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

Featured: Priesthood, HG Joseph Mor Gregorios

Volume 4 No. 196 February 13, 2014

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Karinagachira St. Goerge Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral
Kariangachira St. George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral
One of the oldest churches in our church. The anniversary of the consecration as Bishop of Mor Gregorios Joseph Kochu Thirumeni will be held here.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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I. THIS WEEK IN CHURCH

1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (February 16)

Bible Readings For Kohne Sunday - Remembering All Departed Clergy

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_Kohne_sunday-Departed-Clergy.htm

2. Sermons for This Sunday (February 16)

Sermons for Kohne Sunday - Remembering All Departed Clergy

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_departed-clergy.htm

3. Inspiration for Today: Be Still When Praying

This week, during your prayer times, focus on being in the moment. Let these words wrap themselves around your heart: "Be still. Know that I am God." Let the power of His presence flood you, filling you with confidence, peace, boldness. ...

II. THEME: PRIESTHOOD

4. The Priesthood: The Love of the Heart of Jesus by St. John Vianney

What is a priest? A man who holds the place of God - a man who is invested with all the powers of God. ... The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. ...The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ. ...

5. The True Priest and His Relation to Christ by Pope Francis

We priests have so many limits. We are sinners, all. But if we go to Jesus Christ, if we seek the Lord in prayer – prayer of intercession, prayer of adoration – we are good priests, even though we are sinners. But if we are far from Jesus Christ, we necessarily compensate for this with other, worldly attitudes. ...

6. Christ Waits for His Priests by Fr. Mark

When my priests seek my company
I am moved to show them the compassionate love of my Heart.
When they draw near to me
it is because I have already drawn near to them,
set my gaze upon them,
given them my Heart’s love of predilection,
and claimed them for myself
and for my Bride, the Church. ...

7. Bishops, Priests Ordained to Serve by Pope Francis

Pope Francis went on to say that anointing brings bishops and priests closer to the Lord and gives them the joy and strength, "To carry [their] people forward, to help [their] people, to live in the service of [their] people." Anointing gives the joy of feeling oneself "chosen by the Lord, watched by the Lord, with that love with which the Lord looks upon all of us." Thus, "When we think of bishops and priests, we must think of them in this way: [as] anointed ones." ...

III. FEATURED: HIS GRACE JOSEPH MOR GREGORIOS METROPOLITAN

8. Gregorios Thirumeni - A Giant 'Kochu Thirumeni' Loved By All by Dr. Jacob Mathew

There is something about the way kochu thirumeni looks at you. HG's demeanor overall tells you that you have met someone very special. Jesus had a "deep" look at Peter when he denied him three times during his mock trial. Was it a stare, or a disappointed look, or a "I told you so!" kind of look? It was the first time Peter saw "that look." Peter saw it and his heart melted; he could not take it any more. He ran away and cried and cried - a broken man who lost everything. He didn't feel like the "rock" anymore.

I do not want to say that the Kochu Thirumeni's look will make you cry. I think it is more of a look of comfort. You will feel at ease. He listens to you very carefully. He talks to you at your level - not sitting in a throne. One get the feeling that here is a bishop who cares about you. He is different. ...

9. On The Occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of Bishop consecration of His Grace Joseph Mor Gregorios, Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese and Holy Synod Secretary by Rev. Fr. Roy Paul Vettikkattil

A look at Thirumeni's life and accomplishments, his service to the church and community. The article is in Malayalam.

Joseph Mor Gregorios by Rev Fr. Roy Paul

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/ChurchFathers/MorJosephGregorios/gregorios-fr-roy-paul-rev1.pdf

10. H.G Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese by Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Abraham (Kochi) and Rev. Fr. Varghese Paul (New York, USA)

Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan is the Diocesan Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese. His Grace decorates the chair of the Secretary of the Holy Episcopal Synod in India too. Apart from all these spiritual responsibilities, His Grace serves as the manager of the Institutions of The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Chairman & Managing Trustee of many Institutions and organizations and Charitable Trusts. ...

11. Jubilarian Mor Joseph Gregorios Metropolitan By Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel

Thirumeni wears many hats. HG has been continuing as the secretary of the Holy Episcopal Synod for a long time. He is the manager of the educational trust of the church that overseas all educational institutions under the church. He is also the manager of Gregorian public school, Thiruvankulam. ...

Thirumeni, we wish you a great future. We need you in our forefront by holding the torch of true faith and to guide our children to the next century by keeping the legacy of our faithful fathers and saints. ...

12. His Grace Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan, A Well-Respected Shepherd of Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church by Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Manalelchira

Manalelchira achen shares a deep and long bond with Gregoriose Thirumeni. They were class mates and playmates under Perumpalli Thirumeni. Achen reflects on the life of Thirumeni both as a good friend and as a good spiritual father.

HG Joseph Mor Gregoriose

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/ChurchFathers/MorJosephGregorios/HG-JosephG-by-manalelchira.pdf

13. Twentieth Anniversary and Samooha Wedding Program

Details of the program.

14. Parumala Thirumeni on Christian unity

Some quotes.

IV. REGULAR COLUMNS

15. Health: Health Impact of Food Colorings and Natural Alternatives

A 2010 analysis of past research on links between food dyes and health by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found compelling evidence that ingestion of artificial dyes can contribute to hyperactivity, restlessness and attention problems in some children - particularly those with ADHD. ...

16. Recipe: Orange And Spinach Salad

17. Family: The Things We Do for Love

But God's transforming power is never just a deal between God and myself. It's not just "me and Jesus." Redemption, the fulfillment of God's saving purpose, always involves other people. God's transforming work in Jacob's life takes on a whole new meaning when he sees Rachel. For the first time in his self-absorbed, self-centered, self-satisfying life, he sees another person not as something to be used, but as someone to be loved. ...

18. Family: A Monk Speaks on Love, Sex, and Marriage

A husband and wife who love each other well, who strive for oneness in heart and mind, will see the outpouring of their unity bear fruit in children. Again, St. John Chrysostom emphasizes the primacy of love in the family, saying: "When we teach our children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving (all these are attributes of God), to be generous, to love their fellow men, to regard this present age as nothing, we instill virtue in their souls and reveal the image of God in them." ...

19. Become The Person You Most Want To Be

I think we all recognize the value of having goals to work on, but we need to do more than just pay lip service to the idea if we want results. ...

20. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church:
Kohne Sunday - Remembering All Departed Clergy
Bible Readings for This Sunday (February 16)

Bible Readings For Kohne Sunday - Remembering All Departed Clergy

Sermons for This Sunday (February 16)
Inspiration for Today: Be Still When Praying

by Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Author of 'Praying Life'

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

This week, during your prayer times, focus on being in the moment. Let these words wrap themselves around your heart: "Be still. Know that I am God." Let the power of His presence flood you, filling you with confidence, peace, boldness. When He says, "I am YOUR God," what is He saying to you? Each morning, write down what it means to you that He is YOUR God.

