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Dear ICON friends:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly referred to
as the Mormon Church, is quickly growing in America and around the
world. Perhaps you have seen or talked with winsome young LDS
missionaries who travel in pairs and share their faith door to door.
The Mormon Church is very missionary-minded and currently has over
55,000 full-time missionaries around the world. Think of that! It is a
common misunderstanding that the Mormon Church is just another
Christian denomination. However, Mormon doctrine puts them so far
outside the scope of what is commonly shared by Orthodox, Roman
Catholic and Protestant Christians, that the Mormon Church cannot
accurately be called Christian. At best, the Mormon Church is a
pseudo-Christian sect. If you would like to hear what Mormons believe,
from former Mormons who are now Orthodox, listen to this podcast from
Ancient Faith Radio.
Sanjoy Paul, Iowa
| Dear and Respected Brethren,|Further to the reflections of Rev. Fr. M.K. Kuriakose and K.N Thomas Sir, may I submit a few personal reflections. From
my very childhood, I had heard much about H.G. Mookkancheril Thirumeni and his
mission works especially when we used to spend the holidays at our Mother’s
house at Makkamkunnu, Pathanamthitta. St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church Makkamkunnu
was a main center of activities of the movement ‘Servants of the Cross’
initiated by His Grace. When I was in the High School classes, we the friends
used to roam in Railway Station on Friday afternoons as our School (MT Seminary
High School) was very close to the Kottayam Railway Station and the lunch break
was from 1 pm till 2.30 pm on Fridays in those days. One Friday afternoon I saw
Thirumeni standing on the Platform waiting for a train. As soon as I identified
His Grace I ran to the nearby book stall of Malayala Manoram and obtained a
folding chair and again ran to Thirumeni and earnestly requested Thirumeni to
sit. Thirumeni asked my whereabouts and enquired what reason had prompted me to
get a chair for His Grace. I immediately told His Grace about my maternal
uncle, M.G. Joshua, Kizhakkedathu Mamkoottathil who had presented His Grace with
a glass of lime juice from the nearby shop years back, when His Grace (In those
days a priest) was standing at Kumbazha Junction waiting in the hot sun for a
1968 the OCYM annual camp was held at Piravam Valiya Palli. A large number of
youngsters from Chengannur and nearby places, under the leadership of Babuchayan
(Mr. K.T. Thomas of those days- the present Senior Metropolitan of the Holy
Church H.G. Thomas Mar Athanasius) as well as a few from Kottayam and outskirts,
including my younger brother, George Kurian, the present H.G. Geevarghese Mar
Coorilos, Metropolitan of Mumbai Diocese) had travelled together in the same
train as arranged earlier. As soon as we
got down at Mulanthuruthy Station, we decided to visit Carmel Dayara and the
ailing His Grace. As soon as we reached the Dayara, we rushed to His Grace’s
room, Thirumeni asked: Did you enter the Chapel and pray?” If not go soon and
pray. See the heavenly Father before meeting the earthly father” We obeyed and
had a very nice time with His Grace.
"The Book of Psalms is a limpid lake which reflects every mood of man's changeful sky. It is a river of consolation which, though swollen with many tears, never fails to gladden in fainting. It is a garden of flowers which never lose their fragrance, though some of the roses have sharp thorns. It is stringed instrument which registers every note of praise and prayer, of triumph and trouble, of gladness and sadness, of hope and fear, and unites them all in the full multichord of human esperience" (J.Sidlow Baxter- Explore the Book). It is an experiential book. Ever since they were written, the Psalms have played a large part in the life of God's people. The ancient time Hebrews used them in the temple worship; and Jews today still use them in the synagogue. The Christians of all denominations use them today in their worship service (Col.3:16; James 5:13).
The word "psalm" comes to us from the Greek word 'psalmos' (psalmoi -plural), which meant "a poem to be sung to a stringed instrument." It was in the third century B.C., in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scripture into Greek, the word 'Psalmoi' was first used; and from there to Vulgate and to the English version as 'Psalms'.
The name of Psalmoi is certainly appropriate, for many of these poems are undoubtedly 'odes' written to be set to music, as it shown that fifty-five (55) of them are addressed to "the Chief musician", that is to the choir-leader or preceptor of the Hebrew religious worship. Many of them are 'lyrics' the poem expressing the individual emotions of the poet and intended for accompaniment by the lyre or harp or "stringed instrument." Because of this the Book of Psalms is known as Psalter, from the Greek word 'pslalter' ; that is, a harp or stringed instrument. The usual Hebrew name for the book is 'Tehillim', which means 'praises'. Another Hebrew title is 'Tephiloth' means "prayers" and this title taken from such verse as 72:20 where we read "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." In New Testament the title 'Psalms' endorsed in Luke 20:42; Acts 1:20; 13:33.
COLLECTION AND FORMATION
The Book of Psalms is obviously a collection of poems. The superscription's in the Hebrew text ascribes to different authors. David --73 ; He was Israel's "beloved singer of songs" (2 Sam.23:1) and he who organized the temple ministry, including the singers (1Chro. 15:16; 16:7; 25:1).
The Sons of Korah - 11 ; who served as musicians in the temple (1Chro. 6:31; 15:17; 2Chro. 20:19).
Asaph - 12 ; King Solomon - 2 (Pss.72 & 127) ; Ethan -1 (Ps.89); Moses - 1 (Ps.90) This makes a total of One hundred (100). The other fifty (50) anonymous or known as 'Orphan Psalms.'
Either by a single editor or by several, these poems were written by different persons at different times, were brought together into one volume gradually. It is likely that a first collection of the Davidic psalms was made soon after David's death, the Korahite psalms were added a little later, the Asaph psalms still later, and the anonymous psalms much later; while probably King Hezekiah and Ezra the scribe had much to do with the bringing of them together into the present arrangement.
The book of Psalms is divided into five books, perhaps in imitation of the Five Books of Moses (Gen-Deut); 1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; 107-150. The end of each group being marked by a doxology. The first three books/groups ends with a double "amen," the fourth ends with an "amen" and a "hallelujah," and the last book closes the entire collection with "hallelujah. '
It seems likely that the first group was collected by Solomon, The second group by the Korahite Levites, the third by King Hezekiah, the fourth and fifth by Ezra and Nehemiah. Thus, the formation and completion of our "Book of Psalms" took over five hundred years.
The Hebrew poetry is based on "thought lines" and not rhymes. Some of the poetical structures are as follows:
Synonymous Parallelism - If the second line repeats the first line in different words, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,"- first line: "the world, and all who live in it", - second line ; the second line repeats the first line in different words (Ps.24:1-3).
Antithetic Parallelism - If the second line contrasts with first line, "For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous," - first line, look 'righteous'; "but the way of the wicked will perish", - second line, look 'wicked', contrast. (Ps.1:6; 37:9).
Synthetic Parallelism - When the second line explains and expands the first line, "The law of the Lord........." (Ps.19:7-9), look for the words, law, statutes, precepts, commands, fear, ordinances.
Climatic Parallelism - When the second line completes the first line, "Ascribe to the Lord,O mighty one", - first line, "ascribe to the Lord, glory and strength. - second line completes the first line. (Ps.29:1).
Iterative Parallelism - The second line repeats the thought of the first line, read Ps. 93 for example.
