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Kerala High Court stays filling of Metran Kayal for tourism project

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the government order to fill vast tract of ecologically sensitive paddy-field and backwaters at Kumarakam in Kottayam, known as methran kayal, for a major tourism project proposed by a private developer.

The Congress government had given nod for reclamation of ‘the methran kayal‘ at the famous tourist destination at Kumarakam three days before the notification for the assembly elections was announced.

The government decision, which amounted to flagrant violation of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act-2008, had come under sharp criticism from the Congress itself.

Acting upon the petition of a farmer named Alexander, the bench of Justice Muhammed Mustaq ordered that status quo should be maintained in the issue and banned construction activities at the project site.

Last week, the government had issued an order allowing Chennai-based Rakindo Developers Pvt Limited to fill 376 acres of paddy field and backwaters at Kumarakam for a tourism project worth Rs 1,000 crore.

The government allowed reclamation of the paddy field, disregarding the adverse reports from the departments of agriculture, fisheries, environment and local self governing.

Besides, the Assembly subject committee too had registered its dissent for granting sanction for the proposed tourism project at the cost of paddy fields and backwaters. However, to overcome the objections raised by various departments, the government had got a report from the district collector, which said the proposed site was not suitable for farming.

As the government decision on the eve of election notification became controversial, Congress state president V M Sudheeran publically stated that the decision should be revoked. He said such controversial decisions do not bode well for a government at election times. He urged CM Oommen Chandy and Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash to review the decision taken by the revenue department.

The high court stay came at a time the government indicated that it was ready to revisit the controversial decision. The Opposition had alleged corrupt deal behind the decision.

Methran Kayal Dying a Slow Death

Large areas of the Vembanad lake were transformed into cultivable lands in the beginning of the 19th century, during the reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal, to meet the food requirement of the erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore.

Of these, Methran Kayal, a paddy polder in the Kumarakom panchayat, was the richest land in terms of productivity.

Unfortunately, Methran Kayal has been falling prey to unsustainable developmental activities, which is making land non-cultivable. When cultivated properly, the land had produced more than 10,500 quintal of rice, annually.

Methran Kayal, which was handed over to the Malankara Orthodox Church during the time of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious-II by Sri Moolam Thirunal, was also called the ‘Seminary Kayal’.

According to the Orthodox Church, the area was handed over to some farmers for cultivation during the time of Geevarghese Mar Vattasseril (Vattasseril Thirumeni), in return for a stipulated quantity of rice to be given to the Kottayam Old Seminary.

All those who cultivated paddy there were members of the Orthodox Church, except for one Hindu family. All, except the Hindu family, refused to return the land. Then, the Thirumeni asked the Hindu family to keep the land with them.

The Church authorities did not take any legal action against those who held the land against the agreement. Later, an area of around 417 acre went to private parties, which was cultivated until 2006.

Courtsey: The Indian Express /Shaju Philip

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Church Sponsors students for paramedical courses at C M C Vellore

KOTTAYAM: Malankara Orthodox Church is sponsoring students for paramedical courses at C M C Vellore for the coming academic year. Those interested, please contact MGOCSM Student Centre, College Road, Kottayam-1.

Please note:

1. Download your application forms

2. Enclose a Demand Draft in favour of ‘MGOCSM’ for Rs. 600/- as application fee.

3. Attach Baptism Certificate and send it to MGOCSM Student Centre, College Road, Kottayam-1

For More information contact MGOCSN office : Ph. 0481 2567338 or Email:

News Obituary Parish News

Former Managing Committee Member Joshua Philip passes away in Hyderabad

HYDERABAD: Former member of Malankara Sabha Managing Committee and Retd. VST employee Joshua Philip (90) passed away on Feb. 29 at early hours/Hyderabad.

His wife late Kujamma, Puthanpurayil Karipuza Mavelikkara and son Philip Jousha, Daughter Elizabeth (Kuwait). In-laws Annie Philip and Thomas.

He was the son of Late Rev. Fr. PJ. Philipose Poovathoor house, Chengannur. He is one of the founder member of Orthodox services in Hyderabad and St. Andrews Church Society, Secunderabad.

Funeral service on Tuesday March 1 at 10.30 am at St. Gregorious Orthodox Cathedral and funeral at No.12 Garison Cemetery/Trimulgery , Secunerabad at 11.30 am.

