Features News Northeast America

Metropolitan Mathews Mar Barnabas Decides to Call it a Day

NEW YORK: Metropolitan of the North East American Diocese Mathews Mar Barnabas expressed his desire to avail retirement from administrative duties of the diocese. This was officially conveyed to the Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan in a special epistle.

The senior Metropolitan of the North East American Diocese communicated his wish to retire in front of the diocesan council that assembled on December 29 and he has intimated on his decision to all priests of the diocese in a separate Kalpana.

Final decision upon this matter has to come from the Malankara Metropolitan. If the letter gets accepted, the constitutional need will arise to convene the Holy Episcopal Synod to discuss the issue. Thereupon the Church Managing Committee will discuss and conclude upon the appointment of a new Metropolitan to the North East American Diocese. Moreover, if the resignation letter gets accepted, the Malankara Metropolitan will assume charges of the diocese. Consequently he can depute one of the Metropolitans to administer the diocese until a Metropolitan is officially appointed. Since there is an Auxiliary Metropolitan to the North East American Diocese, this duty will most probably be bestowed upon him, namely upon Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholavos.

It was in 1993 that the then Malankara Managing Committee released Metropolitan Mathews Mar Barnabas from his responsibilities with the Diocese of Idukki to entrust him with reins of the American Diocese. The Malankara Orthodox faithful in America respectfully received the personality of Mar Barnabas that was clad in prayer and piety. His leadership was very productive and instrumental in many ways. It is definitely his achievement that the initiatives from the times of Dr. Thomas Mar Makarios, the first Metropolitan of American Diocese, were positively guided towards perfection.

The American Diocese found her abodes first in Queens and then after her division into two dioceses, namely the North East American Diocese and South West American Diocese, at Mutton Town, New York. These achievements are golden feathers upon the cap of Metropolitan Mar Barnabas. It shall also go deep into the annals of history that through is exceptional ability Metropolitan Mar Barnabas was able to inspire and guide a generation that was born and brought up in the United States towards the leadership of the Church, precisely towards the Holy Priesthood.

Church News Features MGOCSM News

MGOCSM has to Develop Personalities with Holiness: Catholicos of the East

KADAYIRUPPU, ERNAKULAM: MGOCSM shall the responsibility to develop personalities with holiness, said the Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Marthoma Paulose II. The Pontiff was inaugurating the 102nd Annual Conference of MGOCSM at St. Peter’s Senior Secondary School, Kadayiruppu, Kolenchery, Ernakulam on Tuesday, December 28.

“A life that bases morals would create spiritually holy humans. Church and parents have the responsibility to cultivate and grow the foliage, namely the students, with care, which is the gift from God”, said the Supreme Head of Malankara Church while elaborating upon the theme of the conference. “Students of are building the foundation of our Church. May the members of the Student’s Movement be able to shed the light of goodness into the unprimed human minds”, added the Catholicos.

“Lift up your eyes, look around you for the fields are ripe for the harvest” (St. John 4.35) is the theme this year.

President of MGOCSM Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Coorilos presided over the meeting.

Metropolitans Dr. Mathews Mar Severios, Paulose Mar Pachomios, Dr. Zachariah Mar Theophilos, Fr. Dr. Jacob Kurien, Fr. Dr. Johns Abraham Konattu, Fr. Varghese Varghese, Fr. C.M. Kuriakose, Fr. Robin Markose, C.V. Jacob, Joy P. Jacob, Dr. Sojan Ipe, Sunny Valayil, and T.P. Peter spoke on the occasion.

Metropolitan Dr. Abraham Mar Seraphim celebrated Holy Qurbana on Wednesday.

Bible Studies, Seminars on various topics, Symposiums on Human Empowerment, Counseling and Retreat etc. are to take place during the conference that spans for four days.

