Saturday, February 28, 2009

Leeper Sunday - Second Sunday of Lent

Healing of the Leper

"I am willing; be cleansed"

Readings:

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Qurbana Hyms of the day

After the Gospel


source: http://syrianorthodox.googlepages.com/leperssunday

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Iragi Muslims convert to Christianity

A campaign of violence against Christians has seen thousands flee the country since 2003. Many of those who remain have complained of intimidation and persecution. But in some parts of Iraq, muslims are now choosing to become christians. In this video Al Jazeera's Omar Al Saleh reports from Irbil in Northern Iraq.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Undisguised death threats against the Mar Gabriel Monastery

Undisguised death threats against the Mar Gabriel Monastery

The harassment and intimidation against the Mar Gabriel Monastery continue and have taken a new impetus. Now the monastery staff is threatened openly in Turkey's largest newspaper: "If the problem is not resolved, blood will be shed here" writes the newspaper Hürriyet.

On Friday, February 20th, an interview was published in the paper version of Turkey's largest newspaper Hürriyet. The interview was done with Kuryakos Ergün, who is chairman of the Mar Gabriel Monastery Foundation and Suleyman Düz, who is the village chief in the village of Eglence.

- We have inherited the land from our ancestors, we will not give it to anyone, if the court does not resolve the issue, there will be killings, there will be great events taking place here, we have lived together here in a thousand years but now they are entrusting themselves with Europe, says Suleyman Düz, village chief in Eglence, referring to the few Assyrians who remain in the area.

The Foundation's chairman of Mar Gabriel Monastery, Kuryakos Ergün, says that the problem must be solved at the local level.

- We want to live like brothers with the Muslims here, the monastery has a long history which has been preserved for thousands of years, it's an unnecessary provocation, we want to solve the problem here in Midyat, in Ankara, not in Europe, says Kuraykos Ergun.

Before the eyes of the Turkish authorities and the police, now open threats have been made several times against the Mor Gabriel Monastery. So far, none of the threats has caused any legal implications.

Click the following link to read original article (Turkish)

http://www.turabdin.downthe.net/pdf/Hurriyet.pdf

Dikran Ego
Freelance Journalist
www.acsatv.com
  
   

The Holy Qurbana

This You Tube playlist explains the Holy Qurbana.

Lenten Podcast Now Online

You can listen to the latest podcast from St. Mary’s online.  While we usually think of Lent as a time to give something up, it is also a time to take a journey - a journey home. And it is also a great time for those of us in recovery because we are joined in this journey by many of our brothers and sisters.

To listen online:

http://stmarytheprotectress.mypodcast.com/2009/02/Lents_a_great_time_for_us_in_recovery-186312.html



Monday, February 23, 2009

Syriac Orthodox Church in India

These videos give the viewer a visual journey of the Syrian Jacobite Church Of India. enjoy and be informed. We invite you to join us at our parish church, St. Mary's, in Plymouth, Indiana, to celebrate the Holy Qurbana every Sunday starting at 10 am. There are also daily prayer services Monday through Friday at 12 noon.









Baking prosphora

I found the following on another blog and thought some of you might find it helpful. It is one of the best descriptions on baking Prosphora I have read. At the end of this article is a link to the author's blog. Check it out for picture and more. You might follow her blog. It is well worth reading on a regular basis. I followed her instruction the last time I baked. Did not look as good as hers, but far better than usual.

Baking Prosphora {Athonite Style}



Today I made prosphora and I decided to post how we do it here at the monastery. It's very different from the typical phrosphora used in most churches. This is the way they make it on the Holy Mountain and in other Athonite monasteries. The texture of this type of dough is very different from regular dough and usually has a sourdough sort of taste to it.

We use something called "prozimi" instead of yeast to make the bread rise. Prozimi itself is a miracle. On either September 14 (Exaltation of the Precious Cross) or on Holy Friday a bowl containing only water and flour is taken into the altar during the Gospel reading. The priest then blesses it. Afterwards our Gerondissa takes it into the kitchen and places it in the oven (the oven is not on) and leaves it there overnight. The next morning the bowl is overflowing with this "yeast". It is then separated and refrigerated in airtight containers and is used each time prosphoro is made. Every time you make a new batch of dough you tear a small piece off and set aside for next time.


What you'll need:

7 cups warm water
prozimi
5 lb. bag unbleached flour
3 cups Semolina
1 1/2 tsp. salt
prosphoro seal (often we use 2 different ones at the monastery)
beeswax candle
6 in. pans
icon/holy relics
CD (or someone reading) the Akathist Hymn
heavy blankets
plastic bag
2 white sheets
toothpick
*It's important to keep these items clean and only use them for prosphora or artoklasia. Someone should be reading the Akathist hymn (I listen to the CD and pray the Jesus prayer)


On the night before you plan to bake your prosphora you prepare the prozimi. {I also like to thimiasi (cense or bless) the house when I do this and also on the following morning before I begin.}

To begin, you'll put 7 cups of warm water in a pot. Place the pot on the stove until the water is almost hot. Add your prozimi and and mix very quickly to help it dissolve. Add approximately 2 lbs. of unbleached flour (I use King Arthur or Arrowhead Mills brand) Mix it thoroughly, place lid on top of pot and place in a thick, plastic bag. Tie bag and cover with a heavy blanket. Place in a warm room overnight. I usually place an icon or relics on top.

You'll want to lay out a blanket and a (clean, obviously) garbage bag on the surface where your dough will rise. I also keep a space heater in the room to really heat the room up. You'll need another garbage bag and heavy blanket to cover it. This dough needs a lot of heat to rise.

Next you'll measure approximately 8 cups of flour in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of Semolina, 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Then add your prozimi.

Knead the dough until completely mixed. Dough needs to be very stiff; it usually turns my knuckles red from the kneading and it's consistency. If it's too soft, add 1/2 cup of flour at a time.

Lay a plain white sheet on the table and have one ready to cover your dough once it's ready.

Separate into 11 parts. You'll need 2 parts per prosphoro (5 of them) plus a piece to save for prozimi. You want a flat, smooth surface to roll on. I use my glass table. You also want to make sure there is no flour around to leave indentations on the dough.

Roll long wise and then shape into a pyramid shape, tucking all the creases at the bottom of each piece. Make sure there aren't a lot of creases or cracks on the top. Place each piece on your sheet and cover. This prevents it from drying out too much and cracking.

Next, you'll prepare your pans. I use 5 6-inch Wilton pans. (These pans should only be used for baking prosphora or artoklasia.) You heat your pan in the oven (pre-heated to 350 degrees) and then take the bottom of your beeswax candle and coat the inside of the pan. This is done because no oil should be used in prosphora. Then set them aside.

Remove each piece and place one on top of the other.

"Bottom" sides with creases should be facing eachother. Now each loaf should look as perfect as possible with no cracks showing (as you can see I'm still working on perfecting mine), the dough will almost shine. Place in pan and press seal down. BE CAREFUL! You should press the seal down from the sides not the center. Push down until you can't anymore, wait a second and then quickly "pop" off. This type of dough is so stiff that it often makes a "popping" sound.

You want the seal to be very distinct so it doesn't disappear when the dough rises. Next take a toothpick and poke the top of the dough (not too close to the seal) in the shape of a cross.

After you seal and poke them all, take them to the place where you prepared the blankets.

Put them down and cover with the bag and blanket. Place your icon or holy relics on top and let rise for 2-4 hours, check them periodically.

Place your new prozimi in your container and let it rise as well. After they're done rising, place them in your preheated oven. Let bake for 45-50 minutes. Once slightly golden, remove from oven and let cool. Sometimes I will slightly dampen a sponge and rub them with it to make them a little shiny.

Clean your seals very good. Scratch off any dough that may have adhered to it when stamping. It's best not to get your seal wet, put a tiny bit of water on your finger if necessary.

It is customary to include a list of names, both living and asleep, to give to the priest with the prosphora.