News sent in by: Kurian G Thomas

News Obituary Parish News

E.M. Baby (Kattanam), passes away in Ghaziabad

GAZIABAD: E.M. Baby ( Kattanam), Member of Ghaziabad StThomas Orthodox Parish, who met with an accident this Sunday afternoon, passed away yesterday 28 Feb’16).

Viewing and funeral Service will be conducted at Church. Burial will be held on Wednesday at his Home Parish: St. Stephens Orthodox Church, Kattanam,Alappuzha, Kerala.

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Fr. Philip M. Samuel, celebrates Priesthood Pearl Jubilee

DELHI: Fr. Philip M. Samuel, Priest of the Delhi Diocese today completes 30 years of Priesthood.

Fr. Philip M. Samuel, was ordained on February 23, 1986 at St. George Orthodox Valiyapally, Thumpamon Erom, Mathoor, Pathanamthitta by Late Lamented Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios Metropolitan.

Currently he is serving as the Vicar of St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Gurgaon. Wife: Valsamma Philip. Children Cecil Sam Philip, Cerin Mary Philip. Fr. Philip is from Changayil Family, Mathoor.

Previously he served in St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Hauz Khas, New Delhi (Astt. Vicar) – 1986-1989, St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Udaipur, Rajasthan – 1989-1992, St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Bhilwara, Rajasthan – 1989-1992, St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Banswara, Rajasthan – 1989-1992, St. Gregorios Orthodox Church, Dungarpur, Rajasthan -1989-1992, St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Dubai, UAE – 1992-1995, Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Janakpuri, New Delhi – 1996-2002, St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Ghaziabad – 2002-2005, St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Faridabad – 2005-2006, St. John’s Orthodox Church, Mayur Vihar Phase – I, Delhi – 2006-2011 and St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, C-3, SDA, Hauz Khas, as vicar

News: Varughese P Thomas

Articles We Believe Youth And Faith

Mathopadesa Sarangal On Fasts


Fast was the initial decree enjoined by the Lord,

1. On Adam.
Ref: Gen. 2:17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it, for, in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (K.J.V.)

Fasting is apparently the abstinence from food completely or partially or from certain types of food. Of all the divine or dominical decrees to mankind, the instruction to Adam for fasting was the first one. In the Garden of Eden, the first place of habitation, God’s forbidding decree to keep away from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge was pronounced. In this context it may be construed that the Lord as the greatest dietician, knew that certain prohibitions in the food habit are necessary for the good health of His creation. Realising the implication of the divine decree, the Church as a true mother prescribes periodical fasts to make her children not only physically strong but also spiritually fit.

2. It was observed by the Jewish community, as per the commandment of the Lord.

Ref: (a) Joel 2:12. Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with mourning. (K.J.V.)

(b) Zech. 7:5. Tell the people of the land and the priest that when they fasted and mourned in the fifth and the seventh month during these seventy years… (G.N.B.)

As per Mosaic Law, the Jews were forbidden from eating certain fishes and flesh. During the Passover the Israelites were to keep away from eating leavened bread. Elijah, the great Jewish prophet observed fast for forty days. Joshua, the son of Nun, was able to keep the celestial bodies still, by the power he gained through prayer and fasting.

3. Was ordered, practised and taught by our Lord.

Ref: (a) Mt. 4:2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. (K.J.V.)

(b) Mt. 9:15. And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them and then shall they fast. (K.J.V.)

Even Jesus our Lord observed fast for forty days. It was the spiritual strength that He gained from this fast, which fortified Him to have decisive victory over the seductive strategy of Satan. In His teachings, Jesus further emphasised that one could cast off the evil spirits with the power of prayer and fasting.

4. And was observed by the Apostles and accordingly confirmed, ordered and practised by the Church as part of Her discipline.

Ref: Acts. 13:2. While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for me, Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them”. (G.N.B.)

From the book of Praxis or The Acts of the Apostles, it can be gathered that the Holy Apostles also observed fast like their Master. One of the sources of their spiritual strength was fasting. In line with the Apostolic tradition and with the lessons that She learned from the Semitic cradle of training, the S.O.C. vouches on the efficacy of fasting and the inexorable value of it, in spiritual life.

