Editorial Features

Christmas: Peace or Sword?.

The Orthodox Churches generally start their Nativity Fast about forty days before the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord, which is on December 25 or on January 7. However, we do realize that the Syrian churches have only 25 days of fast before the Feast of the Nativity for the laity. As a rule nothing is heard about such a Nativity Fast in the Western Churches, either in Roman Catholicism or in High Churches of Protestantism.

Fasting has a twofold purpose in eastern theology. First, it is a spiritual tune up or disciplining of body, mind and soul through prayer, self-inflicted suffering of hunger and thirst and other acts of mortifications, which should direct a believer into deep meditation and prayer, and appreciation of the reality towards which fasting is meant to proceed. For a soul that has reached high levels of spiritual intuition, this would lead to deeper union with his/ her raison d’etre, his/ her source of being. And thus fasting will lead the believer into a deeper experience with the reality of the Feast for which the fasting has been stipulated by the Church.

The other purpose is not often discussed by the preacher. This subtle purpose of fasting is not very much highlighted in any sermons in conjunction with the fast; and it is not mentioned as a theme on the day of the celebration of the Feast, because a Feast by its very nature is an occasion of joy, wherein any mention of pain or suffering is out of place. Joy is measured against the intensity of pain caused by the suffering or torture experienced before or after the cause of joy; and it is thus the true nature of joy is appreciated. Thus fasting has another objective, which is to prepare a good Christian for the sufferings and unfavorable conditions which he will be confronted with in a normal life. One could say that fasting also implies the foretaste of this anticipated suffering or torture attached to every occasion of a Feast.

In Orthodox theology this twofold purpose attached to every major Dominical feast is highlighted. Hence we have fasts attached to all major feasts of the Church, such as the Great Lent before Resurrection, Nativity Fast before Christmas, Assumption Fast before the Assumption of the Theotokos, and Apostles’ Fast that culminates with the Feast of the apostles. In certain churches there is an Eight-day fast before the Nativity of the Holy Theotokos (of course this is not recognized as canonical).

The Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in western countries is called Christmas, is the convergence of all the spiritual and sacrificial activities of the fasting period prior to it. More than any other Dominical Feast, Christmas particularly conveys this dual truth, the truth of ecstatic joy and the truth of tormenting sword; thus there is a problem to Christmas. Christmas is a paradox! What is a paradox? There is a paradox whenever two contradictions meet in confrontation with each other in one and the same reality or event. Christmas is such a reality or event.

During the period Christ was born, Palestine was in turmoil. There was not peace in that region, because the Jewish people were under the oppressive imperial regime of the Romans. They could not freely exercise their religion. They were taxed heavily. They did not have freedom of speech; no one knew when he would be arrested by Roman soldiers for a casual slippage of tongue; it was easy to be incriminated for conspiracy. Although King Herod was partially Jewish, he was not their friend either; he was a vassal buried in his gluttonous life and cared only for himself. Fear lingered everywhere. Every Jew looked for a deliverer like their ancestors in Egypt were anxiously waiting for.

It was to these people the angel announced: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. …. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Lk. 2:10-14).

The angels announce that they do not need to fear anymore. Further it was also a greeting of peace.

This is one side of the paradox. In the same gospel in Chapter 12, Jesus, after thirty years, laid out just the opposite of what the angels had sung: “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division (sword)” (Lk 12:51). This is the other side of the paradox, and now the paradox is complete; on one side it is PEACE, and on the side it is SWORD, the antithesis of peace.

On the day of the first Christmas the angels rejoiced, and they declared peace on earth in anticipation of the arrival of the King of Peace. Jewish scriptures predicted it. The nation of Israel was eagerly waiting for a Messiah to establish lasting peace to its people who had been repeatedly subjugated by foreign occupiers who suppressed their freedoms to live according to the Law of Moses. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem the entire Judea was in turmoil; and there were agitations to overthrow the foreign rule, and the Roman occupiers in the land were tightening their grips to suppress any rebellion against them. Yes, it was a period of revolt and uprising. The Jewish people definitely needed the intervention by a predicted Messiah to sit on the throne of David to be their own King in order to restore peace as David did a thousand years earlier. However, the Messiah, the Christ who was born in Bethlehem was not an earthly king as the world has come to know about Him; His Messianic role was to redeem humanity from its burden of sin and establish peace by uniting humanity with its Creator.