Alternate Parallelism - the alternate lines carry the same thought, as in Ps.103:8-13. You must read the reference Psalms in order to understand the meanings and the Hebrew parallelism in the Book of Psalms.
Some of the psalms are individual and national laments to the Lord, written by people in dire circumstances. There are messianic psalms that point forward to the Jesus Christ. There are also psalms of praise and thanksgiving, royal psalms, wisdom psalms, psalms of affirmation and trust, penitential psalms, and even imprecatory psalms calling down God's wrath on the enemy.
Primarily, the psalms are about God and His relationship with His creation, especially His believing people. The psalms reveal the hearts of those who follow Him, their faith and doubts, their victories and failures, their hopes for the glorious future God has promised. In this book we meet all kinds of people in a variety of circumstances, crying out to God, praising, confessing their sins and seeking to worship Him. In the book of Psalms, we meet the God of creation and learn spiritual truth from birds and beasts, mountains and deserts, sunshine and storms, wheat and chaff, trees and flowers, and also we learn all sorts of creation of God such as, horses, mules, dogs, snails, locusts, bees, lions, snakes, foxes, sheep, and even worms. The psalms teach us to seek God with a whole heart, to tell Him truth confess to Him, worship Him because Who He is, not just because of what He gives. The God in the Book of Psalms is both transcendent and immanent, far above and yet personally with us in our pilgrim journey. He is 'God Most High' and 'Immanuel- God with us'.
Continue Pt.II.......(This article based on the work of Dr.J.Sidlow Baxter -Explore the Book).
Fr.Dr.V.C.Varghese, Sugar Land, Tx.
Re: Jacobite Church
Philip Ayyamplackal wrote "………."The most annoying thing was when His Holiness was going to offer incense prayer, it was just like a political march with Youth in the back ground shouting slogans without any relevance to the occasion. I am not blaming the Youth, but we had people who could have reframed them from doing such a performance. Some could have motivated them to sing a song relevant to the Perunal. Thrikkunnathu Seminary Chapel has got a beautiful Choir who could have led the songs. Does it mean we couldn't control our youth who were just under 100. Instead some motivated them by offering microphones!"
"We also had Perunal at Shasthamkotta on 26th January and His Holiness had been to the Tomb and offered incense. There were more of our youth there and no one heard such a war cry! So what was the intention of our Youth or their perpetrators at Thrikkunnathu Seminary to shout slogans? Was it not to simply annoy? Do the departed fathers need them?"
It was good write up to read…….., but sitting in the other side of globe, watching some You Tube videos and listening voice from it is not an ideal way to comment like this. Historical document will not give a complete picture for us until we have some geographical knowledge about in any subject matter. I think you know better about the geographical differences between the Thrikkunnathu church and the Shasthamkotta church in our church perspective.! Tell me, Why our Malankara Metropolitan, Priest trustee, Lay trustee and Association Secretary was there in that occasion at Thrikkunnathu church on the perunal day? Is this church having any historical importance?
I am a central committee member of Orthodox Christian Youth Movement from Delhi Dioceses was there in the Thrikkunnathu seminary chapel from early morning to late in the evening on Perunal day (25th January) this year. This was my third visit in as many occasions. Before making any comments against the youth involvement there, we should realize how our church people living in that region particularly in Ernakulum district. We all be aware of the things happened in the previous year. Geographically Thrikkunnathu church compound surround by the Jacobite families. In the last year around the closing hours to offer incense prayer at tomb, Jacobite goons and their supporters surfaced one by one along all the corner of the boundary wall and shouting against our people and our church fathers. They people are very cunning to break any court order for their own advantage. On the same time their leader H.B. Thomas I, entered the tomb and claimed he had completed the holy mass in ten minutes. Moreover to say, from that day onwards, H.B. Thomas I have sleepless nights with utmost shock of witnessing the death of Syrian Jacobite colonialism in India.
This year also they have some hidden agenda to storm in to the tomb after the scheduled time which allowed by the Hon. High court. Their leader HB Thomas I and local bishop Mor Anthimos Matthews were roaming around till 6.00pm in the evening. But strong presence of our church people including the youth and children had not allowed them to dishonest the holy Eucharist once again in front of us. Shouting slogans in a controlled level for our church leaders is not a crime. You know why their bishop Mor Athanasius Elias was forced to remove the black robe in the midway to the tomb? https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=527920143915010 Do you think our youth movement members keeps mum on while Jacobite gundas shouting against one of our Bishop leaving the seminary premises. All the things happen on that day had not been discussed in a public forum like this. Give some accountability to our youth and their activities. They are the soldiers for tomorrow.
JIJI K NINAN, New Delhi, India
ICON is becoming interesting with very thought provoking postings.
One such was an enquiry into the 'Evolution of the thought process' of His grace Mar Geevarghese Osthathios of Blessed Memory.The member who made the enquiry made genuine an intellectual thrust ;he made it clear that he was not taking a stance ,but only was searching for an answer .He was also worried of his ability to open a dialogue and emphasised that such an enquiry did not in any way lessen his respect for the departed Church Father.
The one from Mr.John Kunju Kuunju on His Beatitude Thomas the 1st and his reflections on H.B.Paulose the 2nd of Blessed memory is another.It is interesting to know what His Beatitude thought of the "antiochian' Prelates.His Beatitude should know. Thirumeni was staunch in convictions as regards 'Loyalty' to the Patriarch of Syria was concerned; Yet the question is relevant whether Thirumeni remained convinced till His last days on earth.Many in the patriarch faction says that His beatitude chose to join the Syrian Faction in 1975 as Thirumeni was worried that any other incumbent would only make the division permanent. What made Gregorious Thirumeni of the Patriarch Faction (Great Grand nephew of Parumala Kochu Thirumeni) to back track in 1995 .What made Abraham Mar severious Thirumeni to return to the Patriarch Faction.Theological considerations or convictions may matter in the least. Human Relations Management problems must be the most relevant.Unless we address and understand the psyche of the Patriarch Faction Peace will remain a mirage.
Incidentally the probems being mentioned by H.G.Kuriakose Mar clemis of IdikKi diocese of Patriarch Faction may apply to us also.We should examine ourselves.
Incidentally Very.Rev.Philip Ramban of St.Pauls has returned to Puthuppady after a successful surgery in Vellore.He is recuperating well.Rambachen was courage and Faith personified in his sick bed.Thousands prayed for him.'Akhanda yanja ' Parthana mid night vigils were many .ICON does not seem to have responded as a group though I know many members must have in their personal capacity been concerned enough to pray for Rembachen and enquire of his well being.We as a group could have done better.I should Thank Messrs.Philip From Auckland,Ronnie from the American Continent, Susan from Trivandrum (or Is it Banglore) Mr.E.S. john from Australia amongst others for some very interesting postings.Life attains beauty from such pursuits.
Alexander Cherian Assariath Chennai
Balaam's story teaches us that not every obstacle is meant to be overcome. Some
are placed by God to keep us from doing something foolish. When our plans are
hindered, we shouldn't assume that its Satan trying to stop us. It might be God
trying to protect us.
We have a new web interface for the ICON Matrimonials now, please check the link
below. As a member of ICON community you can use this free service to advertise
your matrimonial needs on this page.
