Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Focus: Great Lent - Week 1

Volume 3 No. 124 February 7, 2013

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Wedding at Cana
Wedding at Cana - First Miracle of Jesus
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Preface

Bible Readings for This Sunday (Feb 10)

First Sunday of Great Lent (Kothne Sunday)

Sermons for This Sunday (Feb 10)

Sermons for the First Sunday of Great Lent (Kothne Sunday)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-of-lent.htm

Featured: Great Lent - A Matter of Life and Death

Lent - the forty-day journey toward the Resurrection of our Lord, has suffered much because of lack of attention. There is no doubt that we know a great deal about Lent, we have enough information to satisfy our inquisitive mind, but our spirit cries out for meaningful application of our faith. How can we do this? ...

Jesus Changes Water into Wine

If we read through the whole Gospel of John, we discover that Jesus spoke often about His "time" coming, and it becomes obvious that He was always referring to the time when He would die for the sins of the world. So when Jesus responded to Mary's statement about the lack of wine, He must have been thinking about people lacking, not wine, but something that wouldn't be provided until He died. It's possible that Jesus was referring to His own blood, which was symbolized by wine at the Last Supper. Or He may have been speaking about the Holy Spirit, who is sometimes symbolized by wine in the New Testament. ...

What Did They See?

What the spectators witnessed were men at work. What is it that is seen by the world? They see His servants doing what Christ has commanded them to do. What was it that they witnessed? They witnessed the obedience of His servants. They did not witness God creating something out of nothing. It was not that Christ gave a command for the water to become wine and then some miracle happened. ...

Shubkono (Reconciliation) Service

We begin our Lent by cleansing ourselves. Reconciliation Service (Shubkono) on Monday, February, 11 will precisely help us to do it. ...

God's Invitation To Us

Lent is a season of being invited by God in a deeply personal way. "Come back to me, with all of your heart," our Lord beckons. "We will," we respond, but we aren’t quite ready yet, our hearts are not prepared. We want to squirm, evade, avoid. Our souls not yet perfect. We are not ready for God to love us. ...

Beyond Giving Up Chocolate: Going Deeper in Lent

Lent isn't simply about us "giving up" something. The real grace is when we recognize that Lent is a season in which God wants to give us something. God wants to help us transform our lives and make us free-er as people, not just free-er with God, but in the way we live our lives and love our families. ...

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. If you had been with us last year, you will find that this year's offering has expanded. Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 1 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week1.htm

Health: A Timeless and Universal Health Principle

This article aims to give you a big picture look at how interconnected all of your parts are. Really understanding this concept should immunize you against the temptation to dip into the ocean of transient miracle remedies on the market. To start, let's review the basic pathway of blood through your body. ...

Recipe: Euphoric Potatoes

81st Dukhrono Feast of St. Ignatius Elias III Patriarch to be Commemorated in Chicago

The program will be held on Saturday and Sunday (Feb 9-10, 2013). Detailed program:

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/News/News_manjinikkara_Chicago_2013.htm

About Malankara World

Preface
The Great Lent officially begins this Sunday evening. This year, the lent is arriving early.

Manjinikkara pilgrimage is underway. Two years ago, I had an opportunity to join the devotees and walk several miles to 'experience' the pilgrimage. (Unfortunately, I could not complete it as I was scheduled to catch the flight the following day.) It was a great feeling. The best part was the faithful who wait with snacks and drink for the pilgrims. When you see these simple acts of faith, you realize the simplicity of Christian Faith. Just believe. We have a father who is all powerful; in his presence we are nothing. There is a purpose why we are here; our duty is to do what is commanded us to do. In simple terms, that is Love. God is not interested in sacrifices; He is interested in mercy. He loves it when we do something for our fellow man. That simple act may be providing a drink of water to the pilgrims walking to Manjinikkara. Jesus told us that when we give food to the hungry or drink to the thirsty, we are doing it for him.