The antidoron (literally meaning instead of the gift) that we recieve at the end of the Divine Liturgy symbolizes the Theotokos because it is from her that we take Christ (the center piece). The unused portion is considered to be her womb.

For the complete article, visit her site. You will also find several other great articles worth the time of reading. You will find it at:
source: http://orthodoxmom.blogspot.com/2009/02/baking-prosphora-athonite-style.html

Saturday, February 21, 2009

First Sunday of Great Lent

First Sunday of Great Lent:
Sunday of
Cana (Kothine Sunday)

Selections from Evening Prayer

Opening Prayer

O God who alone accomplish great wonders, You performed Your first miracle by changing water into good wine when You were invited to the wedding feast. Grant that, like the guests assembled there, we may be filled with the wonder of Your wisdom, and our hearts may be drunk with the wine of Your love, and we will offer praise to You, the True Bridegroom and Worker of Miracles, now and always and forever. Amen.

Proemion

Praise, thanksgiving, glory, honour and exaltation, continually and without ceasing at all times, may we be worthy to offer to the Eternal Word who, being God, made Himself to be seen on earth and mingled with men, and at the wedding feast at Cana-in-Galilee changed water into good wine, and made the Holy Church to drink of the wine of His love, and by His Precious Cross delivered her from her enemies. To Him belongs glory, honour and adoration, at this time of evening and at all times and seasons and hours and moments of the days of our life forever.

Sedro

To You belongs praise and thanksgiving, Jesus our God, Maker of the World and Fashioner of All Creatures, Word Without Beginning, who planted Paradise and placed in it the tree of life, You who without changing, showed Yourself at the end of time, and by Your poverty enriched our race. In every place Your blessings have flowed forth like the waters and Your abundant gifts have spread over the whole world. The earth which You trod was blessed, and rational beings were changed by Your word. Your graciousness drove you even to attend a wedding here below. You were bidden to the feast at Cana like other people while You are He who calls and makes all things come into existence. You appeared among men as a man, but as God You threw them in amazement by Your wonders. As the bridegroom was short of the earthly goods, in Your wealth, O Heavenly Bridegroom, You saved his good name. The guests united to praise You and to make known Your wonders. Your mother rejoiced because her request was fulfilled. Your glory was manifested and Your disciples believed in You.

And with them we beseech You now, in memory of Your first miracle, to change our hard times into times of blessings, filled with joy so that our mouths may resound with hymns of praise. Deliver us from the bitter wine of sorrow and make us partake of the spiritual cup of Your holy love. And we will offer praise and thanksgiving to You and to Your Father and to Your Holy Spirit, now and always and forever. Amen.

Gospel Reading: John 2.1-12

Friday, February 20, 2009

Conflict at monastery

Long-buried tensions between an ancient Assyrian Christian monastery and its neighbouring Muslim villagers are coming to a head in South Eastern Turkey.

The dispute is about land around the monastery. But the ongoing legal battle has resurrected past sectarian tensions.

Anita McNaught reports from Midyat in south east Turkey.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fasting

Fasting is a spiritual practice which is given much importance in Semitic religions. The early Church instituted periods of fasting and abstinence from certain foods following the examples of our Lord as well as those of the Prophets such as Moses and Elijah. While the periods of fasting and Lenten observances are described in early texts such as Didascalia Apostolorum, practices have varied over time.

For instance, the Rogation of the Ninevites was introduced only in the 7th cent. First in the Church of the East and then adopted among the Syriac Orthodox Madenhoyo (Easterners) and later in the entire Syriac Orthodox Church. Through the influence of Syrians, the practice was adopted in other churches such as the Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches.

We find that the duration of Lenten observances have varied.

Bar `Ebroyo in his Ethikon states that: "Some people observe the fast of Nativity forty days from the full moon of Teshri (approx November) the second, others twenty-five days from the beginning of Kanun (approx. December) the first, and still others two weeks from the tenth of Kanun the first." (Teule, H.G.B. (trans.). Ethicon. Louvain: 1993, p. 80)

In the Nomocanon, Bar `Ebroyo gives more detailed information about the identity of people who fast 40, 25 or 14 days. The ascetics fast 40 days, lay people in the East (MadenHoye) from Kanun the first (=25 days) and lay people in the west: two weeks from the 10th of Kanun the first. (Teule, 1993, p. 80, fn 44).

Regarding the fast of the Apostles, Bar `Ebroyo says in the Ethikon: "The people in the West observe the fast of Apostles from the Monday after the feast of Pentecost till the twenty-ninth of Hziran (approx June), which is the feast of Peter and Paul; the people in the East till the completion of fifty days. About this fast the Holy Jacob (of Edessa in "A Letter to John the Stylite, ed. A. Voobus in Synodicon I, p. 238/219 trans.) said that it is not compulsory; otherwise anyone not keeping this fast would be blameworthy. But perhaps because our Lord said to his Apostles: the sons of the bride-chamber cannot fast as long as the bridegroom is with them. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them and then they shall fast (Mt 9:15), therefore, when our Lord ascended and the Spirit came, the Apostles fasted and this was accepted as a custom, but not prescribed."

These are just some examples of varied practices within the Syriac Orthodox Church recorded in the 13th cent. Similarly, the foods prescribed during lent have also varied. For instance, in certain areas, in addition to animal products, oil was avoided during lent. On the other hand, we find in a letter of Mor Philoxenos to the Abu Ya'fur the Lakhmid Phylarch references to Christian Turks being permitted to eat milk and meat--but only dried meat--during lent. (Paul Harb (trans.), Lettre de Philoxene de Mabbug au phylarque Abu Ya'fur... OLM Meltho (1967):183-222).

HH Patriarch Aphrem I's of blessed memory relaxation of Lenten observances (No 620; Dec 2, 1952) upon appeal from the bishops in Malankara has to be seen in this context. While the Patriarch's encyclical was promptly ridiculed by then Malankara Orthodox faction Catholicos Geevarghese II (No 210; Dec 8, 1952), Konatt Abraham Malpano (Malankara Malpano of the Malankara Orthodox Church) published an article in Malayala Manorama, praising the wisdom and timeliness of HH Patriarch Aphrem I's decision. In this article the learned Malpano emphatically acknowledges the authority of the Holy Fathers of the Church to set rules for periods of fasting. He welcomes relaxations to keep with the times and changing circumstances. You can read this news clipping from the Manorama at our resource section, which is provided by Mr. T.M. Chacko (Member Id # 0903 of SOCM-FORUM).

The observance of Lents (fasts) were indicated by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself [St. Mathew 9:15, St. Mark 9:29 (Syriac Bible)] and hence it is within the general authority vested in the Holy Church by our Lord Jesus Christ to fix the Lents (fasts) and its observances. In this view of the matter, the relaxations made by Patriarch Mor Aphrem I of blessed memory in consultation with the Holy Synod, and which are in force at present, are in keeping with the divine authority given to the Holy Church to preach and to teach for the edification of the believers. As far as those outside the Syriac Orthodox Church are concerned it may do well for them to remember that the Lenten observances in the Syriac Orthodox Church are internal matters of the Syriac Orthodox Church - it does not impose them on others. And those who are members of the Syriac Orthodox Church need not be bothered by outside criticisms of its Lenten observances, since they are matters within the authority of the Holy Church exercised through the Holy Synod and His Holiness the Patriarch the Supreme Head of the Holy Syriac Orthodox Church."

This FAQ is clarified by H. E Geevargis Mor Athanasios, Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Damascus, Syria


source:

Fasting is a spiritual practice which is given much importance in Semitic religions. The early Church instituted periods of fasting and abstinence from certain foods following the examples of our Lord as well as those of the Prophets such as Moses and Elijah. While the periods of fasting and Lenten observances are described in early texts such as Didascalia Apostolorum, practices have varied over time.

