many years later Fr. Alexander revisited Brahmawar and God willed so, because that was the date on which his friend Fr. Naronha died. Fr. Norona went and established an out-post of his mission in Thiruchirappally. When this writer was a student there in St. Joseph's College (1944-48), he visited this small community and their Church. The old priest of that time was another Fr. Norohna who knew this old Fr. Narona. One Mr. Ponniah owner of Ponniah School was a rich member of this community. Later Pathanapuram Dayara purchased the Ponniah School from him.

    Archbishop Mar Alvares had ordained two priests and a deacon from Travancore-Cochin area for Malankara Church. Besides Rev. Fr. Kanianthra Joseph Alexander, Rev. Fr. Lukose of Kannamkottu and Rev.Dn. David Kunnamkulam were the ones ordained by Mar Alvares. Fr. Kanianthra Joseph later became a Cor-Episcopa and was the Vicar General [from 1949 till his death in 1955] of the Niranam Diocese of late Thoma Mar Dionysius of Malankara Orthodox Church.

    [In 1892, Archbishop Mar Alvares consecrated an American Priest, Joseph Rene Vilatte, a native from Paris, who was titled as Mar Timotheus, Archbishop for the Church of the Mother of God in Wisconsin of the Archdiocese in America, with consent of Jacobite Patriarch H.H. Peter III of Monastery of Sapran at Mardin of the border of Syria and Kurdistan.]

    Bishop Mar Alvares was living in the Arch Bishop Palace in Brahmawar and serving the people till 1913. In 1913, he left Brahmawar and went back to Goa for the reason which is unknown. He had to suffer a lot of persecution at the hands of the Portuguese. He spent the rest of his life for collecting food for the poor people in Goa. His Grace Entered into eternal abode on 23rd September, 1923 at Ribandar, Panji, Goa and interred mortal remains in Goa. It is true that some research at the initiatives of late H.G. Philipose Mar Theophilus and H.H. Basalios Marthoma Mathews I prompted Rev. Fr. K.M. George and Rev. Fr. T.E. Issac, the then parish priest at Goa, to fish out the location of the burial. The tomb of Alvares Mar Julius was discovered on January 1, 1967 from St. Inex Municipal Cemetery, Panji, Goa by H.G. Mathews Mar Athanasios. The Holy Relics were translated from St.Inex Cemetery to St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Panji by Philipos Mar Theophilus on October 5, 1979 .

    Feedback From Prof. Dale Griffith: I found your 'Life of Bishop Alvares' extremely interesting, but I was crest-fallen when you did not mention that the rite used by this saintly bishop was the traditional Latin Rite corrected for use in Orthodoxy. Is there a reason that this was omitted in the article? Bishop Alvares was the first bishop in the Orthodox Church to celebrate according to the Latin rite for centuries and the founder of Latin rite Orthodoxy. I should think that this is important.
    Prof Dale Griffith
    College of Micronesia

    Author's Reply: Prof. Dale Griffith's comment is genuine. In fact the Holy Mass conducted by Rev. Fr. Norohna in the Thiruchirapally Church, in 1947, which I attended once or twice, was in Latin with Tamil responses from the congregation. I missed that point. I could have added that in my article. But this fact was known perhaps only to the then Bishops in Malankara Orthodox Church including the then Dn. K. J. Alexander and Koshy Achen who were there in Brahmawar with His Grace. Moreover, Koshy Achen and other priests who came after him conducted the Holy Qurbana in Syriac and Malayalam. So this Latin rite was applicable only to H.G. Alvares and priests like Rev. Fr.Norohna and their congregation. So it is not surprising that this fact has not been mentioned by anyone in Malankara in their writings on H.G. Mar Alvares. I myself would not have known about this, had i not attended the Holy Qurbana of Fr. Norohana at Trichy. But from the standpoint of Prof . Dale Griffith, it is an important point. So let us thank Prof. Dale Griffith for pointing out this lacuna. Regards.
    Prof. Joseph K. Alexander

    Mar Gregorios Rehabilitation center:
    Started in 1983, in Trivandrum, Kerala by the H.G. Philipos Mar Theophilus, in a small way, the Mar Gregorios Rehabilitation Centre, initially catered to the needs of the blind and expanded, ten years later, to bring succor to not only the visually impaired but also to the hearing impaired, the orthopaedically handicapped and the mentally retarded. Site:

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    Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasios was the second son of Abraham Malpan born in 1837, the year in which the reformation began. He was consecrated as a Bishop on 1st June 1868. Bishop Thomas was Suffragan for nine years and Metropolitan for 16 years. He was a good revivalist speaker and he gave the ministry of the Word due importance in the Holy Communion Service.


    Thomas was the second son of Abraham Malpan born in 1837, the year in which the reformation began. Abraham Malpan's four older children were daughters. When the youngest daughter was born, a learned Brahmin friend of Malpan visited the house to see the newly born. Malpan's wife Aleyamma was reluctant to have the baby seen, as she felt ashamed to show a female offspring, the fourth in a row, to the distinguished visitor. The wise Brahmin understood Aleyamma's reluctance and told her, "Don't be disheartened. You will now have four sons and they will be princes". His prophecy came true as two of her sons, Thomas and Titus (who was the youngest) became Metropolitans and princes of the Church and the other two, Mathai and Kochukoshy, eminent members of the society.

