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The Dormition Of The Theotokos And Ever-Virgin Mary

dormition-of-theotokos

The Theotokos had now reached an advanced age. Her fervent and unceasing desire was to leave the body and be with her beloved Son and God. The Mother of God did not fear death, nor did she seek to avoid it. She knew that death had already been overcome by her Son and God. At that time she still lived in the house of John the Evangelist on Mount Sion. She often went from there to the Mount of Olives to offer fervent prayers. As she was thus praying on the Mount of Olives that the Lord quickly take her to heaven, there appeared before her the archangel Gabriel and disclosed to the Theotokos the following: “Thus says your Son: The days are approaching when I will take My Mother unto Me”. Thus the Virgin heard those much longed for words which she received with gladness.

Tradition has it that it occurred on a Friday. Thus after three days, on a Sunday, she would depart and be with Christ. On the message of the angel, she uttered the following prayer to God: “I would not have been worthy to receive Thee, O Lord, into my womb, unless Thou Thyself had mercy on me, Thy slave. I kept the treasure entrusted to me and, therefore, I have the boldness to ask Thee, O King of glory, to protect me from the power of Gehenna”. The Theotokos also desired to behold the holy Apostles who were scattered throughout the world preaching the Gospel. When the Virgin knelt and offered her petition and thanksgiving, her prayer was accompanied by a manifestation: the olive trees growing on the Mount of Olives bowed with her as they were animate. When the Theotokos knelt, the trees bent down; when she arose, the trees straightened themselves out again. Thus, even the trees revered and honoured the Mother of God.

After completing her prayer, the Theotokos returned to her home. The Theotokos prepared for her repose. She told the matter to the beloved disciple John, who had taken her into his home as his own mother. She ordered that her bed and room be decorated, and that incense and as many lamps as possible to be lit in it. She then changed her clothes. Simply put, all necessary preparations for her burial were made.

John at once sent for James. John also sent for all their relatives and neighbours, informing them of the imminent repose of the Mother of God. James, too informed all the Christians, both them that were in Jerusalem and in the surrounding towns and villages. Thus, a great multitude of the faithful gathered around the Theotokos. The whole house was filled with weeping and lamentation. The Theotokos, however, asked them not to weep for her, but to rejoice at her repose. These comforting words dried the tears and brought solace to their sorrow.

The Theotokos then made a will concerning her two garments. She desired that they be given to two poor widows who had faithfully served her and received their maintenance from her. With regard to her body, the Mother of God made her will known that it should be buried on the Mount of Olives, not far from Jerusalem, in the garden of Gethsemane. There also were interred her parents, the righteous Joachim and Anna, and her spouse, Joseph. The tombs lay in the Valley of Jehosaphat between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.

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Our Body, His Temple

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This is a body conscious world. Many products to clean up, paint up, and fix-up. Concern about physical shape is ever on the increase. Diets abound: low fat this, low fat that. Diet pills industry is on the boom. Exercise clubs, exercise machines, etc. There is a great investment on physical health. Watch that cholesterol, reduce that salt, and eat more roughage. It is good for the body to be health conscious and will enhance our performance physically, mentally and spiritually. The Christian adds another dimension to concern for the body. The day you became a Christian, something happened to your body. Another dimension was added to your being.

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

This reminds us of the temple in the O.T. What great care was given to its design? What immense wealth was placed into its construction? (1 Chronicles 29:1-5).

The eternal covenant, God’s desire to fellowship with His creation, the walk in the garden, Exodus 25:8, John 1:14, 1 Corinthians 1:9.

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). Your body is the temple of God. Be careful where it goes. Be careful what it does. Be careful what it ponders. Be careful how it reacts.

The Holy Spirit lives within you.

Jesus makes the promise (John 14:15-26) “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever –the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). With the Spirit indwelling you, every word, every thought, and every deed is in His view. The Holy Spirit knows you. He knows your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows your sinful acts and your holy deeds. He knows you better than you do.

The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to build you up in the body of Christ to the glory of God.

He regenerates (John 3:3-5). He indwells (Rom. 8:11). He anoints (1 John 2:27). He baptizes (Acts 2:17-41). He empowers (Micah 3:8). He sanctifies (Romans 15:16). He comforts (John 14:16-26). He gives joy (Romans 14:17). He gives discernment (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). He bears fruit (Gal. 5:22-23). He gives gifts 1 Corinthians 12:3-11).

Surrender your body to the Lord. Glorify God in your daily life.

