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St Mary’s Bahrain Celebrates Golden Jubilee

Bahrain-20-june-09
BAHRAIN: St Mary’s Indian Orthodox Cathedral of the Malankara Orthodox Church, concluded a year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary with a grand event on June 26,2009.

Since last July until this May, many programs were held in connection with the year long celebration. It included an environmental program, Bahrain-Indo Jubilee Conference at Parumala, Kerala, Christian Convention, tour of Christian pilgrimage destinations, church festival, charity fair, Parish Day, meditation session, local charity work, cricket and volleyball tournaments and so on.

Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, the Diocesan Metropolitan of Mumbai, Indian Ambassador Dr George Joseph, Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Fareed Yakub Al Muftah were among the dignitaries at the final public meeting held at the Indian School

“As a part of the celebration many charity projects are launched in India. Among them are the Marian Housing Project, that will provide 50 houses for the needy and poor in Kerala, a marriage aid fund and educational scholarship.

“During the event, the keys to the 50 houses are handed over to cathedral member Dr George Mathew, who will represent the church and in India to give them to the final home owners. The event also featured a 15-minute documentary on the church’s history and activities since its establishment and release of a souvenir.

“The church choir performed the golden jubilee theme song.”

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An Identity Crisis – The Church From The East

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My wife and I visited a local clinic the other day. The nurse was interested to know about us, probably noticing our skin color (we are brown-skinned as are most of us from India) and our names (which are distinctly Christian sounding). “Where are you from?” she asked. “From South India” I told her. “Hmm, the blessed missionaries,” she uttered under her breath, smiling knowingly. I knew what she was thinking and did not blame her. She, like many people in the West knew of Christianity in India as either the work of Roman Catholic or Anglican missionaries from the West. I wanted to tell her that assumption was wrong. I wanted to tell her about the church in India that is as old as any in Christendom, but I just sighed.

I once had a boss who told me, “Your name just cannot be Mathew Samuel. It’s got to have some middle name that I cannot pronounce.” He was referring to the names of Christians from India he had met who perhaps had their family names as their middle names. I told him my name was common in South India where I was born. I wanted to tell him about the Church of St. Thomas in India, but I just smiled.

The sad truth is that this identity crisis for the Christian church from the East is not just from outside. Ask a Malankara Orthodox Christian (Malankara refers to the place where St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples, is believed to have landed in India from the sea) if he is Catholic or Protestant and you are likely to get answers like “I think Catholic because we are not liberals” or “I think Protestant because we do not have a pope.”

Over the centuries, Indian Christians were nurtured spiritually by traditions and clergy from various regions, including Persia and Syria. That the Malankara Church (or Indian Orthodox Church as it is now known) has a lineage starting from a time when the Roman Catholic Church was called the Church of Rome is news to most Christians.

While the Armenian and Russian churches were persecuted by their local rulers, Indian Church leaders were honored by Hindu kings. The Indian Church assimilated aspects of Hindu culture, such as the tying of a knot during the marriage ceremony, while maintaining an Oriental Orthodox Christian faith, similar to the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Syrian churches. This unique blend of cross-bearing “Hindus” did not go unnoticed by the Western imperialists who followed Vasco da Gama in 1498 to the rich land of India, who saw them as “pagans” and vowed to bring them to the faith.

Thus began a sad part of Indian Orthodox Church history, which included links with the Catholic Church, links with Protestant missionaries and help from the Syrian Church. Sadly each encounter, with friend and foe, took its toll and there were breakaway groups that wounded the church. It found its footing around the turn of the 20th century with a realization of its roots dating to the beginning of Christianity and the establishment of a Catholicate, or headquarters, in Kerala, South India, in 1912.

Christianity in India today includes Roman Catholics, Protestants, and two factions claiming to be Orthodox Christians. (I belong to one of those.) Add to this the flow of missionaries and evangelists from the West who see India as a fertile land for implantation of their own versions of the Gospel. This tumultuous history of the original Indian Church has taken away its focus from the true priorities, which is to be the Church of India and of the East, to show the love of Christ to India. A bitter quarrel over control of church property lingers between the two factions.

