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

Theme: Cross (Sleebo)

Volume 3 No. 169 September 12, 2013

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Crucifixion - different perspective
Crucifixion: How The Eastern and Western Views Differ
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Sermons for the Sleebo Feast
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Sleebo.htm

Bible Readings for This Sunday (September 15)

Bible Readings For First Sunday after Sleebo/ the Feast of Holy Cross
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_1st-sunday-after-sleebo.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (September 15)

Sermons for the First Sunday After Sleebo
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-Sleebo.htm

Features

Inspiration for Today: The Cross in Prayer

We too often think of the Cross of Christ as something we have to get through, yet we get through for the purpose of getting into it. The Cross represents only one thing for us - complete, entire, absolute identification with the Lord Jesus Christ - and there is nothing in which this identification is more real to us than in prayer. ...

Featured: The Elevation of the Precious and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord

For a long time the Cross served as the instrument of a shameful punishment, exciting fear and disgust among people, but from the time that Christ sanctified it by His Blood, it became an object of pious respect and veneration for all Christians. However, this did not become universal at once. ...

Veneration of the Cross

Jesus tells us that if we wish to go after Him we too must take up our cross and follow. This means that we must suffer with Him in truth and love, that we've got to live through the trials and tribulations that this world brings to us, and that we must endure the rejection of this world. We are rejected for being Christians, for living a Christian life, for standing before the world and saying "I believe in Jesus and follow his teachings". This means that we must put into practice the life that Christ Himself lived, the life that Christ Himself is, the life which is given to us in Christ's name in the Church. Then will we gain the life that awaits us. ...

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is one of the greatest feasts of the Eastern Churches. It is frequently mentioned in ecclesiastical writings and always has, as its object, the triumph of Christ, his resurrection, and the veneration of the holy cross, the sign of his victory over death. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was first instituted in order to commemorate the dedication of the Church of the Resurrection on September 13, 335. ...

Society Needs Cross as Reminder of People's Shared Dignity

The crucifix should be present in public and private places because this external symbol of God's presence is a reminder of humanity's shared God-given dignity, Pope Benedict XVI said. The modern world believed that by putting God aside and following man's ideas and desires people could become truly free, but that did not happen. Only by exalting God's greatness, just as Mary did in her hymn of praise, the Magnificat, can people become great. ....

Living on the 'Finished' Side of the Cross

My salvation cost Christ agony that I will never understand, but one thing I know for certain. Christ didn't go through it all for parcel deliverance. He finished the job. Sin and death have lost their grip on me. When you believe this, you'll begin to live on the "finished" side of the cross. ...

The Symbol of the Cross

What does the symbol of the Cross mean to you? To many people, the Cross is merely an archaic emblem. To others, the Cross invokes feelings of guilt or confusion. Some churches even see it as a hindrance to attracting nonbelievers. Yet the early believers chose the Cross as their symbol for a special reason. they chose the Cross that proclaims the wages of sin are fully paid and the perfect sacrifice has been fully offered. ...

Malankara World Supplement on Sleebo Feast

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

Health: ADHD and Improved Breathing

Pay close attention to your kid's breathing; if he or she is suffering from a sleep disorder, it may very well be obstructed breathing, which has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that's causing the problem. ...

How to Keep Having Fun Together in Marriage

Could there be a connection between spouses having fun together and the success of their marriages? There is, according to a 2008 University of Denver research study that found the more fun married couples had together, the happier their marriages became. Reflecting on that study in an interview for USA Today, Howard Markman, co-director of the university's Center for Marital and Family Studies, commented: "The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time. The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high, and significant." ...

Inspirational: Obstacles into Opportunity

For as long as he could remember, Jay Platt wanted to be a U.S. Marine, and for nearly 15 years, he lived that dream. But in 1998, a rare condition called von Hippel Lindau syndrome (VHL), attacked his eyes, brain, spine and kidneys, forcing his retirement from the service.  ...

Russia Calls for Protection of Christian Holy Places in Maalula [Syria]

The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the attempts made by the armed opposition in Syria to take over the city of Maalula, a symbol of the Christian presence in Syria. ...

About Malankara World

Foreword
We wish you all a happy Onam.

All through last week we talked about our mother, Theotokos, with specials for each day of the Eight Days Lent. I had the privilege of giving the message on the Feast of Nativity of St. Mary at Detroit Knanaya Church. My message was simple. Mary pleased God by her virginity. But she became His mother because of her humility. Lucifer was pure. The reason for his downfall was his pride. God is attracted to humility like iron is attracted to a magnet. Humility, Faith, and obedience were the chief virtues of our mother; but humility trumps all because without humility other virtues disappear. Humility is the only fertile ground in which God's gifts can take root and bear fruit.

So, after talking in depth about our spiritual mother yesterday (Sunday), I got word from home today (Monday) that my earthly mother has completed her journey in this world and has been called to her spiritual eternal home. I had been trying to find tickets on short notice competing with all the people visiting Kerala during this Onam Season at a very short notice. God helped in that mission. God willing, I will arrive at Kochi on Thursday and the funeral for my mother will be on Thursday afternoon at my mother church, Marth Mariam Chria Palli, Pampady East, Kottayam Diocese.

