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Entries open for logo design contest of Ahmedabad OCYM International conference

AHMEDABAD: Organizers of the International Conference of Orthodox Christian Youth Movement (OCYM) have called up on professional designers to design a logo for its upcoming mega international youth conference.

Some of the official rules for the contest state the logos must not have any copyrighted material. They must have been created and edited by the contestants. Logos may not include images or licensed images that have been previously published and must be easily reproducible for large and small formatting.

The logo must be featured on OCYM website, social media platforms and other mediums like stationary and pamphlets. The designed logo has to be eye-catching and legible.
Each entry must be credited to a single individual. The logo contest does not accept entries from pairs or teams.

All entries will become the property of the OCYM. By submitting an entry, the entrant agrees that any and all intellectual property rights in the design are deemed assigned to OCYM. The winning logo will be chosen by OCYM and their decision will be final.

All entries must be submitted as salable vectors, and must be adaptable to change, including size alterations and color or gray scale shifts. Eligible participants must create a logo design in JPG, PDF, or PSD formats. The chosen winner must be able to provide a high resolution vector file (in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or In Design).

The last date for submission of the logo is Friday June 3, 2016 and email to

The conference is scheduled to be held from September 30 to October 2, 2016 at Sabha Jyothis Pulikottil Mar Dionisius I Nagar, Ahmedabad, and will have its theme on ‘The Beauty of Silence.’

The Orthodox Christian Youth Movement (OCYM), is the youth-wing of the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Syrian Church is in its 80th year of active leadership and Christian witness in the Church and society. It contributes to the goodness and progress of the Church and community in the three-fold path of worship, study and service. It aims at molding the minds and visions of the youth against the background of contemporary issues.

Editorial Features

Criteria for deciding a common date for Pascha (Easter)


Christos Aneste! Alithos Aneste!!
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!!
We Wish You a Very Blessed and Joyful Pascha!

As we enter this Paschal Season of 2016, we intend to take the attention of our readers not to the most mystifying historical and theological truth of the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead as we used to do in the past, but to the controversy of the actual date of the Easter/ Pascha. Very often the average Christian does not worry about the date of Pascha nor is he exposed to the different approaches to decide the date of Pascha. Even if the topic is brought for discussion our Orthodox Christians react indifferently. “It does not matter; the most important concern is that the Pascha is celebrated regardless of the date”, is the general attitude towards the issue.

Can we Orthodox approach this issue without regard to the historical and biblical implications behind this issue? It is crucial that every Orthodox should have a basic idea of the criteria that determine the date of Easter/ Pascha. This awareness would deepen the true mystery of the Resurrection of Christ, who is the true Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God prefigured by the Paschal Lamb of the Old Covenant.

Although occasionally both East and West celebrate Pascha on the same day, usually the Eastern churches celebrate Pascha one to five weeks later than the feast observed by the Western Church.

The Celebration of Pascha in the Post-Apostolic Period

The Church saw the Resurrection of our Lord as the most important event in the life of her Lord and God on earth; hence that was the only feast the Church celebrated during her post-apostolic period. Tradition says that it was celebrated in conjunction with the Jewish Passover observed in Jerusalem. However, Christian communities had different dates to observe the Resurrection of the Lord from the very beginning of Christian history. The reasons rested on the complex nature of calendars and the astronomical data available. Moreover, the biblical accounts related to Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection were somewhat confusing, which made a decision on the exact date of Pascha somewhat perplexing, because the details relating Christ’s death and resurrection to the Jewish Passover are not entirely clear. For example, Mathew, Mark and Luke identify our Lord’s Last Supper as a Jewish Passover meal. This would imply that His death on the cross took place the next day. But the Gospel of John emphasizes that Jesus became a sacrifice on the cross exactly at the same hour the paschal lambs were sacrificed on the day of the Passover. The Syriac Orthodox liturgical tradition does underscore this truth in her prayers on Great Friday to identify Christ as the Passover Lamb of the New Covenant who replaced the Jewish Passover.

These two perceptions of the biblical accounts paved way for two different practices; one group celebrated Pascha on the Jewish Passover on any day the Passover takes place, and the other group observed it on the Sunday following the Passover. By the 4th century the latter became a common practice. However, you could expect some variations in some remote pockets of Christian communities which were far away from metropolitan centers at a time when such communities existed without sufficient channels of communication.

What Did the First Ecumenical Council Held at Nicaea Decide?

Obviously the Church as a whole detected some problems on this practice and wanted to settle it universally, and the topic was brought under the agenda of the First Ecumenical Council held at Nicaea in 325 A.D. This council decided that Holy Pascha should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Actually the vernal equinox is the starting point of spring. In case the full moon is on a Sunday, Pascha should be observed on the following Sunday. March 21 is the astronomically accepted date as the beginning date of spring. Passover was celebrated on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Thus naturally Pascha was celebrated on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover.

Why there is a correlation between Pascha and the Jewish Passover.