For instance, the Rogation of the Ninevites was introduced only in the 7th cent. First in the Church of the East and then adopted among the Syriac Orthodox Madenhoyo (Easterners) and later in the entire Syriac Orthodox Church. Through the influence of Syrians, the practice was adopted in other churches such as the Coptic and Armenian Orthodox Churches.

We find that the duration of Lenten observances have varied.

Bar `Ebroyo in his Ethikon states that: "Some people observe the fast of Nativity forty days from the full moon of Teshri (approx November) the second, others twenty-five days from the beginning of Kanun (approx. December) the first, and still others two weeks from the tenth of Kanun the first." (Teule, H.G.B. (trans.). Ethicon. Louvain: 1993, p. 80)

In the Nomocanon, Bar `Ebroyo gives more detailed information about the identity of people who fast 40, 25 or 14 days. The ascetics fast 40 days, lay people in the East (MadenHoye) from Kanun the first (=25 days) and lay people in the west: two weeks from the 10th of Kanun the first. (Teule, 1993, p. 80, fn 44).

Regarding the fast of the Apostles, Bar `Ebroyo says in the Ethikon: "The people in the West observe the fast of Apostles from the Monday after the feast of Pentecost till the twenty-ninth of Hziran (approx June), which is the feast of Peter and Paul; the people in the East till the completion of fifty days. About this fast the Holy Jacob (of Edessa in "A Letter to John the Stylite, ed. A. Voobus in Synodicon I, p. 238/219 trans.) said that it is not compulsory; otherwise anyone not keeping this fast would be blameworthy. But perhaps because our Lord said to his Apostles: the sons of the bride-chamber cannot fast as long as the bridegroom is with them. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them and then they shall fast (Mt 9:15), therefore, when our Lord ascended and the Spirit came, the Apostles fasted and this was accepted as a custom, but not prescribed."

These are just some examples of varied practices within the Syriac Orthodox Church recorded in the 13th cent. Similarly, the foods prescribed during lent have also varied. For instance, in certain areas, in addition to animal products, oil was avoided during lent. On the other hand, we find in a letter of Mor Philoxenos to the Abu Ya'fur the Lakhmid Phylarch references to Christian Turks being permitted to eat milk and meat--but only dried meat--during lent. (Paul Harb (trans.), Lettre de Philoxene de Mabbug au phylarque Abu Ya'fur... OLM Meltho (1967):183-222).

HH Patriarch Aphrem I's of blessed memory relaxation of Lenten observances (No 620; Dec 2, 1952) upon appeal from the bishops in Malankara has to be seen in this context. While the Patriarch's encyclical was promptly ridiculed by then Malankara Orthodox faction Catholicos Geevarghese II (No 210; Dec 8, 1952), Konatt Abraham Malpano (Malankara Malpano of the Malankara Orthodox Church) published an article in Malayala Manorama, praising the wisdom and timeliness of HH Patriarch Aphrem I's decision. In this article the learned Malpano emphatically acknowledges the authority of the Holy Fathers of the Church to set rules for periods of fasting. He welcomes relaxations to keep with the times and changing circumstances. You can read this news clipping from the Manorama at our resource section, which is provided by Mr. T.M. Chacko (Member Id # 0903 of SOCM-FORUM).

The observance of Lents (fasts) were indicated by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself [St. Mathew 9:15, St. Mark 9:29 (Syriac Bible)] and hence it is within the general authority vested in the Holy Church by our Lord Jesus Christ to fix the Lents (fasts) and its observances. In this view of the matter, the relaxations made by Patriarch Mor Aphrem I of blessed memory in consultation with the Holy Synod, and which are in force at present, are in keeping with the divine authority given to the Holy Church to preach and to teach for the edification of the believers. As far as those outside the Syriac Orthodox Church are concerned it may do well for them to remember that the Lenten observances in the Syriac Orthodox Church are internal matters of the Syriac Orthodox Church - it does not impose them on others. And those who are members of the Syriac Orthodox Church need not be bothered by outside criticisms of its Lenten observances, since they are matters within the authority of the Holy Church exercised through the Holy Synod and His Holiness the Patriarch the Supreme Head of the Holy Syriac Orthodox Church."

This FAQ is clarified by H. E Geevargis Mor Athanasios, Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Damascus, Syria

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Holy Qurbana

The word “Qurbana” has different meanings like offering, gift, oblation, sacrifice, presents etc. The word took its origin from the syriac word ‘Kurbono’. As there is no apt word to translate into different languages with the full connotation, the same word is accepted in different languages with a slight change. In the Old Testament wherever the word ‘sacrifice’ or ‘offering’ is intended the word ‘Kurbono’ is used in the Syriac Bible.
Holy Qurbana is worship and sacrament

The Holy Qurbana is a systematic form of public worship, most beautiful and exhilarating. It is also an important sacrament. Above all it is the perfector of sacraments. It was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ himself. He specially entrusted his disciples. It is food and salvation for our souls. We are connected to him by his body and blood of Messiah through this sacrament. Therefore it is magnificent and it excels everything and is truly attractive. Melchizedek, the chief priest of God (who lived at the time of Abraham) made offering in bread and wine as foreshadowing this sacrament. Gen:14:18 “Then Melchizedek King of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High”. During the Old Testament days it is celebrated as sacrifice of innocent lambs as a wondrous example. At the fullness of time it was fulfilled in the Holy body of the lamb of God, Jesus Christ. It is being commemorated by the Church through this sacrament till the end of the world. This sacred sacrament is full of several great deep mysteries.
Visible and invisible acts

Our Lord once for all died on the cross for us. It will not be repeated. The Holy Qurbana, the remembrance of which kindles our faith, lead us to new spiritual experience. In this past time, present time and the future time are all combined. Eventhough our Lord is invisible now he is sitting on the right hand of the Father in heaven and offers the living sacrifice to God, the creator of all on behalf of us all in calm and peace. We are made part and parcel of this sacrifice. The Lord himself as the chief celebrant is celebrating this sacred act which is mercy, peace, sacrifice and thanks giving. In the Holy Qurbana the celebrant is the priest but he really represent the Lord. Now we can understand that the Holy Qurbana is the union of the visible and the invisible, wonderfully and excellently made united.
It is Holy Sacrifice itself

The Holy Qurbana is the remembrance of the Holy Sacrifice done on Calvery once for all. Rom:12:1 “Living Sacrifices: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship”. The Holy Qurbana is actually a spiritual sacrifice. Like Abraham who prepared to offer his son Issac as sacrifice we also should offer ourselves as sacrifice for the remission of our sins. The only thing is that in the Holy Qurbana we ourselves are the animals of sacrifice.
It is service of thanks giving

The Holy Qurbana is a sacrament through which we express our gratitude and thanks to God who protect us in wondrous ways. When we pray like the priest “ Oh God make us worthy to offer you this service of Thanks giving as sweet fragrance of incense” then we understand the remarkable magnitude of this service.
It is a performance full of meaning

There is great meaning in all things done in Holy Qurbana. It enables to touch the heart of man. The heard melodies in Holy Qurbana are sweet and make us happy. The thoughtful prayers reveal the eternal truths. Every act done has deep meaning. There is intention for all the colours seen, there is aim for every step made. There is significance for every clothes worn. Every word uttered depicts mysterious action the heart and reminds us of the experiences of heaven. All the materials used in this, stands for one or other thing and makes us thoughtful , whereby five senses of man made in full action. Sight gives the eyes delight, songs give ears pleasantness. The incense of fragrance give the nose sweetness. The bread and wine give the tongue tasteness and the skin gives occasion to touch. Body, mind and heart are made in full action. In short, the Holy Qurbana is an act full of meaning. We are made to see the Holy Sacrifice of our Lord with body, mind and soul and as thanks giving enables us to submit ourselves as the Passover Lamb of the New Testament, by eating the manna of the New Testament, renew the covenant of the New Testament with the blood of him.

We invite you to join us at St. Mary's on Sunday starting at 10 am. There are also daily prayers services Monday through Friday at 12 noon.

