Malankara World Journal HE Yeldo Mor Titus - 10th Anniversary of Ordination Special
Volume 4 No. 188 January 4, 2014
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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14. Seven Reasons
To Be a Priest When we think of an Orthodox Priest, the first thing
we think of is conducting Holy Qurbono. Then we think of other sacraments
such as baptism, wedding, burial, etc. But a priest has more
responsibilities than that. Church administration? Yes, and more. Read on.
Essentially, the church starts in the home. Only when we have priests in our
'little house churches' do we have priests in our bigger churches. Parents are
called to train their children to become a part of the baptized royal
priesthood. It then becomes the bishop's and congregation's responsibility to
make sure that from this royal priesthood, select number of properly trained and
prepared individuals are chosen to the last order of priesthood. ...
Ministry feels a lot like war sometimes, and Churchill played a major role
in the two biggest conflicts this world has ever seen. The clergy can
identify with the ups and downs of Churchill's career. His quips inspire
them. And his triumphs and tragedies can even teach us a thing or two (or
five) about leadership. ...
Many people come to church and say, "Yes, I'm hungry for Jesus." But they look
around and find chips on the wall and chips in the lives of people. They find
all sorts of things to criticize. But real hunger for the Word and for
fellowship with others will look past those imperfections and see what's perfect
about the church: Jesus. The church has flaws. There's not a church in the world
that is perfect. Yet, we serve a perfect Savior. ...
When we think of an Orthodox Priest, the first thing we think of is conducting Holy Qurbono. Then we think of other sacraments such as baptism, wedding, burial, etc. But a priest has more responsibilities than that. Church administration? Yes, and more. Read on. ...
Essentially, the church starts in the home. Only when we have priests in our 'little house churches' do we have priests in our bigger churches. Parents are called to train their children to become a part of the baptized royal priesthood. It then becomes the bishop's and congregation's responsibility to make sure that from this royal priesthood, select number of properly trained and prepared individuals are chosen to the last order of priesthood. ...
Ministry feels a lot like war sometimes, and Churchill played a major role in the two biggest conflicts this world has ever seen. The clergy can identify with the ups and downs of Churchill's career. His quips inspire them. And his triumphs and tragedies can even teach us a thing or two (or five) about leadership. ...
Many people come to church and say, "Yes, I'm hungry for Jesus." But they look around and find chips on the wall and chips in the lives of people. They find all sorts of things to criticize. But real hunger for the Word and for fellowship with others will look past those imperfections and see what's perfect about the church: Jesus. The church has flaws. There's not a church in the world that is perfect. Yet, we serve a perfect Savior. ...
by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Editor-in-Chief, Malankara World
There is something about the priests and bishops in our church (both Jacobite and Indian Orthodox congregation). The laity either loves them or hates them. It is either black or white. No shades of grey!
When I was a child growing up in a village about 12 miles east of Kottayam, we had very little contact with any priests or bishops. You see a bishop for a few marriages. No one does any house visits. When a bishop visits a church, there is a room in the church annex that is furnished to accommodate the bishop. Usually the bishop visits during the church feasts. He will come in a fancy car (Chevy impala in those days) on the previous day evening. The people will take a bath, women cover their heads and go to receive the blessing (Kai muthu - kissing of the hand). The bishop's word is next to the word of Jesus - no one questions them. There were only 3 or 4 bishops in the church those days. So, having them for a wedding or funeral is a rare occurrence. (You need connections!)
While doing my Pre-degree Course, I stayed with my uncle - Dr. George Jacob - who had just returned from England with an MRCP in Cardiology - one of the first such persons in Kottayam. He had brought an EKG machine - electro cardiogram - with him. All the important persons in Kottayam had to have their EKG taken. That included all the priests and the bishops. I met many of them at that time in his house. Many of the priests who visited my uncle became bishops later. I still remember meeting Fr. M.V. George, who was in Bethany at that time. He later became Osthathiose Thirumeni. He had the unusual ability to capture your attention.
After two years with my uncle, I went to IIT, Kharagpur for 5 years. We had services twice a month with a priest who used to come from Calcutta. As it was a new church and since I was going to Kottayam for the puja holidays, I was asked to attend the diocesan meeting at Kottayam (at that time there was only one outside Kerala Diocese under Vattakkunnel Thirumeni). The church wanted my presence at the meeting. I went there. There was a fiery encounter between Vattakkunnel thirumeni and a contingent from Madras (several executives and doctors). (If you know Vattakkunnel thirumeni, you can guess how that was. I , unfortunately, was sitting between thirumeni and the group. It was like in the war zone. I left the meeting at noon without any injury.
After coming to the USA also, I was living in places where there were no churches - places like Pittsburgh, PA; Chattanooga, TN; Cleveland, OH, etc. The bishops I met were very different - people like Makarios Thirumeni, Ivanios Thirumeni, Barnabas Thirumeni, and Severios Thirumeni. They all had an impact on me in different ways.
Then I met Theethose Thirumeni. Initially, I thought HE was avoiding me! (Perhaps, I was asking too many questions.) But then I met HE several times as part of the Silver Jubilee Family Convention. I even went with HE to visit houses in Toronto, Canada. I do not know whether I changed or thirumeni changed. I started having this high respect for thirumeni. Plus he was being more open - he was not avoiding me anymore!
Two things impressed me about thirumeni in the beginning. One day I sent HE an email at 2 AM about our church in Cleveland. Thirumeni replied in 10 minutes!! I was dumbstruck. I sent a reply email asking thirumeni, "Thirumeni, don't you sleep anymore?" I knew he had to go to Los Angeles the following day. Thirumeni replied, "I have a lot of things to clear up before leaving for the west coast." Then HE added, "People, especially in Kerala, think that being in America is like being in Paradise. They don't realize the difficulties we face here." A few weeks later, I had a casual discussion with Babu Nadayil, who was the then editor of Malankara Deepam. Babu told me that in prior years when the big shipment of the printed souvenirs came from India, there won't be anyone to unload it at Aramana. So, usually it is done by Thirumeni and Babu from the car. A few months later Stephen achen told me that when he went to aramana, thirumeni was mowing the lawn! (These must be the "errands" mentioned in Dn. Martin's article below!) So, here is a thirumeni who follows his master, and has taken the concept of "service" seriously. I haven't been to the diocesan HQ yet; but I am sure, I won't find any 'throne' there. Is there any wonder that thirumeni has captured the hearts of all the youth? Like Jesus, HE becomes one of them. (Read Fr. Paul Thottakat's article about the encounter between Thirumeni and the kids.)
If you read through the articles in this edition, we come across the leadership and service characteristics of thirumeni blended with humility. If you want any fireworks like from Vattakkunnel thirumeni, you are in the wrong place.
In the past few years, I had the privilege of hosting thirumeni several times at my house, driving with thirumeni to see the sights as well as taking HE to Detroit, etc. We had long discussions about what is in Thirumeni's mind, how to solve some problems, etc. etc. The diocese has come a long way in the past 3-4 years.
So, what is the secret of Thirumeni's success? Mahatma Gandhi once said:
Thirumeni has taken this to the next level. If you want people to respect you, you should listen to them. People want thirumeni to hear their problems. So, this is what you do:
Now, go back to the articles from Thirumeni's closest friends. Don't these items echo in their writings?