5. But physical or bodily fasting without spiritual abstinence from evil is not enough at all.

Ref: (a) Mt. 6:16. “And when you fast do not put on a sad face, as the hypocrites do, they neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are
fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. (G.N.B.)
(b) vide. Is. 58:77
(c) vide. Num. 7:7

Abstinence from food alone, without spiritual nourishments, like prayer and meditation will emaciate both the body and the soul equally. On the contrary physical abstinence from food coupled with spiritual exercises would fortify the person observing fast.

6. The intentions of fasting are the following: To instruct to value more of matters spiritual than worldly, to subdue bodily temptations and foster the soul, to defend the soul from bodily desires and to awaken and orient it to things divine. And to be a weapon to have victory over Satan. As love of the stomach is the mother of many a sin, abstaining oneself from food is a way to prevent the evil arising from consuming food.

Ref: (a) Phil. 3:19…They worship their stomach and brag about the disgusting things they do. (L.B.)

(b) Mt. 17:21. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (K.J.V.)

The purposes or intentions and the merits of fasting are brought out here. Fasting, on the whole, brings in spiritual orientation and equilibrium besides victory over carnal desires. In the prayers of the S.O.C. it is extolled that observance of fasting is a sure device to gain victory over Satan and his primrose ways, which lead to eternal damnation. Fasting uplifts a person from the terrestrial realm to the celestial plane

7. The Church has therefore decreed the observance of fasting on all Wednesdays and Fridays besides during the following five periods. Lent, period of Annunciation and Nativity, the feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, feast of the Apostles, Nineveh fast or fast of Rogation.

Ref: Lk. 18:12. “I fast two days a week…” (G.N.B.)

The Church has specified five periods of fast noted already, in the course of an Ecclesial year. Besides them, all the Wednesdays and Fridays except during the weeks between the Easter and the Pentecost are to be observed as days of fast. Wednesdays in honour of the Blessed Virgin and Fridays in rememberance of the Crucifixion of our Saviour.

8. During fast days abstinence from marital relationship, consuming of meat, fish etc. is obligatory. Also, in accordance with one’s physical capacity and the ordinances of the Church, keeping away from meals till noon or having only one time food a day is also to be observed.

Ref: (a) 1Cor. 7:5… You agree not to have sex… (L.B.)

(b) 2Sam. 1:12. They cried all day long and would not eat anything… (L.B.)

(c) Dan. 1:8. Daniel made up his mind to eat and drink only what God had approved his people to eat. And he asked the king’s chief official for permission not to eat the food and wine served in the royal palace. (L.B.)

The disciplines to be observed during the fast days are here detailed. They are all conducive for the spiritual growth and strength.

(A chapter from – Mathopadesa Sarangal)
By Saint Dionysius Geevarghese Vattasseril
English Translation & Commentary
Prof. O. M. Mathew Oruvattithara

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Parents Left Behind?

The other day, I met a couple after the Sunday worship in the church premises and asked why they are not in a hurry to go back home as usual. They replied, “Our kids are staying back in Sunday school, we feel uneasy at home without them”. If this is the situation of the parents who can’t stay away from their children for a day, it is worth analyzing the situation of parents who have to live away from their children for a long time.

Compared with their counterparts in developed countries, Indian parents place greater emphasis on their children succeeding in work – published in a report titled “The Value of Education: Learning for Life”. Indian parents are willing to spend more to give their child the opportunity to study abroad as they believe students receive a more rounded education and experience abroad.

The feeling of grief and loneliness parents feel when their children leave home is called ‘empty nest syndrome’. It is not a clinical condition and is not a term you will find in many medical textbooks, but it has become a useful ‘label’ for the feelings of sadness and loss, which many individuals experience when their children fly the nest.

After marriage, the couples love each other and feel complete in the presence of each other. They don’t prefer to have an ‘outsider’ when they are together. However, subsequent to their attempt to achieve the completeness, a child is born strengthening their relationship. The child is not an ‘outsider’ rather the incarnation of their love, becoming an inevitable part of the family. For parents, their kids are always ‘small children’. They will continue to take care of them even if the kids are grown up. That is why the great grandmother, in spite of her age-related ailments, is worried about the health of her son who might have grandchildren. Parents who like to have their kids, always with them should understand that their parents also wish the same.

Our church has successfully completed an awareness program for the elderly and palliative care, an exclusive project for the ones left alone in their twilight years. His Holiness Marthoma Paulose Marthoma Paulose II termed it as a “burning issue” and needs to be tackled on an urgent basis and donated his own land for such a project. I would like to share from my pastoral experience, some practical suggestions for caring for aging parents in Kerala for those in the diaspora.