Ultimately it would require a combat of the spiritual order to crush the temporal order in order to establish lasting peace. It is this battle we observe from time to time in Christian history since the first Christmas.

On the first Christmas day everything was peace. The shepherds rejoiced. The air in Bethlehem was quiet. The manger was quiet and tranquil, except for the joyful praises of Mary and Joseph and for the subtle undertones of their adoration of the Word Incarnate, and for the delicate murmurings of the animals around them.

There is peace everywhere on our Christmas day, and all Christians celebrate it with peaceful jubilations, festive cloths and sumptuous meals. Caroling children sing in neighborhood homes. Churches host caroling groups. Nations exchange messages of peace. Even the soldiers in the battlefield halt their activities, put their weapons back in their sheaths, quiet their marching band, and even forget the presence of enemies in front of them.

Go back to Bethlehem and its surroundings. Some time after the birth of Christ, one could see the entire region weeping and in tears; this is what we commemorate two days after Christmas, the Feast of the killing of the innocent babies. When the swords of the soldiers of Herod were swinging to behead the innocent babies who happened to look like Jesus, the paradox became complete. Thus the innocent infants were baptized in their blood. Two weeks after Christmas, on January 8, the Orthodox Church witnesses another martyrdom, that of Stephen, the protodeacon, full of faith and the Holy Spirit. His life was taken not by a sword; he was stoned to death. He had been “full of Holy Spirit… , saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” He identified with Jesus, which was his crime worth of a death by stoning.

Thus these innocent human beings proved the assertion of Christ who said: “ I came to bring a sword”. There was only one reason for their death: they looked like Jesus. Of the baby boys killed, one might have been Jesus; and Herod killed all of them; he did not want to take a chance of confronting a rivalry in Jesus.

In Christian history we have myriads of martyr who died for Christ; but these holy innocent babies, all less than two years, died instead of Christ. You could call them first martyrs of Christ, but the most thrilling account is that they looked like the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ. All the festivities of Christmas should halt instantaneously when you start to think that if you are Christ-like, the same swords that terminated the lives of those innocents and the stones that killed Stephen, are being sharpened to take your lives.

Yes, Christmas gives us peace, the first part of the paradox, but it becomes a paradox only when the other side is unveiled. Actually it is these innocent babies and the protodeacon Stephen, who trumpet the message of Christmas in a more cogent voice. In other words, Christmas is fundamentally the message not only of peace but also of sword; one complements the other!

The message of Christmas is about a gift; in theological language every gift is grace. Grace is always something given to human being freely, not based on our merits. It is this gift of grace that we receive in Christmas; but it implies sinlessness, the state of innocence acquired through genuine repentance. At this point we, our souls, resemble Christ. By His very nature Christ is what He is; when we resemble Christ it is by His grace; it is a gift. When we resemble Christ, when we become Christlike, we have already become children of God. The Fathers of the Church taught that “God became man so that we may become gods.” After your Baptism and Chrismation you have already become Christlike; you resemble Jesus, by becoming gods, by becoming children of God.

When the angels sang “peace to men of good-will”, it was not meant to men who are cheering and feasting on this day of Christmas. The peace granted is for men who are totally comminuted to Christ, totally transformed and resembled Christ. We experience this peace only when we are at peace with God and God is at peace with us. On the day God’s incarnation is celebrated , on the day the birth of the incarnate God is celebrated, man anxiously smiles at God, and God graciously smiles at him,; they are the points at which the restoration of the similitude of God, which was distorted in Eden, begins to take shape. We begin to assume the resemblance of God, which Adam had been but lost by his transgression. At this Christmas we also should assume God’s resemblance; then the peace granted at the first Christmas will be realized for us, and the sword we are going to confront will be lighter. The privilege of being Christlike, Godlike, is granted only to those who receive Him, not to anybody else. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn 1: 11-13); this is the theology of Christmas, elucidated by St. John the apostle, who was very dear to his Master and who expounded true Christology. Yes, we are given the right to become His children, Christlike, Godlike, only when we receive Him. The festivities and sumptuous dinners do not have any significance if we do not shake off the old man of vengeance and sinfulness in us and receive Him as our true Savior, our true Messiah. Thus Christ becomes our peace; no one can take it from us; then we are Christlike.

