Malankara World Journal
Finding God in Grief
Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
When he was at the table with them, he took
bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then
their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared
from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts
burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the
Scriptures to us?'" Luke 24: 30 - 33
A few weeks ago I wrote about the hope we have in Christ even when faced with the death of a loved one. Little did I know, I would have to put those words into practice just a few days later when a close friend of mine went home to our Lord after a two-year battle with cancer.
My friend Christopher was only 33 -- a newlywed who had so much life and love left in him. Family, friends, and doctors desperately wanted to see him win over the cancer and many times it appeared he would. The death of this strong, vibrant, young friend came as a shock for me.
On many levels, Christopher’s story is a tragic one, and I won’t deny that. Yet, mere days after his death, I am experiencing a peace I didn’t fully expect.
When I look back on the past two years of his diagnosis and treatments, I know God was there. And Chris, a man of faith, would tell you God was there taking care of him.
Some may wonder how in situations like this one we can claim God was there? Where is our hope when things seem to end so badly?
One of my favorite Easter season gospels is the story of the Road to Emmaus recorded in Luke 24: 13 - 35. Two unnamed disciples of Jesus were traveling to the village of Emmaus, discussing the events of the crucifixion and deeply mourning all that had taken place. Hope seemed to be completely shattered.
Then, a third traveler – the risen Christ – joined them along the road. Yet grief -- and perhaps their intellects -- seemed to cloud the travelers' vision, and they did not recognize Him. It’s not until the end of the day, when they sit down to eat with this strange traveler, that they recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.
There are a lot of deep, theological
implications to this passage, but the first truth that comes to mind
here comes in the form of a question: How often are we those
travelers? How often has the risen Christ stood before us, and we
just couldn't see Him? I often felt that way in some of our earlier
conversations in the days and months following Christopher’s
diagnosis... like we were all walking around Christ in circles,
unable to make sense of it all and unable to sense God’s presence.
And yet Christ was there and continues to be
here for us just as He was for His disciples centuries ago. He has
so much compassion for us, especially in the midst of sad and
perplexing situations. He finds ways to unfold truth to us, give us
hope, enlighten our minds and create a burning in our hearts. And
one day, like those travelers to Emmaus, we find ourselves startled
- and overcome with joy - at Christ’s very real presence.
From a distance, I watched this process unfold in my friend. God
reached out to him through the expert doctors, through friends and
family, and perhaps most poignantly through his new bride, a woman
As my friend Christopher’s time drew near, I watched his faith
increase. He spoke of hope and faith in the Lord, read his Bible and
prayed regularly. Although Chris faced death, I have no doubt that
for him, death was the path that brought him face to face with the
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Revelation 21: 4 states, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the
old order of things has passed away." Christ's death and
resurrection is our eternal source of hope even when everything else
we place our hope in fails us. This week, reach out to someone you
love who does not yet know Christ.
From a distance, I watched this process unfold in my friend. God reached out to him through the expert doctors, through friends and family, and perhaps most poignantly through his new bride, a woman of faith.
As my friend Christopher’s time drew near, I watched his faith increase. He spoke of hope and faith in the Lord, read his Bible and prayed regularly. Although Chris faced death, I have no doubt that for him, death was the path that brought him face to face with the risen Christ.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Revelation 21: 4 states, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Christ's death and resurrection is our eternal source of hope even when everything else we place our hope in fails us. This week, reach out to someone you love who does not yet know Christ.
devotionals in Malankara World:
Read more on Road to Emmaus
Communication in Marriage
by Dr. Adrian Rogers, Love Worth Finding
Marriage counselors agree: Most, if not all, marriage problems are rooted in poor communication. We often act in our marriages as though we are soloists, singing alone and beholden to nobody. But marriage is a duet, not a solo. And the Song of Solomon shows us a real life marriage filled with the music of intimate, personal, and open communication.
Here's the stark truth about communication in marriage: You will communicate, or your marriage will disintegrate. And marriages today that are on the rocks are there because of poor communication.
Experts say there are five levels of communication:
This is the communication we experience daily in our casual relationships. The weather, the latest scores, clothes, and the like - we do this often and think about it rarely. It's communication on "automatic pilot."
This is a little more content oriented than frivolous communication. Factual communication digs a little deeper into the knowledge of various subjects. There's still no real personal involvement.
Now, we're beginning to get a little personal. We share ideas, judgments, and philosophies. We begin to risk rejection for our beliefs.