Instead of a weekly refresh of the site, we will place your advertisements as
and when it is available. By default, the advertisements will stay on this page
for 180 days then it will automatically drop off from the list.
There are two sections on this new page one for Groom and another for Bride.
Please click on the appropriate section to see the ad placed on that section.
New ICON Matrimonial link http://www.icon.org.in/mm
Wish you all the best!
“On the Third Day”
Meditation on St. John 2:1-11. ‘The Sign at Cana’
By HG Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan, Thrissur
The Church, once again, is providing us a time for introspection and for
transformation through the observance of the great lent which our Lord Himself
observed. We read that He had only forty days fasting, but we know His whole
life was an experience of fasting as He was always with His Father and with us
which is the true meaning of fasting. This is how He walked to the cross, faced
death and then walked out of the tomb. We are invited by the Church to walk all
that way to resurrection slowly and step by step with Him who came out from
among the dead. That is why we come across this observance every year. Through
this we may climb the steps one by one to reach the total transformation of our
As you may know, Gospel according to St. John has to be read differently. He was
not interested on a verbatim report on what all happened during Jesus’ life time
on earth. Rather he wanted to bring out the theological insights of the events
during Jesus’ days in this world.
John starts chapter 2 with a note on the day the sign was performed. He says,
“On the third day …”. This might look as if John was giving a chronological
reference, well he was not. If we follow strictly the chronology it was not the
third day, rather was the seventh day. First day John introduced Jesus to the
public (1:15ff.); on the second day again John testifies Jesus (next day 1:29);
on the third day once again John introduced Jesus to his disciples (one more
next day 1:35 ff.); on the fourth day Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael (again
another next day 1:43ff.). Then comes our third day (2:1). It should be assumed
that the third is after the day Jesus called the two disciples, Philip and
Nathanael, not the third after He was introduced by John. Following the
chronology of the events, we may say that Cana event was on the 7th day after
His public appearance. Seventh day is the day of perfection for the Jewish
community. That is not what is referred here. The Jewish perfection day is
calculated on the basis of the old creation narrative which has been surpassed
by new creation that was at hand. Of course the old and the seventh of the old
are in the back ground. But that is not what is important right now.
Right now the ‘third day’, when the transformation of the material or the bodily
will take place is important. That is the day of resurrection when, according to
Paul, the perishable shall become imperishable (1.Cor. 15:42ff.). The seventh
day of the creation was in anticipation of the third day and therefore seventh
has lost its immediate express relevance and third has received final relevance.
This is the day Jesus worked on the water to transform it to be fine wine which
made the master of the ceremony extremely happy though did not know how it
happened and where did it come from. It should be remembered that, in the
creation event God worked on water on the third day to create fertile land where
all living creatures live and multiply (living creature appeared in water also
after God divided between water and land). That was a moment of happiness.
Because the chaotic water which was all over under the sky with the deadly and
evil monster ‘Leviathan’ in it (Job 41:1), obeyed the command of God and gave
way to the creative and life sustaining land (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). Here in Cana
Jesus, the Word of God, which was the cause of all creation (John 1:3, 4), again
works on water, with a Word of command, to make it live with fermentation and
that gives joy to His creation (in our Holy Eucharist we need to use fermented
wine with life in it and not just grape juice which is only a soft drink). This
is another reason why John specifically brings in ‘the third day’ to reference.
Of course what happened at Cana was only a ‘sign’ (John 2:11). The final ‘third
day’ is in the waiting. So no one should get too excited at this ‘third day’
event when one of the materials in this world gets transformed. What is to be
longed for is the final third day when the whole created world shall be
The passage is part of a larger section 1:19 to 12:50 which is to be compared
with the detailed description of Jesus’ public ministry according to the other
three Gospels (the Synoptic Gospels). This large section is called the ‘book of
signs’ as what all Jesus did during this period and recorded here were ‘signs’.
A ‘sign’ is not an end in itself, rather points to something greater and that
lies in future. Everything Jesus did on earth pointed towards what was to happen
beyond historical arena and hence had to be comprehended by people as such. This
event was the first among several to follow. So the joy that was in this event
had to be taken further to a joy that will be at the end.
This passage again is the climax of Jesus’ calling of the disciples. Actually we
do not have the names of all the disciples recorded here. Only four, Andrew,
Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael are mentioned. The name Nathanael is not
mentioned in the other Gospels. Commentators say, Nathanael should be
Bartholomew (Matt. 10:3. son of Tholmai). The climax is marked by the last
verse of our passage where it is said, “And His disciples believed in Him”
meaning those disciples called by Him witnessed the sign and it helped them
believe in Him (2:11). Whatever Jesus did in this world was for his disciples to
believe in Him. Believing in Him is not a passive sentimental attitude, rather
an active participative life style (John 14:12). This is what He prayed for
before the tomb of Lazarus (“… So that they may believe that you sent Me. John
11:42). From this prayer we may understand that He was not hopping to have just
four or twelve disciple to believe in Him, rather everyone who may see or hear
of Jesus’ acts of signs.
This certainly includes us too. We are his disciples who may look at what He
does in this world, in our lives and in history and believe in Him. Many a time
what He does in our lives is taken by us as a single act of blessing upon us. Of
course it is, but we need to consider them as signs only, that we do not get too
excited about what happened, rather wait for what shall happen in future, a full
participation in the death and resurrection of our Lord, now in this world in
our daily life and, further in the world to come. What happens now is only a
sign for us to believe that greater things are possible with Him and are in the
waiting. Every day has to be a ‘third day’ for us for more than one reason.
Metropolitan Yuhanon Mor Meletius, Thrissur
In my limited research, I found that St.Augustine had extensive expository commentary on the Book of Psalms . Since Augustine is a common father for West and East, we may consider his works with patristic authority and genuineness. A brief exerts from his work on Ps.149 :6 as follows : "And swords sharpened on both sides in their hands." This sort of weapon contains a great mystical meaning, in that it is sharp on both sides. By 'swords sharpened on both sides', we understand the Word of the Lord (Heb.4:12) it is one sword, but therefore are they called many, because there are many mouths and many tounges of the saints. How is it two edged? It speaks of things temporal, it speaks of also of the things eternal. In both cases it proveth what it saith, and him whom it strikes, it severeth from the world. Is not this sword whereof the Lord said, "I am not come to send peace upon earth, but a sword"? (Matt.10:34). Observe how He came to divide, He divideth the ungodly, He severeth from thee that which hindereth thee. "And swords in their hands", he meaneth in power. They receivced the Word of God in power, to speak where they would, to whom they would with power and authority.....(Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol.VIII pp679-681).
Ps.149:7 "To do vengeance on the nations." See whether vengeance have not been done on the nations. Daily it is done; we do it, ourselves by speaking. Observe how the nation of Babylon are slain. She is repaid twofold: for so it is written of her "repay her double for what she hath done" (Rev.18:6). The saints wage war, they draw their "swords twice sharpened" thence come defeats, slaughters, severances... (further edification read the above ref. book p.680).