So, on this occasion, I like to say a prayer for all the mothers who had been primarily responsible for us being who we are today. They are the agents of God accomplishing this mission of developing us with their tender loving hearts. Please remember my departed mother in your prayers.

A Prayer for Mothers

by Charles R. Swindoll

"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you." - Isaiah 66:13

We do worship You, our Father, and in our worship we give You our thanks. We thank You, not only for our own mothers and grandmothers but for all women who have filled that role. We remember those who are now deceased, who helped shape our lives, who taught us faithfully, and who enduringly loved us. Thank You for the contribution of fine women all over this world who live lives dedicated to Your service, to their families, to their extended families. Thank You for each. You have written in Your Word that their "worth is far above jewels."

Thank You for the tenderness and compassion mothers contribute to a world that's cold and raw and careless and harsh. Thank You for their affirmation and words of affection in the midst of a society bent on high achievement, self-serving goals, and short-sighted pursuits. Thank You for their hours of investment in others. Thank You for their contribution to You in the work of the church down through the centuries. Thank You for using women through the ages to improve their homes, their families, and other's lives. Thank You for their vision, for their strength of character. Most of all, for their hearts, tender to You and affectionate toward those they love.

Dear Father, so many of these things represent Your wisdom which is, as You have written, more precious than silver - better than gold. In light of that, we rededicate ourselves to Your work, to Your service, and to those who need our love. We commit our future to You for however many months or years You may give us. May we faithfully and relentlessly serve the Master.

In the name of the Savior, we pray. Amen.

See also Exodus 20:12 ; Proverbs 6:20 ; 20:20 ; 30:17 .

Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Source: Today's Insight from Chuck Swindoll

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

Feast of Sleebo (September 14, 2013)

Bible Readings for Sleebo Feast (September 14)

Sermons for Sleebo Feast (September 14)

Sermons for the Sleebo Feast

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Sleebo.htm

More Sermons

This Sunday in Church (September 15, 2013)
Bible Readings for This Sunday (September 15)

Bible Readings For First Sunday after Sleebo/ the Feast of Holy Cross

Sermons for This Sunday (September 15)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: The Cross in Prayer

by Oswald Chambers

"In that day you will ask in My name . . ." - John 16:26

We too often think of the Cross of Christ as something we have to get through, yet we get through for the purpose of getting into it. The Cross represents only one thing for us - complete, entire, absolute identification with the Lord Jesus Christ - and there is nothing in which this identification is more real to us than in prayer.

"Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). Then why should we ask? The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him. If we pray only because we want answers, we will become irritated and angry with God. We receive an answer every time we pray, but it does not always come in the way we expect, and our spiritual irritation shows our refusal to identify ourselves truly with our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God’s grace.

". . . I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you . . ." (John 16:26-27). Have you reached such a level of intimacy with God that the only thing that can account for your prayer life is that it has become one with the prayer life of Jesus Christ? Has our Lord exchanged your life with His vital life? If so, then "in that day" you will be so closely identified with Jesus that there will be no distinction.

When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to place the blame on someone else. That is always a trap of Satan. When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason - God uses these times to give you deep personal instruction, and it is not for anyone else but you.

Featured: The Elevation of the Precious and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord

by Archpriest Leonid Kolchev

For a long time the Cross served as the instrument of a shameful punishment, exciting fear and disgust among people, but from the time that Christ sanctified it by His Blood, it became an object of pious respect and veneration for all Christians. However, this did not become universal at once. The very life-bearing Tree on which the Lord was crucified laid in the ground for many years until it was revealed to the world in a miraculous manner.

Whenever the waves of persecutions directed against Christians died down and they emerged, tormented and bloodied, from the catacombs and caves into God’s light, signing themselves with an extensive sign of the cross, then it was that Konstantine the Great, who more than once had felt the power of the Cross, decided to find the same Tree to which the Body of Christ had been nailed. His eighty-year old holy mother Helen took upon herself this sacred task. Arriving in Jerusalem she spent much time and means to discover exactly where the Cross of the Lord was hidden. She managed to establish the fact that soon after the Resurrection of Christ the Jews had deeply filled up the crag of the Lord’s tomb, since it was a living monument of their rejection of the Lord. There, covered by rocks and all sorts of refuse, was discovered the life-giving Tree of Christ with the crosses of the thieves. In order to weaken the respect of the early Christians towards the holy places, in later times the heathen had placed idols upon Golgotha, had built a temple in honor of the shameless goddess Venus. Later it was found that a certain old Jew, Judas by name, on the basis of written family traditions, knew exactly where the Cross of Christ was hidden. For a long time he did not agree to reveal his secret and only forced by hunger and poverty did he lead the Empress Helen and Patriarch Macarius to Golgotha. Pointing to the exact spot, he said : “Here you will find the Cross of your Christ."

