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Sunday School Competition Essays for Judging

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  • Very Rev. Thomas Mundukuzhy Cor-Episcopa
    From the Desk of the Moderators: As requested by Mundukuzhy Achen, we are posting the essays for your review and grading. We request our esteemed members to
    Message 1 of 21 , Jun 28, 2003
      From the Desk of the Moderators:

      As requested by Mundukuzhy Achen, we are posting the essays for your review and grading. We request our esteemed members to grade them and inform Mundukuzhy achen directly (veryrevtpm@ yahoo.com). Please include a brief note about yourself including your full name, age, contact number/address and any other pertinent information along with the grade report.

      STUDENTS (hard copies are not included) FOR THE ESSAY

      Thank you in advance.

      Mundukuzhy Achen
      Sunday School Director

      2003 GENERAL ASSIGNED COMPETITIONS: A case study: "How
      has being a Christian helped you cope through A RECENT
      HAPPENINGS IN YOUR LIFE? For example, the recent
      terrorist activities of September 11th. The following
      are some questions to guide you in your essay (of
      course you are not required to address all of these
      questions in your writing): How has your religion made
      you stronger? How has your Christian community
      (church, priest, Sunday School, parents, Friends,
      Teachers, your personal experiences or insights you
      have gained post-9/11) helped you to be tolerant of
      everyday people of Middle-Eastern decent, who are most
      persecuted since September 11th? What are some
      questions that you kept asking God during 9/11, how
      did you seek answers to these questions, what were the
      answers? What does the Bible tell us about all this?
      The essay should be no more than 2-3 pages."
      NO: 5:

      I remember many times I turned to God and my religion
      for help in the times of trouble. Most recently, the
      world I know was traumatized when the terrorists
      attacked New York City, close to my home and
      associated with me. Right after it happened, there was
      fear of more terrorist attacks elsewhere and the only
      reassurance was through prayer, the Church and the
      In Sunday school, I learned the concept of turning the
      other cheek. For a couple of days, it was hard to
      forgive because many of my friends� parents had died
      in the attacks. I soon had a change of heart when I
      opened the Bible one day and my eyes fell on the
      words, �Love your neighbor as you love yourself.� It
      was in the Gospel of St. Matthew, when Jesus had
      summarized the Ten Commandments into two. These two,
      he said, were the greatest out of the Ten
      Commandments. I was also moved by the story of Jesus
      on the Cross, how he had suffered greatly, but in the
      end, as he was nailed to the cross, he asks his
      Heavenly Father to forgive those who persecuted him.
      �Forgive them, Father! They know not what they are
      doing (Luke 23.34).�
      The Church has always made me feel safe. To me, it is
      a safe haven to retreat to every Sunday. After the
      terrorist attacks, I found relief when I went to
      Church, as I felt protected in the presence of God. I
      was also reflective when my Church recited the Sermon
      on the Mount every Sunday morning. ��Blessed are the
      merciful, for they shall obtain mercy�� Jesus tells us
      that if we are merciful to our brothers and sisters
      then God will be merciful upon us. But who exactly are
      our brothers and sisters? They are everyone, both
      Christian and non-Christian, whom we come across in
      our daily struggle to find the narrow path. �Blessed
      are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of
      God �� Jesus also teaches us not to retaliate, but to
      create peace with our enemies. Then we will be called
      the sons of God, sons carrying out the will of their
      Heavenly Father. Unfortunately, our country has not
      understood the meaning of this teaching and has made
      war in two countries murdering people on both sides of
      the conflict. This included both the American soldiers
      and the civilians of those countries.
      In the Bible I find relief for many of my negative
      emotions. When I am distressed, hearing the story of
      the Indian mother of 2 that was killed in the towers,
      I am comforted by the passage ��let all those rejoice
      who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for
      joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love
      Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will
      bless the righteous; with favor you will surround him
      as with a shield�� When I am depressed, I can always
      look back at Psalm 57: ��They have prepared a net for
      my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit
      before me; into the midst of it they themselves have
      fallen. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is
      steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my
      glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I
      will praise you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will
      sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches
      into the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. Be
      exalted, O God, above all the earth��
      After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, people,
      including myself, began asking questions that they
      have not asked before or have not asked for some time.
      "Why did God allow the terrorists to attack us? If God
      is so all-powerful, surely He could have stopped the
      attacks�" A few months after the attacks, this was the
      one of the more popular questions. As I was watching
      TV, switching the channels, I was stopped when I heard
      this question. It was directed to a priest and this
      was his answer. Yes, God could have stopped the
      attacks, but for some reason we cannot fully
      understand and never know, He didn't. The larger
      question behind this question is "Why is there evil in
      the world? Why does God allow evil to exist, when He
      could destroy it?"

      That's a question that better minds than mine cannot

      The good news is that a day is coming when all evil
      will be vanquished once and for all, when the lamb
      will lay down with the lion, when the swords shall be
      beaten into plowshares, Isaiah 2:4 promises.

      That day will be when Jesus comes back to take His
      rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But
      until that day, if the lamb lies down with the lion,
      it better not sleep too soundly. And we had better
      keep our swords sharp and ready until that day,
      because we'd have a hard time defending ourselves from
      evil with plowshares.

      Until Jesus comes, we are living in a world where evil
      is a fact, regardless of whether we understand its
      existence in God's plan. And evil is the only way to
      describe what happened to the helpless people in New
      York and Washington and on airliners who were killed
      on Sept. 11 in the name of Allah in a distortion of
      Islamic religion.
      After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, many
      questions kept people full of unrest, and searching
      for the answer. I found my answers in the Bible and
      through my Church and a priest. I realize that people
      who don�t believe in God did have a harder time
      finding answers and adjusting, getting life back to

      NO: 10:

      In our lives we go through many painful trials and
      tribulations several times. Sometimes these burdens
      overwhelm us and leave us with no hope. Job once said,
      "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward."
      Suffering is the common burden of humanity. When our
      heart is aching with the calamities and sufferings of
      this world, we may think, "What is the need for all of
      this? Why am I going through all this pain? What can I
      do about this burden that is weighing me down? No
      matter what happens, or how great the problem is, we
      will always know that we can get an answer from the

      Tragedy is very well known to mankind, and there is
      not one day where tragedy does not strike a person.
      Lately, we have been hearing about nothing but war,
      terrorism and tragedy. Sept 11, 2001 has had a great
      impact on the lives of many Americans; it was
      unexpected, disastrous, and devastating. It started as
      any normal day would, children rushing out of their
      homes in getting to school, busy mothers and fathers
      preparing them, people going about their regular
      I went to school, thinking that everything was just as
      it normally was, and returned that afternoon with such
      horrible news. Waiting for the bell for class to ring,
      I was staring out the window, and I saw as the first
      tower went up in flames. In seeing so much smoke, I
      could not understood what happened, and was very
      confused. Why had this happened? Why were so many
      innocent lives taken? Why would God do such a thing?
      Why would God allow this to happen? These are all
      questions that ran through my head during that time.
      Many people cried out saying "Oh God!" without even
      realizing that they were calling to God. Tragedy had
      taken place in all different parts of the world, but
      it had never affected me in any way. But I soon
      realized that all my burdens could be wiped away with
      the help of God, and the bible. I left all my problems
      for God and then I realized how privileged and proud I
      was of being a Christian. The bible provides us with
      the answer to all our problems. Psalm 55:22 tells us
      to "Cast your burden on our lord and He will sustain
      you." As a Christian we have to learn to put all our
      burdens on our Lord and surrender ourselves to the
      will of God. God's constant care for us will make a
      deep impression on all who see it. Then we will not
      fear of bad news, nor live in dread of what is yet to
      come. We as Christians have to settle in our minds
      that God will take care of us. We have to understand
      that our worst time is God's best time. God never
      operates with out a purpose. There is a reason behind
      His working hand in all cases. This shows the
      principle of divine dependability: You can count on
      God! "Cast all your care upon Him for He cares for
      you," says 1Peter 5:7. Then as Christians we have to
      bear the burden of other's too. Galatians 6:2 says,
      "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of
      Christ." Bearing one another's burden is related to
      Jesus' greatest commandment, "Love one another." We
      can see that many people opened their hearts and
      wallets to help the helpless victims of 9/11. Many
      donated blood, money, cloths, and their valuable time
      and service for the victims, as individuals and
      communities. Our Diocese Metropolitan, Mathews Mar
      Barnabas issued special kalpanas to open the eyes of
      our church members and there is no doubt that we were
      able to show our solidarity. By doing this we carry
      out that law of love. When we have a problem or are
      going through a difficult time, we need to be truthful
      enough to tell a brother or sister. St. James says,
      "Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one
      another." (James 5:16) Faith is the key to our entire
      relationship with God. We are "saved through faith"
      (Eph. 2:8), "sanctified by faith" (Acts 26:18),
      "justified by faith" (Gal 2:16) and we are kept
      through the doorway of faith, for St. Paul wrote,
      "therefore being justified and rejoice in the hope of
      the glory of God." (Rom. 5:1,2) God often allows us to
      have burdens and calamities to exercise our faith.
      Through hardships, God works on us to make us more
      valuable. During these difficult times, many people
      may turn to drinking, drugs or other types of
      addictions in an effort to escape. In reality, they
      are missing the blessings. Many times we seek relief
      and fulfillment in other things, which may give us
      temporary relief. But being a Christian, we want
      everlasting peace and so we must surrender everything
      to God. St. Paul writes "we can rejoice when we run
      into problems and trials if we know that they are good
      for us. This will help us to be able to tolerate
      everything patiently. This patience develops strength
      of character in us and helps us to trust God more and
      more each time. So as Christians, whatever difficult
      situation we are in, whether we are experiencing
      loneliness, frustration, depression, etc, we have to
      realized that nobody or nothing can fill our hearts
      the way God can. It is never too late and God is
      patiently waiting to bless us. Jesus Christ promises
      that he will never forsake us no matter what the
      situation may be. "When my father and mother forsake
      me, then the Lord will take care of me." (Psalm 27:10)
      We serve a mighty God, and whatever is impossible with
      man is possible with God. So when we feel like we have
      lost all hope and are defeated by the world, we have
      to look to the one who has already defeated the world.
      Then we will get all the courage we need to cope
      through the difficulties in our life.