Prayers for the departed

Archbishop Lazar begins a discussion about the Orthodox Tradition of offering prayers in memory of the departed.








Sorrow of Death and Joy of Resurrection

We will be remembering the departed on this Sunday.

Most of us will try to visit the cemeteries where our departed ones are buried or give their names to the priest to remember them in Holy Qurbana. Of course it is very important that we should remember our departed ones and pray for them. Very often when we do this there is sorrow and melancholy in our mind.

Even though every day during the Nicene Creed we say that,"And look for the resurrection of the dead and the new life in the world to come" the real experience of resurrection last only for few days a year during the Easter time. The rest of the time we are in sorrow for the departed ones. When Aaron died Jews observed 30 days mourning. They did the same when Moses died. But Christ converted the sorrow of Jairus within few days by giving life to his daughter. He did the same to the widow of Nain by giving life to her son in a short time after his death. He converted the sorrow of many people by giving life to Lazarus three days after his death. Christ Himself converted the sorrow of His disciples by his resurrection on the third day.

Death is the end of the first life and the resurrection is the beginning of the other world. By His resurrection God gave humanity the blessing of resurrection. John wrote in 5:29,"for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out". St Paul wrote," where, O' death is your victory? Where O' death is your sting?" (1 Corinth 1 5:55). While we remember the departed ones with sorrow, we should not forget the resurrection waiting for them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thousands pray at St. Elias III 's tomb

Thousands pray at St. Elias III 's tomb

The annual feast of Syriac Orthodox Patriarch St. Elias III was held at Manjanikkara, Pathanamthitta with religious fervour on Friday. Thousands of believers offered prayers at the tomb of St. Elias III at the Mor Ignatius Diayro Cathedral at Manjanikkara. Believers from different parts of the State thronged Manjanikkara in processions as part of their annual pilgrimage in connection with the saint's feast on Friday.

They were accorded a reception by bishops and priests, including therepresentative of the Patriarch and Metropolitan of Jordan and Jerusalem, Malkhi Murad Mor Sevarios, at Omalloor Cross in the afternoon.

Geevarghese Mor Dionysius, Diara chief, Geevarghese Mor Athanasius, auxiliary bishop, Kuriakose Mor Diascorus, Archbishop Kuriakose Mor Sevarios, Kuriakose Mor Ivanios, Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, T.U. Kuruvilla, Diara secretary and former Minister, were among those who received the processions at Omalloor Cross.

Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas inaugurated the pilgrims' meet held on the Diara premises in the evening. Youhanon Mor Phelexinos presided over the meet.

The Patriarchal delegate will lead the holy Eucharist to be held at the Diara cathedral at 8.30 a.m. on Saturday.

The internet TV of the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, "teshbuhto" ˆ Malankara Vision, http://malankaravision.com promoted by http://www.SOCMNet.org was officially inaugurated by Apostolic Delegate of the Patriarch of Antioch Mor Severios Malki Morad, Patriarchal-Vicariate of Jerusalem & Jordan.

Photos:
http://www.syrianchurch.org/Photos/77Dukrono_StEliasIII_09/index.html
Mor Ignatius Dayaro Cathedral-: http://manjinikkaradayara.org/

SOCM News Bureau - Pathanamthitta

  
 

Bzultho Yoldas Aloho. St. Mary the Perpetual Virgin

by Fr. George Varghese Vayaliparambil


Oh.. Mother of our Lord Please Pray For Us.

St. Mary the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ is a virgin of all times. Anti- Christians disagree with the perpetual virginity of St. Mary, something that has always been believed by Christians. In this article I'll be looking at some of the common arguments used and here is an attempt to find out the truth behind the word always put forth by the anti-Christians to challenge the virginity of St. Mary.

Mark 6:1-6: He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.

The anti-Christians always used to quote this word to substantiate their claim that St. Mary is not a virgin (Sorry). When we go though the word of God we can see that there are 7 different women bear the name, Mary in the New Testament. 1, St. Mary, Mother of Jesus. 2, Mary, Mother of James and Joses, Mat 27:5, Mk 15:40, Lk 24:10. 3, Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus cast out 7 demons, Mk 16:9, Lk 8:2. 4, Mary, sister of Lazarus and Martha Lk 10: 39-42, John 12:3-4. 5, Mary, Wife of Cleophas, Jn 19:25. 6, Mary, Mother of John Mark, AA12: 12. 7, Mary who greeted Paul at Rome, Rom 16:6.

Multiplicity of names, absence of clear identification to discern relationship between each of them and translation errors have contributed lot of confusion and gave room for many erroneous interpretations concerning blessed Mary, the mother of God. Here we need to make a deep study about the persons who bare the name of James, Jude, Simon and Joses in bible.

Simon

We can find out five persons who bear the same name Simon.

A. Simon the Apostle: The name of Simon occurs in all the passages of the Gospel and Acts, in which a list of the Apostles is given. To distinguish him from St. Peter he is called (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18) Kananaios, or Canaanites, and Zealots (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Both surnames have the same significance and are a translation of the Hebrew qana (the Zealous). The name does not signify that he belonged to the party of Zealots, but that he had zeal for the Jewish law, which he practiced before his call. Jerome and others wrongly assumed that Kana was his native place; where he should have been called Kanaios. The Greeks, Copts, and Ethiopians identify him with Nathanael of Cana; the first-mentioned also identify him with the bridegroom of the marriage of Cana, while in the "Chronicon paschale" and elsewhere he is identified with Simon Clopas.

B. Simon the Magician: He is person happen to meet St. Peter on his missionary journey to Samaria. We can see this event in Acts Chapter 8:9-24

C. Simon a Tanner: Who accommodated St. Peter in his house. We can trace out this man in Act. 9: 43 “And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.”

D. St Peter Simon: Saint Peter (Greek: Πετρος, Rock) (c.1–64 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles, chosen by Jesus as one of his first disciples. He is prominently featured in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Peter was a Galilean fisherman assigned a leadership role by Jesus. (Matthew 16:18) He was with Jesus during events witnessed by only a few apostles, such as the Transfiguration.[2] Early Christian writers provided more details about his life. St.John, chapter 1 Jesus addressed him as “son of John You shall be called Cephas"

E. Simon Iscariot: Simon Iscariot is the father of Jude Iscariot (John, chapter 6: 71, John, chapter 13: 26)

F. Simon from Cyrene: “As they led Jesus away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was coming into the city from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23: 26 It is clear that none of them were the son of St. Mary. It is clear that Simon the apostle was a Canaanite. St. Peter was elder to St. Mary and others were not close to Jesus.

Jude

A. Thaddeus (Judas, Brother/son of James) the Apostle

Thaddeus was one of the 12 Apostles. It is believed that he was also known as Judas, son of James (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus). In some New Testament passages, the name Thaddeus appears among the list of 12 Apostles. But in other New Testament passages, the name Judas, son of James, appears instead. In ancient times, a person could have two or three different names, such as a Greek-language name and a Hebrew name. And, sometimes people were known primarily by their occupational title.

The name Thaddeus appears in the list of Apostles given in Matthew 10:3, between James, son of Alpheus, and Simon the Zealot. In Mark 3:18, the name Thaddeus appears, again, in the same placement. In Acts 1:13, however, a man named Judas, son of James, is listed below Simon. And in Luke 6:16, Judas (son of James), is listed again among the 12 Apostles, between Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. In John 14:22, there is a reference to Judas (not Iscariot) who spoke to Jesus. The two names, however, never appear in the same book, lending credence to the belief that they both refer to the same person. In Acts 1:13, Judas is referred to as the brother of James in the KJV Bible, yet in all of the newer versions, he is called the son of James. In Jude 1:1, it is witnessed by Jude himself as the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James

Why the difference in the translation, as either brother or son of James? The Greek phrase which used in the original text can honestly translated either way. The Greek phrase that is translated either "Judas the brother of James" or "Judas the son of James" comes from only two words in the Greek. The first is Judas and second is James. The declension of the nouns clearly shows the phrase to mean, "Judas of James." That means that the relationship is a close one and that Judas is related to James in a close family kinship. Therefore, Judas is almost certainly either a brother of James or a son of James. However, the phrase in and of itself does not make that distinction. In fact, the King James Bible indicates this uncertainty by putting "brother of" in italics both in Luke 6:16 and in Acts 1:13. This means that there is no corresponding word in Greek to match the words "the brother."

