Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 2 No. 92 August 23, 2012

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Kerala Boat Races during Onam Season
We wish you all a Happy Thiruvonam - August 29
Table of Contents
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1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (Aug 26)

Second Sunday after Shunoyo/the Assumption of St. Mary

2. Sermons for This Sunday (Aug 26)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_2nd-sunday-after-Shunoyo.htm

3. Inspiration for Today: Your Most Holy Name

4. Featured: Mary's Assumption Into Heaven is the Mystery of the Passover of Christ Fully Realized in Her

Assumption Feast Homily 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.
To understand the Assumption we must look to Easter, the great mystery of our salvation, which marks the passage of Jesus to the glory of the Father through the passion, death, and resurrection. Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God in the flesh, is the creature who is most deeply inserted in this mystery, redeemed from the first moment of her life, and associated in a special way with the passion and glory of her Son. Thus, Mary's Assumption into heaven is the mystery of the Passover of Christ fully realized in her. ...

5. When Despair is Our Only Song

 I have seen utter despair in the lives of people who have lost family members in sudden, tragic deaths; I encounter such hopelessness when fairy-tale marriages devolve into horror-story court proceedings. Almost inevitably, a believer experiencing the silence of God questions his own faith, or the goodness of the God who rules over such earthly evils.

At times of great hopelessness and despair, I like to direct people to Psalm 88. It is a song for a soul "full of troubles" (v.3) - the only psalm that does not contain a note of hope. It teaches the faithful at least three great truths about walking with the Lord through the most difficult times of life. ...

6. Busyness and Angst: We Could Use Some Rest

Reading Kreider's words, Jesus' invitation to the crowd in Matthew 11 came to mind: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." One of the reasons the Gospel is good news is that it says something we desperately need to hear: "You don't have to try so hard. You are loved and valued beyond imagination. Nothing you do can possibly make that more true."

The flipside of the good news is that the rejection of Jesus' invitation to put on His yoke makes us vulnerable to the kind of ceaseless and pointless striving that Kreider describes. As St. Augustine famously wrote, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." ...

7. Dealing with Your Handicaps

A healthy perspective has allowed me to view so-called physical handicaps in a different light since my daughter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a relatively young age. Like most parents confronted with the illness of a child, I went through the usual stages of denial, anger, and despair. ...

Knowing that there are millions of people much worse off than my daughter has had a positive effect on both of us. Even more positive are the endless stories of severely disabled people who have enjoyed great success and managed to live meaningful, vital lives by taking action to overcome their handicaps. One story of special significance to me is that of Ronan Tynan. ...

8. Storm Warnings

Many people put themselves in grave danger because they ignore the storm warning Jesus gave at the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is clear that storms are coming for everyone. Your roof will be pounded with rain. Your floor will be flooded with rivers. The walls will be pressed with wind. Storms will come in the form of relational conflict, sickness, and suffering. Storms are an inevitable part of life. How we respond to the warning if what differentiates us. ...

9. A Love for Which He Suffered. A Meditation on the Poem of St. John the Cross: Un Pastorcico

God's love for us becomes a passionate love in Christ: who weeps, who suffers, who seeks, desires and rejoices over us. So often we forsake him, and yet still in love, and surely in sorrow, he climbs the tree of the cross and there dies, his arms held apart, his heart by love torn open pitifully.

The great love story of God's tender and long-suffering love for us begins early in the Old Testament. Beginning there, God's tender love and sorrow at our straying is manifest: In the Garden, after Adam and Eve had sinned and were now hiding, God moves through the garden calling out plaintively: “Adam…..where are you?!” ...

10. Health: Eating the Whole Egg May Be As Dangerous As Smoking for Heart Disease

A recent study found that for those over 40, the number of egg yolks consumed per week accelerates the thickening of arteries almost as severely as does cigarette smoking. ...

11. Recipe: Forty Clove Garlic Chicken

If you like chicken and if you like garlic, you'll want to give this unique recipe a try. ..

12. Family Special: Marriage Under Fire

There's an old line that goes, "It's like saying you want to marry someone, but still date around." ...

My wife and I have only been married for thirty-years, long by many standards – short by ours. The richness of our relationship grows with time. There is no one else who shares my life, my memories, my heart, more than she does. There is no one I can talk to the way I talk to her. She is my best friend.

So who wants to live with someone for eighty years? I do. ...

13. Humor: The Laws of Parenting

14. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church (Aug 26)
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Aug 26)
Sermons for This Sunday (Aug 26)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: Your Most Holy Name

Our Father Who Art in Heaven,
How Blessed and Wonderful is Your Most Holy Name!

We Enter Your Gates With thanksgiving
and Your Courts With Praise,
For You Alone Are Worthy,
You Alone Are God,
You Alone Are The Most High!

Ancient of Days and Rock of All Ages,
The Lord of Hosts,
LORD, Our Banner,
Our Righteousness,
Our Provider and Our Healer,
You are Our Creator
and we are the Sheep of Your Pasture.

We Thank You for Your Holy Word,
Your Law,
Your Promise,
and Your Messiah!

