Editorial Features

Repent Ye, Holy Church


This period experiences a great turmoil, which has never been in recent times. The earth is roaring with anger. Our climate has not been normal for past the past few years; our weather has been so erratic. Many areas on the earth are being ravaged by heavy floods; for example Australia, where there was no misery resulting from floods, has been suffering from deluge; Pakistan and parts of South America suffered from massive losses due to heavy flooding.

The past decade saw massive earthquakes all over the world. Although earthquakes are not uncommon in history, they are occurring frequently and with much higher destructive power, not just killing a few hundreds, but thousands. When the epicenter is in the ocean, the earthquakes create unfathomable power and consequently roll the waters of the sea to make it a devouring lion and totally decimating entire population in surrounding lands. We saw one such wrath of the earth in 2004 that took the lives of more than 200,000 people in Indonesia and in the lands surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Again, we are struck with another such catastrophe in the western Pacific, creating unimaginable destruction and misery in Japan.

Well, the seismologist has his geological explanation for all these calamities. Historians may have a lot to lecture on them with a historical point of view. Philosophers will definitely rationalize on them. Yes, nations may gather together to find solutions for the problems resulting from these calamities. Scientists may also try to develop systems of advance warning for better preparation to deal with such future situations. But none of them will be able to alleviate the pain experienced by the survivors of these catastrophes. In fact the professionals mentioned above can never be able to solve the enigmatic problem engulfing our generation.

Readers, this enigma is understood only through FAITH! Faith can answer the problems, it can heal the wounds, it can comfort the grieving survivors and it can also suggest solutions. Suffering is inevitable in human life; but if we have the right faith it can make it lighter for the sufferer.

In the Semitic Church (both Orthodox Syrians and Nestorian Assyrians), there is a brief fasting period called the “Nineveh Fast”, or the “Three Day Fast”; which is observed in a very austere manner and falls as a prelude to the Great Lent, eighteen days before the Great Fast starts, which lasts for forty days followed by another ten more days of stricter fasting period in honor of the passion of the Lord, which ends on the day of Pascha (Resurrection). Actually the purpose of the Nineveh Fast is to prepare the faithful for the observance of the Great Lent.

We read in the bible that the Nineveites listened to the preaching of Jonah and went into deep practices of austerity. They wore sack cloths, showered ashes on their bodies, provided no food for their babies and animals. Nineveh was in sin; and God was about to destroy that region like he had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. However, God wanted to give them a chance of coming back to Him through repentance. Jonah was asked to preach repentance; but he ran away from the command of God, because he thought that the people of Nineveh were an unrepentant generation, and that they would kill him. But God did not want to destroy a nation. So He decided to punish the running away Jonah, who had taken a ship to escape from the scene. A whale swallowed him and he stayed in the belly of the whale for three days, and it finally threw him up on the shore near Nineveh. Jonah realized the consequence of his disobedience. He started his preaching so vehemently, and asked the sinners of Nineveh to observe the strictest form of penance and repentance. It is with this great biblical episode that the Semitic Church is preparing her children for the Great Lent.

Our present generation has gone beyond the magnitude of sinfulness that devoured the inhabitants of Nineveh. The world has become dangerously hedonistic and has no regard for the law of nature or the precepts of God. We are not just talking about the sin of the unchristian world; we are also talking about the sin of the Church, which was given the discernment of clearly understanding the commandments of God and the laws of nature, which are reflective of God’s ultimate purpose in His created sphere. In fact, the Church and the world around her are equally sinful now. The world around the Church does not know what God really wants of it. But the Church knows what God expects of her; hence her sins are more terrible challenging God in every area of human life.

As Christians we should know what sin is and what its consequences are, more than the heathen world. Tragically, our problem is that we are already blinded by the scars of constant sinning; we do not understand the depth of the wound it inflicts on God’s loving heart, we do not understand severe consequences of our sin. The Church is called to be the light and salt of the world. A sinful Church cannot add flavor to the world surrounding her, a constantly sinning Church cannot be a flaming torch within the world darkened by the intensity of sin. The current problem of the Church is that it DOES NOT KNOW what constitutes a sin. There is no sense of sinfulness anymore.

Our basic Orthodox Catechism tells us that there are three enemies always ferociously working against the Church and the Christians, which are the World, the Flesh and the Devil.

4 replies on “Repent Ye, Holy Church”

Thanks Rev Fr Kuriakose for these prophetic words. This article needs a more prominent space. Your rhetoric against the three vices, especially flesh needs to be dessiminated to the lay public for bringing in a moral awakening in the Christian world.