B. Judas Iscariot

"Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over" (Mark 14:10-11).

C. Judas Barsabbas

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible mentions the existence of more than one Judas. Each of these men could not possibly have been the same person. For example, when Jesus selects 12 apostles from his disciples, he chooses two Judases: "Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor (Luke 6:16)." Another Judas appears in the book of Acts, years after the death of Judas Iscariot: Then the apostles, the elders, and the whole church decided to choose some of their men to send with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. These were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas. Bar-sab-'as (Ioudas Barsabbas): Judas was, with Silas, a delegate from the church in Jerusalem to the Gentile Christians of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. They were appointed to convey the letter containing the decision of "the apostles and the elders, with the whole church" regarding the attitude to be taken by Gentile Christians toward the Mosaic Law, and also to explain "the same things by word of mouth." They accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Antioch, and, "being themselves also prophets," i.e. preachers, they not only handed over the epistle but stayed some time in the city preaching and teaching. They seem to have gone no further than Antioch, for "they were dismissed in peace from the brethren unto those that had sent them forth," and it was Paul and Silas who some time afterward strengthened the churches in Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:40, 41). According to Acts 15:34 the King James Version, Judas returned to Jerusalem without Silas, who remained at Antioch and afterward became Paul's companion (Acts 15:40). The oldest manuscripts, however, omit Acts 15:34 and it is therefore omitted from the Revised Version (British and American). It was probably a marginal note to explain Acts 15:40, and in time it crept into the text. Judas and Silas are called "chief men among the brethren" (15:22), probably elders, and "prophets" (15:32). Barsabbas being a patronymic, Judas was probably the brother of Joseph Barsabbas. He cannot be identified with any other Judas, e.g. "Judas not Iscariot" (Jn 14:22). We hear no more of Judas after his return to Jerusalem (Acts 15:22 ff). In fact, both Jude and James are brothers and they (of the book of James) were half-brothers of Jesus. But People want to give too much emphasis to the flesh here and desire to elevate the physical kinship of the men to Jesus. It is clear that Apostle Jude is the brother of St. James and both of them are the son of Alfai (Acts 1:13) and there mother is another Mary, who followed Jesus with St. Mary in his Crucifixion time Mark (16: 40). Judas Iscariot is not attributed to the kinship of Jesus and Judas Barsabbas came to the picture only at time of St Paul.

Jacob/ James: Among the 12 apostle of Jesus Christ, two apostles bare the same name Jacob.

A. Jacob Son of Ze’badi: Jacob the son of Ze‟badi who is the brother of St. John who was loved by Jesus.

B. Jacob Son of Alfai: Another one is the brother of Joses and son of Alfai (Acts 1: 13) and Mary (Mark 16:40)

Joses

Joses (or Joseph) is the second of the brothers of Jesus appearing in the New Testament. Joses is first mentioned in Mark 6:3, which related people talking about Jesus: "Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him."

A Joses also appears in Mark 15:40, which mentions among the women present at Jesus' crucifixion a "Mary, the mother of James the Less and Joses".

The Gospel of Matthew closely mirrors these two passages in Matthew 13:55-57 and Matthew 27:56 and, depending on the Greek textual tradition, reads Joseph (Alexandrian, Western) or Joses (Byzantine). Since Joses is an uncommon variant of Joseph and appears in no other place in the book or the entire New Testament, it is likely that both verses refer to the same person.

In the medieval Legenda Aurea, Joses is also identified with Joseph Barsabbas, also called Justus, who in the Acts of the Apostles 1:23 is mentioned as a candidate to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judas Iscariot. Justus is listed third in the hereditary line of succession of the Desposyni after James the Just and Simeon of Jerusalem as Bishops of Jerusalem.

I would like to put forward two historical arguments.

If Mary had had children other than Jesus, it would have been impossible for the Church to teach that Mary was always a virgin. After all, if you were descended from Jesus' mother, you'd know it and be proud of that fact - if anyone thought that Mary were a virgin, you'd set them straight. And yet, the Church did teach early on that Mary was ever-virgin; despite this, no Christians denied the truth of this teaching. So it would seem that Mary didn't have any descendants besides Jesus. If Mary had had children other than Jesus, then how would Jesus appear to the people of that time? He would just be the first of many children, nothing special. His conception by the action of the Holy Spirit would be disbelieved, and people would naturally assume that, for instance, Joseph was the father - note that Joseph took her into his home at the same time that Jesus was conceived. So the prophecy of the Messiah's mother being a virgin (Isaiah 7: 14; Matthew 1:22-23) would appear to have been unfulfilled in Mary; and so Jesus would not appear to be the Messiah. On the other hand, though, if Jesus were an only child, something rather unusual at that time, his supernatural conception would be more likely to be believed. His birth would plausibly appear miraculous, Jesus being the only child of an otherwise infertile couple. Here's a solid proof that Jesus was an only child: John 19:26-27 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, "Woman, behold thy son!" Then saith he to the disciple, "Behold thy mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. If Jesus had brothers and sisters, there would be no need to put His mother under the care of John. In fact, it would probably be an insult to His siblings. On the other hand, if we assume Jesus had no siblings, the way He provided for the care of His mother makes perfect sense. Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee... The language used here to describe how Jesus would be conceived ("the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee") indicated that there was a union of marriage between Mary and Holy Spirit (Shawthophooso W‟magnonoozo D,rooho Qadeesho). Since that's the case, it would be adulterous for Joseph to have sexual intercourse with Mary. Mary couldn't have had any children besides Jesus, since she had taken a vow of perpetual virginity; she had gotten engaged to Joseph with the understanding that they'd never have sex. We can see this from the first chapter of Luke.

Luke 1:30-33 And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." If Mary intended to have a normal marriage, including sexual intercourse, one would have expected her to react in the following manner: "How wonderful! Joseph and I will be the parents of the Messiah!" But instead, what she said is: Luke 1:34 "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" If Mary had intended to have sexual intercourse with Joseph, what she says here makes no sense at all. Thus, she intended to remain a virgin even in marriage. Some people claim that the following verse shows that Jesus had brothers: Mark 6:3 "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?" And they were offended at him. First, note that James, Joses, Juda, and Simon are called the brothers of Jesus, not the sons of Mary. No one in the Bible, besides Jesus, is ever called a natural son of Mary. So this verse doesn't show, at all, that Mary didn't remain a virgin - the "brothers" of Jesus could have been his cousins (as I'll be arguing below), or they could have been His brothers by adoption (that is, they could have been adopted by Joseph and Mary), or they could have been Jesus' half-brothers (for instance, if Joseph were a widower and had fathered those children with his previous wife). All of these cases are possible and are in complete harmony with the above Biblical verse.

An explanation of how the word "brother" is used in the Bible

In the Bible, the term "brother" is used in a more general sense than is common today; it would be better translated as "kinsman" or "relative". There are several Biblical examples of this. The reason for this is that Hebrew didn't have a word for "cousin", so the word "brother" was used to include cousins. The people who wrote the Bible were of Jewish culture and were accustomed to this usage, and so they applied it when writing in other languages as well, such as Greek. The Greek Old Testament used by the Evangelists, called the "Septuagint", was translated into Greek by Jewish scholars about a century before Jesus' time, and it refers to cousins and other close relatives as "brothers" in exactly the way I've described. In the following examples, I'll provide the verses in English, and also a transliteration of the Greek Old Testament used in Jesus' time. The first example concerns Abram and Lot.