Now in its second and third generations as an immigrant community in the United States, the Indian Orthodox Church faces the challenges of language barriers, cultural differences and the eternal balancing act to preserve its traditions while ensuring a meaningful Christian life to its children in American society. The church is tackling these new issues. But the original identity crisis remains and only awareness and education can help stem the rot, and enable the church to flourish in this country.

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You Must Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

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“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

We are in the commencement of a fresh and a new period of time. Let us make use of the ending of the Old Year and the beginning of the New Year, to remind ourselves that we are beyond this time and that this very limitation of time has got a special message for us. Die to live, lead the divine life. If we have to live a life in the Spirit, commence a new life in the consciousness of our higher nature, we have to die to the old inveterate habit of life of sensuousness and mere physical consciousness. “Unless ye are born again, ye cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” said Christ. The death of the un-divine in us is a condition pre-requisite before we shall be born into a divine life, where we shall experience peace, bliss, serenity, life knowledge, selflessness, etc.

Beside this, yet another truth this New Year effectively brings into focus is this. It is the supreme factor of the passage of time. It tells us: “O Man! Awake. Realize that you may be standing still due to your neglect; but life does not stand still. Life is rushing onward like a swift stream. Time is fleeting and it is passing away.” Even as these words are entering your ears and reaching your mind, time has passed. That is what the chime of every clock at the end of every hour reminds man so much of less time you have upon your hands; utilize it for your own welfare. Awake. Arise. Be up and doing. Do not stop until you have crossed time and made yourself timeless.

Once having become aware that time is passing, we will understand that every period in time is a thing not for rejoicing, but for very serious heart-searching repentance, new resolution, and enthusiastic onward progress. New Year is symbolic of renewal, and brings one of the strongest, most powerful emotions that we humans possess: HOPE!

Sometimes when life is the darkest, and we cannot find our way, nor even contemplate a turn or change in direction, that which sustains us is HOPE. We cling to it although we may not know that it is within us; we survive because hope has attached to our spirit; we go forward not knowing that we are; we gain strength by believing that the New Year makes us once again innocent, free, unspoiled and untarnished, and so we are… when we believe.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “There is no situation that is not transformable. There is no person that is hopeless. There is no set of circumstances that cannot be turned about by ordinary human beings and their natural capacity for love of the deepest sort.” The New Year is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind…let it be something good.

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There Is No Feasting Without Fasting

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If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Christmas is fast approaching and people, churches, companies are all talking about parties and celebrations. Every city seems to have decked itself up for the Christmas season. The sad truth is that Christmas has become a Christless festival.

Today marks the start of the Nativity Fast in the Indian Orthodox Church. We have to believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual weapon that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world. At first we question the need of fasting and prayer “Is this truly God’s call for me?” But with each passing day, His call will grow stronger and clearer. Finally, we will be convinced that God has called us to fast, and He would not make such a call without a specific reason or purpose. With this conviction, enter the Nativity fast with excitement and expectancy mounting in our hearts, praying, Lord, what do you want us to do?”

As we begin to fast, our confidence in the Lord will help us. Each day His presence will encouraged us to continue. The longer we fast, the more we sense the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit refreshes our soul and spirit, and we experience the joy of the Lord as seldom before. Biblical truths leap at us from the pages of God’s Word. Our faith soars as we humble ourselves and cry out to God and rejoice in His presence. Fasting calls on the Holy Spirit and brings us to repentance, prayer and almsgiving.

We youths need to revive our commitment to fasting and prayer and the rest of the church will respond to this call. Spent time in reading God’s word and make your time with the Lord more spiritually rewarding. There is no point in fasting and prayer until it equips you for spiritual awakening. Hope this Nativity Fast will not slip by without having made a genuine effort to prepare ourselves for the incarnation of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Set Your Objective

Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically. Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.

Make Your Commitment

Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. How long you will fast – one meal, one day, a week, several weeks, twenty -five days (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts.) What physical or social activities you will restrict. How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word. Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.

