Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Church position?

Expand Messages
  • Rev. Dn. Boby Thomas
    Hello all I want know about Jacobite church position. What the church provide for the young people? And what they expects from the church? Now days so many
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 1, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      Hello all

      I want know about Jacobite church position.

      What the church provide for the young people? And what they expects from the church?

      Now days so many protestants groups are starting, and our young people like these groups more than our church? Why it is happening?

      Dn.Boby
      # 3089
    • Zachariah George Arapura
      I share the concern of Dn.Bobby. I am a Syrian Orthodox Christian studying in a professional college in Chennai. In our college protestant groups are
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 6, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        I share the concern of Dn.Bobby.

        I am a Syrian Orthodox Christian studying in a professional college
        in Chennai. In our college protestant groups are organizing prayer
        meetings. These payer meetings are lead by Pastors of Charismatic
        groups. In these meetings they offer a different interpretation of
        Bible. They encourage heretic views among the students.Many students
        other than protestant denominations are attracted towards these
        prayer groups. Its high time that our church awakens and react to these threats.

        I would like to know the location and timings of our parishes in and
        around chennai.

        Zach Arapura
        #3083

        --- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Rev. Dn. Boby Thomas wrote:
        >
        > Hello all
        >
        > I want know about Jacobite church position.
        >
        > What the church provide for the young people? And what they
        expects from the church?
      • Mike Wingert
        Dear Shemachan Boby, Greetings in the name of Christ. You ask a series of much needed questions for all of us; the answers that I will provide may sting. The
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 7, 2007
        • 0 Attachment
          Dear Shemachan Boby,

          Greetings in the name of Christ.

          You ask a series of much needed questions for all of us; the answers
          that I will provide may sting. The Malayalee Christian community has
          many great qualities that others can certainly learn from, but since
          the nature of your questions begs a critique, I will focus on answers
          to these critical issues within our Church. Accordingly, this email
          will observe some of the negative qualities we possess, in the hope
          that we may address and rectify such qualities. So if anyone is
          reading and apprehensive about what I hereafter convey, stop reading now.

          Your questions can be summarized in two parts: What is the role of
          the Church in the life of the youth/young adults, and why are some
          young people enjoying (certain types of) Protestant groups, instead of
          our Church?

          Who is the Church? In my experience with the Malayalee Christian
          community (as well as various other Orthodox Christian cultures), this
          is a question that many laity find difficulty answering. The Church
          is every human being baptized into the One Holy Universal (Qatholiki)
          and Apostolic Church: This includes all those who are canonically in
          communion with our Church (including the Coptic, Armenian, etc.) and
          possibly some other individuals or groups. WE are the Church. Dear
          Dn. Boby, what do you have planned for the young people? What do the
          moderators of this forum have planned for the young people? What do
          the readers have planned for the young people? The Church is not
          simply a series of clerics; the Patriarch and Catholicos are not
          executives of a corporation per se. Clerics all have a role in the
          Holy Church, just as you and I have roles in the Holy Church. As a
          deacon, your role is to serve at the altar and serve the Church
          community in whatever their needs are. Clerics have a duty to
          dispense the Holy Sacraments, or assist in their dispensation (as in
          the case with the diaconate). When one reads through the lives of the
          saints, one will see that these holy men and women had all sorts of
          vocations; many were clerics, and many were not. Each of them, and
          likewise each of us, has a role in the history of the world. We all
          have a purpose.

          The problem we face is ignorance. Often, I have seen many in the
          Malayalee community apply their personal misunderstandings of the
          Church to the detriment of the youth. I will provide some examples.

          - The Rank of the Shemachen.
          Traditionally the "Fr. Deacon" is a title reserved for those who have
          received the rank of Deacon (Diakono / Ewangeloyo), and is not used
          for minor ranks of the diaconate such as Reader (Quroyo) or Sub-deacon
          (Apo-Diakno) in every Orthodox jurisdiction--especially in our own
          Syriac tradition. I have most commonly found that among Malayalees,
          when one receives the rank of Quroyo, they are treated as a true
          Shemachen (though I also know of a few exceptions). Why do I bring
          this up? For the Shemachen himself, this usually is not an issue
          because he is serving the Church, but for the people it is
          problematic. The position of Reader (Quroyo) is called such because
          this is a person who has been ordained to read from the Holy Bible
          during the Qurbono. In most Malayalee churches I've visited, those
          who were reading were simply Cantors (Mzamrone). Many were older
          gentlemen. Many of my friends who served the altar as Cantors had
          expressed to me their desire to become ordained to one of the lesser
          ranks of the diaconate, as it is the case in the rest of Orthodox
          jurisdictions in the world, but they also told me of the potential
          problems they would face. Apparently, a great amount of social
          pressure is placed upon the Quroyo, as many (if not all) of his
          community will then hassle the person about becoming a priest. This
          has become such an issue, that now many will only become ordained to
          the diaconate if they later intend to become a priest. This
          misunderstanding has two negative effects. The first is that many who
          are called to the diaconate and not the priesthood, avoid their
          calling from God and miss out on service to the Church because of
          this. The second negative point is that this creates in the mind of
          the laity that one must wear black and have a title in order to be a
          leader in the Church. Each of us have roles and responsibilities; we
          must not leave everything to the clerics. We must not create such a
          gap in people's minds as if there are two different classes of Christian.