What is the purpose of the lent? Is it a mechanism to force us to fast and avoid meat? Studies have shown that fasting is good for our health. But lent is more than just staying away from certain foods. It is the time to clean ourselves of our dirty baggage. If you do it right, we will get transformed. We will be ready to participate in the Jesus' passion. We will resurrect spiritually with Jesus on Easter Day.

Malankara World has provided several resources for you to have a meaningful Lent. I hope that you will take advantage of them by visiting and reading the daily reflections, meditations, prayers, bible readings etc. You will be transformed!

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Feb 10)

First Sunday of Great Lent (Kothne Sunday) (Pethurtha of the Great Lent)

The Great Lent starts by commemorating the first miracle performed by Jesus i.e. turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee. The Gospel reading for each Sunday of the Great Lent is about a miracle performed by Jesus.

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Sermons for This Sunday (Feb 10)
This Week's Features

Featured: Great Lent: A Matter of Life and Death

by Father Elias Bitar, Little Falls, New Jersey

Many things, throughout the history of the Church, have been said about this most holy period of the Orthodox Christian year.

We live in an age of great and continuous achievements in all aspects of our wonderful world. We are, everyday, trying to discover new dimensions to things in life.

Lent - the forty-day journey toward the Resurrection of our Lord, has suffered much because of lack of attention. There is no doubt that we know a great deal about Lent, we have enough information to satisfy our inquisitive mind, but our spirit cries out for meaningful application of our faith. How can we do this?

First, by being full of God and empty of ourselves. In doing this, we learn to trust God more than we do our own reasoning. As our Lord said to His Disciples that this kind (meaning the evil Spirit) comes out only by prayer and fasting, He meant PRAYER AND FASTING, and NOT what we want Him to mean. Lent is a period of prayer and fasting. It is a time especially set aside for us to draw closer to God.

Before we enter the Lenten period, we are reminded of the desire to come closer to Christ (Zacchaeus), because unless we want to move toward God we will always stay away from Him. Then we are asked to be humble like the Publican ( "God have mercy on me a sinner") and not "Thank God I am better than everyone else." God abides only in the humble heart. The Prodigal Son urges us to acknowledge our sinfulness and return to God the Father. All these preparation guidelines help give us the proper attitude towards Lent. These are tools with which to enter the Lenten period.

When we enter Lent after Meat and Cheese weeks, we are reminded that our Lord is surely coming again to judge the world. By this we are made aware that repentance is now or never. We should not wait like the thief did (just before he died). You can do the same if you knew when you will be called by God. On Cheese Sunday, we are reminded of Adam and Eve being thrown from Paradise because of their disobedience and how we are being saved by the obedience of the second Adam (Jesus) and forgiven. It is also called "Forgiveness Sunday".

While on our journey toward Pasch-Passover from death into life, the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, we are called to strengthen our Spirit through praying more on a personal level and participating more often on a church level in the Services of the church during Lent. Sometimes, with the help of your parish family, you can achieve more spiritually than on your own. We need food to sustain our bodies, but can we let the spirit starve to death? Prayer and fasting is the food of the spirit in addition to the nourishment we receive from the Body and Blood of our Lord on Sundays. If we are what we eat, then we become Christ-like when we take communion and communicate with Him through prayer and fasting. Christ fasted for forty days before he was tempted by the devil. Are we ever tempted? Oh, yes. Should we fast? Christ did not give suggestions but commands. He knows what is best for us.

Frequent confessions is a step closer to understanding our own weakness and the power of God’s forgiveness. "I don’t sin much" says the proud, but the Christian asks forgiveness with humility. The Church has the Pre-sanctified Liturgy on Wednesdays and the Akathist service on Fridays to give us the chance to further involve ourselves in the spirit of Lent (repentance and growth).