1. Be in love with your Parents

This is the most important responsibility towards your parents. This is possible only when you accept them as they are. They may have conditioning, habits and convictions that we may not agree with. Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve” and his research revealed that human knowledge doubled every century up to around 1900. The end of World War II reduced that time frame for every 25 years. Today, some parts of our knowledge have advanced faster than others and on average, human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. With this rate of change in human knowledge, it is not surprising to see huge gap that builds between our parents and us.

We may have complaints about our parents on their attitude and bias towards our siblings, our lifestyles, religious and world views. We may succeed in substantiating that our parents are wrong. But we should always remember that they are our parents and understand that trying to change our parents’ lifetime of thinking is brutal and impossible in one or two conversations. We should love unconditionally and learn to accept them as they are and accept the fact that there is absolutely no replacement for our parents. We can persuade them with love, patience, and empathy. Though they may be wrong with many contemporary matters, ultimately they are responsible for our birth and growth. Usually, it’s said, “we can change our friend, we can’t change our neighbors”. But if we have enough money, we can move and change our neighbors too, but it is impossible to change our parents.

2. Be in touch with your Parents

Communication is a way of expressing our love. It is more relevant when we stay away from our parents. Parents are waiting to hear the sound of their children like Hornbill waiting for rain. We should make every possible effort to talk to them for a moment on a daily basis. This is not to convey some information, but a great opportunity to fill the vacuum in our parents’ home with our voice. We should encourage our kids to talk to our parents at least once in a week. Our parents want to listen to the sound of the small babies though they are not able to speak. They are in ecstasy when the grandchildren call them ‘appacha, ammachi’. We can make use of the modern technology to facilitate connection. We can train our parents to use Skype, WhatsApp and video calling. Today with smartphones and data connections, it is absolutely easy to connect on a daily basis by sharing our pictures, videos, and moments.

An old lady used to complain about her phone. Every time the personnel from telephone exchange found it worked. Finally, she asked a question, “Then why my children are not calling?”

Our kids can tell the name of the grandfather of Mahatma Gandhi as they learn it as part of history at school. Will they tell the name of their grandparents? I have noticed if somebody asks about their hometown to kids, parents would step in to say with pride “she/he doesn’t know it. She/he rarely visits there”. Is this actually a matter of pride, we should ask ourselves! We have a system of keeping the name with two initials, the short form of the family name and father’s name. Actually, it comprises the full address of that individual giving his identity. For example, K.A. George means George son of Kavunkal Alias. We misunderstand the house number given by the municipality as our address! When we go to Kerala we should find time to visit the older generation, seek blessing at their tomb and make them familiarize to the new generation.

3. It is your responsibility to take care of your Parents

Taking care of one’s parents is embedded in our culture. Parents are morally and legally obligated to care for their children when they are young. They provide shelter, food, clothes and above all, all the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. Isn’t it fair to ask that when children grow up and their parents become elderly, they take up the responsibility to provide a decent life for their parents? We should consider this as our moral obligation and not be forced as part of our adherence to the recently passed Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. Today our parents are more financially stable and independent, but that should not stand in our way to our responsibility as their children. His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Mathews II of blessed memory used to give a dhoti to his father every year, as said in an interview. Holy Father says, “Parents enjoy receiving from their children. Not because they need it. But getting it from their children is something special”. Every time when we give something, they share their joy by showing their friends “It’s sent by my son”. They want to prove that their children are taking care of them. We should give something to our parents from our income on a regular basis. It may vary according to our financial situation and their needs. However, we should give them something even in our financial constraints. We can never repay the debts we have to them. Giving something regularly is the external expression of this gratitude.

4. Respect siblings who take care of your Parents

We cannot define our responsibility towards our parents on the basis of money. Parents need our presence, love and care. Sometimes we are unable to fulfill this in a certain situation. If we are one of those lucky ones who have a sibling who could fill in for us, we should be grateful to them as they are fulfilling their responsibility as a vocation. They do the service when we discharge our job by sending something or showing love and care through phone calls.

