Sunday, November 30, 2008


We know almost nothing about the early years of Blessed Xenia's life. She was happily married to a colonel who was a court singer in St. Petersburg, Russia's capital city at that time, and we can assume that her' own family was among the well-to-do. She was only 26 years old when her husband suddenly died at a drinking party. Xenia loved her husband very much and his unexpected death came as a great shock, It completely changed her way of looking at life. Knowing that her husband had not prepared himself for death and that he had died without the prayers of the Church, she began to be very concerned about the eternal state of his soul. It was as though she were given new eyes; she thought no more about parties, about having fun with friends; she gave away her possessions to the poor. In fact, she broke all ties with the world--to such an extent that even her relatives thought she must be crazy. Xenia dressed in her husband's clothes and insisted on being called by her husband's name, Andrew, as if to say that she had died, not he. And indeed, she died to the world in order to be closer to God.

At night she would go into a field outside the city and stand for hours in prayer, even in the snow. Or she would secretly help in the building of the Smolensk cemetery church carrying to the top bricks which would be waiting for the workmen in the morning. Often. as she walked the streets in the city's poorer neighborhoods, people made fun of her, children would throw dirt at her and laugh. The blessed one only prayed for their souls, bearing patiently their taunts for the sake of Christ.

Xenia - the Homeless Wanderer

Gradually, however, people began to see that behind her seemingly odd behavior was someone who was very special in the eyes of God. They noticed that when she would hold a crying baby in her arms, the baby would at once quiet down and remain calm and content for the rest of the day. Those stores which she entered would have good business that day. People began to realize that her often strange words held a deeper meaning, sometimes warning them of approaching disasters, or of what was to happen in their life. Once, for example, she went to visit her friends the Golubevs as they were preparing to sit down for a cup of coffee. "Oh my beauty," she said to the daughter, "here you are making coffee, while your husband is burying his wife at Ochta. Run quickly!" The young girl and her mother were most puzzled by these words, but knowing Xenia' s gift of being able to see the future, they obeyed at once. There they came upon the funeral procession of the wife of a young doctor who was so overcome by grief that he fainted.

The Golubevs brought him back to his senses, became acquainted, and a year later the daughter became his wife, just as the blessed one had foretold.

Another time some merchants were selling some particularly delicious honey out of a barrel. People had already begun to buy it at a high price when suddenly Blessed Xenia appeared. "Don't take it, don't take it," she cried. "This honey can't be eaten; it stinks of a corpse." She leaned with all her strength against the barrel which overturned on the sidewalk, spilling the honey to the merchants' great dismay. To everyone's horror, there at the bottom of the barrel was a huge dead rat. Even those who had already bought some of the honey had to throw it out.

St. Xenia lived in this way for for years after the death of her husband. Exactly when she died is not known, but it was probably in the last years of the 18th century. She was buried in the Smolensk cemetery, not far from the church which she had helped to build. Later a chapel was built over her grave, and to this very day many people come there to pray to St. Xenia who, even after death continues to work many miracles, helping people out of all kinds of misfortunes. Through her prayers, people have been healed of serious illnesses; she is especially quick in helping to find jobs or places to live. Just this year a woman in England was looking for a place to live near the church where she had recently been received into the Orthodox Faith, so as to be able to attend the daily services. She and her priest prayed to St. Xenia and within a few days she had an apartment in the house next door to the Parish House! Wondrous is God in His saints.

May we learn from the example of Blessed Xenia how important it is for us not to be attached to the things of the world, but to keep our minds and hearts turned towards heaven, our true home, that we too, like St. Xenia, may, after our earthly wandering, “come to dwell in the Father's house.”


Holy Qurbana at the Tomb of St. Mary

Holy Qurbana celebrated at the Tomb of the Saint Mary.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Freedom from the Bondage of Beliefs

I must admit that I have learned very important lessons of life from my Christian upbringing. However, often I have felt that I have had to free myself from so many chains that have kept my mind a prisoner. My growing and developing involved as much unlearning as learning. Most often, unlearning proved much more difficult than learning. Today I realize that religion not only redeems people but also enslaves them. Most of the people in the world live and die in the slavery of religion, while very few people get the opportunity to be redeemed by it.