Features Gulf News

Dr. Mar Yulios Conducted Christmas Services at Ahmadi, Kuwait

AHMADI, KUWAIT: Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Metropolitan of Ahmedbad Diocese, led Christmas services at St. Thomas Indian Orthodox church, Ahmadi, Kuwait. More than 1200 Orthodox faithful attended Christmas services conducted on Christmas eve.

Earlier the vicar Fr. Abraham P. George, acting trustee Joshy Thekkemala, secretary Giju Mathew and senior members of the parish received the Metropolitan at the Kuwait International Airport at his arrival. Vicar of St. Gregorios Indain Orthodox Maha Edavaka Fr. Jose
Mathew, associate vicar, secretary, and other senior members were also present at the Air Port.

Metropolitan Dr. Mar Yulios will lead the New Year’s Holy Services at St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Ahmadi.

News sent in: Giju Mathew
The Christmas message delivered by the metropolitan is available at IOH Radio

Editorial Features

Christ Is Born; Glorify Him!

Anselm the English bishop and monk almost nine hundred years tried to philosophically unravel the mystery of incarnation in the context of many questions raised by several profane philosophers and critics of Christianity. The result was the book “Cur Deus Homo”. It was a sophisticated book which was basically intelligible only to an erudite mind. The title of the book is translated, “Why God (became) man” .

There are a few postulates he takes as self-evident.

1. God is metaphysically the most Supreme Being, above whom none exists. This Supreme Being is the ultimate in existence, and It cannot come down to the level of any created beings as God.

2. Mankind is in a fallen state, and needs redemption. Man cannot perform the act of redemption, because he is incapable of repairing himself as a result of the fall, whereby he is short of divine grace that sanctifies him.

3. God as God cannot perform this act, because He is existentially and essentially incapable of paying off the unimaginable debt human sin incurred and the immeasurable damage human sin inflicted on the Divinity, because God as God cannot go through the most humiliating act (kenosis) required for redemption. Redemption comes from the Latin word, redemere, meaning, to buy again after paying a huge price, which a human being cannot afford to make by any means.

4. It was essential that humanity was to be brought back to the grace of God, because God created man to be with Him eternally. So every human being should have the opportunity to be reconciled with Him. However, the possibility was negligible because God and man belonged to two different existential levels, where metaphysical impossibilities were impenetrable barriers.
Hence the redemption of humanity was a metaphysical impossibility.

The fathers of the Holy Church are of the opinion that the Persons of the Holy Trinity conducted in eternity its Holy Synod to deliberate on the lot of man. The Holy Persons agonized over the eternity of man. They even wondered if it was necessary to grant man the unique privilege of possessing Their image or similitude, which endowed man with a free will and rationality similar to those of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. It was his rationality and free will that took him to this kind of incorrigible jeopardy. It is said that there were several proposals, such as: to annihilate the human race altogether and create another rational race, or to reduce man to the irrational levels of apes or mere animals or to lift him up through some inconceivable methods. Finally, the Holy Trinity came to the conclusion that man needs to be lifted up. However they were confronted with many obstacles in that process.

What Adam in his first sin had done was an ungrateful aggression against his Master, his own creator. Using his free will man decided to rebel against a loving God, who created him and sustained him. God’s greatest act of love was His creation of humanity in His own image. To be the ICON of God is not a mirror image or reflection, which has no life in it. The Greek word, ICON which is translated from Hebrew does not mean that. It means more than that. An icon of God is actually the same being at a lesser degree and intensity with real life, life of God. A mirror reflection has no life at all. A man is not such an image, but an ICON possessing the same faculties at a much lesser intensity than what the Sovereign God possessed, the faculties of reason and free will, which are the sources of divine creation in the first place. It is this creative force that God infused into human creation; among all creations man is the only creator somewhat comparable to the creative nature of God, although not an ultimate Creator, but a relative creator. He made man very much similar to Him in many ways, although not to the extent of an offspring that is identical to its parent. Is there any LOVE similar to the love explicit in the act of the first human creation? The first sin was a breach of this primordial existential affinity, a wreck of filial love creating a divide and disconnect between God and His rational creation. This is an explicit attack on the very essence of Divinity, the punishment of which is death, to quote the idea of St. Paul. Hence man has to die for this aggression against God.