The moment you become Christlike, our travail to confront the sword starts; that was exactly what the Holy Innocents experienced.

Christians are going to be hunted for being Christlike. Early centuries of Christianity witness the martyrdom of thousands who were Christlike. Since the 7th century after the eruption of and invasion by Islam, Christians, for being Christlike, were hunted and were forced to strip their resemblance of Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God. They had several options under the dhimya system enforced by militant Muslim rulers. One was to become a Muslim by rejecting Jesus, the Incarnate God, and embracing the ultimate prophethood of Mohammed; and many weak Christians gave up their faith and rejected the similitude to Christ. The other was to pay a very heavy tax for their protection in their own motherland, a tax which was enormously heavier than that of Muslim invaders. The third option was to leave the country of their ethnic origin and find asylum in a foreign land; thousands left for other countries which were gracious to receive them and they flourished in their host countries with pride; India was one of those countries. Some of the Syrian communities in South India are descendants of those Syrians/ Assyrians who escaped from persecution in the Middle East. The fourth option was to die for bearing the resemblance of Christ; and thousands perished not being able to leave their own country due to lack of resources to take a trip outside their country.

The pattern was not different in the recent past; thousands of Christians left Turabdin, Iraq and Syria for countries in Europe and the Americas. They proudly, but tearfully, ruminate over their glorious countries their fathers and forefathers naturally inherited, but lost to their invaders. Communism under Stalin banished millions of Orthodox Christians with their hierarchs to Siberia, and there most of them perished without adequate food and medicine in extreme frigid weather. In front of our own eyes we observe the atrocities committed by radical militant Islam against Christians in the Middle East, the demonic immorality practiced against their girls and the plunder that is reducing them to be penniless. Their only crime is looking like Christ, like Jesus, and living like Christ.

All for being Christlike, for resembling Christ!

There is no peace for a Christian in this world. But when he is at peace with God and God is at peace with him, he experiences genuine peace inside him despite the sharpest swords swung around him, severe persecutions that torture him. There are Herods still on the loose in this world; they will continue to hunt him down, and persecute him with their swords. Make no mistake; it is sword that is waiting for you, if you are like Jesus, if you are good Christian, a good Orthodox Christian.

When we become identified with Jesus, our swords may not always come from outside forces who oppose us; swords may come from our own family, our own church, our own community, our own superiors, our own bishops and priests. When we stand for genuine Orthodoxy, the true Gospel of Christ, sometimes by attacking phony and heretical ecumenism, we are observing Christ’s doctrines; and our Christlike image assumes more splendor. At this point those swords will come against us in ways of being ostracized, alienated, marginalized or even reprimanded. In this world it seems that we have to be team-players even when it is against Christ and the faith of the Church, otherwise we will end up paying a heavy price. A true Christian can never be politically-correct; he has to open his conscience to defend the truth revealed to him by Christ. Many priests are unable to do this according their conscience and according to the doctrines of the Church for fear of retaliation, not only by the congregants but also by their hierarchy. No one would leave us alone to live freely with the Christ we have identified.

This is the price we pay for bearing Christ. But our eternal reward for being subjected to these ordeals, whether from outside or from our community, or from our superiors, is our process of deification (theosis) through which is guaranteed our eternal life with the Savior. A good Christian who is Christlike may not be glorified by the world around him; some who are Christlike may be honored because of their position and influence. But a genuine Christian, who is like Jesus, may be persecuted by his own kinsfolk; but even if he does not get any popular acclamation or accolades, or a saint’s funeral, and even if he would seem to rot in an unmarked grave, he would go out of this world seeing the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Always bear in mind: No Herod is a fool; his intention is not to kill you; the ultimate purpose is to destroy Jesus. When the innocent babies were killed, Herod’s intention was to kill Jesus, his rivalry. When Stephen was stoned to death, his persecutors wanted to destroy Jesus. When Islam killed Christians in the Middle East, it was to destroy Jesus. All these martyrs would have been saved from swords if they rejected Jesus from their lives. When the Liberal Radical Left with its modern world view forces you to greet your neighbor with a seemingly innocuous, but meaningless, “Happy Holidays!“ instead of “Happy Christmas!”, the agendum behind it is the destruction of Jesus the Christ! When they kill the Jesus in you, they kill the historic Jesus. Historic Jesus is a rival to all these Herods. They fear Him!