In this kind of communication, we go a step deeper. We not only share ideas and core beliefs but we share our feelings about those beliefs. We let others know how important they are to us. This is much riskier, and it's about as deep as most people ever get with each other.
This is the deepest level of communication. We are completely open with our mate. We share our deepest dreams, fears, ideas, and feelings - without fear of rejection. The word "intimacy" comes from the Latin intimuce. It means "innermost." And truly intimate communication encompasses all those dreams, beliefs, and feelings you wouldn't share with anybody else. Freedom level communication is the secret of lasting love.
When the Bible speaks of a husband and wife coming together
in the act of marriage, it says, "So and so knew his wife." To be completely
known and still be loved is the supreme goal of marriage. That's true intimacy.
Every marriage needs it to survive.
THE DIFFICULTY WITH DIFFERENCES
Intimate communication won't happen without some adjustments - especially on the part of men. In most troubled marriages, the men won't talk. One woman told me that the only time her husband speaks is when he wants food or sex. That's wrong. Men need to talk, whether they want to or not.
Husbandly silence is the culprit in most family communication problems. The wife, who craves communication, pushes her husband into a corner just to get him talking. She pushes and pushes, and Pow! He explodes. Ironically, this is often better to the wife than silence. At least she has his full attention. I'm not saying she intends to pick a fight. But deep down within her there is something that prefers argument to silence. She wants communication. That's understandable. That's how God made her.
Have you noticed how many books there are on marriage?
On intimacy? On communication? Here's the problem: The people who need them
don't read them! Women read them, but men - who truly need to adjust to their
wives' communication needs - don't.
This too is understandable. There are natural barriers to men communicating with
the intimacy their wives desire. And wives need to take that into account and
make some adjustments.
Consider the articles found in women's magazines: "Five Ways to Develop
Closeness in Your Marriage" and "How to Have Harmony in the Home" and "Achieving
Intimacy With Your Lover." Now what do men read about in their magazines? "How
to Remodel Your Garage" and "How to Double Your Gas Mileage" and "How to Make It
Big in the Stock Market."
Yes, there are differences between men and women that affect marital
communication. Some of these stem from the fact that we are raised differently.
Boys are taught not to cry, not to show emotion. Part of the macho self reliance
myth is silence, which supposedly communicates complete self-control.
These differences between men and women should give us all a healthy amount of
understanding toward the struggles of our spouses. But they shouldn't stop us
from trying, with the power of the Holy Spirit, to imitate the intimacy between
Solomon and his spouse. We'll never arrive at perfection. But the closer we get,
the happier our homes will be.
Read more about Family Issues in
This too is understandable. There are natural barriers to men communicating with the intimacy their wives desire. And wives need to take that into account and make some adjustments.
Consider the articles found in women's magazines: "Five Ways to Develop Closeness in Your Marriage" and "How to Have Harmony in the Home" and "Achieving Intimacy With Your Lover." Now what do men read about in their magazines? "How to Remodel Your Garage" and "How to Double Your Gas Mileage" and "How to Make It Big in the Stock Market."
Yes, there are differences between men and women that affect marital communication. Some of these stem from the fact that we are raised differently. Boys are taught not to cry, not to show emotion. Part of the macho self reliance myth is silence, which supposedly communicates complete self-control.
These differences between men and women should give us all a healthy amount of understanding toward the struggles of our spouses. But they shouldn't stop us from trying, with the power of the Holy Spirit, to imitate the intimacy between Solomon and his spouse. We'll never arrive at perfection. But the closer we get, the happier our homes will be.
Read more about Family Issues in Malankara World
Increasing Laity Participation in Holy Qurbana
by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World Editor
Last month, I was in Kerala. As usual, I went to attend qurbana on Sundays. For
someone living in Ohio, where we do not have regular church services, attending
services on every week is a real treat. Last year, when I went to this church,
the qurbana books were displayed prominently in the middle of the church. Very
few people seemed to bother picking up a book. This year, I could not find the
books; I asked the person standing beside me where is the book kept. He had no
clue. Hearing my question, a senior person in the audience went looking for it
and gave me a book after searching for it for a few minutes.
What I find now in our churches is that the laity stands indifferently during the namskaram and qurbana. The service is conducted by people from the Madbaha and the choir. The choir sings all the songs; they also pronounce all the responses supposedly made by the people. People go to service to "watch" the service and not for participating in it.