The fathers of the Church teach that the creation of man was initiated with the suggestion of the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. When all creations were completed, God saw that everything HE created was good. But none of them could recognize its Creator. None of them was intelligent to ask the question, “Who made us?” It was at that point that God the Father consulted God the Son about another creation possessing almost the same faculties of the Godhead, with the powers of intellect and will; and the fathers of the Church propose that the second Person of the Holy Trinity suggested the idea of the unique creation of man. Yes, God the Father was impressed with the idea and responded to the Son (according to St. John Chrysostom): “Let Us make man in Our image”, and the Son concurred. This may look like a mythological account by some fathers. However, we have to demythologize and squeeze the truth out of it.

When the first man fell out of God’s grace, the fathers teach, another Holy Synod of the Trinity was conducted to deal with Their failure in creating such a stupid rational being who had the audacity to rebel against Him. The very idea of human creation was from the Son, and therefore it was also His task to come up with a solution to deal with this existential dilemma. It was a tremendous responsibility. It involved a great sacrifice, because only sacrifice could please the Godhead, to wipe out the wickedness towards a Creator, and nothing except a total sacrifice was acceptable to God. A total sacrifice literally meant the destruction or annihilation of mankind, but this would wipe out the entire mankind from the face of the earth. Even if a total destruction of mankind could be avoided, man’s sacrifice could not produce any thing good, particularly the required sanctifying grace, as he was incapable of producing any good, or of pleasing God in the absence of natural grace in which he was created; he fell away from it, he is in condemnation. In fact he cannot generate anything good for his own benefit or on behalf of him. Hence, man becoming a sacrifice was ruled out as a solution.

The destruction of man would in fact defeat the very purpose of his creation as a unique being, creation of the rational man. Although the entire creation magnifies the majesty and sovereignty of God, only angels who are celestials and men who are terrestrials, could offer RATIONAL WORSHIP to God, and the other creations do not rationally comprehend that they do magnify God. Hence the destruction of mankind was not a tenable alternative at all.

“Then how do We solve this enigmatic problem?” The Holy Trinity thought about it over and over. There was only one solution to avoid the annihilation of mankind altogether: God to become a sacrifice on behalf of man. Again there were many insurmountable problems attached to that process. God Himself cannot become a sacrifice; a sacrifice definitely involves suffering and death. God cannot suffer, nor can He die as He is an Eternal Supreme Being. So the discussion boiled down to one solution: An eternal sacrifice is needed to satisfy the Godhead to solve the most heinous crime against God. In conducting that sacrifice, whatever is impossible for man God will perform, and whatever is metaphysically impossible for God as an infinite Being man should perform. Again there remains another problem: if this sacrifice is not performed by ONE person in the place of the entire mankind, it would not bring in the results expected. If God does His part individually without being substantially united with man and if man does his part being separated from the substance (knumo/ hypostasis) of God , his deed cannot produce any good.

The Synod came up with a final solution. One person, who is both completely God and completely man, hypostatically united as ONE, can do the job. Who among the three persons of the Trinity will do this? As the Person Who proposed the creation of man, finally the responsibility fell on the shoulders of the Son, urged by the Holy Spirit. The Son willfully, without any coercion, offered Himself to God the Father to descend upon the earth and take the true form of man and go through unimaginable sufferings and even most crucial and despicable form death on the cross as an eternal sacrifice for the sin of man , and satisfy God’s justice, and reconcile him with God the Father. The Holy Spirit took an incredible supernatural task of impregnating a virgin womb on earth for the descent of the Son.

Now we go to the question Anselm asked, “Cur Deus Homo (Why God became man)?” The answer is explained above. This writer stated a Western question and its Eastern answer. For the West and the East the question and answer still remain a mystery. A mystery simply means that certain truth is incomprehensible. Yes, the incarnation is a mystery. No one internalizes it without faith. That is why Anselm said faith precedes reason, and he emphatically declared “Credo ut intelligam” (I believe so that I may understand).

