Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
St. Mary
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
(Luke 1:50)

Ettu Nombu Special - 4

Volume 3 No. 164 September 4, 2013

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Foreword

...That is what our Theotokos is all about. That is why Jesus loved her and Christians adore her as our mother. What a loving mother she is!!

Inspiration for Today: Mary’s Song (Magnificat)

Featured: The Magnificat: Mary's Own Prayer

Magnificat is the longest discourse recorded of Mary in Divine Revelation. Many are the stories written telling about the heart of Mary as shown in that beautiful prayer. Certainly inspired, it was pronounced by Mary herself when she was carrying the Divine Child in her womb. It is the perfect act of humility and of profound humble adoration. It is part of the Church's liturgy. It is indeed the prayer of consecrated souls and all clients of Mary. ..

Walk in Hope - Be Open to Surprises and Joy

In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! ...

Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. ..

Why We Don't Like Grace

That's why, even though we sing about it and say we love it, something inside us resists the idea of grace. That same something insists that I am sufficient for my needs, that my good works will accomplish everything necessary to land me in Heaven, that the rest is just so much religious talk. ...

Understanding Grace

As we grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, we begin to understand that He truly cares about our lives. We learn that He wants to build intimate relationships with us. Instead of living in terror of Him, we are given an opportunity to be children of the King of kings. Suddenly, we begin to understand He wants us in his throne room, where grace showers all who enter into His presence. ...

Hymn: What can wash away my sin?

Be Still and Know God

Today, make it a point to be still before God. Quiet your mind of all the things on your agenda and just focus on Him. Let Him love you, let Him speak to your heart, and let Him fill you with peace and strength each and every day. ...

Greek Orthodox Prayer on The Nativity of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

How Your Works Can Be Acceptable Before God

On our own, our spiritual currency is worthless – our good works are but filthy rags. But in Christ, as we work out our salvation, Jesus exchanges our filthy rags and turns them into true spiritual service. So as you do good works in His name, be confident He'll one day say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" ...

Prayer of Mary

The Annunciation reveals the meaning of the Christian vocation. The Virgin of Nazareth teaches us how to live our real lives in a real world, by saying Yes to the One who created the world and is recreating it through His Son. When the Angel of the Lord appeared, bearing the message and calling her to a special mission, she said "YES." We are invited to say "Yes" as well and believe that "nothing is impossible with God." ...

More Resources For Study and Reflection

Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary plus other publications of interest.

About Malankara World

Foreword
We have come to the midpoint of the 8-days lent. Today, we like to feature the Magnificat - the masterpiece poetry uttered by an ordinary woman from an ordinary village in Palestine who had no formal education in scriptures. Magnificat combines the old testament promises with prophecy of what is going to come in the new kingdom. There is absolutely no question that its real origin is Holy Spirit who came into Mary at annunciation. When God resides in us ( as it was when the word started becoming flesh in Mary after the annunciation), it completely transforms us. It certainly transformed Mary. It even transformed Elizabeth and the child she was carrying, when they came in contact with the God residing within Mary.

Theologians on both sides of reformation fight spiritedly about grace vs. works as vehicles to attain salvation. I do not want to dwell into this right now; we may do it at some point in the future. It is reasonable to expect that when you are a new creation, you will change the way you act. You will reflect God on your face. You will act more like the God in whose image you were created. Good trees produce good fruits.

Anyhow, one thing all theologians agree is that we cannot buy salvation. It comes free because it was paid for by our savior when He died for our sins on the cross. The plan for the redemption of the fallen mankind required the incarnation of God as man. The crucial link in this plan was played by Mary. That is why Mary is "blessed."

Although grace comes free, there is a catch. We have to ask for it. Jesus is knocking on our door. We need to open the door and welcome him into our hearts. Then we get the "free grace." Some people seem to have hesitation about anything that comes free. (There is no free lunch, remember.) Technically, grace is not free. Jesus has already paid for it. It is like a scholarship in the college. Someone has paid for it to set it up. Because of the good thing he/she did paying for the annuity etc., students benefit from it for generations to come. But you have to apply for the scholarship to receive it.

Same with the free grace from Jesus. In this issue we also look at the concept of grace.