      NO; 15:

      After the tragedy of September 11th, I felt as
      though my world was tumbling down. Everything that I
      once believed in and valued didn't seem real
      anymore. I kept asking God, "Why?" "Why did all
      those innocent civilians lose their lives?" And most
      importantly, "Why couldn't my Lord save them?" When
      I first heard about the tragedy of the World Trade
      Center (WTC), I was in shock. I had many friends who
      had loved ones working in the WTC. As I was hearing
      the news reports after the first attack, I still had
      hope. in my heart. I kept telling myself that God
      would save those people. He would never allow
      innocent lives to be murdered. He would save them.
      Then the second attack occurred. I continued
      reminding myself that God would not fail the innocent.
      I kept waiting for some type of miracle to take
      place. At that moment the towers collapsed, and I
      felt the greatest sense of sorrow I had ever
      experienced in my life Months after the attacks, my
      faith in God grew stronger and stronger. I realized
      that in a sense the Lord did save the victims. He
      gave them salvation. I know in my heart that those
      innocent victims were not alone in the last few
      moments of their lives. God sent his angels to be
      with them and to guide them out of our earthly world
      into the heavenly one. Without my faith in God, I
      could not have continued my every day life. Every
      time I felt that I lost my way, God helped me find the
      right path. He guided me when I could not find the
      strength to guide myself. I was able to cope with the
      tragedy around me due to my prayers. Every time I
      felt frustrated or depressed, I would simply close my
      eyes and say a prayer. This small act gave me such a
      sense of peace. After September 11th, the people
      originating from the Middle East have suffered through
      many hardships. Even though these people share the
      same background as the terrorists, that does not mean
      that they support or harbor terrorism. I remember a
      clear example of the persecution the Middle Easterners
      endured after the WTC tragedy. I was on the train one
      day when an elderly Middle Eastern couple walked
      through the doors. The woman was practicing their
      native tradition by covering her hair and wearing the
      traditional dress that covered her entire body except
      for her face. The man was also wearing a traditional
      pantsuit outfit and he also covered his hair with
      cloth. As soon as the couple entered the train, the
      whole compartment stopped what they were doing and
      stared at the couple. The passengers were suspicious
      and they watched the couple until they got off the
      train. That incident was very disturbing for me. The
      couple was judged by their outer appearance and
      immediately considered as a threat to society. At one
      point during the train ride, I glanced at the couple
      and I recognized the unease and fear they had on their
      faces. They were just as scared as the patrons on the
      train. It was ironic because the passengers were
      suspicious of the couple, and the whole time the
      couple was scared and suspicious of the passengers.
      It is very important not to judge a whole ethnic group
      for the crimes of a few members. The members of the
      terrorist organizations are mainly from Middle Eastern
      descent, but that does not imply that all Middle
      Easterners are terrorists. To make that assumption
      would be degrading and dishonorable. The famous
      saying, "never judge a book by its cover," can be
      applied to this situation. When seeing an individual
      that's Muslim and Middle Eastern, do not automatically
      assume that they are dangerous or harmful. Instead
      give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them with
      the same cordial respect that you would expect to be
      treated with. I learned many lessons after the
      recent tragic attacks. One significant lesson would
      be the importance of God in my life. If I had any
      doubt about his existence, the attacks cleared it up
      for me. It strengthened my faith and love for my
      Savior. I also realized that everything that occurred
      happened for a reason. The lives that were taken on
      that horrific day are now with God. They are finally
      at peace.

      STUDENTS (hard copies are not included) FOR THE ESSAY

      Thank you in advance.

      Mundukuzhy Achen
      Sunday School Director
      "What are you most proud of about being an Orthodox
      Christian? Why? What are your visions for the Orthodox
      Church in the Western Hemisphere?"

      NO: 30:

      I am proud of being an Indian Orthodox Christian, the
      Christianity that established by our lord Jesus
      Christ. This Indian Orthodox Church which was found in
      the state of Kerala in India by St. Thomas the
      apostle, around 52 AD, and it is considered as one of
      the ancient churches of the world. The church is Gods
      activities on the Earth, which is built on the
      foundation of apostles and prophets (Eph: 2:20). The
      teachings shall lead its members to the truth (John
      16:13). The teachings of the church shall not be
      changed (Galatians 1:8). The Church is the Body of
      Christ which cannot be divided (1 Cor: 12:13-27). This
      is where Orthodox Christians stand. The word Orthodox
      means straight (right) and doxos means praise (glory).
      Orthodox means true faith. The orthodox churches are
      based on their faith, traditions, worship, and holy
      life of love and service than just preaching and
      proselytizing. These are the basis of all thoughts and
      actions, and the reason for its survival through
      periods of oppression. The Indian Orthodox Church
      belongs to the family of the oriental orthodox
      churches, which consists of about 25 million
      members.My vision for the Orthodox Church in the
      Western Hemisphere is to see everybody to follow the
      old traditions that originated in India. Although some
      people have a mentality about long services, as an
      altar boy I enjoy being a part of it. In our faith, we
      have a personal commitment to our God. Our worship is
      very organized with beautiful songs. Every one who
      participates in the Eucharistic services should have
      the right intention and attention because Eucharist
      assures us eternity. By Gods grace the faith and
      tradition of a small community in India have remained
      alive and active over 2000 years. To participate the
      new generation I would like our churches to include
      more of English services rather than just continue
      Malayalam services every week. The English services
      can increase the participation and understanding more
      about the services. As long as we do not change our
      traditions and faith, coming up with plans and
      projects can be taken into consideration. Books
      written by our fathers help me to understand more
      about the faith and the tradition of our Orthodox
      Christianity. I would like to continue my mission as
      an Orthodox Christian where Christ stands as the
      corner stone, the head, and the bridegroom of the
      church. I want to continue to listen the preaching, be
      an example to others follow the worship services of
      our church including the prayers, songs, scripture
      readings, meditation, and Holy Communion. Our church
      is founded in the faith of our first century
      ancestors. Church is not just for Sunday prayers. We
      should be taking part in all church activities
      promptly with love and concern. This should be the
      duties of a loyal, loving, and living Christian.
      However, we are the main streams of the descendents of
      St Thomas who have remained true to the original

      NO: 35:

      Am I proud of being an Orthodox Christian? Yes. St.
      Thomas, the apostle, in A.D 52, founded the Indian
      Orthodox Church, which I belong. This church is
      eastern in origin, and it is not Roman Catholic or
      protestant. The Orthodox Church in India, is one of
      the 37 apostolic churches, dating from the time of
      Disciples of Christ. This church remained one and at
      peace, treasuring the same ethnic and cultural
      characteristics, as the local community. People try to
      bring different faith, but the main body of Thomas
      Christians, remained in the orthodoxy faith, where I
      became a part of them and proud to be there. The
      church is the holy institution founded by Lord Jesus
      Christ for the salvation of men, bearing the holy
      sanction and authority and composed of men having the
      same faith. Church is built upon the foundation of
      Apostles, where Jesus himself being the corner stone
      (Eph. 2; 20). Orthodox means true faith and Orthodox
      life is practicing a true faith. The real faith is
      knowing the Trinity, believing without seeing the
      whole of the faith, faith in action and faith that
      overcomes the world. The major objective of our church
      is, worship, instruction, fellowship, and Evangelism.
      Our church posses four marks established in Nice and
      Creed ie: we believe in one Holy, Catholic, and
      Apostolic Church.
      My vision for the Orthodox Church in the Western
      Hemisphere is to continue the objectives such as
      worship, instruction, and fellowship, preaching and
      witnessing Jesus Christ. The church is one because
      Church is the body of Christ, which cannot be divided
      (1 Cor 12:13-27). We are united with people of
      different economic background ranks and will always
      should stay united. We should keep ourselves away from
      hatred, unrighteousness, selfishness, disobedient, and
      false teachings. We have to recognize the written and
      unwritten foundation for the order and the disciplines
      of church. I would like to follow the traditions,
      which carried among our father in India. Long services
      and repetitions in certain occasions can considered to
      be cut short, but I enjoy the Quarbana services, which
      is very organized with lots of prayers and songs. The
      American Indian orthodox generations may enjoy more of
      the services if they have services that are more in
      English instead of Malayalam. English services could
      increase the participation of younger generation and
      we will feel accepted to Orthodox community. The
      youth�s involvement in church activities and other
      charity services is very important to continue our
      mission. Our father�s books are always a guide to our
      tradition, faith that is the basics of Indian Orthodox
      The Christian church which first appeared in India as
      the Thomas Christians light the path to a future peace
      within and beyond the orthodox community. We are
      living here in this world to finish the work our God
      asked us to do. As long as he let us, stay here we
      have to do that work with all thy heart, with all thy
      soul, and with thy entire mind.

      NO: 40:

      Being an Orthodox Christian helps me in many ways
      through my everyday life. The aspect of our faith that
      makes me proud is the great significance of each and
      every part of the Holy Qurbana. Our elaborate and
      symbolic service is what shines out of our faith and
      makes it different from others. The Orthodox faith is
      growing in me everyday and I hope our faith will grow
      in all our lives and the lives of our children.
      In the Holy Qurbana, there are many significant parts
      from beginning to end. �He who eats my flesh and
      drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him.� (St. John
      6:56-57) The importance of Holy Qurbana is to show our
      remembrance of Jesus Christ and to attain Christ�
      perfection. Jesus came down from heaven and was sent
      by God to save all sinners, such as Adam. Adam was not
      able to achieve this perfection, but Jesus showed
      perfection can be accomplished. Just as Jesus offered
      the bread and wine to his apostles in Golgotha to
      forgive all sins, priests today offer the same
      sacrifice to us. This reenactment allows us to partake
      in the offering, therefore, forgiving all our sins and
      increasing our relationship with God. The Holy Qurbana
      is a celebration to thank God for all his blessings
      and share His love. �We have to love others as our
      Lord loved us.� (St. John 15:12) Our goal in life is
      to achieve His perfection and through partaking in the
      Holy Qurbana we receive his meal. This meal
      strengthens, cleanses, and keeps us linked to one
      another by love.
      Thus, the Holy Qurbana is what makes me proud of my
      religion. Its meaning and story behind it explains how
      it is a blessing. People can come to church every week
      and stand in the presence of God, but being able to
      understand what each element means makes all the
      difference. I hope more of today�s Orthodox Christians
      will take the time to read books and participate in
      church activities, to increase their knowledge of
      their belief. Bible studies, prayer meetings, and
      Sunday school sessions all facilitate me and I learn
      more and more everyday because of them. Children in
      the future will need these facilities and more to
      obtain a better understanding. Many provisions and
      frequent events can allow for this process. Jesus
      Christ made a sacrifice for us to cleanse us and share
      his love. His state of mind confirms that we also can
      reach this level of spirituality in our daily lives.