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Saint – A Life in Christ Through The Holy Spirit

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For the past few weeks Indian Orthodox Churches across the globe celebrated the feast and 103rd memorial of the first declared saint of Malankara – St Gregorios of Parumala. We as youngsters have a lot to learn from the life of the saint and we should never forget that we too are called to be saints. The Orthodox Church describes the whole purpose of the Christian life on earth as the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Prayer, fasting, vigils, and all other Christian practices, however good they may be in themselves, certainly do not constitute the aim of our Christian life: they are but the indispensable means of attaining that aim. For the true aim of the Christian life is acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. The prayer life of the faithful starts with the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit carries on the redemption and sanctification of man. The Holy Spirit speaks to man’s heart and transforms him into a new creation, through repentance and Christ’s teachings. He enables us to become one with God.

The Holy Spirit’s power leads the human person to achieve the final aim of the Christian life, the theosis, or deification, of human nature. Theosis means life in God, the transformation of a human being into union with God. St Athanasius has expressed it in the classic words “God became man that man might become god.” The great theological quests of the fourth and fifth centuries ultimately resulted in the affirmation that salvation is the divinization of humanity and its eternal presence in God, the source of its life. Damnation is exactly the opposite, the deprivation of God’s presence in the life of humanity. The deification of the human has its beginnings here on earth, but it will reach its fulfillment in the life to come. It is the result of man’s response to the Holy Spirit in man’s life.

Man is a psychosomatic union, a concentrated union of body and soul, of spirit and matter. Both constitute a “most natural bond of harmony and coexistence… of a visible and invisible… nature… The creator of man “moulded the body from the earth” and “endowed it with the divine and life giving spirit,” as St. John the Damascene proclaims. These two components make man a person in imitation of the God-man, the person of Christ. It is a basic teaching of Christian Orthodoxy that man is an “image of God” with the potentiality of “likeness” and participation in the glory of God.

It is not possible to live without life and there is no life except by participation in God. Such participation consists in seeing God and rejoicing in his fullness. The glory of God is a living person and the life of humanity is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation already gives life to all living beings οn earth, how much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Son give life to those who see God? God is himself the life of those who participate in him.

Thus holiness is life in its fullness. And there is holiness in each human being who participates vigorously in life. There is holiness not only in the great ascetic but in the creator of beauty, in the seeker after truth who heeds the mystery of creation, both living and inanimate, in the deep love of a man and a woman, in the mother who knows how to console her child and how to bring it to spiritual birth. The saints are the living ones: and the living ones are the saints. Spiritual awareness teaches us that the soul has only one natural sense … shattered in consequence of Adam’s disobedience. But it is restored to unity by the Holy Spirit … Ιn those who are detached from the lusts of life, the spirit, because it is thus freed, acquires its full vigour, and can experience in an ineffable manner the divine fullness. It then imparts its joy to the body itself … ‘Ιn him,’ says the psalmist, ‘my flesh has blossomed afresh’.

The human being while remaining completely human is completely enlightened by glory. The deified person, while remaining completely human in nature, both in body and soul, becomes wholly divine in both body and soul, through grace and the divine brightness of the beatifying glory that permeates the whole person. God envelops in his fullness the person whom he deifies. And that person by the clinging power of love is united wholly to the divine energy. From nοw οn there is only one energy of God and the saints: God is ‘all in all’, ‘everything in everything’.

Just as the body of the Lord was glorified οn the mountain when it was transfigured in the glory of God and in infinite light, so the bodies of the saints will be glorified and shine like lightning … ‘The glory which thou hast given me Ι have given to them’ (John 17.22). As countless candles are lighted from a single flame, so the bodies of all Christ’s members will be what Christ is … Our human nature is transformed and becomes united with Christ’s; it becomes wholly fire and light. The fire that is hidden and as it were smothered under the ashes of this world … will blaze out and with its divinity burn up the husk of death. What is hidden within will cover up completely what is seen οn the outside.

Resurrection begins already here below. For the early Church a deeply spiritual man is one who is already ‘risen again’. The truest moments of our life, those lived in the invisible, have a resurrection flavour. Resurrection begins every time that a person, breaking free from conditionings, transfigures them. Resurrection begins every time that a person plunges this world’s opaque, divisive, death-riddled modality into its Christ-centred modality, into that ‘ineffable and marvellous fire hidden in the essence of things, as in the Burning Bush’. The saints are seeds of resurrection. Only they can steer the blind sufferings of history towards resurrection.

