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Articles Devotional

Sunday Before Pentecost

sunday-pentecost
Reading: From the Gospel according to St.John 17:13-26

The basic reason of the incarnation of our redeemer was the replacement of the entire mankind in God Almighty. As the humanity is living on the earth, where the Satan could play his tricks every now and often and trap as many of the children of God as he could. It would be easy for the evil powers to take control of the people who are spiritually weak and tired. That is why the faithful are often exhorted to keep vigil against the attacks from the evil forces and to keep up the fullness of spiritual growth always. When one is in God and with God, his or her spirituality would be growing to the fullness as desired by God Almighty.

Today’s reading is often revered in the Orthodox contexts as the prayer of our Lord as the High Priest. Hence this Biblical portion is respectfully called as the prayer of the High Priest. (Mahaa Purohitha Prarthana). Our Lord prays for the following:

a) For the fullness of His joy in us
b) For our sanctification through His truth
c) For the oneness of all of us
d) For our perfect stay in God Almighty.

Let us think what His joy is. The selfless love which compelled our Lord to offer His life on the cross for our salvation is his joy. Our Lord’s joy is the net result of His sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of our sins and our freedom from the bondage of Satan. Are we grateful or concerned about it? Let us think and try to find out an ideal answer. Our Lord offered His life giving blood as a ransom for our freedom and salvation. While watching the freedom enjoyed by the mankind, the joy in our Lord is bubbling up like anything. Presently when we could think about our sins with true repentance and confess them before God with genuine repentance, our Lord would enjoy and His joy will increase from nothing to the fullness.

We should not forget that the sanctification is often brought in by the Holy Spirit. So we all must seek for the abundant supply of Holy Spirit in us. When we are weak in the matter of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, we must replace the vacuum of the Holy Spirit without much delay by constant prayer, meditation and longing. Let us be guided by the Holy Spirit in our day to day affairs. Holy Spirit is willing to guide us through the paths of God. But we will have to seek His guidance and blessing. He will guide us to the truth and real love. He will always sanctify us from the filth and dirt of this world.

God desires to be united with us all. He wants us to love one another. Loving one another is the significance of the Holy Trinity. In Trinity love is flowing from one another. It is desired that we must maintain such a flowing love from us to our family, society and to everyone. Selfishness is the factor which often blocks the love to other person or society. Let us try to achieve complete freedom from the selfishness.

May God enable us all to stay in Him permanently and solidly. As and when we are sanctified, we could remain in Him perfectly.

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Diocese News News Southwest America

Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius Reaches America

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NEW YORK: Alexios Mar Eusebius, Metropolitan of Diocese of Southwest America was received by His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas, Metropolitan of Diocese of Northeast America at the Indian Orthodox Church Center in Bellerose, New York.

Mar Eusebius was received by the Sabha Managing Committee member Philipose Philip, Diocesan Secretary, Fr. John THomas, Diocesan Office Manager, Fr. Dr. P . C. Thomas, Diocesan Council members, Managing Committee members, deacons and seminarians at JFK airport earlier today.

The Diocese of Northeast America is scheduled to officially receive the new Metropolitan of the newly formed Diocese of Southwest America at the Diocesan Assembly which will be held on Saturday, May 30th, 2009 at St. Gregorios Orthodox Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Articles We Believe

Fasting In The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Tradition

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It is widely known that the Orthodox Churches give much importance to fasting, following the example of Jesus Christ and of the apostolic community. The noun fasting means non-eating and non-feeding.  But every non-eater is by no means a faster and everyone who is an eater and restrains himself by an interior dedication from nourishment because of heavenly things is a faster.

In our materialistic society we learn to identify ourselves through self-indulgence and we tend to see the fasting only as a time of deprivation and penance. But this is not at all the view of the Orthodox Church on fasting and abstinence and it is clearly explained by the Fathers in their spiritual discourses. For them, fasting is the feast of the soul and good fasts are like medicine which cures our soul and mind, and, along with other virtuous works, it leads us to the eternal life.

In our spiritual battle, fasting protects us from the evil one. It not only resists the attack but also trains our body and mind for the battle. According to Mar Aprem (4th Century Church Father) fasting is a great weapon against the evil one. Through fasting Christ defeated the Satan and has given us this weapon to overcome the evil. For Philixenus of Maboug (6th century Church Father), fasting and abstinence are the two virtous weapons for cultivating the field of Christian life.