Yes, it is a matter of life or death, because our salvation is involved. Fast, but do it not to gain praise from people, but because it helps you grow closer to God. Fast not only from foods, but, clean your heart from ill feelings toward others. Pray and forgive. Fasting by itself is useless. We normally take health insurance to help our families when we die, but what about after-life insurance, our salvation? Our faith and the practicing of it, especially during Lent, is the way to Christ and life eternal.

Source: Word Magazine March 1987 Page 3; Copyright 2011 Almoutran

Jesus Changes Water into Wine
Scripture: John 2:1-11

If you've ever been to a wedding reception, you probably remember having lots of food to eat and wedding punch to drink. Can you imagine how embarrassed the bride and bridegroom would be if people were standing in line to get punch and were told the punch had run out? The wedding guests would know that the hosts hadn't planned properly, and in a hot climate like Israel, their thirst would certainly aggravate the situation. This is what occurred at this wedding in the village of Cana that Jesus, His mother and disciples attended.

When Mary told Jesus about the wine running out, Jesus responded with words we wouldn't have expected. "How does that concern you and me?" Jesus asked. "My time has not yet come" (John 2:4). If we read through the whole Gospel of John, we discover that Jesus spoke often about His "time" coming, and it becomes obvious that He was always referring to the time when He would die for the sins of the world. So when Jesus responded to Mary's statement about the lack of wine, He must have been thinking about people lacking, not wine, but something that wouldn't be provided until He died. It's possible that Jesus was referring to His own blood, which was symbolized by wine at the Last Supper. Or He may have been speaking about the Holy Spirit, who is sometimes symbolized by wine in the New Testament. Everyone needs to have his sins forgiven through the shedding of Jesus' blood and be born again by the Holy Spirit. Both of those are much greater needs than wine running out at a wedding feast. Jesus was concerned about much more important things than Mary was.

Jesus, however, must have been somewhat concerned about the lack of wine at the wedding feast because He performed a miracle to solve the problem. That miracle may also have had a deeper spiritual meaning, because Jesus didn't change just any water into wine---He changed water that was used by the Jews for the purpose of purification rites into wine. Because of the many laws that God gave the Jews to keep, they were very conscious (or aware) of their sinfulness, and they were always trying to keep themselves symbolically purified by various washings with water. But since Jesus died for us, cleansing us from all the guilt of our sins, we don't need any other way of getting spiritually clean. Knowing that we're cleansed, we can now enjoy ourselves, drinking Jesus' good wine. Now we can really celebrate!

But isn't it wrong to drink anything that is alcoholic? If so, why did Jesus change water into wine that day?

Historians tell us that the Jews always diluted their wine with water, so the amount of alcohol in their wine was very small. It was more like what we today call "grape juice" than what we today call wine. We must also remember that, other than water, wine was practically the only beverage people could drink back in Jesus' day, and the water that was available was often contaminated and undrinkable in the villages and cities. We have many choices of beverages today, so no one has to drink wine. Christians don't all agree if it is wrong for them to drink alcoholic beverages, but one thing all true Christians agree on is this: the Bible very clearly says that it is a sin to get drunk. Getting drunk starts with one drink, and if that one drink begins to cloud a person's thinking, he might more easily yield to the temptation for another drink and then another. The safest thing to do is completely abstain from all alcoholic drinks.

Alcohol has caused a lot of heartaches to multitudes of people. Many babies have been born with deformities because their mothers drank alcohol when they were pregnant. Many innocent people have been killed by drunk drivers. Many families have been ruined by parents who became addicted to alcohol. Because alcohol is responsible for so much that is evil and sinful, my advice to Christians is to abstain from drinking it at all. John certainly didn't record this miracle of Jesus changing water into watered-down wine for the purpose of encouraging Christians to drink modern alcoholic beverages. He recorded this miracle to prove that Jesus was the Son of God and to remind us of the wonderful salvation He's provided for us!

Q. Did you notice that the wine Jesus made was described by the master of ceremonies as being better than the first wine that ran out? Does this teach us anything about God?