My Life in Bondage

My parents were very religious, and I grew up learning that being a Christian means primarily to hold on to certain beliefs. The important beliefs are put together in creeds. All I have to do was to repeat them as often as I could even if I did not understand what they meant to me. Even the thought of deviating from the slightest of them put me in the risk of being excommunicated for being a heretic. The safest thing for me to do was to keep myself from the temptation to think anything about the inherited beliefs.

Soon I realized that there are other traditions within the Christian tradition that do not believe the same things in the same way I did, and I got the explanation that ours are the right beliefs (ortho-dox), and all the others are wrong or false beliefs. I could not ask what makes ours the right beliefs for fear of being branded as a heretic.

This false understanding of beliefs kept me a slave in bondage all these years. Today I look back with a sigh of relief as I have finally realized that I am beginning to be free of those chains. Today I understand that I don’t need to carry the heavy baggage of beliefs handed over to me from the past. I can leave all of them behind and keep on going. But I am also free to keep any beliefs that I find useful and meaningful to me. It is like inheriting a big library from my ancestors. I don’t need to carry all those books around as a burden. But I am always free to choose and read a book which I like to read.

My Freedom

Beliefs are no more at the center of my life. My life is not for beliefs. I have learned to turn it around. My beliefs are for my life. I keep the beliefs that are beneficial, discard the ones that are harmful, and ignore the ones that are unimportant and irrelevant. For example, nowadays I actively propagate the belief that God loves all people in the world in the same way because I know it is a very beneficial belief for the well-being of the humanity. Also, I attack the harmful belief that God loves a certain group of people more than the others.

I do not make any attempt to make sense of all the beliefs I have inherited. On the other hand, I try to make sense of how I experience life using those beliefs. Beliefs are no more a goal of my life. They are just tools I may use as I need. The main thing for me is to live my life in the most meaningful way I can.

Jesus, my role model

I have received this inspiration to declare my freedom from the bondage of beliefs from Jesus himself. When I sought what Jesus taught about life, I found that Jesus placed human existence at the very center. He did not ask anybody to live for beliefs. When he stated that Sabbath is for man, that is what he meant. Religion is for man, and not the other way around.

Jesus compared life to a journey toward a specific goal—which is to become as perfect as the heavenly father is perfect. Nothing else should take the place of that ultimate goal. Comfort, wealth, and popular acceptance can be effective tools that assist us in this journey. If any of those become the goal of the journey, we cannot successfully complete our journey of life. Our religious beliefs have to assist us in our journey toward this ultimate goal. Beliefs themselves should never become our goal.

I have often heard that the central concern of Christian life is what we believe about Jesus. But when Jesus gave the following warning, he made it clear that our central concern should be doing the will of the heavenly father.

“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Mat 7:21.

If we do not do the will of the heavenly father, it doesn’t matter whether we call Jesus Lord or God.

Jesus said that there are two ways that people take for this journey of life—a narrow path and a highway. The majority of people move along the highway with wrong goals, whereas a few move along the narrow path toward the ideal goal of life.

Jesus also compared human life to the life of a plant. The goal of a plant is to grow and become fruitful. Jesus asked people to become fruitful. We have to grow up to our maximum potential. If the growth does not happen in us, and if we waste our life amassing wealth or comfort or popular acceptance, it is certainly sad. If we sacrifice a meaningful life for preserving a set of beliefs, that would be very sad.

Jesus also asked us to build our house of life on a strong foundation. This beautiful metaphor makes it clear what our central concern should be. Jesus expects us to be wise as to build our lives upon a strong foundation that keeps the house strong and steady in the midst of trials and temptations. How foolish are the ones who build up their life on wrong goals and meaningless beliefs!

Jesus pointed out that it is essential to understand whatever beliefs and guidelines we have received from our ancestors in relation to our own situation in a meaningful way, and not in a slavish way.

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” Math 5: 38-39

In this situation, Jesus is pointing out a harmful rule that has come down from the past. “An eye for an eye” is a definite instruction to retaliate. Jesus contradicts this instruction and advises to show the other cheek.

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.' But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Mat 5:31-32

In this situation also, Jesus rejects a rule from the past, which permits divorce.