Historically, the arrest and trial of Our Lord and His salvific sacrificial death on the cross occurred in connection with the Jewish Passover. For the Aramaic-based Semitic Christians it has more significance as a theological and soteriological requirement. The Passover of the Old Testament was the commemoration of the emancipation of a nation under bondage; the bible is clear that it was symbolic, not only of a political struggle and liberation of a people, but also of their spiritual and ethical freedom which was realized on the day of Pentecost on Mount Sinai when they were brought under the discipline of God through the instrumentality of the Ten Commandments written by God’s own hand and inscribed on their hearts. Pascha is the event that comprises not only the resurrection of the Lord, but also of His Sacrificial death on the cross, and it is culminated and perfected with the descent of the His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; rather than binding the hearts of men with the uncompromising binding power of a set of Laws given on the first Pentecost, the second Pentecost, as a new Pentecost, bound them with the forgiving and gracious power of the Holy Spirit Who grants them ultimate freedom from their inner enemies of pride, lust, covetousness, gluttony, thievery, sensuality and all other vices through the acceptance of the Redeemer realized in the Risen Christ and through repentance and grace. In Christian East this connection is crucial.

The Passover of the Old Covenant was only a shadow of the real Passover, a prefiguration of the Eternal Passover which is Christ Himself as the Passover victim, as the Offeror of the Passover victim, and as the Passover meal which was divided among His redeemed for eternal life. The First Ecumenical Council must have absorbed this truth, and demanded that the real Passover, the Pascha, should take place only after its prefiguration, which is the Jewish Passover. In other words, the Christian Passover or Pascha can be observed only after the Jewish Passover which prefigured the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lamb of God. Again the Eternal Passover must never precede its symbolic prefiguration; the true Passover, the death and resurrection of Lamb of God should be observed only after its symbolic representation prior to the reality. Hence the Council of Nicaea stipulated that the Christian Pascha should be observed only after the Jewish Passover.

The Church had encountered some problems in this area. The Jews who were scattered as a result of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and were living in Diaspora away from their ancestral cultural background began to observe their Passover at different dates, particularly on a date before the vernal equinox. This is the result of changes in the calendars they followed. This definitely affected the Christian observance of the Pascha. In order to correct this condition, the Council stipulated that the Pascha should be observed based on the Passover and calendar in force during the time of Christ in Jerusalem, and not any other calendar. In one of the later regional councils (for example, the Council of Antioch) we see that Christians, who celebrated Pascha with the Jews were anathematized. Traditionally the Church always wanted the Pascha to be celebrated on a Sunday after the Jewish Passover observed in Jerusalem according to the calendar followed at the time of Jesus. In other words, in order to set a date for Pascha the Church had always wanted to link the criteria with the norms for observing Jewish Passover during the time of our Lord.

How did the East and the West Go into two different directions?

Currently both East and West recognize that Pasha should be celebrated after the full moon following the vernal equinox. But the problem really rests somewhere else, i.e. on the different calendars the East and West began to follow since the 16th century. Rome developed a new calendar under Pope Gregory (hence it is called the Gregorian calendar) and began to calculate the date of Easter based on this calendar.

When Pope Gregory set the date of vernal equinox it was a fixed date, which has its practical convenience. However the East always followed the astronomical path to decide on vernal equinox, in other words the science of astronomy determines the date of vernal equinox. Thus fixing the date of Pascha on a particular date has become a complex issue. Thus defining vernal equinox has become two processes which led to different dates for full moons. The Eastern churches followed the actual vernal equinox and full moon based on the science of astronomy as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, the location of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In addition, the East particularly emphasized the connection between Jewish Passover and the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and His passion, death and resurrection; hence the commemoration of the resurrection should take place only after the Jewish Passover. The West has no such regard for this intrinsic mystical affinity between them, which itself is a point of serious deviation.

Moreover, the West just fixed vernal equinox on a fixed date, which is on March 21, and a date for full moon which does not have to be on the day of the astronomical full moon. This date of the full moon is determined based on “ecclesiastical full moon cycles” created by the Roman Church, and is more predictable in advance, because it has been programmed for that kind of convenience.

To make it further simple for our understanding, the difference in dates to observe the Pascha rises from different vernal equinox days in both Gregorian and Julian calendars and from the unwillingness of the Roman Catholic Church to take the Jewish Passover date into consideration for determining the date of Pascha as stipulated by the Council of Nicaea.

Is Reconciliation Possible?

Can we reconcile both East and West on this important issue of the date of Pascha without compromising fundamental issues which are basic to its calculation? The honest opinion of this writer is that it is not possible. The West, if it is led by Rome, will enter into negotiations, but it is for converting the other side into its side; it will never give up what it has been practicing although it was only for less than five centuries. This is the Roman megalomania to assert that Rome was, is, and will be always right, and will never change!

Recent Efforts of Reconciliation

It was a serious concern among all Christians that they lose witness for what they preach and stand for among the pagans and heathens and among the Moslems. When the Roman Catholic Christ died and rose from the dead, the Christ of the Eastern churches was still preaching in their churches! These Christians did not have a convincing answer to a Hindu or Muslim if they were confronted with a question regarding the different dates of the celebration of Pascha in the same region. Christians in the Middle East and India faced this situation regularly as Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians and the Orthodox celebrated Easter on different dates. To do away with the confusion among non-Christians one group within the Church of the East (who follow the Nestorian doctrine on the personhood of Christ) adopted the Western Easter calculations, which divided that Church as Old-Calendarists and New-Calendarists. In India in the 1950’s the Orthodox Church of India (also called the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East in Malankara) similarly accepted the Western calendar through a Synodal decision to avoid a scandal among the larger population of Hindus. It is to be observed that the Finnish Orthodox Church (a Church in the Byzantine tradition) also follows the Western Gregorian Calendar to celebrate its Pascha.