Another theme we hear about thirumeni is the hardships he had to encounter in the last few years. Isn't that something we can expect if you want to be the shepherd of Jesus' church? Jesus said in Matthew 16:
Pope Francis (one of my favorites) recently talked about this aspect of priesthood and church. Pope Francis said, priesthood is not a bed of roses. Instead, he said, "the road that Jesus willed for His Church is otherwise: the way of difficulties, the way of the Cross, the way of persecution . . . And this makes us wonder: what is this Church? Because it seems it is not a human enterprise."
"The Church," Pope Francis said, is "something else." The disciples do not make the Church - they are the messengers sent by Jesus. And Christ was sent by the Father: "The Church begins there," he said, "in the heart of the Father, who had this idea . . . of love. So this love story began, a story that has gone on for so long, and is not yet ended. We, the women and men of the Church, we are in the middle of a love story: each of us is a link in this chain of love. And if we do not understand this, we have understood nothing of what the Church is."…
A head of state once asked how big the Pope's army was. The Church does not increase "through military might", said Pope Francis, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is because the Church is not just another organization: "she is Mother" he said.
This idea was further enunciated by Pope Benedict XVI.
WOW! The relationship between God and the Church is a love story. We, the women and men of the Church, we are in the middle of a love story: each of us is a link in this chain of love. And if we do not understand this, we have understood nothing of what the Church is.
This aspect of "church, God and love" was further explained in 1 John 4:7-12
The relationship between us and the church is that of a mother and child. Church is the Mother. Archbishop Charles Chaput, Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, recognized the strengths and limitations of his flock:
Our bishops and priests are not superhumans. They are ordinary people selected to do an extraordinary job for God. Bishop Chaput continues:
Our bishops and our priests serve with unconditional passion against enormous odds. We never thank them. We take them for granted. Once in a while we need to recognize that they are human beings and it is important that we tell them "thank you" for what they have done. Yes, no one is perfect. The only perfect person was Jesus Christ.
So, Theethose Thirumeni, thank you for your services and leadership. Yes, we wish things would have been better. But we know you are trying hard. We wish you best of luck in your journey to take this Archdiocese to the next level.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Jan 2004 to present - Archbishop, Malankara Archdiocese of SOC - NA
Jan 4, 2004 - Ordained as Arch Bishop - Mor Titus Yeldho by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
September 26, 1998 Ordained as Monk ( Ramban ) - Yeldho Pathickal (Aby Ramban)
1997 to 2004 at the Patriarchate of Antioch & All the East
Class of 2003 · Masters · Theology - St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
Class of 1995 · Mathematics · M.G. University College of Teacher Education, Thodupuzha
Class of 1993 · M.Sc - Union Christian College, Aluva
Class of 1990 · Mathematics - Union Christian College, Aluva
Class of 1985 · Asram High School, Perumbavoor
Holy Qurbana of Theethose Thirumeni
If you haven't seen a qurbana by Theethose thirumeni, you should! It is just Great. Here is a YouTube link of a Qurbana HE conducted at St. Mary's Cathedral at Manarcadu, India.
One of my most popular part of Thirumeni's service is HE's Hoothommo. The most popular Hoothommo of HE (in my opinion) is
We begin our qurbana with Hoosoyo Prayers, the priest/bishop asking for the forgiveness of sins. And ends with the last plea..
This hoothommo was written by Mor Gregorios of Jerusalem and sung in the tune of Mor Ephrem (Mor Aprem as we call in Malayalam). Some of the most popular songs in our liturgy and on Good Friday services are in the tune of St. Ephrem.
In the above recording, the Hoothommo (yes, "Karalalivereedum Thatha..") is roughly at 1:13:40 (The sound is not very good in this due to the recording quality.)
Leisure - Sightseeing
Theethose Thirumeni Visits Amish Country - Ohio
by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas,
We thank you for your filial noble feeling in inviting us to preside in the meetings of the Convention of the three Patriarchal Vicariates of our Holy Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in the United States and Canada which will be held this year in the City of Los Angeles, California, hosted by your flourishing Archdiocese, in the period between 31 July to 3 August, 1997.
It gives us pleasure to accept your kind invitation to gather together, God willing, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who promised us saying: " For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst of them." (Matth 18:20). It is our hope that the lord will bless our gathering by his presence amongst us so that we may glorify and thank Him for His abundant gifts that cannot be told, for " Every good endowment and very perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17), as Apostle James says.
Dearly Beloved: You have done excellent in choosing the Sacrament of the Holy Priesthood immediately after he had founded His Holy Church on the rock of true faith which was proclaimed by St. Peter the head of the Apostles, who said to the Lord Jesus: " You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" . And Jesus answered him: Blessed and happy are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven; and I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church and the doors of sheol shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven" ( Matt 16:16-19).
The Lord gave all the Apostles this power when he appeared to them on of the eve of his resurrection from among the dead as they were assembled in the upper room while the doors were locked. He stood in their midst and said: ''peace be with you. As the father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained'' John 20:21 and 22). He thus ordained them priests, as we are taught by our fathers the saints. Likewise, he ordained them bishops when "He took them out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and went up to heaven" (Luke 24: 51 and 52). Thus, the Lord installed in his church shepherds, ministers, teachers and guides and gave them the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, that he may protect and keep them in the truth and remind them with all that Jesus said to them to safeguard the precious jewel of the true faith. He made them, his faithful stewards and partners in the power of shepherding his sheep, endowed with the faculty of speech, on the pastures of his divine teachings, and the stream of waters of his Holy living Gospel so that they may timely offer food to his servants. In this regard, St. Paul says: '' And no one takes this honor upon him self but only he who is called of God, as was Aaron" (Hebr 5:4).
Therefore, priests and bishops in their different ranks are set apart by God from among the faithful to go before the people and offer sacrifices for the remission of their own sins as well as the sins of the people. The Lord God thus bestows upon them the grace of carrying the mission of the priesthood and hence obtain divine power exclusive to those who are selected for this high honor with all its spiritual rights and privileges and related duties and burdens. This includes: looking for the lost sheep and carrying it on the shoulders and brining it back to the fold, awaiting the prodigal son, rejoicing by his return and reestablishing trust with him. It also includes calling upon parishioners, warning the urging them to repent, otherwise the Lord would punish His shepherds according to the prophet Ezekiel: ''If I say to the wicked, ' you shall surly die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand" ( Ezek 3:18).
In reviewing the duties and privileges of the priest, we realize that the priest, whose mission is primarily to the voice of the people to God and raise his prayers to Him, also performs the duty of a prophet in conveying the voice of God to the people. Priests, thus, must warn, preach to sinners and instruct them to observe the divine commandments. Further, they should make themselves good examples for them, in this way they become a light for the world and salt for earth.