Finally, I like to share with you a short excerpt I came across on Mary. I named it 'Love Mary'. I absolutely adore it. I am sure you will too when you read it. Take a look:

Love Mary

Love Mary!...

She is loveable, faithful, constant.

She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme.

If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you.
If you are troubled, she will console you.
If you are sick, she will bring you relief.
If you are in need, she will help you.

She does not look to see what kind of person you have been.
She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her.

She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.

-- St Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother

That is what our Theotokos is all about. That is why Jesus loved her and Christians adore her as our mother. That is why she is blessed and found grace before God. What a loving mother she is!!

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World
Today's Features

Inspiration for Today
Mary’s Song (Magnificat)

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me -
holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud
in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.
(Luke 1: 46-55)

Featured: The Magnificat: Mary's Own Prayer

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

We have many reasons to give due consideration and prayerful reflection to the Magnificat. It is the longest discourse recorded of Mary in Divine Revelation. Many are the stories written telling about the heart of Mary as shown in that beautiful prayer. Certainly inspired, it was pronounced by Mary herself when she was carrying the Divine Child in her womb. It is the perfect act of humility and of profound humble adoration. It is part of the Church's liturgy and has been such since the very first centuries. It has been recited or sung daily by ancient monks and hermits and other Religious who have consecrated themselves to God. It is indeed the prayer of consecrated souls and all clients of Mary.

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for behold henceforth all generations will call me blessed because He Who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name; and His Mercy is from generation to generation to those who fear Him.

He has shown might with His Arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, His servant, mindful of His mercy - even as He Spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever."
(Luke 1:46-55)

All the great biblical masters of the ages have affirmed that there are four parts to the Magnificat.

In the first strophe, Mary expresses her gratitude to God;

in the second, she praises God for his power, His holiness and His mercy;

in the third, she compares how differently God deals with the proud and the humble;

in the fourth, she recalls that all the ancient prophecies to the Jews are now being fulfilled in the Messiah, Who was at that moment present in her womb.

Mary's Gratitude to God

Taking out some of the salient features of the Magnificat, we begin with Mary's gratitude, "My soul magnifies the Lord." My soul adores, praises, and honors the Lord. The stress is always on 'the Lord.'

What a contrast between Mary's attitude and that of so many people over the centuries, including our own day. Think of all the honor medals and statues dedicated to human beings, who are sadly undeserving of praise, but rather often condemnation. Who were the great heroes about whom we read and whose exploits we memorized; the men who ran roughshod over human beings, and who destroyed empires in order to achieve their ambitions. We all know about Napoleon and how few remember the Pope he forced into exile. How strange that we should be so ready to praise weak human flesh that dying soon decays. Let us examine our consciences on how seldom we praise God. Yet faith tells us that prayers of praise and adoration are the most important form of prayer. For, unless this form of prayer is at least implicit, we are not even praying. Unless we praise God, magnifying Him, we are not acknowledging God for Who He is and ourselves for what we are. How God longs for us to tell Him: "How great Thou art, O Lord, how great Thou art!" And by contrast, how unimportant, how trifling is everything and everyone else. Having said, "My soul magnifies the Lord," Mary immediately adds, "And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." Joy follows on praising God.

God really wants us to be happy.

He wants us to rejoice in Him, but on His conditions: in doing His Will and not the world's or the evil spirit's or as our natural inclinations urge. What a lie to think that joy is found in our self will. Hell was born of that myth. Not even speaking of Heaven, there is no other true joy on earth except in God, with God, and because God became man, like God. Mary had a clear idea of who she was, that she was the Mother of the Messiah, even as Elizabeth had told her she was the 'mother of the Lord Who made her.' Mary also knew by whose favor she was thus blessed. Compare the two phrases "lowliness of His handmaid" and "He that is mighty has done great things for me." God did do great things for Mary because in her own estimation she was His lowly servant. This is all God asks us to tell Him: "You alone are mighty and I, except for You, am nothing; and the moment my conscience tells me You have spoken, I don't for a second wish to hesitate doing what you ask." The only reason why Mary became, under God, the Mother of God is because she was so profoundly aware of being the servant of the Lord. So ends the first part of the Magnificat.