In the 1960’s the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church thought about a common date and proposed the second Sunday in April to be a permanent day of Pascha, but it never received acceptance especially among the Eastern Churches.

A few years ago under the efforts of the World Council of Churches there was an attempt to set a common date for Easter (Pascha). There was a meeting of representatives from East and West in Aleppo, Syria (March 5-10, 1997), which proposed a solution believed to be favorable to both East and West. The proposal suggested to replace the old methods of calculating vernal equinox and full moon, and to use a more scientifically accurate and advanced astronomical method to calculate the vernal equinox and full moon which was accepted by the participants. Since then no progress was made on this accepted proposal.

The Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches discussed the possibility of celebrating Easter on several occasions, but the idea was never materialized.

Pope John Paul II came up with his proposal for a fixed single date for Pascha, but was not agreeable to the Orthodox.

More recently Pope Francis has shown openness for greater ecumenical cooperation in this matter and renewed discussions on this topic. He also suggested that he would change the date of Easter in the West to accommodate the wishes of other Christians, so that a common date for Pascha could be fixed. Speaking at the World Retreat of Priests at his official Cathedral of St. John Lateran in Rome on June 12, 2015 he said: “We have to come to an agreement “for a common date for Easter, and he said this disunity is a scandal. Of course it is a scandal; but who deviated from the original norms set by the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea required for the calculation of the date of Pascha?

Having been pastorally sensitive to a global issue such as this, some Orthodox leaders also had come forward with their reflections. In May 2015 Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria wrote to the Papal Nuncio in Egypt suggesting a common date for Pascha. A week after the Retreat of Priests at the Lateran in Rome, The Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Ephraim II, of the Syrian Orthodox Church met with Pope Francis and discussed the possibility of having a single date for Easter for all Christians. He noted that motivated by the Second Vatican Council the Holy Synod of Antioch adopted a resolution in 1981 expressing the “eagerness” of his Church to observe Pascha on a fixed Sunday in April which would be agreed upon by all Christians. He also thanked the Pope for his latest initiative to reopen discussion on this matter.

Historian Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in L’Osservatore Romano that the Pope is offering a “gift of unity” to the rest of Christendom with his willingness to change the date of Easter. She also observed that this would encourage “reconciliation between Christian Churches and … a sort of making sense out of the calendar”. She wrote that a common date would magnify “the importance of the central feast of the faith in a moment when changes seems to be suddenly coming throughout the world” (Sophia, Fall 2015).

But the reaction from the Russian Orthodox Church was negative. The criteria for determining the date of Pasha were set at a time when the Church was one, and setting a common date should follow the norms set by the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century. In other words, Moscow would stick with the traditional norms followed by the Orthodox churches. Father Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, did not make any direct comment on the Pope’s proposal, but warned against “any radical change of our common traditions from the first millennium of Christianity” (Sophia, Fall 20115).

Fr. Balashov further observed: “If the Church of Rome intends to celebrate Easter as calculated when the Church of the East and West were united… then this intention is welcome”. On the other hand if the agendum is to “have a fixed date for Easter and not tie it to the first full moon after the spring equinox, as established in the East and in the West by the Council of Nicaea in 325, then this proposal is totally unacceptable to the Orthodox Church” (Sophia Fall 2015).

Another famous Russian theologian, Protodeacon Andrey Kurayev, according to Interfax, called the Pope’s proposal “unrealistic and prospectless”. He reiterated that the Orthodox Christians are tied to the decision of the First Ecumenical Council and establishing a permanent fixed date is contrary to the mind of Nicaea.

Rome, Go Back to the Nicaean Canon and Tradition!

This writer has a question to the Pope of Rome: Why don’t go back to the canons of the Council of Nicaea and stick with them, like the Eastern churches? If you do so the problem is over. We are sure the entire West including the Protestants will be responsive to the call of the Bishop of Rome if it is according to the stipulation of the First Ecumenical Council, although they do not attach sacredness or canonicity to any Council; however they might absorb its historical credibility. Thus the entire Christendom will have a common date as it had been before the innovation on this matter was introduced by your predecessor Pope Gregory in the 16th century. Would it be suggestive of the Papal megalomania that the Pope is above an Ecumenical Council that he does not have to observe the canons of any Councils or that the practice of the East is simply unfounded, without canonical foundation or theological justification? Why is the Pope showing particular interest for a fixed date now? Again, we feel that the Church of Rome has to show the world that it is under its initiative that a new Easter date is fixed, which is to show that the Pope has certain prerogative and universal jurisdictional role in settling a current dispute. Do not forget that this dispute was created by Rome in the 16th century.

Rome is the most cunning institution, excelling even the Soviet Communist regime, in its tactics. A few years ago, parenthetically, Pope Benedict XVI, whom this writer highly regards as a towering intellect, committed a most audacious fallibility by denouncing his own title “the Patriarch of Rome”! Why? Every Christian thought that it was because he was very humble and he was not interested in any ornamental or honorific title. No, that was not the reason. He cannot strip himself off an ancient ecclesiastical rank, as it was conferred on the Bishop of Rome by an ecumenically convened conciliar action. If he ever wanted to remain as the Bishop of Rome, this rank of “patriarch” is intrinsic to his pastoral role, as determined by the First Ecumenical Council. If he did not want to carry this rank with other patriarchs of the East, he should have petitioned to an Ecumenical Council to take it away from him. Then again, the motives were ulterior: It was to show that the Pope is above any ecumenical council and to show that he is not one among the patriarchs, but above them as the Papa! Smart! Did any Eastern patriarchs question Benedict’s action, did any of them consider to enthrone a Patriarch of Rome to continue the Patriarchate of the West to honor the decision of the First Ecumenical Council since Benedict denounced it? No! The Orthodox were not courageous or were not concerned about it.