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Genuine Humility

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Genuine humility is initiated by a change of heart that works itself out to applications. The practice of Christian humility is summarized in James (notice the verbs)

· “Submit yourselves, then, to God.
· Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
· Come near to God and he will come near to you.
· Wash your hands, you sinners, and
· Purify your hearts, you double-minded.
· Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:7-10

The genuinely humble do not seek their own honor, but rather seek to honor God. But in the end, God honors them. A true servant does not seek his own reward, but rather serves because he has accepted the Lordship of Christ. But in the end, Christ rewards him. This is the dichotomy – similar to Luke 9:24 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” By dying to self, and giving up what we may have sought in the flesh, we obtain it.

In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple, the teaching about humility is more narrowly focused and has to do with humility in prayer. The proud, self-assured person is inclined to use God as a kind of mirror to reflect the personal excellence of the one doing the praying. “I’m glad I’m not like the others, Lord. I’m sure You are, too.” The humble person, on the other hand, prays with an awareness that he or she doesn’t have a leg to stand on, that the Lord is doing a favor simply by allowing this person to address Him. One might suggest that the prayer of the person in need is louder in God’s ears than the prayers of other people because it more accurately echoes the true relationship between God and God’s human creatures. The humble person expresses more clearly who he is and who God is than the proud person does.

Probably nobody consciously addresses the Lord in the terms used by the Pharisee in the Gospel. But it may well be that many of us are not particularly willing to cast our prayer in the terms that the tax collector uses. Why? Maybe because we are afraid that God will not bother with us if we do. Or maybe because we don’t really believe that we are lowly, needy, and truly sinful.

“False humility is practiced quite a lot in oriental societies, where people pretend to be humble, expecting to be exalted. It doesn’t work to the same degree in Western societies in which honesty is more highly valued, but the principle is there. But Jesus has elsewhere spoken to such man-pleasers thusly: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:44
Trying to please people falsely for one’s own selfish ends is not a characteristic of a servant of Christ, as Paul writes: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Gal 1:10. Yet Jesus was speaking to those who were still trying to please men to gain honor for themselves.

Does your practice match your talk? Jesus chides the scribes and Pharisees for their showy practices. In a way they wanted to be good models of observant Jews. See how well we observe all the ritual rules and regulations of our religion! In their misguided zeal for religion they sought respect and honor for themselves rather than for God and for his word. They made the practice of their faith a burden rather than a joy for the people they were supposed to serve. Respect for God and his ways inclines us to Godly humility and simplicity of heart. The word disciple means one who listens in order to learn. Christ shows us the way to the Father — the way of peace, joy, righteousness, holiness, and true happiness. He showed us the way by lowering himself as a servant for our sake. He humbled himself, even to death on a cross, that we might be raised up and exalted at the Father’s right hand in heaven (Phil. 2:1-11). What is true Christ-like humility? Humility is true self-knowledge — regarding oneself as God see each of us. The humble do not trust in themselves, but trust in God and in the power of his love and saving grace. True humility is a servant-like quality which enables one to place his or her life at the service of God and others. Do you know the joy of Christ-like humility and simplicity of heart?

Humility is important because it is God’s pathway to infinite pleasure. Listen to what God has to say: Proverbs 16:19, “It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil of the proud.” Better humble and poor than proud and rich. 1 Peter 5:5, “Clothe yourselves all of you with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Isaiah 66:2, “Thus says the Lord, ‘This is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”’

In the words of Jesus:

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…
Unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven…
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 5:3, 5; 18:3, 4; 23:12).

“Lord, teach us your way of servant hood and humility that we may walk in love as you have loved. Fill us with the joy of servant hood that we may inspire others to walk in your way of happiness and holiness.”

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Who Rules Our Lives Today – God Or Money?