God is the owner of the whole man. Soul, body, and spirit are his. God gave his only begotten Son for the body as well as the soul, and our entire life belongs to God, to be consecrated to his service, that through the exercise of every faculty he has given, we may glorify him. We are God’s workmanship, and his word declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He has prepared this living habitation for the mind; it is “curiously wrought,” a temple which the Lord himself has fitted up for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Man was the crowning act of the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God. Man is very dear to God, because he was formed in his own image. This fact should impress us with the importance of teaching by precept and example the sin of defiling, by the indulgence of appetite or by any other sinful practice, the body which is designed to represent God to the world.

Have I not the right to do as I please with my own body? — No, you have no moral right, because you are violating the laws of life and health which God has given you. You are the Lord’s property, — his by creation and his by redemption. Every human being is under obligation to preserve the living machinery that is so fearfully and wonderfully made.

Live in the present moment: “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We can only make decisions in the present moment, and we can only encounter God in the present moment. “One day at a time.” No one is saved alone: “We are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). “Action requires interaction”. We are healed by sharing our experience with each other, by listening to each other.

We depend upon a Power greater than ourselves: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). “I cannot, God can, and am going to let Him”. What God does is immeasurably greater than what we do, but the active involvement of our free will is also essential. Repentance (like forgiveness) is not a feeling but a decision. There should be a spirit of humility and self-questioning, and it will speak to our hearts and to do our will.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5: 17)

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Severus of Antioch’s Objection To The Council Of Chalcedon : A Re-Assessment

council-of-chalcedon1. Introduction

Severus of Antioch was born in Sozopolis in Pisidia about 465. His family was well-to-do, and as a young man, not yet baptized, he was sent to Alexandria to study grammar and rhetoric. From Alexandria he moved to Beirut to study Roman law. Here Severus came under the influence of Christian students and began to study the works of Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus. Later he was baptized at the shrine of Leontius of Tripoli, and after his baptism became increasingly ascetic, spending much of his time in church .

Severus was an uncompromising critic of the Council of Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo. The Council adopted the formula of faith affirming that Jesus Christ was ‘one Person’ made known ‘in two natures’. The Council and the Tome were rejected by a large part of the Christian East, which has maintained since that time an organized existence in communities in Egypt, Syria, Ethiopia, Armenia and India, which are commonly referred to as the Oriental Orthodox Churches. This group of Churches maintains that the ‘in two natures’ of Chalcedon was not the tradition of the pre-Chalcedonian Church, which proclaimed ‘from two natures’ and ‘one incarnate nature’.

As Severus criticized the Council and the Tome on the one hand and defended the ‘one incarnate nature’ on the other, scholars of the Chalcedonian and the pro-Chalcedonian theological persuasion refer to him as a ‘monophysite’ . In doing so, these scholars base their point of view on two assumptions: first, they take for granted that the Council of Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo together represent exclusively the orthodox understanding of the Person of Jesus Christ; and second, that Severus, who criticized them both, cannot possibly have taught the faith of the Church in its purity .

Was the rejection of Chalcedon by Severus the result of a Christology that ‘explained away’ the human reality of Christ? To show that Severus did not in fact dissolve the human nature of Christ, Fr. V.C. Samuel points to the heresies Severus rejected: Manichaenism, Apollinarianism and Eutychanism . He also considers the accusations made against Severus in 536 [5]. Fr. Samuel argues that Severus was not a Monophysite with the statement: ‘Severus never objected to the dynamic continuance of the two natures in the one Christ, and the ascription of the term ‘monophysite’ to his theological position is nothing but the legacy of the polemics of a bygone age’ . Severus is rooted, he suggests, in the theology of Cyril. In the formula mia fusij tou Qeou Logou sesarkwmenh, Severus’ interpretation of ‘mia’ does not mean simply ‘one’. The reality of Christ’s divinity and humanity is indeed strongly affirmed by Severus. In his study on the Severus’ Christology, Zambolotsky tells us: ‘Severus’ human nature is not “hypostatic” but like the human nature of Leontius of Byzantium and John of Damascus ‘hypostatised’, received to the unity of the hypostasis of the Logos’ .

The Council of Chalcedon was obviously not the first ecclesiastical assembly in Christian history to claim ecumenicity. The Councils of Nicea in 325, Constantinople in 381, and Ephesus in 431 (with the reunion of 433) had formally been recognized as ecumenical, and as such authoritative, well before the Council of Chalcedon met. Even the term ‘orthodox’ had become current, referring in those times to conformity with the doctrinal standpoints of these Councils. The ground on which Severus and the section of the Church represented by him renounce the Council of Chalcedon is that it violated the doctrinal norms which the earlier Councils had established.

It is an undeniable fact that Severus occupies a significant place in the history of the Church in the East. If the key role which he played in this field has not been recognized by the Chalcedonian side, it is largely because of misunderstanding, if not prejudice.