Similarly the actions of Pope Francis seem to be very popular, but they are insidious. The Left love him because his actions and teachings support their master plan; they just got an advocate promoting their agenda. How many Orthodox prelates have detected the dangers hidden in his writing? A true scientist cannot relate to his latest encyclical Laudato Si (On Care of our Common Home). He was supporting a leftist agendum behind the Global Warming campaign which many famous scientists consider as not scientifically founded. Global Warming is a recent theory to explain the phenomenon of climate changes around the globe. It is the discovery of some politically motivated scientists who are said to be leading the researches according to the wishes of some political moguls who reap millions for them and for their researchers in the guise of advanced studies on climate change. The Pope has touched on topics like Economics and Climate Science, in which he has no expertise, in order to unveil a “thinly veiled political manifesto” and stamped it with the seal of the Roman Catholic Church (Dr. Michael Savage: Government Zero, New York: Center Street, 2015; p. 219). Again to become a leader of the profane world!

Recently Popes and their local representatives even have become champions of the Ecumenical Movement started by the Protestants, and later accompanied by the Orthodox Churches! Make no mistake; Rome has not changed an iota of their teachings against other Christians while being so ecumenically-minded. But our patriarchs, our bishops and priests with their laity are slowly moving towards validating the hegemony of papacy in the world by sharing stage with the Pope and his soldiers and by being part of their audience!

Why did this writer bring in these overtures from the Roman Catholic side? To prove that one fixed Easter/ Pascha date championed by Pope Francis is another such attempt to underscore the Papal role again for a decision affecting entire Christendom! We know that some Orthodox patriarchs also have caught up with this mess; but unfortunately they do not really comprehend the snares behind this new proposal by the Pope. The purpose of the Roman Church is to basically impose its will on the rest of the Christendom and to dismantle a decision of an Ecumenical Council. Thus Rome would be the ultimate winner again. The heads of other churches may have some role in the deliberation process, but it would be the Roman Catholic periti (experts) who are going to lead the discussions and lead to a decision. The participants from other churches will affirm that decision and would not oppose it for many reasons.

What is the solutions now?

Let all Christians follow the decision on a movable Easter date as stipulated by the First Ecumenical Council. In the earlier part of this editorial this writer has clearly exposed the criteria recognized by the Council. Accept the authority of the Council and we will have no issues on the date of Pascha; there is nothing wrong with a movable date for Pascha. We lived with it for two millennia, and can still move forward with it for many millennia to come. Let the secular world follow the Gregorian calendar for its convenience.

This writer makes an earnest plea to those Eastern Churches that have recently adopted the western calendar for reasons which are uncanonical. We urge them to reinstate the Julian calendar in their churches at least for the observance of their Pascha and join the fellowship of their brethren in the larger Orthodox world.

We wish you a blessed Pascha and the Paschal Season!

+Chor-Episcopos Kuriakos Thottupuram, Ph.D., D.D., Chief Editor

Diocese News Features News

Association of Chhattisgarh Christian Educational Societies (ACCES) formed

RAIPUR: A common platform for all Christian Educational Institutions in the state by the Churches which manages Educational Institutions have formed the Association of Chhattisgarh Christian Educational Societies (ACCES).

This association will bring all Christian Educational Institutions under one umbrella and function as an apex body of the Christian Minority Institutions. The registered office of ACCES shall be at Bishop Philip Ekka Pastoral Centre, Byron Bazaar, Raipur.

ACCES shall also function as an advisory body to all Christian member institutions so as to promote research activities and conduct studies and investigate further educational facilities . ACCES shall unite these institutions to safeguard their character and constitutional rights. Christian institutions and Churches are targeted often, mainly by fringe elements and these incidents are on a rise.

Arch Bishop H.E. Dr. Victor Henry Thakur (Raipur Catholic Arch Diocese) heads the Association as its President along with Vice President Dr. Joseph Mar Dionysius Metropolitan (Malanakara Orthodox Syrian Church). Fr. Joshi Varghese (Secretary St. Thomas Mission Bhilai) has been chosen as the Secretary, Ajay Dharamraj (Diocesan Secretary, CNI Raipur) as Treasurer and Dr. P.K. Martin (Mennonite Education Board, Dhamthari) as Joint Secretary.

Features News World News

New Office bearers for NCCI; Bishop Dr. P. C. Singh as new president installed

JABALPUR: The XXVIII Quadrennial Assembly of NCCI held at Jabalpur, India from April 27 to 30, 2016 declared the names of office bearers for the new quadrennium 2016 – 2020.

Rt. Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, Bishop of Jabalpur Diocese, Church of North India since 2004; Deputy Moderator of Church of North India since 2014 will be the new President for NCCI for the next 5 years.