Mary Praises God for His Power, Holiness and Mercy

The second strophe is Mary's praise of God. As reason and faith tell us, God does not need our poor prayers, but He wants them and wants us to recognize Him for what He is. According to Mary, He is Power, He is Holiness and Mercy. How is God Power? He is Power because He can do whatever He wills. Perhaps the clearest sign of our being just creatures, is the distance that separates what we want to do from what we can do. Not so with God. He had only to will our souls into existence and we were made, existing only because God wills it. Withdrawing His Will, we would be absolutely nothing again. In our day when power is the watchword inspiring fear into people's hearts, we have to keep our balance. I am not to be impressed by human power nor do I fear what any human being can do to me. The One I adore is the only One I fear, God Almighty. As long as He is with me, who can do me harm? He will be with me as long as I am with Him. We have infinity at our disposal, provided we have humility and the honesty to acknowledge that God alone has the right to tell us what to do. No wonder the saints were so powerful; they had Almighty power at their disposal. How is God Holiness? He is Holiness because He is Wholly Other. He alone must be; He alone cannot not be. Everything else, including ourselves, need not be. What do we mean by "growing in holiness?" We mean that we are to grow more and more like God What in the last analysis makes God Holy? He is utterly unworldly. God does not need the world, even though there would be no world without Him. Let us ask our Lord to enlighten us as to what it means to be unworldly.

When I am among people who make a profession of pursuing sanctity, I tell them, "In God's Name don't be worldly!" I do not have to tell you what worldly means. Look at the values the world respects and considers important. The unworldly are not preoccupied with things of time and space, but have their minds and hearts on eternity. Such persons are not enamored of this world, because they know this world and all its vanities will soon pass away.

How is God's Mercy?

God is Merciful for He loves the sinner even as He hates the sin. His mercy is boundless and His kindness towards the weak and fallen is proverbial. Let us remember that though we have sinned deeply and often, God loves us still. His love is greater than our sin. He wants us to become holy, more holy because we have sinned. He wants us to become more humble, more patient, more prayerful than we would have been had we not always sinned. Nowadays, many books of spiritual counsel warn us not to be so conscious of our sins, but to keep thinking of God's Love. Truly we cannot think of God's Love too much, but not to look at our sins is nonsense! It is precisely that combination of Divine Love and our sins that brings us to God's Mercy. That is what mercy implies. The Eternal Infinite Love of the Trinity became Divine Mercy only when man had sinned and when God's Love could exercise its benevolence and forgiveness towards the sinner. Unless we keep contraposing God's Love with our sins, we are living in a dream world, because the principal object of God's Love is His Mercy shown to sinners.

Mary Compares the Lot of the Humble and the Proud

Next, Mary compares the lot of the humble and the proud. Compare these statements: "He has scattered the proud", "He has put down the mighty", "He has sent the rich away empty", versus "He has exalted the lowly", "He has filled the hungry with good things." It is not so much Mary telling us these things, but Jesus in her womb is speaking through His Mother's lips. When He was older and began His public ministry, this is almost the theme of His Gospels. God exalts the humble; He humbles the proud. We are inclined to take this too mechanically and mistakenly suppose that this reward of the humble and retribution of the proud always takes place regularly in our lives. Dear friends, I wish it did. Sadly but obviously the proud get prouder and are exalted. Who make the headlines? Who are honored and praised and who are ignored in this world? But no matter! The span of human life on earth, even the longest life, is short compared to eternity. That is why my faith in Heaven and Hell is strengthened when I read the Magnificat, and I am assured of what God eventually does. Heaven is the glorification of humility, and hell is the humiliation of pride. Thank God that Heaven and Hell are both real.

Mary Tells Us that God Keeps His Promises

Lastly, Mary tells us that God keeps His promises. His faithfulness in the face of the disloyalty of the Jewish people over the centuries before Christ is hardly credible. We reread the Old Testament. It tells of one dreary failure after another of their failure to live up to the Covenant that Yahweh had made with them; they constantly relapsed into idolatry and resisted God's commands. Yet, after their infidelity, murdering their Prophets, ignoring Yahweh's laws and resisting His Will, there was nevertheless a Covenant between Yahweh and His people. They had failed Him miserably and sadly, but as Mary says, God does not fail. How well have we, with whom God has entered into a New Covenant, kept our part of this covenant? Our Sinai is the "Sermon on the Mount", and our Decalogue is the "Beatitudes." Read them and weep! God, however, does not fail us even when we fail Him. How we need this reassurance, that in spite of our infidelities, God will not abandon us. We must remain serene and calm and never allow ourselves to be discouraged. God, our God, is a faithful God.