With piety, burning with impatience, the people started to work, animated by the sweet-odour emerging from the earth at that spot. Sure enough, soon there were found three well-preserved crosses which were exactly alike by their exterior shape. It was therefore impossible to ascertain which of them was the Cross of Christ, since the board with the inscription J.N.KJ. was lying separately. The perplexity was dispersed by Patriarch Macarius who said: “If Providence did not favor the leaving of the Lord’s Cross in the ground, will it allow it to remain unknown now? Will it allow us to give honor to a robber’s cross in place of the Lord’s Cross? God Himself will show us the Cross of Our Saviour.” With these words he commanded that the crosses he taken to the home of a grievously-ill woman. Here, after fervent prayer, he placed on her the crosses, one after another. The first two did not show any effect on the sick woman, but as soon as he placed on her the third cross—the ill woman immediately felt herself healed and arose from her bed. Giving praise to God, everyone unanimously recognized this wonder-working cross as the Lord’s. It was pleasing to the Providence of God to reveal new glory for the life-bearing Tree.

Just at that time a dead man was being carried to burial past the house of the woman who had been healed. Filled with faith, the Patriarch, in the presence of the Empress and a great multitude of people, stopped the sorrowful procession and began to lay the crosses upon the dead man. And the same one of them which gave health to the sick woman, resurrected the dead man to the indescribable joy of the surrounding populace. All those present could not be controlled in their desire to venerate the precious Cross and kiss it. Since this was impossible because of the tremendous gathering of people, Patriarch Macarius stood upon an elevated place, and with help raised the Cross high in the air several times so that it could, at least, be seen by all. Bowing down to the ground with piety, the people cried out : Lord, have mercy!"

It is from this festive act of the raising or elevation of the life-giving Cross of the Lord that today’s feast received its name. In this glorification of Christ’s Cross, His very enemies were forced to give it veneration. Judas, with whose help the Lord’s Cross was found, received Holy Baptism with the name Cyriacus and, little by little, being elevated in the degrees of the Priesthood, later occupied the place of Patriarch of Jerusalem, and later still was made worthy of a martyr’s crown.

What is the later history of the Cross of Christ and where is it now found?

In the year 614 the Persian King (Shah) Khosroes captured Jerusalem and along with other treasures abducted the Tree of the Cross. After 15 years when the Persians were defeated, the Cross was returned. At the triumphant meeting of the returned Cross the Emperor Heraclius, himself decided to bear this treasure from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Resurrection. At the gates of Golgotha, however, some invisible force stopped him and the more he tried the stronger was the power that held him back. Then it was revealed to the Patriarch in a vision that it was not right for the Emperor to go in such majesty and brilliance where the Saviour Himself, carrying His own Cross, went in such poverty and humiliation.

The next day. having divested himself of his footwear and extravagant raiment, dressed in simple clothing, the Emperor took the Cross upon his own back and without any hindrance carried it to the Church. This was 14 September of the year 629. Later this Cross was taken apart in particles by the Faithful and today there is not, it would seem, any country where particles of this most precious sacred object is not preserved in churches and even by individuals.

And Christians of the whole world piously honor this life-bearing Tree. "It is worthy and right to venerate Christ’s Cross,” says Saint Demetrius, the Metropolitan of Rostov. “for through this blessed Tree was death slain and life granted.” “This sign.” teaches another prelate, John Chrysostom, “both in former and present times opened closed door’s, removed the power of ill-bearing substances, made poison ineffective, and healed the mortal bites of beasts.”

Come, faithful, let us bow to the Cross of the Lord lying before us and, following the example of the ancient Christians, let us say with compunction : Lord, have mercy! Through the might of the precious and life-creating Cross, save us sinners. Amen.

Source: A sermon by Archpriest Leonid Kolchev. Translated by D.F.A.

excerpted from: Word Magazine, Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, September 1960

Veneration of the Cross

by Nick Brown,
Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George, Brisbane QLD, Australia

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Many a time we have heard the Scriptural passage that says, 'Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends'. We can view this passage in a new light: Greater love has no one more than God who became man, Who laid down His life for His creation, and Who left behind a symbol of hope as a result of this sacrifice (the Holy Cross). Today we commemorate the middle of the season of Lent with the celebration known as 'the veneration of the Cross'. It is on this day that we have reached a mountain of hope after travelling along the long hard road of Lent. It is this mountain of hope that offers us strength to carry on until the feast of feasts finally arrives. It is this mountain of hope upon which we can climb up and see the coming of Pascha in the distance. This mountain of hope is the Cross.

Today we venerate the Cross of Christ to gather strength from the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and to thank Jesus Christ for what He did for us on the wood of the Cross. Let's ponder on the symbol of the Cross for a moment. What a profound paradox this symbol is. An instrument that was used to kill people on becomes the instrument of salvation. It was through this instrument that Christ died, but it was also because of this instrument that Christ was able to defeat death, to rise on that first Pascha, and to open for us the gates of paradise.