Quadrennial Assembly had elected Rev. Dr. Ratnakara Sadananda, Aleyamma Thomas, Liju Jacob Kuriakose as the new Vice Presidents and Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar as the new treasurer.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad will be the new General secretary for the next five years. He has been the General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India since 2011 and belongs to the Presbyterian Church of India.

The Installation of the new office bearers took place in the concluding worship service held in Mary George Hall, Christ Church Girls Sr. Sec. School, Jabalpur on April 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm.

Articles Features Youth And Faith

Some Thoughts On the Icon of St. George, the Martyr

When we recall St. George, the most popular saint in Christianity, the first image that comes to mind is that of a brave young soldier riding a horse over a dragon (snake) and trying to thwart (kill) the dragon with a spear. The icon of St. George (picture) commonly seen throughout the world is written (drawn) based on this theme. It speaks volumes. It has a plethora of symbolic meanings. This imagery has, in a sense, an implication of an evolutionary process or a transition or in other words, a transformation that undergoes in the animal kingdom from the crawling reptile to the limbic animal and finally to the intellectual human. It is a modest attempt on the part of this author to correlate Anatomy and Spirituality and allegorically and hypothetically interpret it in the language of Psychology and Theology.

The brain is our most mysterious and mighty organ, the command and communication centre of the body which controls the nervous system, an intricate network receiving messages from the senses, processing them and then co-ordinating and directing all our actions and reactions. The home of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, creative imagination and talents, as well as the instruction headquarters for all our body functions, the brain’s power comes from electrical energy carried in the chemical substance known as neurotransmitters.

Medical scientists say that we have actually three cerebral units in the single human brain, namely, the primitive brain, the limbic system and neocortex.

Júlio Rocha do Amaral, & Jorge Martins de Oliveira, elucidate: “Throughout its evolution, the human brain has acquired three components that progressively appeared and became superimposed, just like in an archaeological site: the oldest, located underneath and to the back; the next one, resting in an intermediate position and the most recent, situated on top and to the front. They are, respectively:
1 – The archi pallium or primitive (reptilian) brain, comprising the structures of the brain stem – medulla, Pons, cerebellum, mesencephalon, the oldest basal nuclei – the Globus pallidus and the olfactory bulbs. It corresponds to the reptile brain, also called “R-complex”, by the famous neuroscientist Paul MacLean.
2 – The Paleo pallium or intermediate (old mammalian) brain, comprising the structures of the limbic system. It corresponds to the brain of the inferiormammals.
3 – The neo pallium, also known as the superior or rational (new mammalian) brain, comprises almost the whole of the hemispheres (made up of a more recent type of cortex, called neocortex) and some subcortical neuronal groups. It corresponds to the brain of the superior mammals, thus including the primates and, consequently, the human species.

These three cerebral layers appeared, one after the other, during the development of the embryo and the foetus (ontogenesis), recapitulating, chronologically, the evolution of animal species (phylogenesis), from the lizards up to the Homo-sapiens”.

According to Maclean, they are three biological computers, which, although interconnected, retained, each one, “their peculiar types of intelligence, subjectivity, the sense of time and space, memory, mobility and other less specific functions.

In 1878, the French neurologist Paul Broca called attention to the fact that, on the medial surface of the mammalian brain, right underneath the cortex, there exists an area containing several nuclei of grey matter (neurons) which he denominated limbic lobe (from the Latin word “limbus” that implies the idea of a circle, ring, surrounding, etc.), since it forms a kind of border around the brain stem.

The three characters in the icon, namely the snake, the horse, and the man (Saint George) represent, respectively the three anatomical classification of what is mentioned above and that show a continuum of traits such as diabolic, savage, humane and divine which can be seen latent in every human. St. George here, in a sense, is seen trying to subdue and tame the dragon by using the horse and he might have used the dragon to fight enemies of external temptations. Thus, the spiritual man is able to command both the limbic and reptilian instincts and to sublimate and use their God given gifts without being dominated by them. The horse and dragon are internal conflicts. St. George on the top of both dragon and horse here is indicative of the human potential in overcoming the internal conflicts that one has to face in one’s life. The victory of sanity over insanity. Dragon, the one in reference, is seen trying to devour a virgin woman. This betokens of the sexual urge in every man in wooing a woman. Precisely, the dragon here symbolizes the surge seen commonly in men who run after women with the aim of seducing the weaker sex (womanizing).

The life of a reptile is still in the preliminary stage of evolution whose basic instinct is to eat and to mate. It has an excessive craving for food and an exceeding sexual drive at this stage for its survival and procreation. In reptiles, according to the scholars of medicine, the primitive brain is so strong that it determines its character and is responsible for its self-preservation. It is there that the mechanisms of aggression and repetitive behaviors are developed. It is there that occur the instinctive reactions of the so-called reflex arcs and the commands which allow some involuntary actions and the control of certain visceral functions (cardiac, pulmonary, intestinal, etc.), indispensable to the preservation of life. The development of the olfactory bulbs and their connections made possible an accurate analysis of olfactory stimuli and the improvement of answers oriented by odors, such as approach, attack, flight and mating. Throughout evolution, some of these reptilian functions were lost or minimized (in humans, the amygdala and the entorhinal cortex are the only limbic structures that connect with the olfactory system). It is also in the R-complex that started the first manifestations of the phenomena of ritualism, by means of which the animal tries to define its hierarchic position inside the group and to establish its own space in the ecological niche.