Ps.149:8 "That they may bind their kings in fetters, and their noble in bonds of iron" .... For these verses which we are beginning to explain are obscure. For this purpose God willed to set down some of His verses obscurely, not that anything new should be dug out of them, but that what was already well known, might be made new by being obscurely set forth. We know that kings have been made Christians; we know that the nobles of Gentiles have been made Christians. That "God hath chosen the weak things of world ......things that are (1 Cor.1:26-28). It is said by the Lord, "If thou wilt be perfect..... in heaven" (Matt.19:21). Many of nobles did this, but they ceased to be the nobles of the Gentiles, they chose rather to be poor in this world, noble in Christ. But many retain their former nobility, retain their royal powers, and yet are Christians. These are, as it were, "in fetters and bonds of iron". How so? They received fetters to keep them from going to things unlawful, the "fetters of wisdom", fetters of the Word of God".....(Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol.VIII, pp.679-681).
Psalm 149 IN CONTEMPORARY COMMENTARY : Everything that God's people do in serving and glorifying the Lord must flow out of worship, for without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). In contemporary situation, the most important activity of the local church is the worship , for this is the activity we will continue in heaven for all eternity (Rev.4, 5).
WORSHIP THE LORD INTELLIGENTLY : (v v.1-2) Worship is something that we must learn to do, and we will be learning all our lives. In time of corporate worship, the saints do minister to one another (Eph.5:19; Col.3:16), but the primary focus must be on the Lord, glorifying and extolling Him. We must worship with other saints as well as in solitude (v.5 "on their beds/couch - private worship). The Church today can join with Israel in saying "God is our maker and King" (Ps.95:6; 100:3; 10:16; 24:7-10). How He has made us is His gift to us, and what we do with it is a gift to Him. We must remind ourselves that we came from dust, but because of God's grace, we are destined to glory, soon and very soon we are going to see the King.
WORSHIP THE LORD FERVENTLY :( v v. 3-4) A very expressive people, the Jews used musical instruments, songs, and dances in their worship of the Lord. The dances, of course, were not modern ball room, disco, or belly-dancing but rather interpretive dances that pointed to the Lord and not some person's talent (Ex.15:20; Judg.11:34; 1Sam.18:6; Jer.31:4). However, spiritual fervency must not confuse with fleshly enthusiasm or emotional outburst (modern charismatics/pentecostels ). There are false worshipers as well as true worshipers, and some people think they are filled with the Spirit are really being fooled by the spirit. Worship must focus on God, not on us, or on the crowd, it must be enrichment, not an entertainment.
WORSHIP THE LORD GRATEFULLY (v.5): God gave His Word and His glory only to the nation of Israel (Ps.147:19.20; Rom.9:1-5), and this Word and glory have been passed on to the Church (John 17:8,14,22). When the believers' private worship (Couches/beds) and the Church's corporate worship become routine and lifeless the Spirit is grieved and the blessing is diminished. The word "couches/beds" could refer to someone reclining at the table or resting in bed. Singing at the table or in our bed can bring joy to the Lord. Without private worship, we are but hypocrites at public worship.
WORSHIP THE LORD TRIUMPHANTLY (v v.6-9): Worship and warfare go together, as the of Revelation makes very clear. The Church is an army, this world is a battlefield, and there is a struggle going on for the souls of lost sinners (Matt.16:17-18; Eph.6:10; 2 Tim.2:3-4; 2Cor.10:3-5). And we Christians, like the workers in Nehemiah's day, must have both tools for building and swords for battling (Neh.4:17-18). Our weapons are prayer, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Eph.6:17; Heb.4:12)
We must take worship very seriously and realize that worship is a part of the believer's spiritual warfare. To ignore worship, trivialize it, turn it into an entertainment, or make it a routine activity is to play right into the hands of the enemy. It is an honor to serve in the Lord's army of worshiping warriors. These are the meaning of Psalm 149. (Be worshipful - Warren Wiersbe).
Fr.Dr.V.C.Varghese, Sugar Land, Tx.
Please find attached report (manorama dt.23/1) on Makkamkunnu convention.
HH Baselius Marthoma Paulose II Catholicos explains the essence of
'kurishuvara' and 'kumbideel' in his blessed sermon.
1 of 1 Photo(s)
Reflections: Holy Lent and the Great Pilgrimage
As we enter the period of Great Lent we set out on a great journey with "Jesus
the pioneer of our faith".
He fasted and prayed intensely for forty days in the oppressive solitude of the
desert before going out publicly to announce the Gospel of Life. He beat the
tempter, the power of evil in our life.
We follow Jesus all through. It is not as isolated individuals that we enter
the Lenten desert but as a church, collectively, for repentance and renewal.
That is why we particularly remember all the departed clergy and all the
departed faithful the two Sundays preceding the beginning of Lent. Through this
act of remembrance the mother Church is gathering all her children - living
and the departed, clergy and laity - for the great journey.
We as one Body of Christ follow Jesus on his mission of service and salvation to
the world by announcing the gospel to the poor and healing the sick, by
liberating the oppressed and binding the wounds of the broken hearted, by giving
sight to the blind and proclaiming the period of grace for all ... -The great
and only agenda for the church in this world!
We continue with him to the Calvary, taking up his cross and suffering with him.
Finally we share his death and his glorious resurrection.
What a great pilgrimage ! What a great mission! This journey should reshuffle
our priorities in the world and set the true Christian agenda for the church..
Fight the evil one and not each other! Let us take a pilgrim's walk with
Christ. We follow him like faithful disciples.
Disciples have discipline. That is the threefold discipline of Lent -
discipline in our prayer life, discipline in our eating or consuming habits and
discipline in our commitment to serve the poor and the needy.
The desert beckons!
Moderators’ Note: Rev. Fr. Dr. K M George is on a short visit to Pittsburgh
Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Achen will be there till March 15. He
can be contacted at 412-924-1400 or email frkmgeorge@...
Republic Day at Prerana School
by Yuhanon Meletius
During the last two weeks I was in Kalmeswar, Nagpur with the students
and staff of St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary where I share
my learning in the field of Old Testament every year (I also learn
with them). There I was able to experience the Indian way of helping
the private sector. The BSNL telephone exchange was hit by a
lightening in 2008. It was repaired after a short while, but again in
went bad. There were about 85 BSNL land line connections in the
village of Kalmeswar some 30 KM far from Nagpur city. The BSNL people
never cared again to repair the exchange. So every subscriber switched
to private phone providers. I have this habit of (to some bad, to me a
better) h abit of using only national products as far as possible and
so I have only BSNL mobile phone connection and data connection. There
I was most of the time lost in the woods as the reception was too weak
to have any uninterrupted quality connection. But now the BSNL people
are setting the exchange right and not many people will be ready to
subscribe as they already have private provider connection. Gandhiji’s
programs for self sufficiency is way back in history. The good news is
that the seminary will have two BSNL connections shortly.
I had the privilege of participating in the Republic day function of
“Prerana” the school for mentally challenged children run by the
seminary (of course it has an independent trust for administrative
purpose). That was a touching experience. There are about 60 boys and
girls residing and taking training. There are day scholars too. All of
them are from the neigh boring villages. The principle of the seminary
Rev. Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip is the Director of the school. The students
gave a brief display of their talents. I also hoisted the national
flag at the seminary and then gave the Satsang address. Text of
Satsang will be posted later.