It is a difficult job to serve parents in their old age, catering to their particularities and obstinate nature, it is essential that we don’t find fault in the care provided. Instead of giving suggestions like, “Give a new bedsheet to ammachi or provide a better blanket to appachen” we should be kind enough to take a few days off our busy schedule and physically give our sibling a break. We may have numerous suggestions in our one week stay with our parents overlooking all the great work our siblings do day in and day out.

It is necessary that we appreciate the efforts and services of our siblings to make sure they stay motivated as their work only gets challenging with time. Always be diligent not to give false promises, suggestions, and guidance. This is not the place to be tactful and smart by saying “If you come with us we could take care of you better”. We should realize the fact that we may not have the capability to take care of them for a week. Let us adore our siblings for their wonderful job. They do what we can’t do.

We all have reasons to be abroad, however, insubstantial, it may look to others, and there is no excuse for abandoning the care of parents in exchange for a career growth, life aspirations or financial gains. We should realize that as our parents live with the fear of aging without us and the uncertainty of how life will unfold, the mutual emotional support and bonding have no equivalent! Can we all make a commitment that caring for our parents is one of the top priorities in our lives because I can confidently say from the lives of many that the best years of their lives were the years with their parents’.

[Fr. Jaise K. George has completed the theological education from STOTS Nagpur and is serving as the Vicar of various parishes in the Diocese of Delhi. He is the Coordinator for the Pre-Marital Guidance Program, Diocese of Delhi. He is a research scholar in Psychology]

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His Holiness Pope Francis – “Marks of a Spiritual Leader”

Some would say getting to see the pope was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Thousands of people got the chance to see Pope Francis. As others across the world, my experience was indescribable; literally made me cry. It was a feeling that is almost hard to describe of peace and tranquility and emotion and spirit. It was really just something. I consider a real honor and myself blessed. Hearing my multi tasked secular and spiritual life, “Live your life abundantly” – was the guidance from Pope Francis. Turning to a friend, I expressed, “wasn’t that an amazing?” I recall him saying, “Yes, and I am a Baptist.” Being a priest of the Indian Orthodox Church, the encounter showed the unifying power of Pope Francis’ papacy.”

Spiritual leadership as knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to use God’s methods to get them there in reliance on God’s power. The answer to where God wants people to be is in a spiritual condition and in a lifestyle that displays his glory and honors His name. Therefore, the goal of spiritual leadership is that people come to know God and to glorify him in all that they do. Spiritual leadership is aimed not so much at directing people as it is at changing people. This is the quality I saw in His Holiness.

Pope Francis’ leadership style appeared to one that other people will come to glorify God, that is, he magnifies the true character of God. According to Matthew 5:14-16, one of the crucial means by which a Christian leader brings other people to glorify God is by being a person who loves both friend and foe. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid, nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.” Pope Francis spoke of the reality of God’s promises to take care of us and to work everything together for our good grips of our hearts so that we do not fall prey to greed or fear or vainglory but rather manifest a contentment and a love and a freedom for other people, then the world will have to admit that the one who gives us hope and freedom must be real and glorious. When our hope is strong, we are freed from fears and cares that prevent the free exercises of love. Pope appeared to be a person who has strong confidence in the sovereign goodness of God to work everything together for His good.

Pope was very clear about why he felt so strongly about issues ranging from poverty to climate change. I fully understood because, it is about people and it is not the issues for the issues sake; it is how they impact on people’s lives. I could sense that there has been some resistance from some quarters of the Catholic Church about the Pope weighing in on what have traditionally been seen as more political issues. But, being a priest I could really read the writing on the wall that, the Pope sees all issues through the prism of its impact on people regardless of faith; it is not at all political and this is pastoral.

During his historic address to the U.S. Congress, he reminded of the “The Golden Rule” – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, from Matthew 7: 12. He also reminded us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! He asked to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope, he said. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. He recognized that, many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem. It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy, which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. He said, he is convinced that we can make a difference and he has no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a ‘culture of care’ and ‘an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.

The charismatic leadership of Pope Francis appeared much like that of St. Francis of Assisi and the effect he had on audiences. He is following the example of St. Francis when he offers ancient wisdom as a cure for today’s climate crisis. St. Francis embodied the integration of care for the poor with care for the planet. The 13th-century saint inspired rich and poor, men and women, faithful and faithless to respond spiritually to the social problems of his age. He preached against greed and inspired many to live in voluntary poverty. St. Francis’s life was a model of humility, without judgment on the sin or failures of others. Though he is the patron saint of ecological spirituality, he did not consider himself a steward of nature. Rather, he viewed animals, elements and the planet as brothers and sisters, and he in their family.