      NO: 45:

      Being part of an Orthodox Christian Church has great
      responsibility. What I am most proud of being an
      Orthodox Christian is the strong, firm faith and
      spirituality. There are many differences between the
      Eastern and Western Hemisphere Orthodox Church. My
      vision for the Orthodox Church in the Western
      Hemisphere is that it will blend in with the way of
      the Eastern Church.
      The term �orthodox� simply means true faith. The
      Orthodox Christian Church, in general, has two types
      of foundations. One type is written. This includes the
      Holy Bible, Decisions of Ecumenical Symbols, Writings
      of the Fathers, and Apocryphal Books. Another type of
      foundation is unwritten. This includes traditions. The
      faith of the Orthodox Church is very strong and
      everything is explained thoroughly. The Orthodox
      Church also has a firm strong spirituality. The basic
      factors of Orthodox spirituality are the image of God,
      incarnation, transfiguration, trials and temptations,
      Holy Eucharist, and life in Church. We all believe
      that God has given man power and authority over the
      whole creation. The Orthodox Church takes it one step
      further. It says that man is created in the image of
      God and that is what is behind all this power and
      authority. The Church also says that man is not
      created in the image of God just to distinguish him
      from the rest of creation, but to enable him to grow
      in the likeness of God. Incarnation is the basis for
      deification, or man�s sanctification, and is not
      something that
      concerns the soul alone, but something that involves
      the body. Transfiguration is the extent of human
      perfection on earth. Many of our Saints have testified
      to it by their lives. Trials and temptations mean for
      better glorification. The Holy Eucharist and life in
      Church is the authority and agent for deification.
      We take the Sacraments seriously. As a member of
      Church, we are initiated to the life of the kingdom of
      God and so we are to be transformed day by day.
      Congregational participation is important in Eastern
      Orthodox worship. In the Western Hemisphere, this is
      not so important. Emphasis is upon personal devotion.
      Prayers of the Holy Spirit are important in Eastern
      Orthodox Christian liturgies. But it is ignored in the
      Western Orthodox Church tradition. The Holy Trinity
      forms the opening sentence of all Eastern Churches. In
      the Orthodox Church, the Holy Eucharist is a pure act
      of worship. We worship God with Jesus Christ, the Holy
      Spirit, Saint Mary, the Apostles, the Saints, and all
      the believers who departed from us. The Holy Eucharist
      is usually offered in the morning. We fast from the
      previous day�s supper till the Eucharist service is
      over. This prepares us to receive Holy Communion with
      all devotion and holiness. It is a characteristic of
      the Eastern Orthodox Church to stand during church
      service. Some other essential characteristics include
      liturgy (worship), koinonia (fellowship), diakonia
      (service), and martyria (witness).
      The Orthodox Christian Church has a lot of traditions
      and responsibilities. Its strong faith and
      spirituality make me proud of it. There are many
      differences between the Eastern and Western Hemisphere
      Orthodox Christian Church. The Orthodox Church in the
      Western Hemisphere in the future would find a way to
      blend in with Eastern tradition.

      NO: 50:

      As being a young Christian in our American society, I
      am most proud to say that I am an Orthodox Christian.
      Being an Orthodox Christian is not only important to
      our parents but to the children in our church. Since
      child hood I have been apart of the church. The
      customs that I have learned has become apart of my
      life. I am not only proud of the Christians in my
      church, but the Christian in America. The ones who
      question our beliefs are not curious to know what our
      perspectives are in the church. We are responsible in
      not only explaining our religion, but also expressing
      what our church means to us. We are not the first
      generation that have come to this church but our
      family members brought our religion, culture and
      diversity from India. It is our duty not only to keep
      the faith, but also to bring it to another level. I
      believe that the church is not only a place we meet
      every Sunday, but our heavenly Fathers home, where we
      bring our prayers and believe that they will be
      answered. My visions for the Orthodox church are not
      only my visions, but is the vision of the youth of the
      churches. I know that it is up to our youth to take on
      the responsibility in the years ahead of us, what we
      must do is keep our church united. I believe that is
      the essential key in keeping our Orthodox church in
      the Western Hemisphere united. I hope that in the
      years to come ahead of us, all of the churches will
      grow not only in population, but in spirituality. We
      have reached success in coming here from India and
      setting up a foundation by starting new churches, but
      that is only the stepping stone. Our ultimate success
      will be the day of Judgment Day. The day God comes
      down and accepts us into his paradise, that should be
      the vision of all Orthodox church�s. As being a young
      Orthodox Christian, the importance of the church that
      I have learned has made me proud to represent my
      church with high respect. We must keep our faith
      together and remember that we are here to serve God,
      not to serve ourselves. My vision in our churches are
      to grow stronger in the years ahead of us.

      NO: 55:

      As an Orthodox Christian, I don�t appear to be better
      than anybody. But I am proud to say that I am an
      orthodox christian. Being an Orthodox Christian many
      factors come into play. The main thing I can say is
      that God is not far from us. God hears our
      intermediate prayers through the saints and from our
      heart. We have to believe in God to call ourselves
      Orthodox Christians. We must be strongly rooted to our
      religion. God loves our groups and meetings we do in
      church such as the youth movement, prayer meetings
      etc. He also punishes us when we depart form him. God
      leads us in the proper path through the seven
      sacraments of Orthodox Christianity. The seven
      sacraments include: Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation,
      Holy Confession, Holy Eucharist, Holy Priesthood, Holy
      Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick. God leads us in
      the proper way by our spiritual prayers which was
      written by the holy and saintly people.
      When I read the Bible, John chapter 14:6 states � I am
      the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the
      father but by me.� I love this verse because it shows
      that we always have someone to count on. Again when we
      read John chapter 15:1-6, it states � I am the vine
      and my Father is the vine dresser, every branch in me
      that does not bear fruit, He takes away, and every
      branch that bears fruit He prunes, so that it may bear
      more fruit; you are clean because of the word which I
      have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the
      branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides
      in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
      I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in
      me and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you
      can not do anything. If anyone does not abide in Me,
      he is cut out as a branch and is withered, and they
      gather them and throw them into the fire and they are
      burned.� This is a very strong saying for God said to
      believe in him and only him or you will be punished. I
      feel that our Orthodox Christians are in the right
      path when I read these above versus from Bible.
      Our Orthodox Christian faith is not sprouted as in one
      day. It is uprooted from Jesus�, his disciples�,
      prophets�, Saints�, and the Malpans� blood. Our church
      altar and Qurbana symbolizes the Tabernacle, Ark of
      Testimony, and the Tent of Meeting. Our priests� robes
      symbolize Aaron�s robe for priestly service which was
      �Ephod.� God truly abides with our Orthodox faith. Our
      prayers are so beautiful. Eventhough we have costly
      houses, jewelry, and many other riches, we don�t
      depend on these materialistic things. We are ready to
      use whenever and wherever according to his will.
      In my vision, to grow our Orthodox Christian faith in
      God ,we need to have more churches and processions .
      We must have it all over the world and throughout the
      streets. We also need to start building bigger
      churches so that many other people can join us in
      worship. Again we should love our neighbor and all
      people Then only will our visions come true . So let
      us pray together to have our faith in God grow day by

      NO: 60:

      Never Afraid The Orthodox Church is unlike any other
      Church on the face of this earth. Its beliefs,
      values, rituals, rules, and principles are distinctive
      characteristics that immediately set it apart from
      other religious communities. I am proud to say I am
      an Orthodox Christian. To be orthodox is to be
      traditional and to be prevailing in existence. First,
      our faith and customs have not changed since the time
      of Jesus and his twelve apostles. In fact, we can
      precisely trace our roots to the apostles themselves;
      this is called Apostolic Succession. From St. Thomas
      down to His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma
      Mathews II, who now sits on the apostolic throne,
      there is a direct connection. In addition, while
      others have changed the beliefs and services of the
      Church and then separated to form their own churches,
      we remain just as we were when St. Thomas founded the
      Church in India. This shows miraculous faithfulness
      on our behalf to Christ�s teachings. Secondly, along
      with this primary reason for being proud, we overcome
      all obstacles. Though we have been faced with
      countless trials and tribulations throughout the
      history of the Church, we remain strong in our faith.
      Unless we were truly guided by the Holy Trinity,
      namely the Holy Spirit, this could not be possible.
      Because of all this and more, I will never be afraid
      or ashamed to say I am a member of the Orthodox
      Church. Concerning the Orthodox Church in the
      Western Hemisphere, I believe it will be extremely
      successful. Already, we can see the fruits of our
      leaders� faithfulness. The Mar Gregorios Orthodox
      Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM) points the
      teenagers of this generation toward God. This
      organization that began in India is well known here
      for the spiritual help it offers constantly. The
      young adults that will carry on the Orthodox faith can
      be trusted because they are responsible and understand
      the greatness and honor of such a tradition. There is
      nothing to fear regarding the Church in the West. In
      the West, we are proud to be called Orthodox
      Christians, and we will uphold the faith, guided by
      the Holy Spirit that acts through our Church fathers.

      NO: 65:

      Family is an important virtue in being a Christian. I
      was born into an Orthodox Christian family, and I am
      very proud and dignified of saying it. As an Orthodox
      Christian you are devoted and given a privilege by thy
      religion. God has given us a unique faith of the of
      the �Orthodox Syrian Church�. There are many steps as
      in which to follow in being an Orthodox Christian.
      Orthodox Christians have a traditions to follow which
      is encouraged by its history. As being a person as
      well as a Christian, you do sin and you do suffer, but
      as following Christianity, God will bring you back to
      the right path. The only way this is possible is by
      repentance. As being an Orthodox Christian you must
      follow traditions and follow its history.
      As being a Christian we must first follow the holy
      Sacraments. The 7 sacraments are Holy Baptism, Holy
      Chrismation, Holy Confession, Holy Eucharist, Holy
      Priesthood, Holy Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick.
      These are the laws we must follow as well as the ten
      commandments. I am proud of following these laws that
      God has given us to guide me toward the path of right.