The Lord Jesus Himself, had chosen and called His righteous apostles and pious disciples, and they had accepted His invitation by their full free will leaving behind everything for His sake. He graduated them in His divine school. He used to retire with them from time to time and explain to them His parables and divine teachings so that they may understand what He was aiming at in his invaluable sermons. He further gave them the keys of knowledge and understanding the essence of God's commandments and prohibitions. Also, He bestowed on them the power of teaching, edification, disciplining, justification and sanctification for the building of the Holy Body of Christ which is the Church. Devils submitted to them in His name, as they joyfully told Him after returning from a journey where He had sent them in pairs before Him to every city and place He had intended to go. He said to them: " Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven" (Luke 10:19-20). From here, we know that the wage of the Lord's priests is kept in heaven and not on earth to witch He sent them to preach the Gospel of Salvation. He never promised them with bodily rest and happiness. On the contrary, he demanded of them self-denial, carrying the cross and following Him in the trial of pain and sacrifice in all worldly matters. He said to them: " Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff for the laborer deserves his food. Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves… and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved… and do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matth 10: 7-28). With this, the Lord told them about the hardships they would encounter in life so long as they have chosen to enter through the narrow door and walk in the difficult road leading to the kingdom. At the same time, He assured them of His protection and of their exalted position with Him saying: "But so far as you are concerned, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore fear not. Whoever receives you, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives Him who sent me. He who receives a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and whoever receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man's reward" (Matth: 10:30, 41and 42).
The Apostle Paul advises the faithful to honor the clergy. He says; "We beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work" (I Thess 5:12).
But the best and the highest reward are received by the shepherds in Heaven. In this regard, apostle Paul says: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day" (2 Tim 4: 7-8). Thus, those whom the Lord called in this life and they answered His call, and whom He sent, and they fought for the sake of salvation of their souls and those of others, will be called by the Lord to enter His Heavenly Kingdom to inherit the everlasting bliss, being crowned with the crown of righteous, the pious, and the saints. They will be all with the Lord Jesus who promised: "If any one serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26).
Let us take the opportunity of us being gathered together, clergy and people, in this blessed Convention, and renew our vow to God to observe His commandments. Let us also renew our pledge to one another to cooperate with each other towards the salvation of our souls and the progress and prosperity of our Holy Syrian Orthodox Church, and thus receive God's reward on earth and Heaven, and may His Grace be with you all forever. Amen.
Issued at our Patriarchate in Damascus, Syria on the 25th of March, in the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven, which is the 17th year of our Patriarchate.
Source: The 1997 Patriarchal encyclical of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas; The Archdiocese Of The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch For The Eastern USA.
By Mathew Thomas Edathara Corepiscopos, Archdiocesan Secretary, MASOC-NA
H.E. Mor Yeldho Titus epitomizes http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/ a true shepherd who has given his life for his flocks, the faithful people of the Malankara Archdiocese of North America. In the Gospel of St. John 10:14-15 it is written
On January 4, 2004 H.H. Zakka Iwas I, the Patriarch of the Holy Syrian Orthodox Church, consecrated and bestowed upon our Archbishop the name Titus. From my perspective, Thirumeni has personified the name of Titus in his life and journey as a shepherd of the Holy Church.
Just as St. Paul entrusted the island of Crete to Titus, our Holy Father entrusted H.E. with the North American diocese. Both the people of Crete and the people of this North American diocese were in a state of disarray and in need of a virtuous leader. St. Paul delegated to Titus the duty to teach the truth of God to the Church and its people as well as how to be a good leader of the Church. Titus, just like our Theethose Thirumeni, took and met this challenge successfully.
During the last several years I have been blessed with the opportunity to work and travel with our Thirumeni for various purposes pertaining to our Archdiocese. It was through these close and personal encounters that I was able to know and learn more of our own Mor Titus - his humbleness, dedication to the Church, allegiance to Holy Father and preservation of the ancient liturgies of the church. However of all these qualities, the one quality that strikes me the most is our Archbishop's ability to forgive others - just as our Heavenly Father forgives us.
The Malankara Archdiocese is truly blessed to have an Archbishop, who has dedicated his life to the growth and development of our North American Archdiocese. Since H.E. Mor Yeldho Theethose's enthronement in this diocese, we have seen growth in every sector of the diocese. This growth ranges from the increase in the number of parishes, the increase in our clergy and the growth of all the spiritual organizations, especially the youth, throughout our diocese.
When His Eminence arrived here in 2004, this diocese had a total of only 23 parishes. But now we have over 50 parishes. In 2004, we had less than 5 deacons; today that number has increased to 20. We see from St. Paul's Epistle to Titus the duties entrusted upon Titus especially in regards to the creation of a clergy. The strength of the Clergy of this diocese has surpassed that of any vision we had 30 years ago because of His Eminence's ability to lead his flocks. Likewise, the spiritual growth among our youth and younger generations has grown profoundly. Thirumeni's humbleness and genuine character has won over the hearts of the youth in every corner of this vast archdiocese. In 2013, one month before the celebration of His Eminence's 10th year Consecration Anniversary, we were able to buy an Archdiocesan Headquarters under His Eminence's leadership in Whippany, NJ.
Essentially, Titus is portrayed as a peacemaker. H.E. Mor Yeldho Titus has played the role of a peacemaker many times during his reign as the Archbishop of the North American Diocese. From Thirumeni we learn the value of loving one's enemies. In the Gospel of Matthew 5:43, the Lord states, "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven." Thirumeni's forgiving nature and tender heart for his fellow brothers speaks volumes on the true meaning of our Christian faith, 'love thy neighbor'.
I sincerely believe that under His Eminence's leadership and guidance, the future of our diocese for the younger generation is in safe hands.
As the Secretary of this blessed Archdiocese, I express my sincere gratitude to our Archbishop for the love and dedication HE has given to the faithful of this diocese. Our Shepherd has upheld the calling bestowed upon him as he has guided and protected His flocks.
St. Francis of Assisi once said, "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." Thank you Thirumeni for accomplishing, by the Grace of God, what we once thought was humanly impossible.
by Deacon Dr Renjan Mathew
The tenth anniversary of the metropolitan consecration anniversary of our Archbishop His Eminence Yeldho Mor Theethos will be celebrated on January 4, 2014 at St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church, Paramus, NJ. Mor Theethos was consecrated as bishop by the Patriarch of Antioch His Holiness Ignatious Zakka I on January 4, 2004 and enthroned as the bishop of the Malankara Archdiocese of North America on February 28, 2004. He will be completing ten years of service as the bishop of the diocese in a couple of months.
Under his eminent spiritual leadership the diocese has achieved many significant milestones in its organizational growth. He was instrumental in binding the churches and congregations of the Jacobite faith scattered across US and Canada. His attempts to initiate, implement and integrate the systematic functioning of churches and the diocese were remarkable. Despite several stumbling blocks, he was persistent in his faith, traditions and obligations to his master, the Almighty God. People remember him as a simple yet fully dedicated servant of God.
His visionary interventions in sustaining the second generation of Indo-American origin in Churches were extraordinary. He ordained many youths as deacons and were trained to be the youth leaders in local churches. His dream of a Malankara-American seminary is almost come true as the diocese has now purchased its headquarters in New Jersey.
He has extensive theological training from the premier orthodox theological centers like Malelcruz Dayara, MSOT Seminary, Kerala, St. Ephrem Patriarchal Seminary, Damascus, and from St. Vladimir's Seminary, New York. He is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Theology at the Trinity Seminary, Newburgh. Moreover, he is a postgraduate in Mathematics, holds a Bachelor's degree in Education and worked as a teacher of Mathematics in Kerala for a couple of years.