Featured: Mary's Assumption Into Heaven is the Mystery of the Passover of Christ Fully Realized in Her

Assumption Feast Homily 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI

In the heart of the month of August the Church in the East and the West celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary Most Holy into heaven. In the Catholic Church, the dogma of the Assumption – as we know – was proclaimed during the Holy Year of 1950. The celebration of this mystery of Mary, however, has roots in the faith and worship of the Church's first centuries, in that deep devotion to the Mother of God that progressively developed in the Christian community.

Already at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, we have the witness of various authors who affirm that Mary is in God's glory with her entire being, soul and body, but it is in the fourth century that in Jerusalem the Feast of the Mother of God, the Theotokos, consolidated with the Council of Ephesus in 431, was transformed into the feast of the dormition, the passage, the transit, the assumption of Mary; it became the celebration of the moment in which Mary left the scene of this world, glorified in soul and body in heaven, in God.

To understand the Assumption we must look to Easter, the great mystery of our salvation, which marks the passage of Jesus to the glory of the Father through the passion, death, and resurrection. Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God in the flesh, is the creature who is most deeply inserted in this mystery, redeemed from the first moment of her life, and associated in a special way with the passion and glory of her Son. Thus, Mary's Assumption into heaven is the mystery of the Passover (Pasqua) of Christ fully realized in her. She is intimately united to her risen Son, victor over sin and death, fully conformed to him. But the Assumption is a reality that touches us too because it points to our destiny in a luminous way, the destiny of humanity in history. In Mary, in fact, that reality of glory to which each of us and the whole Church is called.

The passage of the Gospel of St. Luke that we read in the liturgy of this solemnity shows us the journey that the Virgin of Nazareth took to be in the glory of God. It is the account of Mary's visit to Elizabeth (cf. Luke 1:39-56), in which Our Lady is proclaimed blessed among all women and blessed because she believed in the fulfillment of the words of the Lord that were spoken to her. And in the song of the "Magnificat," which elevates her to God in joy, the depth of her faith shines through. She places herself among the "poor" and the "lowly," who do not trust in their own strength, but give themselves over to God, who make room for His action, which is capable of doing great things precisely in weakness. If the Assumption opens us up to the bright future that awaits us, it also powerfully invites us to entrust ourselves to God, to follow His Word, to seek and do His will every day: this is the path that makes us "blessed" on our earthly pilgrimage and opens the gates of heaven to us.

But why is Mary glorified by the Assumption into heaven? St. Luke, as we have heard, sees the root of Mary's exaltation and praise in Elizabeth's words: "Blessed is she who believed" (Luke 1:45). And the "Magnificat," this song to the living God who acts in history is a hymn of faith and love that flows from the heart of the Virgin. She lived with exemplary fidelity and treasured in the depths of her heart God's words to His people, the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, making them the content of her prayer: in the "Magnificat" God's Word becomes Mary's word, the light of her path, making her open even to receiving the Word of God made flesh in her womb. Today's Gospel passage recalls this presence of God in history and in the very unfolding of events; in particular it is a reference to the second Book of Samuel, chapter 6 (6:1-5), in which David transports the Ark of the Holy Covenant. The parallel that the evangelist makes is clear: Mary awaiting the birth of the Son, Jesus, is the Holy Ark. Mary is God's 'visit' that brings joy. Zachariah, in his song of praise, will say this explicitly: "Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68). Zachariah's house had experienced God's visit with the birth of John the Baptist, but above all with the presence of Mary, who bears the Son of God in her womb.

But we now ask ourselves: what does Mary's Assumption do for our journey, our life? The first answer is: in the Assumption we see that in God there is space for man, God himself is the mansion with many rooms of which Jesus speaks (cf. John 14:2); God is the house of man; in God there is the space of God. And Mary, uniting herself, and united to God, does not distance herself from us, she does not enter an unknown galaxy, but those who go to God come near to us because God is near to us, and Mary, united to God, participates in God's presence, very near to us, to each one of us. There is a beautiful line that St. Gregory the Great says of St. Benedict but that we can also apply to Mary: St. Gregory the Great says that the heart of St. Benedict became so large that whole of creation was able to enter into this heart. This is even more true of Mary: Mary, completely united to God, has a heart that is so immense that the whole of creation can enter into this heart, and the ex-votos that are in every part of the world show this. Mary is near, she can hear, she can help, she is near to all of us. There is space for man in God, and God is near, and Mary, united to God, is very near, she has a heart that is great like the heart of God.

But there is another aspect: not only is there space for man in God; in man there is space for God. We also see this in Mary, the Holy Ark that bears the presence of God. In us there is space for God and this presence of God in us – so important for bringing light to the world's sadness, its problems – this presence is realized in faith: in faith we open the gates of our being so that God may enter into us, so that God can be the power that gives a light and a path to our being. There is space in us, let us open ourselves up as Mary did, saying: "Thy will be done, I am the Lord's servant." Opening up to God, we lose nothing. On the contrary: our life becomes rich and great.