Watch these videos:
- HG Yuhanon Mor Meletius
Moderators' Note: ICON actively supports Prerana School and its objective. Last
year our members and well wishers sponsored 25 children from this school. Our
objective for this year (2013) is to find sponsors for at least 30 children. If
you wish to sponsor a child, see http://www.icon.org.in/pr/page1.php for details
or contact any of the moderators. Donations are tax-exempt for US residents.
Dear John Achen,
You wrote: "Orthodox Church should also come out clean; either obey the 1995 SC
verdict, if they honestly believe Church is one, declare the Patriarch as the
Spiritual head and invite him for a dinner/dialogue or declare complete
independence like the Marthomites and forfeit the legal claims; putting the legs
in two boats, that is, why shy away to publicly state what they declared in SC,
will not work-safe and never solve any problem".
We, the orthodox church, have already expressed our willingness for having
Unity and Peace established within the holy Church. The move
for reconciliation from our side was taken several times ever since 1995. We
have no hesitation to accept HH the Patriarch of Antioch as the spiritual head
of the Church. And this has always been our stance. Our former Catholicose HH
Moran Mar Basalios Marthoma Mathews II, of blessed memory, had wished for a
meeting with the Patriarch, but the extremists with HB Thomas I Catholicose on
the patriarchal faction, vehemently opposed such a meeting. Recently, our
present Catholicose HH Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II also wanted to
have a meeting with the Patriarch, but was possible based on many
restrictions, that you know. HB Thomas I Catholicose and his retinue have
always been a stumbling-block for the Unity of the two factions in the holy
Your suggestion to forfeit the legal claims on Church property is dubious. We
make no claim on the properties of the Church of Antioch but only on the
properties belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church . And that too, based on
the clear cut verdict of the Supreme Court endorsing that the real custodian of
the Church property is the Malankara Metropolitan. The Honorable Court has
categorically decreed that all temporal powers are vested in the hands of the
Catholicose of the East and Malankara Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox
I still wonder why complete Unity was not possible in the holy Church when the
stalwarts like you from the patriarchal side decided to comply with the verdict
of the Apex Court of India by 2002. You people could not win over those
thumping majority on the other side, isn't it the fact?
I believe that there is still room for unity. And you have a vital role to play
in bringing about Peace and Unity in the Holy Church.
Praying for a divine intervention for the complete Unity in the holy Church, I
George Achen, Ireland.
Our diocesan Metropolitan H.G Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulios will visit our St.
Mary's Orthodox Church, Sana'a, Yemen from Feb 5th to Feb 9 2012 for the 5th
Parish day celebrations. This is the second time a Metropolitan is visiting
Sana'a Church. First time, it was in 2010 July when H.G Mathews Mar Themothios
visited us and declared our congregation as Church. At that time our diocese
was UK, Africa, but our diocese was changed to Ahmedabad from 2012.
The program is as follows :
Feb 5th Tuesday 3.30 PM Arrival to Sana'a Airport
6.00 PM Evening Prayers
Feb 6th Wed 6.00 PM Evening Prayers and Intercession Prayer to St. Mary
Feb 7th Thursday 5.00 PM Evening Prayers, Message by Thirumeni & Parish day
Feb 8th Friday 4.30 PM Evening Prayers, Holy Qurbana & Message by Thirumeni
Feb 9th Sat. 2.00 PM Departure
Please, we are expecting all ICON members prayers and support for the success.
St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Sana'a
Republic of Yemen
The Great Lent begins on Monday, 11th February.
As per the Syriac tradition, since the day begins in the evening, observation of
lent should begin with the Lenten prayers of vespers (ramsho in Syriac) on
Sunday evening. The Great Lent lasts all of 48 days, including the Passion Week,
and concludes with the Holy Qurbana on Easter Sunday (March 31st, 2013).
Sunday, 10th February is Pethrutha. This is a festival observed by almost all
Syrian Christians of Kerala, including the Syrian Catholics. Though Payne Smith
in his dictionary has defined the word Pethrutha to mean mushroom, the
traditional understanding in Malabar is that it refers to mounds of food
(source: Sabha encyclopaedia). The miracle at the wedding of Cana, remembered on
the same day, provides a fitting context for the Pethrutha celebrations. The
Great Lent combines both fasting (Malayalam: upavaasam) and dietary restrictions
(Malayalam: nombu). Dietary restrictions, as understood here, refers to avoiding
fish, meat, wine, eggs and dairy products. According to the Hudoyo Canon
(Chapter 5:1), fasting during the Great Lent is up to the ninth hour
(approximately 3 p.m.) on week days, and till noon (12 p.m.) on Saturdays and
Sundays. Nursing mothers, the sick and the infirm have been exempted from these
requirements. When in doubt, always check with your priest.
The beginning of the Great Lent is signaled by the Shubhkono service on Monday,
11th February. This is a service of preparation and forgiveness and is marked by
forty prostrations and the kiss of peace. Each Sunday of the Great Lent is
arranged to reflect on one of the miracles performed by Our Lord.
On successive Sundays starting from February 17th, the healing of the leper, the
paralytic, the Cananite woman, the cripple woman, and the blind man are
remembered and reflected upon. Passion Week begins on Palm Sunday (March 24th);
Passover falls on March 28th and Good Friday follows the next day.
Holy Qurbana during the Great Lent is restricted to Saturdays and Sundays with
the exception of mid-lent Wednesday (March 6th), the annunciation to St. Mary
(March 25th), 40th Day of Lent (March 22nd, Friday) and Passover (March 28th,
Thursday). Services without Holy Qurbana during the Great Lent are Shubhkono
(Monday, 10th February) and Vaade Dalmeeno (Monday, March 25). Both are
conducted by the celebrant from the chancel table.
Other days of note during the Great Lent are Catholicate Day (Sunday, March 17),
Saturday of Lazarus (March 23) and Saturday of Good Tidings (March 30).
Canonical prayers are said thrice a day (vespers, noon and matins) during the
Great Lent. Great Lent prayers are marked by prostrations. This is done by
kneeling down, touching the ground with the forehead, then standing up and
making the sign of the cross. Please note that prostrations are not done on days
when the Holy Qurbana is celebrated.
Noon prayers during the week days of the Great Lent are marked by forty
prostrations. This is done in four sets of 10 prostrations. The first set is
done to the accompanying chant of `Kurielaison'. The second set is done to the
accompanying chant of `Lord have mercy upon us'. The third set is done to the
accompanying chant of `Lord be kind and have mercy upon us'. And the fourth and
final set is done to the accompanying chant of `Lord accept our entreaties, and
have mercy upon us'.
We hope the above summary is helpful for all during the Great Lent.
In His Love,
Georgy S. Thomas, Bangalore
(On behalf of ICON Moderators)
A few members have responded to my posting on Very. Rev. Philip Rembachen of St.
Pauls brotherhood Puthuppady and were particularly solicitous on the forthcoming
projects. Hence this posting. Rembachen has quite a few projects crystallized
and should be launched in the next 12 months. The list includes South African
Mission, Andamans Eye hospital, Centre for HIV Patients in Gujarat, A dialysis
Centre in Puthuppadi (Calicut India), Eye Hospital for Nilackal Diocese and the
latest as of the 7th of February 2013 the Cancer Foundation. More on the first
and the last.
South African Mission is conceived as a launching pad for Mission works in
African continent. We do have a group of Church members, well-heeled
professionals for that matter in South Africa. Hence South Africa as the base
and launching pad.