Let me first of all congratulate Kuriakose Achen for a challenging and thought provoking article, also commend IOH for publishing the same.

I would definitely expect worthy guidance from such a senior priest as Kuriakose Achen in this respect, both for the good of the diocese and the Church.
Yours in Christ
Fr.Thomas Ninan

I had some suggestions which I felt would be useful for everyone including children and youth if you could please include a series describing

a) The history of Orthodox Church in India and the overall history of the church around the world from the time of St. Thomas.
b) The impact of Christianity and its role in the shaping of modern Indian and World society.
c) Church and Regional Politics
d) The present Leadership
e) The Legends (Scholars, Academicians, Priests, long serving members).
f) A biography on our saints
g) The several terms we use during the Holy Mass and the name of the prayers we recite in the church all Fridays and the meaning of those prayers.
h) The new denominations that came out of the church since the time of its inception including the Protestants and Marthomites, the reason for their revolt and following separation
i) The various legal battles we have been fighting with other denominations, the history, the present and the future scope of its ending and the benefits of mutual cooperation among all the churches to form “One God, One Church”.
j) The various institutions run by the church including Schools, colleges, vocational training centres, SHGs if any, industries if any, Hospitals ( run by the church or have tie-ups) etc.
k) The various reforms being carried out for the upliftment of the society, generally the poor and the helpless mass around us.
l) The budgetary allocations for various events sponsored by the Church ( Devalokam) and our Maha Edavaka Etc.

What I am trying to emphasis here is that we need to instil belief in people that we are a transparent group interested not only in fighting with each other and peeping into other’s pockets but we are equally keen in educating its people and children about our tradition and values. More than the in-fights and legal battles with other denominations, we should try to find out a path of compromise as it is our dutiful responsibility as the oldest followed faith in India. We should lead the way and path to other churches by showing ourselves as an example. Our spirits should be high in thinking of repent than revenge.

By fighting with other denominations, we are just inflaming the already fragile situation, putting pressure on the pockets of the very few faithful remaining. We should show the ones left that the door they opened to go out can be used by us to go after them and work in tandem with them keeping up the status and record of being the oldest denomination in this part of the world. Here we see a “Divide and Rule” policy designed by the evil forces. It was the Satan or the Satanic influence Christ had in him to bow in front of the Satan (Give up to the temptations) and rule the whole World (Live a common life as anyone else). But he chose to curse the evil spirit and continued his fasting. But we in the name of God fight blind folded with our brothers for some materialistic benefits as positions, power and money and are destroying the very roots of our community. Here if Satan could influence Christ, Just imagine what he can do with us. The only way out. Open up our spiritual eyes and ears and listen to His Voice. Ego and Prejudice are evil. It is Satanic. How can a church do such a thing to its believers! Or is it that since Jesus Christ himself once told that he was here to save the down trodden, the Church is pushing down all the souls to mud so that even they too can be saved!!!

Christ taught us to love each other and come to compromise with our friends before dusk of that day. But now we are teaching others the game of hatred.

He wanted to keep the materialistic thoughts outside the church, but we are bringing in even politicians to flame up our emotions and burn our pockets. By symbolically throwing the merchants out of the church, he wanted us to think that our heart and mind belongs to the Lord Almighty and it is to him we owe our gratitude and thanks and we should not be falling into evil hands thinking of material gains and profits

If we stop fighting with our brothers in the other denominations and start cooperating and work together with them, we can achieve a lot of our dreams of uplifting the society, if they were true by any chance. We will get more resources to spare as the legal battles will not be needed. Also the human resources we spent on the fights can be used for a better tomorrow, both for the people and the Church.

He wanted us to be the salt of the Earth, but by fighting with each other, we have become the fools on the surface, few bunches of puppets in the hands of its political handlers who are using the numbers and their feelings for improving their voter base. Our feel for the church is being milched by these people for their own energy and benefits. They are using us for a bargain. Beware of these Jackals in sheep skins.

More than money and funds to support the activities of Church, what we need is a complete education on what our Church is and what can do or dream of in the future. That why I thought the suggestions I gave at the beginning would help us know more on the Church. With education comes Enlightment. People will start thinking of these matters. They will start asking questions. They will start correcting the ways they have been wrong trekking till date. The pressure from the people can make the Church and its instruments think. They will think of reforms. If all people can come together in the name of God, then the Pappa’ at the top will come together and they will make the dream come true. I.e. One God, One Church, The True Bride of Christ.

In the name of Holy Trinity

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