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“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon”. – Matthew 6:24

You cannot serve God And wealth (Mammon). Commanding us, not to be anxious for our food, drink, clothing or future, Christ asks us to trust God. The Gospel tells us that our lives are more than material things and that God cares for us.The word mammon comes from a word in Aramaic which simply means wealth or profit. Mammon was not the name of a deity in antiquity. Actually what we know about mammon is what Jesus told us about it. Jesus uses the name to denote a master of the heart of man, when that heart is consumed by self-interest and pride.

This is what makes his teaching so difficult for us today. We are part of society in which greed is covertly considered a good thing. No body says so too loudly but everyone knows it’s true. To a large extent capitalism is based upon the principle of self interest. As an economy model I do not know any other that surpasses capitalism. There is a danger when capitalism becomes the basis for the spiritual life, when self-interest is not only a necessary principle for free market but the foundation upon which our hearts are built. We derive our sense of identity and mission and value; the law of our personal, communal and spiritual life is founded on money. Economical success becomes equivalent in our minds to the blessing of the kingdom of God. Our sense of security derives from our wealth and not from our God. Then the leaven of greed leavens the whole lump; then the love of money rules over the use of money; then our trust is in money instead of God.

And that may be a very subtle virus. Wealth is very tricky. It seldom presents its ugly face directly unless taken by surprise. It has a very persuasive voice that easily appeals to our deepest yearnings. It promises pleasure, comfort, security, worldly glory, happiness and even goodness and blessing. It lures us to trust in it for our future, to justify our hardness of heart to others with all sorts of rationalizations. It promises all this if only we give it our unconditional allegiance by pursuing our own self-interest first in all we do, while we stop caring for our neighbors as ourselves and God above all things.

Money is the lord of self-interest, profit and wealth. And we say what is wrong with that? Every normal human being must have a degree of healthy self-interest and learn to fend for himself, pursue profit and wealth as much as he/she can. Yes, that is true. But there is a problem. Self-interest, profit and wealth are not the purpose God created us for. We were not made to serve things or ourselves. We were created to serve God, and self-interest, profit and wealth must be crucified with Christ – that is, brought to the service of God and not vice versa.

When how much we get defines how much our life is worth; when making money, because of its potential to satisfy our temporal needs, becomes the predominant purpose and preoccupation of our lives, we have fallen victims of slavery to money. The sad thing is that this may happen to us while we are not aware. As the Lord said: ‘Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness’: We must take heed because there are many aspects of our lives that may be and have been under the influence of money for a long time.

Money forces us to worry trying to answer all questions regarding food, clothing, future, until we secure enough money when we won’t have to worry about anything, anymore. Worrying is exactly the opposite of that which the Lord tells us. The Lord clearly says ‘be not anxious about these things’. And that we cannot serve two Masters. So let us be honest with ourselves: Are we not anxious about these things? We often think that the only way for us to stop being anxious about such things is by working hard to secure a big stock of all of them, and then we can say to our soul, like the foolish rich man of the parable, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry – Luke 12:19. But that night, God told him: ‘You foolish one, this night is your soul required of you; and the things which you has prepared, for whom shall they be?’ Luke 12:20

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My Peace I Give Unto You

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Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid – John 14:27.

The 2005 meeting of the Peace Council was held in New York City (Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary) from Sunday, September 25, to Friday, September 30, 2005. On Monday, September 26 at 5:00 pm the Peace Councilors presented a public interfaith service at Riverside Church in New York City. The major theme of the meeting was to discuss the increasing political and cultural influence of religious extremists in the world and in the United States. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was the chief guest of honour. On Tuesday morning, Dr. Joseph Hough, president of Union Theological Seminary, opened a discussion on the growing political power of the “religious right” in the United States and its influence on domestic and foreign policy.

The goals and purposes of the meeting were to review threats to peace that are posed by the growing political influence of extremist or “fundamentalist” religious viewpoints and groups, and to discuss or plan responses to these trends. The Council considered further collaboration between the Peace Councilors and Union Theological Seminary’s programs in interfaith education and peace. They met and exchanged ideas and experiences with the recipients of the Tanenbaum Center’s Peacemakers in Action award. Many of them are younger or less well-known peacemakers working at the grass-roots level in various countries. The committee reviewed the progress of work done in war afflicted areas and planned future Peace Council initiatives, programs, methods, and meetings. Finally this also provided further opportunity for the Peace Councilors to collaborate and to renew friendships with each other.

