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  • DANIEL BABU PAUL
    TOTUS TUUS MARIA ... From: Roycherian@aol.com To: dbabupaul@satyam.net.in Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2002 2:34 PM Subject: LET US PRAY TOGETHER
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2002
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      TOTUS TUUS MARIA
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2002 2:34 PM
      Subject: LET US PRAY TOGETHER

      Repent…Confess…make clean your body, mind & soul and the body of Christ!       
      LET US PRAY TOGETHER!

      Dear ones,

      …When Jesus had heard that John the Baptist had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,…that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: ”…the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great  light, on those dwelling in  a land over shadowed by death light has arisen.”   From that time on, Jesus began to preach, and to say, “REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”…”There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed; nor secret  that will not be known…I tell you my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one”... “Only prayer and fasting can drive this kind out…nothing else can.”

      There were several discussions on Repentance and Confession. But yet there are several aspects that were not brought out to us by our learned Christians. The following is one reflection on this theme.            

      “I am trying to clarify for myself what is the meaning of confessions as they exist and are practiced. I can understand the Catholic Confession-violation of a law. But I have to clarify the Orthodox Confession dogmatical­ly (sacrament of repentance) and spiritually. In confession, the metamorphosis of the Church and of Christianity is most evident. The Church was born as a reality in opposition, externally visibly -- and even more, internally visibly -- to this world. The metamorphosis consists of the fact that the Church gradually became a religious servicing of the world. In the beginning the sacrament of repentance was totally focused on one thing: on the betrayal of the Church, betrayal of her incarnated and revealed reality. Sin was considered a betrayal of the new life, a falling out of it.   Sin was a rupture, a defection, a betrayal; sanctity was understood not as a moral perfection, but as an ontological faithfulness to Christ and His Kingdom. The moral teaching of the Church is eschatological, not ethical. For Christians, the essence of sin is the betrayal of Christ, the falling away from Him and the Church. So the sacrament of repentance is a return, through repentance, confession and regret, to the new life, already given, already revealed. Nowadays, Confession is not directed at that; its essence is different. It is directed toward a certain moral regularization -- putting into order -- of life in the world, of its laws. In other words, the sacrament of repentance began by being referred not to a moral law, but to faith and to sin as a falling away from faith ("no one who abides in his sins. .." I John llI:6). Now Confession is often a conversation about violations of moral laws, about weaknesses and sinfulness, but without reference to faith...As everything in Christianity, the sacrament of repentance is eschatological; it is the return of man to the longed-for Kingdom and to "the life of the world to come."  What it has become, I simply don't know, nor do I understand in what "category" this absolution of sins falls after a few minutes of talk about one's weaknesses. I don't know!”             

      This passage is from the Journal (1973—1983) of Fr. Alexander Schmemann. What we learn from here is that sin is foremost the betrayal of the Church, the body of Christ, betrayal of the new life. The sacrament of repentance is a return, through repentance, confession, and regret. I think this should be the view of our Fathers too.            

      Our Church is now going through a miserable test, a culmination of a century old conflict. Both the  factions say that they are right and the other faction is wrong. According to their point of view they may be right too. They may soon depart  and can become separate administrative bodies also. But they are missing the over all picture. While in the whole world faith is under question and Christianity itself is under attack, a small section consisting of 0.4 Million Orthodox members (out of 2,000 Million Christians) divided into two factions and are fighting to establish their authority, tradition, power and to posses the maximum number of churches and diocese and also mostly spend lot of time in vain speaking and to find fault with the leadership of the other faction. Unfortunately, both the factions do not see the century long play of Satan who is continuously creating conflicts of interests and divisions in this ancient Church .              