A. Perhaps it does. It shows us that when God does something, He does a quality job, and He wants us to enjoy the best He has to offer us. He has provided a wonderful salvation for us that includes loads of benefits for all eternity, not just a temporary fixer-upper salvation that puts a band-aid on our problem. He doesn't want us to have mediocre families, but quality families, with truly loving relationships. Are you enjoying all the benefits of what God has to offer us?

Q. Does this miracle of Jesus' changing water into wine teach us anything about God's power?

A. Yes, it shows us that God can change anything into something else. If you believe in Jesus, He has changed you from a child of Satan into His own child. One day God will change your physical body into a brand new body that glows with His glory.

Application:

Because of this first miracle, Jesus' disciples believed in Him. For us, this miracle is one more proof that Jesus truly is the Son of God, and because we believe He is, we should trust and obey Him.

Source: Family Style Devotions. Used by Permission

What Did They See?

by Ralph Bouma

"And there were there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it." (JOH 2:6-8)

The manner in which the miracle was performed is worthy of our close attention - this miracle of changing the water into wine. It's very important we understand the practical teaching of this miracle.

See the manner in which He performed this miracle and the significance of it. Jesus was the One who performed the miracle, yet the "servants" were the ones who seemed to do everything. Isn't that remarkable? The miracle was performed by an act of obedience by His servants! When the Lord works the miracle of new birth in your heart and in mine, He does it through the instrument of our obedience – doing what He commands us to do.

There was no exhibition of Divine power. Jesus did not proscribe any magic formula. Jesus didn't even command the water to become wine! The Lord Jesus only told His servants what to do, and in the fulfilling, in the way of obedience, in their doing what they were told, the miracle was performed. Isn't that a beautiful illustration of the miracle of grace? Isn't it beautiful to see and understand how the new birth, the beginning of miracles, is brought about? It is when you and I come in subjection to the will of God, and do what He commands us to do. That's how He brought about the miracle.

Is that teaching a doctrine of works? No. They didn't do it; Christ performed the miracle, but His means whereby He performed it was by bringing His servants into the way of obedience.

What the spectators witnessed were men at work. What is it that is seen by the world? They see His servants doing what Christ has commanded them to do. What was it that they witnessed? They witnessed the obedience of His servants. They did not witness God creating something out of nothing. It was not that Christ gave a command for the water to become wine and then some miracle happened. No, all they saw was people doing what they were told. The fruit of this obedience was that the water was made wine.

As you and I come to understand the work of regeneration (when you and I come into subjection to the will of God and do what God is telling us to do), it is this instrument whereby He performs the miracle of the new birth.

This speaks very loudly of servants acting in the way of obedience. In the performing of this miracle, the means that were used to bring the miracle to pass was human obedience, but the results seen were the Divine authority in the Word of Jesus. That's the way the new birth is worked in your heart. When the Lord comes and tells you what to do, and in the way of submission you obey coming and entering into the kingdom, observing and doing what He tells you to do - the fruit of this is that you see the Divine authority of the Word as the evidence that a miracle has taken place.

Salvation is of the Lord, and there is no merit in anything we do, yet obedience is the instrument the Lord uses to perform the wonders of His grace and convey the joy of the bride in the Bridegroom. Christ's bride receives joy in believing. Believing is to come into subjection to the will of God. We start to see this joy.

The miracle consisted in supplying wine at the marriage feast that symbolizes joy of salvation to our souls. The joy of salvation is conveyed to our souls as we find pleasure and delight in doing His will.
Amen

Teach me,
O Lord, thy way of truth,
And from
it I will not depart;
That I may
stedfastly obey,
Give me an
understanding heart.

In thy
commandments make me walk,
For in thy
law my joy shall be;
Give me a
heart that loves thy will,
From
discontent and envy free.