Peace is Possible 18th September 2005 was UN International Day of Peace. Political and religious leaders from all over the world gathered in the city of New York to assure each other that in a world of war and chaos, all hope is not lost. They voiced together ‘Peace is Possible’.

26th September 2005 will be a memorable day for me because I was in the presence of none other than His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. He was at the Riverside Church in New York with other religious peace makers around the world to hold high the banner of peace and justice in the world. The evening was a wonderful experience. The service for peace had prayers from the Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, and Jewish traditions. I would like to share a few thoughts from the speech by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Before I mention extracts from his speech, I want to share the most extra ordinary sight I witnessed just before His Holiness was to give his speech. The Riverside church in New York is a beautiful building with wonderful settings, and a cross hangs in front of the altar. As he got up to speak, before facing the audience, he set his sight at the cross, bowed with reverence, hands folded and then addressed the crowd. We need to learn to respect our own tradition from how others respect and revere our religion.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama stated:

– I believe in peace, love, compassion and non-violence which I try to practice, in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha and the great sages of India and Tibet. No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and concerns. All human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature. The great changes taking place everywhere in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa are a clear indication of this. Any relationship between human beings and countries will have to be based on the principle of equality, respect, trust and mutual benefit.

– I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility within ones own religion.

– With the ever growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teachings of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things.

– I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means might appear different, the ends are the same.

– I pray for all of us, that together we succeed in building a better world through human under-standing and love, and that in doing so we may reduce the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.

As he finished his speech he faced the cross again bowed with reverence and took his place among the other dignitaries. I shared this experience with you all because ‘PEACE’ is what we all want and yet find hard to achieve. St Seraphim of Sarov said; “Be at peace within yourself and thousands around you will be at peace”. Peace has to come from within us. We need to alienate all the evil that broods in our hearts and minds and make a genuine effort to love and share. We participate in the greatest of love feast – the ‘Holy Qurbana’. The priest offers heavenly peace several times during the Liturgy, we sing about it, we exchange the kiss of peace with our neighbours, we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ (a reminder of the great peace between God and man) and the congregation is blessed us to go forth in peace at the end. How is it that after participating in such a great mystery of love and peace that we still do not have peace within us, within churches and among nations?

We need to asses the value of peace and its meaning in our lives. May the meaning of peace make us work and pray for peace. The best way to achieve peace is to love one another and consider every one else greater that yourself. Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John 15:12 – This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you – John 13:34.

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The Cross And Its Meanings In Our Lives

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Velum shathrukalle ninaal njangal halleluiah…
Dveshikale medhichedum nin naamathil
Varikallil ninnum kathengale nee halleluiah…
Shathrukalle lajipichu (Kukliyon of the Cross)

“The sayings of the prophets foretold the holy Wood, whereby Adam was set free from the ancient curse of death. And today, at the Exaltation of the Cross, all creation raises its voice, asking of God plenteous mercy. O Master, who alone art boundless in compassion, be our atonement and save our souls!’ (Feast of the Veneration of the Cross)

Each year on the fourteenth of September, the faithful come together in her churches for a unique celebration bound up in mystery and paradox. In this season the Cross, that most horrible of tools, is hallowed in the centre of the church. The bishop/priest, taking the cross, processes to the centre of the church where, as through it he presents his blessing, the people intone a solemn ‘Lord, have mercy’. Christians “exalt” the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, God and Man, who suffered and died on this instrument of torture for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus Christ, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ – all in one image.

On this great day, the precious Cross of Christ is not only venerated, it is exalted. It is elevated to the place of greatest honour, adored again and again as the ‘footstool’ by which Christ reigns over the universe. On this day, perhaps more than most other days, the full paradox of the Cross is loudly proclaimed: this instrument of most horrible death is become the ensign of victory and eternal life. The cruel weapon of torture and torment has been taken in the hand of God and transformed into the sword by which every enemy is defeated. The sword is raised, and the Devil is fallen. Without the Cross there is no Resurrection.