He started serving the holy altar at the age of nine years, and was ordained as a deacon at the age of 12 years by the Late Kadavil Paulose Mor Athanasios, Metropolitan of the Evangelical Association of the East. He travelled across the world and visited many monasteries for short-term studies. Some of the famous spiritual places he stayed are St. Gabriel Dayara, Turabdin, Kurkuma Dyara, Turkey, St. Mark's Monastery, Jerusalem, St. Ephrem Monastery, Amsterdam, St. Jacob's Monastery, Warburg-Germany and St. Eugin's Monastery, Switzerland.
His wide spread social involvement includes serving as the President of SCMI (Student Christian Movement of India) in Union Christian College, Alwaye- Kerala, State Chairman of the University-YMCA in Kerala, and the State Vice-Chairman of YMCAs of Kerala. He also served as the Administrator of the St. George Simhasana Bethsaboro, Perumpally, Kerala from 1999 to 2001. He belongs to the famous Pathickal family in Perumbavoor.
The Archdiocesan council of the Malankara North American Diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church has decided to celebrate the anniversary in an auspicious way with the participation of all the parishes.
Let's join this celebration wholeheartedly to praise the Almighty God for giving us this wonderful spiritual leader.
by Very Rev. Abraham O. Kadavil Corepiscopos
It was with great joy that the members of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese received the Bull from His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Zaka I Iwas declaring the appointment of His Eminence Mor Theethose Yeldho as the Archbishop in North America. The clergy and the people thanked God Almighty for sending a shepherd to guide them in their spiritual life.
When we look back last ten years, we can only feel a sense of fulfillment in our hearts for the growth we have seen in the Archdiocese. I had the great blessing of being the Archdiocesan Secretary for two and a half years working closely with His Eminence. During this period, the Archdiocese faced certain negative and hostile elements. Thirumeni demonstrated the ability to work in such situation with firmness and with his loyalty to the Throne of Antioch. The Archdiocesan Council was able to support His Eminence with one voice in dealing with all the issues that were threatening the solidarity of the Archdiocese. The clergy in the Archdiocese experienced the Archbishop as a caring person with humility.
When addressing the priests and deacons at a clergy retreat, Thirumeni quoted these words from our Lord,
"You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." (St. John 15:16)
His Eminence has the firm conviction that God has chosen him to serve the Church.
As the oldest priest in the Archdiocese, it makes me so humble to say that I have received so many blessings from Thirumeni. I pray that God Almighty may give His Eminence abundant grace to serve the Holy Church many years to come.
by Fr. Paul. C. Thotakat
In 2001, very unexpectedly, Aby Pathical Ramban visited our Church in Lynbrook, NY. We joined a Heavenly and melodious Holy Liturgy conducted by Rambachen. Like the shepherds, talking among themselves after seeing Angels Show on the sky on the first Christmas, the congregation felt something is in the air. They discussed this visit by Rambachen and all agreed that this is a promising future prelate for our Church.
Three years later. …
I remember the day well. It was a cold winter day. I was the Joint Treasurer of the Archdiocesan council. I went to receive our new Archbishop at Newark International Airport after his Holy Consecration. At the time my family and I were living in New York. Since then, I have had the blessed opportunity to serve in the Archdiocesan council at various ranks and work closely with Theethose Thirumeni. The most challenging time was when I was serving as the Archdioceasan Treasurer. We did not even have an Aramana for Thirumeni at that time. It was both a burden and a blessing. The burden was having such a big task to manage national monetary status for the diocese as well as taking full responsibility in conducting the Annual Family Conference with a full time job, a family and other responsibilities. However, the blessing came from the chances I received to spend more time with Thirumeni and get to know him closely.
By Grace of God, and Thirumeni's Leadership and with the cooperation from the member churches, we managed to acquire a dwelling - a place to call Aramana – for Thirumeni. That was the humble beginning of our Head Quarters after losing the original one. Still, Thirumeni had to live in this land with very minimal resources for years and H.E set an example of a monk-like living in this country. But the Archdiocese was flourishing under H.E's leadership.
Few highlights of H.E's tenure:
• Archdiocese celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Annual Family Conferences
with thousands in attendance
I've shared many important occasions of my life with His Eminence and learned a number of lessons including the importance of humility and the power of prayer. Being a council member for several years, I have noticed that Thirumeni is very vigilant not to let a single penny go to waste. With this, Thirumeni has made many personal sacrifices.
One thing that many people might not know about Thirumeni is that he has a good sense of humor! I can still remember back to one time when Thirumeni stayed at our home in Dallas and he was bonding with my children and their friends. My wife, Betcy, invited over my son's Sunday school class to teach and coach them for their Sunday School competitions. During one of their breaks, they were dissecting some of the Malayalam phrases and sayings they've heard on television or through their parent's talk.
One of the children said "Hmm what is the translation of Poy ninde panni noku?"
My children, Steve and Sarita, and their friends will never forget that moment when H.E became one among them sharing some innocent jokes. It was a warm sweet moment that allowed Thirumeni to bond with the children as well.
In the Holy Scriptures it states
This must be one of Thirumeni's secret tools that earned him the support of youth of the Archdiocese. H.E. is able to not only share a laugh with the youth but I have also seen Thirumeni enlighten the youth on topics such as math, science, technology, and above all faith and tradition. Not only is Thirumeni a strong supporter of our youth and all their future endeavors but when Thirumeni was faced with many challenges under his leadership, the youth took the front seat as his biggest supporters as well!
When speaking of challenges that our Archbishop and Archdiocese faced in the recent years, this is when I really acknowledged Thirumeni's ability to stay calm in the storm through his prayerful life. This was very apparent when I was given the blessed opportunity to accompany him for the Patriarchiate Visit to the land of Syria as part of the Archdiocesan delegation. Thirumeni took the role of a loving host and a knowledgeable guide. During the meetings with our Patriarch, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas , I was able to witness the respect and confidence H.H. has in this young prelate. That was a, once in a lifetime opportunity, I will never forget. H.H. has complete faith in placing Theethose Thirumeni at the helm of this Archdiocese knowing all of the possible challenges and opportunities this land will bring. Time and again Thirumeni's leadership has proved that it can cultivate the members of the Archdiocese as the torch-bearers of our ancient church by encouragement, training, and instilling passion for our age- old traditions.
As a humble servant of the Lord, I was ordained through each of the steps of priesthood by Thirumeni alone (So far, I am the only person who received all the ordinations - from Quorooyo to Kasheeso - from Thirumeni). Eventually, H.E handed down the responsibility of being a Vicar in one of the major churches in this Archdiocese to me. The grace of God and the support of Thirumeni helped me to bring in stability and enhance the spiritual growth of this Parish.
I am positive that the vision that Thirumeni has about the seminary project and the Sunday School curriculum and missionary work will take our church in this land to safe harbors. I pray that The Lord may abundantly bless His Eminence and the people of this church to grow stronger in faith and in deeper dependence in Almighty God.
by Sunitha Flowerhill, Malankara World Board Member
Here is to the 10th Anniversary
By Rev. Fr. Zacharia Poycattle Varghese, MD, MPH, Malankara World Board Member
Our Church in North America deserves to celebrate this present milestone. H.E. Mor Teethose Yeldho has served our Archdiocese as Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar for 10 years. Through all the tremendous changes we have sojourned through, we find an Archbishop that has fully come into his own, with a Church reinvigorated to face the many challenges ahead.