Turn thou
mine eyes from vanity,
And cause
me in thy ways to tread;
O let thy
servant prove thy Word
And thus
to godly fear be led.

Turn thou
away reproach and fear;
Thy
righteous judgments I confess;
To know
thy precepts I desire;
Revive me
in thy righteousness.

Excerpted from Sermon #484 BEING FILLED TO THE BRIM: THE FIRST MIRACLE OF GRACE

Shubkono (Reconciliation) Service

Our Holy Church specifies the first day of the Great Lent (Monday, February 11, 2013 this year) as the day of reconciliation (Shubkono). What a great way to start the Great Lent by unloading our sins - both to God, to our family and to our friends. It is a beautiful and a moving service. Several years ago, I attended a service offered by Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel. Achen called it a great gift. A gift it is. If you have an opportunity, please go to your church and participate in Shubkono service this Monday. Please read the following articles and the references to get going.

Reconciliation and Healing

Preparing for The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Prayer for Lent - Reconciliation

Psalm 51 - Repentance Prayer

A reconciliation prayer for the great lent

You can find several articles of interest in the Malankara World Section on Baptism

God's Invitation To Us

Lent is a season of being invited by God in a deeply personal way. "Come back to me, with all of your heart," our Lord beckons. "We will," we respond, but we aren’t quite ready yet, our hearts are not prepared. We want to squirm, evade, avoid. Our souls not yet perfect. We are not ready for God to love us.

Yes, of course we want to have a deeper relationship with God, we tell ourselves earnestly. And we will….Soon. God calls to us again: Come back to me, with all of your heart.

Ok, ok, I really will. Just a few more things to do at work. Let me spend a little more time in prayer first. Let me get to Reconciliation. Let me clean my oven, tidy my closets. Sell my yoke of oxen. Check a field I have purchased….

Come back to me, with all of your heart.

It is an extraordinary invitation to each one of us. To me in a personal, individual way. God invites me to drop the defenses that I hold up between myself and God. All God wants is for me to realize that my standards, my way of judging and loving are so very different from God’s way, and so much smaller. God offers an entire Lent season, an entire lifetime, of loving me unconditionally, no matter what I have done or how much I think I have hidden from God.

From the first day of Lent, the scripture readings make God's call to us clear: "Return to me with your whole heart."

"A clean heart create for me, O God," Psalm 51 offers. "Give me back the joy of your salvation." That is exactly what our loving God wants to give us, the joy of salvation.

In North America, Lent falls in winter and these days are cold and dark, perfect for hiding ourselves indoors, perfect for hiding from God - or so we imagine. But our God is insistent, loving, gently prodding. God is the parent of the Prodigal Child, waiting faithfully, eagerly on the road for our return, night after night. There are no folded arms and stern judging stares, only the straining eyes of a parent eager for our return, longing to embrace us and rejoice in us.

Yet we spend so much time trying to think of how to return and what to say, how to begin the conversation. It’s only when we finally appear after so much time away, embarrassed and confused, that we understand we don’t have to say anything. We only have to show up.

Look up there on the road ahead of us: our loving God is jumping up and down for joy. The invitation to us has been heard. We have returned home!

But, wait... What stops us from this great reunion? What keeps us from accepting this invitation to something deeper in our lives with God? We feel in our hearts that there are things we should say first: "wait…but…if only" and finally, "If God really knew about me…"

It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. Only the joy that we have turned to God and that like a loving father or mother, God is smothering us with embraces and joyful cries. We have returned!

Come back to me, with all of your heart.

Our acceptance of this call, this appeal to our hearts is simple if we can only get beyond the fear. All we have to do is say to our Lord, "I'm here. Where do I start? Yes, I want to be with you." Our hearts have been opened and we have taken the first step toward the rejoicing parent on the road. No explanations are necessary, only to pause and picture in our hearts the joyfully loving and unblinking gaze of God that falls on us.

