Columns Opinions

Kolenchery Issue – Why the state promots mobocracy? Is this not contempt of court?

Why are the right wing politicians who rule the Kerala State today so blind to the deep commitment of Gandhiji to truth? Gandhi’s devotion to relative truth was an integral part of his dedication to the absolute truth. He wrote in My Experiments with Truth about this commitment in these words: “I worship God as Truth only…… I am prepared to sacrifice the things dearest to me in pursuit of this quest. Even if the sacrifices demanded be my very life, I hope I may be prepared to give it. But as long as I have not realized this Absolute truth, so long must I hold by the relative truth as I have conceived it. That relative truth must meanwhile be my beacon, my shield and buckler.” It was based on this fundamental principle that he led many satyagrahas for the liberation of the nation and transformation of the society.

But today many politicians including the present state leadership indirectly say that ‘craze for power is our beacon, our shield and buckler’. Marinating power without any regard for morality is the governing principle of Political realism. Henry Kissinger in his masterpiece Diplomacy has extensively described political realism unhindered by his moral feelings or those of politicians of his stamp. Why do the present state authorities follow just the ideology of Kissinger or Otto van Bismarck rather than Gandhiji.

When there is a dispute regarding any issue and opposing claims regarding truth, it is not politicians or any officials of the government who make a verdict to determine truth and the right procedure in future. Political interests or any other interests should not blind people to see the truth. That is why a deep analysis of all claims and an impartial concluding verdict by the courts are extremely essential and relevant.

Upholding the 1995 Supreme Court verdict concerning the Malankara church and rejecting the suit filed by Antiochean loyalists (OS 43/2007) , the Ernakulam district court gave the order that Kolenchery church should be governed by the 1934 constitution as any other parish in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. An appeal for stay against this was rejected by the High court of Kerala on September 6th, 2011.

Why is the Executive reluctant to do the needful earnestly to ensure the implementation of justice? Why are a group of church members and certain politicians arguing for a settlement through reconciliation at this juncture? Why cannot this be considered as contempt of court and dishonouring of the Judiciary. Why is the state promoting mobocracy? Is this not an indirect encouragement to people by the State to resort to goondaism and violence to get their selfish interests fulfilled? Is this not an attempt to ridicule the law abiding people of this nation?

Exhortation to love one another is the core of the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God, the governing principle of unity in the Church, inspires the faithful to follow Christ and grow in Him. Why can’t we think of the Formulation of a Constitution for the Church to ensure this unity as part of the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Then what was the spirit which moved those who gave leadership to a division in Malankara Orthodox Church disregarding the Constitution and Christ? As a conclusion of the consequent legal suits, the apex court of this country gave the verdict that there is only one Malankara Orthodox Church, which is governed by the 1934 constitution. Before and after this also there were many official and unofficial discussions to restore unity. The Supreme Court judgment as well as the District judgments like that in the case of Kolenchery church are invitations to restore unity of the faithful in the Church. When the parish follows this order, most of the people even in the patriarchal faction will also be joining the parish to promote unity in the church. But a few leaders, who were struggling to keep them away against the will of the Spirit of truth, fear this re-union. So the present fasting and satyagraha under the leadership of H.H. Baselios Marthoma Paulos II is a struggle and motivation for the unity of the Church too.

It is very important to hope against hope that fasting and prayer will unleash divine energy to overcome egoism and all evil forces in all factions to strengthen this ancient church in unity.

The martyrs of the Church who offered their lives out of their love to God or their commitment to the church and society which was inspired by that love, declared their fearlessness publicly. They were not ready to succumb to pressures of the State to give up their commitment to truth and justice. For them, love of God was more valuable than self love. Let us wish and pray that the present struggle for justice be ultimately a boost for following Christ in truth and love. May God bless us to experience a glorious union of justice and love so that we could be an instrument of peace in the society.

(Excerpts from Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip’s address to the Nagpur Seminary community (STOTS) on the occasion of coordinated fasting and prayer at the Seminary in solidarity with the Church’s struggle for justice at Kolenchery.)

Columns Opinions

Strict Discipline Is Not For Discipline’s Sake: Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip, Principal, STOTS

The Opening Address delivered at STOTS for the Academic Year 2010 by the Principal, STOTS Nagapur, Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip

Wish you all a blessed feast day of our Patron Saint. As usual we begin the academic year of the Seminary this year also on St. Thomas Day. There are people who question the relevance of celebrating the feast of St. Thomas on July 3rd. For the Persian Church it might have been a celebration of reception of the relics of St. Thomas from India and its dedication in Edessa. However, the Indian Church shall not need to lose any opportunity to remember the apostle, who was instrumental in laying the foundation of our Church. On July 3rd we can proclaim the indisputable fact, namely the founding of our Church through the most venturing Apostle of Jesus Christ in spite of any strong mortal remains in India, we cherish a powerful memory of St. Thomas.

Our Seminary has been named after St. Thomas. H.G. Dr. Sthephanos Mar Theodosius who had a remarkable devotion to St. Thomas, used to remind the Seminary community about the sacrificial missionary commitment of St. Thomas. He exhorted us to emulate the deep commitment of St. Thomas to our Lord and the consequent missionary zeal of him. Once Theodosius Thirumeni highlighted a positive reasoning for the absence of St. Thomas when our Lord appeared to the disciples: While other apostles were frightened to go out, St. Thomas was able to move around boldly without fearing persecution for being a disciple of Christ. May the intercession and example of St. Thomas be an inspiration and support to our Seminary.