The Cross is power. The Cross is glory. The Cross is regal. The Cross is sweetness. The Cross is majestic. All these are wondrously foretold in the pages of a testament we call Old and all too often think of as ‘outdated’ or ‘outmoded’. But when the Church sings her hymns, and when she magnifies the precious and life-giving Cross, she turns her eyes to these images. It is with a heart immersed in this truly cosmic and eternal universality of the Cross that she exults: ‘The Cross is the guardian of the whole earth! The Cross is the beauty of the Church! The Cross is the strength of kings! The Cross is the support of the faithful! The Cross is the glory of the angels and the wounder of demons! We venerate Thy Cross, O Master, and we glorify Thy holy Resurrection!’.

The Cross – because of what it represents – is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It has inspired both liturgical and private devotions: for example, the Sign of the Cross, which is an invocation of the Holy Trinity; the Sign of the Cross at the reading of the Gospel; and the Veneration of the Cross by the faithful on Good Friday. Placing a cross in churches and homes, in cars, or wearing this image on our persons, is a constant reminder – and witness – of Christ’s ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross. We remember Our Lord’s words, “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it.” (Mt 10:38,39). Meditating on these words we unite ourselves – our souls and bodies — with His obedience and His sacrifice; and we rejoice in this inestimable gift through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory. Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life. Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.

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Is There Any Need Of An Expectation In The New Testament Era?

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Dear Young Friends,

I am really delighted to be in touch with you all through the lines of Young Herald. As we all know, we as a Church is preparing to enter the Great Lent. Lents could be compared to the refresher courses/periodical exercises of the Military personnel in all countries. During such occasions the military personnel make sure that they are fit for fighting with the enemy. The fighting troops have to take care of self defense first. We Christians are compared to soldiers of the secular world. We have to fight with the evil forces and Satan. Our Lord taught us that prayer and fasting are the only weapons with which we could defeat Satan. Whatever our Lord taught, they were taught only after showing us the practical side of the teaching, in which, our Lord took the initiative. Our Lord fasted for 40 days and 40 nights together. And then only He insisted us to observe fasting and Lent.

On 1st of February every year we observe a festival called ‘Mayaltho’. On this day we remember the event when and where St. Mary, Mother of God and St. Joseph took infant Jesus to the Jerusalem temple. According to the Jewish religious custom, all new born babes were to be presented to Lord God in the House of God. And hence our Lord was also taken to Jerusalem temple. In the Holy Bible the name of an old man and an old lady are mentioned. The old, noble and humble Simeon and St. Hanna are considered as representatives of the thousands who had been waiting for years together to meet their savior/Messiah. Our Church remembers this two saints and do seek their intercession. It is a fact that the Israel tribe as a whole from the time of Adam, were in the hope and expectation of the savior. It is said that there were thousands and thousands of faithful, in different corners of the premises of the Jerusalem temple, waiting for their redeemer. When weexamine the Old Testament, we could find it as a history of the long expectation of the savior. We could find many kings, priests, prophets and people of different walks of lives to grant efficient leadership for the expectation. of St. Basil, St. Gregory and the other Church Fathers.

Is there any need of an expectation in the New Testament era? If yes, whom we should expect and long for? In the first chapter of Acts of the Apostles, we read Lord Jesus instructing the early church to wait for the promise of His Father. They waited with one mind and one prayer and they all were blessed with the gift of Holy Spirit. We all have received the Holy Spirit through the Holy Baptism and Holy Mooron. As we have received the Holy Spirit once, it a must to wait for Holy Spirit? In all the sacraments there are occasions when and where the Holy Spirit would appear and inspire on the given mysteries/objects. In the Holy Qurbana, the crown of all Sacraments, there is a special occasion when Holy Spirit would brood upon the mysteries and would convert the bread and wine as the flesh and blood of our Savior. It is a solemn and very important occasion during the sacrament. If we must get the abundant supply/abideness of the Holy Spirit, we will have well preparation and waiting for the Holy spirit. If Holy Spirit is not indwelling upon the Holy mysteries, they won’t be transformed as the flesh and blood of Jesus. So whenever we would attend a Sacrament, we must long for the abundant supply of the Holy Spirit.