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Church News News

H H Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II Laid To Rest

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KOLLAM: The mortal remains of His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II, former Catholicos of the East cum Malankara Metropolitan, were interred at Mount Horeb Monastery Chapel at Sasthamkotta near here on Saturday. He passed away on Thursday 5.10pm at Devalokam, the headquarters of the church near Kottayam.

People from different walks of life, cutting across religious barriers, showed up to bid farewell to the departed former Catholicos whose mortal remains were laid to rest with full state honours. His successor Catholicos Mar Thoma Didimos I led the funeral ceremonies at the Mount Horeb Monastery chapel.

His Holiness was leading a rest life after voluntarily resigning as the Supreme Head of the Church on 29 October 2005 by handing over his office to his successor H.H.Baselios Marthoma Didymos I.

The body was brought to the Old Seminary chapel at Chungam, from the church headquarters at Devalokam, late on Thursday night.The body was kept at the Old Seminary here for public homage till 09:00 a.m. on Friday, and later taken to Elia Cathedral and from there to Sasthamkotta at 2.45 p.m on January 27 Friday. An unending stream of faithfuls paid homage prior to it as the body, with ceremonial vestiges and sceptre, was kept seated in a chair at Elia Cathedral for more than three hours from 11 a.m.

Kottayam town, which had decades-long association with the departed spiritual Father, bid farewell to him as his body was taken in a flower-bedecked special KSRTC bus from the Mar Elia Cathedral grounds at 2.45 p.m. Hundreds of people lined up on both sides of the MC Road also as the cortege proceeded to Kottarakara and from there to Sasthamkotta via Kundara in the afternoon.

Church heads and political personalities gave their farewell speeches at intervals during the course of the services led by Baselios Marthoma Didymus I, Church supremo and successor to the deceased.

Kerala Assembly Speaker Therambil Ramakrishnan, State Revenue Minister K M Mani, Water Resources Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Rural Development Minister C F Thomas, V.S.Achuthandan, KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala, Tennala Balakrishna Pillai, R.Balakrishna Pillai, Former Minister P J Joseph, M G University Vice Chancellor Jancy James, heads of various churches and other prominent persons paid their homage to the departed Holy Father.

His Holiness was enthroned as Catholicos of the East on April 29, 1991 at Parumala seminary following the abdication by the former Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Mathews I on April 27, 1991.

Holy Mooran was consecrated on March 26, 1999 at Catholicate Aramana Chapel, Devalokam. Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius was declared a Saint by him on February 24, 2003 at the Old Seminary in his tenuare. He was the sixth Catholicos in Malankara after the establishment of the Catholicate here in 1912 and 89th successor to the throne of St Thomas as Catholicos. Baselios Marthoma Mathews II abdicated the throne on October 30, 2005 due to old age and ill health.

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Editorial

A Star Of The East Shoots Into Infintity And Eternity

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At six o’clock in the morning Priest Dr. George Pulikottil of St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Oak Park, Illinois, USA woke me up from my deep sleep to tell the sad news of the demise of our Holy Father Mor Thoma Basilios Matthews II, who had retired from the administration of the Church about two months ago.

Normally speaking, one has no reason for a shock after listening to the news of the earthly departure of a ninety-one year old high priest who has had the longest tenure in his episcopate in the history of the Church of Malankara. In fact, His Holiness was a bishop of Holy Orthodoxy in Malankara for about fifty-three years. But what was most shocking was his unexpected demise as he maintained a habit of fighting for his life as a man of prayer and vigil. None of us thought that this would happen so soon.

I was seven years old when my mother placed me in front of Hieromonk Matthews for his blessing when he visited my mother parish at Edavankad, Cherianad, India. This was about a year before his consecration to the episcopate at the age of thirty-eight. He laid his hands on me and blessed me. It was the same hands that were laid on me when I became a Chor-Episcopos of Holy Orthodoxy in 1986. This is the personal spiritual bond that connected both of us, in addition to his rank as the hierarch of hierarchs in the Church of Malankara.