What's the next step on our journey home? We could take the earliest moments of our day, before we have gotten out of bed to thank God for such a loving invitation and ask for help in opening our hearts to it. We could read about beginning our Lenten patterns. We could remember throughout the day the invitation that has moved our hearts: Come back to me, with all of your heart. And we can rejoice along with God.

That is the invitation of each day of Lent. Today is the day to accept it.

Source: Creighton University Online Ministries

Beyond Giving Up Chocolate: Going Deeper in Lent
From the time we were children, our first question for Lent was often, "What are you giving up for Lent?" Giving something up for these 50 days is a custom that, when we were younger, helped us enter into the season with a sense of purpose and a greater awareness.

As adults, we might want to consider looking at Lent in a deeper way. We are probably much more settled into our behaviors and patterns of life and sometimes giving up something is where we begin -- and end -- our reflections on Lent. It can be tempting to say "I am giving up chocolate" or beer or even all sweets and all alcohol. But without more reflection, it can become simply a way I show God how much willpower I have. It is more about me than any conversation with God.

Lent isn't simply about us "giving up" something. The real grace is when we recognize that Lent is a season in which God wants to give us something. God wants to help us transform our lives and make us free-er as people, not just free-er with God, but in the way we live our lives and love our families.

In some ways it is easy to simply choose something to give up and then we can dismiss Lent. "I am giving up TV for Lent." "I am giving up movies... Snacks... Soda pop." We give it up and exercise our willpower for 40 days to prove to ourselves and to God that we can do it. And at the end of Lent we can return to what we gave up.

We might reflect and ask the deeper question: What is God inviting me to change this Lent? How do I know what God might be stirring in me? I begin my listening to the movements in my heart. Where am I feeling uncomfortable with the choices I am making? With the things I have done? With the habitual ways I respond? The Lord will be speaking to me in those small nagging moments of discomfort in my heart.

It might be that we know deep down that we drink too much and that giving up alcohol would make us less irritable each night. Then giving up alcohol would be the right thing. Asking what we would like to change about ourselves this Lent requires a little reflection. What pattern of behavior in my life needs changing? What do I need more of in my life? Patience? Unselfishness? More loving behavior toward my spouse or children?

But each of us can think of something that gets in the way of our being loving and self-sacrificing. Too often the ordinary conflicts, divisions and difficulties in our family life result from simple selfishness on my part. I choose to fight. I choose to defend my opinion. I choose to use things I know about my partner, my children, my parents against them. I choose to hurt them.

The results of that behavior are never good and always divisive. We can imagine a Lenten practice in which each of us would tell members of our family – those whom we have most offended in these ways, that we are sorry and ask them to help us to work with us to bring more unity and peace to our family life.

We can ask: What would it cost me to change this behavior? What would it mean if I didn't walk around my family acting crabby all the time? What if I decided to be much more loving and patient with my spouse this Lent? What if I did decide to "give up" something really destructive in my life, like alcohol, pornography or on-line friendships. As I reflect, I might realize that changing a particular way I live is coming to me as a call from God and I don't have to do it alone. And the God who is moving my heart to reflect on these changes, will remain faithful and help me to stay open to the grace God offers me for change.

I need help. It may be something that I don't want to change or acknowledge. I don't think I can change it. But that's where talking to God can make the difference. I am not doing this alone; I am doing it with God.

When I look at challenges with my spouse, I might discover that one of the barriers to communication in my marriage is that I interrupt and disagree. In some place in my head I know that is an annoying habit, but I am not free enough to simply listen without objecting. Maybe I am unable to receive what my spouse says without coming to the conclusion that my spouse is wrong. What if sharing a different point of view was not about winning an argument but to advancing communication between us?.