If you bear Christ, adversities are unavoidable; they could be from outside as swords for our destruction, or temptations or sorrows from inside. We cannot enjoy the peace given to us without the swords. In other words, we cannot just accept peace and avoid the sword. If the concept of Christmas is a paradox, we are forced to accept both sides of it. In other words, if you want to look like Jesus, you have to accept the consequences of looking like Jesus.

May the celebrations of the Feast of Nativity enlighten your minds to comprehend the real significance of peace granted to us through Christ and the inevitable sword attached to it!

We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

* The author gratefully acknowledges that some of the thoughts behind this editorial have been influenced by Patristic Theologian Walter Burghardt (All Lost in Wonder), a brilliant mind in his field.

Features News Obituary Parish News

Dr T. Pathrose Mathai passes away in Vellore

KOTTAYAM: Chalukunnu Mazhavanchery Madatlnl Dr T. Pathrose Mathai (76), a well-known nephrologist, has passed away in Vellore. His body will be brought home at 8am tomorrow. After prayers at apm at home, his body will be buried at 3pm in Kottnyarn Puthan Palli under the leadership of the Catholicos, His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II.

Dr Mathai, who earned an MD from PG Institute of Medical Sciences in Chandigarh in 1967, started his service at Christian Medical College, Vellore. He was instrumental in establishing the first dialysis unit at Vellore. Also, he played a major role in establishing the first dialysis unit in Kerala at Caritas Hospit al in 1971.

He has served in Kangazha MGD1I, Karipal in Kalathipady and Kottayam Cheriyapalli Hospital and in Sandi Arabia. Dr Mathai’s research was mainly into damage caused by snakebites on kidneys. He is one of the founders of the Indian Society of Nephrology, He has received the president’s honour for eminent nephrologist from A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Late Cherat Puthusseri Muttepadathil Sobha Mathai is his wife. His children are: Dr Smitha Mathai (pathologist, a IC Vellore); Dr Sona Mathai (paediatrician, Sheffield, UK); and Dr Saritha Mathai (ophthalmologist, Binningham, UK).


News Northeast America

St. George Malankara Orthodox Church Staten Island moved to new facility

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y: Worshipers of St. George Malankara Orthodox Church of India finally have a new home.

The church held a dedication ceremony and inaugural service on Saturday to christen its new facility on Sunset Avenue in Meiers Corners. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, the diocesan Metropolitan was the chief-celebrant on the occasion.

Borough President James Oddo, Councilman Steven Matteo and District Attorney-elect Michael McMahon attended the morning ceremony, which comes just over three years after St. George’s old church in New Dorp Beach was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The old facility reopened following repairs, but didn’t have the space to accommodate the church’s growing congregation.

The new 15,000-square-foot space, which had been under construction since early 2012, has more seating in the sanctuary, a cry room for children, an audio visual room with state-of-the-art equipment and a larger event space to accommodate church charity drives and social functions.

It’s also more conveniently located for many church members, who will now be able to walk to Holy Qurbana. Fr. Alex K. Joy is the current vicar of the parish.

Prior to Saturday’s dedication, worshipers had been holding services at Alba House in Westerleigh, after closing old New Dorp Beach facility early last year.

Source: By Zak Koeske / SiLive

Diocese News Features News

Catholicos declared bishop Alvares Mar Julius and Fr R Z Noronha as ‘Regional Saints’

UDUPI: Catholicos Paulose II, who is on his maiden apostolic tour of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar and its chapels, on Sunday December 6, declared bishop Alvares Mar Julius and Fr R Z Noronha as ‘Regional Saints’ (Blessed) during the Sunday holy Eucharist offered at St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar.

Regional saint is a step lower than the universal saint, the highest status which is posthumously conferred to any individual by the church. Thus, Udupi district gets to witness for the first time, two persons who lived and served at Brahmvar, being raised to the level of ‘Regional Saints’.

After the holy Eucharist, the valedictory of the three-day visit of HH Baselios Marthoma Paulose II was held.

Fr CA Isaac, vicar general of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian cathedral, Fr Lawrence Dsouza, Fr David Crasta, Fr Abraham Kuriakose, Fr Noel Lewis, Alan Rohan Vaz – convener church renovation committee, Marton D’souza – Candle trustee, Ivan Suares-Member Malankara Managing Committee, Brahmavar diocese and Anil Rodrigues bid a farewell to Baselios Marthoma Paulos II during the short valedictory ceremony which was held soon after the holy Eucharist.