Thirumeni was selected by our Patriarch H.H. Ignatious Zakka I to rejuvenate a wounded body. The period prior to Thirumeni’s arrival was an uncertain one – the former permanent bishop was excommunicated while caretaker bishops did their best to meet the needs of the faithful.
Thirumeni, then a monk-priest, was in this country serving at large when I first met him. I believe it was at a wedding that we first spoke. Struck first by his tall stature, I came to find a sincere decency, kindness, and faithfulness that pleasantly matched. When Thirumeni was charged with this diocese officially on January 4th 2004, it came as no surprise that he enjoyed widespread support amongst church members.
In subsequent years various intrigues have taken a toll. Thirumeni has a few more gray hairs now. However, our Church has made great strides. Many initiatives aimed at the youth have worked to knit a disparate and diverse community, scattered across a vast continent, together. New faces have emerged to support more venerable ones. Books and technology driven gateways provide more access for those interested to gain spiritually from Church teaching.
Through all the ups and downs, Thirumeni continues to maintain a steadfast hold on our precious faith and share it youthfully with others. He is a strong leader to whom we all feel naturally accountable. We want to see Thirumeni succeed further. As he continues to prospers, so too will our Archdiocese.
It is with great optimism that we may all gaze through the coming generations. The purchase of a new headquarters complex will yield so many dividends as our focus narrows on using these facilities for education, training, and planning. New parishes are springing up, most with a preponderance of young families ready to engage in pioneering and church planting. New opportunities to partner with other churches of similar character will help us to leverage our rich tradition into the practical spheres in which our members live.
So much has occurred in the past 10 years. As God enables us, we may be confident of a very active future and many obstacles surmounted as Thirumeni's leadership continues.
by Dn. Martin Babu
When talking about His Eminence Mor Theethose Yeldho, there are not enough words and time in the world to describe Thirumeni. I have known Thirumeni ever since he was Dayroyo (Rambachen) and had several occasions where I served in the altar with him. In January 2004 he was consecrated as the Archbishop of this blessed Archdiocese. After hearing about Thirumeni’s life and his dedication to the church and how, since his childhood, he had been with the great teacher Mor Athanasius Paulose Kadavil, many of the youngsters, including myself, were inspired to join in the ministry and serve the church after hearing from Thirumeni about his vision for our diocese. I was blessed to be called to the ministry when His Eminence ordained me as Quroyo on August 22, 2004. Ever since 2004, Thirumeni has been a guiding light for me in my ministry.
In 2011 I had the chance to spend 9 months with Thirumeni at the Aramana in New York. I would have to say that those were some of the most wonderful times I had with Thirumeni. I was able to really learn a lot from Thirumeni as well as really get to know Thirumeni. I will never forget those 9 months because it had a big role in what I am today. During my time at the aramana I got to really understand the life of a bishop. Many of us just see Thirumeni when he comes to our churches for perunals or functions at our churches, and never realize what his life is really like. We woke up early morning, did our prayers, read the bible, and meditated then went on to our normal daily activities, and ended each day with prayers, reading the bible, and mediating about the day. During Lent we fasted, did prayers along with prostrations, and skipped one meal every day.
Even though many believe Thirumeni is resting during the weekdays, he is busy with writing kalpanas, running errands to keep the aramana running, checking on his priests, deacons, and faithful members of the diocese. During my stay at the aramana, I was able to work with Thirumeni on a project he started for the Sunday school children by creating a book, 'A Guide to the Holy Qurbono'. Thirumeni has a vision for his Sunday school children and the youth and this book was to help guide the children and help them understand more about our church.
In June of 2011, I had the blessed opportunity to visit His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East with Thirumeni and a few council members. It was one of the most memorable and blessed moments in my life getting to meet and spend time with His Holiness along with my beloved Thirumeni.
In December 2012, Thirumeni cleared his schedule to come on a mission trip to India to spend 10 days at Guardian Angels Charitable Society along with myself, our MGSOSA vice president, our MGSOSA secretary, two other deacons, and 7 other youth members. We spent those days serving the less fortune, elderly, mentally and physically challenged, and orphans. We also went and visited historical churches in Kerala. The members of that mission trip could not have been more grateful for Thirumeni spending time with us and we will cherish those memories forever.
During the past couple of years, Thirumeni has also started deacons’ camp for not just the deacons, but anyone else who is interested in the ministry. He takes the time out of his schedule to not just plan these camps but also clears his schedule so that he can spend time with us so that he can teach us the importance of our roles in the church and outside the church. The first one of these camps was at the aramana itself, where he opened up his residence for us deacons to come, stay and learn from him and other priests. Since then he has arranged several camps in various churches which could accommodate all our needs.
Another great accomplishment of Thirumeni is that with his prayer, hard work, and dedication we were able purchase and secure a Patriarchal Center and Seminary for this diocese. After 10 long years Thirumeni has fulfilled his dream and secured a facility for the diocese. I pray to the Almighty Lord to keep our Thirumeni happy, grant him a long and healthy life, and give him the strength and courage to lead this Archdiocese in the way he has vision it.
I wish my dear Archbishop and Spiritual Father a very happy and blessed 10th Anniversary.
by Philip Scaria, Malankara World Board Member
I saw Thirumeni for the first time when he conducted the service at our church in Chicago as a Rambachan. He was very impressive in service, sermon and meeting people after the service. I met him when I attended a delegates' meeting after his ordination, representing our church. He impressed me as a sincere and simple person. I came to know more about him after I became a council member in 2009.
Though not very complex, I feel our Thirumeni is a person with qualities. Some of the virtues and traits of his personality, I thought, were unique if they were to be compared to some other Thirumenis' of our Church. Noticeable among those is his "non-craziness" for money. An Archbishop who considers everything he earns belongs to the archdiocese and does not keep a separate account is a person of qualities. His openness at every issue in a discussion makes him not only transparent but also impressive. Be it good or bad, I noticed him wanting to recognize and reward everyone.
While I do not venture into, or I am qualified enough, to comment on Thirumeni's achievements, I can confidently assert that he has matured in stature and performance. It is a sign of acceptance that many of the "nay-sayers" in our diocese are either silent or taking a second look at his performance. Though not dilapidated, our diocese was in a disturbed condition when Thirumeni took over the administration. The last ten years have proved that he did steer the diocese to a very successful state. I am aware of some of the pressures and pains he underwent, while I was a council member. He was able to overcome those difficulties and earn confidence of the councils and the churches in this country.
No one is beyond criticism and accusations. If that was not the case, Jesus would not have been crucified. Thirumeni is sincere and sentimental. I saw him at a meeting with tears in his eyes. Rather than being emotional and over-reacting to the accusations of some priests at a council meeting, he restrained and contained himself, letting the tears relieve his emotions. May be it is those virtues that earned him acceptance and appreciation in this diocese. I wish our Thirumeni all the best and many more years of happy administration.
Let me end with a quote from Robert Frost:
by Commander Babu Vadakedath
January 4, 2004 was an important day for all of us - filled with prayers from our Archdiocesan members.