      As experiencing the Orthodox traditions, I can say it
      is well spiritual and enjoyable. I�m not saying that
      Christianity is something to play with but as I see
      the processions I begin to enjoy it. Christian
      religion is a joyous opportunity. We have various
      traditions such as celebrating the festivals of
      Christmas and the processions of Easter. The long
      prayers at Good Friday makes me feel as if I was at
      the real crucifixion. The breaking of bread and wine
      at Passover makes me feel as if I was a disciple of
      Christ. These spiritual traditions also makes me feel
      the enjoyment of being a Christian.
      I�m proud of being an Orthodox Christian because I
      feel more closer to Christ. Many non-Christians have
      simple lives. Yes, also us Christians have simple
      lives, but our lives are filled with salvation and
      peace. As being a Christian I�m proud of my religion.
      Many other religions out there don�t have a God so
      powerful, so loving, so compassionate and so caring.
      In other religions you don�t see an innocent man
      suffering to save the lives of others.
      In being an Orthodox Christian I feel my sins are
      washed away and purified with righteousness.
      Eventhough many evildoers may come to me with hatred I
      will bypass them with love. Do not hate or judge
      others but love care for them, that is what
      Christianity is all about. I�m proud to be part of
      Orthodox Christianity but to live proudly with Christ
      you must live a true Christian life. We think by
      praying and going to church will lead us to a true
      Christian life, but this only a portion of a
      compassionate life with Christ. To live a true
      Christian life you must truly suffer and live the way
      Christ did, and teach the Christian ways. Anyone can
      be a Christian if you believe in it. Everyone sins and
      I�m proud to suffer because Christ will forgive me if
      I repent. Jesus suffered much more than us for our
      sake and I�m proud to go through painful trials to
      thank God for what he has done for us.
      By Orthodox worship, we gather together and pray at
      church in the name of Christ. The first Christian
      gathering was caused by the event of the �
      Resurrection of Christ�. As Orthodox Christian
      Christians we pray together with unity. We pray and
      worship in unity as we enter Church on Sunday. Sunday
      is the day for Christ, where you rest from the
      hardships and rejoice in God�s name. Sunday is
      signified as the �Eighth day�. We ask ourselves how is
      Sunday the 8th day when there only seven days in the
      week? The 8th day was developed by St. Athanasius, St.
      Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa and many others of the 4th
      century. The eighth day which is a Sunday is the day
      of the resurrection of Christ. The 8th day is the
      image of the future age, the world to come. Instead of
      Sunday starting the week and continuing the seven day
      cycle, the 8th day breaks the cycle and initiates
      history to eternal life. Thus the 8th day is the
      eternal Sunday of Resurrection.
      Our Orthodox history goes back to the three councils
      which were Nicea(325), Constantinople(381) and
      Ephsus(431), which created our Nicene Creed. The
      formation of the Nicene creed was our trust in one
      true God, father, son, Holy spirit and self existence
      , creator of the whole universe. As an Orthodox
      Christian I especially remember our Orthodox history
      by the accomplishments of our forefathers. These
      forefathers are bishops, saints, and Apostles such as
      Parumala Thirumani, St. Basil, St. Ignatius, St.
      Antony and St. Thomas of India. As an Orthodox
      Christian who we really focus on is St. Gregorious who
      is our church father of Indian churches. He was a
      sympathetic and disciplined man. He did not care for
      worldly pleasures and so helped the poor and those in
      need. He observed lent as Jesus did. He believed
      everything came from God and followed Christ in his
      steps. Parumala Thirumani is a man of prayer and
      worship. He helped society by starting schools and
      converted non-Christians. Thereafter many churches
      were names after St. Gregorious in his memory. We
      remember him on November 2nd and keep him in our
      church worship. Our Orthodox church is united with
      Christ and participates in Christ�s self offering for
      the world. In Christ our daily life should flow with
      love, compassion, caring for the needy and struggling
      against evil. We should have strong faith in Christ.
      As you can see I�m more than proud to live through
      Orthodox Christianity.

      NO: 70:

      I am an Orthodox Christian and I am proud of it. From
      the beginning, the church has made some incredible
      accomplishments. It has survived throughout history
      through times of persecutions and heresies. The church
      has overcome all obstacles and is still around in the
      21st century, a century when religion is being
      rejected in all scientific and logical aspects. Even
      though the Church has survived this long, there are
      still some things that probably should take into
      effect in the western hemisphere in and for the
      future. The Church should remain with the traditions,
      that had been created long ago, without an effect from
      the changing way in how people think. The Church
      should also start to create extensive written records
      for the future generations to follow without debate.
      But even with some faults, I am still proud to call
      myself a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
      I am really proud of the Orthodox Church and what it
      has done, but what I find most fascinating about it is
      that it has kept centuries of tradition intact even
      during mass turmoil and during grim times. Barely
      anything has been cut out of the Holy Eucharist unlike
      the Roman Catholic Church. Their church mass has been
      shortened, and they have changed their social
      standards to accommodate the current century of
      thinking. An example would be that women are
      considered equal in today�s moral age and the Catholic
      Church allows women to serve in the altar unlike the
      Orthodox Church. Both churches have faced tremendous
      persecution in the past, but the Orthodox Church has
      held true to what it believes in and that belief has
      never changed. Even though the Church has survived
      this long, there are still some things that I see that
      the Church needs to do for the future. One thing is
      for the Church to keep written documents of all
      actions so that it can be looked back upon by the
      future generation. A problem with our current
      generation is that we rely on information that is
      communicated by words, and could have been altered as
      time went on. Another vision that I have for the
      church is for more of the youngsters to get involved
      in the Church and the community. Yes, some of the
      students are very active, but many are not. Students
      will not do these things if they are simply told to do
      so, but they have to be encouraged and have to be
      communicated the idea that it would be beneficial to
      them. Parents have a job to pry their kids away from
      the television and computer, and put them outside and
      do some meaningful work. I hope that in the next
      generation of kids that this will be done and the
      world would be a more prosperous and more joyous place
      to live in.
      The Church has survived for many centuries, and it is
      my hope that it will last for even more centuries. If
      the Church makes the correct decisions and resists
      changes that would be forced upon it, then it would
      most likely prosper for many years to come. The entire
      essence of the Orthodox would therefore not change
      unlike the Catholic and Protestant Churches probably
      would. But if the Church changes its ideals even in
      the slightest way, then everything will be lost.

      NO: 75:

      What does the word Orthodox mean? I will tell you what
      it means. It means to be traditional. If we see our
      Mother writing a letter by hand, we are asking today
      why not just e-mail it or something? Well, that�s
      because she is going by traditional or Orthodox ways.
      She is doing what she did when she was younger. She is
      following the olden traditional ways. She might not be
      as modern as us. She might not know what e-mail is
      because she is just being traditional. We may think it
      is too much work and all that stuff, but she may not.
      What I am trying to say is that being an Orthodox
      Christian means to be traditional. I am proud of being
      traditional and following the olden ways of praising
      our Lord. I am also proud of the fact that we as
      Orthodox Christians remember the whole life of our
      Lord every Sunday during the Holy Qurbana. By
      remembering his entire life all the time, we won�t
      forget and loose our faith. We as Orthodox Christians
      won�t loose our faith as easily as someone else. We
      are strong to our faith. We stick by it fully. We
      never let go of it. I am proud of that. Also, I am
      proud that now days the younger generation is more and
      more understanding the Holy Qurbana better and part
      taking in more and more Church youth activities.
      Saying that brings me into the subject of my visions
      of our Orthodox Church in the west, meaning, the
      visions of the Orthodox Church here, in America. In
      this day, the Orthodox Faith is becoming more and more
      understandable for the youth of our country because of
      English books, transliterations, and books explaining
      everything in our Qurbana. Because of this, our faith
      is becoming more understandable, therefore making the
      youth more growing towards it then away from it. Now a
      days, because of terrorism, the war, crisis in the
      Middle East, more and more youth go towards there
      religion to seek answers to there questions and
      prayers. The youth are now being part of the MGOCSM,
      and taking part in everything our church has to offer
      to the youth. I think if the youth keeps acting like
      this, then the Orthodox Church in the Western
      Hemisphere will grow. More people will start reading
      the Holy Bible and Praying everyday. More people will
      come to church not just to be there, but to Praise
      God. More people will help out in the church, and help
      in the youth and everything else. The Orthodox Church
      is growing as we see it today. The more people that
      get active, the more our Church will grow and become a
      great faith for people. Our strong belief and faith is
      very good. We should use our strong faith to attract
      people to our faith. I think we will grow in the West
      and become a symbol for all people that you need God
      for everything you do and that Christianity is a good
      religion. I am proud to be an Orthodox Christian, and
      I wouldn�t give it up for anything or religion in this

      NO: 80:

      What are you most proud of being Orthodox Christian?
      Why? What are your visions in the Western Hemisphere?I
      am 15 years old, and I have been raised as an Indian
      Orthodox Christian for all the years of my life. When
      I reached an age of comprehending all the aspects of
      the world around me, I did question my faith and what
      exactly my belief lies on. My questions kept coming,
      and my answers seemed abstract. Being Orthodox
      Christian was something I realized when I started
      questioning my friends about their religions and their
      beliefs. My friends come from a number of diverse
      faiths, including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox
      Christian, Buddhism, and many more. I realized that my
      faith required so many more stricter rules, imposed
      upon me by parents of course, but rules that I too
      regarded with utter piousness. The Lenten season,
      along with receiving the Holy Communion every Sunday,
      going to Sunday school classes, were all very
      different from my friends� religious experiences. Yet,
      these were what made me unique in their eyes, and in
      mine. My anecdotes were amusing pieces of my
      experiences with all these observances. Not only that,
      but I truly believed in the power of faith, God�s
      word, and I really tried my hardest to obey my
      parents, even though once in a while I did do my fair
      share of sins. I was no angel, and I still am not.
      Yet, now I understand that the Christian faith has a
      great importance given to asking for repentance for
      all the sins that we, as a whole creation has created.
      I can very truthfully say that I am proud to be
      Christian, Orthodox on top of that. Why? I love our
      worship, our humble prayers, our joyful hymns and
      songs, sung with the exuberance and delight in
      praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe
      in the trinity of the nature of God, the Holy Spirit,
      and His only begotten Son. I believe in the true
      faith, as is meant by "orthodoxy." I love how we keep
      with the olden times tradition drilled into us still,
      cherished in our worship through our liturgies and
      prayers. Our solemn worship is what attracts me to our
      services. Our prayers are what keeps me able to talk
      to God, when I am in weary desperation, or jubilant in
      my happiness, and thankful for His help in all the
      victories that I have been blessed with. In the
      Western Hemisphere, especially in the United States I
      would like to see many more Orthodox Christian
      churches. I would love to see the expansion of our
      belief and worship, from the trials and toils and
      preaches from St. Thomas, to what we can accomplish in
      this 21st century. Yes, I realize that its always much
      easier said than done, but someone has to say it to
      provoke some action, right? Frankly, what I hope most
      for is unification between at least some of the
      diverse and divided branches of Christianity. Can�t
      anyone compromise their differences and work together
      so that we may all be able to worship our Lord in
      joyful unity and prosper in his continued blessings?
      In this age of so much change and reform, our Orthodox
      Church has grown to accept and deal with how the
      Western Hemisphere lives. Yet, we are still deep in
      the depths of sin, and repentance can only be achieved
      by us accepting our wrongs, and finally uniting, no
      matter and giving no regard for whatever had kept us
      Christians, believers of Christ, apart from each
      other. My visions for the future of our church may
      seem to be quite impossible or improbable due to the
      situations of our diocese right now. But, one can only
      hope that someday soon that someone will give in and
      accept that we are all worshipers in God, and are
      together in our belief for the second coming of His
      one and only Son.