What kinds of thoughts try to pull you out of the moment? How do you resist them?

THEME: PRIESTHOOD

The Priesthood: The Love of the Heart of Jesus

by St John Vianney, Curé d'Ars

[Editor's Note: St John Vianney, to many, was a super priest. Sleep and food deprived, he would spend up to eighteen hours in the confessional. People will come all over France and neighboring countries for confessional with him. Drawn by his remarkable saintliness, they packed the church for his catechetical teaching, lined up for his spiritual direction and absolution or simply sought his saintly presence. John Vianney has become a model for priests and the patron saint of parish priests throughout the world. The following sermon is taken from the book of his excellent sermons. It is the Saint's teaching on the priesthood. As we read his words, may they inspire us all the more to value, love and pray for our priests.]

My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This Sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest? A man who holds the place of God - a man who is invested with all the powers of God.

"Go," said Our Lord to the priest; "as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . . He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me."

When the priest remits sins, he does not say, "God pardons you"; he says, "I absolve you." At the Consecration, he does not say, "This is the Body of Our Lord;" he says, "This is My Body."

Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord.
Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest.
Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest.
Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest.
Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest - always the priest.
And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again, the priest.

You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, "Go in peace; I pardon you."

Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office until he is in heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth.

Without the priest, the death and passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord has died? Alas! They can have no share in the blessings of redemption, while they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!

The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, "What can we do in this church? There is no Mass; Our Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home." When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.

When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, "Where are you going?" you might answer, "I am going to feed my soul." If someone were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, "What is that golden door?" "That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept." "Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?" "The priest." "And what is the Food?" "The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord." O God! O God! How Thou hast loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world. Someone said, "Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Cure of Ars?" Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.

If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, "There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul." At the sight of a church tower, you may say, "What is there in that place?" "The Body of Our Lord." "Why is He there?" "Because a priest has been there, and has said Holy Mass."

What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious?

The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The True Priest and His Relation to Christ

by Pope Francis

A true priest, Pope Francis said, is anointed by God for His people, has a close relationship with Jesus. When that relationship is missing, the priest becomes "smarmy," an idolater, a worshiper of the "god Narcissus."

Pope Francis' homily was entirely dedicated to the priesthood. Commenting on the passage from first letter of St. John, where the Apostle says that we have eternal life because we believe in the name of Jesus, the Pope asks about the relationship of priests with Jesus, because "the strength of a priest is in this relationship." When Jesus was growing in popularity, the Pope said, "He went to the Father," He retreated "to a deserted place to pray." This is a kind of "touchstone for priests" he said: whether or not we seek to find Jesus. "What is the place of Jesus Christ in my priestly life? Is it a living relationship, from the disciple to the Master, from brother to brother, from the poor man to God, or is it a somewhat artificial relationship... that does not come from the heart?"

"We are anointed by the Spirit, and when a priest is far from Jesus Christ he can lose this unction. In his life, no: essentially he has it... but he loses it. And instead of being anointed he ends up being smarmy. And how damaging to the Church are smarmy priests! Those who put their strength in artificial things, in vanity, in an attitude... in a cutesy language... But how often do we hear it said with sorrow: 'This is a butterfly-priest,' because they are always vain... [This kind of priest] does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ! He has lost the unction: he is smarmy."

Pope Francis continued:

"We priests have so many limits. We are sinners, all. But if we go to Jesus Christ, if we seek the Lord in prayer – prayer of intercession, prayer of adoration – we are good priests, even though we are sinners. But if we are far from Jesus Christ, we necessarily compensate for this with other, worldly attitudes. And so [we see] all these figures... priest-wheeler dealers, priest-tycoons... But the priest who adores Jesus Christ, the priest who talks with Jesus Christ, the priest who seeks Jesus Christ and who is allowed to seek Jesus Christ: this is the centre of our life. If that is not there, we lose everything. And what will we give to the people?"

"Our relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship of anointing for the people," Pope Francis said, "grows in us priests" more and more each day:

"But it is good to find priests who have given their lives as priests, truly, of whom the people say: "Yes, he's difficult, he's this or that... But he is a priest! And people know! On the other hand, when people see priest idolaters, so to speak, priests who instead of having Jesus have little idols... worshippers of the god Narcissus... When people see [priests like this] they say 'poor guy!' The relationship with Jesus Christ saves us from worldliness and idolatry that makes us smarmy, preserves us in the anointing [we have received]. And today, this is my hope for you who have been kind enough to come here to concelebrate with me: Even if you lose everything in life, don't lose this relationship with Jesus Christ! This is your victory. Go forward with this!"

Source: Radio Vaticana, 1/12/2014

Christ Waits for His Priests

by Fr. Mark

I wait for my priests.
I long to see them enter my sanctuary
and approach the tabernacle of my abiding presence.

I wait for them
in the Sacrament that I left for their sakes
as the expression of my Divine Friendship for my priests,
as their consolation in loneliness,
their strength in weakness,
their sweetness in life’s bitterness.

When my priests seek my company
I am moved to show them the compassionate love of my Heart.
When they draw near to me
it is because I have already drawn near to them,
set my gaze upon them,
given them my Heart’s love of predilection,
and claimed them for myself
and for my Bride, the Church.

If they come in search of my Eucharistic Face,
it is because the light of my Face
has already illumined their darkness.
Some see the light of my Face
and walk in its radiance.

Others see it and turn away,
choosing darkness over my light.
Even among my priests
there are those who forsake the light of my Face
for the demon-infested darkness
that will lead to their destruction.

How I grieve over those of my priests who turn from me.
How I grieve over those of my priests
who pretend not to have seen my light
nor to have recognized my Face.

These, like Peter in his weakness,
deny having known me.
Still, I wait for them to turn to me.

My Face is, at every moment, turned towards them.
I will give them light to return to me.
I wait for them in the Sacrament of my Love.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of A Priest

Bishops, Priests Ordained to Serve

by Pope Francis

Pope Francis spoke of the Church as a divinely ordained institution in which some individuals - the men who answer the call to become priests and bishops - are specially anointed to serve the people of God. The Pope thanked the many holy priests who give their lives in the anonymity of their daily service.

Commenting on the first reading of the day, which speaks of the tribes of Israel that anoint David as their king, the Pope explained the significance of spiritual anointing, saying, "Without this anointing, David would have been only the head," of the, "company" of a "political society, which was the Kingdom of Israel" He would have been a mere, "political organizer." Instead, "After the anointing , the Spirit of the Lord," descends upon David and stays with him. Scripture says that David continued to grow in power, and that the Lord was with him. "This," said Pope Francis, "is precisely the difference anointing makes." The anointed one is a person chosen by the Lord. So it is in the Church for bishops and priests: Listen:

"The bishops are elected not only to conduct an organization, which is called the particular Church. They are anointed: they have the anointing and the Spirit of the Lord is with them. All the bishops are sinners, every one. Still, we are anointed. We all want to be more holy every day, more faithful to this anointing. The person of the bishop is the thing that [constitutes] a Church [as such], in the name of Jesus Christ - because he is anointed, not because he was voted by the majority. It is in this anointing that a particular Church has its strength. Because they take part [in the bishop's mission of service] priests are anointed, as well."