Every project manager begins with the sources of funds and tailors his project
size (uses of funds) to the funds available. Rambachen is contrarian; he begins
with the use of funds, the project and leaves the source to God. The strategy
works. The work amongst healthy children of Leprosy Patients began with Rs. 7, a
tithe from the contribution received for his seminary education. That was in
early 60s of the previous century. It took another 20 years to start Yacharam
St. Gregorious Balagram. For the uninitiated and lesser ones (such as me) it is
nothing less than a miracle.
The latest project, launched as of yesterday (the 7th of February '13) is the
Cancer Foundation. Rembachen has received contributions from various members of
our church for his treatment. Surplus money left, as a matter of thanksgiving
goes for the initial corpus of Cancer Foundation. There are two children from
Puthuppady who have graduated in Medicine (MBBS) and is doing their house
surgency in Pondichery Institute of Medical Sciences. We all should applaud and
thank Madras Medical Mission and its functionary Mr. K.V. Eapen
(Koodathumuriyil), thanks to whose munificence, the two children from St. Paul's
Puthuppadi have become doctors. They were in Vellore with Rambachen. How many of
us would have a full-fledged Doctor as aide in a similar situation.
I feel that every Institution of St. Pauls brotherhood must be self sufficient
and able to generate its upkeep by running schools, farms, hospital etc, and the
contributions be used for new ventures/projects. Institutions of the brotherhood
in Puthuppady are self-sufficient as far as the variable expenses go. Dehu Road
(St. George Balikagram ) is also almost there. Yacharam can be there if they
chose to make the Eye Hospital little bit commercial or establish paramedical
schools as a take off from the hospital. After all there is 100 acres available
in Yacharam. These are my thoughts and plans but very earthy and definitely
earthly. We do require a support group of persons who contribute their tithe or
a part of it for St.Pauls brotherhood.The proposed capital expenditure could be
high a figure for our church in the backdrop our efforts as a Church hitherto in
St. Pauls brotherhood requires and more importantly deserves support. 'Deserves'
because they maintain their accounts meticulously, audit their accounts
thoroughly and is transparent, traditions set by H.G. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios
of Blessed Memory and scrupulously maintained by Rambachen. The good Lord who
hath provided thus far hath to provide and shall provide.
Let us all pray for St. Pauls brotherhood, Rembachen and his efforts. Let us
praise the good Lord for St. Pauls 'the stream in the desert'.
Alexander Cherian, Chennai
As we celebrate the first feast of our well-beloved Geevarghese Mar Osthathios
thirumeni, on 16 February 2013, it is our duty to pray for him. We know that he
used to ask everyone to pray for him. In his last Kalpana and speech, he has
earnestly requested to pray for him. Following the Orthodox tradition, let us
pray to God for him and seek his intercession for us. May his soul grow to the
perfection of God's holiness and to the stature of Christ, the Head!
"In the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the One true God forever and ever,
God, the Lord of all flesh and spirit! Thou hast trampled down the thorn of
death and hast over thrown the devil whereby Thou hast restored the life to the
world. Now, O Lord Jesus Christ! Grant to Thy faithful servant, metropolitan
Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, who hast departed from us with faith, hope, and love
in Thee after finishing a fruitful life on earth, an everlasting joy and
spiritual refreshment in the chamber of Thy light together with all the saints
who pleased Thee.
O good and merciful God, who loves humankind! Pardon every sin, which he might
have committed, whether by word or by deed or by thought, for there is no man on
earth who is free from sin. Thou alone art sinless, Thy love and righteousness
are Eternal and Thy Word is true. May Mar Osthathios, our beloved father and
guru, rejoice in the communion of your infinite love and praise you unceasingly
in the company of all the angelic hosts and saints.
O Blessed Triune God! We thank Thee for having graced the holy Church with
bishop Geevarghese Mar Osthathios and for allowing the tenderness of Thy
Fatherly care, the divine mercy of the Cross of Christ, and the splendour, power
and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to shine on the world through our beloved shepherd
–Mar Osthathios. We now realize him as the one who had possessed noble virtues,
engaged in doing good deeds and directly experienced Thy divine presence in his
life time. Trusting fully in Thy everlasting love and in the intercession of all
saints, he has manifested to us a living image of Jesus –the Good Shepherd – and
has shown us that holiness and sharing of love are the necessary paths of
obedience to be traversed by ordinary Christians in order to achieve eternal
communion with God. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Thy will,
the graces we implore, hoping that Thy faithful servant Mar Osthathios will soon
be recognised among the Saints.
God, who infuses power into the bones of the saints! Kindly release stream of
blessings from Thy reservoir of grace through the holy relics of Mar Osthathios
to those who come at his tomb in prayer. We ask this in Thy all-encompassing
Yours in Christ,
George Achen, Ireland.
I was expressing my honest feeling, not for an argument for arguments never end
and never reach us anywhere. Christian love and biblical virtues are quite
different. The problem is that the present generation is born into and wired
into schism. What you wrote is based on your reading of post-schism authors and
partial knowledge. Your reading of SC verdict is not complete or you depend on
wrong commentators. You wrote there are patriarchs claiming ‘Patriarch of
Antioch.’¯ Say, ‘Gopal’¯ has a son named ‘Krishna’¯. When Krishna grew-up comes
to know that there are 10 people with the name ‘Gopal’¯ in his town. Does that
mean Krishna does not who is his father or some other Gopal is his father? There
are 5 patriarchs in the same name; which is not a defense. Indian Orthodox
should know which Patriarch of Antioch is mentioned the 1934 constitution, lack
of that awareness is one of the root problems. Had you followed the proceeding
in the SC this confusion would have been avoided. Still my position is, follow
the same position in the SC and outside. That is the only solution to the
century old problem.
Bringing up new issues would further complicate the matter. Our criteria should
not be based on what ‘Jacobytes’¯ do or say. I was mentioning the in the context
of the origin of problem of separation. Regarding repulsion of the nomenclature
‘Jacobyte’¯ I have written in the past. They invent new new ideas to provocate
the Orthodox and eternalize the split; and we are being preys to their evil
designs if we cite them as models.
Regarding the Patriarch’s power reaching a vanishing point by the acceptance of
1934 constitution is well received and I always wrote in favor of complete
administrative independence. We must distinguish Spiritual and administrative or
the Spiritual and temporal aspects and not mix together. HH Catholicos is the
final authority for all administrative and temporal matters; no unity should
ever take place compromising that liberty. I have a CD made from the office of
the former Catholicos HH Mathews II; where he explicitly says, ‘Patriarch is my
older brother’¯- think if it was by age or anyone else from among the five
patriarchs you mentioned- or pointing to a particular Patriarch; ‘I will be
happy to sit in the second position when HH is present.’¯ The Present HH
Catholicos, spoke in the Family Conference in USA, we have a video clip, and ‘We
are willing to give all the constitutional prerogatives to HH Patriarch.’¯ I
have published that happy announcement in ICON immediately after the conference.
Do you think HH was not clear which Patriarch he mentioned? I believe HH meant
well and the large majority from both sides appreciate it but HH is being pulled
back by influential lobby. I said only to follow-up those admissions and
declarations, KK Johnachen.