The inherited wisdom

When I am writing about beliefs, I have in mind all kinds of beliefs of humankind of all places and times. I do not have any particular community in mind although I have referred to my own upbringing and my own community as examples. The beliefs include not only religious beliefs but also scientific beliefs. They include not only theistic beliefs but also atheistic beliefs.

Humankind is different from the other animals in that we have a long childhood during which time the children receive from their parents the accumulated wisdom from the previous generations. Each parent-generation canonizes (formally and informally) and transmits to the child-generation a set of people, literature, beliefs, and rituals. Places and times are also canonized. The word tradition may be used to include all these. Depending upon the kind of community, they are known in different ways. In my own Oriental Orthodox Christian community, the canonized people are known as saints or fathers, canonized literature is known as Holy Scriptures, canonized rituals are known as sacraments, and canonized beliefs are known as true faith. Whatever come from the past through generations are considered to be divine and holy. Thus allegiance to them becomes synonymous to allegiance to God.

I feel proud that I have inherited the tradition from long past. My community follows the tradition of at least 4000 years. Although Jesus lived 2000 years ago, Abraham lived even 2000 years before Jesus. There is no doubt that having a long and wealthy tradition is better than having a short-lived and poor tradition.

The question I am asking is not whether tradition is good or not. Although we can’t accept whatever that has come down from the past as fully good for us, I must have to admit that most of what we have received from the past generations is good for us. A parent-generation takes the time and effort to do a canonization for the benefit of the child-generation. For example, by canonizing a few people from the millions of people, they single out a few who can serve as role models. By canonizing a few pieces of literature, the parent-generation singles out those that can provide guidance and instruction in life.

Tradition for life

My major concern here is the way we receive the traditions from the past. How do we see the relation between the tradition and our own life? Do we think that our life is for the sole purpose of preserving and transmitting the traditions? Do we think tradition is for our life, or our life is for the tradition? Are we supposed to accept everything canonized from the past as divine and holy? Aren’t we supposed to ask why they were canonized?

We usually see that a person once canonized ceases to be a human being. He/she is no more a role model, but an object of worship and adoration. A belief once canonized ceases to be an ordinary belief that is subject to critical reasoning. A ritual once canonized is a divine act, and it is not treated as other rituals any more. A piece of literature once canonized is not studied as other literature, but adored.

Sabbath was a canonized observance that came from the ancient past, and people were supposed to observe it without thinking about it. That is why the Pharisees confirmed that Jesus was a sinner due to the fact that he cured a blind man on the Sabbath. Whether Jesus was a sinner or a saint depended upon how he saw the canonized people, literature and observances.

For the Pharisees, the Sabbath was a canonized observance from the past, and they didn’t care what it meant or how the observance originated. On the other hand, Jesus understood Sabbath based on how and why it originated. Moses originally gave the rule of Sabbath to give the privilege of a weekly rest to all people who included the slaves. That was intended to give some comfort to those who carried heavy burdens in life. The same ritual became one that adds burdens to an entire community when it was canonized, and when its original purpose was ignored. Jesus tried to teach people that it was a day for doing good rather than being inactive and lazy.

Nothing can be known out of context. In order to understand Jesus, we need to live in his time and place. Then only we can understand the meaning of what he said and did. Similarly, in order to understand St. Paul, we need to live in his time and context, which was different from that of Jesus. In order to understand Parumala thirumeni, we need to live in his cultural context. Understanding does not come easily. But misunderstanding comes easily and effortlessly.

Isn’t it important for us to know how Parumals thirumeni was known as a saint while he was alive? Isn’t it important for us to understand the cultural and social context in which he lived as a saint? Wouldn’t it help us to become saints in our own time? What is the use of adoring Parumala thirumeni if we do not want to live a saintly life today?

© John Kunnathu January 2007


Patriarch Saint Mor Ignatius Elias III Shakir

Patriarch Saint Mor Ignatius Elias III Shakir Mor Ignatios Elias III the second son of Chorepiscopus Abraham and Maryam, was born in Mardin, Turkey. He was called Nasri. He had 4 brothers and 3 sisters. After the death of his mother, Nasri was raised in the care of his elder sister Helena. He worked as a shoemaker in his teens and served in the government service for about three months. At the direction of Patriarch Peter IV, Nasri joined the theological school of the forty martyrs. In 1887, he joined Deir al-Za`faran and was ordained deacon by Patriarch Peter IV in 1887. He became a sharwoyo (novitiate) in 1888 and a monk in 1889 upon which he came to be known as Elias. Elias was ordained qashisho (priest; lit. presbyter) in 1892 by Patriarch Peter IV.