Pope Francis went on to say that anointing brings bishops and priests closer to the Lord and gives them the joy and strength, "To carry [their] people forward, to help [their] people, to live in the service of [their] people." Anointing gives the joy of feeling oneself "chosen by the Lord, watched by the Lord, with that love with which the Lord looks upon all of us." Thus, "When we think of bishops and priests, we must think of them in this way: [as] anointed ones.":

"On the contrary, it is impossible to understand - not only - it is impossible to explain how the Church could continue under merely human strength. This diocese goes forward because it has a holy people, many things, and also an anointed one who leads, who helps it to grow. This parish progresses because it has many organizations, many things, but it also has a priest, who carries the parish forward. We in history know but a small part - though how many holy bishops, how many priests, how many holy priests have given their lives in the service of the diocese, the parish - how many people have received the power of faith, the power of love, hope [itself] from these anonymous pastors? We do not know: there are so many."

They are many, explained Pope Francis, "The parish priests of the country or the city, who, with their anointing have given strength the people, who have passed on the teaching of the faith, have given the sacraments: [in a word], holiness.":

"'But , Father, I have read in a newspaper that a bishop has done such a thing, or a priest who has done this thing.' Oh yes, I read it, too. Tell me, though: do the papers carry news of what great charity so many priests, so many priests in so many parishes of the city and the countryside, perform? Of the great work they do in carrying their people forward? No? This is not news. It is the same as always: a single falling tree makes more noise than a forest that grows. Today, thinking about this anointing of David, it will do us good to think of our brave, holy , good , faithful bishops and priests, and pray for them. We are here today thanks to them."

Source: Vatican News Agency, January 27, 2014

FEATURED: His Grace Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan

Gregorios Thirumeni - A Giant 'Kochu Thirumeni' Loved By All

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Editor-in-Chief, Malankara World

HG Joseph Mor Gregorios, Metropolitan, Kochi Diocese

There is something about the way kochu thirumeni looks at you. HG's demeanor overall tells you that you have met someone very special. Jesus had a "deep" look at Peter when he denied him three times during his mock trial. Was it a stare, or a disappointed look, or a "I told you so!" kind of look? It was the first time Peter saw "that look." Peter saw it and his heart melted; he could not take it any more. He ran away and cried and cried - a broken man who lost everything. He didn't feel like the "rock" anymore.

I do not want to say that the Kochu Thirumeni's look will make you cry. I think it is more of a look of comfort. You will feel at ease. He listens to you very carefully. He talks to you at your level - not sitting in a throne. One get the feeling that here is a bishop who cares about you. He is different.

Last time I saw thirumeni was in my ancestral home in Kerala last September. My mother had just passed away. Catholica Bava came from Banagalore for the funeral. Gregoriose Kochu thirumeni was in Bombay at that time and he visited us the following day with Kuriakose Manalelchira achen. We had some discussion of Malankara World and our emphasis on doing something for the family, especially in the area of post-marital counseling to supplement the premarital counseling we do in the churches now. Kochu thirumeni is a big believer in counseling. He has done a diploma course in counseling at US prior to becoming a bishop. He listened carefully. I got the feeling that he is always listening - looking for opportunities to improve the pastoral care offered by our church. He cares.

You can see the example he set when his sheep wanted to celebrate twentieth anniversary of his consecration as a bishop. Like LL Osthathiose thirumeni asked those around him "not to spend money on bouquets of flowers but spend those funds for clothes or other essential things for poor and needy or give them money." The organizing committee, headed by HG Issac Mor Osthathiose of Delhi Diocese (who had served as Thirumeni's secretary when he was a priest), decided to honor Kochu thirumeni's wishes and to make this event the 10th anniversary of the family units in the diocese, highlighting the charitable works of the diocese.

In connection with the theme of family, the diocese will help in the marriage of 20 poor girls. The couples were picked purely on the basis of need; caste, creed and religion were not considered. Out of the 20 finalists only 7 were Jacobites. The remaining 13 couples were Catholics, Hindus, etc. Each couple will get wedding clothes, cooking vessels, gold and a cash donation. The total donation is worth about 2 lakhs of rupees that will get them a head start in life. For these poor couples, it is a big wedding ceremony they cannot imagine! The Jacobites will be wedded at Karingachira pally after a trimass. Others will be wedded at their own churches or temples. But then all the married couples and 20 guests/couple will be treated to a wedding party they will not forget. That is how the 'Giant' Kochu thirumeni does things!

Thirumeni is the Manager of the Educational Trust of the church - a trust that is in charge of all the educational institutions owned by the church. He also manages several schools of the Kochi diocese. For thirumeni, education is a priority. I was watching a recently released documentary on HB Baselios Thomas I called "srestan." Gregorios thirumeni was interviewed extensively for the documentary. At one point HG was explaining the philosophy of our Sresta Catholica Bava. Thirumeni said bava insists that a key mission of our church should be in educating people. Bava realizes that, initially, we need funds for starting an institution. But after the obligations are paid off, bava wants these institutions to help people without consideration of income. Gregorios thirumeni is very much in agreement with this philosophy. Christianity is known for its emphasis on education - even the Malayalam name "pallikudam" for school came from a school attached to a church. Somehow, in the rush to accrue more and more wealth for churches, we have forgotten our basic mission - helping people. I am really glad that our church leaders like Kochu thirumeni and Sresta bava knows what their role is and what the savior wants them to do.

As Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel said in an attached article, thirumeni was among a few stalwarts who came forward when the church was in crisis. There were serious questions as to whether the church will survive from this crisis. Several people called it quits either voluntarily or were "bought out." These are the times when we know who really is with the church. There is a famous song in Malayalam that can be loosely translated as

When you are laughing, there will be thousands of people to laugh with you
When you cry, the only one with you to cry with you will be your shadow.

When times are bad, when you are facing persecution, when you know that you may be mocked and laughed at for your decision, this is the time when we meet the real leaders. They are there because of the principles they believe in not for any other worldly goods or position.

Fr. Prior of Benedictine order told the "graduating class" of the monks last week:

"You could have chosen a well-established abbey with magnificent architecture and a splendid church, with vast scenic lands, financial security, wise seniors, strong men in the prime of life, and promising young men giving assurance for tomorrow. Instead, you have come to a monastery so poor that it does not even own the buildings and land in which it is established; a monastery in which you will find no fine architecture and no splendid abbey church; a monastery that is, in every way, fragile - oh, so fragile - and marked already by cold, sickness, weakness, and a worrisome lack of security and of means."