Prayer

Mother of Jesus and Mother of God, teach us something of your quiet peacefulness and childlike confidence in your Son. Help us to trust Him, especially when things seem to go wrong. Help us to believe in Him as you did, that the promises He makes to us He will fulfill. Help us never to worry or be sad but always rejoice like you, in God, your Savior and ours, your beloved Son and our dearest Lord. Amen.

Walk in Hope - Be Open to Surprises and Joy

by Pope Francis

What joy I feel as I come to the house of the Mother of every Brazilian, the Shrine of our Lady of Aparecida! The day after my election as Bishop of Rome, I visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, in order to entrust my ministry as the Successor of Peter to Our Lady. Today I have come here to ask Mary, our Mother, for the success of World Youth Day.

There is something that I would like to say first of all. Six years ago the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean was held in this Shrine. Something beautiful took place here, which I witnessed at first hand. I saw how the Bishops - who were discussing the theme of encountering Christ, discipleship and mission - felt encouraged, supported and in some way inspired by the thousands of pilgrims who came here day after day to entrust their lives to Our Lady.

That Conference was a great moment of Church. It can truly be said that the Aparecida Document was born of this interplay between the labours of the Bishops and the simple faith of the pilgrims, under Mary's maternal protection. When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at his Mother's door and asks: "Show us Jesus." It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship.

Today, looking forward to the World Youth Day which has brought me to Brazil, I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary - who loved and raised Jesus - that she may help all of us, pastors of God's people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal. For this reason I would like to speak of three simple attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy.

1. Hopefulness.

The second reading of the Mass presents a dramatic scene: a woman - an image of Mary and the Church - is being pursued by a Dragon - the devil - who wants to devour her child. But the scene is not one of death but of life, because God intervenes and saves the child (cf. Rev 12:13a, 15-16a). How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them.

In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts!

The "dragon", evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! Let us maintain a positive outlook on reality. Let us encourage the generosity which is typical of the young and help them to work actively in building a better world. Young people are a powerful engine for the Church and for society. They do not need material things alone; also and above all, they need to have held up to them those non-material values which are the spiritual heart of a people, the memory of a people. In this Shrine, which is part of the memory of Brazil, we can almost read those values: spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy; they are values whose deepest root is in the Christian faith.

2. The second attitude: openness to being surprised by God.

Anyone who is a man or a woman of hope - the great hope which faith gives us - knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and he surprises us. The history of this Shrine is a good example: three fishermen, after a day of catching no fish, found something unexpected in the waters of the Parnaíba River: an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

Whoever would have thought that the site of a fruitless fishing expedition would become the place where all Brazilians can feel that they are children of one Mother?

God always surprises us, like the new wine in the Gospel we have just heard. God always saves the best for us. But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises.

Let us trust God! Cut off from him, the wine of joy, the wine of hope, runs out. If we draw near to him, if we stay with him, what seems to be cold water, difficulty, sin, is changed into the new wine of friendship with him.

3. The third attitude: living in joy.

Dear friends, if we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children, for us, as Queen Esther did in the first reading (cf Est 5:3).

Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning.

If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will "light up" with a joy that spreads to everyone around us. As Benedict XVI said: "the disciple knows that without Christ, there is no light, no hope, no love, no future" (Inaugural Address, Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America)

Dear friends, we have come to knock at the door of Mary's house. She has opened it for us, she has let us in and she shows us her Son. Now she asks us to "do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5). Yes, dear Mother, we are committed to doing whatever Jesus tells us! And we will do it with hope, trusting in God's surprises and full of joy. Amen.

Excerpted from the Homily of Pope Francis during the Holy Mass at Aparecida - National Shrine, Brazil, on 24 July 2013.

Source: Radio Vaticana

Why We Don't Like Grace

by Dr. Joe McKeever

Anything that puts us down, we automatically shy away from. For many, grace does that.

Oh, we don't mind singing about it, but the concept of grace itself is repulsive to our natures and offensive to our pride.