On the topic of crucifixion it is a well-known fact amongst historical and medical circles that Roman crucifixion was the most cruel and painful form of execution. If you were caught on charges ranging from theft to insurrection and were crucified for it, you would be fortunate if you were dead within a few hours. This was the case with Jesus, and the two thieves who likely died by asphyxiation considering the type of crucifixion that they underwent. Sometimes the unfortunate ones hung on a cross for up to a week before death finally came. Not only would these victims starve and become exhausted but they would also attract a variety of animals and insects from the area that would slowly pick at the victims. Yet, our God was willing to undergo this cruel and humiliating form of execution for our sakes. Holy tradition relates to us that many of our Saints died by crucifixion. For example, St. Andrew the First Called was crucified on a cross that resembled the letter X, and St. Peter was crucified upside down because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his master.

The instrument of death that becomes the symbol of life is everywhere. It is around our necks, on top of the church, behind the altar, on top of the iconostasis, on the priest's vestments, in our homes, in our cars, on flags and coats of arms. Its even on the koliva and above grave sites as a reminder to us that because of the death on the Cross, the dearly departed can now enjoy everlasting life.

Jesus tells us that if we wish to go after Him we too must take up our cross and follow. This means that we must suffer with Him in truth and love, that we've got to live through the trials and tribulations that this world brings to us, and that we must endure the rejection of this world. We are rejected for being Christians, for living a Christian life, for standing before the world and saying "I believe in Jesus and follow his teachings". This means that we must put into practice the life that Christ Himself lived, the life that Christ Himself is, the life which is given to us in Christ's name in the Church. Then will we gain the life that awaits us.

This is why we venerate the Cross of Christ, which tells us of God's coming to us and of our return to Him, both accomplished by the way of the Cross. This is what we venerate and contemplate in the middle of great lent, the wisdom and the power of God as Christ crucified on the Cross. This symbol tells us the truth about life. It tells us of the truth and love of God for the world, and it tells us what we must do to be alive for eternal life in God's kingdom.

Furthermore, Jesus chose this symbol so that he could outstretch his arms and embrace the whole of humanity with his love even in pain and death. If you can see the image of Christ crucified standing behind the altar you will notice that Christ is not withering in pain with a look of despair on His face as you see so often in Western religious art. However, He has a look of peace and serenity on His face exactly because he is embracing us with His love. He is triumphing over death through His death. He is saying to us 'I did this because I love you and I want you to be with me for eternity'. There is no greater love than this.

As we witness the procession with the Cross on this day and we go forth to venerate it let's think to ourselves 'thank you Jesus for dying on this symbol for our sakes. Thank you Jesus for leaving us this symbol of hope. Thank you Jesus for opening the gates of paradise for us with the Holy Cross'.

Amen.

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is one of the greatest feasts of the Eastern Churches. It is frequently mentioned in ecclesiastical writings and always has, as its object, the triumph of Christ, his resurrection, and the veneration of the holy cross, the sign of his victory over death. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was first instituted in order to commemorate the dedication of the Church of the Resurrection on September 13, 335. The Emperor Constantine built this church and the one in Bethlehem and they are both in existence today. The Church of the Resurrection had five naves and in the interior a circular structure covered by a dome which protected the sanctuary of the sepulcher or tomb of Christ. The date of September 13 was chosen in order to supplant the pagan feast of the Temple of Jupiter in Rome.

The second historical event which is the source of our present feast was the return of the holy cross to Jerusalem under Emperor Heraclius. The wood of the cross had been preserved in the Church of the Resurrection until May 4, 614, when the Persians captured Jerusalem, burned the Church of the Resurrection and carried off the cross. After the victory of Emperor Heraclius over the Persians, the cross was returned to Jerusalem on September 14, 628. It is said that the Emperor, dressed in his royal vestments, carried the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. He was stopped by the Patriarch who demanded that he remove his splendid vestments in order to become more like the scorned Christ. The Emperor agreed and walked through the streets barefooted. A crowd of the faithful accompanied him and prostrated before the holy cross.

The adoration of the cross is the sign of our salvation. The Sleebo Feast comes toward the end of the annual liturgical cycle. So it is also directed toward the second coming of Christ, who carries his cross of light and triumph.

Source: The Maronite Church

Society Needs Cross as Reminder of People's Shared Dignity
The crucifix should be present in public and private places because this external symbol of God's presence is a reminder of humanity's shared God-given dignity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"The modern world believed that by putting God aside" and following man's ideas and desires people could "become truly free," but that did not happen, the pope said during his homily at Mass Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Only by exalting God's greatness, just as Mary did in her hymn of praise, the Magnificat, can people become great, the pope said in remarks apart from his prepared text.

"We must apply all this to our daily lives: It is important that God be great among us in both public and private life," he said.

It is important that "God be present in the symbol of the cross in public places, (that) God be present in our communal life because only if God is present (will) we have a guide, a common path," the pope said.