When this reptilian nature is predominant in us, we are prone to sin leading our life to anarchy and evil.Today’s world is mad after sexual promiscuity (voluptuary) and gluttony (over eating and that too for the sake of satiating one’s palatal taste) which invite many a disease and the rate of immorality, morbidity, and mortality is alarmingly increasing.Like water dragon, the new generation has now become more or less omnivorous consuming junk food with gusto and immensely rapacious in eating anything and everything available on earth, or rather inclined to orgies.

Over the period, man, the so called crown of creation, has learnt to misuse and abuse his innate potential of sexuality. Sex ought to be expressed within the wedlock of marriage and sex outside the wedlock is supposed be suppressed or repressed. The epicurean lifestyle (living exclusively for eating, drinking and merry-making) seen in the modern society is the result of the triggering off of the primitive brain. When the primitive brain is prominent in a person, criminal traits like aggressiveness and selfishness will be all the more rampant and it is such a person who expresses the erotic love.

The next stage of evolution is to rise from the crawling stage to the limbic stage. The entirety of these structures, that, years later, would receive the name of “limbic system”, developed with the emergence of the inferior (primitive) mammals. This system commands certain behaviors that are necessary for the survival of all mammals. It gives rise and modulates specific functions that allow the animal to distinguish between the agreeable and the disagreeable. Here specific affective functions are developed, such as the one that induces the females to nurse and protect their toddlers, or the one which induces these animals to develop ludic behaviours (playful moods). Emotions and feelings, like wrath, fright, passion, love, hate, joy and sadness, are mammalian inventions, which originated in the limbic system. This system is also responsible for some aspects of personal identity and for important functions related to memory. When we grow to the limbic stage, we acquire the qualities said supra. Here we tend to express a particular kind of fraternal love called in Greek “Philia and Storgee.”

And when the superior mammals (humans) arrived on the Earth, the third cerebral unit was finally developed: the neopallium or rational brain, a highly complex net of neural cells capable of producing symbolic language thus enabling man to exercise skillful intellectual tasks such as reading, writing and performing mathematical calculations. The neopallium is the great generator of ideas or as expressed by Paul MacLean, “it is the mother of invention and the father of abstractive thought.”

We, as Christians, are supposed to attain a balanced life of spirituality. When the third unit becomes stronger in us as St. George is depicted in the icon above the horse and the dragon, we will be able to transform ourselves and evolve into mature human beings full of divine grace and glory and will be able to surmount all the stumbling blocks on our way to the glorious world of spirituality. Here we express divine love called ‘Agape’ in Greek. Virtues, like compassion, patience, humility, endurance, gentleness and self-control will reflect in our life. ‘Yogis’ or ‘Saints’ can be said to have a fully developed and active “neo pallium” for they have learned to live a life of purity by frugal food, high thoughts and good deeds. We have to climb up the ladder of life from the lower rung of inferior mammalian nature to the superior mammalian nature. The spirituality of a person is directly proportional to the development of his/her brain. Oriental Orthodox Worship involves several symbolic languages, abstract thoughts and religious activities like rituals attached to it. It is a sign of mental development that we, the Orthodox Christians, indulge in worship throughout our life. It is the sublime stage in the process of personality development.

There is a widening trend seen in modern society especially among youngsters in exposing themselves indecently in public. It seems that they have lost their shame of nakedness just like the snake and horse. This exhibitionism reveals the fact that their primitive brain and intermediate brain dominate their superior brain. St. George in the picture is seen well-armored pointing to the perfection of human development.

In tandem with the life of St George and with the words of St. Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20, let us be strong in the Lord and in the power of God’s might. Let us put on the whole Armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, let’s take up the whole Armor of God that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Let us stand, therefore, having girded our waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which we will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And let’s take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

In brief, what happens here is a sea-change from the stage of sensitivity of a snake to the stage of the sensibility of a saint. Although there is only a subtle change in their physical traits, there is a drastic change in their behavioral traits or rather from a raw state of life to a refined one which even the angels would be jealous of.

It is a pity that we, humans, who claim that we are superior to other animals, often behave in a way rather inferior to them. Therefore we should not let the reptilian nature in us take control of our lives, instead, we should rise up and try to attain the qualities of the super mammalian nature. It can be seen that the vegans and vegetarians are generally benign when compared with those who are carnivores.

A similar comparison is possible with the thoughts of the world renowned Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud.

Sigmund Freud saw the human mind or psyche as consisting of three domains, which he named the ego, the super-ego and the id. The id is the domain of instinctive drives (pleasure principle) which aims at pleasure. The super-ego corresponds roughly to what we commonly call ‘conscience’ (moral principle). It represents prohibitions and taboos as well as the values and ideals – the norms- of society. These norms are presented to the child first by its parents and later by other authority figures- teachers, for example, or just other grown –ups. These social pressures become internalized in the child and start to function as part of his or her individual personality or psyche.

Id and super-ego may clash. What id demands may be prohibited by the super-ego, and the result is conflict or tension ‘in the depths of the self’ because both Id and super-ego function largely at the unconscious level. Resolving the tension and acting as referee between the rival claims of id and super-ego are the functions of the ego. The ego is the conscious self (reality principle) because it is the part of the mind that takes account of external reality. The ego therefore has the daunting task of holding in balance the claims of id, super-ego and outside world. Here super-ego plays the role of St. George when the Id plays the role of dragon and the ego that of the horse respectively.