In asking God for help, we might ponder one of the many healing gospels, like Mark 2: 1-12. In this story, a group of friends carried a mat with a paralyzed man to Jesus, who was teaching inside a house. So many people crowded around the outside of the house that the friends were unable to get the mat inside. So they went up to the roof and moved aside the tiles and lowered the mat with their friend from the roof to Jesus was below. The words to this gospel say that the friends on the roof had "broken through" the tiles to lower their friend into the house for healing. Their breakthrough led directly to the healing.

Where do we need a breakthrough? What is the barrier that keeps us from asking for healing? In our own lives, we need to break through our denials, defensiveness and our unwillingness to look at ourselves. Discovering what the barrier is in my life is critical. If we don't know what the barrier is, these weeks of Lent are a great time to reflect upon it. When we identify the barrier, we have made the breakthrough. That's when Jesus can heal us of it.

Why is this a good Lenten penance? Because it gets my attention where I live every day. It allows God's grace into my soul and into the place where my real life exists. That's where Jesus stands with me every day, waiting for me to be lowered from the roof so he can touch me and heal me.

Source: Creighton University's Online Ministries

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. If you had been with us last year, you will find that this year's offering has expanded. Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 1 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week1.htm
Health Tip: A Timeless and Universal Health Principle

by Dr. Ben Kim, DrBenKim.com

Our instant-gratification society teaches us to reach for quick solutions to specific health problems. Google any health condition and you're bound to come across products and procedures that fit into this mold. Have joint pain? Take glucosamine chondroiton. Have chronic acne? Take high doses of vitamin A. Want to lose weight and have rock-hard abs? Obey the golden rule to a flat stomach (for 39.95).

It's fine to use natural products to optimally support specific areas of your body. But please don't ignore the following universal and timeless health principle:

The best way to improve one aspect of your health is to improve your overall health through all of your daily choices.

This article aims to give you a big picture look at how interconnected all of your parts are. Really understanding this concept should immunize you against the temptation to dip into the ocean of transient miracle remedies on the market.

To start, let's review the basic pathway of blood through your body.

A good place to begin is your small intestine. As your blood courses through the vessels that line your small intestine, it picks up nutrients from your most recent meal.

From your small intestine, your blood flows to your liver, where nutrients are packaged into bundles that can be transported to all of the cells of your body.

From your liver, your blood travels upward to the right chambers of your heart.

From the right chambers of your heart, your blood travels to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen from the air that you breathe. Also at your lungs, your blood releases carbon dioxide (a waste product that it picked up from all of your cells), to be exhaled.

From your lungs, your blood travels to the left chambers of your heart.

And from the left chambers of your heart, your blood is pumped out to the rest of your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all of your cells.

Since every organ in your body requires oxygen and nutrients, your blood travels through every organ. And when it passes through your kidneys, your blood is cleansed of waste products by special filters.

As your blood unloads oxygen and nutrients to all of your cells, it picks up carbon dioxide and other waste products from your cells.

Your blood eventually comes full circle by returning to your small intestine and liver, and then back to your heart.

To ensure that you have a big picture view of the flow of blood through your body, here's a simple outline of its path:

Small intestine > Liver > Right side of heart > Lungs > Left side of heart > Out to all of the organs and tissues of your body, including your kidneys > Back to small intestine, liver, and right side of heart

To give you an idea of how much ground we're talking about, consider that:

If strung together, all of the blood vessels that make up the pathway described above could circle the Earth two and a half times.

Over the course of one day, your blood travels about 19,000 kilometres (12,000 miles).

Now let's re-visit your heart and lungs. Remember that before your heart pumps blood to the far ends of your body, it first sends the blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen.

If your lungs develop chronic disease through exposure to cigarette smoke, asbestos, other environmental pollutants, autoimmune illness, or any other factor, it experiences repeated bouts of inflammation.

Inflammation is a process that your body generates to try to heal an injured area.

If your lungs experience enough inflammation, it can develop scar tissue, which is tissue that is created to try to heal damaged areas.