This is really unfortunate. Our service is designed to get us into a meditative state by a careful combination of chanting and singing. (A professor from Harvard university studied our chanting and came to the conclusion that if we do as it is designed to do, we will come to a deep meditative state called "Relaxation Response" during the service. The sound made by the different bells, the softer sounds of the marwasa simulating the flapping of the wings of the angels, the different tones of the censor etc. are all part of this experience and so does the smell of the incense. ) When the celebrant, extending and elevating his hands, says aloud,
"Upward, where Christ sits on the right hand of God the Father, let our thoughts, minds and hearts be at this hour." and the people answers, "They are with the Lord," they would be truly in that meditative state.
Unfortunately, in actual practice, most of the people haven't even been inside the church by then not to talk about having their mind, body, and spirit be concentrated on God.
Somehow, we think that God will be unhappy unless we have perfectly synchronized songs accompanying the qurbana. So, we want the choir to do this for us. I am sure God is more pleased when everyone in the audience sings together praising and worshipping him together. The differences in the tune and voice, the different pitches, etc. adds to the service and experience. King David was dancing and praising God in the streets. When someone asked Jesus to stop the people from shouting "Hosanna" on palm sunday, He told them that if these children do not chant, the stones will start chanting.
Our service require an active participation of everyone in the church. It also require that everyone come to the church before the public celebration of the qurbana starts. The liturgy takes us step by step from repentance into higher consciousness to the Last Supper, Our Lord's crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension and the second coming.
When the celebrant chants the Hoothommo, "karalaliveridum thatha, nirupama karuna sagarame.." we reach the peak. When the celebrant faces the audience to dismiss them (seloon bashlomo) we will experience the divine peace that was promised by the Jesus.
Unfortunately, I do not know how many of our people feel the same way at the end
of the service. The enjoyment and experience of our Holy Qurbana requires active
participation of our laity.
I saw the following message posted on ICON by an Orthodox faithful, who has some suggestions as to how to improve the participation in our service by laity. It deserves a careful reading, study and implementation.
Restoring Participation in the Holy Liturgyby Eapen George, Mumbai If you attend Holy Qurbana in any MOSC church today, you will see the pathetic sight of mute congregations leaving the entire service to the prerogative of the madbaha and the choir. At the end of the service, that unique sensation coursing through our bodies, which can only be described as "Oru palliyil poya feeling" is totally absent. I earnestly appeal to the higher ups in the church hierarchy to restore the ordinary peoples' participation by imposing some restrictions on the choirs. My suggestions are: 1. The entire congregation must be urged to wholeheartedly say all the responses, ranging from one-word Amens and Kuriyelaisons to the Lord's Prayer and the Nicene Creed. AT ALL SUCH TIMES, THE MICROPHONES OF THE CHOIR MUST BE SWITCHED OFF AND THE CHOIR MUST PARTICIPATE AS ORDINARY MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION. 2. Prohibit background music as the priest reads promeon etc or prays solo. 3. The choir may start hymns but their microphones must be switched off after one or two stanzas by which time the congregation will have imbibed the tune. 4. The mikes of the congregation must be switched off for the "basmalko". Nobody needs tutoring for this part; it is in our blood. 5. No experimenting with tunes for "Stuthi deivathin uyarathil...". It is a soul-uplifting moment for the entire congregation. The traditional tune is perfect for the occasion, rising steadily to a crescendo and holding there at a vocal and spiritual peak of ecstasy as the congregation beholds the awesome prospect of the Second Coming. How can a peppy nursery rhyme tune complement this emotion? If we do not feel the need to keep changing the tune of our National Anthem, why do we have to keep playing with this? When people are kept away from prayer, which is the primary purpose of existence of a parish church, their minds wander to all sorts of extra-curricular activities that are not rooted in prayer, like politics. If people want entertainment, there are other places to go to. They go to church on Sundays to pray, not to see somebody perform.
Health Tip: Best Foods That Will Lower Cholesterol Quickly
by: Todd Peterson
There are certain types of compounds in foods that are not conducive for healthy cholesterol levels. There are two that are worse than others. One is saturated fat, which is a type of fat that is predominantly found in foods that come from animal products. The other is cholesterol, which comes only from animal products. Saturated fat elevates your LDL more than anything else in the average diet. The chief cause for high cholesterol that eventually leads to heart disease is consuming excess amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. Reducing the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet is a crucial step towards reducing your blood cholesterol levels. We have talked about the types of foods that will raise your cholesterol but there are different kinds of foods available that will also lower your cholesterol.