Without God, people lose their "divine dignity" and become "only a product of a blind evolution," he said.

By not recognizing humanity's divine dignity, people "can be used and abused," he said.

But it is this shared "splendor of God in one's face" that gives humanity the common ground it needs in the public sphere, the pope said.

Without recognizing God's presence, people have "nothing left in common" and "differences become irreconcilable," he said.

The pope emphasized that making God great in public and private life meant making "room for God every day," including morning prayer and "giving Sunday to God."

Spending more time with God does not make one "lose time" or freedom, rather it makes the day "greater, fuller, richer," the pope said.

He said the Marian feast day is a reminder that "heaven is our final dwelling place" and that Mary is calling on people to welcome God's will with open arms.

Mary asks the faithful "to not be seduced by fallacies adorned with that which is ephemeral and transient, and to not give in to the temptations of egoism and evil that extinguish the joy of life from one's heart."

Pope Benedict also encouraged people not to give up hope in God even during times of great trial.

God "never closes his eyes before the needs of his children, and if sometimes he seems unfeeling to their requests it is only to put them to the test and toughen their faith," he said.

Source: Catholic News Service

Living on the 'Finished' Side of the Cross

by Micca Campbell

Sometimes I live on the wrong side of the cross and fall prey to old sinful habits. In my helplessness, I long for full redemption. I desire freedom. I don't want to struggle with anger, pride or jealousy. And yet, I struggle. Just ask my family. They've seen me at my worst.

When the stress of life closes in, I can lose it and scream at my kids. I can get impatience while driving and say unkind things such as, "That person shouldn't be allowed on the road!" Or "I could get out and walk faster than they're driving." I'm a pro at complaining and huffing and puffing when things don't go as expected. Yep. Just ask my kids and they can name all my flaws and then some.

No matter how hard I try, I just can't change. I wonder if I'll ever be like Jesus.

Maybe you can relate. Most of the women I talk with do relate. Perhaps the problem is we've yet to realize our redemption is already complete.

Think about it. Many of us are trying to live the Christian life by our own power instead of by the supernatural power of God. This is what I call living on the wrong side of the cross.

Sometimes we live there for lack of understanding.

As a young girl, I didn't fully understand the meaning of my glorious Salvation. I didn't stop to consider what my salvation cost Christ or even God's role in the matter. 2 Cor 5:21 states, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." It was the will of God for His Son to suffer and die for our sake.

I've heard some say that God turned away when the slime of sin was placed on His Son. But I don't think God hid His face. I think God was never more pleased with His Son than that day especially when Christ stated, "I have finished the work which You gave me to do."

What was finished? The rehabilitation of the human race back to God was finished. Death was conquered. Sin defeated. In other words, redemption isn't going to be finished. It is FINISHED. We need to start living like it.

When you and I choose to live on the "finished" side of the cross, it's because we've realized we have been redeemed. It's not something we accomplish by our own effort. That's like saying Christ suffered and died for parcel deliverance. The rest is up to us. No!

My salvation cost Christ agony that I will never understand, but one thing I know for certain. Christ didn't go through it all for parcel deliverance. He finished the job. Sin and death have lost their grip on me. When you believe this, you'll begin to live on the "finished" side of the cross.

About The Author:

Micca Campbell is the author of 'An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears'. This article is from her blog miccacampbell.com

The Symbol of the Cross

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

What does the symbol of the Cross mean to you? To many people, the Cross is merely an archaic emblem. To others, the Cross invokes feelings of guilt or confusion. Some churches even see it as a hindrance to attracting nonbelievers.

Yet the early believers chose the Cross as their symbol for a special reason. There were many symbols of Jesus' earthly ministry to represent them. They could have chosen a manger to represent where baby Jesus was born. They could have chosen a boat, from which Jesus taught the crowd in Galilee. They could have chosen an apron, which Jesus wore when He washed the disciples' feet. They could have chosen a throne or a crown, to represent His divine and sovereign rule.

Instead, they chose the Cross that proclaims the wages of sin are fully paid and the perfect sacrifice has been fully offered. Through the Cross we have redemption and life with Christ in heaven. Through the Cross we know that sin has been defeated.

How do you view the Cross? How do you allow the Cross to impact your life? How often do you thank God for the Cross?

Prayer:

God, thank You for the Cross and for all it means. Thank You for defeating sin through the Cross and for the eternal life we can have because of it. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Source: My Devotional © 2013 Leading The Way

Malankara World Supplement on Sleebo Feast
Please visit Malankara World Special Supplement on Sleebo Feast to learn more about the history, traditions, spiritual background, articles, sermons, and homilies on Sleebo Feast. You can find it here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sleebo/Default.htm

Take a look at the following articles in particular that expands on what we have covered in this special edition of Malankara World Journal:

The Power of The Cross by Keith Smith
The cross, or the death of Jesus Christ, is the most significant event that this world has ever witnessed. It is the magna carta of Christianity. It is the Oscar of the religious world. It is the central theme of the Bible. ...