That is an accurate description of the condition of our church when Kochu Thirumeni embraced it. Fr. Prior continued:

Paradoxically, here, the very insecurity of the place will become your security. As your father, I will not hide from you the secret upon which you will have to stake your life here, the words of Christ to Saint Paul: "My grace is enough for thee; my strength finds its full scope in thy weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

For those who believe, the grace of God provides the fortress that will protect them. Paitel achen talks about the "Proclamation of Faith Meeting" organized by Kochu Thirumeni at Kochi and how that turned the situation around for the church. The cream always rises to the top. The people with faith in Jesus know that, Jesus told them that there will be trials and tribulations and persecutions; but they should remember that Jesus won them first. A good shepherd takes care of his sheep; that is the first and foremost priority for them. Our bishops and clergy need to remember that it is their job to guide the sheep from danger into safe areas.

I saw a great prayer reflecting on what Jesus wants from His clergy. Let me quote the first two stanzas below:

It is enough for you to be with Me.
This is all I ask of you.
I do not ask for elevated thoughts,
or for emotional outpourings,
or for nicely constructed phrases.
I ask only that you stay with Me.

I need your company even now
just as I needed the company
of Peter, James, and John in Gethsemane.
They slept on, it is true, but I knew they were there,
and their mere presence
was a consolation to My agonizing Heart.

In another reflection, "Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ?" I came across the following:

Abandon yourself to My love,
and trust that I will never abandon you,
nor let you fall victim to the deceits of the Enemy.
Humility is the armor that frustrates and confounds the enemy.
Remain humble and trusting in My presence,
and the Enemy will have no way to poison your mind or your heart."

People like Kochu Thirumeni, who has the faith and courage to face the trials, will find that Jesus is there beside them at every step on the way. What Jesus looks for are love, humility and a contrite heart. Jesus said nothing is going to destroy the Church he built. When we have shepherds like HG Joseph Mor Gregorios, our church is safe.

We wish Thirumeni all the best.

On The Occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of Bishop Consecration of His Grace Joseph Mor Gregorios, Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese and Holy Synod Secretary

by Rev. Fr. Roy Paul Vettikkattil
Vicar and President of St. George Cathedral, Karingachira
Malankara World Board Member

A look at Thirumeni's life and accomplishments, his service to the church and community. The article is in Malayalam. The pdf version can be read by clicking on the link below.

Joseph Mor Gregorios by Rev Fr. Roy Paul

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/ChurchFathers/MorJosephGregorios/gregorios-fr-roy-paul-rev1.pdf

H.G Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese

by Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Abraham (Kochi) and Rev. Fr. Varghese Paul (New York, USA)

The Kochi Diocese is one of the oldest Dioceses which was formed as one among the Seven Dioceses established in the Historical Malankara Syrian Christian Association held at Mulanthuruthy in Ernakulam District in 1876 under the Chairmanship of the late lamented Patriarch, H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV.

Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan is the Diocesan Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese. His Grace decorates the chair of the Secretary of the Holy Episcopal Synod in India too. Apart from all these spiritual responsibilities, His Grace serves as the manager of the Institutions of The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Chairman & Managing Trustee of many Institutions and organisations and Charitable Trusts.

His Grace was born as the youngest of four children to Srambickal Pallathitta Varghese and Saramma on 10th November 1960 in Perumpally, Mulanthuruthy. He is the Grand child of the cousin of St. Gregorios Geevarghese Chathuruthil (Parumala Thirumeni, the Well known Saint). Named 'Youseph' on baptism he was called Jose. He pursued his primary education at Perumpally Primary School and Mulanthuruthy High School.

At the young age of 13, he was ordained deacon by Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (Perumpally Thirumeni) at Mor Ignatius Dayro, Manjanikkara on 25th March 1974. Subsequently, Dn. Jose became the Secretary to Mor Gregorios and served HG for a long period. He did pre-degree and bachelors degree at Maharajas College, Emakulam and joined Mor Julius Seminary, Perumpally for his theological studies.

On 25th March 1984, Dn. Jose was ordained Priest at Marthoman Church, Mulanthuruthy, by Late Lamented His Beatitude Mor Baselios Paulose II, Catholicose of the East. He was appointed the Vicar of St. Marys Cathedral, Queens Road, Bangalore. He served there from 1984 to 1988. He left for higher studies in Ireland and did B.D (St. Patrik's College, Dublin) and M. Phil ( Dublin University). He served as Vicar of St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Church, London during 1988 to 1992. Later he left for U.S and acquired Diploma in Clinical Pastoral Education and Counseling. From 1992 to 1993 he served many parishes in the US.

On the retirement of his predecessor, Late Lamented Thomas Mor Osthatheos Metropolitan, due to old age, Fr. Jose was unanimously selected and elected as the Bishop candidate. He was ordained Ramban by H.H the Patriarch at Damascus on 14th January 1994. Subsequently On 16th January 1994, Joseph Ramban was consecrated Metropolitan by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Prince Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, at Damascus, for the Cochin Diocese. His Grace assumed charge of the diocese on 23rd January 1994. From that day onwards a real change was felt in the day to day affairs of the holy Church in general and particularly the Kochi Diocese.

With all limits and limitations, the Young New Metropolitan was instrumental in helping the poor, discarded and deceased - by caring and considering them as the children of God. His Grace's simplicity, love and care conquered the hearts of the faithful and needy - and he is affectionately called 'Kochuthirumeni' by everyone. Recognizing the vision and practices, many people encouraged and supported His grace from all walks of life and thus the area of services spread to nearby areas also. As soon as His Grace took charge of the Diocese, he started house visits and initiated to form family units and charitable trusts in each and every parish. Like his predecessor, staying in the same small house, Kochuthirumeni was keen in introducing new programmes and establishing new schemes for the society. Understanding the situations prevailing in many families and the attitude of the Youth, he introduced Premarital Counseling Course and made it compulsory before marriage. He started Metropolitan poor relief fund for the needy in a big way - for treatment, education and marriage of the poor and orphans. The Medical insurance scheme was also introduced. He took special interest in the poor and old people for their rehabilitation and treatment.

HG organized several conventions and symposiums for the enlightment and upliftment of the poor and faithful. HG served as the President of Malankara Jacobite Syrian Sunday School Association (MJSSA) from 1996 till 2002. In recognition of HG's exemplary actions and dedicated services, he was elected as the Secretary of the Holy Episcopal Synod (Bishops Meeting) in India. HG continues to serve this post with dignity. Motivated by Parumala Thirumeni and also by his predecessor, HG started 'Gregorian Public School' at Maradu, Ernakulam. HG is the Manager of the school. He is also the managing trustee of St. Gregorious Charitable Trust. HG is also the manager of Georgian Academy English Medium High School at Kyomtha Seminary.

HG also initiated several programs for the faithful and clergy for their spiritual and emotional development. Recognizing the need of the hour, Kochuthirumeni started a boys home for the poor at Vattappara under the auspices of Tabore Heights charitable Trust. As the Secretary of the Holy Synod in India, Kochuthirumeni contributed a lot for the Church in general.