From the time Thirumeni was consecrated as Bishop and took charge as the Archbishop of the North American Diocese in 2004, I have been with him. I have been given the great opportunity to serve on the Archdiocesan Council for 7 years. I was able to travel with Thirumeni to visit Damascus, Germany and Lebanon and discuss with His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. Our Patriarch’s love and care for Thirumeni brought tears to my eyes. I could see the love our Patriarch has for our Archbishop is greater than that of a father to his child. When Thirumeni, and a few of the council members went to Syria, Thirumeni showed us around Damascus which gave us an insight into what his life was like, before he came to this Archdiocese.
His Eminence took charge of this Archdiocese during times of tribulation. Never did I see Thirumeni raise his voice or get angry. Thirumeni’s prayerful life, along with his quiet and peaceful personality was the reason, we were able to overcome all the difficulties during those times.
Ever since Thirumeni took charge as the Archbishop of this Blessed Archdiocese we have had great growth and blessing. We were able to purchase an Aramana for the first time under the leadership of our beloved Archbishop. Also with hard work, prayer and dedication of Thirumeni and the Council, we were able to purchase a Patriarchal Center and Seminary for the Archdiocese.
Thirumeni has always been concerned about and working for youth and children of this diocese. Thirumeni’s prayerful personal lifestyle has inspired many youth to come forward to become priests and deacons of this diocese.
When we look at the 25th Annual Family Conference, we can see that Thirumeni worked very hard along with the Committee and the diocesan council to make it a grand success - a memorable event of the Archdiocese.
His eminence is a caring person, a wonderful leader, God fearing Archbishop, a true Monk and a true follower of our Lord. As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Thirumeni’s Consecration as Archbishop of this blessed Archdiocese, I am praying to God to keep our Thirumeni happy and healthy and to give him long life and provide him strength and courage to go forward in his ministry in this Archdiocese.
[Editor's Note: What are the qualifications and what are the responsibilities of a Bishop in Orthodox Church? In short, a bishop has the perfection of priesthood and leadership of priesthood. That is a tall order! Read the description of the bishop in Coptic Church to get an idea.]
+ This is the highest rank of priesthood and its owner has the perfection of priesthood and leadership of priesthood.
+ The word EPISCOPOS is a Greek word that means supervision or looker from above
+ The Bishops are chosen among celibates who were not previously married.
+ Our teacher St. Paul mentioned in his first epistle to his disciple bishop Timothy in the third chapter, some important qualities for the bishop, saying that the bishop must be:
Every virtue is engulfed in this quality. In the Old Testament, the law says: "For any man who has any defect shall not approach to offer the bread of his God" Leviticus 21: 17-21. He must be completely blameless.
(2) The Husband of One Wife:
St. John Chrysostom said: "The apostle did not place this order as a basis that he must be a husband of one wife, but he forbids from this rank the individual who married more than one woman, as he wanted to choose the most pure and modest for a bishop rank, but as the door of celibacy and monasticism is opened, so the bishop is ordained among the celibate monks who never married at all.
This order has started since the Council of Nicea on the year 325 AD when a decision was made that priests must be married as according to the nature of their service, they enter houses and solve family problems but the bishops must be celibate and this was according to the request of St. Pafnotius, Bishop of Luxor who was attending the council with Pope Alexandros of Alexandria.
Cautious and attentive to his service and has many eyes around him from the priests and deacons, long sighted as the bishop is the guard of the Church and the congregation of God. He must have an acute enlightenment and care for the salvation of his soul and the souls of his congregation.
He must not be confused by administrative matters or preoccupied by various problems from his spiritual mission. St. John Chrysostom says: "The bishop must be vigilant and zealous, very committed and careful more than a leader towards his army"
(4) Sober – minded:
Behaving moderately and wisely, dealing adequately with every one of his congregation.
(5) Of Good Behavior:
In clothing, attitude and words as these flows out of the heart and reflects on the behavior.
As a sign of generosity, love and giving and Hermas says in his book: "The Shepherd" that the bishop must be hospitable with strangers, welcoming with joy at all times, the servants of God.
(7) Able to Teach:
In the Dioscolia is written: "Bishop take heed to doctrine, and explain the Holy Books. Feed your congregation and fill them from the light of the law so they care for your teachings". Our teacher St. Paul advises his disciple Timothy saying: "Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Take heed to yourself and to doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you". Timothy 4: 13, 16. In the apostolic teaching, they say to the bishop: "Take care of every one to save him". In the apostolic canons we find this text: "A bishop satisfied by the minimum of doctrine, is not a bishop but a lire (a canon from the apostolic canons).
(8) Not Given to Wine:
Applying the apostolic advice: "Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation but be filled with the Spirit" Eph: 5: 18. Drunkenness by wine excites physical lusts that is enjoying bodily pleasures, thus he is dead, 1Tim. 5:6, it leads a person to misery, mockery and disrespect, "Who has the woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly, at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper". Proverbs 23: 29-32.
(9) Not Violent:
Does not beat any of the congregation for the purpose of fear or domination by force or imposing an opinion by violence.
(10) Not Greedy for Money:
Does not love money as love of possessions is the source of all evil it corrupts the conscience of any responsible person and fails in many sins like simony, bribery, and hypocrisy which stumbles others.
(11) Gentle, not Quarrel some:
Has the spirit of his Master who "will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets" Matthew 12: 19 to present the good example of love and endurance to the congregation of God, so he conquers evil by good, and strife by love and patience.
(12) Must have a Good Testimony among Everyone:
With a good reputation without any mistakes that affects others and distract them away from Christ, as our teacher St. Paul says: "We give no offence in anything that our ministry may not be blamed, but in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God". 2Cor 6:3,4.
+ Our teacher St. Paul repeated these qualities necessary for a bishop in his epistle to Titus in the first chapter, urging for them.
+ Sometimes after reading the Pauline Epistle, during the presence of the Patriarch or bishop, they mention twelve virtues in the hymn of virtues. They ask God to dwell upon him with the following virtues:
The first: Love,
The third: Faith
The fifth: Celibacy
The seventh: Wisdom
The ninth: Meekness
The eleventh: endurance
If the bishop gains these great virtues he becomes an ideal bishop who resembles his Master, the source of virtues and holiness.
+ Lord Christ made overseers in the Church to shepherd the Church whom He purchased by His own Blood. Acts 20:28 and to be stewards of the mysteries of God 1Cor 4:1 and to be guards on faith, dogma, Tradition, Rites and all the other doctrines of the Church to keep them, and to stand against the heretics, false teachers and contradictors of faith and dogma.
+ So you find the responsibility of the bishop before the throne of God is much more awesome than any leader in any position in the world , so that our teacher St. Paul was trembling from the burden of its responsibility , he says "but I discipline my body and bring it into submission, lest, when I have preached to others. I myself should became disqualified 1Cor: 9:27.
+ Lord Christ was called an Overseer as here our teacher St. Peter says: "For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" 1Pet 2:25 , as the overseer must resemble Christ the Good Shepherd Who gives his life for the sheep.
+ The overseer is called an angel in the book of Revelation as Lord Jesus says to John the apostle: Write to the angel of the Church of Ephesus…. And to the angel of the Church of Pergamos write Rev. 2, so the overseer or bishop must be angelic in his life, behavior words, management, service, love, humbleness, purity…etc.