Conversations on Calvary: The Unrepentant Man on the Cross by Marvin A. McMickle
This scene on Calvary points to the fundamental challenge that faces everyone as they make up their minds about a relationship with Jesus. Some people are persuaded already. They believe it is possible to "take their burdens to the Lord and leave them there." They accept what Jesus says in John 15:17, "Ask whatever you will and it shall be done unto you." But not everybody is in this group. Some people are still unconvinced. They do not have enough faith even to raise a prayer, much less to believe that prayers can be answered. ...

Feast of the elevation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, Axion Estin Holy Monastery
The two timbers on which the Messiah died to save the world, priceless beyond measure, form the most familiar and beloved symbol in a world full of symbols and emblems. For nearly three hundred years after his death the Cross was buried in obscurity, eventually to be salvaged through the efforts of a devout Byzantine emperor and his mother.

Health Tip: ADHD and Improved Breathing

Experts Say ADHD is Preventable with Improved Breathing

Physicians Offer Tips for Restoring Restful Sleep to the Brain for Developing Children

What you don't know can hurt you, say integrated health specialists Dr. Michael Gelb and Dr. Howard Hindin.

"Ninety percent of our brains are developed by age 12, so I'm asking parents to think about how a recurring decrease in the flow of oxygen and restful sleep to their child's brain would affect his development," says Dr. Gelb of The Gelb Center in New York (www.gelbcenter.com), a holistic dentist known worldwide for pioneering integrative treatments.

"Pay close attention to your kid's breathing; if he or she is suffering from a sleep disorder, it may very well be obstructed breathing, which has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that's causing the problem," says Dr. Hindin of the Hindin Center for Whole Health Dentistry (www.hindincenter.com), who partners with Dr. Gelb in an interdisciplinary approach to treating chronic disease.

"Medical literature suggests that up to 80 percent of ADHD diagnoses have an airway/sleep component."

October is the awareness month for ADHD – a non-discriminatory, brain-based medical disorder affecting people of every age, gender, IQ and religious and socioeconomic background. The good news, Dr. Gelb says, is that many such disorders are preventable. When children are 6 months, 18 months and 30 months of age, doctors can predict which ones are likely to develop disorders due to poor breathing.

The doctors say sleeping problems are serious and could very well require medical consultation. Additionally, they offer at-home, do-it-yourself tips for children and adults to promote better breathing during sleep, which is when obstruction typically manifests.

Promote nasal breathing. Sadly, many people who suffer from breathing problems don't even realize it's a problem until something serious occurs, such as a car accident. Obstruction often occurs in the nasal cavity. An easy way to experience deeper sleep and potentially curtail a developing problem is by using Xlear Xylitol nasal spray with a Breathe Right strip. Apply the spray 15 minutes before bedtime.

Prevent obesity. Excessive weight and obesity are the most common causes of sleep apnea – pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. Obesity has more than doubled among children and tripled among adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The best medicine for prevention is a healthy diet – fewer processed foods; less sugar, salt and fatty snacks; and regular exercise.

Create an ideal sleeping environment. Turn your bedroom into a sleeper's paradise with cozy, high thread-count sheets, new pillows, soft lighting, and soothing noises from a sound machine. Add to these aesthetics a couple helpful, practical tools. If you tend to grind your teeth when sleeping, a dental night guard can help you awake refreshed and with no jaw pain. Eyeshades help people who relax best in complete darkness.

If these home remedies are not proving effective, it's time for a doctor to screen a patient's tonsils and adenoids, which may be obstructive and need to be removed, Dr. Gelb says. Then, myofunctional therapy will help assist palatal expansion for better breathing, he says.

About Michael Gelb, D.D.S., M.S.

Dr. Michael Gelb is an innovator in airway, breathing, sleep, and painful TMJ disorders pioneering Airway Centric. He has studied early intervention for sleep disordered breathing (SDB) specializing in how it relates to fatigue, focus, pain and the effects all of these can have on family health. Dr. Gelb received his D.D.S. degree from Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery and his M.S. degree from SUNY at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. He is the former Director of the TMJ and Orofacial Pain Program at the NYU College of Dentistry and is currently Clinical Professor in the Department of Oral Medicine and Pathology at the NYU College of Dentistry. He is a co-inventor of the NORAD, or Nocturnal Oral Airway Dilator appliance that reduces snoring by positioning the patient's tongue and jaw so that airways stay open. He co-founded the Academy of Physiologic Medicine and Dentistry (APMD) and a non-profit to prevent the proliferation of chronic disease in the U.S. based on airway, sleep and breathing awareness, research and education.

About Howard Hindin, D.D.S.