His example teaches that care for the environment goes hand in hand with reverence for human beings — that everything is a gift. This concept is at the heart of Franciscan economics, which governs the Franciscan order.

When I heard Pope Francis throughout his six days of U.S. visit, he demonstrated a deep understanding of his Patron Saint, St. Francis. I believe the example of St. Francis can help us address our environmental problems. Now we know Pope Francis believes this as well — and that gives many great hope. In proposing integral ecology, the pope is calling us to bring together care for our planet and practical compassion for the poor. We cannot effectively protect the environment while more than three billion people are living in poverty. There is no absolute shortage of resources. Pope Francis is calling us to find new ways of sharing creation’s bounty. He is broadly endorsing the environmental movement and its goals but challenges us to take a more holistic, universal view. The integral-ecology framework asks us all to deepen and broaden our compassion, to care for creation and the poor in our neighborhoods and globally. The pope calls into question our own choices as individuals and as a society, urging us to act now.

He highlighted in his speeches that the wealthy countries, like United States, have a special moral obligation to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We are responsible for the majority of emissions and need to transform our energy systems — generation, transmission and consumption. He said, poor countries are already experiencing climate disruption and are likely to disproportionately suffer its worst effects. Ingenuity and innovation are needed to create climate resilience — the ability to withstand the coming disruptions. About one-third of all humans, for example, live in energy poverty, defined as lacking access to modern energy for heating, lighting and cooking. He said social entrepreneurs across the developing world have demonstrated that renewable energy can improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Solar home systems, clean-cook stoves and community micro-grids are examples of how innovation and entrepreneurship create exits from energy poverty. These practical initiatives help the poor cope with the climate disruption already underway, while improving the dignity of their lives. Pope Francis said that, the practical need to protect the climate system is real — but so, too, is the moral outrage of billions of human beings denied access to a dignified life. By invoking St. Francis, the pope called us to remember the fundamental interdependence of all life. Everyone has a role to play in the family; everyone can make a valuable contribution.

I was extremely impressed by Pope Francis’ call for ecumenism and unit. In his opening prayers, Pope Francis prayed that God the Father might send the Holy Spirit, Who will guide us to unity. During one of his speech, it is the Holy Spirit, he said, who gives the various charisms within the Church, who works through the variety of gifts in the Church, and who grants unity. Pope Francis asked that Jesus, who prayed for unity in His Church, might help us to walk along the path of “unity, or of reconciled diversity.” Pope Francis also spoke about the idea of “unity in diversity.” Unity is not uniformity, he said, but reflects the confluence of all the different parts that go to make it up.

He warned of the temptation of leaders – or rather, servants – to imagine that they are indispensable, a temptation that can lead to authoritarianism or personalism, which “does not allow the renewed communities to live in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis exclaimed, is the only indispensable actor in the renewal, just as Jesus is the one Lord. Pope Francis emphasized the ecumenical dimension of the charismatic movement, rooting it in our common Baptism. Unity among Christians, he said, must begin with prayer.

Pope Francis asked that we value the immense contribution which women, lay and religious, have made and continue to make, to the life of our communities. His Holiness asked that, with gratitude for all we have received, and with confident assurance in all our needs, let us turn to Mary, our Blessed Mother. With a mother’s love, may she intercede for the growth of the Church in America in prophetic witness to the power of her Son’s Cross to bring joy, hope and strength into our world.

The Holy Father said the people who walked with all their dreams and hopes, their disappointments and regrets, the people have seen a great light. The people of God are called in every age to contemplate this light, a light for the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. One special quality of God’s people is their ability to see. To contemplate, even in moments of darkness, the light that Christ brings. He reminds us that Jesus tells his disciples to go out and meet the people where they really are, not where we think they should be. We should go out like the father who goes out looking for his son, and when he returns, embraces him. He moves us from the fray of competition and self-absorption and opens before us a path of peace. That peace which is born of accepting others; that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters. God is living in our cities. And God who lives in our cities want to be leaven in the dough, and relate to everyone, to stand at everyone’s side while they proclaim the wonders of the mighty counselor … the prince of peace. The people who walked in the darkness have seen a great light, and we Christians, are witnesses of that light.