      After going through innumerable, humble attempts to make peace in this church, and having direct interaction with the leadership, with both H.H.Patriarch and with H.H. Catholicos, I  came to the cnclusion  that the reason for this unrest in our church is nothing but the sins of all the members, playing into the hands of Satan. We cannot blame our leadership alone. No doubt, they are praying Christians. But our worship, life and mission, peace, strength and serenity,   all are somehow affected.  Therefore, we cannot remain as silent onlookers. Sincere fasting and prayer for peace, strength and serenity is the only way that Jesus had clearly shown.   Therefore, it will be appropriate for all of us to request both their Holiness's to issue appeal or Kalpana to conduct a half an hour prayer, throughout the world, at the same time, by the entire members of the Church, wherever they are, after sincere fasting.  Of course, the emphasis on this prayer and fasting has to be given on all our Church members in Kerala and their convenience.  Let us pin point the evildoers in our Church and defunct their activity.               

      The prayer theme should be nothing but Repentance,  what our Lord Jesus Christ had asked us to do.  The detailed content or order of prayers can be determined by the Church leaders. Prayers like that of King David, before the birth of Christ and prayers of Mar Aprem (St. Ephraim) after Christ are relevant examples of prayers of Repentance. While David’s Psalm 51 is well known to all Christians, because it is included in the Bible, the prayers of Mar Aprem is not that prominent in all churches, because it is not included in the Bible. But he represents pure Christianity, and his prayers make the slothful to repentance. A Spiritual Psalter excerpted by Bishop Theophan the Recluse from the works of our Holy Father Mar Aprem the Syrian, arranged in the manner of the Psalms of David, is available now in Malayalam, under the name: 150 "Adhyalmika Sankeerthanam."   Here is a relevant prayer of Mar Aprem:               

      “O Lord, the master of my life, Grant not unto me a spirit of               
      idleness, of discouragement, of lust of power, and of vain speaking.               
      But bestow upon me, Thy servant, the spirit of chastity,               
      of meekness, of patience and of love.               
      Yea, O Lord and King, grant that I may perceive my own              
      transgressions, and judge not my brother,   for blessed art               
      Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.“   
                 
      The date  of the ½ an hour global network prayer can be determined by the Church leaders. Out of experience, the suggested convenient timings of the said prayers in major cities or countries will be convenient if it is as follows:               
      Japan……Tokyo … night………....  12.00 –12.30AM              
      Australia…Sydney...night………….  1.30 – 2.00AM              
      USA…Los Angeles…morning……… 7.30 – 8.00 AM 
               Chicago……...morning……  …9.30 –10.00AM                         
               NewYork……morning……...  10.30 --11.00AM                         
               New Jersey…morning……..   10.30 --11.00AM                         
               Florida……….morning……… 10.30 --11.00AM               
      England…London…afternoon……... .3.30 -- 4.00PM               
      Switzerland…Geneva.. afternoon..… 4.30 -- 5.00PM                
      Syria…Damascus…….afternoon ...  5.30 – 6.00PM               
      Russia…Moscow… evening  ……. ..6.30 -- 7.00PM               
      Egypt…Cairo………evening ………. 6.00 – 6.30PM               
      Gulf…Abu Dhabi……evening………  7.00 --7.30PM                                 
               Dubai …  evening……….........7.00 – 7.30PM               
      India………………..evening..……… 9.00 -- 9.30PM                 

      Kindly have your feedback and opinion criticism for date, modality and content of the proposed prayer. Again, I suggest any day during the last week of the Great Lent or the Week of the life-giving Passion.     Let us take the responsibility of this situation and request our leadership to realize our Spiritual urge.  

      Remember, in prayer you will not be alone. Not even alone with God, especially in this type of global network prayer. So, we have to commemorate all those who are members of the “body” of Christ, for it is as members of the “Body” of Christ that we pray, and other members, alive and sleeping (died) are always with us.  
                      
      This is the first time one established ancient church will make such an attempt of praying, at the same time, round the world. If it is conducted successfully, we can make it a practice to conduct it every year. Also, this can be a starting point for continuous prayer habit. This will be then a model for all Christian Churches also, in this modern world, where Christian members are scattered and longing for spiritual family foregathering and Divine Communion.                 

      May the good God bless all of us!

      Prayerfully yours,
      Dr. Cherian Eapen                         
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