In the waning years of the 19th century, numerous Armenian and Syriac Christians were massacred in Turkey. Qashisho Elias endeared himself to the Armenian Christians providing refuge for about 7000 in the monastery of Mor Quryaqos. He was later appointed the reesh dayroyo (Cheif of the Monastry) of the Mor Quryaqos as well as Deir al-Za`faran. In 1908 Qashisho Elias was consecrated bishop of Amid (Diyarbakr) by Patriarch `Abded Aloho II and was named Mor Iwanius. Mor Osthasios Sleeba, the delegate of the Holy See of Antioch to India, was also ordained along with Mor Iwanius. In 1912, he was transferred to Mosul where he served until his elevation to the patriarchate in 1917. After Patriarch `Abded Aloho passed away on Nov 26, 1915, Mor Iwanius was elected Patriarch and assumed the throne in 1917. The firman (decree) was issued to Patriarch Elias III by the Ottoman sultan Muhammad Rashid. The sultan conferred the Ismania medal to the Patriarch. In 1922, when civil war broke out in Turkey and Gazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha assumed leadership of the newly formed democracy, Moran Mor Elias III spent a few months in Jerusalem. Moran laid the foundation stone of the church our lady atJerusalem on 22 March 1926. He established a printing press there and began publication of journals in Syriac and Arabic.

Mor Elias III was the last Patriarch to reign at the Kurkmo Dayro (Deir Za`faran) in Mardin, Turkey the seat of the Patriarchate for most of the second millenium. Following the massacre of the Syriac Christians in South East Turkey in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire and during World War I, the Patriarch was forced to leave Mardin. In the aftermath of the saypho massacres, Mor Elias III undertook pastoral tours to the Middle East, the first in 1919 and the second in 1925 to Aleppo and Jerusalem. Mor Elias III held a synod Dayro d-Mor Matay, Mosul, Iraq in 1930.

Lord Irwin, then British Viceroy to India, wrote to the Patriarch on December 1, 1930 requesting his intervention in person or through a delegate in resolving the schism that had erupted in the Malankara Church. His Holiness responded to the Viceroy's letter, on December 15, 1930 accepting his invitation with certain conditions. Given his cardiac problems, his doctors attempted to dissuade him from the trip. His 75 year old sister also discouraged him from the trip. His Holiness said to her, "Death is inevitable whether here or in India; I would rather sacrifice my life for the sake of our children in Malankara."

Mor Elias III left Mosul on February 6, 1931 accompanied by Mor Clemis Yuhanon Abbachi, Rabban Quryaqos (later Mor Ostathios Quryaqos), and Rabban Yeshu` Samuel (later Mor Athanasius Samuel of North America), his secretary Zkaryo Shakir (his brother Joseph's son) and translator Adv.Elias Ghaduri. They set sail to India on February 28, 1931 from Basra on the ship "Warsova" and disembarked at the Karachi port on March 5, 1931. They were received at Karachi by the Patriarchal Delegate Mor Yulius Elias Qoro, Mor Athanasius Paulos of Alwaye and several clergymen and faithful. On March 6, 1931, the Patriarch and his entourage proceeded to Delhi by train reaching there on the 8th and visited Lord Irwin. On March 14th, the Patriarch arrived at Madras and stayed as a guest of the British Governor Sir George Staly. From there, he arrived at the Thrikkunathu Seminary in Alwaye on March 21st, and offered the divine liturgy there on March 22nd.

Patriarch Mor Elias III in Malankara. Mor Clemis Yuhanon Abbachi is seated to the left of the Patriarch. Seated at the extreme right is Dayroyo Yeshu`, later Archbishop Mor Athanasius Y. Samuel.
Source: Anton Kiraz's Archives

H.H. Mor Elias III convened conciliatory meetings at Alwaye, Karingachira, Panampady and Kuruppumpady. The Patriarch lead the passion week services at St.George Church, Karingachira. A church delegates meeting was held at Kuruppumpady on July 5, 1931. The denho (Epiphany) services in January 1932 were at the St.Thomas church, Pakkil, Kottayam.