Pope Francis’ common theme emphasized the significance of family, equality, justice, kindness, caring for the poor, sick, and the homeless. He called attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture, which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life. In these remarks, Pope said, I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land, which has inspired so many people to dream. He ended his historic tour, which I will cherish for eternity, with Apostolic Blessings: “God bless America!”

Author Fr. Alexander J. Kurien is the Deputy Associate Administrator at the Office of U.S. Government-Wide Policy
United States Government
Washington D.C.

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Living word of God is the media followed by Christians, says Mar Yulios

UDAIPUR: “The living word of God, the good news, should be the media which Christians must devotedly follow”, the Metropolitan Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios said.

The base of our media culture should be “Christ is our savior” the Metropolitan reminded, quoting from the Gospel St Luke 2-10:11

Mar Yulios was delivering the presidential address after inaugurating the 6th annual MMVS conference of Ahmedabad Diocese, at Mar Gregorios Valiya Pally, Udaipur, from December 12, 13, 2015.

The theme of the conference was based on “The Christian family in the context of New Media Culture”.

About 250 delegates from the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan attended the two-day annual conference and shared their experience of having an enriching and rewarding experience.

Fr George Abraham, Vicar, Mar Gregorios Valiya Pally, Udaipur, welcomed the dignitaries at the inaugural function and urged the Samajam delegates to seize the opportunity to attain maximum benefit from the conference.

Elaborating on the theme, Fr Dr John Thomas Karingattil, focused on the role of parents to inculcate Christian values among children. “This will help them differentiate the good and evil of new media culture and its influence,” he explained.

Jaisy John Karingattil with her expertise as an advocate briefed about empowerment of women and urged the womenfolk to be aware of their rights and to kindle the spirit of self-confidence, self-respect and empower oneself and the society.

The delegates enjoyed the classes as the lessons were interspersed with fun and humor. The classes were also made very interactive as the message was delivered to the delegates in a very interesting manner.
Fr Manu Varghese Jacob, Vice President MMVS, Fr Binu John, Vicar, Banaswara Church also graced the occasion and delivered felicitation speeches.

A group discussion with presentation brought forth the theme in its full depth which was much appreciated. The conference also saw various flair of the Samajam members being exhibited through competitions on solo song, quick Bible verses and talent show.

Top rankers from the diocesan level results of annual MMVS examinations 2015 were declared during the conference and awarded.

General Secretary Mrs Beena Kuriakose presented the annual report and the annual accounts for 2014-15 was read by treasurer Mrs Ponnamma Thomas.

The warmth of the hospitality by Mar Gregorios Valiya Pally, Udaipur, the host church, under the leadership of Fr George, the Vicar, was highly applauded by all the participants.

Articles Devotional Features

Become instruments of peace and healing in this broken world: Mar Nicholovos

It is “cliché” to talk about the themes of peace, love, and joy during this Holy Season. In the context of the American culture, it is probably the three themes emphasized during the months of November and December, and then forgotten the rest of the year.

We speak in a triumphant and emphatic manner when it comes to these themes in every divine office of the Church. Today however, we have either accepted a shallow understanding of them, or altogether have rejected them. The only theme we have consistently been living in is fear – the fear of terrorism, the fear of religion, the fear of mass shootings, the fear of refugees. This “culture of fear” has significantly grown and trapped us.

The Feast of Nativity is the celebration of the birth of Christ born to a family who was homeless and seeking refuge in Bethlehem. The Lord preferentially opted to be identified with the poor in His birth. The early parts of His life were spent as a refugee fleeing from the threatening political rulers of that time. Today, the world is being challenged by the presence of millions of refugees who are victims of the political “super powers”. We are reminded that the Lord is not in shopping malls or mansions but among the refugees and the homeless.

This feast is a reminder for us to advocate against the social and political structures that create refugees, and human suffering. This can be done if we actively accept peace, love, and joy – which are all in found in Jesus Christ – the new born King!

May this glorious Feast be an occasion for us to recommit ourselves to the Lord and become instruments of peace and healing in this broken world. May Christ the King, and Redeemer of our souls, sustain you and your loved ones on this Holy Day and throughout the New Year!

(Content of the Kalpana sent to all parishes of the Northeast American Diocese by the Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholovos on the feast of the Nativity bearing the NO. CK.No.16/2015)