Genesis 11:26 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. This verse tells us that Abram is the uncle of Lot: Abram is the brother of Lot's father. But in another verse, Abram is called Lot's "brother": Genesis 14:12, 14 And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, with all his goods, and departed. And when Abram heard that his brother [Lot] was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, who were three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. Here's the Greek version from the Septuagint: Genesis 14:14 akousas de abram hoti Echmalwteutai lwt ho adelphos autou ErithmEsen tous idious oikogeneis autou triakosious deka kai oktw kai katediwxen opisw autwn hews dan Similarly, the Bible tells us here that Laban is Jacob's uncle: Genesis 29:13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. However, two verses later, Laban calls Jacob his brother: Genesis 29:15 And Laban said unto Jacob, "Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?" Genesis 29:15 eipen de laban tw iakwb oti gar adelphos mou ei ou douleuseis moi dwrean apaggeilon moi tis o misthos sou estin In the following, the cousins of the daughters of Eleazar are called their "brethren": 1 Chronicles 23:21-22 The sons of Merari are Mahli, and Mushi. The sons of Mahli are Eleazar, and Kish. And Eleazar died, and had no sons, but daughters: and their brethren the sons of Kish took them. 1 Chronicles 23:21-22 uioi merari mooli kai mousi. uioi mooli eleazar kai kis. kai apethanen eleazar kai ouk Esan autw uioi all' E thugateres kai elabon autas uioi kis adelphoi autwn.

In the following, the "brethren" of Ahaziah include at least 42 men, who were not his brothers - his brothers were all killed before he became the king (2 Chronicles 22:1) - but rather his cousins or other similar relatives: 2 Kings 10:13-14 Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen. And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house. There were 42 men and not one of them was left alive. 2 Kings 10:13-14 kai iou euren tous adelphous ochoziou basilews iouda kai eipen tines umeis kai eipon oi adelphoi ochoziou hmeis kai katebEmen eis eirEnEn twn uiwn tou basilews kai twn uiwn tEs dunasteuousEs. kai eipen sullabete autous zwntas kai sunelabon autous zwntas kai esfaxan autous eis baithakad tessarakonta kai duo andras ou katelipen andra ex autwn. So we see that the term "brother" in the Bible can refer to family relationships other than the one to which we usually apply it. Now that we know that the word "brother" in the Bible doesn't necessarily mean a sibling, It is claimed that the following verse says that Mary and Joseph had sex after Jesus' birth: Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. However, what the Bible is actually doing here is underlining the fact that Joseph is definitely not Jesus' father, since he didn't have sexual intercourse with Mary before Jesus was born. But the word "till" in this verse does not imply that Joseph "knew" Mary after the birth of Jesus (that is, that they eventually had sexual intercourse). Here's a Biblical example to demonstrate this: 1 Timothy 6:14 "I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." Does this imply that we are allowed to sin after Jesus appears? Of course not. In addition, note that if Joseph intended to ever have sex with Mary, why did he wait until after Jesus' birth? There was nothing to stop him. So this actually indicates that Joseph did not intend to have sex with Mary.

All the Christians are the brothers of Jesus Christ

Revelation 12:17 (King James Version): And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed (rest of her offspring - NKJV), which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Here St John says long after the ascensions of St. Mary, that those who are keeping the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ is the offspring of St. Mary. John 19:26-27 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said unto his mother, "Woman, behold thy son!" Then said he to the disciple, "Behold thy mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. By obeying the word of God St John got the brotherhood with Jesus Christ. It is the offer of our Lord to every one who follows His Word. St. Mark 3: 31-35 “There came then his brethren and his mother, and stood outside the house and send in a messages asking for Jesus. And the multitude sat surrounding Him, and they said unto him “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren are seeking for thee.” And he answered them, saying, “Who is my mother, or my brethren?” And he looked around and said “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” The boundaries of “family” are expanded beyond blood relatives, spouses, and even disciples to include those who hunger for a relationship with God and are willing to do God’s will. It does not, however, include those blood relatives who don’t have the “correct” relationship with God. Anti-Christians in the world It is true that from the very beginning the dragon the serpent of old, called the devil, and Satan who deceives the whole world (Rev. 12: 9) was enraged with the woman (St. Mary) (Rev. 12:17) and still it continues its fight against the true Christians. The offspring of St. Mary, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, it is very clear that „Christ‟ who is witnessed as not the son of perpetual Virgin Mary is antichrist. Those who are witnessing Christ who is not born out of a Perpetual Virgin Mary and those who are not accepting St. Mary as his mother, and her perpetual virginity are antichristian.

We can come to the conclusion that:

1. St. Mary is mother of Jesus and she is the perpetual Virgin.
2. St James (Jacob) Jude (Thaddeus) and Joses (Joseph) are brothers (Mark 16: 40; Jude 1:1) and they are the sons of Alfai (Acts 1:13) and their mother is another Mary, who followed Jesus with St. Mary in the context of Jesus‟ crucifixion (Mark 16: 40).
3. Simon the Apostle is a Kananaios, or Canaanites (Mark 3:18), and Zealots (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13)
4. St. Mary is the mother of whole people who live according to the Word of God.
source: http://www.socdigest.org/articles/02feb09.html

Fast Great Lent

The Syriac Orthodox Church observes the Great Lent during the 48 days prior to Easter. The date of Easter is set according to the Julian calendar in the Middle East and Diaspora; the Church in Malankara, however, has followed the Gregorian Calendar since 1953. For those who are unable to fast for the 48 days, the Church permits observing the Great Lent during the first week and week of this period and all Wednesdays and Fridays in between. During Lent, the faithful are to refrain from all animal products (meat and dairy products).

Excerpts from the Lent Evening Service

Psalm 4

The worshiper recites Psalm 4.

Madrosho (Doctrinal Hymn)

Audio

Open, O Lord, unto me Thy door which is full of mercies,
As Thou didst open it unto the adulteress woman.
Accept from me the tears which I am offering,
And grant me the forgiveness of sins.
I have taken Thee, O Water of Life, on my journey,
So that I do not ask for water from Abraham;
For I have heard of story of the rich man,
Who asked for water on the tip of his [i.e., Lazarus] finger.

Note: The second line is a reference to the adulteress woman in John 8:1-11, a theme throughout Lent (see next hymn as well). The last three lines are a reference to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

Hymn of Repentance

Audio

Towards the sea of Thy mercies I gaze, O only begotten God;
My offenses are numerous, and my faults have become strong.
Sprinkle me with Thy cleansing hyssop,
And wash me with the tears of my own eyes.
I beseech Thee, O Lord, by the love of Him who begot Thee:
Let not the spiteful mock me, but the angles rejoice
Over one sinner who repents of his wickedness.
And let them say: blessed is the Lord,
Whose gate is open to those who repent -
Halleluia - during night and day.

Lovely was the voice of the sinful woman,
When she said to the seller of perfumes:
"Give me oil and take gold in payment;
Give me the best oil, that I may mix it with the tears of my eyes,
And go to anoint the first-born of the Most High.
I trust in God that by this oil, which I have purchased from you,
My sins and offenses will be forgiven."
When she took the oil and went, our Lord saw her faith -
Halleluia - and forgave her all her sins.

Note: The second stanza above is based on the story of theadulteress woman (Luke 7: 36-50). The figure of the seller of perfumes is absent in the biblical story, but is popular in the Syriac tradition, appearing in liturgical and poetic works.

Bocootho (Petition) of St. Jacob

Audio

Refrain: We call upon Thee, O Lord - our Lord; come to our help.
Hear our petition and have mercy upon our souls.

O Lord - our Lord, Lord of the watchers [i.e., guardian angels] and the angels.
Hear our petition and have mercy upon our souls.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind.
I have knocked upon your door with faith; answer me with your compassion.

Note: There is a play on words in the last stanza which is hard to capture in the English translation."Mind" in the first line is tarceetho in Syriac, while "door" in the second lineis tarco. Such plays on words are popular in Syriac literature.