Special priestly formation in the context of Outer Kerala Region(OKR) for some of the future leaders of our church was the dream of many laymen, priests and a couple of bishops. H.G. Dr. Sthephanos Mar Theodosius was an ardent supporter of this dream. Specially catering to the needs of the Diaspora and also a deep concern for the poor and marginalized of the society were the basic ingredients of the original vision of Seminary and the Seminary has been trying to uphold the vision from its inception onwards. However honestly speaking, the seminary cannot claim that it is completely successful in imparting such training. It is also doubtful whether some of the students who pass out from here uphold this dream in their ministry.

The Seminary, which started in Bhilai in 1995, was shifted to Nagpur, the Centre of India in 1999. From 99 onwards our beloved and respected Dr. Reji Mathew Achan was serving as the Principal of the Seminary. As per his request the Holy Episcopal Synod permitted him to be relieved from STOTS and serve at OTS Kottayam. Achan`s dedicated service to the Seminary contributed to the manifold developments and progress in the Seminary. We can further remember with gratitude his services when we arrange a farewell meeting to him on 30th of this month.

It is a matter of great joy that our bursar Fr. Dr. George Pulikkottil has been consecrated as Metropolitan with the name Geevarghese Mar Yulios. When H.G. Mar Yulios comes to the seminary on July 5th, seminary community as a whole can communicate directly our greetings and congratulations to him. Our former Bursar also has become a bishop. As you know H.G. Alexios Mar Eusebius is imparting effective leadership to the Diocese of South West America. His greeting has been posted on the notice board. We do not know what will happen to our next Bursar.

Rev. Fr. Dr. Reji K Geevarghese, NT Professor of our seminary has been appointed as the new Director of Sunday School, Outer Kerala Region of which the office is in the seminary. Let us extend our

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The Pentecost And Human Fulfillment

Photo: Bill McChesney

When a hen hovers over eggs the white and yellow liquid in them transform to accomplish their hidden potential and chickens come out of the shells. When the Holy Spirit hovers over the creation, it receives order and beauty. Likewise the heat of the Holy Spirit helps the faithful to fulfill their God given potential. It is quite natural, therefore, for the mother Church to wish that all her children become Christ like by the hovering of the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox Churches prepare the faithful to identify with the early Christian Church to pray and wait for being filled with the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means fiftieth and the celebration of the Christian Pentecost is on the fiftieth day from the feast of the resurrection of our Lord. Holy Apostles along with St. Mary and other early Christians, following the commandment of Christ, waited for the Holy Spirit and were filled with the Holy Spirit. (Jewish Pentecost is on the fiftieth day from their feast of Passover). During Christ’s time the Jewish feast of Pentecost was a celebration of the reception of the commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. It was on such a feast day of Jewish Pentecost that the Holy Spirit descended on the early Christians in tongues of fire.(Acts:2) For Christians Pentecost indicates the internalization in their hearts the concerns and commands of God through the reception of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian member receives the Holy Spirit today in baptism, which can be considered as a personal Pentecost. Ten days’ preparation is recommended by the Church before the feast of Pentecost and especially this feast is a time of renewal of their baptism by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Is Christianity an impossible ideal? The answer is yes and no. Yes for only those who do not take the indwelling Holy Spirit seriously. The apparently impossible teaching of our Lord can be practiced if we co-operate with the guiding Spirit. That is why Christian life is often defined as a new life in Christ guided by the Holy Spirit. Before His ascension Christ promised the disciples that he would send Paracletos (John 14:16) which means one called alongside to help. St. Irenaeus of Lyons, who lived in the second century AD, teaches that the Holy Spirit is an integral part of man and only the one who received this Spirit and live according to Him is a true human. And this article focuses on the Holy Spirit, who assists human to become not a superman but an authentic human. Yes, humanization is divinization or becoming like God by the help of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit and the Church

Jesus Christ promised to the Church the assistance and guidance of the Spirit, when His human physical presence left it. The early Christian community received the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost and the Church was officially inaugurated.

Holy Tradition of the Church, which contains the Bible, liturgies, doctrines, councils, canons, Church fathers and saints is an expression of the life of the Church through the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit uses these to inspire and vivify the members of the Church.

The Church is supposed to be the kingdom of God. The renewal and sanctification bring about by the Holy Spirit is inevitable to make the Church ‘the kingdom of God on earth’. The Son of God incarnated in order to establish the kingdom of God on earth. The ministry of the Church is nothing less than to continue the mission of Christ, which is fulfilled by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. According to Gregory of Nyssa (4th century AD) the petition ‘thy Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us’ was a substitute petition to replace ‘thy kingdom come’ in the Lord’s prayer in certain areas in his time . Unfortunately the pride of man and his reluctance to subject to the sanctification enacted by the Holy Spirit blocks the establishment of a community on earth as God wishes.

Major functions of the Spirit

Edification and guidance of the Church, sanctification of its members, and thus the enlightenment of the world are certain fundamental functions of the Spirit.

Various symbols employed in the New Testament to denote the indescribable Holy Spirit explain certain aspects of His functioning.

(a) Water (John; 7:37-39, John; 4). As water is indispensable for life, the Holy Spirit is essential for an abundant life. The purification work of the Holy Spirit is also implied in this symbol. It is noticeable