And thus, faith and hope and love combine. Today there are many things said about a better world in the future: it would be our hope. Whether and when this better world will come, we do not know, I do not know. It is certain that a world that distances itself from God does not become better, but worse. Only the presence of God can guarantee a good world too. But let us take this aside. One thing, one hope is certain: God awaits us, He attends to us, we are not headed for a void, we are expected. God awaits us and passing to the other world we will find the Mother's goodness, we will find our loved ones, we will find Eternal Love. God awaits us: this is our great joy and our great hope that is born precisely from this feast. Mary visits us, and she is the joy of our life and joy is hope.

So, what, then, should be said? Great heart, presence of God in the world, space of God in us and space of God for us, hope, being awaited: this is the symphony of this feast, the instruction that we are given by meditating on this solemnity. Mary is the dawn and splendor of the Church triumphant; she is the consolation and hope of the people still on pilgrimage, says today's preface. Let us entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession, so that she obtain from the Lord the strengthening of our faith in eternal life; may she help us to live well and with hope the time offered to us by God. A Christian hope, that is not only a nostalgia for heaven, but a living and active desire of God here in the world, desire of God that makes us pilgrims who are unwearied, nourishing in courage in us and the power of faith, which at the same time is the courage and power of love. Amen.

May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we may rejoice with her in the glory of the resurrection and the fulfillment of her Son's promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord's abundant blessings!

Adapted from Pope Benedict XVI's homily on the feast of the Assumption at the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castel Gandolfo and from Pope Benedict XVIs Angelus Address on Feast of the Assumption, 2012. Translation from Italian by Joseph Trabbic.

When Despair is Our Only Song

by Eric C. Redmond

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from a lady who had found my cell phone number via the Internet. She relayed that she has been experiencing great financial difficulty and relationship problems for close to a decade. She had hoped and prayed for breakthroughs and victories. She also had sought the Lord for more contentment and given much thanks for her difficulties. However, the pain now had become too much for her—too prolonged of a season. Her question to me was, "Is it true that it is God's will for me to go through this trial?" I could hear her sobs as we were on the phone.

Her pain is not unique to believers. I have seen utter despair in the lives of people who have lost family members in sudden, tragic deaths; I encounter such hopelessness when fairy-tale marriages devolve into horror-story court proceedings. Almost inevitably, a believer experiencing the silence of God questions his own faith, or the goodness of the God who rules over such earthly evils.

At times of great hopelessness and despair, I like to direct people to Psalm 88. It is a song for a soul "full of troubles" (v.3) - the only psalm that does not contain a note of hope. It teaches the faithful at least three great truths about walking with the Lord through the most difficult times of life.

1. When despair is our only song, we should cry out to the God who saves us (vv. 1-7).

The singer of this song, Heman, knows the Lord as Savior—the "God of [his] salvation" (v. 1). The depth of his despair is not a litmus test of the reality of his salvation. To the Lord he cries out earnestly of his hopelessness (v. 2)

The psalmist's troubles are fierce. He is to the point of feeling that he is near death (vv. 3-5). Providentially, the writer's experiences find their origin in the Lord, if for no other reason than the Lord's decision not to intervene in his life (vv. 6-7). The God of salvation is overwhelming the psalmist with waves of troubles. Yet he cries out day and night to the Lord, for the Lord who is putting him in the pit remains his only hope.

2. When despair is our only song, we might question God's power beyond the grave (vv. 8-12).

God's dealings make Heman a "horror" to his friends (v. 8). The author is so saddened that he cannot escape despair. Nevertheless, the Lord remains silent to the cries of the struggling saint (v. 9). So the hopeless one raises a series of questions for the Lord (vv. 10-12). The essence of the questioning is, "If you do not bring me out of my troubles, and I die as a result, can I know your glory beyond the grave?"

The question is legitimate, for if God cannot save in this life, there is no hope for him to save in the afterlife. Instead, "Abaddon" will swallow our bodies and souls after we have despaired of life. Surely one understands why Heman's eye - like my caller's eye - "[grew] dim through sorrow" (v. 8).

3. When despair is our only song, God still might leave us alone in the darkness of our pain (vv. 13-18).

The desperate situation of Heman does not stop him from praying (v. 13). Also true, however, is that his continual prayer does not end is trial. Now an adult, the writer has experienced this pain since his youth (v. 15)! Certainly one would expect the Lord, who is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy," to say "enough is enough." Instead, the Lord assaults the worshipper such that he is only surrounded continually by being alone in his despair and absent of friends.

Thus, it would appear that living with prolonged despair or hopelessness can be a real experience for a believer as wise and sincere as Heman (cf. 1 Kgs. 4:31). The Lord - Heman's Lord - can and does leave his own in experiences in which they despair of life itself. He can and does remain silent to cries when life is so bad that even our friends desert us. Still he invites us to come to him asking, seeking, and knocking for answers to our prayers, and to pray to him without ceasing, confidently, for grace and help in our times of need (cf. Mt. 7:7; 1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 4:16).

