by Very Rev. Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil
The Syrian Orthodox Church observes the Soonoyo lent in connection with the translation of St. Mary. The church observes different days and hours in honour of St. Mary, the blessed. The church extols her in all daily offices and weekly canonical prayers and particular days are set apart in yearly cycle of prayers known as the Penkeetho . There are many feasts and memorial days in the church calendar in honour of the blessed Mary.
Soonoyo lent is the mandatory one in connection with her death and translation to paradise, remembered on August 15. Our daily prayers are closely connected with prayers of adoration and supplication to St. Mary. In the weekly cycle Wednesdays are set apart for the veneration of St. Mary and the mandatory fast on Wednesdays are in honour of St. Mary. The optional lent in connection with St. Mary's birthday on 8th of September is also observed in piety and devotion in our Church, even though some people erroneously raise brows against it and some vehemently oppose it.
The church promotes optional fasts and lent according to personal choices. If that is in adoration of mother of God it is well and good. See the impact of Gospel messages that are shared in this week all over and the large number of testimonies that are declared during these days are really a great witness to the intercession of St. Mary. It should not be scattered in legalism of canonicity of the lent and as tool of propaganda against the pilgrimage to Manarcadu Church etc. But remember not to neglect the mandatory ones. It is not the legalistic approach to fasts and lent that spiritually nourishes but the voluntary and spiritual observations in supplication to the will of God that nurtures us. Let us be spiritually strong in extolling St. Mary's wonderful subjugation before the Lord.
The day of translation of Mary and birth of Mary and all acts in her life are models to our life and let us praise her in all possible ways and days of life. The Syrian Orthodox Church praises her not only in the days of direct feasts of St. Mary but also in other Moranaya perusals connected to her. The great feast of Annunciation, Sooboro or Ariyippu is really a perunal also in honour of St. Mary. This perunal is twice ceremonially observed in a year. On March 25 and a few weeks prior to Yeldo Perunal, Christmas. The miraculous conception and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in St. Mary is the highest chosen moment in the life of any mortal in the world. It is the reciprocity of her dedication and spiritual sublimity. The prayers of Yeldo Perunal is full of praises and prayers addressed to Mary, the wonderful mother of God. So Christmas is also related to Mary. We read in Matthew 2: 11 that the Magi saw the child with his mother.. We see the presence of this mother with Christ to the time of Crucifixion and even in the assembly of the disciples , that is the first Church after the resurrection. We are reminded through the command of our Lord on the cross to St .John (19:26) to consider her as our mother. The Moranaya Perunal of our Lord's presentation in the Temple, Mayaltho or Devalaya Pravesanam is also a Perunal honoring St. Mary. The readings in Chapter 2 :21-38of Luke in connection with this explicitly refers to the great role and worth of Mary in the salvific act. Simeon the elder blessed and prophesied on Mary's tribulations for mankind.
The Church celebrates the name of Mary in all these ways to keep us in tune to the spirit filled command in Magnificat in Luke 2:48 to join the generations to call her blessed. Any person or group who keep aloof from praising her is keeping themselves away from this Magnificat command. Let us be humbled to be in the church that praise the glory of the mother God.
Let us join the Angels who extolled her as the one who received Grace from God and with Elizabeth to praise her as the blessed among the women.
The most worthy ideal in spiritual life was filled in her life, that is the fellowship of the Lord. We read the salute, `our Lord is with you'! What a blessing is this! With God she is worthy of everything. Mary with Jesus is the ideal of the church. This is the reason why the church emphatically stress that the picture of Mary should be always with Jesus. We can praise her with Elizabeth with the exclamatory phrase uttered her in the spirit filled moment , `mother of my Lord'. It is the holy Sprit that taught Elizabeth to call her mother of God. So never pay heed to anyone who calls her anything less than this.
Honouring St. Mary is not anything negating the role of our Lord. Mary is really the best pointer to our Lord. She always commands to do what our Lord says as we heard at the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee. She herself is the perfect model for the submission before the will of God. Then how can anyone say that respecting and praising her is lessening the importance of our saviour. She is our pioneer model to follow our Lord.
Mor Ambrose of Milan says, IN ST. MARY YOU FIND A PERFECT MODEL FOR YOUR LIFE WHAT TO IMPROVE, WHAT TO IMITATE AND WHAT TO HOLD FAST TO.
O! blessed Mary pray for us sinners , at this time and at the time of our death. Amen.
Shunoyo Lent by H.E Mor Themotheos Thomas Metropolitan
Shunoyo lent is very old and is in memory of St. Mary. It is interesting to see that in all the ancient Churches, this lent is observed. Apart from our Church, the Roman Catholic, the Byzantine Churches and several others observe this lent. That points to the fact that this has a common origin, going back to the times when all Churches were one.
The Dormition Fast: Ending another year of grace in Our Lord
The Byzantine Church since at least the 5th century has practiced a period of fasting prior to the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Christians of the East have always recognized the mystery of Our Lady’s Dormition, her ‘falling asleep’ at the end of her natural life when in a miraculous way she was assumed into heaven to sit with her Lord and our Lord.
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