IHe saw the good days of the Church from 1958 to 1971 when the Holy Church of Malankara was united again after the famous Supreme Court verdict of 1958. He saw also the unpleasant days of the Church since 1971 when the Church was again rocked with the resurrected schism. AS head of the Church he received another verdict from the Supreme Court in 1995 establishing the legitimacy of the Catholicate and the Constitution of the Church promulgated in 1934; which was definitely a victory. However, it is observed that he could not reap the benefits of this victory due to the uncompromising position of the patriarchal faction. On many occasions, this writer has observed, that the meekness and humility of His Holiness were detrimental, because they prevented him from taking decisive actions as an administrator. He was a kind and compassionate father that he never wanted to inflict pain on anyone, and so he sought ways that were diplomatic and comforting rather than surgical. In this sense, his meekness was his weakness. The monastic life that he embraced always reminded him to be least punitive and offensive. Many people exploited his meekness and took advantage of him. The results? The Church could not harvest the fruits of peace despite the great Court victory in 1995.

His Holiness will be remembered as a great pioneer in establishing educational institutions within an ancient Church. He believed in the social power generated by educational and social institutions. Therefore, he mobilized his energy and time in this direction. There are numerous collegiate, secondary and primary institutions erected by him. In a society where relevance is measured in terms of the strength of institutions that support the community at large these establishments are definitely lighthouses that declare the contributions of the Orthodox Church in Keralam. Thousands of students are being educated in these institutions, and thousand are employed in various capacities and thus are supporting their own families and the economic framework of the community. If we look for an individual entrepreneur employing the largest number of workforce, we may not find any other person but His Holiness.

There were critics about how these institutions were built; many people were not happy about donations demanded for these institutions. Once Metropolitan Eustathios of Niranam observed in connection with a reception accorded to His Holiness, “People generally consider His Holiness and me the most skillful in fundraising. What I do is simply the job of a postman; I get your contributions and give to the projects for which the funds are raised. His Holiness is the wise entrepreneur, who invests your funds in constructing and reconstructing our communities where the members of those communities become beneficiaries of his farsightedness as students, clients and employees”. Yes, an enormous number of beneficiaries, beyond the denominational lines, venerate His Holiness as their provider, father, benefactor, mentor, adviser, healer, and spiritual master. In the history of any Church in Keralam, there is no prelate or community leader parallel to His Holiness in this respect.

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Church News News

The Last Journey Is On At This Time… Friday Jan 26 – 9:15PM

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KOTTAYAM: H. H Baselius Marthoma Mathews II after breathing last at 5:15 PM at Devalokam Aramana on 26 January is now on the last leg of his journey to his hallowed tomb at Sasthamkota. The deceased soul bid farewell to Kottayam remaining silent with closed eyes and lips spending more than 4 hours at Mar Elia Cathedral. No exaggeration, the whole of the society converged at Elia Cathedral without caste and creed to pay their last respects making all the 4 hours most precious and rewarding for everyone.

From then on, one has to see to believe- the journey from Kottayam to Sasthamkota, the seat of the final rest. A Bava, a spiritual leader, a gentleman bishop who was always on the wings to celebrate as many holy masses, to bless as many marriages, as many baptisms, to conduct as many funerals, to conduct as many programs, to participate in as many functions, to bless as many people, to traverse as many miles as possible on foot and otherwise is (now at this point of time 9:15), slowly but virtually inching his way to his last resting place.

The journey which started from Kottayam at 3:10, reached Chengannur at 7:45, taking more than four and a half hours. The mortal remains of Bava in cortege is receiving the last goodbyes and goodnights from the people. People cutting across religions and other affiliations are waiting patiently, hours and hours; to have a last look at their loving Angel Achen turned Bava (I could have a glimpse of it as I traveled ahead of the cortege). Every pathway, every junction proudly and solemnly holds aloft the big sized photographs of HH Marthoma Mathews II disseminating grace everywhere to everyone.