A historical Patriarchal Day Celebrations was held in 1995 under the Chairmanship and Leadership of His Grace. This was one of the events which reflected his steadfast faith to the Holy Apostolic Throne. It also unveiled HG's clear vision and unmatched leadership quality and organizing ability to the public and the Church in general. All the Apostolic visits of His Holiness, the Patriarch, were well organised and were successful as a result of the dedicated and strong will of His Grace. The Patriarchal Enthronement Silver Jubilee Celebrations held in Kerala in 2004 in presence of His Holiness, the Patriarch gave a big boost to the unmatched leadership of HG. It also brought a new renaissance to the Holy Church and vigour to the faithful.

HG had the rare opportunity to visit His Holiness the Patriarch on several occasions and to be with His Holiness more than anyone from Malankara. This deep-rooted relationship of HG with the Holy Father is well known to the faithful as well as to the Bishops and clergy in the Holy church. His Holiness finds a true unmatched spiritual Leader in HG to take the Holy Church to the new decade.

His Grace worked hard and stood well with His Beatitude, the Catholicose, and all the Metropolitans for the glory of the Holy Church. The famous 101 Mass (Nootti-one-inmel Qurbana) and the construction of St. Gregorios village at Mulanthuruthy are a few among the many events which added golden feather to his crown.

His Grace represented the Holy Church in many World conferences, visited the Holy Land many times, and travelled worldwide extensively - developing good relationship with the people he meets. HG also is taking initiative and special interest in convening dialogues and meetings in order to achieve peace and harmony in the Church.

HG is well appreciated as Staunch Believer, Spiritual Leader, Wise organizer, Lover of Peace, Prudent Administrator, Good Samaritan, Intelligent Educationist and as a true friend who spreads the message of our Lord.

In the outset of the 20th Year of Episcopal Consecration, HG has initiated special schemes for the poor and needy. When the diocese wished to celebrate the Metropolitan Consecration, His Grace wished to celebrate it as 'The Samooha Vivaham'( Wedding of 20 poor girls from all religions).

During the time of all trials and tribulations, His grace continues his journey with a clear and farsighted vision. Let us wish, hope and pray that, God help HG to do more and more things with good Vision and keep the Christian flag fly at full mast which will prosper our people, community, society, particularly Kochi Diocese and the Holy Church.

Jubilarian Mor Joseph Gregorios Metropolitan

By Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel, Malankara World Board Member

Congratulations and best wishes to H.G. Mor Gregorios Joseph (Kochu Thirumeni) on celebrating the accomplishments of two decades of the episcopacy.

Kochu Thirumeni was born the youngest of four children to Srambickal Pallathitta Geevarghese and Saramma on 10 Nov 1960 in Perumpally, Mulanthuruthy. He is the Grand child of the cousin of St. Mor Gregorios Geevarghese Chathuruthil (Parumala Thirumeni).

Kochu Thirumni was one of the few courageous persons who rose to the occasion when the church needed them most. So, let me briefly describe the context in which HG was ordained.

A Church in Crisis

In 1972 the Syriac Orthodox Church in Malankara suffered a schism. A chain of litigations and unrest followed this schism. We were unprepared for this as this came as a surprise. The other faction was well prepared and played their role like in a screen play.

The first shock to the church was from the deportation of Patriarchal Delegate Mor Aprem Aboodi Themothiose Metropolitan after the cancellation of his residency visa. His absence created a leadership vacuum in the clergy ranks in our church. An apostolic church requires a bishop for consecrating priests and bishops. This presented a big challenge to our church. Cries for new bishops rose from every corner of our church. Consecration of The Late Lamentated Dr. Kadavil Paulose Mor Athansiose Metropolitan for The Evangelical Mission of the East provided a temporary relief. Later, two zealot priests of valor and enthusiasm were consecrated as bishops by the then Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Yakoob III. Both of them jumped into the fire pot fuelled by the actions of the rival faction. They came out refined after testing their faith and courage in that fire. One of their immediate actions was to find and ordain enough qualified workers for our church. It was a difficult task. Resources were very limited. Many doubted if the church can survive. So, they considered it a suicidal mission to jump into such an uncertain. Some young people with courage and dedication to carry the cross came forward at the calling of God. Young Joseph was one of them.

Joseph was ordained deacon by Mor Gregorios Geevarghese at Mor Ignatius Dayro, Manjanikkara on 25 March 1974. He was only 13 years old at that time. He has been called for a divine vocation on such a situation like that of Samuel. Subsequently Dn. Joseph served as the secretary to Mor Gregorios for a very long period.

Some of My Fond Memories of Early Days of Kochu Thirumeni

Deacon Joseph was the first deacon in our church that I got acquainted with in the early days of my vocation. He was a few years younger than me. He was serving Late Lamentated Mor Gregorios Thirumeni (Perumpilly Thirumeni). Besides D. Joseph, three other deacons were also serving Perumpilly Thirumeni at that time. They are: Very Rev. Baby Cor- Episcopos, Rev. Fr. Abbey Kuruvilla, and Rev. Fr. Mathai Kattumangattu. We became very good friends at the seminary. That friendship grew and we share many fond memories of those days.

All of us in the seminary knew that Deacon Joseph had a great future in our church. He was already showing his organizing skills and leadership skills. He also amassed impressive knowledge of Theology. We were proved right.

HB Mor Baselios Paulose II, Catholicose of the East, ordained Dn. Joseph Kassiso at Marthoman Church, Mulanthuruthy on 25 March 1984. Fr. Joseph went for higher studies in Dublin, Ireland, London, England and United States. He had served as vicars in several churches in North America and Europe during this time.

Due to old age, the then Metropolitan of Cochin Diocese, Mor Osthatheos Thomas, retired from his temporal duties of serving the diocese. Fr. Joseph was ordained Ramban by H.H Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, at Damascus on 14 January 1994. On 16 January 1994, Rev. Joseph Ramban was consecrated Metropolitan by the name Mor Gregorios Joseph by H.H Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka-I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East at Damascus. Mor Gregorios Joseph assumed the office of the Metropolitan of Cochin Diocese on January 23, 1994 at Kyomtha Cathedral, Thiruvankulam.

When consecrated, Gregorios Thirumeni was one of the youngest to be ordained a bishop of our church. Then onwards we call him Kochu Thirumeni. Thirumeni is very close to my family. My Late father, mother and all of my brothers have kept in touch with him.

Kochu Thirumeni - A Man of Courage

The early days after his consecration were days filled with uncertainty and anxiety for Kochu Thirumeni. Thirumeni, however, handled his job very well. He kept his faith in God and maintained his obedience and love to the Holy Throne of Antioch and to H.B. Catholicose Mor Baseliose Paulose II and to his mentor Perumpilly thirumeni as he vowed before his consecration. The days after the Supreme Court judgment in 1995 brought new challenges. The judgement dealt a severe blow to our church. Shockwaves were spreading through the faithful as hours and minutes passed after the judgement was announced. The strength of faith and confidence of some of our leaders were severely tested. I do not want to reveal some of these stories. There were serious allegations made against some members of the litigation committee. Times looked pretty bad for our church in the aftermath of the Supreme Court Judgement.