Yes, Orthodox Christians, if you try to rationally understand first and then try to believe in the incarnation, it becomes no more a mystery and there is a chance that you will never understand and never believe. And redemption will never be realized in you.

Come with the mind of a child before the mysteries of God and you will eventually understand them.

As we celebrate this great mystery with all the external pomp and glamour, never forget to ask ourselves the reason behind all our celebrations. Jesus the incarnate God is underlying reason.

May the Incarnate Word of God be spiritually born in your hearts and bring salvation for your souls. May the Prince of Peace reign in your hearts and bring you peace and prosperity through out the New Year 2011!

May all our readers have a very Merry Christmas and a Bright New Year!


Church News Features News

Let us dedicate ourselves at this Christmas: Catholicos of the East

KOTTAYAM: “Let us dedicate ourselves in holiness to prepare a manger in our hearts so as to equip ourselves to face the challenges of the age in the power of Holy Spirit”, said the Supreme Head of the Malankara Orthodox Church, Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Marthoma Paulos II.

The Pontiff was addressing the world wide community of Malankara Orthodox Church members and the whole world at large.

Christmas is the “Feast of peace and concord. Christmas is essentially the glorious feast which extols the reconciliation between heaven and earth bringing the whole creation into the experience of salvation. In a world characterized by dissention, discord, disillusionment,exploitation and lust, the message of Christmas gives us unending hope. Let the Feast which revealed to us that there is space in the heart of Jesus Christ for all creatures, make us more spiritual” acclaimed the Catholicos of the East.

The Pontiff also admonished the faithful to refrain from all kind of intoxicating substances. Christians, the “inheritors of the eternal life in Jesus Christ, (have) to sanctify themselves to celebrate the feast in its holiness and keep away from all such evil influences”, the admonishing goes on.

The Pontiff also wished the faithful a blissful New Year as well.

Features News World News

Christmas Message 2010 from the WCC general secretary

The nativity of Jesus Christ is proclaimed by angelic choirs in the heights of heaven, and the joyous news is echoed afterwards by modest shepherds in fields near Bethlehem. Meanwhile, a mother and father care for their newborn child. No place for this family could be found in the inn, so they shelter among livestock. The circumstances are strikingly humble, yet their infant is the occasion of the angels’ song:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude
of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom God favours!”
Luke 2:13-14

The splendour of Christmas highlights many contrasts in our surroundings. First of all – it is all about what we are given – surprisingly – by God. This revelation of glory in heaven is given to people living off the land, dependent on simple blessings found in fields and farmyards, in caring for sheep and celebrating a new birth. It is they who first hear the promise of so much more than bare survival or the simplest pleasure. They dare to imagine the real possibility of peace on earth. The song of angels encourages them to give glory to God alone and to seek peace with others, far and near.

Conditions in the world today are marked by contrasts at least as great as those in Jesus’ time. Everywhere we see wildly contradictory instances of poverty and wealth, systems of tyranny and of justice, brutal violence and sincere attempts at reconciliation. Through it all, we are keenly aware of the need for a peace worthy of the name: just peace for all.

In this season, and in looking to the New Year, we in the World Council of Churches find encouragement in the potential for seeking peace that is to be afforded in May 2011 at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston, Jamaica. Taking as its motto “Glory to God; Peace on Earth”, the IEPC will serve as a culmination of the churches’ Decade for Overcoming Violence (2001-2010) and an occasion to renew our common commitment to the establishment of a just peace among peoples.

We encourage you to make certain your church is participating in the IEPC as all WCC member churches have been invited to send representatives to the convocation. For the World Council of Churches, peace is a vital part of living the fellowship and building Christian unity.