      NO: 85:

      If anyone asks me what religion I am, I feel so proud
      to say that I am an Orthodox Christian. I just love
      those words. They are filled with so much meaning and
      describe me very well, and it�s a description I am
      definitely not ashamed to be portrayed as. I have
      grown so much mentally and spiritually as an Orthodox
      Christian. I finally have found the true meaning of
      being an Orthodox Christian, which makes being one so
      much better and far more valuable.
      The greatest part of being an Orthodox Christian is
      the values and morals that we hold. I am not
      criticizing the American society or anything, because
      there are some noble, honorable, and loyal people
      among them, but some of the actions many of the
      American youth does is so degrading to the American
      culture. Many Americans are on drugs, abuse alcohol,
      or commit demoralizing sexual behavior. Don�t they
      realize all the commandments and laws that God has
      given against those actions?
      Being an Orthodox Christian has made me realize how
      abundantly blessed I am to be given a truly wonderful
      family, a group of great friends that I will never
      take for granted and all the little goodies on the
      side. My family has molded me into a person I wouldn�t
      be without them. They were the ones who encouraged me
      to go to Church and Sunday school every Sunday and to
      get involved in Church activities. From all of this I
      have learned to make wise decisions that don�t
      contradict our religion.
      The Orthodox Church in the western Hemisphere has come
      a long way from the point that it started at. It is so
      wonderful to see the numerous number of people
      gathering every Sunday to worship our Heavenly Father,
      and to see the outstanding Sunday school program that
      we have. The fresh, young youth that we have today is
      being transformed into brilliant, God fearing, and God
      loving people all because of our dedicated Orthodox
      Church community. We have a marvelous MGOCSM program
      that will definitely be living on for ages because of
      the influence of our churches on the youth and their
      desire to learn. However perfection has not been
      achieved, which is not a problem because our mistakes
      and spiritual findings are what makes us wiser
      religiously. My hopes for the Orthodox Church in the
      Western hemisphere are that all the Orthodox Churches
      shall unite and become one just as God had hoped for.
      I hope that we could put aside the politics and
      realize what is important is that when we step into
      Church, we are stepping into the house of God, and in
      the home of God there should only be love, not
      division and enmity. It took me fourteen years to
      grasp the fact of how fortunate I am to be an Orthodox
      Christian, but later is better than never.

      NO: 90:

      What I am most proud of about being an Orthodox
      Christian is that our faith is original. It isn�t from
      a split church like the Protestants or the Anglicans.
      Our church was formed through apostolic succession.
      St. Thomas has established our church in India;
      therefore there is a direct route to the father
      through the Jesus Christ, then the apostles, and now
      the priest and the bishops. Also I am proud of our old
      traditions in the Holy Qurbana. Our service is very
      meaningful. All these new churches have no traditions
      because they are so new. But our church has been there
      for so long, we have lots to preserve and keep.
      Also, I am proud of the fact that India is quoted 2
      times in the Bible in Esther. That is a very
      significant because it demonstrates how important
      India was at that time to be mentioned in the Bible.
      My visions about the Orthodox Church in the Western
      Hemisphere are that it will grow spiritually and
      physically. Our church should be a model church to
      other church. It should be a church filled with
      activities and fellowship. It should be a disciplined
      church. People should be content after coming to
      Also, I hope that there will be more than 1 center.
      There should be 3 centers one in New York, one in
      Chicago, and one in Houston. Therefore the church will
      be able to have a larger effect on whatever it is
      trying to do. There is more concentration if there are
      3 centers in the west. The American diocese will be
      more in control of the churches in the diocese if this
      happened. Since there is only one center there are so
      many problems. If we want books on our faith, we have
      to go all the way to New York to buy them.
      I also hope our church will take more interest in the
      youth because the youth is the future of the church.
      The church should take efforts to make the youth to
      understand what�s happening in the Holy Qurbana
      because what is going to make them stay after their
      parents stop forcing them to. There should be some
      driving force that makes them stay. This can happen if
      they understand and participate in the service.
      Otherwise the younger generation will be invisible in
      church .
      Also, the American diocese should support the original
      church in India by giving them financial support.
      Since we are the richest country in the world, it
      would be a great help to the Indian church.
      Our church is capable of doing extraordinary things if
      we focus and change things a bit. Especially since we
      are in this rich country, there is a lot to offer for
      our church and its development. I expect Jesus to be
      with us in the journey to our church being more
      successful in the future because if he is with us, we
      know that everything is going to work out for the

      Very Rev Thomas P Mundukuzhy, CorEpiscopa
    • George Varghese, Canada
      Dear Thomas, Thanks & Yes, the correct person for our Catholicate to speak to must be H.H. Abune Paulos, the Patriach of Ethiopia. I wrote under the impression
      Message 2 of 21 , Jun 28, 2003
        Dear Thomas,

        Thanks & Yes, the correct person for our Catholicate to speak to must
        be H.H. Abune Paulos, the Patriach of Ethiopia.

        I wrote under the impression Abune Yesehaq and former Patriach of
        Ethiopian Church- Abune Merkarios parted ways long back. Thought,
        Abune Yeshaq arranged for a visa and was only instrumental in Abune
        Merkarios's entry to U.S, after Abune Merkarios told his life is
        under threat by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
        (EPRDF).After reaching U.S, Abune Mercarious tried all, including an
        appeal for recognition as Patriach by W.C.C. which was rejected.
        On these, I believe Abune Yeshaq did not approve.

        As long as a shadow of doubt exist on Abune Yeshaq,I totally
        agree that in an official level, for coperation between Churches, the
        correct person for the Catholicate should be with the rightful
        Patriarch of Ethiopian Church.

        It is also really sad that after Adis Ababba conference, we as a
        Church have not really put that effort to maintain relationship with
        the other Churches in our family Orthodox Churches. I understand that
        part of the problem had been interference from Syrian Church in our
        Church matters. In North America, grass root level cooperation
        amongst parishes, parish priests and laity, seems to me the best way to
        begin. I am hoping the coming generation would do better than the
        previous generation.

        George Varghese
      • George Varghese
        To better get an answer to these questions, these thoughts must be firmly understood to be the basis of our Faith.These has been taught by St.Dionysius of the
        Message 3 of 21 , Jun 29, 2003
          To better get an answer to these questions, these thoughts must be
          firmly understood to be the basis of our Faith.These has been taught
          by St.Dionysius of the Indian Orthodox Church.

          .Church belongs to God and thus each of us must be utterly convinced
          that it will never be destroyed.

          . By Sacred Baptism,each person enter the promised land , a new
          experience,born again to become illuminated by the Holy Spirit,as a
          member of the Church,the Kingdom of God

          .The Church is God's own and thus no single person has been given
          authority to enforce his or her opinions in it.

          Now to points raised by Mr. Abraham:

          1. Is the catholicose (IOC) first among equals with respect to other
          bishops or is the post superior in any way.?

          For the Indian Orthodox Church, it's prelate is at Kottayam, India as
          the Prelate for the Syrian Orthodox Church is at Damascus and the
          Russian Orthodox Church is at Russia or for the Coptic Church at
          Egypt. The position is the same as those from other nations apart
          from India acknowledge their own Patriachs.

          2. What were the goegraphical boundaries of the catholicate of the
          east (prior to 20th century) specifically was the Americas or middle
          east a part of this catholicate.

          To understand this, we should not forget that America was not the
          same as today prior to the time pilgrim fathers arrived in America
          and the the Middle East not the same as what it was in 4th Century or
          even in 19th century prior to discovery of Oil. For the Indian
          Church, its first missionary was Apostle Thomas and existed as a
          community on its own in harmaony in a land, where Jews , Portuguese,
          Syrians , Dutch have all have had relationship. Any one who reads
          history could understand the consequences of the interaction with
          Portuguese and British . However the Indian people for living out
          their faith instead of chosing to die for their faith as martyrs
          defending their faith chose to allow themselves to fall under the
          guise of wolves in sheep clothes to India.The result has been the
          split of the Indian church. Historians differ in their writing on the
          boundaries of Catholicate prior to 20th Century and thus none can
          really claim any account is 100% correct or 100% wrong.Having not
          been alive then, I don't think I can really get a answer that could be
          completly correct.

          However, in 20th Century , which is very real and present now ,I can
          write with 100% surety. The boundaries of the Catholicate exist
          across the globe ,wherever people who love the Catholcate exist, and
          those who acknowledge HH Moran Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II as the
          89th successor of St. Thomas on his Apostolic Throne, as their

          4. Would a title Catholicose of Malankara be more appropriate given
          the understanding that all malankara churches are to be under the
          Very cleverly asked, if no response given has the possiblity to confuse
          another generation as the title 'Spiritual Head'. As I wrote before, Malankara
          and the world is not as what it was before 2000 years ago.Then St. Thomas , came to Malankara ,while other apostles went to other places where jews lived. It was by this encounter that made out of the Brahmins , the priesly class of Hindus, to become Christians. If Malankara remained a seperate entity and not part of the present nation 'India', then our prelate would be called ' Catholicose' or 'Patriach' of Malankara. Hower it is not so . Malankara is a part of India now and thus the reason HH Moran Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II , the 89th successor of St. Thomas on his Apostolic Throne is called Catholicose the prelate of the Indian Church. In this context, we should also note that St. Thomas is not known to world as 'Apostle of Malankara', but 'Apostle of India' and look at some of the titles of the 4th century prelates. ie- Patriach of Antioch, Patriach of Alexandria etc.,.

