Dear and Respected Brethren,
We have entered the blessed Lenten season of 13 days, which is known among us as the Apostles' fasting/Lent. In Malayalam we say "pathimoonnu nombu" and 'Sleeha Nombu. (Apostles' Lent) Though the number 13 is often considered and remembered as an unlucky number, it is a sacred and holy number of great blessings, for us the Orthodox Christians. Our Lord and the twelve Apostles fasted and prayed together on several occasions and the same is continued for 13 days in the Holy Church in reverence to our Lord and Savior as well as His blessed Apostles. St. Paul is considered and honored as an Apostle. While counting him also among the Apostles, their total number becomes thirteen. Though there are so many prayers to seek the intercession of the Apostles, let me quote two prayers from our daily prayer book (Pampakkuda)
"Oh Apostles! Enemies have surrounded the Church to block the faith that you have preached in the Church. So kindly pray to the one who has selected you to remove the arguments and quarrels from the Church and her children. God let your truth be a mould to purify her verses as real gold. Let the priests utter in purity: "the one who extends his church is blessed". "Lord kindly bless all the twelve months of the year by the prayers of your selected twelve Apostles. Let us have the sunshine and the monsoons in the right times as they are decided. Let us have the heavenly blessings and fruits from the earth. God kindly send rains of blessings and drizzling of benedictions, so that the fruits might grow and the orphans and the poor might eat them and praise thee in abundance." Kindly note the following points are there in these prayers.
1) When there are problems or tensions in the Church, prayer and
fasting is the old remedy.
2) The faithful as a whole will have to pray earnestly for the survival of the Church
3) When the Church rises in number and size, the Church as a whole must raise praises to God Almighty
4) The twelve Apostles are earnestly praying for the richness and
graces of the twelve months. We must pray along with them. The natural
calamities are due to the disorder of the monsoons. Our prayers must be helpful to retain the balance in the atmosphere.
5) God is providing fruits and grains not only for our use, but also
for the orphans, destitute and the poor. Let our fasting and lent be more and more meaningful. When the Lent ends on 29th, we honor St. Peter and St. Paul, the first among the Apostles. And on 30th, we honor all the Apostles alike. Let the prayers and intercessions of the blessed Apostles be a fort of protection for us all.
Jose Kurian Puliyeril.
From the desk of moderators
Syrian Orthodox Church observes the Fast of the Apostles, three days commencing of the 26th of June.