‘Fasting must be undertaken voluntarily and it must be of divine dispensation’. This is the primary teaching of our Church on Fasting.  Fast is of free will and it is the voluntary fast which is accessible and permanent. Fasting becomes highly acceptable when it is joined with humility of hearts, charity towards all men and continuous prayers. The Lenten prayers and liturgy of our Church extols this kind of fasting by giving the Old Testament figures as good examples (Moses, Daniel, Elijah etc.).

Fasting is the root by which all the fruits of sanctity are sustained and on this same root grows purity, delights virginity and rejoices patience. Fasting dispels immodesty, controls the lust and offers the body as a holy temple of God. Therefore, the Church exhorts the faithful to love and practice this highly acceptable form of Christian life so that it may lead them to the great eternal fast which is going to happen in the eternal bride chamber of life. Through it, the strength of the soul is confirmed, the riches of the body are increased and good aspirations aroused in the heart.

The following are the main fasts mentioned by the Fathers of the Church according to the order in which they appear in the liturgical calendar.

The Fast before the Nativity of our Lord

This is a traditional fast observed in the Church with great enthusiasm. It seems that in the Syrian tradition this fast is of spontaneous origin and lasted forty days for to glorify and to give thanks to God the Father remembering his selfless love by giving His unique Son for the salvation of the world. The Church thinks it is right for every believer to fast this season, before the Nativity of Jesus Christ, that is designed for the Father for having given us His Son, for forty days. At present, however, in the Malankara Church, this fast lasts for 25 days, from the first of December till the Christmas day, and all the faithful are bound to observe it with great vigour.

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News World News

North Korea Nuclear Test Highlights Need To Abolish All Nuclear Weapons

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GENEVA: At a time when the international community is re-kindling the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, the North Korean nuclear test is a source of profound concern, stated the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia.

“The World Council of Churches is deeply troubled by North Korea’s nuclear test and profoundly concerned for the people of North Korea and surrounding countries”, Kobia said in a public comment on 25 May. “There is no place for nuclear arsenals in international affairs – whether by a country like North Korea or by the eight other self-appointed nuclear powers that would have others believe their security requires weapons of mass destruction”, he added.

Praising the “remarkably positive meeting” on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty held at the United Nations ten days ago, Kobia stressed: “It is unfortunate that North Korea was not there; neither were Pakistan, India or Israel.”

The governing bodies of the WCC have repeatedly called on all states to join in negotiations and efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. WCC member churches in every region of the world have consistently condemned nuclear weapons as a sin against God and humankind.

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Articles Devotional

Expectation And Pentecost

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We read in the first chapter of the Acts of Apostles about the Ascension of our Lord Jesus on the 40th day after the blessed Resurrection. Before Ascension, our Lord exhorted His beloved followers and the Apostles to wait for His Father’s promise. Our Lord also informed them that they would be strengthened to witness risen Christ not only in all Judea and Jerusalem, but also in every nook and corner of the world (Acts 1:8) So they waited with prayer and one accord. There were 120 persons altogether including the Apostles, who remained in one prayer and one accord to inherit Holy Spirit. As mentioned in Acts 2: 1-12, they all received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in the form of tongues of fire. As a token of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they all talked in other languages. They all received the Holy Spirit’s power in abundance.

In all our Sacraments, there is a solemn occasion when and where the Holy Spirit will descend from High above and will brood upon the submitted mysteries. The Holy Church teaches that whenever the Holy Spirit would descend during any one of the Sacraments (Sacraments are the visible symbols of the invisible graces of God Almighty) the participants/ congregation also would be blessed with the renewal of the Holy Spirit. We all have received the Holy Spirit initially during our Baptism as well as anointment of Holy Chrism. As we all are living in the world, the Holy Spirit in us might not grow into the perfection and hence we have to renew the Holy Spirit every now and often.  The Holy Church advises us to follow a strict sacramental life so that we could retain the fullness of the Holy Spirit in us. We could achieve this through our sacramental lives, but we must strictly follow a system of having one prayer and one accord. So also we must long for the arrival of the Holy Spirit during the Sacrament in which we are attending. And we must expect for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Sacrament of Eucharist, the Altar Assistant cautions us the time of the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  But often we could not keep one prayer and one accord. Whenever we attend a Sacrament, let it be a baptism or a matrimony or priesthood, or a Holy Eucharist, if we could keep up one accord and one prayer to bless us with the fullness of Holy Spirit, we all would be blessed with the fullness of Holy Spirit. The Holy Church separates ten days prior to Pentecost, for the expectation of the Holy Spirit. Unless and until we keep one prayer and one accord, we would not be able to come up with power from the kneeling position, as exhorted by the celebrant then and there. Let us try to attend this years Pentecost service with one prayer and one accord.