Our God can offer this invitation in his goodness because he has experienced the very despair we experience. Christ, who had perfect fellowship with the Father, (unlike the fellowship we have that is marred by our sins), was cut off from fellowship with the Father on the Cross. In three short hours Christ experienced more distance from the Father than we could experience if the Lord prolonged our despair from our youth into late adulthood (cf. Mt. 27:45). The Lord's friends too deserted him, and he embraced the dark pain of the sins of humankind alone. For Christ and for us, God has done wonders beyond the grave by raising Christ from the dead. That same God can do wondrous things when despair is our only song. Psalm 88 reminds us that he has heard that song before from Heman and the choirs of Israel, and he will hear it from many whom he will save.

Eric C. Redmond is Executive Pastoral Assistant and Bible Professor in Residence at Ne Canaan Baptist Church , Washington, DC. Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Busyness and Angst: We Could Use Some Rest

by Eric Metaxas

For the past few months, the New York Times has been running a series on anxiety at its "Opinionator" blog. According to the Times, "for many," anxiety "is not a disorder, but a part of the human condition." The series' stated goal is to explore "how we navigate the worried mind, through essay, art and memoir."

Reading the contributions, I'm struck by two things: first, the worries and anxieties being discussed are, for the most part, the epitome of what has been dubbed "first world problems." What's being explored isn't the struggle to make ends meet, much less the hand-to-mouth existence that billions around the planet struggle with.

Nor is it the stuff of mood disorders that require medical help. Instead, it's the stuff of "angst," a kind of dread that comes from the suspicion that life, as we presently live it, doesn't make sense.

Well, it doesn't, which makes the conspicuous absence of faith in the discussion - my second observation - all the more, well, conspicuous.

A telling example is a recent entry entitled "The Busyness Trap" by Tim Kreider. Kreider points out that when most people say that they're "busy," they aren't talking about working multiple jobs to put food on the table or "pulling back-to-back shifts in the ICU."

No, the busyness being complained about is "almost always ... self-imposed: work and obligations they've taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they've ‘encouraged' their kids to participate in." It's the busyness of people who "feel anxious and guilty when they aren't either working or doing something to promote their work."

According to Kreider, what lies behind this busyness isn't simply ambition and drive; it's also a "dread [of] what they might have to face in its absence." That's because "busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, [and] a hedge against emptiness."

It's our way of telling ourselves that our lives "cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless" if we are "in demand every hour of the day."

Reading Kreider's words, Jesus' invitation to the crowd in Matthew 11 came to mind: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." One of the reasons the Gospel is good news is that it says something we desperately need to hear: "You don't have to try so hard. You are loved and valued beyond imagination. Nothing you do can possibly make that more true."

The flipside of the good news is that the rejection of Jesus' invitation to put on His yoke makes us vulnerable to the kind of ceaseless and pointless striving that Kreider describes. As St. Augustine famously wrote, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

While it's easy to find examples of this restlessness here in New York and in Washington where my BreakPoint colleagues live, it's by no means limited to these places, and if we're honest, not limited to non-Christians.

That raises the disturbing possibility that one of the reasons faith is conspicuously absent from the Times' discussion of anxiety is that there aren't enough examples of faith making a difference, that we Christians are as busy as everybody else. And that should leave all of us, if not anxious, at least a tad bit concerned.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Source: BreakPoint commentary.

Dealing with Your Handicaps

by Robert Ringer

A healthy perspective has allowed me to view so-called physical handicaps in a different light since my daughter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a relatively young age. Like most parents confronted with the illness of a child, I went through the usual stages of denial, anger, and despair.

However, as the years passed, I increasingly focused on how lucky my daughter was that she did not have the chronic-progressive type of multiple sclerosis. People with the latter form of the disease deteriorate rather quickly and usually become confined to a wheelchair early on. My daughter, who is attractive, intelligent, and personable, has been able to lead a relatively normal life, raise two children, and continue on a successful career path.

Knowing that there are millions of people much worse off than my daughter has had a positive effect on both of us. Even more positive are the endless stories of severely disabled people who have enjoyed great success and managed to live meaningful, vital lives by taking action to overcome their handicaps. One story of special significance to me is that of Ronan Tynan.

Tynan was born with deformed legs, which caused him to suffer severe scoliosis. It got so bad that at age twenty he made the unimaginable decision to have both of his legs amputated below the knees and wear prosthetic lower limbs. That could have been the end of his dreams, but, instead, it was the beginning of one of the most action-oriented lives imaginable.

Ronan set his sights on athletics, and went into serious training. From 1981 to 1984, he won eighteen gold medals and set fourteen world records competing in events for the disabled. These feats alone could have been the basis of an incredible inspiration story, but Ronan was just getting started.

He next made the decision to become a medical doctor, and enrolled at Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland. At thirty-two, he began practicing medicine, which one would have thought would have put an exclamation point on his huge capacity to overcome adversity. Not even close.

Having discovered that he had a gifted tenor voice, in his spare time he took up singing in pubs. In 1994, he entered a television talent show in Ireland -- and won! He soon gave up practicing medicine and became a world-famous stage performer. Still, Ronan's trials and triumphs had not all been written.