          - The Celibate Priesthood.
          If we are referring to monks, who are ordained as priests, this is not
          a problem. But a priest should not be ordained if he is not married.
          This is unfortunately a legacy left-over from the Roman Catholic
          conquest of the Syriac Orthodox Christians in Kerala. This evolves
          into a problem when people misperceive holy orders. I once had a
          conversation with an individual from the IOC who loved the idea of the
          celibate priesthood because it allowed for one to "shoot for a higher
          goal like bishop." If one is desiring to become a bishop, such a
          person needs to be the first person crossed off the list of potential
          bishops. Shepherds are called by the will of God and not their own
          will. The episcopate is not a political office. It would be better
          for such a person to walk into the desert and spend the remainder of
          his life there than it would such a person to shepherd other souls.
          One must not plan to be a bishop; one must simply be a good Christian
          and yield to the will of God. Such a person makes for a saintly bishop.

          - "Bishops are living saints."
          I have heard of this from several people of Keralite origin (both
          Syriac Orthodox Christians and those among the IOC). I was told by an
          IO priest that "we can venerate whomever we want no matter how bad
          they are or whichever Church they are from, because all bishops are
          living saints." (I guess this is why they acknowledge a militant
          Syriac Orthodox Christian such as Mor Gregorios Gewargis of Parumala).
          In any case, I don't have a problem with the idea of "living saints"
          because this is the calling of ALL CHRISTIANS. The problem lies in
          that people misinterpret the word "Mor" to mean "Saint", when it
          really means "My master". By saying "bishops are living saints,"
          people do themselves and their community a disservice by distancing
          themselves and their personal responsibilities as Christians with
          those of the episcopate. Bishops have a certain role in the Church,
          and so do each of us. No role is more important than the other; our
          roles are just different.

          - "It's All the Same. We're All Christian."
          Is it all the same? Are we "all Christian" as many uncles and aunties
          and even priests teach?! Too often, this is the mantra of our
          faithful. I will give an example. Here in Southern California, we
          have many ecumenical events where all the various Orthodox gather
          together to celibate the liturgy, to have joint prayers, Bible
          studies, youth trips, etc. This applies to all the Orthodox
          jurisdictions, but the Oriental Orthodox in particular... yet when one
          hears about an ecumenical event at a Malayalee church, it means, all
          the Keralites from competing Christian denominations and different
          beliefs come together because of their nationality. While the rest of
          us Orthodox are gathering together based on our common faith, many
          Keralites gather together based on nationality. Is it any wonder then
          that the children of people who engage in such activities abandon the
          faith for other denominations? When the young people are taught that
          "it's all the same," then who can blame them for abandoning the faith?
          According to what they've been taught, they are not abandoning
          anything since "it's all the same anyway." [NOTE: Malankara Syrian
          Orthodox Christians participate in our pan-Orthodox gatherings, but
          the numbers are not as high as the pan-Malayalee events].

          - Inter-faith Marriages
          Often, it is the same uncles who engage in bitter arguments with those
          outside the Holy Orthodox faith who will quickly attempt to marry off
          their daughters to those same groups they are arguing with! "Oh, he
          has good job. He has H1 Visa!" And another thing... this whole idea
          of the daughter converting to her husband's religion is Islamic, not
          Christian. If the uncles believe that the Church is worth fighting
          for, why are these same guys throwing their own flesh and blood to
          those they fight against?