+ The bishop is distinguished from the priest by having the perfection of priesthood , and the authority of laying on of hands and ordination of all the ranks of deacons and priesthood in his diocese, also the authority of punishing the wrong doers and rewarding the active and committed persons.
+ The bishop is a priest and sacrifice at the same time. He gives his life and service as an offering acceptable before God the High Priest, when he gives his life as a living, acceptable sacrifice well pleasing to God on the altar of service , consecration , effort and offering for the comfort of the congregation as our teacher St. Paul said: "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls" 2Cor. 12:15
+ May reward or punish any deacon or priest in his diocese after he assures his deeds and attitude and service, and after hearing the witnesses and giving him a chance to defend himself.
+ Does not absent himself from his diocese except by a permission from the Patriarch and for a period no more than six months.
The seven sacraments are the original, and best, seven reasons to be a priest. But here are seven that incorporate recent news headlines about the priesthood.
First: The World Needs Heroes
That's the title of NYPriest.com's new movie ad, and it makes the essential point. God has shown his love and respect for human beings by taking an incredible risk, putting the very future of his project of redemption into our hands. He has arranged things such that the graces he intends for mankind reach us primarily through the seven sacraments. If men will step up and accept the responsibility to be the channel of these graces, then the risk will pay off, with eternal rewards. If they don't, it simply won't.
Second: To Make Christ Present to More People.
Before he ascended into heaven, Christ said, "Behold, I am with you until the end of time." He didn't mean he would be with us "in spirit" or in our "thoughts and prayers." He meant he would be with us for real, in his body, blood soul and divinity.
Christ fulfilled his promise in an astonishing way: by being present in the Eucharist. He will always be present in the sacrament somewhere in the world.
The Vatican's clergy point-man, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, asked in January for "dioceses, parishes, rectories, chapels, monasteries, convents and seminaries" to institute perpetual adoration. The more priests we have, the more people Christ can be present to. Christ's presence increases exponentially with new priests.
Third: To Forgive Sins.
Confession has been in the news a lot recently, with mainstream news articles explaining it, wondering at its disappearance and pointing out where it is being renewed. It's no wonder. Christ taught about the true value of human beings when he said, "What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" In confession, a priest gives the greatest gift possible, worth more than all the riches in the world: He restores penitents' souls.
Christ instituted many sacraments throughout his life, but only one after his resurrection. That was the sacrament of confession, when he breathed on the Apostles and told them, "Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven."
Fourth: To Be a Living Icon of Christ.
The Vatican call for perpetual adoration is a call "to make amends before God for the evil that has been done and hail once more the dignity of the victims" who suffered from the "moral and sexual conduct of a very small part of the clergy."
Perpetual adoration won't just atone for the small percentage of guilty clergy - it will help the innocent majority become more holy.
That's a necessity. Human beings respond to other human beings. Jesus Christ was not just a teacher, and he wasn't just an instrument of salvation. He was a man with a face. People can experience Christ's presence in the Eucharist and his forgiveness in confession, but the human heart still needs to see a man behaving in a Christlike way to fully understand Christ's message. We need more priests to do this for the Church.
Fifth: To Be Like Mary.
There were 48 new Legionary priests ordained in Rome at Christmastime. Pope Benedict XVI said, "I wish to direct a special greeting to the community of the Legionaries of Christ who come from various countries, especially the new priests and the representatives of Regnum Christi. … Like Mary, may you know how to keep, ponder and follow the Word that became flesh in Bethlehem, and enthusiastically spread his message of salvation."
It may seem odd, calling on an all-male priesthood to be like Mary, but Mary is the perfect model for any Christian - and especially a priest. She brought Christ into the world and, from the wedding feast at Cana to Pentecost, was at the center of efforts to introduce him to the world. Priests uniquely imitate her in the Mass.
Sixth: To Preach and Teach.
Priests have at the same time the easiest and most challenging teaching job in the world. What they have to teach is Christ - God himself who united himself with humanity in order to show us how to live. The Gospel contains unique, powerful answers to all our yearnings, problems and desires.
A preacher who immerses himself in Christ's life will be a profound and wise teacher just by saying the simple and true things the Church teaches. But it's a challenging task, also, precisely because of its simplicity.
Seventh: To Expand Your Family.
The Hartford Courant newspaper recently interviewed Father Joseph Looney about the Fraternity of Priests, an organization to address loneliness.
In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus gives the apostles a novel reason to follow him, leaving everything, and everyone: "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."
Christ doesn't promise riches, and he doesn't promise a "happily ever after" ending. But what he does promise, he delivers - priests have many homes, and many more family members than a layperson could hope to have. They also have a fraternal relationship with other priests, if they seek it out.
by George Aramath, Malankara World Board Member
All of us have or will have jobs, but each of those jobs have a certain status that goes with it. Some types of jobs are considered more important in the eyes of society than others, such as a doctor or teacher. Of course, the highest position in a country is becoming the President.
But there's a more important position, a higher calling that exists. We witness it happening at ordination services when a layman is ordained a priest. A priest is considered such a lofty position for many reasons:
Ordained priests have been given a unique gift that only those who are called, can receive. And of course with great power, comes great responsibility.
I want to look into an aspect of priesthood we often forget. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we "are a chosen people, a royal priesthood". But how are we royal priests? Is it not for a select number of God's chosen people?
From the New Testament perspective, we are all part of the royal priesthood. And when do we get ordained as a part of this royal priesthood? It happens when we become a Christian at our baptism.
When we are baptized, as the holy oil is spread across our bodies, the congregation sings:
There are several orders (steps) to reach the priesthood:
Each of these seven orders is given specific functions. For instance, a singer sings and a reader reads. And when ordained to the last order of priesthood, the person/priest represents the congregation, offering the sacrifice of Holy Qurbana. He is called out for that special offering and task.
But we should also remember that we are all, if baptized, a part of the royal priesthood. This is why we have a house-warming service. The ordained priest sanctifies the home into a church. He blesses the home and sanctifies it with water so that the house becomes a church. And who is the priest of this little church? It is the parents. They are called to offer themselves and their family to God.
I remember when I was a teenager, my brother and I would visit one of these 'little house church' for sleepovers. During the evening, the royal priest of that house would lead the evening prayer. Then afterwards, this royal priest would assign someone to read a portion of the Bible and then discuss about what we read. Interestingly, one of the sons from this 'little house church' would later be ordained to the last order of priesthood in our diocese.
Essentially, the church starts in the home. Only when we have priests in our 'little house churches' do we have priests in our bigger churches. Parents are called to train their children to become a part of the baptized royal priesthood. It then becomes the bishop's and congregation's responsibility to make sure that from this royal priesthood, select number of properly trained and prepared individuals are chosen to the last order of priesthood.
So as we think about the subject of priesthood, let's ask ourselves this important question: are you carrying out your duty as royal priest of your 'little house church'? Are you a royal priest at home to your children?
by Collin Hansen
Ministry feels a lot like war sometimes, and Churchill played a major role in the two biggest conflicts this world has ever seen. If the pulpit sometimes feels like a vulnerable place to stand, at least the congregation doesn't boo and hiss as they pepper you with questions, as MPs do in Parliament. Criticism can be harsh in a church, but it doesn't hold a candle to bearing the wrath of a nation watching its sons, husbands, and fathers die helplessly and pointlessly on the beaches of Gallipoli.