As a result of a sinus-drainage problem caused by the return of a childhood injury he had suffered, he suddenly lost his voice and, reluctantly, returned to the practice of medicine. After a long period of recuperation following surgery to correct the problem, he slowly regained his magnificent voice.

Today, he thrills audiences throughout the world with his stirring performances, and, at fifty-two, is a relatively young man. Where he goes from here is anybody's guess, but he already has had a major impact on millions of lives, and mere mortals like myself are deeply grateful to him for the inspiration he has provided through his astonishing success.

Inspirational stories like that of Ronan Tynan abound by the thousands. From Helen Keller and Franklin D. Roosevelt to Stevie Wonder and Stephen Hawking, the evidence is clear that physical handicaps can be overcome. Always keep in mind that a handicap is just a disadvantage that makes success more difficult, but there is a clear difference between difficult and impossible.

In fact, technically speaking, a handicap is not necessarily a physical disability, but any kind of disadvantage that makes life more difficult. Indeed, over time, I have come to realize that every person in the world has at least one bona fide handicap.

An obese person has a handicap; a person with attention-deficit disorder has a handicap; a person with a low IQ has a handicap; a person with big ears has a handicap; a person who comes from a poverty-stricken background has a handicap.

Handicaps can be developed after birth or can enter one's life in the form of an inherited environment. A dislikeable personality is usually a developed handicap; an abusive parent is an inherited environmental handicap.

You, too, have a handicap. In fact, you probably have many handicaps. I don't know what your handicaps are, but I know you have them. Everyone you meet, in spite of how successful or how happy he may appear to be, has a cross to bear. No one makes it through life without experiencing the hardships caused by a handicap, and each of us is faced with choosing between three alternatives when it comes to dealing with those hardships:

  1. We can roll over and die, figuratively or literally.
  2. We can go through life in a perpetual state of anger, turning people off and virtually ensuring a life of misery and failure.
  3. We can make a conscious decision to expand the boundaries of our mental paradigms, take inventory of the assets that we do have, then move forward with bold action to exploit those assets to our advantage.

As thousands of inspirational stories about overcoming adversity have demonstrated, the third alternative makes the most sense to a rational individual. One thing we know for certain is that we expect God to reshuffle the deck for us. The good news, however, is that we do have the power to make a conscious decision to play the cards we've been dealt to the best of our abilities.

It's nice to know that, in the final analysis, it always comes down to what you do with what you have.

[Editor's Note:

Robert Ringer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. Ringer has appeared on numerous national talk shows and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times. source: ETR]

Storm Warnings

by Trent Griffith

24Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. - Matthew 7:24-27

The heavy winds and rain we were driving through did not deter my wife and I from enjoying one of our best conversations in weeks. Then we heard it. It was the familiar warning tone that pierced the music playing on the radio that got my attention. Just as I leaned in to hear the storm warning, Andrea reached for the volume control, silenced the competition, and continued her sentence.

Although I value my wife's words, I immediately turned the volume up louder than her. "I need to hear if we are in danger, " I said explaining why I looked at her the way I was. She responded, "Oh, I thought it was a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System." Unfortunately, her familiarity with the tone actually resulted in her ignoring the warning. We were safe for the remainder of the trip, but I couldn't help thinking this is exactly what people do with God's warning about how they live their lives.

Many people put themselves in grave danger because they ignore the storm warning Jesus gave at the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is clear that storms are coming for everyone. Your roof will be pounded with rain. Your floor will be flooded with rivers. The walls will be pressed with wind. Storms will come in the form of relational conflict, sickness, and suffering. Storms are an inevitable part of life. How we respond to the warning if what differentiates us.

The parable in Matthew 7 gives fair warning about what's coming. Both men Jesus identified actually heard His words, but only the wise man did anything about them. The other just kept on doing what he was doing. The result was total destruction. "And great was the fall of it" (Matt. 7:27). It could have been avoided had the warning been heard and heeded.

The only difference between the life that stands and the life that falls is whether the words of Jesus are obeyed. It's that simple. Obedience is the only wise response to the foundational teachings of Jesus. His words are not just to be appreciated, studied, memorized, and preached. They are to be obeyed.

The number of people who sit in church each week, read the bible, and even teach it who don't actually obey is staggering. Familiarity with the words of Jesus can actually enable people to be deceived into thinking they are obeying them.

Have you heard what Jesus taught about loving your neighbor, forgiving your enemy, investing your treasure in eternal things, seeking God in prayer, or repenting of self-righteousness? We can't stop there and just listen. We must do something in obedience. The wisest thing anybody can do is obey. Otherwise the fall will be great. The stakes couldn't be higher.

Don't silence the storm warning. Obey!

Journal:

  • What are the storm warnings in my life? How do I usually respond when "the alarm sounds?"
  • Have there been times in my life when my familiarity with the Word or church attendance led me to believe I was obeying more than I actually was?