Something in me wants to be self-sufficient, to believe that whatever comes up, I'm able to handle, that as the poem says, "I am the captain of my soul."

The cry of a four-year-old - "I can do it myself!" - is the insistence of the stubborn will of the adult child.

That's why, even though we sing about it and say we love it, something inside us resists the idea of grace. That same something insists that I am sufficient for my needs, that my good works will accomplish everything necessary to land me in Heaven, that the rest is just so much religious talk.

The sinful heart of man is an atheist, an egotist, an idolator.

The Bible makes no bones about that. "He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust" (Psalm 103:14). God knows.

Man is a sinner, a dirty rotten sinner, who is often his own worst enemy, and who as though to prove it, wants to blame his sins on the devil when he is quite capable of making a royal mess of his life without any help from the slanderer.

Without the grace of God, man is hopeless. Helpless. Hapless.

"But where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more" (Romans 5:20).

Emphasizing the grace of God - His overwhelming storehouse of love, generosity, kindness, and blessings - has one massive negative which makes the subject less than pleasurable for many: It implies that I am inadequate. A failure. In desperate need.

That's true, of course. And our sinful pride hates it.

Grace means I am unworthy to stand in God's presence just as I am.

My flesh does not like reminders that I am incapable of anything, that I am unworthy of honors, that I am deserving of hell. So, my spirit resists the concept of grace.

Grace means I am hungry, needy, in trouble, helpless.

And my spirit does not like this, not one bit.

Help me, O Lord. I need your grace to be able to stand.

Grace means I am unable to handle the ultimate issues of life and death and beyond.

Through grace, God gives to me all those qualities and gifts, promises and assurances, everything necessary to put me in good standing with Him, and does it all through the Lord Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.

Grace means God is sufficient, not me.

An ancient story tells of an Indian chief who resisted the gospel of Jesus Christ by saying, "The Indian way is good enough." One day, as he grew older and more feeble, he sent word for the missionary to call on him. From his deathbed, he told the man of God, "Speak to me more about your Jesus; the Indian way ends here."

All ways end at the end of this earthly existence, with one exception. "Whoever believes on Me has everlasting life."

Lead me, O Lord. I need thy grace to live, then to die and live again.

Grace means I am incapable of discovering God's truth on my own and need it to be revealed to me and handed down from on high.

The greatest things of life and eternity are not found by discovery or philosophizing, but are revealed to those who humble themselves at the feet of Jesus.

Our Lord said to Peter, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven" (Matthew 16:17). My flesh insists that this will not be necessary, that given sufficient time we can figure these things out on our own. And yet, "figuring things out on our own" has resulted in a thousand different religions, each with its own idea of what happens after death and what constitutes eternal life.

Teach me, O Lord. I need thy grace if I'm to understand anything at all about this life, thy truth, my self.

Grace means I am unrighteous and will be needing a massive reworking, a complete overhaul, to be able to stand in the Father's throne room.

"He made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (Second Corinthians 5:21).

Save me, O Lord. I need thy grace to make me new, complete, worthy.

Grace means that because I have been unfaithful in the past and show every evidence of being unfaithful in the present and even the future, I will continue to need lots and lots of grace from here on in.

I'd better get used to trusting the Lord's grace because it's all we have that is guaranteed to sustain us through all the future.

Grace yesterday, today, and forever. God is love.

Anyone needing reassurance that God is a God of love need look no further than his own stubborn, rebellious heart.

But still He stays and loves, gives and forgives, blesses and accepts.

Amazing grace.

Understanding Grace

by Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

God is love and His love for us is unconditional. Though we do not deserve it, God freely gives His grace to us.

However, many times when we need God the most, we end up feeling as though we are least accepted by Him. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even when we fall flat on our faces due to sin, God does not turn His back on us. In fact, He does just the opposite - He opens His arms to us and beckons us to repent and to come to Him.

We need to understand a principle concerning grace: it is not currency we carry around in our pockets, spending it at will whenever we sin. The grace of God is precious. It is impossible to earn God's grace. As fallen humans, we certainly do not deserve His mercy, yet He opens the windows of heaven and pours His grace on us. Christ did not die on the cross so that we can take sin lightly and flaunt our freedoms without consequence. He also did not die in order to give us a constricting and rigid life. Either extreme is a limited version of the Christian faith.