          3. Is it right to hold a title catholicose of the east and claim
          authority over churches in the western hemisphere

          To me,the words like authority, jurisdiction over someone etc. are
          not becoming to the Christian. Infact, I believe in Orthodox tradition,
          it is against its faith to even consider parish as belonging to a
          particular person , as I have heard in my life some parishes refered
          like Fr. Thomas's parish or Bishop X's parish or Diocese, when priests , Bishops, Patriachs etc. are but overseers to ensure laity and clergy
          approach God with repentance and partake of the Flesh & Blood of Christ.
          I presume ,you are confused into thinking the prelate of the
          Indian Church is using threats like holding a black book and blackmailing
          the faithful to submit to him and claiming authority. To me , our Bava Thirumeny is my prelate Spritual father of the Indian church whom I heed,not because he has authority over me, but as I wish him to be. At this juncture, please note i don't want to have anything to do with the Patriach living at Damascus as my spritual father,as Damascus is in Syria, while my origin and
          background is from India.

          Hope I could have been of some help. By the way, few good books to read on your own that might also help would'Malankara Antyochian Bandhathile Chila Charithra Sathyangal ' by Fr. V.C Samuel or DivayaBhodanam series publications of Orthodox Theological seminary .


          George Varghese
          Calgary, Canada
        • Bindu Thomas
          Hello All, Please remember me and my Husband in your prayers to relieve us from the mental tensions we are facing now. With Lots of Love and Prayers Bindu
          Message 4 of 21 , Jul 1, 2003
            Hello All,

            Please remember me and my Husband in your prayers to relieve us from the mental tensions we are facing now.

            With Lots of Love and Prayers
            Bindu Thomas
          • Very Rev. Dr. P. S. Samuel Cor-Episcopa
            It was a moving experience to read the reaction of various members of our forum on the death of Sunu. We in our parish did pray for his recovery and good
            Message 5 of 21 , Jul 1, 2003
              It was a moving experience to read the reaction of various members of our
              forum on the death of Sunu. We in our parish did pray for his recovery and
              good health, if it were the will of God. We were very sorry when we heard
              about his demise. We send our sicere condolenses to the bereived family and
              friends and pray that God in his mercy accept him in his presence. There are
              several points we have to consider here.

              1) What is prayer? Do we ask God and expect evt get every thing we ask? And if we dont get something we asked are we to be annoyed with God? Is god bound to to do every thing we ask him?

              Do parents give every thing which children ask them ? Our prayer or
              petition should be, "if it is your will, let it be" as Our Lord prayed in
              the Garden. We have to submit to God's will. Prayer is not a command to God
              to give us something we desire most.

              2) What is death ? Did god want death to come into the world ? No, God did
              not bring death into the world. When God created humans, they were to live
              in His presence and to have communion with him for ever, Death is an evel
              thing that has crept into our lives along with suffering, as a resulr of
              our sin of not listening to God's commandment. Because we were endowed with
              our free will and because god respected our feedom we chose the path of
              death and it has become a necessary part of our life. But
              God did not forsake us. He sent His only begotten Son to come and suffer on
              our behalf and die for us thus taking aware the sting of deatn and
              suffering. He rose again and defeated death and its hold over us. So even
              though biologically we die we live and since we have in us the body and
              blood of Christ we live eternally. Sunu has spent his time in this world and
              has moved into eternity ands is with the Lord and we should celebratre his
              life and the opportunity God has given us to enjoy his fellowshio, his love
              and concerns. We should prais God for his life and his example. We are in
              communion with him and we remember him as he takes his place in our
              midst when we assemble to meet the Lord.

              3) Is God a cruel Tyrant ? Does he pick the most beautiful flower for his
              enjoyment? Can we really think in that way? The bible and Our Lord do not
              give us a picture of God as a cruel tyrant. He is a loving father of the
              prodigal son, he is the one who sheds tears at the tomb of Lazarus. He is
              the one who saw the agony of a mother of who lost her only son, he is a
              compassionate God who healed so manny people who approached him for help.
              Sunu was not cured of his sickness and as a result he died. But as a
              believing Christian with his repentance and with God's mercy he was healed
              before he passed away. THIS IS OUR BELIEF, EVERY SICK PERSON MAY NOT BE
              REPENTANT PERSON IS HEALED. And so we can console ourselves by firmly
              believing that the compassionate God in his mercy has accepted Sunu's spirit
              and that Sunu like all humans has gone from this world, but like all the
              faithful remains in the presence of God ever praising him and praying for
              all of us. Let us praise God for his good life and comfort the family and
              his friends.

              P.S.Samuel Achen N.Y.
            • Mark Sadek
              Then, what is the crowd (Luke 19:3) if not the confusion of the ignorant multitude which could not see the Crown of wisdom? Thus, Zacchaeus, as long as he is
              Message 6 of 21 , Jul 1, 2003
                "Then, what is the crowd (Luke 19:3) if not the confusion of the ignorant
                multitude which could not see the Crown of wisdom? Thus, Zacchaeus, as long as he
                is in the crowd, does not see Christ; he climbs above the crowd and sees Him,
                vix., having transcended base ignorance, he deserved to perceive Him for Whom
                he longed. He fittingly added 'Because the Lord was to pass that way,' where
                was either the sycamore or he who would believe, so that He preserved the
                mystery and planted the Grace; for He had come thus, so that He would pass through the Jews to the Gentiles."

                                St. Ambrose of Milan.


                "My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not
                let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart." Proverb

              • Douglas Brandow
                Saying that the apostolic authority of the Indian Orthodox Church depends upon Antioch is much the same thing as saying that Antioch must depend on Rome or
                Message 7 of 21 , Jul 1, 2003
                  Saying that the apostolic authority of the Indian Orthodox Church
                  depends upon Antioch is much the same thing as saying that Antioch
                  must depend on Rome or Jerusalem or Constantinople. No, the Indian
                  Orthodox Church is one of the ancient Apostolic Churches with the
                  full authority of the apostles and of Jesus Christ Himself. This
                  wonderful fact makes us confident that we can look to the spiritual
                  leadersip of the Indian Orthodox Church for guidance in these
                  troubled times.

                  -Douglas Brandow
                • Mary
                  It is a shame that the Southern Regional Conference was cancelled. I have been attending these conferences for the last several years and was looking forward
                  Message 8 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                    It is a shame that the Southern Regional Conference was cancelled.
                    I have been attending these conferences for the last several years and
                    was looking forward to going to it this year. It is very
                    diasppointing to hear that it was cancelled due to lack of support
                    from all of our orthodox families. Houston is filled with Orthodox
                    families and it is truly sad to know that all of us could not work
                    together for this great cause.

                    If you've never been to these conferences, you don't know what you
                    are missing. For those of us, that have been going, it is a great
                    loss for us. We have these conferences once a year, to gather all the
                    orthodox beleivers and share ideas and thoughts. The speakers are
                    always inspiring and educational. At the group sessions, everyone is
                    encouraged and is able to voice their opinions. This is where, you
                    can address your issues like women's role in the church and so forth.

                    The youth also enjoys this get together. They get to meet up with
                    their old friends and share their experiences. The talent shows are
                    really well planned usually. All of the children get an opportunity
                    to show off their talents the Lord has blessed them with.

                    There is twenty some days left until the previously scheduled date
                    for the conference. It would be nice if all the families that can
                    attend could work together to make it happen. We should not let the
                    church politics get involved in this.

                    As Very Rev. Samuel achen suggested, may be the youth needs to get
                    involved and get more parishes to join in.

                    Best wishes,
                  • Robin Panicker, Trivandrum
                    Dear members, See the following link
                    Message 9 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                      Dear members,

                      See the following link


                      Anyone from Pampakuda in this forum? Can you tell more about the six relics in St.Johns Church, Pampakuda?

                    • Very Rev Thomas P Mundukuzhy, CorEpiscopa
                      Dear Achens, Parents, and Sunday School Teachers of our New Jersey and Staten Island Parishes: Vinu Kurian, Sunday School Inspector of Area #4 has moved from
                      Message 10 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                        Dear Achens, Parents, and Sunday School Teachers of
                        our New Jersey and Staten Island Parishes:

                        Vinu Kurian, Sunday School Inspector of Area #4 has
                        moved from New Jersey to Pensylvania so that he
                        informed me of his inability to continue his
                        responsibilities and his desire to resign. Let us
                        thank him for what ever he did in the New Jersey and
                        Staten Island Sunday Schools.

                        For the replacement, I am inviting nominations to fill
                        the vacancy. The would be nominee should have the time
                        and interest to visit all the Sunday Schools in New
                        Jersey and Staten Island as well as to coordinate Area
                        Competitions, OVBS, Talent Show participations,
                        Teachers' Conferences, and Centralized Examinations
                        with the Central Coordinators.

                        The names of the nominees will be placed at the Annual
                        Teachers' Conference on September 13th at St.
                        Gregorios Orthodox Church, Washington. Volunteers to
                        accept the position are also welcome. Those who are
                        nominated and volunteered must be there at the meeting
                        to validate the election.

                        Email me the names with email addresses, postal
                        addresses, telephone numbers, and a brief outline of
                        what the person has been doing as soon as possible.