Now it is night. Still on either side of the road, faithfuls wait patiently for the cortege to arrive. In front of the churches, priests and all other church members are in huge numbers singing grieved hymns breaking the silence of the night. Young and old are now, on either side of the road with lighted candles, not knowing how many more hours they are to wait. At Paranthil, near Adoor, I could find a big ground lighted with candles, people sitting around singing hymns and reading the Bible. What a touching and poignant sight. Even stones are taking tongues! Yes Angel achen will come this way, but not to repeat it anymore.

Now is its 10:30. The cortege just passed Adoor.

It is indeed an accomplished journey which every Orthodox man along with his other friends will sustain in memory for years to come. Let us wait…

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Church News News

Baselius Marthoma Mathews II Bava No More


KOTTAYAM: It is with profound grief we report the passing away of Baselius Marthoma Mathews II, former Catholicos of the East. He would have turned 91 on January 30. He was ailing for quite some time. The end came around 5.15 on Thursday (Jan.26) evening at the Devalokam Aramana here. He had voluntarily given up the position of Catholica Bava on October 25, 2005 to His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Didimos I due to failing health. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28 around 3.00 p.m. at the Mount Horeb Asram Chapel in Sasathaamkotta, near Kollam.

When the Bava breathed his last, H. H. Baselius Marthoma Didimos I, Catholicos of the East and Metropolitans Mathews Mar Savarios and Zacharias Mar Anthonios were by his bedside. Bava is revered by devotees for having led the Orthodox Church with all devotion and piety during some of its very critical years. His body was kept for viewing at Devalokam Aramana and later taken to the Mar Elijah Cathedral in Kottayam. It will be taken from Kottayam to Sasathaamkotta through Adoor, Kottarakkara and Kundara. The body will not be taken out from the carrier, but churches, institutions and individuals will be allowed to pay homage. In honor of the Bava, educational institutions of Orthodox Church remain closed on Friday and Saturday. The Malankara Orthodox Church has also declared three days of mourning and H. H. Baselius Didimos I has canceled all his programs for the next ten days.

Bava was the sixth Catholicos of Malankara Orthodox Church. He was born as the eldest son of Idicula and Annamma of Puthuserazhikathu Puthen Veettil, in Perinad, Kollam on January 30, 1915. He did his theological studies at Basil Dayara in Pathanamthitta and Old Seminary, Kottayam. He was given Korooyo by H. H. Geevarghese II, Catholicos in 1938 and ordained a priest on May 25, 1941. He led monastic life at St. George Dayara in Othara. He was fondly called Angelachen. On May 15, 1953, he was ordained as a Bishop by H. H. Geevarghese II, Catholicos. He also holds the record of having been the longest head of any Syrian Church in Kerala after the Koonan Kurisu swearing. He was elected the successor to the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan (Catholicate Designate) at a meeting of Malankara Association in 1980.

After H. H. Baselius Mathews I gave up the position of Catholica Bava on April 29, 1991, he was ordained as the Catholicos of the East. He was the founder of the Ecumenical Movement in Kerala and served as the Nilackal Ecumenical Church Committee Chairman and President of Ecumenical Committee. He also met with various world religious heads, including the then Pope. He was an influential devotional speaker and gave a new lease of spiritual life to the monastic movements of the church. He founded many Ashrams, Convent Schools and Bala Bhavans (educational institutions for small kids). A very widely traveled religious head, he visited the Middle Eastern Countries, Europe and United States of America many times.

We at Orthodox Herald bow our heads in honor of our former religious head and our dear divine leader. He has been an inspiration to millions of believers of Orthodox faith and will continue to remain so. Let his soul rest in peace. We pray the Almighty God to give us the strength to bear the loss and courage to continue the faith in turbulent years ahead.