On February 11, 1932, at the invitation of Qashisho Kuriakos Elavinamannil, the Patriarch arrived at the Manjinikkara Mor Stephanos church from Kallissery. The inability to bring about reconciliation in the church had weighed down heavily on the Patriarch; moreover, the hardships of the long travel had taken its toll on His Holiness. On arriving at Manjinikkara, the Patriarch said, "This place offers us much comfort; we desire to remain here permanently." On February 12th, His Holiness requested the priests who came to visit him not to leave for a couple of days. In the evening, the Patriarch recited many prayers of the qandilo (unction) and contemplated on the departed. On February 13th, Mor Clemis Yuhanon Abbachi offered the Holy Qurbono; His Holiness gave the sermon during the liturgy.

After the noon prayers and lunch, as was his routine, the Patriarch spent time recording events in his journal; he asked for a dictionary to get clarification for the meaning of a word. Following that, he complained of pain in his head. Soon he fainted and was placed on a cot by the monks where he slipped into eternal rest at 2:30 pm. Many eye witnesses recount the deep gloom that cast its spell in the area that evening and the wails of the monks who accompanied the Patriarch.

Different opinions arose regarding the final resting place for the Patriarch—a situation that the church in Malankara never had to confront before. The decision was in favor of interring the mortal remains in a plot of land to the north of the Mor Stephanos church, the title deed of which was transferred to the Patriarchate. On February 14th, the funeral services for His Holiness were held there. Mor Dionysius Michael consoled the gathering.

 Tomb of Saint Mor Ignatius Elias III Shakir Mor Ignatios Dayro church attached to the tomb of late Patriarch was built by the Patriarchal delegate Mor Yulius Elias Qoro. The memory of the holy Patriarch is revered throughout the Syriac Orthodox Church and especially in Malankara where thousands of pilgrims reach the tomb by foot on the annual feast day, February 13, from various parts of the Kerala state.

Mor Elias III is the only Patriarch of Antioch whose remains are interred in Malankara and his tomb stands as a towering symbol of the sacrifices made by the Syriac fathers to nurture the church in Malankara. On October 20, 1987, Patriarch Mor Zakka I through encyclical E265/87 permitted the Church in Malankara to remember his name in the fifth diptych.

Source: Syriac Orthodox Resource, maintained by Dr. Thomas Joseph, Thattunkal & Dr. George Anton Kiraz

Friday, November 28, 2008

God: Communal or Universal

On the speech of HG Geevarghese Mar Osthathios at St. Thomas orthodox Church on June 1 to 2, 2002

Geevarghese Mar Osthathios thirumeni is perhaps the most influential thinker and spokesperson of Indian Orthodox Christianity today. I had a chance to listen to his speech once again while His Grace visited the USA recently.

Fr. M.V. George (the previous name of thirumeni) was one of my childhood heroes. I waited impatiently to pass 10th grade to go to Mavelikara Gospel Hall for the summer camp conducted by him. Those two weeks I spent there were among the most memorable times of my life. I attended the summer camps two more years. I would look for his articles in the periodicals, and would buy his books as soon as they came out. "Njangal Viswasikkunnu" (We believe) was one of his books I had a chance to read over and over again. Another book was "Raksha Kristuvil mathramo?" (Is Christ the only way of salvation?). "Deivam undennu theliyikkamo" (Can you prove that God exists?) is one of his earliest books I read several times. Although I didn't have an opportunity to read his most celebrated book, Theology of a Classless Society, published in Britain, I could understand its content by reading about it.

It was after a break of about twenty years that I had had this opportunity to listen to him again when His Grace was at Houston St. Thomas Church on June 1st and 2nd.

The general topic of his speech was communal (vargiya) god vs. celestial (swargiya) God. His Grace is very good at playing with words that sound similar. Although his listeners might forget everything else he says, those words would remain in their hearts. Here the play is between the Malayalam words, vargiya and swargiya. The similarity is more in sound than in sense. If sense is considered, the opposite of swargiya should be bhaumika (earthly)or laukika (worldly), and the opposite of vargiya should be sarvalaukika (universal)or manavika (humanistic). The real contrast His Grace meant was vargiya vs sarvalaukika, ie communal god vs. universal God.