Supreme Court judgment came out on 20th June 1995. The media and the Government were trying to manipulate the situation. Those were the turbulent days for Mr. A.K. Antony as the Chief Minister of Kerala. Political situation of the ruling party also looked precarious. Soon after the Supreme court Judgment, orthodox faction was using their machinery to spread false propaganda to the govt. and the public. Our Holy church was the victim of this vicious propaganda. However, the God was with us. We were granted a great victory in the special court. It was the result of hard work from an expert team of litigation committee under the leadership of Late Lamented Kuriakose Mor Coorilose Thirumeni as the chairman. Unfortunately, we failed to maintain the great success in the special court judgment.

There is a simple explanation why we did so poorly after the judgement. We were not prepared for it. Mor Gregorios Thirumeni rose to the occasion here. He had been newly consecrated as the Asst. Bishop of Cochin Diocese. This diocese was facing serious difficulties at that time. A successor bishop to the then Diocesan Metropolitan was needed – someone who is seasoned and experienced in handling trouble. Trials and tribulations were waiting for the new bishop.

Kochu Thirumeni's Leadership Role in the Faith Proclamation Meeting

It is true that cream always rises to the top. Butter separates and rises to the top when the curd is subjected to severe tribulations. For Kochu Thirumeni, the turbulent situation in the church presented a great opportunity to show his leadership talents

Thirumeni went to work to bring the situation under control. One of the great accomplishments of the new Thirumeni was regaining the spirit of the church from the shock after the supreme court judgment. Within few days after the supreme court judgment, a mega meeting was planned at Marine Drive in Cochin to proclaim and show True Faith in church. The world was watching. This was a big risky venture. If people did not show up, it would have been the end of the church. So, the organizers had to communicate to the people what is at risk and inspire them to attend the meeting.

The young Joseph Gregorios Thirumeni was the convener of that meeting. The meeting was a great success and exceeded all expectations. It shocked all dissidents within and outside our church. More than Five and a half lakh spirited faithful assembled there on that day. It is even more remarkable that they only had few days notice and the communication systems those days were very primitive.

This meeting changed everything. It was the calm after the storm. Hierarchy of church never expected such a sweeping show of our faithful. We were able to show the world that we meant business and that the rank and file was with us. The tide turned. The critics of the church who expected a big failure were shocked.

That overwhelming success of the meeting was the combined result of the tearful prayers of late lamented HB Baseliose Paulose II Catholicose of the East and the confidence and successful organizing capacity of the young bishop Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan who brought his youthful enthusiasm to the church. Thirumeni proved that he can organize and lead the church to its goal. He had a great grasp of facts, figures, and history. He was also a very skilled public speaker. HG inspired his listeners to a common purpose and goal.

A Bishop Trusted by The Patriarch

The talents of this young bishop was noticed by the Patriarch. When difficult situations arose in the church, the Patriarch started using Gregoriose Thirumeni to handle it. Thirumeni had travelled all over Kerala, India and abroad to put out "small fires" in the church.

One example is the recent situation in the Malankara Archdiocese in North America. When a situation arose that may inflict serious damage to the archdiocese, the Patriarch appointed Gregoriose Thirumeni as the patriarchal observer. The Thirumeni was entrusted with the task of talking to the priests, laity, and management of the archdiocese, understand the problem and suggest recommendations to Patriarch. I understand H.G was trying to keep the spirit of our faithful, by helping us to stay as a united church. I heard Thirumeni, was crying for the whole night by praying and praying to avoid disheartening division of this archdiocese. Holy Moran was confident in Thirumeni and he accepted his recommendations without change.

Thirumeni wears many hats. HG has been continuing as the secretary of the Holy Episcopal Synod for a long time. He is the manager of the educational trust of the church that overseas all educational institutions under the church. He is also the manager of Gregorian public school, Thiruvankulam.

Let me conclude my words. Thirumeni, we wish you a great future. We need you in our forefront by holding the torch of true faith and to guide our children to the next century by keeping the legacy of our faithful fathers and saints. Good luck!

His Grace Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan, A Well-Respected Shepherd of Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church

by Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Manalelchira, Secretary of Kottayam Diocese

Manalelchira achen shares a deep and long bond with Gregoriose Thirumeni. Like Sree Krshnan and Kuchelan, they were class mates and playmates under Perumpalli Thirumeni. Achen reflects on the life of Thirumeni both as a good friend and as a good spiritual father. The Malayalam article can be read from the pdf file by clicking on the link below.

HG Joseph Mor Gregoriose

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/ChurchFathers/MorJosephGregorios/HG-JosephG-by-manalelchira.pdf

Twentieth Anniversary and Samooha Wedding Program
Mor Gregorios Joseph 20th consecration anniversary celebration program -1Mor Gregorios Joseph 20th consecration anniversary celebration program -2
Parumala Thirumeni on Christian unity
"Be rich in love of man and love of God. Brothers should never cheat each other. When you move away from unity you are sure to move away from God."

"If there is a quarrel in the family, keep away from it. A quarrelsome house is the haven of the devil; and God is nowhere near it."

"Avoid arrogance, quarrel, and pride while dealing in Church matters; instead, let your humility shine before others. Those who place their trust in God, and satisfy the people are blessed. May God bless them."

"Forgiveness is strength. It gives a person good name. It is the distinguishing feature of righteous people."

REGULAR COLUMNS
Health Tip: Health Impact of Food Colorings and Natural Alternatives

Food colorings may contribute to ADHD in children

Dear EarthTalk: Ever since the red dye #2 scare in the 1970s I've been wary of using food colorings or buying food that appears to contain them. Are there natural and healthy food colorings? -- Nancy McFarlane, Methuen, MA

Many of us are still wary of food dyes because of reports about links between red dye #2 and cancer in the 1970s. While red dye #2 was subsequently banned from products sold in the United States, many health-conscious consumers continue to avoid foods with other artificial colors or dyes—even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers them safe for human consumption.

But a 2010 analysis of past research on links between food dyes and health by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found compelling evidence that ingestion of artificial dyes can contribute to hyperactivity, restlessness and attention problems in some children—particularly those with ADHD. "What's more, the studies suggested that removing dyes from those children's diet was a quarter to half as effective in reducing those symptoms as giving the kids Ritalin or other stimulants," reports Nancy Cordes, CBS News' Consumer Safety Correspondent. "In other words, certain kids with ADHD might not need drugs if the artificial dyes were removed from their diets." Several commonly used artificial food dyes are suspected carcinogens as well.

While it might be impossible to prevent your children from eating anything with artificial dye, you can do your part by shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's—both chains have banned products that use artificial dyes and carry all-natural food coloring for home cooking and baking projects.