Bocootho (Petition) of St. Ephrem

Audio

Refrain: Our Lord have mercy upon us; our Lord accept our service.
Send us compassion, mercy and forgiveness from your treasure house.

Grant me, O Lord, that I stand in front of you watchfully when I keep vigil.
And if I slumber, let not my sleep become a sin.

If I commit wrong when I am awake, I shall be forgiven by your grace.
If I commit sin by mere slumber, let your compassion be the forgiver of sins.

Psalm 91

Audio

The worshiper is then to recite Psalm 91.

The audio clip gives a traditional chant. The deacon chants half a verse from the Psalm. The Choir completes the verse starting with a Halleluia and following the verse with a reply.

Deacon: You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
Choir: Halleluia - who abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91.1)
Reply: I sat in your shadow, O Tree of Life
and I have eaten life from your fruits for ever.

Deacon: will say to the Lord, "My refuge
Choir: Halleluia - and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:2)
Reply: Our fortress is high and our strength is powerful: You are our God, our Hope and our Trust.

Deacon: For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
Choir: Halleluia - and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalm 91:3)
Reply: Deliver us, our Lord, from all the snares of the Evil One, the crafty, who thirsts to break us.

Source:

Ma`de`dono: The Book of the Church Festivals (1984).

source: http://sor.cua.edu/Feast/GreatLent.html

THOUSANDS OF PILGRIMS AT MANJINIKKARA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 77th DUKRONO OF PATRIARCH ST. ELIAS III

THOUSANDS OF PILGRIMS AT MANJINIKKARA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 77th DUKRONO OF PATRIARCH ST. ELIAS III

Manjinikkara, 13th Feb 2009: Manjinikkara hill situated near to the town of Pathanmathitta, turned into a sea of humanity as tens of thousands of believers from different parts of the State congregated there to offer prayers at the tomb of St. Elias III as part of the Holy Father’s 77th Dukrono feast on Friday.

Pilgrims walked barefoot hundreds of miles, all the way to Manjinikkara in processions from different parishes from across the state. People from other religious faiths too have been undertaking the pilgrimage to the saint’s tomb. Free stalls to serve the pilgrims with refreshments were seen at different points on the wayside of various roads leading to Manjinikkara Dayro. Hundreds of devotees from other parts of India also participated in the pilgrimage.

When the pilgrims reached Omallur junction near Manjinikkara Dayro, a traditional welcome was given to them under the leadership of Mor Severios Malke Mourad, the Metropolitan of Jerusalem & Jordan dioceses who came here as the delegate to His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch & All the East. The Metropolitan was accompanied by Mor Divanasious Geevarghese, the Abbot of Manjinikkara Dayro, Mor Athanasius Geevarghese, the Assistant Metropolitan of Simhasana churches, the Archbishop of Knanaya diocese and the Metropolitans of Niranam, Kollam, Thumpamon and Bangalore dioceses. For the next few hours, the Manjinikkara Dayro and its premises were seen flooded with tens of thousands of devotees.

At 5.30 pm a public meeting was held at the Dayro premises as part of the 77th annual pilgrimage year. Mor Divanasious Geevarghese, the Metropolitan of Manjinikkara Dayro welcomed the honorable guests and the faithful. Mr.Mathew T Thomas, the Minister of State for Transport, inaugurated the meeting by lighting the traditional lamp.

The function was presided over by Mor Philexinos Yuhanon, the Metropolitan of Malabar diocese. The key note address was delivered by Mor Severios Malke Mourad, the patriarchal delegate and Metropolitan of Jerusalem & Jordan dioceses after which the Metropolitan officially inaugurated www.MalankaraVision.com, the new internet television channel of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. Metropolitans, priests and local government authorities also spoke on the occasion.

On Saturday 14th at 3 a.m., a holy tri-mass will be offeered at the St. Stephens’ Cathedral, Manjinikkara by Mor Milithios Yuhanon of Thumpamon diocese followed by a holy tri-Mass led by Mor Theodosius Mathews of Kollam diocese at the St. Ignatius Dayro church at 5.30 am. The 77th Dukrono feast of St. Elias III will come to an end with the celebration of Holy Qurbono by the patriarchal delegate Mor Severios Malke Mourad at 8.30 a.m. in the Dayro church followed by prayers at the tomb of St. Elias III.

This year a 30-member delegation from Sweden and Jerusalem is accompanying the patriarchal delegate to participate in the dukrono of St. Elias III.

Photos of Pilgrimage

http://www.syrianchurch.org/Photos/77Dukrono_StEliasIII_09/index.html

More Photos at :

http://www.syrianchurch.org/Photos/77Dukrono_StEliasIII_09/index.html


source: http://www.syrianchurch.org/

Lent Encyclical (2009) of His Holiness the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka-I Iwas


Lent Encyclical (2009) of His Holiness the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka-I Iwas.

The Apostle Paul wrote: "One does not take his honor upon himself; but he is called by God, just as Aaron was." (Hebrews 5:4).

We extend our apostolic benediction and greetings to our brethren, His Beatitude Mor Baselius Thomas I, Catholicos of India,  and their Eminences the Metropolitans; our spiritual children the revernd priest, monks, nuns, deacons and deaconesses, and out blessed Syrian Orthodox people all over the world. May the divine providence embrace them through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and St. Peter the chief of the apostles, and the rest of the Martyrs and Saints. Amen.

Our beloved, we inquire about your wellbeing and offer our humble prayers as we say:

The sacred sacrament of Priesthood is a divine providence that God bestows upon some people He chooses from amongs the faithful...

The full letter (pdf) includes following languages: Syriac, Arabic and English
http://www.socmnet.org/Bull_HH/Lent_Encyclical_2009.pdf

Friday, February 13, 2009

Reasons to fast

by Father Dale A. Johnson


There are many theological and medical reasons for a healthy person to fast but a new notion in contemporary thought has arisen that gives further weight to fasting. With the growing population of the world and the increasing degradation to the environment, scientists, politicians, and sociologists are coming to a consensus on how to measure the “carbon footprint” for each person. A carbon footprint is the amount of energy a person consumes that produces the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Many contend that release of carbon dioxide contributes to global warming. For example, when you eat a pound of chicken instead of eating a non-meat source of protein, it requires 4 pounds of grain to produce that one pound of chicken. By eating grains directly that often have up to 22 percent protein, one can reduce their carbon footprint substantially and help save the environment. The three pounds of grain saved by not eating a pound of chicken saves 10 fossil fuel calories for every calorie in the three pounds of grain that would have been fed to the chicken.

Livestock is one of the most carbon-dioxide intensive foods you can eat because the amount of gas and energy expended (and carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere) is very high in order to truck livestock from farm, to slaughterhouse, to package house, to supermarket (and wherever else along the way. Thirty percent of our carbon footprint is directly related to the eating of meat. Dairy products produce 1.4 pounds of carbon dioxide for every pound of milk. Cheese produces 14 pounds of carbon for every pound of cheese. Overall dairy products represents about 5% of our carbon footprint. As to eggs it takes about the same about of grain to produce a dozen eggs as it does to produce a pound of beef or pork. Eggs represent about 5% of an average American’s carbon footprint.

A vegan diet can reduce the carbon footprint of the average person in the developed world about 40%.

The average person on the planet emits 4 tons of carbon dioxide annually through the foods, transportation and products the consume annually. Americans consume 20 tons per person mainly because the average pound of food has traveled 1500 miles. People who buy locally grown foods are standing on a smaller carbon footprint.

As stewards of God’s creation we are obligated to find ways to reduce global warming, and protect the environment. A direct and fundamental way we can do this is to “eat vegan” at various times during the year. While the western world has lost this sense of obligation to fast, it is still a strong practice in the Orthodox world.