Here is a summary of the main ideas in the speech of His Grace:

The Trinitarian God of Christianity as revealed in Jesus Christ is a social God of love, and is totally unlike the monad like Jehovah or Allah. Such monads are communal gods. They belong to a particular community only. No wonder Jehovah makes the Israelites fight against the Cannanites and even make them kill them mercilessly. Allah, who asks His people to fight and kill others, is also a communal god. On the other hand, the trinity is ultimate unity in love. The love of this God is unconditional. He gives rain to both righteous and sinners.

John, the apostle, rightly said, "God is love". Those who believe in this God can easily be identified: not by words, but by deeds of love. He who claims to believe in this God and hates his brother is a liar. Ahumanism (nirmanushyathwam), which is not treating human beings with due respect, is more evil than Atheism (nireeswarathwam), which is the belief that God doesn't exist.

Well, if God loves all alike, then what is the church for? God loves all people in the world—both the people within the church, and the people outside the church. The church is a group of people who have taken a responsibility on themselves—to be a visible representative of God in the world. Jesus is the savior of all humankind—of those within the church, and those outside the church.

The mission of the church is "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". Our mission is to make all the nations of the world the disciples of Jesus Christ. We see how Jesus sent his disciples with a mission in Mathew's Gospel chapter 10. He said, "I send you as my father has sent me."

He also told them, "I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves." Ours is a world of wolves. The number of people killed in the last one century is more than all the people killed in the 19 preceding centuries. We have to go to such a world with a mission of love. When I visited Collosseum in Rome I could see the dry bones of martyrs kept in catacombs. They were willing to die for Jesus. In Russia, I could see three kinds of churches: closed ones, broken down ones, and the ones converted to museums.

Today in this third millennium, Christ is calling us to sacrifice ourselves. We have a choice: we can be wolves torturing and killing the sheep. Or, we can be sheep, willing to die. Will we join the group of wolves or the group of sheep? Wolves are never satisfied. They keep on consuming more and more without having any care for others. On the other hand, the sheep, with a vow of poverty, are happy and thankful with what they have. I would call this kind of poverty which they willingly accept "evangelical poverty". This is opposed to the structural poverty we see around us. There are millions of people around the world without enough food and clothing. This poverty is not their choice, but it is forced upon them. Structural poverty is evil, whereas evangelical poverty is good.



Perhaps the most effective tactic adopted by the adversary of man's salvation has been to blind man to the reality of the spiritual warfare being waged for possession of his soul. We have consequently become spiritually flabby and easy prey for the enemy. To escape such a perilous condition we would do well to contemplate more often the examples of the saints who engaged in direct combat with the Evil One, unmasking his deceptions and thereby disarming him. Nowhere is this illustrated more dramatically than in the life of St. Anthony the Great.

St. Anthony was an Egyptian, born c. 251 of noble Christian parents who provided well for their son's future by educating him in the fear of God. His parents left this world when Anthony was 18 or 20, and he inherited a substantial fortune in terms of earthly wealth. But although he was at the age most attracted by fortune's delights, he aspired only to amass the riches of virtues.

Anthony was reflecting one day upon how the Apostles had forsaken all to follow after Christ. when he heard in church the words of the Gospel: "If thou wishest to be perfect, go and sell everything thou hast...and come and follow Me" (Matt. 19:21). Thus confirmed in his desire to do likewise, Anthony sold his estate and distributed the money to the poor, persuading his younger sister to be likeminded, he gave her into the care of some virgins.

Now free of all earthly attachments, the young man began to lead a life of great abstinence and self-denial on the outskirts of his village. He gave his mind no occasion to think back upon the affairs of this world but led it into a desert that it might be occupied with thoughts of pleasing God alone. He delighted in visiting the dwellings of righteous men and studying their virtuous habits which he proceeded to adopt for himself, exercising himself in their practice. Indeed, he was like a bee which gathers nectar from various blossoms and creates out of it a fragrantly sweet honey. With his concentrated desire Anthony rapidly ascended the ladder of perfection. The enemy, however, could not endure to behold the likeness of Christ shining forth from this creation of dust and ashes, and he determined to destroy this 'house of virtue.'