Eating soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream which lowers your (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. By eating 6 to 11 grams or more of soluble fiber per day can decrease your overall cholesterol levels. An excellent example of a type of food that contains soluble fiber is oatmeal. Foods like kidney beans, bananas, apples, pears, barley and prunes are also an excellent source of soluble fiber. Consuming 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked oatmeal per day will provide you with about 8g of fiber. If you add fruit like bananas, you will add about another four grams of fiber to your meal. You can also add cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran to your menu of soluble fiber to eat.
Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are another type of food that can reduce your blood cholesterol level as well. These nuts have a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids in them. If you are at the borderline of having heart disease, eating walnuts can help you push the line in your favor. They are not a cure-all but eating walnuts will help the situation.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. But, this does not include nuts that are salted or coated with sugar. Since your overall goal is to improve your total cholesterol levels, limit yourself to just a handful of these nuts because they are high in calories. You should replace foods that are high in saturated fat with nuts. An easy way to this is to add a handful of walnuts or almonds instead of using cheese, meat or croutons in your salad.
Controlling your cholesterol can be tough at first when choosing the right foods to eat. Start by eating fatty fish and omega-3 fatty acids to control your cholesterol. If you are at risk for developing blood clots eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids will reduce your chances of serious health complications in the future. In people who have already had heart attacks, the fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids, reduces the risk of sudden death. It is recommended that you include at least two servings of fish a week in your diet. Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and halibut. You should bake or grill your fish to avoid having extra calories in your meal. You can also get small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like ground flaxseed or canola oil if you do not prefer fish.
About The Author :
The Resurrection & Related Incidents
by Pope Shenouda III (Coptic Orthodox Church)
The period between the crucifixion and the resurrection:
In His resurrection, He sanctified the mortal human nature, giving it power to rise.
Before rising, with His body lying in the tomb, He was working for us.
Death caused His spirit to separate from His body, but His divinity never separated from His spirit or from His body. His spirit, united with His divinity, accomplished wonderful salvation for those lying in hope.
By His death He paid off the wages of sin, and with His blood He purchased us. By redeeming all humanity, He had the power to transfer those lying in Hades to Paradise, which He actually did.
With His spirit united with the divinity, He went into Hades to announce the good tidings to those lying there in hope.
He descended into the lower parts of the earth and led captivity captive (Eph 4: 8, 9). He opened the door of Paradise and transferred there the righteous, who were waiting in Hades, and with them, He brought there the thief on His right hand. True are the words of St. John the Visionary that He has the keys of Hades and of death (Rev 1: 18). He opened for them the door of Paradise, because their names are written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world (Rev 17: 8; Phil 4: 3).
Blessed indeed are those whose names are written in the Book of Life, for death has no authority on them!
They may remain in death for a while, as Jonah had been in the belly of the whale before God brought him out safe. The whale had no authority to do him any harm! In the same way the Lord brought out those who were in Hades, and by His power over Paradise, He brought them there.
That great work the Lord did secretly, heaven cheered, and prophecies fulfilled, and secretly He rose from the dead.
His spirit, united with His divinity, united with His body, which was also united with His divinity, and by the power of His divinity He came out of the shut tomb.
The spice-bearer women:
It is strange that the women took spices and went to the tomb, a matter contradicting their belief in the resurrection! Were the spices for the body lying in the tomb? Where was their faith that Christ has risen and left the tomb? However, the Lord looked only to the love they had and cured the lack of faith they had. Therefore, the angel announcement of the resurrection implied blaming, for he said to them, "I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said." (Mt 28: 5, 6) The same and more explicit blaming came from the two angels to the spice-bearer women, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'"
So, they remembered His words. (Lk 24: 5- 8)
He had announced that He would rise on the third again, not only to the women, but also and in particular to the disciples.
So, if the disciples knew from the Lord about His resurrection, yet they did not believe, how much rather the women!
The doubts of the disciples:
The resurrection of the Lord was unique, because He rose by Himself, and said words nobody else could say, "I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." (Jn 10: 17, 18)
Who dare say such words other than Christ! It was therefore astounding resurrection beyond comprehension, especially after the crucifixion, the passions, and the insults He had suffered, and after the domination and power revealed by the Jews! It was not easy then for the disciples to believe it, for they were afraid and hiding in the upper room.
On the cross He said, "It is finished", referring to the redemption and paying off the wages of sin. Yet, after the resurrection He had something else to accomplish, related to pastoral care.
There were righteous people, but those were confused and in need of comfort, having weakened by fear and doubt. How would He deal with them? He did not want to blame them for their weakness, doubts, and denial, for He came to give them peace. He came not to judge the world but to save it, as He said before, how much rather His own whom He loved to the end (Jn 13: 1)!