One brand to look for is India Tree, which makes a line of food coloring derived from vegetable colorants. The company's "Nature's Colors Natural Decorating Colors" contain no corn syrup or synthetic dyes, and are highly recommended for coloring icing in rich jewel tones or soft pastels.

Another company specializing in natural (as well as organic) food colors is Nature's Flavors, whose products are widely used commercially in ice cream, baked goods, frosting, dairy products, syrups, sauces, beverages and even hair colors. The company recently began to sell their products to consumers, as well, through retail stores. They use a variety of plant materials, including beets, turmeric root, annatto seeds, purple carrot, purple cabbage, gardenia flowers, hibiscus flowers and grape skin. "Our natural food colors are made from plants and contain powerful antioxidants, which help the body repair itself from the effects of oxidation," claims Nature's Flavors. "Using natural or organic food colors may actually help the brain and slow down the effects of aging."

Another leading maker of all-natural food coloring is Chefmaster, whose products can be found at Whole Foods and other natural and high end food retailers, as well as on amazon.com and elsewhere online.

CPSI would like the FDA to ban eight of the most common artificial dyes, or at least affix a warning label to products that contain them: "Warning: The artificial coloring in this food causes hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children." In the meantime, concerned eaters should stick with products, stores and restaurants that use natural ingredients.

Source: EarthTalk® E - The Environmental Magazine

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine.

Recipe: Orange And Spinach Salad

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

TOPPING:

1/3 C sugar
4 tsp water
1/2 C sliced almonds

Have a square of cooking sprayed foil set aside.

In a small skillet or pan, heat the sugar and water until it turns a golden color and syrupy. Stir so it doesn't burn. Add almonds. Stir a few seconds until they are golden. Spread out onto the sprayed foil to cool.

FYI, use a small aluminum skillet. For some reason my small 6" cast iron skillet soaks up the water and the sugar crystallizes rather than turning to syrup.

DRESSING:

1/4 C vinegar (white, cider, etc.)
1/4 C olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
salt and cayenne to taste

Combine and set aside.

SALAD:

Bag of fresh baby spinach
2 oranges, peeled and sections cut into large chunks
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
1/2 onion, sliced thin
salt and pepper to taste

Put salad into bowl. Toss with the dressing. Break up the almond topping and sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.

Family: The Things We Do for Love

By James A. Harnish

Scripture: Genesis 29:1-30

I want to begin today with some powerful words from the British writer, Evelyn Underhill. She was one of the most influential writers on Christian spirituality in the first half of this century.

"Redemption does not mean you and me made safe and popped into heaven. It means that each soul, redeemed from self-interest by the revelation of Divine Love, is taken and used again for the spread of that redeeming work." (Christian Century, October 31, 1990, p. 997)

"Redeemed from self-interest by the revelation of Divine Love." Those words caught my attention because that is exactly what happens in the story of Jacob.

The first thing the Bible tells us about Jacob is that he was a two-timing, deceitful, manipulative crook. He was born grasping his twin brother's heel, and that's exactly how he lived his life: grasping for all he could get by his own ingenuity and power. He tricked his brother, deceived his father, and finally had to run for his life to escape his brother's anger. Then, as a man on the lam, he had a dream of a ladder connecting heaven and earth. For the first time in his manipulative, self-centered life, he began to realize that God might be actively involved in his human experience. How he lived his life on earth might actually have some connection with God's purpose in heaven. It was a revelation of God's presence with him.

But God's transforming power is never just a deal between God and myself. It's not just "me and Jesus." Redemption, the fulfillment of God's saving purpose, always involves other people. God's transforming work in Jacob's life takes on a whole new meaning when he sees Rachel. For the first time in his self-absorbed, self-centered, self-satisfying life, he sees another person not as something to be used, but as someone to be loved.

Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother's brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother's brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of his mother's brother Laban. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud.

My guess is that it was the first good cry of his life. Love will do that to you. Love can move us to tears, weeping for all the joy we have discovered and weeping for all that we have lost. For the first time, Jacob saw another human being not as something to be used for his own self-centered purpose, but as someone to be loved simply for who she was.

A few weeks ago, I returned to Asbury College for my thirtieth class reunion. They had invited me to preach in the chapel where we were required to attend services three times a week when I was a student there. We got three absences each quarter. I heard more sermons than I can count, and very few that I can remember. Among the few I remember, was a preacher who focused the theme of the sermon in these words: "People are meant to be loved, things are meant to be used. Don't get them turned around."

Most of the problems in this world are rooted in our self-centered, sinful tendency to get those backwards and started loving things and using people. We love our things. We love money. We lust for it; we have a passion for it. We love our cars. If someone backs into the side of our car, they might as well have backed into us. We love power, prestige, social status, property and wealth. We love our things.

The tragic tendency is to start using people to get them. And it always results in death. It results in the death of that part of us that is most like the image of God because God created us to live the other way around. People are mea nt to be loved; things are meant to be used. Get that turned backwards and all hell breaks loose. But when we begin to reorient our lives around loving others and using things, all the power of heaven is released in our lives.

Something like that happened for Jacob when he saw Rachel. It is the first time in his story that he actually does something for someone else. He rolls the stone away from the well and waters the sheep of his uncle Laban. Jacob offers to work for seven years for Rachel's hand in marriage. He worked for seven years for Rachel, but the Genesis writer says, "they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her." It's one of the most beautiful verses in Genesis.

The Disciple Bible Study scholars here know there is more to the story. When Jacob runs into Laban, for the first time in his life he meets someone who can out-manipulate him. The wedding comes. Laban presents the bride with the traditional veil over her head. The Bible says Jacob "went in to her" and the next morning, he pulled back the veil to find Leah, the older sister. Laban says, "No problem, just work seven more years and you can have Rachel." So, Jacob ends up working fourteen years for Rachel, but it seemed like a few days because of the love he had for her.

Have you noticed that when you love you want to find a way to serve? If you love someone else, you will do for them things that you would never do for any other reason. Have you ever noticed how different it is to change your own baby's diapers than it is to change someone else's baby's diapers? Same diapers. Same stuff inside. But a very different experience. You'll do things for love that you would never do for money.

I've seen it in the long haul of marriages where the going really got tough and one partner learned to care for the other in ways they never would have imagined. They do things for each other because of love that they would not do for any other reason. It is amazing how we learn to serve and how we have learned to love. Maybe that's what the writer of 1 John was talking about when he wrote: "For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another."

How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? The redeeming power of the gospel creates in us a desire to serve others, to give of ourselves. And it is the only way I know for any of us to be released from the addiction of our own selfishness. It is the only way I know to be set free from the narrow bondage of self-absorption. It is the only way that we can redeemed from self-interest by the revelation of divine love and thereby be used to extend that redemption to others.

But how does that happen in practical terms? Just the other day I was reading a sermon by my good friend, Phil Roughton, the pastor at First Church, Ormond Beach, in which Phil offered three steps toward that kind of transformation. They are so simple and clear that I want to offer them to you.