Thank you and God Bless you,
KK Johnachen, Philadephia
Alexander Cherian wrote: “…Many in the patriarch faction says that His beatitude
chose to join the Syrian Faction in 1975 as Thirumeni was worried that any other
incumbent would only make the division permanent. What made Gregorious Thirumeni
of the Patriarch Faction (Great Grand nephew of Parumala Kochu Thirumeni) to
back track in 1995.What made Abraham Mar Severious Thirumeni to return to the
Patriarch Faction. Theological considerations or convictions may matter in the
least. Human Relations Management problems must be the most relevant. Unless we
address and understand the psyche of the Patriarch Faction Peace will remain a
Your above comments are truly thought provoking and seems true. The recent move
of certain elements to sell the Jacobite Church to Mr. KP Yohannan and Company
for few crores was thwarted due to the presence of sensible Bishops like Mar
Gregorios (Kochi), Mar Timothios (Kottayam) etc there. They are the rays of hope
for the ordinary faithful.
Thomas Chacko, Ernakulam
On the 79th memorial feast of Vattasseril Thirumeni, the OCYM UAE Zonal
committee plans to organize a pilgrimage to St. Dionysius Orthodox Church in Al
Ain, the first church in the Malankara Orthodox Sabha to be established in the
name of St. Dionysius, famously known as ‘Vattasseril Thirumeni’¯, on Friday,
March 1, 2013. Known as a man of prayer, determination and dynamism, Vattasseril
Geevarghese Mar Dionysius is popularly known as the Malankara Sabha Bhasuran
(the great luminary of Malankara Orthodox Church) for his brave fight to
establish the Catholicate in Malankara in 1912. An eminent scholar and orator,
he prepared the Constitution of our Church and served as a Metropolitan of our
Church for over 25 years. He wrote ‘Mathopadesa Sarangal’¯ on the basic
doctrines of our church and was responsible for preparing the Malayalam version
of our Holy Qurbana Kramam.
It is planned that the pilgrimage groups from all the churches will arrive at
St. Dionysius church at 3:30 p.m. for the memorial Holy Qurbana reinforcing the
need for today's youth to remember the contributions of our founding fathers.
Members of all OCYM units in UAE participating in the pilgrimage will be
received at St. Dionysius church by His Grace. Dr. Mathews Mar Thimothios,
Metropolitan of UK, Europe and Africa Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Church,
the Parish Vicar, members of the managing committee and the office bearers of
the Al Ain OCYM unit.
Media Desk, OCYM UAE
By Almighty God's grace, St. Mary's Indian Orthodox Church of Northern Virginia,
a parish of the Northeast American Diocese established in 2005, was blessed to
purchase its first church in Ashburn, VA. With a little over 25 families, the
parish has been growing steadily. We thank God for this amazing blessing!
An Open House is being arranged this Saturday from 4-6pm, followed by the
temporary Church Consecration and Sleeba Evening Prayer. The first Holy Qurbana
will be celebrated by the Vicar on Sunday morning at 8:30am. After the altar
renovations are complete within a few months time, the Diocesan Metropolitan
will come and formally consecrate the church.
The church address is: 43825 Jenkins Ln, Ashburn, VA 20147
We cordially invite the faithful living in and around Northern Virginia to come
and participate in this blessed, historic event in the life of this parish.
Please keep this parish in your kind prayers.
With prayers and best regards,
Fr. George C. Mathew [Benny]
Vicar, St. Mary's Indian Orthodox Church of Northern Virginia
King Hezekiah (727/715 - 698/687), was a remarkable man, soldier, statesman,
architect, poet, and saint. He was the only man who ever knew for certain just
when he would not die, just how long he had to live. The repercussions from
Hezekiah's extra lease of fifteen years are felt among the nations to this very
day, especially to the whole Christendom has good cause to thank God for
Hezekiah's miraculous healing and his extra fifteen years of life. Let us look
up the records in which the great prophet Isaiah recorded 38:1-8 (Please read
the passage in order to understand the following suggestions).
Two interesting questions are suggested to our minds by this passage. First, did
God have special purpose in thus lengthening Hezekiah's life? Second, how did
Hezekiah use those added fifteen years? The answer to the first question is yes,
God certainly had a special purpose in lengthening Hezekiah's life. The answer
to the second question is, that in view of all available data, Hezekiah used
those added fifteen years so profitably that we Christians are still reaping the
benefit today. Read his noble account of his early reign in 2 Chronicles
29:1-11. He was the king who destroyed the bronze serpent Moses formed in the
wilderness, till King Hezekiah's time the Israelites worshiped that 'Nehushtan'
(2 Kings 18:4) .
Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned
twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. During his extra fifteen years, the arrangements
and transmission of the Old Testament Scriptures, was done by Hezekiah. To begin
with, his zeal for the house of Jehovah (2 Chr.29:3-19) and for the worship of
Jehovah (2 Chr.29:20-36). In connection with his re-establishment of the temple
services and strict adherence to the Scriptures has been memorable. Note the 2
Chronicles chapter 29 verses 25, 27, and 30 that explain his diligent and his
delight in the worship of Jehovah, and the Word of Jehovah. The sacred Scripture
that had accumulated up to his own time were his guide and authority in all the
service that he undertook. 2 Chronicles 3:21 speak the "work" which he began,
not only in the service of the "house of Jehovah", but also "in the law and in
Hezekiah formed a guild of men specially set apart for such devout literary
work. They are called "the men of Hezekiah". Those "the men of Hezekiah" had a
good hand in the shaping of the Book of Proverbs in to its present form. Look at
Proverbs 25:1, which marks the third of the three main divisions of that book.
It says, "These also are proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of
Judah, copied out." This guild of copyists, transcribers and transmitters of the
sacred text would begin and end their work simply with this one book of Proverbs
alone. Their work would extend to the other sacred writings, and Hezekiah
himself would maintain a special interest in it, being chief supervisor of all
their labors in the collecting and editing and arranging of the Scriptures.
Probably leaders among "the men of Hezekiah" were "Shebna the scribe, and Joah
the son of Asaph, the recorder (2 Kings 18:18), and Isaiah the prophet.
There seems to be a curious yet unmistakable confirmation of Hezekiah's work on
the Scripture, in the form of a certain peculiarity which very few Old Testament
scholars noted about. At the end of the many of the Old Testament, in the Hebrew
originals, 'three capital letters are found, three "majuscules" or "uncials" as
they are called in paleographic terminology. No Hebrew transcriber and no
compositor has dared to omit these three capital letters, even though not
knowing their meaning. And so, although no one can tell us how they came to be
there, or what they mean for certain, they still stand there, even in the
printed editions of the Hebrew Scriptures. And what are these three capital
letters? They are the three Hebrew letters, Heth, Zayin, Quoph; (in English,
H,Z,K). These three letters are the first three in the Hebrew name of Hezekiah,
and well stand for an abbreviation of his name, in the same way that men put
their initials on documents today. It is reasonably believed that when "the men
of Hezekiah" completed their work of transcribing the different books, Hezekiah
himself should have affixed his own sign manuals at the end, thus confirming
their work by royal guarantee.
Now all these things point in one direction: Hezekiah and his guild of Hebrew
literary experts had great deal to do with the preserving and transmitting of
the Old Testament as they have come down to us today. Is this really surprising?