We must balance both legalism and grace. When we fully understand the cost of our sin, we choose not to take God's grace for granted. When we fully understand Jesus' sacrifice and love, we begin to cherish our relationship with Him above all else. When we love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, we will hate sin and crave a closer relationship with Him.

As we grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, we begin to understand that He truly cares about our lives. We learn that He wants to build intimate relationships with us. Instead of living in terror of Him, we are given an opportunity to be children of the King of kings. Suddenly, we begin to understand He wants us in his throne room, where grace showers all who enter into His presence.

As we grow in intimacy with God, we discern His voice and we obey the Lord - regardless of the circumstance. We know and believe that God is able to handle any obstacle that enters our path. We simply obey and watch as His grace unfolds before our very eyes. In fact, Christ's life is a perfect model of what it means to have intimacy with God.

Throughout every trial and tribulation, throughout every victory and valley, Jesus was in perfect communion with God. He listened for the voice of His Father and responded appropriately - even if the answer meant He must wait.

In the moments we must wait, God's grace sustains us. Waiting on God can be difficult. In our anxiousness to see Him move, we have a tendency to try and prod God along. We want to see His glory here and now. Yet, God is at work preparing the people and circumstances we will encounter along the way. His grace sustains us as we wait and it prepares the way. May all praise and glory be given to God for His amazing grace!

Source: Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way.

Hymn: What can wash away my sin?

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my cleansing this I see -
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
For my pardon this my plea -
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Nothing can my sin erase
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Naught of works, ‘tis all of grace -
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

This is all my hope and peace -
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
This is all my righteousness -
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Be Still and Know God

by Joel Osteen

"Be still, and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10, NKJV)

So many people today find themselves caught up in the day-to-day busyness of life, driven to do more in less time. It seems people constantly strive to find ways to cram more into their already overcrowded schedules. But at the same time, God is constantly inviting us to step away from the hectic pace of life and come to Him to find rest for our souls. He invites us to be still before Him, to get quiet so we can hear His voice and set our hearts and minds at peace.

Every day, you should take time to read the scripture and meditate on God's promises. Every time you're in the car, put on some good praise music. Make it a point to spend time with God throughout the day. When you get quiet, say, "God, I love You, today. Lord, thank You for my life, my family, my dreams." That's what is going to keep you strong. That's what's going to keep you moving forward in the right direction.

Today, make it a point to be still before God. Quiet your mind of all the things on your agenda and just focus on Him. Let Him love you, let Him speak to your heart, and let Him fill you with peace and strength each and every day.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your love and grace upon me. Right now, I let go of all the distractions of life and focus on You. I choose to be still, to get quiet before You and thank You for Your peace all the days of my life in Jesus' name. Amen.

Greek Orthodox Prayer on The Nativity of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

In your holy birth, Immaculate One, Joachim and Anna were rid of the shame of childlessness; Adam and Eve of the corruption of death. And so your people, free of the guilt of their sins, celebrate crying: "The barren one gives birth to the Theotokos, who nourishes our life."

How Your Works Can Be Acceptable Before God

by Dr. Jack Graham

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
- Romans 12:1

I heard about a poor farmer who lived several years ago. He worked hard his entire life plowing his fields and raising his crops so he could eventually buy an ox. One day, he earned just enough and made the long journey into town.

It had been years since he'd been anywhere near civilization. So he was shocked to discover there had been a revolution in his country. There was a new government that had issued new money, so his old money was worthless. And worst of all, the time had already expired for him to exchange his old money for the new.

So he found a young man who knew how to read and write and petitioned him to write a letter to the new president of the country. The young man wrote to the president, explained the man's plight, and asked for help.

The president wrote back, "I cannot break the laws of the land. The exchange period has passed, but I am exchanging your old money for your new money from my own personal funds." Included in that letter was exactly the money he needed to buy the ox!

On our own, our spiritual currency is worthless – our good works are but filthy rags. But in Christ, as we work out our salvation, Jesus exchanges our filthy rags and turns them into true spiritual service. So as you do good works in His name, be confident He'll one day say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

DO GOOD WORKS IN CHRIST, WITH HIM AS THE FOCUS, AND GOD WILL BLESS THEM AS SPIRITUAL WORSHIP!