In these days we hear anew the opening accounts in the life of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Our hearts and spirits are refreshed once more. In response, we rededicate ourselves to the praise of God in highest heaven and to our ministries of peace on earth.

May the blessing of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you always.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary,
World Council of Churches

Features Gulf News

Dr Mar Yulios on Kuwait visit for X’mas, New Year, Epiphany

MUSCAT : Dr Pulikkottil Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Metropolitan of Ahmedabad Diocese, travels to Kuwait to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year.

“The visits to Orthodox churches in Ahmadi and Safat are based upon their invitation and interest and also to take part in celebrating Christmas, New Year and the feast of Denaha (baptism of Jesus),” according to the Metropolitan.

The two-week visit will see the Metropolitan visiting the two Orthodox churches namely the St Thomas Indian Orthodox Syrian Church, Ahmadi and the Safat-based St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Maha Edavaka.

Dr Mar Yulios will be at the Ahmadi church from December 22 onwards. He will take part in an ecumenical Christmas gathering and deliver the message at the Marthoma Church.

The Metropolitan commences his visit to the St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Maha Edavaka from January 1 to 7, 2011.

Dr Joseph Mar Dionysius, Kolkata Diocesan Metropolitan, will also be present during the celebrations at the St Gregorios Maha Edavaka. Dr Mar Yulios will lead the Holy Eucharist on January 7 for the Denaha Feast (Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus) and depart for Kerala the next day. This will be Dr Mar Yulios second visit to a GCC country and comes close on the heels of his visit to the Sultanate of Oman in November.

Kuwait Church contacts:
Fr Abraham P George, Vicar, St Thomas Indian Orthodox Syrian Church, Ahmadi. (Parampuzha Achen) GSM: +96565722143
Fr Jose Mathew, Vicar, St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Maha Edavaka. GSM: +965-65161350

Columns Features Opinions

I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people

AHMEDABAD : Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Metropolitan of Ahmedabad, has extended his Christmas message to all the faithful of the church.

“Christ must take birth in our hearts as well. Only then will Christ die and resurrect in us to realise the salvation of entire universe and become a reality to the present world,” is the cornerstone of Dr Mar Yulios first message as a Bishop.

The Metropolitan in his Kalpana recalls the advent of Christmas when humans found favour at the sight of God. The angel, star, wise men, shepherds and a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, caroled: “Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
At the fullness of time God took the first step towards donning salvation to humans, he points and quotes St Severus of Antioch: “One among the Holy Trinity becomes human.”

The Metropolitan mentions that in the beginning of salvation there was great joy for humans, which the Angel heralded to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus.

A a star shined to the wise men with this joyful message (above verse from Bible), which they were waiting for centuries, and brought them from the East! When the angels had returned to heaven, they said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Dr Mar Yulios points out how the human beings in particular, who went astray and lost the original glory of God, were needed to be saved and extricated from the clutches of sin.
‘Christmas’ is traditionally understood as ‘Christ’s Mass’. His Grace notes that the word actually comes from the ancient Coptic Christian culture, a combination of two Coptic words that is Christos and Misa meaning Christ’s birth.

Dr Mar Yulios wishes all a wonderful and real Christmas and the coming new year be blessed and fruitful to all.

The Kalpana dated December 6, 2010 was issued from St Thomas Bishop’s House, Ahmedabad.

Features News World News

Ecumenical news agency suspended, editors removed

GENEVA :(Reuters) – Ecumenical News International, an award-winning agency reporting on religion and based at the World Council of Churches (WCC), has been temporarily closed and had its two top editors removed, one of them said on Monday.

The decision, taken at a meeting of its executive committee last week, comes after the Geneva-based WCC cut the agency’s funding and its former head criticised its coverage.

The suspension and leadership changes led to the resignation of the ENI president and its treasurer, both senior figures in Scandinavian Protestant churches, a report by the agency said.

WCC officials said the agency was not being closed but would resume some time in 2011 with one part-time editor.