1. Look for opportunities to step outside yourself.

Jacob saw Rachel and it moved him beyond himself toward someone else. How long has it been since you intentionally looked for an opportunity to step outside your ordinary experience and into the experience of someone else?

In the sanctuary services today we are hearing the music of the Haitian Men's A Cappella Choir from Miami. Try to feel what it means to be a Haitian refugee who comes to Florida. Try to experience the culture, this community through the experience of someone else.

2. Listen to people.

Do you realize how much we talk and how little we listen? Did you notice the number of questions Jacob asks in this passage? That's unusual for him. He's usually in charge. But here he is asking questions and listening for the answer. We need to learn to listen, really listen to others.

3. Put something you want on hold.

Jacob had to wait seven years, and then, because Laban tricked him, he had to work another seven. Fourteen years, all together, he put his desires on hold for someone else. My guess is that it took fourteen years for God to work the transforming process that enabled Jacob to become a person of love who could give himself to someone else. That's almost incomprehensible for us in our instant gratification culture. It takes time for most of us to learn to put our own desires on hold for the sake of someone else.

Redemption . . . means that each soul, redeemed from self-interest by the revelation of Diving Love, is taken and used for the spread of that redeeming work.

It begins at this table where we receive the gifts of God's redeeming love and see the way God has given Himself to us in Jesus Christ. It is the redeeming love that can transform your life.

Source: Preaching.com
James A. Harnish is Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Tampa, Florida

Family: A Monk Speaks on Love, Sex, and Marriage

by Elizabeth Hoxie

Before our wedding, my husband and I decided to read through the Catechism's treatment of the sacrament of marriage. Though the entire chapter was deeply moving, we were particularly taken by a quote which now hangs framed on our living room wall:

[Young husbands should say to their wives] I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us…. I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.

We were surprised to find that the poetic advice was attributed to a 4th century monk, priest and Bishop – St. John Chrysostom.

St. John was born in 344 in the city of Antioch. He was raised by his virtuous young mother, Anthusa, who was widowed at a young age. St. John began his education under the tutelage of pagan orator, Libanius, but through the study of the Scriptures, heard the call to a monastic vocation. St. John lived as a mountain anchorite for six years before illness forced him to return to the city. After twenty years of pastoral service in Antioch, St. John was called to Constantinople where he was consecrated Bishop in 398. St. John's episcopal tenure was fraught with difficulty and suffering. The saintly Bishop despised the opulence of the imperial court and his impassioned homilies on charity, justice, and chastity irritated his wealthy congregants. His most outspoken opponents – Theophilus, archbishop of Alexandria, and Empress Euxodia – eventually had St. John banished from Constantinople and he died in exile in 407.

Though he began his religious life with the ascetic silence of an anchorite, St. John quickly earned the nickname "golden tongue" for his energetic sermons. One of his greatest contributions to the Church is a series of homilies on marriage and family life which my husband and I discovered through our reading of the Catechism.

St. John's earliest works focus on consecrated virginity, but his years of pastoral experience in Antioch made him a great defender of the sacrament of marriage. His homilies address dangerous trends in the early Church which threatened to undermine the sanctity of marriage. He denounced as heretical the view that sex is an evil necessary only for procreation with poignant words about the Trinitarian and ecclesiastical significance of married love. He taught that married couples who lived their vocation to the fullest would "rival the holiest monks" in their perfection. Additionally, St. John sternly warned his congregants to purge their marriages and homes of worldly excesses and live lives of simplicity and charity.

St. John's fourth century teachings on marriage and family life are remarkably relevant to today. Consider, for instance, what the "golden tongue" has to say about weddings and receptions:

"When you prepare for a wedding, don't run to your neighbors' houses borrowing extra mirrors, or spend endless hours worrying about dresses. A wedding is not a pageant or theatrical performance…Let there be no drunkenness at the banquets and suppers, but an abundance of spiritual joy. Think of the many good things that will result from weddings like this!"

One can only imagine what he would have to say about the exorbitant wedding industry of the 21st century.

The wedding should set the tone for the marriage, St. John explains. The Christian couple should invite Christ to be their guest and trust that the Divine visitor will work in their lives a greater miracle than he did at Cana.

St. John's marriage theology is based on the Pauline epistles. In his exploration of St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, St. John distinguishes between the roles of husband and wife:

Paul has already laid the foundations of marital love, and has assigned to husband and wife each his proper place: to the husband one of leader and provider, and to the wife one of submission.

St. John's treatment of wifely submission and obedience is short. He reminds the couple that in the home, as with the Church, it is necessary to have one authority for peace to reign. A wife should gladly put herself at the service of her husband because they are one body. Lest she resent her role, St. John reminds her:

If you think that the wife is the loser because she is told to fear her husband, remember that the principal duty of love is assigned to the husband and you will see that it is her gain.

Then, the "golden tongue" turns his attention to husbands:

You have heard how important obedience is…now listen to what he [St. Paul] requires from you…You have seen the amount of obedience necessary; now hear about the amount of love necessary.

Modern Christian writers devote whole books to the subject of submission, but St. John takes a different approach. In his estimation, where loves reigns supreme, all else will fall into place. So, he exhorts the husband to, "Be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse," for, "There is no influence more powerful than the bond of love, especially for husband and wife."

A husband and wife who love each other well, who strive for oneness in heart and mind, will see the outpouring of their unity bear fruit in children. Again, St. John emphasizes the primacy of love in the family, saying: "When we teach our children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving (all these are attributes of God), to be generous, to love their fellow men, to regard this present age as nothing, we instill virtue in their souls and reveal the image of God in them."

St. John's homilies show that the challenges faced by the contemporary family are much the same as they were in the early Church. Because the family is the Church in miniature and the most perfect image of God's love on earth, it will always draw the devil's attention. Satan hates marriage, because as St. John observes, "the love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together."

As the Synod on Marriage and Family life approaches let us pray, through the intercession of St. John Chrysostom, for a deeper understanding of the sacrament of matrimony and the courage to embrace the authentic freedom offered from Christ through a living-out of the married vocation.

Source: Catholic Exchange

Become The Person You Most Want To Be

by Wes Hopper

"By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be."
Mark Victor Hansen

I think we all recognize the value of having goals to work on, but we need to do more than just pay lip service to the idea if we want results.

Here are some suggestions. First, choose a goal for each major area of your life. Your career, your relationship, your health, your recreation or whatever the important areas are for you.

Choose just one specific goal in each area. Too many goals and your energy is scattered.

Next, write out in detail what it will look like to have that goal fulfilled. Spend time visualizing the goal fulfilled. Don't worry about how it will get done, just visualize it as done and get familiar with how that feels.

Write a short note to yourself each week about what you did toward achieving each goal. This keeps the goals in your conscious attention.

As Mark Victor Hansen points out, just having the goals on paper is a great foundation for the process of achieving them.

The confident visualizing supports your progress as well as giving your mind the opportunity to serve up ideas on what to do next.

Make 2014 the year you become who you most want to be.

Source: Gratitude

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