Source: PowerPoint Devotional

Prayer of Mary

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows.

"By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body" (CCC # 973).

I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word" (Luke 1:38). This is Mary's "Fiat", her "Yes" to the Lord. It was spoken from a heart filled with pure love for God. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made.

The Annunciation reveals the meaning of the Christian vocation. The Virgin of Nazareth teaches us how to live our real lives in a real world, by saying Yes to the One who created the world and is recreating it through His Son. When the Angel of the Lord appeared, bearing the message and calling her to a special mission, she said "YES." We are invited to say "Yes" as well and believe that "nothing is impossible with God." Let's consider her response to the message: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word." It is in these words that we discover the vocation of every Christian.

Among the multitude of profound reflections in the writings of the early Church Fathers on Mary, the Mother of God, we find these words of the Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa: "What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for 'we no longer know Christ according to the flesh,' but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."

Each of us can say "Yes" to God. Each of us can respond with our entire being, with a Fiat of surrendered love. When we do so, our positive response marks the beginning of a participation in the very life of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We become sons and daughters of the Most High and enter into the life of the living God. In Him we find our deepest identity, our real selves, through our participation in the One who made us, who redeems us, and who transforms us by His continual grace.

Our holiness comes through touching the Holy God, through being filled with His life and love.

Conversion begins when we say our own Fiat with our words and our deeds. It introduces to us a new and dynamic way of living with God, and in God. As we lose ourselves in Him, we find ourselves again, made new and completed. This holy exchange-our life for His-is the essence of the spiritual journey. It is not about power but powerlessness. It is not about increase but decrease. It is not about becoming greater but about becoming smaller. In short, true spirituality is about surrender.

Centuries of Christian people have learned that as we lose ourselves in Him, He reveals Himself as a God who can, does and will act in our very real, human daily experiences. He makes it possible for us to have a genuine relationship, a dialogue, with Him. He certainly wants us to live life to the fullest. However, precisely because we were made for Him, we find our fulfillment in emptying ourselves, in selflessness. Then, of course, we are filled and fulfilled in Him. However, this is a fruit and not a goal. He is the goal.

Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows. Mary's way is to become an ark within, where the same God who became incarnate within her takes up His residence in us.

He comes to dwell in all men and women who say "Yes" to Him.

Mary's Prayer is an invitation to participate in the ongoing incarnation of God's Love, for the sake of world. It is an invitation to live redemptively. In living a surrendered life we not only are transformed ourselves, but we also participate in the mediation of God's love to others. The ongoing creative and redemptive work of God's love continues through us as we learn how to become arks, or dwelling places, through which Love comes alive for all those around us.

We enter into Christ's incarnation as we participate in the Prayer of Mary. But first, we must hear God's invitation. We must learn to listen for it with our whole hearts. In response, we can respond the same way Mary did: "Behold the servant of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy word..."

God takes the initiative. He may whisper to our hearts through His Holy Spirit, or he may speak through a chosen messenger, His angel. But it is God who always initiates and then awaits our response. Mary, in her selflessness, was open to the angel's visit. She recognized who was speaking. She listened, received and responded. In so doing, she demonstrated the framework of all authentic spirituality. God initiates a relationship and we respond in surrender to Him. This dynamic, this heavenly road, leads to a dialogue, a conversation, a way of life.

More Resources For Study and Reflection

We celebrate the Nativity of Virgin Mary on September 8. To learn more about St. Mary, her life, and her role in the Church, please visit Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary.

This supplement includes the previous years' specials on St. Mary published by Malankara World Journal.

You can access Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary at:
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/shunoyo/StMary.htm

 Malankara World Library with devotionals, prayer, essays and sermons are available at:

Malankara World Library

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Default.htm

Please keep an eye for the Malankara World Journal Specials planned for the Ettu Nombu in 2013. This is the fourth in a series of 8 planned (Issues 161-168) for Ettu Nomb - 2013.

If you missed any of the first three special issues, you can access them here:

Volume 3 No 161: September 1, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 1

Volume 3 No 162: September 2, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 2

Volume 3 No 163: September 3, 2013
Ettu Nombu (8 Days Lent) Special - Day 3

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