As we all are preparing to enter the ETTUNOMBU season I consider it as
appropriate to think and meditate on our MOTHER MARY. Here is an article I
recently wrote. Hope everybody would enjoy. Let us dedicate our prayers in
Her great name so that OUR LORD'S name be glorified for ever.
By REV. PROF. VARGHESE P. MANIKAT
The Oxford American Dictionary defines spirituality as �of the human spirit
or soul, not physical or worldly.� Spirituality is something insubstantial
and invisible; one cannot see it, hear it, touch it or smell it. When we
see someone pious and holy, we usually say that, that person is �spiritual.�
They might pray regularly, read the Bible frequently, and participate in
church services. We mean that this person is in touch with God and is in
tune with their spiritual side. However, what allows us to classify someone
as spiritual and someone else as an unbeliever? What are the internal
criteria we use to evaluate a person�s spirituality? These criteria can
be categorized mainly into three parts: practices, faith, and doctrine.
Practices are the most visible part of personality. Behavior of a person
helps others identify the personality of someone. The way we walk, talk and
even stand speaks about all of us. Spirituality of a person conducts himself
in his life. Spiritual practices are holy traditions that have stood the test
of time and have been approved by our spiritual forefathers of the Church.
They include sacraments like the Holy Eucharist, Baptism, Confession, and
others. Prayer is a very important religious practice, as well. These
practices are a way for the faithful to profess their faith symbolically.
When we see someone deep in prayer, we are automatically filled with awe
and respect at this profoundly spiritual person. Spiritual experience is
beyond our explanation. All saints who lived in the past and are being
revered and blessed lived a life of spirit. Mor Simeon the stylite whom
we remember in the fifth diptychs was a monk who spent forty years on top
of a sixty feet tall pillar fasting and praying. People gathered around
the pillar to listen to his wisdom from all over. Even Kings came to him
for his noble advice. Many sick were healed just by believing in his words.
Practices, however, do not mean much without faith. One must have faith for
these practices to actually mean something; else, they are just mindless
actions that soon turn boring. Influenced by other denominations and not
finding time to understand our own faith, people tend to find fault and
complain about our practices. Some say our service is too repetitive and
very long. But they are either ignorant or neglectful of the fact that in
life things that are repeated are the most important and meaningful such as
food, sleep; to cite certain simple examples. Those who complain need to
learn how to enjoy. Faith is belief, pure and simple. It is certainty in
our fundamental Christian principles. Faith is probably the most important
part of spirituality. Without faith, all of Christianity, or any other
religion, is rendered inane. It is a cardinal principle that Jesus Christ
came down from heaven to earth and died on the cross to redeem our sins.
Faith in this principle is incredibly important when one considers themselves
a Christian. Without belief in this tenet, mostly every ritual performed in
our churches is pointless. Without faith, practices are not worth your time.
Doctrine encompasses all the Christian teachings about various issues,
principles, and questions. Knowing the correct way to live your life according
to doctrines is also a very important part of spirituality. Doctrinal dogmas
like �love your enemies� originate from the wisdom and experience. A lawless
society cannot survive. Every body requires rules and regulations to ensure
that what the members are doing is according to the original purposes of an
organization. Religious doctrines may appear to be rigid bonds of dictatorship
but rigorous practices could only be brought about by adhering to strict
discipline. Thus, following doctrine is an important part of being a good
Christian and maintaining one�s spirituality. Man, I believe, started his life
lawless and with full freedom. As he evolved in daily life and thought, he
brought about �system� in to life according to his vision. His own dreams about
his future inspired him to come up with a pattern, which later on grew into a
set of laws. Those laws, he believed would satiate his thirst for the ultimate
freedom, salvation, be with God, in the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, he got
entangled in the mesh of his own laws instead of getting himself freed. He
needs help as he is weak. The one and only help come from none other than the
Divine Power. The ultimate freedom and holy existence is possible only by
following the criteria of spirituality- practices, faith, and doctrine.
St. Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, was arguably one of the most
spiritual people ever. She had dedicated her entire life to God and had lived
and worked for Him diligently. Mary always did what was right and well
pleasing in God�s eyes, fulfilling the �practices� and �doctrine� requirement
of spirituality. Her faith was revealed by the fact that she was able to see
the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God, and comprehend fully what he said to
her. She did not attempt to rationalize or evaluate God�s plan. �Faith,
according to H. L. Mencken, is an illogical belief in the improbable�. Her
unquestioned obedience to the will of God and total submission to the divine
plan was the result of acquiring the trust and courage to go beyond mere belief
into the uncharted territory of knowing. She entered into a realm where
miracles were just possible. We know that God would not have given anyone other
than an intensely spiritual person the job of raising His son, our Lord Jesus
Christ. Thus, Mary is an ideal example for us to follow when we desire to
become spiritual and grow closer to God. She is the embodiment of spirituality.
The Assumption of St. Mary gives her a special place in heaven and her ability
to mediate. It is true that Mary had a say in her son�s actions. Through her He
confirms the faith of His disciples at Cana by performing the miracle for which
she asked. Through her He confirms John�s faith on Calvary, saying �Son, behold
thy mother�. Through her the Holy Ghost gave Himself to the Apostles, for we
read in Acts1:14 that she prayed with them while they prepared themselves for
the apostolate and for the light and strength and graces of Pentecost. Her
presence in heaven makes her more powerful. The Christian sense of the faithful
assures us that a mother in heaven knows the spiritual needs of the children
she has left behind and that she prays for their salvation. St. Paul tells us
that Our Blessed Lord does not cease to make intercession for us. Mother Mary
is all-powerful with her Son because of the love by which they are united, she
obtains all the graces from Him. This power of Mary is proclaimed by us each
time we recite �Hail Mary, full of grace�.�.
Mother Mary�s influence must become increasingly all embracing as we advance
in our interior spiritual life. The Holy Spirit became fruitful on earth
through Mary. It was with her and of her that he produced His masterpiece,
Lord Jesus Christ. Mary exercises a very profound influence on faithful souls
to lead them to ever-greater intimacy with our Blessed Lord. Mary�s mediation
does not obscure that of Jesus Christ. Her mediation is but a share in His;
her merits have been acquired under His influence, and it is He who confers
on her the dignity of being a cause in the order of salvation andsanctification.
Note:The author is the co-ordinator for Sunday Schools in the diocese of
the Malankara jacobite syrian orthodox church in North America.
He has recently joined our forum. We take this moment to welcome him, along with others, who joined the forum recently and request active participation in the forum.
From Moderators SOCM Forum.