The Malankara World Journal Issue 79 (May 31, 2012) is available online at:
As many of you are aware of, we created history last week in North America. A North American born person was ordained as a priest for the first time in our church by Theethose thirumeni in Dallas, Texas. The new priest is also familiar to many of you. Rev. Fr. Zach Varghese is a member of Malankara World Board and had contributed articles and prayers to MW. Zach achen is also a personal friend. He had been a mentor to my daughter Dr. Seena Mathew, who is a resident of Austin and attends the church there with her husband James. We need more Zach achens to lead and guide our young generation in North America. We extend our congratulations to achen and family and pray for them as achen takes up this important ministry of serving God.
Last Monday was Memorial Day in the US. It is the day we remembered all those who died so that we can enjoy the freedom and liberty. Last Sunday, the Eastern Orthodox Christians remembered those who suffered and gave their lives for the truth of Orthodoxy. This was also the anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council. We mention the three councils our Holy Church recognizes in our Thubden during every qurbana. But many of us do not know that the bishops and the doctors of the church who met in those ecumenical councils did so at tremendous personal risk. Eusebius of Caesarea, a bishop and a historian during the time of Constantine the Great, provides us one of the most detailed account of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea (325 A.D.). He tells us that many of the bishops who came to the council were lame and blind from the tortures they had suffered during the years of persecution. These were the "wounded warriors" of our Church. There was also fierce disagreements on faith within Christian ranks at that time. St. Paul had foretold these controversies in Acts 20:
"Fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things."
At the time of the First Ecumenical Council, there was a major divide among the Church Fathers - those agreeing with Arius and those who didn't. Although Constantine stayed neutral in this controversy, he was greatly influenced politically by those who supported Arius and, until the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (381 A.D.), it often looked as though Arianism would win out over Orthodoxy as the dominant theological view across the Byzantine Empire.
The courageous Orthodox Fathers who stood firmly for their faith suffered the consequences. Constantine's sons favored the Arian group. They deposed Orthodox bishops "who wouldn't compromise". Later, Emperor Julian the Apostate persecuted Orthodox mercilessly. For a time, all seemed lost for those who stood for the truth of Orthodox Christianity.
The Second Ecumenical Council was called in 381 A.D. by the Emperor Theodosius. Our Orthodox fathers stood their ground. As a result, the Second Great Council sealed and confirmed the proceedings of the First Council which gave us the creed known as the Nicene Creed and added to it the rest of the Creed regarding the Holy Spirit, the Church, Baptism and Eternal Life. From this time on, Arianism began a steep decline.
So, next time when you hear the long list of our church fathers in the Fifth Thubden, please reflect on what they had to go through to preserve the faith as we know today.
Summer also means vacations, graduations, vacation bible school and family conferences. In fact, I am writing this on a flight from Cleveland to Phoenix to attend the graduation ceremony of my son who will be graduating from the medical college on Friday. Although this is a joyous occasion to us, we are humbled by the mercy of God. My son is living to graduate this week only because of the grace and mercy of God who protected him like an eagle who protects her children under the wing, as described in the bible. Six months ago, Madhu, my son, was travelling at night from a hospital in Athens, Ohio to a hospital in Marietta, Ohio where he was doing the medical rotation. The highway passed through the rural West Virginia, more like a forest. He was on the highway going at about 75 mph when suddenly a deer ran in front of the car. He tried to swerve the car to avoid hitting the deer, lost control; the car went into a tail spin; hit the concrete median of the highway and spun around and hit the side wall and then overturned. All this happened in a split second. The car was totaled; all the air bags were deployed. The amazing thing is that Madhu walked away from it with only minor bruises! That night we were on our knees thanking God for His grace and mercy.
Experience such as this tells us that our lives can change in a split second. We may not get another opportunity to reconcile with God and with our fellow human beings. We are here not because of our merits but because of God's grace. So, while we celebrate the graduations and birthdays, etc. please take a moment to reflect on who made those celebrations possible. Give credit where credit is due. Jesus told us that not a hair on our body will fall without the knowledge and approval of God.
I am reminded of a devotional song first brought to my attention by Rev. Fr. Stephen while serving as vicar at St. Mary's church, Detroit and St. Basil's, Ohio (achen is currently serving our Koothattukulam church):
"Nee ente sangethavum; nee ente Kottayum..." God, you are my refuge and my fort.
Yes, for those who believe and trusts in God, He is the fort. He is a loving god who answers our prayers and forgive our trespasses (when we forgive those who trespass against us). Like the father of the prodigal son, God is waiting for us to go back to him with a contrite heart after repenting our sins. He is outside the door of our heart, knocking. Will we open the door and receive him singing,
"Nee ente prana nathan; nee en daivum." (You are my savior; You are My God.)
This is our faith. This is the faith for which our forefathers suffered persecution in the early days of Christianity. This is the faith that prompted Abraham to sacrifice his only son on command from god without question. It is the love that made Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross so that we can be redeemed from eternal damnation.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Table of Contents Issue No: 79
1. Editor's Note
2. Bible Readings for This Sunday
Golden Friday (Friday after Pentecost) (June 1)
First Sunday after Pentecost (June 3)
3. Sermons for This Sunday
Sermons for the First Sunday After Pentecost
4. Inspiration for Today
Jehovah-shalom: (The Lord send peace.)
5. Featured: I Want to be somebody!
The question rather becomes How can I make a lasting difference in my world? So that when I depart, I will leave behind a legacy of faithfulness, I'll leave people who are better off for my having been here. ...
6. Taste And See That The Lord Is Good
As a Christian you have a right to the life of Christ Jesus. Because of what Jesus did on the cross you can exchange the devils nature for the nature of God. Jesus said he came for you to have life and have it more abundantly. ...
You're going along smoothly, and all of a sudden something turns your world upside down. A loved one gets a cancer diagnosis. You lose your job. Your best friend moves halfway across the country. Someone dies too young. You're making your way down the road just fine and then you crash into a pothole that almost derails you. We all know the feeling all too well. ...
8. You Cannot Have the Peace of God Until You First Have Peace with God
This peace doesn't come from what or who we are, but from what God has done - how He has justified us in response to our faith. A wonderful byproduct of this reality is a deep inner peace that floods our soul. ...
9. The Habit of Enjoying Adversity
We have to develop godly habits to express what God's grace has done in us. It is not just a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved so that "the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." And it is adversity that makes us exhibit His life in our mortal flesh. ...
10. Poem: A Single Person Can Change Generations
11. Health Tip: Not Food But Fertilizer
The average woman living in East Asia eats about 10 times the quantity of soy foods as the average woman in the United States. Yet East Asian women have lower rates of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer than women in the United States. ...
12. Recipe: Oatmeal Walnut Cookies
13. Family: Couples Argue 3 Times per Month Over Finances
Disagreement over Finances is one of the major problems that lead to break up of marriages. A recent survey reported by Harvard Business Review confirms the role of financial stress in marriage. ...
14. Rev. Fr. Zacharia Varghese. AXIOS!
Malankara World Congratulates Rev. Fr. Zachariah Varghese (Zach achen) on his ordination as a priest by HE Mor Theethose Yeldo, Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar of Malankara Archdiocese of Syrian Orthodox Church in North America on March 26, 2012 at Dallas, TX. Zach achen is a member of Malankara World Board. He also enjoys the distinction of being the first American born person raised to the priesthood of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church. ...
15. Humor: What Causes Arthritis?
16. About Malankara World
Read all the articles and features in this week's Malankara World Journal online at:
Thank you for your support and help.
In HIS Service
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World Journal
ID No: 956