Prayer:

Almighty Father, there are so may times when I turn the volume down on You and go my own way. I honestly don't know why I do that because it never goes well. Help me to trust You enough to obey Your Word. Forgive my unbelief and pride to think I can manage on my own. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Source: Our Journey Online

A Love for Which He Suffered. A Meditation on the Poem of St. John the Cross: Un Pastorcico

by Msgr. Charles Pope

Many of you have read the allegorical poem adapted by St. John of the Cross called Un Pastorcico (A little Shepherd). It is a poem about a shepherd boy who grieves that his beloved shepherdess has forsaken and forgotten him. In his love, and in his grief he climbs a tree, and there spreads his arms and dies, his heart by love torn open pitifully.

It is an allegory of Christ, indeed of God's love for us, and for his bride the Church. Here is a translation of the poem by Mary Rae:

A little shepherd, all alone, is grieving,
a stranger both to pleasure and happiness,
thinking only of his shepherdess,
his heart by love torn open pitifully.

He does not weep because love wounded him,
it does not grieve him to be hurt by love,
although his heart has been hurt enough;
he weeps, instead, to think he is forgotten,

for only in thinking that she is forgetting,
he wanders far in his unhappiness,
and lets himself, in strange lands, be oppressed,
his heart by love torn open pitifully.

And the little shepherd says: 'Oh, woe is she,
who from my love has left and gone away,
and far from my sweet company has strayed,
my heart, for her, torn open pitifully!'

And after a long while he climbed a tree,
and there he opened up his elegant arms,
and there he died, his arms held apart,
his heart by love torn open pitifully.

For indeed, God's love for us becomes a passionate love in Christ: who weeps, who suffers, who seeks, desires and rejoices over us. So often we forsake him, and yet still in love, and surely in sorrow, he climbs the tree of the cross and there dies, his arms held apart, his heart by love torn open pitifully.

The great love story of God's tender and long-suffering love for us begins early in the Old Testament. Beginning there, God's tender love and sorrow at our straying is manifest:
In the Garden after Adam and Eve had sinned and were now hiding, God moves through the garden calling out plaintively as it were: “Adam…..where are you ?!”

Deuteronomy speaks of the tender care of the Father as one who carries his son close to his cheek on a journey:

And in the wilderness (as you have seen) the Lord thy God carried you, as a man is wont to carry his little son, all the way that you have come, until you came to this place. (Deut 1:31)
In the Book of Hosea God laments how his beloved son Israel runs from him, though he stoops to feed his son and care for him, ye the more he stoops the more his son runs. God is sorely grieved and laments through Hosea:

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they ran from me. …Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love…and bent down to feed them….My people are determined to turn from me. [But] “How can I give you up, Ephraim?…My heart is moved within me; all my compassion is aroused. (Hosea 11:1-8)

In Zephaniah there is expressed the joyful love of God for us:

The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over you with joy; he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
In the later prophets the image turns to one of love and marriage between God and his people:

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There she will sing as in the days of her youth…In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.'…. I will espouse you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord. (Hosea 2:varia)
Ezekiel speaks of how God lavishes his love, woos his bride and marries her. But she turns on him. And in his grief God cries out with anger, but renews his covenant with her:

I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine….I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry….a beautiful crown on your head….You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you, declares the Sovereign Lord…..But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his….Adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!….Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices?…This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you…..So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done (Ezekiel 16, varia).

Fittingly then, in the New Testament Jesus is called the Groom by John the Baptist (Jn 3:29). Jesus also speaks of himself as the Groom (Mk 2:19; Mt 9:15; 25:6; Lk 5:35). He works his first miracle at a wedding (Jn 2:9). And he tells of his coming as a great wedding feast announced by God the Father, and yet he bitterly laments how most reject the invitation (Matt 22). And, in the end, we turn on him and kill him: his arms held apart, his heart by love torn open pitifully.

Yes, God's love for us is costly, we wound him grievously and cause him great sorrow. Tradition places the words of Lamentation on his lips (and that of his mother) as he hangs on the cross: Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me? (Lam 1:12). Yes, the one who loves most suffers most, and no one loves us more than the Lord.

He weeps:

On his last ascent to Jerusalem looked upon the city from across on the Mount of Olives and Scripture says, poignantly and simply, He wept over it (Lk 19:41). Yes, he weeps:

A shepherd, all alone, is grieving,
a stranger both to pleasure and happiness,
thinking only of his shepherdess,
his heart by love torn open pitifully.

For the Lord has known the joy of heaven and the praises of the angels, yet now he is:

a stranger both to pleasure and happiness….He wanders far in his unhappiness, and lets himself, in strange lands, be oppressed, his heart by love torn open pitifully.

Looking upon his shepherdess, his beloved, He weeps saying, If you, only you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes (Lk 19:41). How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

Yes, he weeps:

And the shepherd says:
'Oh, woe is she, who from my love has left and gone away,
and far from my sweet company has strayed,
my heart, for her, torn open pitifully!'

Down the Mount of Olives he goes, and then, soon enough, up another, Golgotha on slope of Mt Moriah:

And after a long while he climbed a tree,
and there he opened up his elegant arms,
and there he died, his arms held apart,
his heart by love torn open pitifully.

The Lord's love for us is unfathomable. It is a love for which he has suffered, a love for which he died. One day it will finally dawn on us that the Son of God died for us, for me.