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Great Lent: A Lenten Reflection

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Verily, Adam for eating was driven from Paradise. Wherefore, he sat opposite thereto, wailing and mourning in a pitiful voice, saying, Woe is me; what hath befallen me, wretched man? I transgressed one commandment of my Lord and was denied all kinds of good things. Wherefore, O most holy paradise, which for me was planted, and for the sake of Eve was closed, implore him who made thee, that I may contemplate the flowers of thy gardens. Therefore, the Savior cried out to him, saying, I desire not the loss of my creation, but that it be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; for he that cometh to me, I shall not cast out.

Great Lent is the 50-day season of spiritual preparation that comes before the most important Feast of the Christian year, Holy Easter. This annual season of repentance is a spiritual journey with our Savior. Our goal is to meet the risen Lord Jesus, Who reunites us with God the Father. The Father is always waiting to greet us with outstretched hands. We must ask ourselves the question, “Are we willing to turn to Him?” During Great Lent, the Church teaches us how to re­ceive Him by using the two great means of repentance— prayer and fasting.

The purpose of fasting is to remind us of the Scriptural teaching, “Man does not live by bread alone.” The needs of the body are nothing compared to the needs of the soul. Above all else, we need God, Who provides everything for both the body and the soul. Fasting teaches us to depend on God more fully. The first sin of our parents, Adam and Eve, was eating from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:1-19). We fast from food, or a food item, as a reminder that we are to fast from sin­ning and doing evil.

There are several benefits of fasting. Fasting helps us pray more easily. Our spirit is lighter when we are not weighed down by too much food or food that is too rich. Through fasting, we also learn to feel compassion for the poor and hungry and to save our own resources so that we can help those in need. Fasting is more than not eating food. Saint John Chrysostom teaches that it is more important to fast from sin. For example, besides controlling what goes into our mouths, we must control what comes out of our mouths as well. Are our words pleasing to God, or do we curse God or our brother?

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A Tribute to H. H. Moron Mor Baselios Marthoma Mathews II

The greatest fact in the story of man on earth is not his material achievements, the empires he has built and broken, but the growth of his soul from age to age in its search for truth and goodness. Those who take part in the adventure of the soul secure an enduring place in the history of human culture. Time has discredited heroes as easily as it has forgotten everyone else; but the saints remain. The greatness of H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II is more in his holy living than in his heroic struggles, in his insistence on the creative power of the soul and its life-giving quality at a time when the destructive forces seem to be in the ascendant.

baselios-mathoma-mathews-ii-old-photoI borrow the words of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan to pay tribute to one of the most charismatic shepherd of the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church and indeed of Christendom in the modern era. H.H. Baselios Marthoma Mathews II, sixth Catholicos of the Indian Orthodox Church and 89th Apostolic Successor of St. Thomas departed from this world for his heavenly abode at 5.10 PM on January 26, 2006 at Devalokam Aramana in Kottayam four days before his 91st birthday. His mortal remains are interred at Mount Horeb Monastery Chapel in Sasthamkotta. He was leading a life of rest in the Devalokam Catholicate Aramana at Kottayam, after relinquishing his official duties on October 29, 2005.

H.H. Mor Baselios was born on January 30, 1915 at Perinadu near Quilon in Kerala as eldest son of Puthusserazhikathu Puthenveetil Idikkula and Annamma. Ordained as Deacon in 1938, as Priest in 1941, and then ordained as a Bishop (Mathews Mor Coorilos) on May 15, 1953, H.H. was enthroned as Catholicos of the East on April 29, 1991 at Parumala Seminary following the abdication by the former Catholicos H. H. Baselios Marthoma Mathews I. Prior to becoming the Catholicos he was the Metropolitan of Quilon diocese for a long time. Mor Baselios had his theological training at the Kottayam Old Seminary and later at Basil Dayara, Pathanamthitta. Then he did his Bachelor of Divinity [BD] at Bishop’s College, Calcutta. He had advanced theological studies at the General Theological Seminary, New York. Due to ill health H. H. graciously relieved his authorities to his successor, the current Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan on Oct 31, 2005.

The life of His Holiness was a well-celebrated one and he lived his life to the full, the richness of which touched the hearts of millions and imprinted enduring mark on the history of Christianity in India during the last fifty years. Being anointed to the episcopate at a tender age of 38, Mor Baselios guided the Indian Orthodox Church with diligence of a most devoted shepherd for fifteen years from 1991 to 2005 in his Apostolic struggle in the New World.

“With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Your servant and our father Moran Mor Baselios Marthoma Mathews II where there is no pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life everlasting.”