          - Keyboards
          What is happening to our liturgies?! The use of the organ was
          permitted in the early 1900s, not for its musical value, but so that
          it would be easier for populations to learn the Beth Gazo--our system
          of chanting. The early 1900s represents a difficult period in our
          Church history, as we were on the receiving end of two disastrous acts
          of genocide. With population decreases, it is only natural that we
          find ways to educate our faithful when many of our educators had been
          put to death. Instead of a culture of those educated in our musical
          tradition, the organ found itself being transformed into an electronic
          instrument--the keyboard. This keyboard came to be used to compete
          with Protestants and the RCC who permitted its use. As such, we
          substituted the beauty of Orthodoxy, for trendy and ever changing
          tunes that sound like film scores more than they do the divine
          worship. Aside from the fact that the music (or better stated,
          "noise") sounds horrible, the tragedy of all of this is that we now
          suffer far less participation in the service. The whole point of
          employing these hymns and chants in our liturgy is to serve as a mode
          of education to our faithful. They are so deep! When people stop
          engaging themselves in the Qurbana, are they rightly preparing
          themselves to partake in the holy mysteries? My prayer is that we
          will rid ourselves of this wicked instrument, sell these, give the
          money to some good use, and use this energy that some people have to
          further educate and enhance the lives of our faithful. Right now, we
          pray for men in the 5th Diptych who condemned the use of instruments,
          then follow their commemoration by playing these silly instruments.

          - General Ignorance
          If we perpetuate ignorance, we should not ask questions about why some
          leave the Church. I will provide a few more anecdotes:

          I knew a Malayalee Christian girl who went away to school and made
          some Pakistani friends, and wanted to be a Muslim for the following
          reasons: "In Christianity, you're allowed to do whatever you want
          like have sex or drink and stuff, but Islam is different. They
          believe in praying and fasting. How come we don't believe in
          fasting?" This statement was incredibly ignorant on her part, but to
          what extent can she be blamed? Certainly in the end, we are all
          accountable for ourselves--God has given each of us the ability to
          learn and the faculty to reason. But if this girl, who was raised in
          our faith thought that sex (outside of marriage) and drinking to
          drunkenness are permitted in Christianity, and that we do not believe
          in fasting, then somewhere along the line, someone did her a major
          disservice. The great irony is that Islamic fasting comes directly
          from Syriac Christian fasting. We fast from sun-up to sun-down,
          having nothing during this time, but unlike Islam, we abstain from
          animal products during the times of our fasts (which tend to last
          longer than Islamic fasts).

          I've met many other youths who also know little to nothing about our
          faith, and when they learn of it, they are blown away by how profound
          real Christianity is. Recently at the family conference of the
          Malankara Archdiocese of the SOC here in North America, I met some
          individuals who had become "Non-Denominational" Protestants. Their
          experience at our family conference had opened up their minds to the
          Syriac Orthodox Christian faith in ways they had never known before.
          Praise God, they have returned home to the mother Church. Their
          biggest struggle growing up was that they were not taught the
          Christian faith, either by word or by deed. They were introduced to
          Christianity generally speaking, but who were their role models, and
          who was there to feed them spiritually?

          Some Solutions

          The first solution is to observe the issues we are facing and then
          provide the appropriate education so that individuals can make
          decisions on their own. Education is a key point. On the West Coast
          of the United States, we have a lot of educational initiatives.
          Perhaps these same initiatives can be undertaken in India also.

          Education alone is not enough! We must live a life of faith! We must
          live the lives of saints! This is the more important point. Knowing
          about Holy Orthodoxy and living the life of a true Orthodox Christian
          is not the same. It is a challenge that I myself must confront on a
          daily basis. I am in a unique position, having learned much about
          our faith; but the more I learn, the more responsibility I have to all
          of mankind. This is our collective challenge as Christians. In life,
          we are gradually learning more and more, and as such, we find
          opportunities to interact with God. It is very easy to acquire an
          education and use it for the wrong reasons. We must be living examples.

          Maybe this was a long answer to your short question, but there are
          indeed reasons why young people are leaving the Church. They are
          doubly poisoned by ignorance and lack of saintly examples (starting in
          the home). If a person has a genuine love for Christ and then
          encounters Syriac Orthodox Christianity, such a person cannot turn away.

          Mike Wingert
          # 0902

          --- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Rev. Dn. Boby Thomas wrote:
          >
          > Hello all
          >
          > I want know about Jacobite church position.
          >
          > What the church provide for the young people? And what they expects
          from the church?
          >
          > Now days so many protestants groups are starting, and our young
          people like these groups more than our church? Why it is happening?
          >
          > Dn.Boby
          > # 3089
          >
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.