"We love Him because He first loved us." (1 Jn 4: 19)
This appears in how He dealt with Thomas who doubted His resurrection. Instead of blaming him, He cured him of his doubt by insisting that he put his finger into the wounds.
Thomas obeyed and put his finger and became sure of the wounds.
The Lord did the same to Peter, Mary Magdalene, and the two disciples of Emmaus. He wanted to strengthen their faith, because they were going to spread that faith to the farthest ends of the earth, which actually happened. That is why after His resurrection He appeared to the disciples many
times, for forty days: "He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days." (Acts 1: 3)
Those doubts of the disciples stumbled many, but what does the Gospel say?
"He appeared first to Mary Magdalene … She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept." When those heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe (Mk 16: 9..):
1. The Lord appeared to the two disciples of Emmaus, who had not believed what the women said, and rebuked them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" Then beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Lk 24: 25- 27).
2. Those two disciples therefore believed, and went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either (Mk 16: 13).
3. The women went to the tomb and entered, but they did not find the body of the Lord. Two angels appeared to them and announced the resurrection to them, so they went and told the disciples, but "Their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them." (Lk 24: 11)
Those were the eleven apostles, pillars of the church, who heard many testimonies from Mary Magdalene, the two disciples of Emmaus, and the other women, yet they did not believe any of them!
4. Afterwards, Mary Magdalene told Peter and John about the empty tomb, and they went and saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself (Jn 20: 6, 7). As for John he saw and believed (Jn 20: 8).
5. Everybody knew that the Lord has risen and appeared to Simon (Lk 24: 34). The Lord Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you", but they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit (Lk 24: 37). The Lord rebuked them, saying, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." (Lk 24: 39) Imagine what heresies would have arisen if the disciples had supposed they had seen a spirit, as if the body did not rise! It was therefore necessary that the Lord show them His hands and feet.
6. It was not then the problem of Thomas alone whom the Lord showed His wounds, and said, "Do not be unbelieving, but believing." (Jn 20: 27) It was rather the problem of the eleven. All of them doubted and needed proofs, needed to touch and feel the wounds that they might believe! The Lord acted practically, as St. Peter of Sedment said, 'During His life on the earth, in the body, the Lord Christ was giving evidences of His divinity, but after the resurrection He was giving evidences of His humanity.'
The Lord gives evidence of His humanity:
After the resurrection He took and ate in their presence (Lk 24: 43) to convince them of His humanity, because the body in which He rose is a spiritual body that needed no food or drink. His body after the ascension has nothing to do with eating any material food.
Convincing, not reproach or punishment was the means by which the Lord addressed the doubts of the disciples.
They should have firm, steadfast, and convincing belief because the Lord was going to entrust them with spreading faith in the whole world. The Lord led them to this faith. Because they were not able to reach the level of believing without seeing, the Lord accepted from them the weak level of faith depending on senses, but as a starting point leading to the level of belief in things not seen (Heb 11: 1). St. John describes it as faith, "Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled." (1 Jn 1:1)
Such faith based on senses as a beginning, soon became stronger and convincing to the whole world of that which they had heard, seen and handled. They introduced this evidence lest some would think they were deceived or believed things that never happened.
St. Paul did the same and told what he had seen and heard on his way to Damascus to King Agrippa.
He said, "At midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me … I heard a voice speaking to me." (Acts 26: 13- 15) He concluded with the words, "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." (Acts 26: 19)
This is the Lord Christ, who worked for strengthening His disciples' faith, cured Thomas' doubts, comforted Peter's grief and weeping Magdalene, and restored faith to the church.
I imagine what an angel standing by His tomb before the resurrection would say:
Source: Copts United
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Malankara World is different. Malankara World's focus is on our families. Our mission is to help every member of our families. Since family is a microcosm of church, it will have everything that a church focused website will have. But there will be more. We will cover issues that are important to families. What are the things that keep our members awake at night? Is that about their children? taking care of old aged parents? Relationship with their spouses? Breakdown of marriage? Health issues? Balancing work, family and spiritual life? Managing stress?
We will use a combination of technology and harnessing the resources of our people within our church to do that. What we hope to do with Malankara World is to strengthen our families. First, we want to teach them about our faith. What is different about Orthodoxy? We want to start bible and Sunday school classes for all ages through Malankara World and a series on our qurbana. Later we will have support groups for different age and interest groups.
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