Martyrs, saints & prelates of the Syriac Orthodox Church
Dr. Annamma Joseph, Trivandrum
The age is past when no questions were asked by the young Churchgoer. Among the many areas, the fifth commandment has loosened its hold on; the foremost is the compulsion on the young to attend the Church regularly. Sundays are no longer exclusively Sabbath days. The young are becoming increasingly intolerant of the time being �wasted� on a Sunday morning, which they would rather spend on more entertaining pursuits opened up by economic independence, distance from home, and exposure to a more Westernised way of life.
The book titled "Martyrs, Saints & Prelates of the Syriac Orthodox Church", is a collection of fifty biographies, by Fr. Dr. Rajan which will, I feel, go a long way to bring these doubting Thomases back to the fold. It hence goes beyond being a source of information, to become therapeutic. When the young meet the Church face to face, what they see is only the outward shell. The core or the essence eludes them. This work sends a searchlight to those hidden areas. The young should no more be discouraged by the vagueness inbuilt in the worship and other religious practices. Here is material which tells them how the Church was built up brick on brick by the sweat and toil, and even the life, of the faithful. The memorials erected for these pillars of the Church within the liturgy, and celebrations of their lives on their feast days, should no more go unheeded as irrelevant.
Except for those familiar figures of the Bible like St. Mary, the disciples, and the evangelists, and perhaps those who have been closely associated with Malankara, the majority of the subjects dealt with, are unheard of by the layman. They come to life on Fr. Dr. Rajan�s pages, surprising the reader with the intensity of their commitment to the faith, and their willingness to undergo suffering to levels beyond the limits of human endurance. Further, already familiar figures acquire additional dimensions in the expert hands of the author, becoming fully rounded, multidimensional, figures, replacing the two-dimensional pictures we have been carrying with us all along.
A remarkable thing which comes out from a close perusal of the work, is the vulnerability of the Church as a worldly institution. Inequalities and conflicting ideologies have always been there. The present is not one of those exceptionally bad times after all. What we see and are unhappy about, are only the waves on the surface. We can still feel happy in the overwhelming presence of the permanent realities within the depths, beautifully represented by Fr. Dr. Rajan in this remarkable work. The publication is a joint venture of The Travancore Syriac Orthodox Publishers, Kottayam - 4 and SOCMNet.org. Copies of book are availabe at our Church book shops.
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