“We are being told to vacate our offices by December 22,” said the chief editor, South African journalist Peter Kenny, who with British managing editor Stephen Brown had built ENI into a respected information source over the last 10 years.

“Our contracts are terminated as of the end of the year. My concern is that these changes might bring into question the independence of ENI news,” he told Reuters.

Earlier this year the WCC, which has been ENI’s main funder and in whose headquarters the agency was based, said it was reducing its financial support for 2011 by over 50 percent.

The WCC is an umbrella body linking Protestant and Orthodox churches around the globe. An acting spokesman for the organisation told Reuters on Monday that the funding decision was “part of a broad redeployment of WCC resources” and had been a “key element in decisions related to the re-shaping of ENI.”

The cash cut came in the wake of complaints by the WCC’s former Kenyan general secretary Samuel Kobia of “inaccuracy” and “sensationalism” in coverage of the body by ENI — which had run reports from an authoritative German religious news service that he had falsely claimed an academic degree.

WCC sources said at the time that the affair effectively blocked Kobia from seeking a second four-year term.

ENI, which ran a network of some 50 correspondents around the globe, had also angered some WCC officials by revealing the list of candidates to replace Kobia in advance of a meeting of the body’s central committee in 2009.

His elected successor, Norwegian Lutheran Olav Fykse Tveit, is on holiday and was not available for comment on Monday.

In May, just after the cut was announced, ENI won an award of excellence and another for “editorial courage” in its reporting on the WCC from the US Associated Church Press, which links religious journalists and news services.

Apart from the WCC, the ENI executive committee includes the Lutheran World Federation, the European Conference of Churches and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

The ENI president who resigned after the committee decision last week was Anders Gadegaard, Dean of Copenhagen’s Lutheran cathedral. He said trying to reshape the agency without the staff who had built it up was a waste of investment.

Articles We Believe Youth And Faith

Advent – the Season of Anticipation and Hope

The word Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’; means in the Orthodox Tradition, the period of fasting and preparation in connection with the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord. The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.

In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s coming into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance! It is that hope which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.

Part of the expectation also anticipates a judgment on sin and a calling of the world to accountability before God. We long for God to come and set the world right! Yet, as the prophet Amos warned, the expectation of a coming judgment at the “Day of the Lord” may not be the day of light that we might want, because the penetrating light of God’s judgment on sin will shine just as brightly on God’s people.
Because of this important truth, especially in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Season of Advent has been a time of fasting and penitence for sins similar to the Season of Lent. Of course, Advent is celebrated as a time of joy and happiness as we await the coming of the King; hence we Sing Christmas Carols During Advent.

The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegroom’s expected coming. And yet a warning of the need for preparation echoes through the parable. But even then, the prayer of Advent is still: Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

The beginning of Advent is a time for the hanging of the green, decoration of the church with evergreen wreaths, boughs, or trees that help to symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus the Christ. The Advent wreath is a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center.

The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Day. The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world.

Advent is one of the few Christian festivals that can be observed in the home as well as at church. With its association with Christmas, Advent is a natural time to involve children in activities at home that directly connect with worship at church. In the home an Advent wreath is often placed on the dining table and lighted at meals, with Scripture readings preceding the lighting of the candles, especially on Sunday. A new candle is lighted each Sunday during the four weeks, and then the same candles are lighted each meal during the week. In this context, it provides the opportunity for family devotion and prayer together, and helps teach the Faith to children, especially if they are involved in reading the daily Scriptures. It is common in many homes to try to mark the beginning of Advent in other ways as well, for the same purpose of instruction in the faith. Some families decorate the house for the beginning of Advent, or bake special cookies or treats, or simply begin to use table coverings for meals. An Advent Calendar is a way to keep children involved in the entire season.

Whatever observations we do are fine, if it brings the message of the season into our minds and actions. So, let us try to observe advent-fasting and all other traditional ways to receive our Lord in our heart; and be with Him in our day to day life. May God bless the whole world in this wonderful Season of the Feast of Nativity of our Lord.