Dr. Howard Hindin is trained in all aspects of general dentistry. Since the 1990s, his practice has also focused on cosmetic dentistry, tempormandibular joint disorders and craniofacial pain. He is a graduate of New York University College of Dentistry. An acknowledged pioneer in the relationship between dental issues and whole body health, Dr. Hindin is President (2000-present) of the Foundation for the Advancement of Innovative Medicine (FAIM). He is also an active member of the American Academy of Pain Management, American Academy of Cranio Facial Pain, American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Association, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, and the New York State Society of Acupuncture for Physicians and Dentists and is the co-founder of the American Association of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry (AAPMD).

How to Keep Having Fun Together in Marriage

by Whitney Hopler

Eating dinner a few tables away from mine on a restaurant patio in Florence, Italy, a senior citizen couple enjoyed their meal together. They smiled, laughed, gazed into each other's eyes, and even held hands in between using their hands to eat. They seemed as happy as newlyweds, but after talking with them briefly on my way out of the restaurant, I was shocked to discover that they'd been married for several decades.

Throughout the trip, I observed numerous other mature couples who seemed to be having just as much fun as the longtime spouses I'd met at the restaurant. The joyous connection I saw between Italian spouses wasn't anything like I've seen at home in the United States, where the norm is longtime couples settling into a drab lifestyle together. American spouses often seem to forget about having fun as they tend to the routine business of a shared life - parenting, working, running errands, and completing household chores - as if fun is just a frivolous luxury that they assume they can't afford when dealing with life's demands.

Intrigued by the dramatic difference between fun-loving Italian spouses and banal American couples, I wondered whether or not Italian marriages lasted more often than American ones do. The short answer: yes. The divorce rate for Americans in 2008 was 5.2 for every 1,000 people, while the divorce rate for Italians that same year was only 1.3 for every 1,000 people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Could there be a connection between spouses having fun together and the success of their marriages? There is, according to a 2008 University of Denver research study that found the more fun married couples had together, the happier their marriages became. Reflecting on that study in an interview for USA Today, Howard Markman, co-director of the university's Center for Marital and Family Studies, commented: "The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time. The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high, and significant."

It's worthwhile to regularly make time for having fun together in your marriage - no matter how long you've been married - because doing so can make your marriage happier, which will help it last. Here are some ways you can incorporate fun into your marriage:

Play together. Playtime isn't only for kids. Adults need to be playful, too, to fully engage our God-given creativity. Don't hesitate to schedule time regularly to play with your spouse, through activities that can range from playing charades or a board game at home to outings such as playing mini golf or going bowling. Talk about what you each enjoyed doing just for fun when you both were children; then consider doing some of those same activities together now to bring a spirit of childlike wonder into your marriage.

Laugh together. Humor is a vital component of a healthy marriage, the American Psychological Association says, because it helps couples keep their lives in perspective and helps prevent boredom and isolation. There are many ways to laugh together, such as: playing practical jokes on each other, discussing funny stories you learn about from the news, watching comical movies or TV shows together, and laughing at the silly antics of your kids or pets.

Enjoy affectionate touch together. Being physically affectionate with each other in non-sexual ways conveys unconditional love and strengthens the bond of friendship that's crucial to happiness in marriage. Take advantage of the opportunities God presents each day to express affection to each other through touch: from holding hands like the couple I met in Italy, to giving each other hugs and shoulder rubs. Don't be afraid to playfully tousle your spouse's hair when the moment is right; that type of fun interaction can motivate your spouse to be more playful with you. Consider going on dates that encourage affectionate touch - from swing dancing to going swimming together.

Cook and eat together. Food can be fun. One of the most common ways I observed married couples having fun together in Italy was simply enjoying meals together. Rather than eating quickly and without much thought, they made the time to savor their food and talk together about what they enjoyed about it. If you and your spouse see food as a good gift from God, the daily process of preparing and eating it can be fun instead of a chore. Plan meals and snacks that feature foods you both like, and cook together whenever possible. It took just a few minutes for my husband and I to make simple pizzas for dinner in Italy, but the process was so fun that it enriched our relationship long beyond that time. When you eat together, don't rush through the meal, but notice how the food can delight your senses, from aromatic scents to delicious tastes.

Take classes together. It's fun to learn something new. So go ahead and sign up for classes that interest you both and fit into your schedule (such as weekend or weeknight classes at your local community center). Most communities offer a plethora of different options, such as classes that focus on art, creative writing, computer skills, mechanical skills, or learning a new language. Not only can you have fun together as you learn new skills, but you can also have fun putting those skills to use after the class ends - either at home, or through service projects in your community.

Take trips together. One of the most exciting ways to have fun together is to travel, because trips bring the fun of exploration and adventure into your lives. Experience the beauty of God's creation in protected natural settings like national parks. Go on spiritual pilgrimages to places that have played important roles in church history or in you and your spouse's own journeys of faith. Soak in the culture of a place that interests you both and enjoy what you learn about each other in the process.

If you and your spouse make having fun together a high priority in your relationship, you'll invite God to send joy into your marriage on a regular basis - which can strengthen your marriage for many years to come!