Health Tip: Eating the Whole Egg May Be As Dangerous As Smoking for Heart Disease

By Melissa Healy

Just as you were ready to tuck into a nice three-egg omelet again, comforted by the reassuring news that eggs are not so bad for you, here comes a study warning that for those over 40, the number of egg yolks consumed per week accelerates the thickening of arteries almost as severely as does cigarette smoking.

The study, published Tuesday, August 14, 2012, in the journal Atherosclerosis, measured the carotid wall thickness - a key indicator of heart disease risk - of 1,231 patients referred to a vascular prevention clinic, and asked each to detail a wide range of their health habits, from smoking and exercise to their consumption of egg yolks. Just as smoking is often tallied as "pack-years" (the number of cigarette packs smoked per day for how many years), egg-yolk consumption was tallied as "egg yolk years" (the number of egg yolks consumed per week times the number of years they were eaten).

The study subjects were typically referred to the clinic after having suffered a clot-induced stroke or a transient ischemic attack - a "mini-stroke" in which symptoms may disappear quickly but which often presage a more serious stroke to come.

Smoking tobacco and eating egg yolks increased carotid wall thickness in similar fashion - which is to say, the rate of increase accelerated with each stair-step up in cigarette smoking or yolk consumption. By contrast, for those who did not smoke, or who rarely consumed egg yolks, carotid wall thickness increased after 40, but at a slow-steady rate.

For those whose consumption of whole eggs was in the highest 20 percent, the narrowing of the carotid artery was on average about two-thirds that of the study's heaviest smokers.

"We believe our study makes it imperative to reassess the role of egg yolks, and dietary cholesterol in general, as a risk factor for coronary heart disease," the study authors write.

In recent years, nutritionists have begun to agree with egg purveyors that chicken eggs - cheap and packed with protein - have gotten a bad rap as a dangerous source of cholesterol. Some studies have suggested that eggs may increase HDL, or "good cholesterol" that protects against heart disease, even as it contributes to the artery-clogging LDL cholesterol, making egg consumption something of a wash. And regular egg-eaters may form larger lipoprotein particles that help clear the blood of fat particles and are not as likely to settle in artery walls.

Still, the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute recommends that to limit their risk of developing heart disease, Americans limit their cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day (an egg yolk has just over 200 mg), and eat no more than four whole eggs weekly, including those in baked goods or processed foods. Those who already have heart disease, diabetes or high LDL cholesterol, or who have had a stroke, should limit their cholesterol to less than 200 mg per day.

Source: JewishWorldReview; © 2012, Los Angeles Times

Read more health tips in Malankara World Health Section

Recipe: Forty Clove Garlic Chicken
If you like chicken and if you like garlic, you'll want to give this unique recipe a try.

Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
2 sprigs Italian parsley
Ground pepper to taste
3 pounds roasting or fryer chicken
3 stalks celery
Loaf French bread - optional

Directions:

Rinse chicken in cold water and pat dry.

Put celery on the bottom of the crockpot.

Put one sprig of each herb into the cavity of the chicken.

Place chicken on top of the celery.

Cut up the rest of the herbs and sprinkle on top of the chicken.

Add ground pepper to taste.

Peel garlic, leave skin on, and place on top and around chicken.

Cook on low for 8-9 hours.

Note: The cooked garlic can be used in place as garlic butter for the French bread. Just squeeze and spread onto bread slices.

Source: Chet Day's Health & Beyond Weekly

Family Special: Marriage Under Fire

by James Emery White

There's an old line that goes, "It's like saying you want to marry someone, but still date around."

It was meant to lampoon the idea of saying you wanted to be committed to something, or join something, but then back off of the deal. Who would think of marrying someone, and then act as if it was okay to date? It was an easy point to get.

Not anymore.

In a new book by sociologist Catherine Hakim, excerpted in London's Telegraph, she writes that it is time to redraw marital rules with a radical rethink on fidelity.

A few highlights:

"…how can we still take the crushing old rules of fidelity, that turn marriage into a prison, for granted? Why should we not be able to recapture the heady thrills of youth, while protecting a secure home life?"

"The time has come, alongside the technology, to redraw the rules of marriage for the 21st century. Just as the Pill opened up premarital sex in the Sixties, the internet is opening up a whole new culture of affairs among married people."

"It's time to start honing our seduction skills and join the playground."

"Marital love and passion only rarely provide an equally rich source of the exalted feelings, transports of delight and misery associated with love and romance."

"Affairs are about excitement, being alive, seduction, flirtation, love, affection, sexual bliss, lust, caution, eroticism, fantasy, danger, adventure, exploration and the determined refusal to grow old gracefully."

"...sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal. The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences…"

Her argument for such startling statements?

First, she suggests that since Britain and America are among the most "puritanical" of nations, and have high divorce rates, it goes without saying that the answer is more sex outside of marriage.

Okay, let's stop there.