Monk Anthony of Egypt

The Unseen Warfare

The first campaign was waged on the battlefield of the mind. Anthony experienced a barrage of unsettling thoughts--flattery, the allurement of the world and all the pleasures his former wealth could buy, concern for his sister's welfare, the difficulties of the path he had chosen. The vicious net was craftily woven, but the Saint recognized it as the handiwork of his adversary and tore it apart by means of intense prayer and vigilance, deflecting any and all disturbing thoughts before they took hold in his mind. The battle grew more intense when the Enemy', taking advantage of the Saint's youth, assailed him with lustful thoughts, inflaming the natural appetites of the flesh until the Saint was burning with his own lust. He manfully fought back by mortifying his body with increased fasting to quench the passions of the flesh, and by meditating on death and the eternal torments which await those who give themselves over to the spirit of fornication. And so be escaped unharmed, even strengthened by this experience.

When the Evil One found himself so disgraced, he took on a human voice and complained bitterly to Anthony: "I have deceived and conquered many in my time; but now in your case, as in that of many others, I am defied by your ascetic labors."

Knowing that his antagonist would continue to stalk him as a roaring lion after his prey, Anthony did not allow himself to relax his vigilance on account of his victory. He passed many night s without sleep, en grossed in prayer, and limited his bodily nourishment to bread and water, of which he partook once a day at evening. For, he said, by weakening the pleasures of the body the mind is strengthened. Such disregard did he have for the body as to imitate the nature of the fleshless ones, i.e., the angels. The severity of his labors and his accumulated virtues astonished the older ascetics, but Anthony never thought about his spiritual progress and regarded each day a s the beginning of his spiritual journey, thereby shielding himself from pride and vainglory.

For the sake of greater solitude, Anthony moved further from the village to a burial place at the edge of the desert, where he locked himself up in a sepulchre; only allowing a servant to come at rare intervals with a supply of bread. The enemy, embittered by his previous defeat, attacked with vengeance. This time the assault was physical. A whole troop of demons came one night and beat the Saint until the very breath of life was ready to leave him. But even as he lay on the ground, covered with bruises and unable to stand, he said in a loud voice:

"Here, devils, here am I, Anthony, ready for more of your wounds. Try your worst, for you shall never separate me from Christ." He fortified himself by singing the words of the Psalmist: "Though a host should encamp against me, yet my heart shall not fear."

Incensed by the audacity of Anthony's challenge, the Devil gathered his minions: "Don't you see now? This fellow could not be restrained either by the spirit of fornication or by bangs and bruises,.. We must assail him by other means."

That night, as Anthony was still lying on the ground recovering, a hoard of demons shook the walls of the sepulchre and rushed in to terrorize the Saint. For this purpose they had taken on the forms of hideous wild beasts--hissing snakes, roaring lions, ferocious wolves, a bull which threatened to gore the victim. But Anthony was not frightened by what he perceived to be mere spectral creatures, and he made bold to mock his enemy's impotence: "What is the use of all this vain uproar? If ye have power to hurt, why don't you? But you can't, for the Lord is my shield and my wall of safety." The demons could only gnash their teeth in reply.

When Anthony had thus manfully proven himself as a champion athlete in the spiritual arena, he was granted to experience the comforting presence of the Lord. Lifting his eyes heavenward he saw a roof-curtain drawn aside and a ray of light descending upon him. Straightway the demons vanished, and Anthony felt his bodily pains melt away. Consoled by this outpouring of Divine Grace, he rested briefly from the fatigue of battle before addressing his Master aloud:

"Lord, where wast Thou when these sufferings and tribulations came upon me? Why didst Thou not help me?" He heard a voice in reply:

"I was here, Anthony, but I wanted to witness your combat. Having seen that you withstood your adversary without retreating, I shall from now on be your Helper and shall make your name celebrated far and wide as My faithful servant."

Anthony knelt in prayer to give thanks to God for this promise and for the peace and newfound strength which filled his soul, the grace-given rewards of his victory. He was then about 35 years old.