Diocesan Metropolitan Yakob Mar Elias and Mathai Mampally-Member, Malankara managing committee were also given farewell felicitation. Valedictory function was concluded by singing Laudate (Latin hymn from book of psalms) as one family.

Life of Metropolitan (Bishop) Alvares Mar Julius:

Born on 29th April 1836 in the region of Goa, currently a State of Indian Republic, Alvares Mar Julius was ordained as a priest of Catholic Order in 1869. As a priest and a staunch freedom fighter of Goa, the eminent personality, Fr Alvares, served in his land for spiritual and social upliftment of his countrymen for a span of eighteen years during 1869-1887. His philanthropy, patriotism and yearning for freedom from foreign Portuguese yoke, journalistic acumen and his aristocratic birth had won a good number of followers for him in Goa and South Canara. Due to the political and religious constraints of that time in his own region, Fr Alvares left Goa in 1887, geographically rerouted his mission area and started to concentrate his social and spiritual activities among his folks in Brahmavar.
On July 29, 1889, Alvares was consecrated as a Metropolitan (Bishop) with the title Alvares Mar Julius at the Old Seminary, Kottayam by Malankara Metropolitan Pulikkottil Mar Joseph Dionysius II and St Geevarghese Mar Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni, the first canonized Saint of Malankara). The newly consecrated Metropolitan Mar Julius was appointed as the Archbishop of India and Ceylon for the diocesan area of outside Kerala of the Malankara Orthodox Church.

Brahmavar Mission:

Alvares Mar Julius started the Brahmavar Mission in Karnataka in 1888. This mission was started in order to give spiritual leadership and to help them learn liturgy and catechism of the Church for those people newly joined to the Orthodox Church from the surrounding regions. He was the shepherd of over 5,000 faithful in Brahmavar who bestowed their allegiance to him.
In 1913, he left Brahmavar and went back to Goa. He had to suffer a lot of persecution at the hands of the Portuguese. He spent the rest of his life for collecting food for the poor people in Goa. His grace entered into eternal abode on September 23, 1923 at Ribandar, Panaji, Goa and interred mortal remains in Goa.

During his lifetime, he was known as educator, social worker, apostle of charity and patriot.

Posthumously, he came to be known more as a martyr and a saint. In the face of severe persecution, he stood for his faith. With time, more and more miracles were testified through his intercession.

Life of Fr Roque Zeferino Noronha, Brahmavar:

Fr Roque Zeferino Noronha was was born on October 20, 1850, at Angediva, Goa. He was the youngest son of Custadio Santana Noronha and Felicidade Dionisia Silveira.

Fr Noronha is the one who preached ‘Orthodox Faith’ to the coastal belt in undivided South Kanara viz Brahmavar, Sasthan, Kolalgiri, Kandlur, Barkur, Neelavar and so on and laid a strong foundation of faith.
Fr Noronha was impressed by the lifestyle and teachings of lamented Metropolitan his grace Alvares Mar Julius. As the consecration of Bishop was invoked as Mar Julius, the responsibility of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral was handed over to Fr Noronha. He started to follow the footsteps of his role model in high spirits and accepted the ‘Orthodox Faith’. This was because he learnt that St Thomas had established the ‘Orthodox Community’ 2,000 years ago in Kerala, South India.

He established St Mary’s Church, Kandlur in 1907, and St Antony’s Church, Kolalgiri in 1923.

He was a good educationist, who believed in giving good education to the poor and needy. So he founded the Cosmopolitan Higher Primary School in 1916. The name of the school itself reveals the personality of Fr Noronha. Cosmopolitan meant to treat everyone equally. (The dictionary defines ‘Cosmopolitan’ as diverse, multiethnic or multicultural.)

Through his writings, he challenged his opponents, the ‘Colonial Christian Faith’, who had challenged his mighty faith. He built the foremost Brahmavar Church with his own hands. Besides this, he went far in the service of the ones in deep waters.

Right from the time he settled at Brahmavar, this place turned into a holy and historical pilgrimage center. Along with this, the people of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar became more devotional to their patron ‘Mother of Miracles, St Mary.’

