Bitter experience from my Vicar
- Dear ICON members,
Let me share a bitter experience which I had from my Vicar at Mycavu St. Mary's Church (Malabar Diocese). I am working in Saudi Arabia since nine years and living there with my wife and two children. Now we are on vacation for the past two weeks. Our last vacation was in June 2006. During these three years since the last vacation, we could not attend any Holy Qurbana and partake in the Holy Communion.
We were very happy to attend service in our home church during this Holy Lent period. But an unfortunate event occurred when we went to our church to partake in the Holy Communion recently. We were shocked when my wife was abruptly told by the vicar that he cannot service any of our spiritual needs. "If you need something from this church, give one application for another membership in your name," he told her.
On enquiry we learned that the vicar was acting upon a recent kalpana by the diocesan metropolitan,HG Dr Zacharia Mar Theophilos. HG had warned that members attending meetings conducted by MY Yohannan's prayer group cannot receive spiritual services from the church. We were not aware of this. It should be mentioned here that my father has been attending Prof. M.Y. Yohannan's prayer meetings of late. He had served the church for about 25 years as a Sunday school headmaster and he also worked as a Divyabodhanam director. He still remains an active member of our church. He had started attending the meetings following the onset of cancer in my mother. Me and my wife were not aware of the kalpana when we went to the church to receive Holy Communion.
I am the only one son of my father and is still living with him. If I follow the vicar's instructions and apply for a separate membership, our family will be split. What shall I do? I don't like any Penticost and 'pallicost' prayer meetings.
The strong stand against the prayer meetings conducted by Prof M Y Yohannan has been taken by HH the Catholicos himself through a bull (300/2007). HG Theophilos was merely reiterating that stand. This is a matter concerning spiritual discipline in the church.
From your message we are unable to conclude whether your father is still receiving spiritual services from your church since you mention that he remains an active member.
In case he's receiving spiritual services, there's an error in refusing the same to you, and you should bring it to the notice of the vicar. However, in case he's not receiving spiritual services, and you are truthful in your assertion that you have kept your distance from such prayer meetings, it may be useful for you to bring the matter to the notice of the diocesan bishop through an application. Please take care to mention in the letter about the peculiar circumstances in Saudi Arabia which has strong restrictions in place against the practice of faiths other than Islam. The metropolitan may conduct an enquiry to ascertain the veracity of your statement before taking a decision.
Let us know what happened.
We sympathise with your situation and pray for a just outcome.
- --- Dear Sir,
You are merely a victim of circumstances. Your Vicar is not responsible for it.
Please do not take the following as criticism. I am trying to understand why people go to these meetings.
Why did your father go to MY Yohannan's meetings? What did he find there that was not available in the Church?
I am sure he found a support group when he had to face his wife's serious illness.
I am sure he found hope because Mr Yohannan (I do not know him, nor have I attended his meetings) would have prayed for her and said some consoling words. (ALl such Ministries do that. That is why they survive.)
Perhaps he has an aura of authenticity and holiness built up through his ministry. Perhaps he is able to inspire faith . This is a peculiar gift . Mr Yohannan may be an honest man I do not know about him. But Charles Sobhraj, in spite of the world knowing him as a criminal and murderer, could still manage to get women to trust him.
We cannot judge Mr Yohannan or his Ministry. But when we belong to the Church, we must obey the Church. We have a democratic process and if we find any of the rules wrong, there is a democratic process for setting it right also.
I cannot flout the "Officers Service Regulations" of the Institution I work in . Similarly, I should not take the Church's rules casually.
It is, after all, the Church and the priests, who are responsible for our spiritual lives and who pray for us and guide us.
When, as children, our parents imposed certain rules, we obeyed even though we could not understand these. I think, in this matter too, we must trust the Church or use the democratic methods at our disposal to challenge the rules.
But why do people, who have known Orthodoxy and was director of Divyabodhanam, seek guidance outside? Are not our priests trained in spiritual guidance?
- Why can't the family recieve Holy Qurbana as long as they have recieved baptism in Orthodox church? What does that have to do with membership?
- Dear Mr. Jaison,
The Vicar did not allow you to have the Holy sacraments of the Church with his notice that your father is attending the meetings of Mr. K.P. Yohannan as the Kalpana of the diocesan Bishop forbids it. If anyone is continuing the participation of a banned meeting is disobedience of the order of the Church. The Holy sacraments belong to the church and hence the Vicar can refuse to those who are disobeying the Kalpana of the Church.
But in your case is different as you and your wife are not attending that meeting of Mr. Yohannan, but if your father is still continuing as a member of the parish with an eligibility to attend the General body (paying all dues and at least had the yearly confession) then you are eligible to have the Holy services of the church. If your father has not having the eligibility then your membership is in question and then you have to take a membership in your name in your mother parish or any parish that you are living (I know it is not practical as you are in Saudi Arabia). But if you forward a membership application to the mother church the Vicar may willing to accept it and you may have all the right to receive the Holy Services of my Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
I do appreciate and congratulate the Vicar as he is following the rules and regulations of My Malankara Orthodox Church. Also I appreciate Mr. Jaison for his faith in Church and his unchallengeable spirit.
Even if you felt this action of the Vicar as bitter, it is the best experience to you as you can be proud about your Vicar that He is Loyal to our Church and following the rules and regulations of the Church and obedient to the Church and you can be proud of that as you belongs to the Church that follows the principle.
Charly V. Padanilam, Houston, TX.
- Dear All,
We need to hear from both end and get a conclusion for this incidents.
But, it is being observed in our church that,these rules and canons are vanished, if they are relates to some priests or bishops in our church. Canon must have applied to everyone.
Thanks & Regards,
- Dear Jaison,
Irrespective of what is right or wrong, I understand that your feelings have been hurt due to this incidence and I wish you will see this as an opportunity to understand more about our church.
The membership in a church(especially traditional orthodox churches in kerala) is not usually obtained by an application form. As your father was very much close to the church, I believe your childhood memories are abundant of experiences at your church. I guess you are naturally a member from your baptism onwards. Any actions of your father need not affect your membership or your spouses membership. You can clarify this with your diocesian Thirumeni.
You might have already left home for Saudi once again for a possible long term detachment with the church. You can get e-mail ID of Mar Theophilose Thirumeni from ICON.
Wish you all the best.