                        Mundukuzhy Achen
                        Sunday School Director
                      • George Abraham, Abu Dhabi
                        For the 3rd Consecutive year, under the initiative/leadership of the Youth League of our Church MARTHOMA SMRITHI is celebrated as a One Month long programme.
                        Message 11 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                          For the 3rd Consecutive year, under the initiative/leadership of the
                          Youth League of our Church MARTHOMA SMRITHI is celebrated as a One
                          Month long programme. This year's theme is "Do not be unbelieving but
                          believing" St. John 20:27.All our sister churches of Abu Dhabi also
                          participates in various events making it a true Ecumenical Event (if
                          I borrow our Thomas P's term/language, truly a meeting place of the
                          Marthoma Christians of Kerala)

                          As a part of MARTHOMA SMRITHI 2003, on 3rd July 2003 our Church (St.
                          George Orthodox Church, Abu Dhabi) will be hosting luncheon feasts
                          for the inmates of all the 36 Orphanages (Abhaya Bhavans, Bal
                          Bhavans, Poor Homes, Shanthi Bhavans, Sneha Bhavans etc ) of our
                          Church in various parts of India. This is also being done for the
                          3rd Consecutive year since 2001.The most touching part of this
                          particular event is that, for each one of these Orphanages the cost
                          of sponsoring such a feast is UAE Dhirams 150 (US$ 41/- approx.) and
                          this devine feast for all 36 orphanages are sponsored by the
                          faithfuls of the Church (in fact sought after).

                          We request your prayers for the success of this devine celebration
                          and also for the dedicated youth workers under the leadership of our
                          most respected Vicar Rev. Fr. MS Skaria, the moving spirit behind all the activities of our church.

                          George Abraham, Abu Dhabi
                        • Tenny Thomas
                          Message 12 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                          • Shajan T. George
                            I a new member of this group. I am Shajan.T.George,w orking in Lesotho as a teacher. Leena is my wife and we have three daughters. We belong to Chempakaseril
                            Message 13 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                              I a new member of this group. I am Shajan.T.George,w orking in Lesotho as a
                              teacher. Leena is my wife and we have three daughters. We belong to
                              Chempakaseril family from Kollad Kottayam.

                              It is a sweet pleasure to join this group and we enjoy the daily digest. We
                              would like to repond to the messages of Mr.Mathew Samuel and Mr.Joykutty in
                              digest no.878

                              The Nicene Creed was drafted and debated centuries back and been accepted by
                              the Catholic and Apostolic church. Anyway let me jot down my

                              He'Joykutty' cannot accept the fact of "suffering" and the "died". Why? Luke 24:46 Jesus cried out in a loud
                              voice "Father! In your hands I place my sprit!" He said this and died. Mark
                              15:34 At three o clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, "Eloi,Eloi lema
                              sabachthani?" If suffering means crying is this enough?

                              Mahatma Gandhiji never cried when he was beaten by British police but you
                              know he suffered.

                              Mr.Mathew Samuel: Pauls letter to Romans chapter 14:1 to 12. Why are you
                              judging Mathukuttychayan. Your letters seems you want to divert us to this
                              teachings. In a community we have to accept
                              many Mathukuttychayans Samuelchettans etc.etc. If they have contemplated for
                              a second during the whole Kurubana \Qurubana, that is enough to please the

                            • H.G. Job Mar Philoxenos
                              Dear friends I am Mar Philoxenos, successor to the Late Dr. Poulos Mar Gregorios. It was I who had taken the initiative in starting the Dr. Poulos Mar
                              Message 14 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                                Dear friends

                                I am Mar Philoxenos, successor to the Late Dr. Poulos Mar Gregorios. It was I who had taken the initiative in starting the Dr. Poulos Mar Gregorios Award.

                                We, the members of the Sophia Society in Delhi are about to start the process of conducting the fourth Dr. Poulos Mar Gregorios Award. The first one was given to H. H. the Dalai Lama for His contribution to Inter faith Dialogue. The second one went to Dr. V. Kurien for the Social Uplift programmes he had initiated and the third one to Dr. P. K. Warrier for his contributions to the Holistic Medicine. The second and the third Awards were given away by the President of India.

                                For giving away the Award, we have identified four areas which were of great interst to Dr. Gregorios. The first one was for Inter faith Dialogue. The second one was for Social Renewal. The third one was for Holistic Medicine. The fourth one is for one who had distinguished himself in the Field of Education With a Moral Motive.

                                We have to idetify an educationist with a moral motive. He shall be an Indian by birth. We would wholeheartedly welcome the suggestions of the members of IOIF in this regard. Your suggestions will be scrutinised by a Committee headed by Dr. P. C. Alexander.

                                Please be kind enough to send me your e-mail carrying your suggestions before 10th of this month.

                                Expecting a quick reply,

                                Mar Philoxenos
                                (Metropolitan of the Diocese of Delhi &
                                The President of Sophia Society.)
                                <marphiloxenos@ rediffmail>
                              • Fr.Shebaly, Indian Orthodox Herald
                                Mar Barnabas Episcopal Silver Jubilee On Sept 21 at Philadelphia The Managing Committee members of St. Gregorios, St. Thomas and St. Mary s Orthodox Churches
                                Message 15 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                                  Mar Barnabas Episcopal Silver Jubilee On Sept 21 at Philadelphia

                                  The Managing Committee members of St. Gregorios, St. Thomas and St.
                                  Mary's Orthodox Churches in a joint meeting held on Sunday, June 29,
                                  2003 at St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Philadelphia had decided to
                                  celebrate the Episcopal silver jubilee of Mar Barnabas in a grant
                                  scale, on September 21,2003 at Cardinal Dougherty High School
                                  auditorium. His Holiness the catholicose Baselus Marthoma Mathews II
                                  is expected to preside over the function. Zachariahs Mar Nicolovos
                                  will also attend the celebration. From all the parishes, more than
                                  600 members are expected to attend the celebration.

                                  to read the full story, click on the following URL

                                  All are requested to send parish, diocesan, church news items
                                  articles,letters to the editor to editor@... ,if
                                  possible with photographs of the functions.Video files of functions
                                  also will be accepted.Consider this e-biweekly as yours and an
                                  extention of IOIF.

                                  Jose Puliyeril is the editor of YOUNG HERALD published for Youth and
                                  MGOCSM of our Church.

                                  On July 4th we are bringing out "LITTLE HERALD" for our sunday school
                                  children.Mathew Samuel Austin will be the editor of this biweekly
                                  publication on internet. Pls encourage your children to write
                                  articles for little herald.(with photographs)

                                  Please support our venture by visiting ,sending comments and
                                  encouraging your children to use these forums to learn about our

                                  + Fr.Shebaly
                                  Editor In Charge
                                  Indian Orthodox Herald
                                • Fr. Sam Mathew Austin, TX
                                  I have been reading the comments regarding the cancellation of the Southern regional conference. At last year s meeting, when C.O Vargis achan was put in
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                                    I have been reading the comments regarding the cancellation of the Southern
                                    regional conference.

                                    At last year's meeting, when C.O Vargis achan was put in charge of this year's conference, he asked everyone there for their support. He said, he will take on the responsibility only if everyone there can support him. At that time, everyone in that meeting clapped their hands loudly and said "oh yeah, we support you". So what happened to that support?

                                    After reading, Joyce's comments, it is obvious that Achen did not get the full support that he was promised. It seems, the local church politics played a role in this. Whatever the issues may be between those churches, the rest of the region should not have to be deprived. These conferences are very useful for everyone that attends.

                                    Some people will always complain. People complain that they don't want to stay in the dorms and that it is not clean enough. When it is held at a hotel, then the complaint is that it is too expensive. Then, there are people that want to go on vacations rather than a christian conference. People have excuses for not attending.

                                    If we as a region can not even come together for matters like this, then how can we make our dream to form a southern diocese come true? It is easy to quit or to give up, but it is much harder to get it started back up again. The organizers could think about having the conference for just one day, for the people that have already registered or were planning to attend.

                                    Sam achan, Austin, TX
                                  • Mathew Samuel, Austin, TX
                                    Dear all, Many of us will not know that Mulanthuruthy Mar Thoman Church was the home parish of Parumala Thirumeni. Parumala Thirumeni was born in this parish.
                                    Message 17 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                                      Dear all,

                                      Many of us will not know that Mulanthuruthy Mar Thoman Church was
                                      the home parish of Parumala Thirumeni. Parumala Thirumeni was born
                                      in this parish. The most important reason why we do not know is
                                      probably that this church is in the Pathrkees side (so politically
                                      it is incorrect to give much importance to this church?!).
                                      Kothmangalam Bava(Baselios Mar Yeldho) is often missed in the fifth
                                      Thubdens for similar reasons. Kothamangalam Church is "not with us"
                                      as also this father is not "from Malankara". Excuse me, can we
                                      exclude the holy saints atleast from our petty power games?!

                                      It is sad that we have this division in our church. Let those who
                                      fight for either side keep fighting - I dont care any more now, but
                                      I feel it is a serious error for us to teach "partial truth" to our
                                      children. I have no sympathy for the laity or clergy who have this
                                      sickness of "partial blindness". We need to teach our children ALL
                                      about our history - our history cannot be wished away - the good
                                      done by Kothamangalam Bava in our church was acknowledged when this
                                      Holy Father was canonised along with Parumala Thirumeni - but today -
                                      our children grow up without knowing a thing about this Father - we
                                      will surely be held responsible for such "willful lapses".

                                      Mathew Samuel, Austin, TX
                                    • IOIF Moderators
                                      From the Desk of Moderators: Please refer to messege from H.G Job Mar Philexinose, Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese in Digest No. 882, inviting
                                      Message 18 of 21 , Jul 2, 2003
                                        From the Desk of Moderators:

                                        Please refer to messege from H.G Job Mar Philexinose, Metropolitan of
                                        Delhi Diocese in Digest No. 882, inviting suggestions/nominations
                                        for Dr. Paulose Mar Gregoriose Memorial "Gregorian Award 2003".
                                        Thirumeni's E Mail ID should be read as <marphiloxenos@ rediffmail.com>
                                        (No space needed after @). All your suggestions/recommendations may
                                        please be sent to H.G before 10th July 2003 by E Mail.

                                        -IOIF Moderators
                                      • Thomas P
                                        Since H.G. Yuhanon Mar Militios, one of the editors of Malankara Sabha, is participating in IOIF, I have few suggestions to His Grace. I hope H.G. will discuss
                                        Message 19 of 21 , Jul 3, 2003
                                          Since H.G. Yuhanon Mar Militios, one of the editors of Malankara
                                          Sabha, is participating in IOIF, I have few suggestions to His Grace.
                                          I hope H.G. will discuss this with the editorial commitee. I don't
                                          know if H.G. Mar Eusebius is in this forum. Malankara Sabha is a high
                                          quality publication, which carries articles by Bishops, clergy and
                                          people of Malankara Church on spiritual, faith and contemporary
                                          matters. Many younger generation families are not aware that this is
                                          an important official publication of the Malankara Church, which
                                          brings the opinion of the Church on differenet matters to people.