The clergy can identify with the ups and downs of Churchill's career. His quips inspire them. And his triumphs and tragedies can even teach us a thing or two (or five) about leadership. I've deduced these lessons primarily by reading Max Hastings's book Winston's War: Churchill 1940-1945.
(1) Your rhetoric matters.
The British army never stood a chance of matching the Germans. Without help from the Soviets or Americans, Britain was likely to fall to the Nazi juggernaut, as did the the European continent. So Churchill took to the floor of Parliament and the radio airwaves to do what he could: rouse the British people to meet their moment. One day following France's surrender, Churchill told the House of Commons, "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"
It was. The Royal Air Force fended off German bombers ahead of an expected invasion. The shell-shocked public would not bow to German aggression. Probably no one but Churchill could have roused them to make this stand. Armed with little more than eloquence and the British Channel, Churchill led Britain through their darkest hour.
We live in a show-me age that values deeds over creeds, actions over words. But public speaking remains a powerful tool in the pastor's kit. Good thing, too, because God's Word gives pastors this command: "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching" (1 Tim. 4:2). If Churchill could inspire a nation with words, how much more can we do when armed with the only divinely inspired Word?
(2) You will make mistakes---lots of them.
Popular memory tends to forget the victors' foibles. Churchill's errors in judgment might have prolonged the Second World War for several years if he hadn't been overruled by American generals. Churchill, whose armies had been embarrassed by the Germans in nearly every battle, feared a bloodbath on the beaches of northwest France. He backed the Italian campaign and pleaded for an Adriatic invasion. This was foolishness, and his allies knew it. For the war to end, they had to storm Normandy.
Churchill got the one big question right: Britain could not negotiate with the madman Hitler, so they must mobilize for another all-out war with Germany. But he exasperated his aides, generals, and American allies with ill-conceived plots celebrating pointless heroism over bloody necessity.
Congregations somehow expect of their pastors something they would never expect of themselves: perfection. Yet other than Jesus, we find no perfect leader in the Bible. Nathan rebukes David. Paul rebukes Peter. Romans 7 applies to us all. We sin, and we make poor strategic decisions. The fog of war clouds our thinking. Proverbs 15:22 tells us, "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." That's good, inspired counsel, but like many other proverbs, it's not a guarantee in all circumstances. We should cut each other some slack. When you expect to sometimes err, you'll be better prepared to adapt, as you must.
(3) Your personal touch builds much-needed credibility.
Churchill is hardly a character model. His parenting left much to be desired. Many subordinates and rivals despised him. Their journals, filled with invective, tell this sad story. They lamented his flights of strategic fancy. They resented him for keeping them up all hours so he could pontificate about one matter or another. They counted him many times a political goner when news of another British defeat returned from the battlefields.
And yet many intimates loved him so much they would put up with anything to support him in an impossible task of leading their country in war. His wit buoyed their spirits in times of deprivation and sacrifice. His considerate charm covered a multitude of sins.
The Bible makes much of character as the qualifying factors for pastoral ministry (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:4-9). Even though Churchill would not have made a good pastor, we can see from his life how a little considerate care for fellow church leaders and the rest of the congregation can go a long way. This love and trust, preserved by the Holy Spirit, sustains us during internal conflict and external challenges.
(4) You lead by persuasion, not dictate.
The Americans and British fought at a severe disadvantage compared to their German and Japanese enemies, and even their Russian allies. The Western allies didn't want to die. Officers ruled these other combatants with an iron fist during incomprehensible hardship. Retreat equaled death, so you might as well stay and fight. The United States and Great Britain would not fight on these gruesome terms. Axis officers marveled at how easily their soldiers surrendered, compared to the Russians.
Throughout the war, even when Britain faced national extinction, Churchill endured opposition from other MPs, his fellow ministers, and the public. Thousands of workers shut down factories providing vital goods as they negotiated higher wages. Even as the most powerful prime minister in Britain's history, Churchill led only partially by direct order. Winning the war demanded skills of persuasion to keep the public working, keep the armed forces fighting, and keep other MPs from negotiating with Hitler.
Ministry will at times require pastors to exercise their God-given authority, as in cases of church discipline. But most leadership will be exercised by persuading Christians to do what they might not initially want or believe they can do. Consider Paul: invoking his apostolic commission hardly thwarted opposition in places like Corinth and Galatia. Instead he sought to persuade them by the strength of his exegesis (Gal. 3) and his example as a humble follower of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
(5) You may be the last one to know when your time has passed.
Churchill saw the war through to victory. But he was so focused on the task at hand that he hardly discerned his nation's eagerness for change. A little more than two months after Germany surrendered, Britain voted his party our of power and deposed him as PM.
Churchill was exactly the right man to lead Britain in war, but he was ill-prepared to lead his country in the immediate aftermath. Committed to a vision of Britain's imperial greatness, he could not scale back the empire and implement the social and economic changes his people demanded. One day Britain's global war effort depended on his constant attention to endless details. Following the election his world fell silent. History had no more use for him. (We should note, however, that Churchill led the opposition for many years following the war and even returned unexpectedly to serve another tenure as prime minister. Old age does not disqualify leaders, including pastors.)
No pastor has been gifted by God in every way. One pastor strong in discipleship struggles to preach. Another who enjoys counseling loathes administration. Since congregations tend to take on the shape of their pastor, they will be strong in some areas and attract new members accordingly. But they may be weak in other ways where a new pastor could guide the congregation more effectively.
It's a sign of weak leadership when a church falls apart after the pastor leaves or retires. None of us is that important. Britain survived without Churchill, and the kingdom of God will thrive on earth even when we've joined the heavenly chorus. Good leaders can say with Paul, "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better (Phil. 1:23). Still, they might conclude, "But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account" (Phil 1:24). Either way, this eternal perspective arms pastors with perspective to properly evaluate their leadership. Trust in God is the foundation for determining when it is time to stay and time to go, lest others need to make that decision for you.
About The Author:
Collin Hansen serves as editorial director for The Gospel Coalition. He is the co-author of 'A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir.'
Source: Christianity.com Daily Update
by Dr. Jack Graham
Suppose a man came to your door and said, "I'm really hungry and I need a meal." So you say, "Well, come on in!" You get out some of your dinnerware and put a big steak on a plate with a baked potato, and you lay it down right in front of him.
The man looks at what you've set in front of him, folds his arms, sits back, and says, "I'm not going to eat it." So you ask him, "Why aren't you going to eat it? You said you were hungry!" And he says, "There's a chip on the plate and I refuse to eat off of it." Now, wouldn't that just be unbelievable?
Many people come to church and say, "Yes, I'm hungry for Jesus." But they look around and find chips on the wall and chips in the lives of people. They find all sorts of things to criticize. But real hunger for the Word and for fellowship with others will look past those imperfections and see what's perfect about the church: Jesus.
The church has flaws. There's not a church in the world that is perfect. Yet, we serve a perfect Savior. So if you're not plugged into a local church, find a good, imperfect, Jesus-centered church and discover the joy of experiencing life in Christ with others!
NO CHURCH IS PERFECT, BUT CHRIST IS. SO LIVE LIFE TOGETHER WITH IMPERFECT PEOPLE WHO SERVE A PERFECT SAVIOR!
Source: Powerpoint Devotional
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