About The Author:

Whitney Hopler is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Source: Live It Devotional

Inspirational: Obstacles into Opportunity

Retired Marine Tells How to Convert Obstacles into Opportunity

Cancer-Causing Disease Ended Dream But Opened Unexpected Doors, He Says

For as long as he could remember, Jay Platt wanted to be a U.S. Marine, and for nearly 15 years, he lived that dream. But in 1998, a rare condition called von Hippel Lindau syndrome (VHL), attacked his eyes, brain, spine and kidneys, forcing his retirement from the service.

"Before VHL I pretty much felt untouchable – until I started having symptoms and the eventual diagnosis," he says.

"I was scared, confused and angry for a number of years; I couldn't understand why God would do this to me. I went from feeling invulnerable to officially being considered handicapped."

After a personal journey of acceptance, Platt recalibrated his sense of purpose by accepting challenges many world-class athletes wouldn't consider. Along with a record-breaking Mississippi swim while blindfolded, handcuffed and shackled, he swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco with his hands and feet tied, and he was one of fewer than 300 people to hike the more than 2,100-mile southbound Appalachian Trail.

Platt, who is the subject of the new documentary, "Living Unstoppable," (www.LivingUnstoppable.com), explains his transformation and how others might apply the lessons of his journey to their own lives:

The motivation of "can't"

Something is triggered in people when they're told they can't do something. Those who want to do what they "can't" eventually find a way if they're motivated and determined. "I don't care who you are – everybody goes through something in life; nobody gets through unscathed," he says. "And everyone, at some point, faces something they believe they can't do – but want very much. If you haven't yet, you will, and coming to terms with it will be a process." Use it as motivation for living life to the fullest, and let it show you how beautiful our time on Earth really is, he says.

The lesson of the severely handicapped little girl:

Platt experienced a long period of despair, hopelessness and rage against the universe. One day while at the park, he heard the pure joy in the laughter of a severely handicapped girl who was being pushed in a wheelchair by her mother. " ‘Listen to the birds, Momma,' I heard her say – she was just so happy to experience that simple pleasure," he says. "That has stayed with me ever since; if that little girl could get past her suffering and appreciate singing birds, then I could do much better."

A promise to contribute to the greater good:

The onset of his VHL symptoms, which included vision problems in his left eye and disorientation, was a very scary period for Platt. During this period he made a promise to himself and God to devote his life to others if he survived. He has kept that promise – his Appalachian Trail hike alone raised $109,000 for charity.

You are still you; don't let tragedy totally define you:

While Platt is officially retired from the USMC, he is still the same guy who fully lived a proud life as a Marine for a decade and a half. While how you respond to hardship says much about one's character, you don't have to remain psychically stuck in the worst part of your life by identifying most with a weakness. Use a handicap, for example, for what it's worth – something that helps you strive for significance and fulfillment in life.

About Jay Platt

Jay Platt was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 1998 after suffering complications from von Hippel Lindau syndrome (VHL), a genetic disease that resulted in brain and spinal tumors, kidney cancer, and the loss of his left eye. When told his future would be considerably dimmer than his past, Platt set out to rebuild himself physically, mentally and spiritually, and to challenge himself by setting demanding physical goals. He was one of fewer than 300 people to have hiked the more than 2,100-mile southbound Appalachian Trail; one of three to swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco with hands and feet tied; and the only person to swim across the Mississippi River while blindfolded, handcuffed and shackled. The proceeds from his adventures and sales of his documentary benefit non-profits, including the VHL Family Alliance.

Russia Calls for Protection of Christian Holy Places in Maalula [Syria]
Moscow, September 6, Interfax - The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the attempts made by the armed opposition in Syria to take over the city of Maalula, a symbol of the Christian presence in Syria.

"Moscow is deeply concerned over the fact that terrorist attacks in Syria have affected Maalula, a symbol of the Christian presence in this country. Its residents speak the Aramaic language, which is almost extinct and is the language in which Jesus Christ preached, and the churches located in this city are among the oldest and most honored churches of Christians," the Russian Foreign Ministry's information and press department said in a commentary released on Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called "on everyone who cares about the fate of the people of Maalula to do everything possible to prevent their killing and the destruction of Christian holy places."

"Terrorist attacks need to be stopped immediately. Special responsibility for them rests with those forces in the region and outside of it that encourage terrorists, intentionally or not," the document says.

Source: Interfax

Maloula - On the Way from Damascus to Holmes, Syria

Maloula is an ancient town in Syria on the way from Damascus to Holmes; Maloula is (was ?) home to a lot of ancient churches. Aramaic is the language used in liturgy. The town has fallen to rebels and the reports are that historical monuments are destroyed in the manner that Bamian Buddha edifices of Afghanistan were destroyed by Taliban. Tragedy is the taking on the collective wealth of humanity and the most advanced nations on earth are preoccupied with Oil and associated pelf. The largest act of genocide witnessed in history is that of Armenians by Turks during the 1st world war. Western Christian nations kept mum as Turkey became a western ally ultimately ending up as a member of the NATO.

Source: Alexander Cherian

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