The Great Fast is a regression to a vegan state that imitates the original state of Paradise. Adam and Even were created to only consume vegetables. After they sinned they were allowed meat. Fasting is a return to Paradise, a state to which we were created, a state to which we ascend on the ladder of faith.

Fasting was a pre-Christian practice. In the time of the Prophet Isaiah fasting was a social act to transform the soul and create a heart of compassion in community :
"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am. Isaiah 58:6-9

Fasting creates in us healing and righteousness and access to God.

Saint Ephrem in the 4th century wrote about the virtues we receive in fasting.

Strength
He revealed for us the strength hidden in fasting…

Purity
Fasting secretly purifies the soul ….

Clarity of Thought
Instead of the clarifying wine, let us clarify our thought so that we will be able to see the Clear One…..

Escape from Greed
This is the fast through which greed escapes ……
This is the instructive fast, it teaches the athlete the ways of the contest. …..

Joy
O Lord let us rejoice in our fast
As he rejoiced, my brothers, in his own fast.

Ephrem warns us about the dangers of fasting:

Let us not fast from bread and think thoughts
In which the hidden poison of death is hidden. …
Take away your deceits from your fasts, remove mockery from your praise….
For the Blind People run, on a fast day with pride and wandering …
Though there is a fast in their mouth, yet an idol is in the heart;
Prayer is on their lips, but divination in their heart
Their stomach is devoid of bread, but full of lies;
Though they wash their hands all day,
Hidden blood still screams against them.

Fasting without faith is neither a fast nor is faith without fasting a true faith.

Fasting is abstaining from evil

St. John Chrysostom (345-407) taught many times that fasting is not merely the abstention from certain foods, but mainly an abstention from evil doings.

Chrysostom warns against hypocritical fasting: “It is possible for one who fasts not to be rewarded for his fasting. How? When indeed we abstain from foods, but do not abstain from iniquities; when we do not eat meat, but gnaw to pieces the homes of the poor; when we do not become drunkards with wine, but we become drunkards with evil pleasures; when we abstain all the day, but all the night we spend in unchastened shows. Then what is the benefit of abstention from foods, when on the one hand you deprive your body of a selected food, but on the other offer yourself unlawful food?”

Chrysostum also wrote: Do you fast? Prove it by doing good works. If you see someone in need, take pity on them. If you see a friend being honored, don't get jealous of him or her. For a true fast, you cannot fast only with your mouth. You must fast with your eyes, your ears, your feet, your hands, and all parts of your body.

You fast with your hands by keeping them pure from doing greedy things. You fast with your feet by not going to see forbidden shows or plays. You fast with your eyes by not letting them look upon impure pictures. Because if this is forbidden or unlawful, it mars your fast and threatens the safety of your soul. But if you look at things which are lawful and safe you increase your fast, for what you see with your eyes influences your conduct. It would be very stupid to eliminate or give up meat and other foods because of the fast but feed with your eyes upon other things which are forbidden.

You don't eat meat, you say? But you allow yourself to listen to lewd things. You must fast with your ears, too. Another way of fasting with your ears is not to listen to those who speak evil or untrue things about others. "Thou shalt not receive an idle report. " This is especially true of rumors, gossip, untruths which are spoken to harm another.

Besides fasting with your mouth by not eating certain foods, your mouth should also fast from foul language or telling lies about others. For what good is it if you don't eat meat or poultry, and yet you bite and devour your fellow man?

Jesus instructs us to fast when he says: And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. Matthew 9:15

Jesus also provided us a personal examples when he combined fasting and prayer in His earthly life. At the beginning of His ministry, immediately after His Baptism, He retreated into the wilderness where we read:

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.

He instructs the Apostles in the case of the epileptic boy whose demon the Apostles could not cast out?

This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21

The Lord gave further instructions for fasting in the Sermon on the Mount: But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; That you appear not unto men to fast, but unto your Father which is in secret. Matthew. 6:17-18

The Apostles themselves kept the Lord’s example on fasting. we read:As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. - Acts 13:2,3

Orthodox Christians fast every week on the days of Wednesdays and Fridays that dates back to Apostolic times. The first century document called “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” instructs the faithful: Your fasts must not be identical with those of the hypocrites. They fast on Mondays and Thursdays; but you should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. Didache 8:1

The fasting referred to here was not simply an abstention from meat or dairy products

- it was a complete abstention from both food and drink until sundown.

Socrates Scholasticus demonstrates the wide variety of fasting that was observed in the Early Church during the Great Fast: Some wholly abstain from things that have life: others feed on fish only of all living creatures: many together with fish, eat fowl also, saying that according to Moses, these were likewise made out of the waters. Some abstain from eggs, and all kinds of fruits: others partake of dry bread only; still others eat not even this: while others having fasted till the ninth hour, afterwards take any sort of food without distinction. And among various nations there are other usages, for which innumerable reasons are assigned. Since however no one can produce a written command as an authority, it is evident that the apostles left each one to his own free will in the matter, to the end that each might perform what is good not by constraint or necessity. Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts.

Abstaining from meat for monks was a sign of self-denial. As Abba Evagrios writes:
When the soul lusts for various foods, let us confine it to bread and water, to make it grateful for even a thin slice of bread.

Another reason why the monks followed a diet of bread and vegetables was to be in solidarity with the poor. Most people in the Roman Empire ate bread and vegetables. Meat was a luxury only the special occasions or for the wealthy. Therefore, in solidarity with the poor, monks abstained from meat year-round.

Fasting was also seen as a tool to combat the passions and to open the door to the renewal of the Holy Spirit.

One day St. Epiphanios sent someone to Abba Hilarion with this request, “Come and let us see each other before we depart the body.” When he came they rejoiced in each other’s company. During their meal they were brought a fowl; Epiphanios took it and gave it to Hilarion. Then the old man said to him, “Since I took the habit I have not eaten meat that has been killed.” The bishop answered, “Since I took the habit I have not allowed anyone to go to sleep with a complaint against me and I have not gone to rest with a complaint against anyone.” Hilarion replied, “Forgive me, your way of life is higher than mine.”

Others who saw fasting as a spiritual practice were: Abba Daniel of Sketis: he wrote: 'In proportion as the body grows fat, so does the soul wither away.'

According to St. Gregory the Sinaite there are three degrees in eating: temperance, sufficiency, and satiety. Temperance is when someone wants to eat some more food but abstains, rising from the table still somewhat hungry. Sufficiency is when someone eats what is needed and sufficient for normal nourishment. Satiety is when someone eats more than enough and is more than satisfied. Now if you cannot keep the first two degrees and you proceed to the third, then, at least, do not become a glutton, remembering the words of the Lord: "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger" (Luke 6:25).

“Remember also that rich man who ate in this present life sumptuously every day, but who was deprived of the desired bosom of Abraham in the next life, simply because of this sumptuous eating. Remember how he longed to refresh his tongue with a drop of water. St. Basil not only did not forgive the young people who ate to satiety but also those who ate until satisfied; he preferred that all eat temperately. He said, "Nothing subdues and controls the body as does the practice of temperance. It is this temperance that serves as a control to those youthful passions and desires."

St. Gregory the Theologian has also noted in his poetry: "No satiety has brought forth prudent behavior; for it is in the nature of fire to consume matter. And a filled stomach expels refined thoughts; it is the tendency of opposites to oppose each other."

Obviously, many Orthodox do not keep the traditional rule. If you adopt it, beware of pride, and pay no attention to anyone's fast but your own. As one monastic put it, we must "keep our eyes on our own plates."

We are always advised to fast according to your strength, and you may find from experience that you need to modify the fasting rule to fit your own strength and situation.




http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/anderson/ephrem.hymns/HYMNS.html Saint Ephrem's Hymns on FastingAn Annotated Translation and Concordance Gary A. Anderson, Sidney Griffith, and Robin Darling Young

From Chamberas, Peter A. (trans.), "Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain: A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel," (New York: Paulist Press, 1989), pp. 109 - 113
source: http://www.socdigest.org/articles/01feb09.html

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