Even after years of his death, his memory has taken deep roots in the hearts of the masses especially the elderly people of Brahmavar and Brahmavarians. There are lots of reasons behind this. The first and foremost is that Fr Noronha used to give medications. His medication was free of cost and never depended on one’s caste. He always lent a helping hand to the people. Though he never did any doctoring, he utilized his teachings from Goa to aid the poor and needy, which led to miracles. This made him popular and far famed. His spirituality was beyond comparison. He has already occupied a saint’s place in the minds of the people, all because of his prayers and medications.


Diocese News Features News

Ahmedabad Diocese MMVS conference on Dec 12, 13 at Udaipur Valiyapally

UDAIPUR: The Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam (MMVS) unit of Ahmedabad Diocese is gearing up to host the 6th Diocesan Conference being scheduled for December 12, 13, 2015 at Mar Gregorios Valiya Pally, Udaipur.

Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Diocesan Metropolitan, will lead the two-day conference.

The theme of the MMVS Conference will be based on “The Christian family in the context of New Media Culture”.

Key note speakers at the conference include Fr Dr John Thomas Karingattil, Prof of Media and Communications, Kottayam Seminary, and Chief Editor of Malankara Sabha magazine along with his spouse Adv Jaisy Karingattil , OCYM General Secretary.

Delegates from all parish of Ahmedabad Diocese are expected to attend the annual conference. The meeting will also include group discussions, competitions, talent night which is expected to add colour to the conference.

Church News Features News

Church Should Introspect on its Mission: Jiji Thomson

KOTTAYAM: Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson on Thursday called upon the Church to introspect on its mission. He was delivering the keynote address on the mission of the Church at the valedictory function of the bicentenary celebrations of the Kottayam Orthodox Theological Seminary (Old seminary) here.

He also called for taking up the mission of spreading Christianity and added it was Biblically imperative to bring people unto Jesus.

Thomson, who spoke at a function being attended by Governor Justice P Sathasivam, highlighted the importance of the evangelisation mission.

Thomson began his speech by saying that he was speaking not as a Chief Secretary, but as a son of the Church.

“The ultimate mission of the Church is to spread Christianity and I am thinking of ways to fulfil this mission. There are three ways to achieve this goal, which are Church evangelisation, personal evangelisation and mass evangelisation. While mass evangelisation is being held through Bible conventions, everyone can go on the path of personal evangelisation,” he said, elaborating the term gospel as ‘go’ and ‘spell.’

When Express contacted Thomson over phone and asked whether his speech amounted to evangelisation, he said being a Christian he had the right to speak about Christianity. Replying to a question whether it is proper for him to speak about attracting people to Christianity while holding the Chief Secretary’s post, he said everyone has religious freedom and he could speak about it as a person.

“There is nothing wrong in speaking about Christianity while being a Chief Secretary,” he said.

Source: The New Indian Express
By Abhilash Chandran Published: 27th November 2015



Church News Features News

Governor hails State’s communal harmony; Bicentenary fete of Old Seminary concludes

Governor P. Sathasivam inaugurating the valedictory session of the bicentenary celebrations of the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kottayam on Thursday.: Photo-The Hindu
Governor P. Sathasivam inaugurating the valedictory session of the bicentenary celebrations of the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kottayam on Thursday.: Photo-The Hindu

KOTTAYAM: Rich accolades were paid to the contributions made by the Orthodox Theological Seminary (Old Seminary) on the occasion of the valedictory of its bicentenary celebrations here on Thursday.

Inaugurating the valedictory function, Governor P. Sathasivam said Kerala could take pride in the rich heritage of communal harmony and high literacy levels. Recalling the role of the Orthodox Theological Seminary in the educational uplift of the State, he said he was proud to represent the State when the President called a meeting of the Governors. He also remembered that his colleagues too had commended on the achievement of the State, especially in the area of the communal harmony.

He pointed out that the seminary was the product of the collaboration between the local Syrian Christian community and the missionaries for providing modern education to the local youth. Grooming them for ministerial service was also one of the intentions, he said. The Governor also pointed to the role of the seminary in imparting education in English, Latin, Syriac and Sanskrit.

“It is a golden occasion to look back to the past with legitimate pride and look forward to specific schemes of action for much more glorious future,” he said.

Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselius Mar Thoma Paulose II, head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC), presided. Metropolitan Tikhon, the primate of the Orthodox Church of America, delivered the benedictory address and Jiji Thomson, Chief Secretary, delivered keynote address.

Fr. Jacob Kurian, former Principal of the seminary, spoke. Fr. O. Thomas, Principal, Orthodox Theological Seminary, welcomed the gathering and Fr. Johns Abraham Konat, priest trustee of MOSC, proposed a vote of thanks.

Source: The Hinu

Features News Uk And Europe

Indian Orthodox Church Supreme Head Visits New Zealand

AUCKLAND: The prelate of the Indian Orthodox Church, Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II was on a maiden visit to New Zealand from November 10 to 14, 2015.

I was with the parishioners of St Dionysius Indian Orthodox Church in Auckland and many others to welcome the Holy Father as he landed at Auckland Airport on November 10.

The Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Dr Yuhanon Mar Diascoros arrived later aboard a delayed flight.

Wellington Welcomes

The Holy Father and Mar Diascoros were in Wellington on November 11 to attend the Holy Eucharist held at the Assyrian Church of St George. Mar Diascoros celebrated the service in the presence of His Holiness.

This followed with a welcome meeting where many dignitaries including Attorney General Christopher Finlayson participated. His Eminence Amphilochios Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Church, Rev Richard Randerson, Retired Bishop of the Anglican Church and Fr Aprem Pithyou of the Assyrian Church, Clergies from the Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox offered felicitations.

Hamilton Happenings

The Holy Father and Mar Diascoros arrived in Hamilton on November 12. The faithful of the St Gergorios Indian Orthodox Church accorded a traditional welcome. The feast of the patron Saint Gregorios was held in the evening.

A torch lit from the first Indian Orthodox Church in New Zealand, named after the sacred memory of the illuminator of the church, St Dionysius was brought by a group of parishioners from Auckland.

Evening prayers followed and the Holy Eucharist was celebrated by Mar Diascoros in the presence of His Holiness. After the benediction, a public meeting was held to greet the visiting primate.

The Anglican Bishop of Waikato, Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley was present at the Feast and spoke at the meeting.

Auckland Calling

The Holy Father was in Auckland on Friday, November 13 and visited the Church at 55 Keeling Road, Henderson where the Indian Orthodox Church owned the first property in New Zealand. The church members and local MP Phil Twyford were present to receive the Holy Father. Children with lighted candles, youth throwing flowers on the walkway, ornamental umbrellas, firecrackers, illuminations etc. all added flavour to the event.

The Auckland Parish also celebrated the Feast of St Gregorios. His Holiness celebrated the Holy Eucharist at the newly built Church, which was consecrated early this year.

The Eucharist was followed with a public meeting where clergy and faithful from the Coptic, Syrian, Catholic & Marthoma churches also participated.

The Diocesan Bishop chaired the meeting. Mr Twyford, priests from the Coptic, Catholic and Marthoma Churches felicitated His Holiness, who addressed, blessed the gathering and distributed gifts to the dignitaries.

Later, His Holiness consecrated the first cross shrine in the Pacific Region dedicated in the memory of The Holy Theotokos, in front of the Church.

After the benediction and love feast, His Holiness planted a New Zealand fern sapling at the church premises in memory of the historic visit.

Faithful gathered in large numbers to meet and seek the blessings of His Holiness.

The contingent then left for the next leg of this visit to Sydney on November 14.

The Diocesan Metropolitan Dr Yuhanon Mar Diascoros and I accompanied His Holiness throughout the visit.

In retrospection, the maiden Apostolic visit of His Holiness was rejoicing for the faithful in NZ who were privileged to view the radiance of the Holy Father’s countenance.



News : Fr Anup Joseph Eapen

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Catholicos to Visit Brahmavar in early December

UDUPI: The Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, is set to make his maiden visit to St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral Brahmavar and its chapels (‘Brahmavar Konkani Orthodox Community’) from 4 to 6 of December, said Fr Issac C A, Vicar General of St Mary’s Cathedral Brahmavar, at a press meet held at the Press Club here on Monday, November 9, 2015.

St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral and its 7 chapels is the only Konkani speaking orthodox community, within the jurisdiction of the Indian Orthodox Church and in the entire world. As such, this visit is of great importance for the community and its churches.