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Church News News

Prayer Is The Real Beauty Of Church – H. H. Catholicos

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KOTTAYAM: Prayer is the real beauty of church, His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Didimos I Catholicos said. Even if the church was built with expertise, if there is no prayer or awakening it fails in its purpose, he added. The Catholicos was making the inaugural address at the public meeting to consecrate the Meenadam St. Thomas Orthodox Valiapalli.

Light is the revealing of God’s presence and lighting the lamp is symbolic of this. The lamp should be lighted all day and all night. That is our tradition. But today we see people leave the church after putting off the lights. The church should be preserved pure. All the nooks and corners of the church should be pure. Yehowah (God) told Moses, the place you stand is Holy, so take off your shoes. It is the duty of all the faithful to keep the holy places holy.

In the abode of the holy, the faithful should also be holy. When ordinary people train their eyes on the world, the one who is dear to God has his eyes set on heaven. If we want God’s presence and His mercy, it is essential that we selfless faith. The world is controlled by two forces – the good and the evil. We should be able to keep the faith and fasting which controls the body. Our forefathers lived like this. Clapping and singing is not praise. It is the partaking of the body and blood. It is the created bowing with all humility to the Creator. He concluded reminding the faithfuls need to confess and renew their lives.

Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, Kottayam Metropolitan and Kuriakose Mar Cleemese, Sultan Battery Metropolitan and Diocesan head, also blessed the believers who gathered in large numbers. The celebrations started with the procession carrying the picture of St. Stephen from Devalokam Aramana to Paampaadi Dayara and then a lighted torch procession to the new church. The first phase of the consecration ceremony began after this. A trimass led by H H the Catholicos marked the second phase and the public meeting was the grand finale. Fr. K. P. Zachariah Peryarmattam, Vicar, Binu K Scaria Secretary and convener P Abraham and host of other committee members made arrangements for the ceremony.

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MGOCSM News

MGOCSM Council Meeting Conducted

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TEXAS: The Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement of the American Diocese held the first Council meeting for the new year on Friday, January 13 and Saturday, January 14, 2006 at St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Garland, Texas. The Diocesan Metropolitan and MGOCSM President, Mathews Mar Barnabas presided at the weekend meeting. Future leadership camp dates and locations, visit by His Holiness Didymos I, and the Mission Trip 2006, the budget and expense report, area reports, reports by the Vice Presidents, the Dallas Leadership Camp presentation and National MGOCSM Day. It was reported that the National MGOCSM Service Day was held on October 22, 2005 throughout the Diocese was on the agenda. Session I of the Council meeting took place on Friday.On Friday, January 13, His Grace the Metropolitan was given a warm reception with lighted candles and religious umbrellas at St. Gregorios Church. Evening prayers began at 7:00 PM followed by the lightning of the lamp to inaugurate the Council weekend.

On Saturday, January 14, His Grace led the morning prayers followed by Session II of the Council Meeting. The different MGOCSM units worked together to create “help kits” for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Also, several areas worked with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for the victims and donated blood through the American Red Cross.

Both meetings were attended by Fr. John Kunnathusseril, Fr. Thampan Varghese, Fr. Raju Daniel (Vicar of the hosting parish), Fr. C.G. Thomas, and Fr. Rege Mathew, the Dallas area Vicars.

The 2006 Leadership camp will be held at the Texas Christian University in Dallas, Texas from July 27-30, 2006 under the leadership of and the expected visit of His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I, His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, His Grace Bishop Yussef, Dr. Peter Gilquist, Dr. Clark Clarkson

Over 150 MGOCSM delegates are expected for this years camp. Ashok Kunnathusseril is the Dallas/Oklahoma area Council Member and Siji John and Anita Chacko are the Camp Conveners.

Fr. Mathew Koshy (Vice President of the Southeastern Region) ,Fr. Mammen Mathew (Vice President of the Southern Region) and 13 Council members representing the Northeast, Central, Southern Regions of the Diocese were also present.

MGOCSM General Secretary, Dn. Paul Cherian welcomed the gathering.