Look a bit deeper. In Hezekiah's reign the time had come when it was imperative
that such a work should be done. It was in Hezekiah’s days, that the ten tribes
of northern kingdom, Israel, was swept into captivity by the Assyrians, and
dispersed among the cities of the Medes (2 Kings 18:11). Only the kingdom of
Judah (southern) was now left, of which Hezekiah was king, at Jerusalem: and
even Judah's days were numbered. Only five kings were to follow Hezekiah before
the Judah's Babylonian exile. Out of those five kings, four were ungodly
failures. The moment had come for the bringing together and editing of the
inspired Scriptures, with a view to their safe preservation and transmission.
This great task need divine guidance. Who should be God's man other than godly
king Hezekiah? And the time was more suitable than that of those God given
fifteen years? We have real reason to thank God for good king Hezekiah, that he
was found so eminently worthy of those extra fifteen years, and that he did so
much for posterity by his "work" in the Scripture.
An intriguing further significance of those fifteen years, Hezekiah's sickness
and recovery, solve a problem which has battled exegeses of the Old Testament
for more than 2000 years. If we open the Book of Psalms, there is one group of
psalms, which has always had a special interest. It consists of Psalms 120 to
134. These fifteen psalms are known as "The Songs of Degrees" (KJV -most
accurate translation from Septuagint/Hebrew text) or the " Songs of Ascents",
because over each of them we find the title, "A Song of Degrees/A song of
To what does this title refer? Well, an old Jewish notion was that these fifteen
psalms were so called because they were sung, each in order, on the fifteen
steps of the Temple. But the difficulty is to prove that there ever were fifteen
steps to the Temple. Nor do other suggested explanations fare much better Luther
took the title as meaning, "A Song in the higher choir", while Calvin, thought
it meant that these psalms were sung in a higher key. Bishop Jebb's idea was
that these psalms were so called because they were sung in connection with the
"going up" of the Ark to Mount Zion. Other outstanding scholars, taking the
Hebrew word as meaning "ascents" rather than "degrees", have supposed that
gradation, or series of ascents in the poetic parallelism of these psalms is
indicated, in which each line of a parallel carries the meaning of its
predecessor a degree further or an ascent higher; but the difficulty about this
supposed explanation is that not all these fifteen psalms posses this feature.
Some modern school makes all these psalms post-exilic, that the exiles sang when
they returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity. Others spiritualize
the psalms, and interpret them as referring to the Church; but the psalms
themselves speak only of Israel, Judah, Jerusalem and Zion. Suggestions are
plenty; but none of these ‘explanations’ fit truly to the psalms. What, then, of
these fifteen 'Song of Degrees'? Is there a really satisfactory solution? There
is, and we need not go outside the Bible or to the Tradition of the Fathers. The
explanation is in Bible itself.
To be ontinued...
Fr. Dr. V.C. Varghese, Sugar Land, Tx.
Does it mean sitting on the other side of the globe will not give an
understanding of what is happening to the side one was sitting before? I have
been to Thrikkunathu Seminary and have stayed and participated in the services
there a few times. I still know some of their OCYM members and to a certain
extent the neighbors around. In short my posting was not primarily based on a
I feel pity for the justification for the unwanted performances of a few youth
members. Based on the justification I wonder whether the youth were called to
display a show of strength. It is good for people to assemble for a memorial
service, but if it is to instigate people around, it is sad. Remember a few
clapping is all that you get for a moment but the tainted remarks will last long
and the poor faithful of Angamally will be left alone to defend themselves.
Thrikkunathu Seminary is primarily known as the diocesan headquarter of Angamaly
diocese. Subsequently the Bishops who led the diocese when passed away were laid
to rest there. Today this place has become a pilgrimage center aswell. Any
individual, whoever it may be, visiting that place especially on and around the
memorial days should arrive with the prime motive to pay respect, offer prayers
and seek intercession of the departed fathers. Anybody who is coming with
ulterior motive especially to show strength is disrespecting the late father’s
who have lead the church painstakingly.
We at the present chapel conduct memorial service of all the four Bishops on
their memorial days. Surrounding the memorial day of L/L H.G Kuttikattil Paulose
Mar Athanasios on 26th January, who has been declared a Saint by the Jacobites a
few years ago, there is big noise. The reason being their faction wanted to
conduct special prayers as they wish. It is only due to the generosity of our
church we have allowed them some time, succumbing to the pressure of the
district authorities. If we as a church can allow that generosity, what is the
point in making a further scene? Instead we should try to win them over by our
Special police protection was ordered by the district authorities surrounding
the Feast on January 26th. Setting up of barricades, metal detectors etc. are
made by the district authorities and there is no involvement of the youth or any
other members of our church as maintenance of law and order comes under the
purview of the Government. The factions’ in turn are asked to pay a certain sum.
Police were deployed not only in uniform but also in mufti to get intelligence
report and they did their job. Nobody including the genuine faithful amongst the
Jacobites expected and accepted what HB Thomas did at the Tomb last year and the
district authorities were cautious to that affect this year. This scene has also
brought back memories of the fearful sight of a police man who was screaming
after he was bitten a few decades ago when he tried to arrest.
As per the current agreement four hours each were allotted to both the factions
for faithful to come in groups of 10 and spent not more than 10 minutes for each
group. I wonder if each group had to follow this arrangement how many would have
really visited the tombs.
We reciprocating just like the Jacobite youths will make us yet another “KEFA”
unit. And if our Youth have been assembling here to learn from them and giving
them ‘tit for tat’, I feel HB Thomas has served his mission!
Infact there was an opportunity for the youth to shout slogans to celebrate at
Piravum. On 25th January 2013, Shri V.G.Anil Kumar, Addl. District Judge has
given an order on a suit reference number O.S.No.6/1985 regarding the Piravum
Church which has more history than Thrikkunathu Seminary.
The decree summaries as follows : “In the result, suit is partly decreed without
costs and it is declared that St.Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Piravom has to
be administered under 1934 constitution of Malankara church and as amended
subsequently. The other prayers in the plaint are dismissed.”
This is where our Malankara Metropolitan, Priest trustee, Lay trustee and
Association Secretary should have led the youth and shouted slogans. Instead who
assembled at Piravum and who conducted the service there?
Be brave, “Call a spade a spade”.
Philip Ayyamplackal, Auckland
PS: Attached herewith is the official publication of OCYM, February 2013 issue.
Please go thru the editorial (page 2) by the Chief Editor and also the letter by
the Central General Secretary (page 4) and take inspiration. Let us not deviate
from the very principles of OCYM – WORSHIP – SERVICE – STUDY.
1 of 1 File(s)
This is with reference to your ICON posting. Please find attached the list of
Christian names compiled by me for your reference.
Sam Cherian Karuvely
1 of 1 File(s)
Holy Cross Mission Parish, New York City Service on February 9, 2013 CANCELLED.
Due to the expected inclement weather and to ensure the safety and well being of
the faithful, Holy Cross Mission has decided to cancel the Holy Qurbana
scheduled for Saturday, February 9th.
Please join us on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 5:00 pm with Evening Prayers,
Holy Qurbana and ...
Continue Reading at
Young Women's Conference in DC/Maryland/Virginia: 2/9/2013
2013 Family and Youth Conference: 7/10/2013 - 7/13/2013
Source: NE American Website
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