    Thomas grew up as a happy child with his siblings enjoying the beautiful Pampa River almost at the doorstep, and the vast riverbed as their playground. He was six years of age when his cousin, Mathews Mar Athanasius, returned from Mardin as the Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Church. But when he was 9, tragedy struck the family. His father, Abraham Malpan, suddenly passed away at the early age of 50. Metropolitan Mathews became the head of the family and took charge of his cousins, their welfare and education. Thomas had his primary education at Maramon and thereafter the Metropolitan took him to Kottayam to study at the C.M.S. English School and the Seminary. Thomas had the company of Metropolitan's sister's son, Cherukara Philipose, who later became Malpan and leader of reformation. They both studied Malayalam, Sanskrit, Syriac, English and Church's canons and rituals. They were both ordained deacons. Meanwhile Thomas's younger brother, Titus, joined them at Kottayam and pursued similar subjects. The studies at the Seminary and at the English School were better than at later times, as there were only a few students who received good personal attention from the teachers. The study of languages was given priority but other subjects like Mathematics, Geography and History were also taught. Most of the students were boarders and as such they had good campus life and sharing of ideas. Some of the students like Philipose Malpan of the Syrian Church and Archdeacon Oommen Mammen of the Anglican Church became leading clergymen.

    After their studies at Kottayam, the Metropolitan decided to send Thomas and Titus to Madras for further studies. Thomas had by then been ordained Kasissa and Titus had been ordained Deacon. The journey to Madras was not easy, as the train was available only for part of the journey. In Madras they had to stay in a rented house, as there were no student hostels. oth of them excelled in studies and Thomas got a medal for his proficiency in Mathematics. Madras city was beginning to grow and had all the problems of growing city, including poor hygiene, in the nineteenth century. It affected their health and they were forced to return to Maramon after 2 years. However, the stay in Madras helped them immensely as they continued their studies of languages including Tamil and got acquainted with church leaders, English and Indian, from different denominations in Madras.

    Thomas Kasissa returned from Madras in 1862 and he worked for a while as parish priest in Maramon. He did not have the good fortune to learn about reformation from his father but he was in touch with Malpan's colleagues. Further, thanks to his proficiency in languages he was ale to read ancient books in Syriac and the contemporary books in Malayalam, English and Tamil. He was able to preach effectively and instruct the congregation in the Bible and reformation theology. He had an impressive personality, being tall and well built in physique as well as gregarious and friendly in his approach to people.

    Before long the Metropolitan appointed Thomas Kathanar as his chaplain and secretary and Thomas moved his residence to Kottayam. The workload of the Metropolitan was increasing steadily and it was clear to all church leaders that he needed the assistance of a Saffragan Bishop. A number of them including Kurien Writer of Kunnumpurath family in Kottayam, who was a prominent member of the Church, urged the Metropolitan to consecrate Thomas Kathanar as they were all convinced that he was a worthy successor. The Metropolitan tarried for a while, but gave in finally in view of the assistance of Metropolitan Kurilose of Thozhiyur, on 1st June 1868. The young Bishop stayed on in the Seminary. He was given the responsibility of expanding the teaching at the Seminary, which he was able to do with the cooperation of Cherukara Philipose, who was the chief Malpan at the Seminary. After a while Bishop Thomas handed over the responsibility to Philipose Malpan to be able to give adequate attention to duties of Church administration as Suffragan Metropolitan.

    Bishop Thomas was Suffragan for nine years and Metropolitan for 16 years. The position of the Saffragan Metropolitan was unusual in the Malankara Church till then, as the tradition of the Church was to have only one Bishop, the Metropolitan. This was because of the fact that Church was small and the Metropolitan could manage the administration by himself. The Metropolitan spent most of the time visiting the parishes in Travancore and Cochin and he issued Episcopal circulars from whichever parish he was visiting. An entourage of chaplain, secretaries, bodyguards and other servants traveled with him and those who wished to see him visited him at whichever parish he happened to be camping.

    Metropolitan Mathews decided to make certain changes in this respect. He continued to visit parishes and he also took upon himself to liaises with the government on behalf of his people by maintaining good rapport with the Dewans and Maharajahs of Travancore and Cochin. The Suffragan shared the parish visits with the Metropolitan and maintained the Episcopal office in the Seminary. Whenever he visited the parishes, the Suffragan conducted the Services according to the reformed liturgy. He was a good revivalist speaker and he gave the ministry of the Word due importance in the Holy Communion Service. The Suffragan was a close adviser to the Metropolitan who, though inclined to e somewhat autocratic, still sought and accepted the advice of the Suffragan. While at Kottayam, they both stayed at the Seminary. The facilitated mutual consultation, was affording useful experience to the Suffragan.

    Metropolitan Mathews Mar Athanasios died on 15 July 1877. The Suffragan was the acknowledged successor and he assumed the office of the Metropolitan and the steward of Church property along with the Trustees. Two months after the death of Metropolitan Mathews a memorial dinner [Adiantharam] was held, as per custom, at the Seminary under the leadership of Metropolitan Thomas with the assistance of leading clergy like Thazhath Chandapilla Kathanar [Thazhath Achen], Philipose Malpan and Kovoor Iype Thoma Kathanar. There were about eight thousand particpants representing all the parishes in Travancore and Cochin.

    He was a meticulous correspondent both in Malayalam and English. Although he had no means to keep copies of his letters, he kept a careful note of the letters he had written to each parish and individuals, both clergy and laity, and insisted on replies from his correspondents. When the Church had important visitors, like the Governor of Madras, Anglican Bishops, or Thozhiyur Metropolitans, he instructed the parishes in detail on protocols how to receive and welcome them. He wrote letters to various Hindu and Muslim friends, arranged to meet them and enquired of the welfare of their families. His compassion and concerns extended to all people, and was not confined to his supporters. He had no hesitation, like his predecessor, in approaching senior government. During a visit by Maharajah, Visakham thirunal, to Kottayam in 1880 the Mar Thoma Church gave him a reception and His Highness said, " If Parasuraman visits Kerala he will not find a community better in loyalty and patriotism than the Syrian Christians". These were plaudits for all Syrian Christians.


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