If your lungs develop significant scar tissue, it becomes harder for your lung tissues to allow fresh oxygen to enter your blood, and for carbon dioxide to leave your blood.

The result is that your heart has to work harder because your body's need for oxygenated blood and clearance of carbon dioxide remains the same, regardless of how healthy your lungs are. In order to keep up with your body's demand for oxygen and nutrients, the right side of your heart has to pump harder, and perhaps faster, to compensate for reduced efficiency in your lungs.

If your lungs don't return to high level functioning, the right side of your heart will eventually become fatigued, and won't be able to sustain the effort needed to keep blood flowing through your system fast enough to ensure optimal delivery of oxygen.

If the right side of your heart is significantly weakened from years of compensating for diseased lungs, your liver may experience signs of congestion, since your liver is constantly sending blood directly to your heart.

So one potential cause of liver disease is lung or heart disease.

Another potential consequence of fatigue and weakness in the right side of your heart is congestion in the blood vessels in your lower extremities, since these vessels are continuously sending blood back to your heart. This is how lung or heart disease can cause problems related to circulation like varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

And what about the left side of your heart? Can problems in the left chambers of your heart cause problems in other organs as well?

The answer is an emphatic yes. To give an example, if you develop thickening in the walls of large arteries in your system (atherosclerosis) by eating too many potato chips and donuts, the left side of your heart will have to work harder to meet your body's needs for oxygen and nutrients. Over time, this extra work can cause the left side of your heart to become fatigued, which can lead to congestion in your lungs (since your lungs are constantly sending oxygenated blood to the left side of your heart). If your lungs suffer enough in this fashion, you can develop all of the problems associated with right-sided heart fatigue.

And what about your kidneys? If your kidneys decline in function, none of your other organs can function properly for a number of reasons, the primary ones being that your body will accumulate toxic waste products and lose its ability to regulate fluid balance.

Here's what all of this boils down to: it's impossible to have just one organ in your body suffer from disease.

If one of your organs isn't doing well, it's only a matter of time before other organs will experience declining function.

Of course, the reverse is true as well; if your lungs are extremely healthy, the right side of your heart, your liver, the blood vessels in your lower extremities, and all other areas of your body are positively influenced.

Just as the performance of one member of a sports team can affect the performances of her teammates, the health of each organ in your body has ongoing influence on every other part of your body.

Please remember: The best way to improve the health of one part of your body is to work at promoting good overall health by eating healthfully, getting adequate rest, being around fresh air and sunlight (without getting burned), being physically active, and striving to be emotionally balanced.

Natural remedies for specific health challenges may be helpful, but never forget that lasting, positive results require healthy food and lifestyle choices on a daily basis that support your overall health.

Recipe: Euphoric Potatoes
Ingredients:

4 scallions -- finely chopped
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 medium boiling potatoes -- scrubbed and sliced
8 ounces cream cheese -- cubed

Directions:

In small bowl, combine scallions and garlic.

In another small bowl, combine salt and pepper.

In well-buttered slow-cooker, layer one fourth of the sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper, and top with one third of the cheese cubes and then one third of the scallion mixture.

Make a second layer of potatoes, sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper, and top with half the remaining cheese and scallion mixtures.

Repeat with a third layer of potatoes, sprinkle with another 1/4 tsp of the salt and pepper, and top with the remaining cheese and scallion mixtures.

Make a final layer of potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.

Cover and slow-cook for 2 hours on high. Stir the potatoes to distribute the melting cheese, cover, and continue slow-cooking until potatoes are very tender - about 1 hour longer.

Stir the potatoes well to mash slightly, and serve immediately.

Source: Chet Day Healthy Crockpot Recipes Newsletter

81st Dukhrono Feast of St. Ignatius Elias III Patriarch to be Commemorated in Chicago
All four Jacobite churches in Chicago collaborate on this feast and intercession day. The program will be held on Saturday and Sunday (Feb 9-10, 2013). Detailed program is given here.
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