I don't think I have ever seen a more egregious misuse of correlation in all of my reading. First, neither country is puritanical in nature, and hasn't been for decades. Second, the high divorce rate is due to any number of factors. Third, and most telling, is the fact that countless divorces are due to marital infidelity! Her conclusion is akin to someone saying, "It was raining today, and someone got shot. So rain kills people!"

No, it doesn't.

But let's move on.

Second, she suggests the need to be liberated from a view of sex that is merely procreation, and not pleasure. She calls this Puritanical in nature. In other words, get rid of Christianity's anti-sex mindset.

Really? Three words: Song of Solomon.

Third, she contends that marital sex is much inferior to the sex of affairs. If she is referring to the superficial adrenaline of hooking up, that is like comparing apples to oranges. The deep nature of love that comes from intimacy with another person is most certainly unique. If she wants to compare that to a one-night stand she is making a highly uninformed comparison.

Here's the last five percent - culturally, at least.

We shouldn't be surprised at a sociologist saying these things. It all flows from the descent of society into a moral abyss. Once you redefine marriage – and yes, I'm thinking of gay marriage – then anything goes.

Why?

Because you are saying that marriage is a social construct, not something rooted in a transcendent set of values or norms. Once you do that, it becomes whatever we want it to become. It becomes plastic, malleable; bend it however you wish. Which means it will quickly descend to the realm of "if it makes you happy, and doesn't hurt anyone, it's okay."

It reminds me of an interview I read with Cameron Diaz in the UK's Stylist Magazine, where the actress made it quite clear that she is content to be – and intent on being – a serial dater. "I think the big misconception in our society is that we're supposed to meet the one when we're 18, and we're supposed to get married to them and love them for the rest of our lives. Bulls**t."

[Tell us how you really feel.]

"Who would want to be with the same person for 80 years?" she added. "Why not break it up a bit...I think people get freaked out about getting married and spending 20 or 30 years sleeping with the same person."

So what does Diaz intend to do?

"Have someone for five years and another person for another five years. Life is long and lucky and yes, love might just last forever, but you don't always live with the person you love forever. You can have that love the rest of your life but you might love someone else along the way, and there's nothing wrong with that."

She's right. There's nothing wrong with that. At least, in our world, and based on its values. But I know how I felt after reading her comments. As I wrote in an earlier post about this very interview, I wasn't angry. I wasn't disgusted.

I was sad.

She would probably be incensed at the very thought of it, but it's true. I felt deeply, deeply sorry for her.

Not simply because she doesn't hold out much hope for a relationship that would stand the test of time; not simply because she seemingly reduces such a relationship, if it were to have any kind of shelf life, to decent sex; but because she has no sense that a life lived in monogamy, over a lifetime, has any real value, much less beauty.

But it is beautiful, and fortunately others in Hollywood see it.

Consider the touching and tender aging sequence portrayed in the opening scenes of the film "Up," or the moving images of the elderly couple in Christopher Nolan's "Inception." It would seem that there are still those in Hollywood who know that there is value and beauty in a love that commits; a love that grows old together; a love that is far, far deeper than mere physical intimacy.

It reminds me of something I wrote in the afterword of my book Christ Among the Dragons. I tell of a visit with Billy and Ruth Graham at their home in the Blue Ridge mountains of Montreat, North Carolina. I was touched, as so many before me, by his humility and genuine grace. But even more by his passionate love for Ruth, who sadly passed away just a few short months after our visit.

Following an hour or so of conversation, he walked us back to the bedroom where Ruth was confined to bed. She had gamely prepared to receive us, and had been moved to a nearby chair, next to a low-lying bookshelf where notebooks containing books of the Bible had been prepared for her with oversized type so that she could read them despite her failing eyesight.

They talked of their nightly devotions with one another, how they prayed for their children, and how those who said there was no romance at their age were wrong. "We have romance through our eyes," Billy explained.

He was right. They did.

My wife and I have only been married for thirty-years, long by many standards – short by ours. The richness of our relationship grows with time. There is no one else who shares my life, my memories, my heart, more than she does. There is no one I can talk to the way I talk to her. She is my best friend.

So who wants to live with someone for eighty years?

I do.

Sources

  1. "The recipe for happiness? An enduring marriage and an affair with lots of sex," Catherine Hakim, The Telegraph, August 20, 2012; read online.
  2. Catherine Hakim, The New Rules: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power.
  3. Cameron Diaz Doesn't Want to Be With One Guy Forever by PopEater Staff, July 22, 2010; read the interview.
  4. James Emery White, Christ Among the Dragons (InterVarsity Press).

Editor's Note

James Emery White is the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life (InterVarsity Press). Source: Church & Culture Blog - Vol. 8, No. 68

Humor: The Laws of Parenting
The later you stay up, the earlier your child will wake up the next morning.
For a child to become clean, something else must become dirty.
Toys multiply to fill any space available.
The longer it takes you to make a meal, the less your child will like it.
Yours is always the only child who doesn't behave.
If the shoe fits...it's expensive.
The surest way to get something done is to tell a child not to do it.
The gooier the food, the more likely it is to end up on the carpet.
Backing the car out of the driveway causes your child to have to go to the bathroom.
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