May God bless us all and renew the Holy Spirit in each and every one of us.

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Church News News

Charama Sathabthi Celebrations Of Pulikkottil Thirumeni At Kunnamkulam

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KUNNAMKULAM: Kunnamkulam Diocese will celebrate 100th Death anniversary of the Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius II

In connection with the celebration, a procession and public meeting will be held at Kunnamakulam on Sunday 10th May 2009 . The procession will start from Parayil St.George Orthodox Church at 3 pm to the Pulikkotil Joseph Mar Dionysius Nagar (Bethany St.Johns English School,Kunamkulam). Charama Sathabthi Mahasamelanam -public meeting will be held at Mar Dionysius Nagar at 4pm. Ommen Chandi,Hon.Opposition Leader will inaugurate the meeting and Poulose Mar Milthios,the Catholicos Elect will preside over the function. Metropolitan Mathews Mar Theodosius will inaugurate the Historical Museum and Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Polycarpose will release the Sathabthi Souvenir. Political and religious leaders will attend the function.

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Church News News

Zumoro Choir Wins International Prize In Belarus

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BELARUS: The Indian Orthodox Choir led by Fr. M.P.George, gets first prize in the Seminary Choir category in the Xth International Festival of Orthodox Chants held at Minsk, Belarus from 29 April to 3 May 2009. The Minister for Culture & Tourism gave the prize to the winners.

This is the second time Zumoro wins a first prize in an International Music festival. The first one was in May 2000 at Poland. The festival was organized by the Belarusian exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the ministry of Culture,Tourism, Education and Mass media of the republic of Belarus. There were more than 45 groups from different countries including the host country, Russia, Latvia, Lituania, Georgia, Netherlands, France, Romania, Ukraine, Armenia, Poland, Armenia and India.

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Editorial

The Easter Sermon Of St. John Chrysostom

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If you are devout and love God, enjoy this beautiful and radiant celebration. If you are a grateful servant, enter, rejoicing, into the joy of your Lord. If you followed the fast, receive your payment now.

If you worked from the first hour, receive today your just reward. If you came after the third hour, you are welcomed to celebrate. If you arrived after the sixth hour, have no doubt; for you suffer no loss. If you delayed until the ninth hour, come near with no cause to hesitate. If you arrived even at the eleventh hour, do not be fearful of the lateness; for the Lord is generous and accepts the last just as the first.

He gives rest to him of the eleventh hour, as to him who worked from the first hour. He shows mercy to the last and attends to the first. To the one is given and to the other is granted. He accepts the works and welcomes the volition. He honors the act and praises the intention.

All of you, therefore, enter into the joy of our Lord; both first and last, receive your reward. You rich and poor, with one another dance. You who are abstinent and you who are indolent, honor this day. You who have fasted and you who have not fasted, be glad today. The table is richly laden; all of you, feast sumptuously. The calf is plentiful; let no one depart hungry. All of you partake of the banquet of faith. All of you enjoy the wealth of goodness.

Let no one deplore his poverty, for the Universal Kingdom has been revealed. Let no one lament for his transgressions, for forgiveness has dawned from the Tomb. Let no one fear death, for the death of the Savior has set us free.

He subdued it when it took hold of Him. He who descended into Hades despoiled Hades. He embittered it as it tasted of His flesh. And anticipating this, Isaiah shouted, “Hades was embittered when it encountered you below.”

It was embittered, for it was abolished.

It was embittered, for it was mocked.

It was embittered, for it was mortified.

It was embittered, for it was dethroned.

It was embittered, for it was enchained.

It received a body and came upon God. It received earth and met up with heaven. It received what it saw and stumbled upon what it did not see. Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.

Christ is risen, and life governs.

Christ is risen, and not one is to be found dead in the tomb.

For Christ rising from the dead has become the firstborn of those who are asleep.

To Him be the glory and the power, unto ages of ages. Amin. (TVOO).

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Diocese News News Southwest America

Fr. Dr. George Pulikkottil Visits USA

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CHICAGO: Fr.Dr.George Pulikkottil is visiting USA for Major Block Seminar on Cultural dialogue between Buddhism and Brahmanism during the period Second through Sixth ACE on May 4 to 22, 2009.

He will be co-chairing the seminar at the Divinity School of Theology, University of Chicago, USA. Fr.Dr.George Pulikkottil is currently working as a professor in Religion and Philosophy at St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur, India.

The seminar will be chaired by Dr. Daniel Arnold, Prof. of Religion and Philosophy, Divinity School of Theology, University of Chicago, USA

For more info about the institute: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/