The environment conditions our behavior. Our thoughts, words and deeds are fashioned by what we experience through our senses. We become what we eat, what we see, and what we hear. We have to be judicious in choosing our means of life. Good companionship, good thoughts, good food, all play a vital role in our lives. Listening to a piece of music, spiritual sermon, and reciting of Holy Scriptures, and partaking in the prayer with meditation, all enhance our well being.

As we contemplate on the meaning of the Holy Icon of St. George especially on these days of commemoration and celebration of the feast of that great saintly warrior and martyr of our Lord, let us imitate him and grow to the stature of Christ, our head. Let us be as perfect as Jesus, who grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and increased in stature and in favor of God and man. (St. Luke 2:40, 52) Although the historicity of St. George is disputed among certain quarters, the love for this man of God is increasing day by day as a spiritual guide and guardian among the hearts of millions of people all over the world. A close observation on the holy icon of St. George would augment the philosophical understanding of our life on earth and would help us to lead a better spiritual life. What we need today is not just living a life of religiosity but to live by the principles of religion. The icon of St. George is a perpetual learning lesson for every human and St George, as a follower of Christ, sets before us a living example for us to emulate.

Sources referred:-

1. Júlio Rocha do Amaral, MD & Jorge Martins de Oliveira, MD, PhDLimbic system: The centre of emotions, Link-
2.Ackroyd, Eric. A dictionary of dreams symbols, with an introduction to dream psychology, Bounty Books, Great Britain 1993.
3. Simester, Lisha, The Natural Health Bible stay well, live longer, Quadrille Publishing Limited, London 2001

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Bulgarian Orthodox Church: Besides the Orthodox Church ‘there are no other churches, only heresies and schisms’

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod, the church’s governing body, has adopted hard-line policy positions ahead of the Pan-Orthodox Council to be held in Crete in June 2016 – stating, among other things, that besides the “Holy Orthodox Church there are no other churches, but only heresies and schisms, and to call these ‘churches’ is theologically, dogmatically and canonically completely wrong”.

The Pan-Orthodox Council will bring together all the universally-recognised autocephalous churches of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in the first such gathering in more than 1000 years.

It has been in the planning since 1961 and will cover a range of issues, including the relations between the Orthodox Church and the rest of the Christian world.

Other issues to be covered include the Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World; The Orthodox Diaspora; Autonomy and its Manner of Proclamation; The Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments; the Significance of Fasting and its Application Today.

Contentious issues, such as agreement on a church calendar common to all Orthodox churches, have been removed from the agenda.

Crete was chosen as the venue for the Pan-Orthodox Council over the originally-planned venue of Istanbul, seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, because the Russian Orthodox Church was extremely reluctant to go to the Turkish city because of the tensions between Moscow and Ankara over the 2015 downing of a Russian military aircraft by Turkey near the border with Syria.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod announced on April 21 its positions, amending an earlier draft document.

Chaired by Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Neofit and attended by all but four metropolitans, the meeting considered letters from Lovech Metropolitan Gavriil, priests in his diocese, and a letter from Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolai – backed up by a petition signed by 240 priests in his diocese – on the issue of the attitude of the Orthodox Church to the rest of Christendom.

On a point about the “unity of all”, the church said, it always had been understood that those who had fallen into heresy or schism had to first return to the Orthodox faith and prove their obedience to the Holy Church “and then, through repentance, they may be received into the Church”.

On the issue of “bilateral theological dialogues aiming to seek lost Christian unity, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church said that it should be noted that the “Holy Orthodox Church, which is the one and only, never lost unity in the faith and fellowship of the Holy Spirit among Christians and as it will last until the end of the world, the Lord has said that ‘the gates of hell will not prevail against it’ this fellowship will endure forever”.

The Holy Synod went on to state its view that “besides the Holy Orthodox Church there are no other churches, but only heresies and schisms, and to call these ‘churches’ is theologically, dogmatically and canonically completely wrong”.

Among other points, the document approved by the Holy Synod went on to say that “thank God” the Bulgarian Orthodox Church had left the World Council of Churches in 1998.

This was a reference to the fact that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which joined the WCC in 1961 and was an active participant – with Dr Todor Sabev as a WCC vice-chairman – quit in 1998 as an anti-ecumenical stance came to dominate the Bulgarian church. In any case, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s participation in the WCC had been less inspired by an ecumenical spirit but, in the decades of communism, as a means to help push Soviet influence over the body – as Bulgarian historian Momchil Metodiev explained in his book Between Faith and Compromise (the Dossier Commission identified Sabev, who died in 2008, as having been secret service State Security agent Damyanov).

That historical background aside, the April 2016 position of the church’s Holy Synod said that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church could not be a member of an organisation which holds a view of “one of many or as a branch of the One church, which seeks a way and struggles for its restoration through this World Council of Churches”.

The Synod quoted the Creed, saying that there was one God and one Church.

The April 2016 position of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is hardly the first time that a hard-line position has been heard from some of its leaders, perhaps most notably of all, Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolai.

In 2007, in a television interview not long after becoming Plovdiv Metropolitan, Nikolai was asked his opinion about the Pope.

“If he professes a different belief than the Orthodox, then the church canons make him a heretic,” Nikolai replied.

However, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s relations with the Roman Catholic Church are not without some co-operation, such as commemorations on May 24 of their shared saints Cyril and Methodius, the fact that the late Pope John Paul II lent the Bulgarian Orthodox Church the use of a church in Rome, and in previous years, on the occasion of the Western and Eastern Christian churches’ Easter falling on the same date, some local joint liturgical celebrations by Orthodox and Roman Catholic clergy.

Source: Written by The Sofia Globe staff on April 22, 2016 in Bulgaria
(Photo of Alexander Nevsky cathedral, Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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Catholicos bans fireworks display in Orthodox Church festivals

KOTTAYAM: Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has banned pyrotechnic displays as part of church festivals.

In a statement, supreme head of the church, Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Marthoma Paulose II called upon the members of the community to extend their wholehearted support to the victims of the Kollam temple fire accident.

H.H the Catholicos made it clear that pyrotechnic displays have been banned in Orthodox churches.

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Urgent help Needed; financial assistance for stem cell transplantation Rev.Fr Varghese George

urgent help needed
Rev.Fr Varghese George, a priest of Trivandrum diocese, is undergoing treatment for cancer at Vellore Medical College.

The doctors recommended a life-saving high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell rescue transplantation ASAP. Its cost about 25 – 30 lakhs for surgery alone and pre-medication cost is1.5 lakhs per week for 4 weeks.
Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulios Metropolitan visited Fr Varghese George last week at Vellore Hospital.

Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebios has sent out a circular to all the parishes of South-west American Diocese for an immediate help. Metropolitan who is travelling to India will hand over the funds collected from his parishes. He also urged the faithful to remember Rev.Fr Varghese George in their prayers.

The IOH family is truly hoping for your favorable response from the readers of IOH all around the world. You can send the financial help directly to:
S.B.T. Kottarakkara, Pulamon.Br.70272, Kollam. 691531.
IFS code: SBTR.0000272
A/c. 57022993024
Name: Rajamma Varghese

Funds Directly sent to Achen’s Family

1. St.Stephens OC, Long Island by Fr.Dr.C.K.Rajan (Northeast American Diocese) – 1 lakh INR

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Fr. Pathrose; Reading hymns of nature with camera

KUNNAMKULAM: Sans cassock, Fr. Pathrose could be mistaken for a professional nature photographer.

Impulsive and passionate about photography, the priest of the Syrian Church sets off with his backpack at the drop of a hat to destinations as far and rich in biodiversity as Nepal, Bharatpur, Tuticorin, Wayanad and the like to delight in the ‘camera moments’ that the nature offers to him.

“He’s a blink and you miss him-type,” beams writer and actor V.K. Sreeraman, who fostered the priest’s talents with the lens. “And, like me, he’s a resident of Kunnamkulam, widely known as Kerala’s haven for fake goods. But in reality, it has several original gems like Fr. Pathrose.”

In fact, the priest wears several hats: he’s the principal of the Bethany St. John’s English School at Kunnamkulam, a karate black belt, naturopathy expert and a poet.

A native of Nedumkandam in Idukki district, he enrolled himself in a seminary in 2000 before joining Plus Two.

“I used to write poetry and stories during that time, but when I enrolled for degree at the Catholicate College in Pathanamthitta, film personality and Professor Madhu Eravankara introduced me to the finer aspects of viewing a scene through the lens. Kathaprasangam artist Prasad Anchal further fine-tuned it into a love for nature,” explains Fr. Pathrose.

Starting off with a second-hand camera using film roll, he slowly graduated into wielding an ordinary digital camera before obtaining a DSLR.

The Forum for Arts and Cultural Events (FACE) instituted by Mr. Sreeraman organised the first exhibition of his nature snaps at Kunnamkulam along with those of seasoned lensman Manoop Chandran. The show has come to the city’s Durbar Hall now.

“It’s only recently that I realised I’ve shot over 1,000 pictures of birds and animals in the wild and from the Kole fields of Kunnamkulam,” says Fr. Pathrose, currently in Munnar on a photography sojourn. “Those who say everything in nature has been lost haven’t looked around. I’ve clicked so many rare birds. It’s a pleasure to see how they interact with their surroundings,” says the priest, eager to rush off to Kashmir at the next opportunity.

Father Pathrose is a man of many talents. Nature photogprahy is just one of them.

Source: S. Anandan / The Hindu

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90th Anniversary Celebrations of St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Ernakulam inaugurated

KOCHI: St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Ernakulam, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. The ‘Navathy Celebration’ was inaugurated by Catholicos of the East Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose-II at the Cathedral on Sunday April 3, 2016

Jiji Thompson, former Chief Secretary to the government of Kerala and Rose Varghese, Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Advanced Legal Studies, spoke on the occasion.

The history of the Church can be traced back to 1922, when early migrants and settlers led by visionaries P V Philip Vakil, Rao Sahib, P K Varghese, M T Varkey and M A Chacko purchased 28 cents of land near the boat jetty.

“A hall was constructed at the southern side of the land, to be used as church. On October 6, 1926, the provisional church was consecrated by Fr Geevarghese Murimattathil, vicar of the Ayyampilly Church, with the assistance of Fr M P Pathrose Mookencheril (the late Pathrose Mar Osthathios) and Fr Jacob Mureekal who served as the first vicar of the St Mary’s Orthodox Church,” stated an official release.

As the parish grew, it was decided to build a bigger church. St Mary’s Church was elevated to the status of Cathedral in 2001 by the then Catholicos of the East.