The Brahmavar Konkani Orthodox Community and the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church share many things in common, especially their history. Both have fought foreign (Western) domination over the Indian Church and as such, they have fostered native or Indian leadership. Thus, promulgating ‘Swadeshi Ideology’ within the Christian Church. It was for this reason the founder of Brahmavar Konkani Orthodox Community, late Alvares Mar Julius Archbishop, brought the community under the communion of the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church in 1889.

Catholicos Paulose II had taken an interest in the affairs of the Brahmavar Konkani Orthodox Community from the beginning and had expressed keen interest in visiting the community. He will arrive in Udupi on the morning of 4 December, 2015. Catholicos Paulose II will be received in a procession from Udupi Karavali Junction to St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar at 9 am.

In the evening at 4 pm, a public meet will be held in the Church compound in view of the maiden visit of Catholicos Paulose II. Along with it, the inaugural ceremony of the Centennial Celebrations of the Cosmopolitan Higher Primary School Brahmavar will also be held.

On 5 December, Catholicos Paulose II will set out to Hulikel, Shivamogga District to consecrate the newly built St Gregorios Orthodox Syrian Church, a chapel of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar. Thereafter, His Holiness will be visiting all the Chapels, namely: Hosangady – St George Church, Kandlur – St Mary’s Church, Sastan – St Thomas Church, Kurady – St Peter and Paul’s Church and Kolalgiri – St Antony Church.

On 6 December, Catholicos Paulose II will be celebrating the holy Eucharist at 8:30 am. During the Eucharist, late Alvares Mar Juilus Archbishop (Founder of Brahmavar Konkani Orthodox Community) and late Fr R Z Noronha (First Vicar General of St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral Brahmavar) will be declared as ‘Blessed Saints’. Thereafter, Paulose II will meet various spiritual organizations and management committees associated with St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Brahmavar.

In the morning of 7 December, Catholicos Paulose will return to Kottayam.


Fr Abraham Kuriakose, Fr Noel Lewis, assistant priest of the cathedral Fr David Crasta, treasurer of the cathedral Anil Rodrigues and Joslin Almeida were present at the press meet.

Courtesy: Mangalorean

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Feast of Metropolitan Dr. Stephanos Mar Theodosius concluded in Bhilai

BHILAI: The glowing memories of ‘ Bada Baba’ -as Metropolitan Dr. Stephanos Mar Theodosius of Blessed Memory were fondly called by the villagers- was re-lived on the occasion of the 8th Annual Feast of the first Metropolitan of the Dioceses of Madras and Calcutta from 29 October to 5 November, 2015 at the St. Thomas Chapel, Kailash Nagar, Bhilai.

In a solemn ceremony at 12pm on October 29 at the St. Thomas Ashram, Kailash Nagar, Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II hoisted the flag marking the opening of the 8th Memorial Feast of Mar Theodosius. Dr. Yuhanon Mar Chrysostemos, Metropolitan of Diocese of Niranam was the chief celebrant for the feast.

On 4th November, Holy Qurbana was celebrated by Dr. Joseph Mar Dionysius Metropolitan of Calcutta Diocese. A symposium was conducted on the “Mission perspectives of Metropolitans Late Lamented Alexios Mar Theodosius, Late Lamented Kuriakose Mar Gregorios and Late Lamented Stephanos Mar Theodosius”. Dr. Joseph Mar Dionysius Metropolitan, Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip, Principal, STOTS and Fr. Mathewkutty, Pampady Dayara were the resource persons.

A seminar on “Use and abuse of social media” was conducted in the afternoon. Fr. Titus John led the session. Rasa conducted from the MGO Cathedral to the Tomb of Mar Theodosius situated at St. Thomas Chapel, Kailash Nagar, Bhilai.

On 5th of November, Holy Qurbana was celebrated by Dr. Yuhanon Mar Chrysostemos, Metropolitan of Diocese of Niranam.

The Meritorious students from the Schools under the Diocese of Calcutta and St. Thomas Mission were presented with a Mar Theodosius Merit Award. Submission of Catholicate Day Collection, Diocesan Priests’ Meeting, and Baskiamma Meeting were also held after the service.

The Feast concluded with a ceremonial lowering of Perunal flag at 2pm by the Diocesan Metropolitan Dr. Joseph Mar Dionysius.