                                          Some suggestions:

                                          1. Many people who subscribed to Malankara Sabha outside Kerala are
                                          not getting the journal.

                                          2. In case their subscription expired, a reminder should be send to
                                          them. People forget such matters.

                                          3. Secure electronic means (website, e-mail) to communicate address
                                          changes and to monitor account status.

                                          4. Large section of people living outside Kerala are not subscribing
                                          to Malankara Sabha.

                                          5. Possibility of English/ Hindi versions of Malankara Sabha for young
                                          people living outside Kerala. Even when they go to college in
                                          different places, they should be able to receive this.

                                          6. Inviting articles from younger generation outside Kerala.

                                        • V. Rev. Samuel Corespiscopa, New York
                                          My dear Respected Achens (Clergy) and friends. I thought of opening up a study about this topic as we are going to hear and learn this very important subject
                                          Message 20 of 21 , Jul 3, 2003
                                            My dear Respected Achens (Clergy) and friends.

                                            I thought of opening up a study about this topic as we are going to hear and
                                            learn this very important subject in our forthcoming Family and Youth
                                            conference in July 03. Really what do we mean by Holy Tradition ? Aand are
                                            there differences between this and traditions?

                                            Let us look at a few Biblical references on this topic either implied or
                                            explicitly mentioned.
                                            "When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you,which dwelt
                                            first in your grandmother Lois aznd your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded
                                            is in you also"(2 Tim.1;5)
                                            "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith
                                            and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to
                                            you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us." (1:13 & 14) Note. The
                                            pattern of sound words is oral apostolic tradition 'which yoy have heard' It
                                            holds the same weight as the written apostolic tradition. Again " And the
                                            things you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful
                                            men, who will be able to teach others also."(2;2) , "Therefore, brothern,
                                            stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught,whether by word or
                                            by our epistle."(2,Thes.2;15) Note: Oral or written, the he Holy Tradition
                                            is rooted in Christ Jesus (2 Thim.1:13) 'and kept by the Holy Spirit who
                                            dwells in us' (V.14). Here St.Paul establishes a clear chain of witnesses
                                            who received and who transmitted the Tradition. Christian Tradition is for
                                            all believers, it is catholic, belonging to the whole church and must be
                                            passed down to others unhindered,(O.Bible .P.497)

                                            Webster's dictionary defines 'Tradition'(latin, trado, )to hand over,
                                            deliver (tradidi) to trade. The handing down of opinions, doctriunes,
                                            practices rites and customs from father to son or from ancestors to
                                            posterity by oral communication; that which is handed down from age to age.
                                            Let us remind ourselves that the problem with the servant who was entrusted
                                            with the one 'talent ' was that he did not trade with it
                                            Orthodoxy is a tradition that places great emphasis on tradition. It
                                            recognizes that the Bible itself is a product of tradition or traditions.
                                            Before there were written texts, the faith was traded on by proclamation,
                                            catachesis, worship and personal example. According to Orthodox belief , God
                                            speaks through these means not only through words but also by deeds as well.
                                            History is a vehicle of tradition as well as a carrier of devine revelation.
                                            History of a people is handed down as an important tradition.
                                            Careful study of the various books of the Bible discloses that several
                                            layers of tradition have contributed to the formation of individual books in
                                            their final form..Those traditions may have been oral,(preaching ,story
                                            telling),litergical(worship, prayer formulae),narrative ( recollection of
                                            special incidents( passover, Our Lord's passion, ressurrection,,ascension
                                            and others) In the wider sense tradition refers to the whole process by
                                            which the Church teransmit her faith to each new generation by methods
                                            mentioned above already.

                                            Living tradition is the witness of ones faith sustained continuously in the
                                            changing complex world. Orthodox theology and Orthodox witness are
                                            'traditional' as they are consistent not only with the Scriptures, but also
                                            with the teachings of the holy fathers and saints. They are also consistent
                                            with the continuous celebration of the' drama of salvation' performed by
                                            the worshipping community in the liturgy.'Traditional' does not mean
                                            repeated dead ritual practice. Dead tradition may not be able to adapt
                                            itself to or face the issues of the age confronting the Church , the
                                            worshipping and witnessing community. Repeating patristic theology or
                                            practice alone does not make living tradition.. The early fathers were able
                                            to accept the challenges of their time without abandoning their faith'once
                                            delivered to them'. For instance the Capadocean fathers or the Fathers of
                                            the Anteochean School were able to preserve the traditional Orthodox faith
                                            in the face of challenges from Greek philosophy and Arian heresy. The
                                            fathers did not simply anathmatize the Arian heresy but provided a
                                            contemporary and positive terminology to explain the mystery of the Holy
                                            Trinity with the characteristic, unchanging and eternal creed(declaration of
                                            the faith) known as the Nicene Creed. They didnot abandon or condemn the
                                            Greek philosophy but made use of its thought patterns in Christian theology
                                            to explain the revelation in Jesus Christ as the ultimate criterion of
                                            Truth. Here 'traditional' implies an imitation of the fathers and saints in
                                            their creative work of discernment. If our faith, pracice and liturgy are
                                            able to stand the challenges of our time and give meaningful explanations of
                                            occurances around us and prevail over those challenges turning them into
                                            positive Christian witness and example in the Godless ,secular,canibalistic
                                            culture of our time, then our tradition which we have inherited from our
                                            fathers can really be living tradition. True tradition is a living
                                            Tradition. It changes while remaining constant. In adaptability it is
                                            enduring like certain animals or other masters of adaptation in which the
                                            change is only superficial but the inner core is changelss and
                                            non-deceptive. These animals change because they fac different and difficult
                                            situations. Thier change is only to adapt to the new situations and
                                            challenges to survive and to live. In the case of tradition the inner core
                                            or content is the eternal, never changing and ever living Christ, the Way
                                            and the Truth., who restores the tarnished image and likness of God in
                                            humans. Tradition survives in the Church's liturgical worship, which
                                            elevates and transports the faithful heavenword. It is truely her 'heavenly
                                            worship' (its liturgy) that has sustained Orthodoxy during its troubled
                                            historic past. Living tradition is reinvigorating, uplifting and salvific.
                                            It is this that St.paul instructs the Thesselonians to keep, to hold on to
                                            whether by preaching/teaching "by word or our epistle"

                                            There are two types of traditions, the unwritten instructions or the Word of
                                            God, preached or proclaimed or taught which are not recorded in a written
                                            form, but handed down by the holy fathers from one generation to the
                                            next.(Jn.21:25) The second is the written material,epistles, gospels and
                                            personal letters which are preserved by the Church from the time of the
                                            Apostles and Prophets. This makes the Bible part of the tradition of the
                                            Church, produced, preserved, revered and handed down to future generations by
                                            our ancestors in the faith.

                                            The challenge that faces Orthodoxy in a free society as we have in America
                                            is how to rise above dead ritualism or traditionalism and be a witnessing
                                            worshipping open community that will lighten the Godless secularism,
                                            consumerism and and hedonism prevalent around us. How will the Chuch which
                                            is the depository or the treasure house of the living tradition be a
                                            transforming influence in the wider community to which we belong. "Hold on
                                            to the truth which you were taught by word or our epistle"

                                            The traditions are pracices that have been developed in various regions of
                                            christendom. they may be differnet in different places,they are culture
                                            dependent or geographically oriented. They may not be uniform or universal
                                            in their scope. For instance the dress of the clergy is different in
                                            different traditions. Most of the time they are suited to the regions where
                                            they have originated. Another example is the practice of celibacy by the
                                            clergy. The priests do not marry in the Roman catholic Church. The Orthodox
                                            church allows priests who want to have a family life to marry. But the
                                            bishops are unmarried or celibate. So there is so much diversitry in
                                            traditions. In Liturgical practice there is much diversity. In our Church
                                            there is a northern school with Konnattu traditiion and a southern
                                            tradition, the parumala tradition.? If we go through Youhannan Mar.Severios
                                            Thirumeni's book of instructions, there are frequent references to the
                                            differing traditions according to different teachers (malpans) These are all
                                            referred to as different traditions with a small 't' and Living Tradition is
                                            always with a capital 'T" The ritualistic, or dress patterens and other
                                            conditions or traditions change and adapt to the times and are for practical
                                            purposes and not related to cardinal faith. Each of us can think of so many
                                            such traditions but they are not Living Tradition.St. Pauls instruction to
                                            the Corinthians about the Eucharist in the 11th chapter of his first epistle
                                            is an example of the Living Tradition., which he received from the Apostles
                                            as delivered by our Lord to them.

                                            Please join in the discussion with your comments and ideas. Thank you all.

                                            With Love, P,S.Samuel Achen. N.Y.
                                          • Fr. Joy Pyngolil, Ph.D.
                                            Commitment is the key, both laity and clergy. I think when you are talking about southern region, we limit it to TX, OK, Ark, and LA. Southern region is more
                                            Message 21 of 21 , Jul 3, 2003
                                              Commitment is the key, both laity and clergy. I think when you are talking
                                              about southern region, we limit it to TX, OK, Ark, and LA. Southern region is
                                              more than that. Who are the southerners? I believe we have to make some
                                              sensible divisions. NE region, South Western region, and Mid western region based on the distribution of our members. Midwestern is closer to Canada and may join with them.

                                              South western from Atlanta to Arizona might be the ideal.
                                              First we have to identify the key players in these region and do a
                                              brainstorming and develop policies and procedures for our programs. No one need to look to the leaders to bring in the vision but your ideas systematically presented will become the vision the leaders. Our problem is we live with what is called "learned helplessness." We need all orders and we are ready to follow.

                                              Why can't you be creative? It is the world that prepares the
                                              agenda-contextualization of Christian mission. Our lack of vision is the cause of our mission failure. If you come up with progressive ideas you will be labeled and libeled in the systemic politics. I remember the debate over Diocesan Metropolitan and the Senior metropolitan attending conferences. Our diocese, or we the immigrant Orthodox members in North America need to wake-up to build up our church for our children. As I always say, not to offend any one, unmarried people- leaders laity or clergy may fail to understand the dilemma of parents or children. (Many Exceptions are there). Now if we cannot get together for summer why can't we plan for a winter conference? Closer to the new year? I remember the three word commencement speech of Sir Winston Churchill "Don't GIVE UP."

                                              Fr. Joy Pyngolil, Ph.D.
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