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Mary’s Spirituality

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  • Rev. Prof. Varghese P. Manikat
    Dear all, As we all are preparing to enter the ETTUNOMBU season I consider it as appropriate to think and meditate on our MOTHER MARY. Here is an article I
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2002
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      Dear all,
      As we all are preparing to enter the ETTUNOMBU season I consider it as
      appropriate to think and meditate on our MOTHER MARY. Here is an article I
      recently wrote. Hope everybody would enjoy. Let us dedicate our prayers in
      Her great name so that OUR LORD'S name be glorified for ever.

      By REV. PROF. VARGHESE P. MANIKAT

      The Oxford American Dictionary defines spirituality as �of the human spirit
      or soul, not physical or worldly.� Spirituality is something insubstantial
      and invisible; one cannot see it, hear it, touch it or smell it. When we
      see someone pious and holy, we usually say that, that person is �spiritual.�
      They might pray regularly, read the Bible frequently, and participate in
      church services. We mean that this person is in touch with God and is in
      tune with their spiritual side. However, what allows us to classify someone
      as spiritual and someone else as an unbeliever? What are the internal
      criteria we use to evaluate a person�s spirituality? These criteria can
      be categorized mainly into three parts: practices, faith, and doctrine.

      Practices are the most visible part of personality. Behavior of a person
      helps others identify the personality of someone. The way we walk, talk and
      even stand speaks about all of us. Spirituality of a person conducts himself
      in his life. Spiritual practices are holy traditions that have stood the test
      of time and have been approved by our spiritual forefathers of the Church.
      They include sacraments like the Holy Eucharist, Baptism, Confession, and
      others. Prayer is a very important religious practice, as well. These
      practices are a way for the faithful to profess their faith symbolically.
      When we see someone deep in prayer, we are automatically filled with awe
      and respect at this profoundly spiritual person. Spiritual experience is
      beyond our explanation. All saints who lived in the past and are being
      revered and blessed lived a life of spirit. Mor Simeon the stylite whom
      we remember in the fifth diptychs was a monk who spent forty years on top
      of a sixty feet tall pillar fasting and praying. People gathered around
      the pillar to listen to his wisdom from all over. Even Kings came to him
      for his noble advice. Many sick were healed just by believing in his words.

      Practices, however, do not mean much without faith. One must have faith for
      these practices to actually mean something; else, they are just mindless
      actions that soon turn boring. Influenced by other denominations and not
      finding time to understand our own faith, people tend to find fault and
      complain about our practices. Some say our service is too repetitive and
      very long. But they are either ignorant or neglectful of the fact that in
      life things that are repeated are the most important and meaningful such as
      food, sleep; to cite certain simple examples. Those who complain need to
      learn how to enjoy. Faith is belief, pure and simple. It is certainty in
      our fundamental Christian principles. Faith is probably the most important
      part of spirituality. Without faith, all of Christianity, or any other
      religion, is rendered inane. It is a cardinal principle that Jesus Christ
      came down from heaven to earth and died on the cross to redeem our sins.
      Faith in this principle is incredibly important when one considers themselves
      a Christian. Without belief in this tenet, mostly every ritual performed in
      our churches is pointless. Without faith, practices are not worth your time.

      Doctrine encompasses all the Christian teachings about various issues,
      principles, and questions. Knowing the correct way to live your life according
      to doctrines is also a very important part of spirituality. Doctrinal dogmas
      like �love your enemies� originate from the wisdom and experience. A lawless
      society cannot survive. Every body requires rules and regulations to ensure
      that what the members are doing is according to the original purposes of an
      organization. Religious doctrines may appear to be rigid bonds of dictatorship
      but rigorous practices could only be brought about by adhering to strict
      discipline. Thus, following doctrine is an important part of being a good
      Christian and maintaining one�s spirituality. Man, I believe, started his life
      lawless and with full freedom. As he evolved in daily life and thought, he
      brought about �system� in to life according to his vision. His own dreams about
      his future inspired him to come up with a pattern, which later on grew into a
      set of laws. Those laws, he believed would satiate his thirst for the ultimate
      freedom, salvation, be with God, in the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, he got
      entangled in the mesh of his own laws instead of getting himself freed. He
      needs help as he is weak. The one and only help come from none other than the
      Divine Power. The ultimate freedom and holy existence is possible only by
      following the criteria of spirituality- practices, faith, and doctrine.

      St. Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, was arguably one of the most
      spiritual people ever. She had dedicated her entire life to God and had lived
      and worked for Him diligently. Mary always did what was right and well
      pleasing in God�s eyes, fulfilling the �practices� and �doctrine� requirement
      of spirituality. Her faith was revealed by the fact that she was able to see
      the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God, and comprehend fully what he said to
      her. She did not attempt to rationalize or evaluate God�s plan. �Faith,
      according to H. L. Mencken, is an illogical belief in the improbable�. Her
      unquestioned obedience to the will of God and total submission to the divine
      plan was the result of acquiring the trust and courage to go beyond mere belief
      into the uncharted territory of knowing. She entered into a realm where
      miracles were just possible. We know that God would not have given anyone other
      than an intensely spiritual person the job of raising His son, our Lord Jesus
      Christ. Thus, Mary is an ideal example for us to follow when we desire to
      become spiritual and grow closer to God. She is the embodiment of spirituality.

      The Assumption of St. Mary gives her a special place in heaven and her ability
      to mediate. It is true that Mary had a say in her son�s actions. Through her He
      confirms the faith of His disciples at Cana by performing the miracle for which
      she asked. Through her He confirms John�s faith on Calvary, saying �Son, behold
      thy mother�. Through her the Holy Ghost gave Himself to the Apostles, for we
      read in Acts1:14 that she prayed with them while they prepared themselves for
      the apostolate and for the light and strength and graces of Pentecost. Her
      presence in heaven makes her more powerful. The Christian sense of the faithful
      assures us that a mother in heaven knows the spiritual needs of the children
      she has left behind and that she prays for their salvation. St. Paul tells us
      that Our Blessed Lord does not cease to make intercession for us. Mother Mary
      is all-powerful with her Son because of the love by which they are united, she
      obtains all the graces from Him. This power of Mary is proclaimed by us each
      time we recite �Hail Mary, full of grace�.�.

      Mother Mary�s influence must become increasingly all embracing as we advance
      in our interior spiritual life. The Holy Spirit became fruitful on earth
      through Mary. It was with her and of her that he produced His masterpiece,
      Lord Jesus Christ. Mary exercises a very profound influence on faithful souls
      to lead them to ever-greater intimacy with our Blessed Lord. Mary�s mediation
      does not obscure that of Jesus Christ. Her mediation is but a share in His;
      her merits have been acquired under His influence, and it is He who confers
      on her the dignity of being a cause in the order of salvation andsanctification.
      Love,
      Manikat Achen
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Note:The author is the co-ordinator for Sunday Schools in the diocese of
      the Malankara jacobite syrian orthodox church in North America.
      He has recently joined our forum. We take this moment to welcome him, along with others, who joined the forum recently and request active participation in the forum.
      From Moderators SOCM Forum.
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