With Demons in the Desert

The next day Anthony left the place of the sepulchres to live as a hermit in the desert. Even as he journeyed, the enemy continued to lay all kinds of traps for him, but the Saint was not to be outsmarted. Seeing a large silver disk in his path, he immediately surmised that it was a ruse of the devil, for had some traveler passed that way and lost it, surely he would have retraced his steps to recover such a valuable object. "O Devil," he cried out, "you will not so easily draw me away from my purpose. May you take your silver and go down to perdition together." No sooner had he said this than the silver disk disappeared in a cloud of smoke, proof that it was indeed the devil's creation.

At length Anthony settled in a cleft of some rocks beside a river, blocking the entrance so as not to be disturbed. For twenty years he remained there in solitude, admitting no visitors but only a supply of bread three times a year. It must not be imagined, however, that he enjoyed a blissful life of uninterrupted peace. Those who came in hopes of seeing or hearing a word from the far famed ascetic were often perplexed by the raucous din coming from the cleft. They sup-posed a band of angry men had somehow gained entrance, for they could make out shouts of: "Depart from us! Why have you come to our country to cause our death?!" Through a fissure, however, they saw that the Saint was quite alone, and they understood that the tumult was made by demons.

Indeed, the demons quite exhausted their bag of tricks in their frantic efforts to deter the Saint from his course, for fear that his example would inspire others to invade their desert domain with fasting and psalm-singing which they found intolerable. And this is just what happened. Whole multitudes began coming to the desert to lose their lives, like Anthony, for the sake of the Kingdom. Persuaded by their entreaties, the Saint relinquished his solitude to share the light of his accumulated experience with these eager new recruits in Christ's army. By word and example he fanned such zeal for the ascetic life that many monasteries--the first in the history of Christianity--were founded under his influence, for which reason he is known as the Father of Monasticism.

In guiding these warriors of Christ, St. Anthony exhorted them to pursue their aim with diligence, for "the promise of eternal life is bought with a small price... and the work is easy, if we be only willing." He warned them of the subtle craftiness of the demonic powers, exposing their numerous tricks and guises whereby they seek to trip and destroy the Christian whom they find laboring on the path of salvation. He spoke of the evil and impure thoughts they try to instigate and of the fearful appearances they assume, of their pretention in foretelling future events. "Sometimes, too, they appear in the habit of monks, and talk very religiously in order to gain our confidence and then to seduce us." At the same time, he encouraged the brethren not to fear when they came under attack, but to fortify themselves by faith and the sign of the Cross: "If they find us rejoicing in the Lord, and meditating or conversing on divine things, then demons have no power over the Christian...for when they see the soul secured by such thoughts, they turn away deeply ashamed of themselves."

Besides his extraordinary skill in discerning spirits, St. Anthony had other gifts --of healing, of casting out demons, of foretelling future events. And although he was illiterate he readily outwitted many philosophers. Once, when some 'wise' men came thinking to mock his Christian faith, St. Anthony brought forward several people who were troubled with demons, and said, "Can you heal these men by your reasoning? or by any art or magic, calling upon your idols?" The Saint then called upon the name of Christ and marked the demoniacs with the sign of the Cross, a first, second and third time. Immediately the men were healed of their insanity, and the philosophers departed amazed by the miracle and by Anthony's wisdom.

Treasury of Good Gifts

Crowds flocked to this heavenly-born physician of the Egyptian desert, and no one left without being enriched from St. Anthony's store of gifts. "For who," writes St. Athanasius, "went to him in sorrow, and did not come back rejoicing? Who went to him in anger, and was not converted into a friend? What poor man met him, with a dejected heart, who, after he saw and heard him, did not go away despising riches and content with poverty? If a monk was remiss, he excited him to diligence. If a young man went to the mountain and beheld Anthony, he straightway renounced pleasure and embraced a life of temperance. Whosoever came to him, tempted by a demo n, was relieved; or if troubled with evil thoughts was tranquilized."

Even when St. Anthony had attained the heights of perfection, he never hesitated to learn from someone else. Nor did he, in his humility, ascribe his spiritual gifts to his own achievements, but exhorted those who benefited by his prayers to thank God Who is the source and cause of all that is good.


From Chapter One of Nihilism by Eugene (Father Seraphim) Rose

What is the Nihilism in which we have seen the root of the Revolution of the modern age? The answer, at first thought, does not seem difficult; several obvious examples of it spring immediately to mind. There is Hitler's fantastic program of destruction, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Dadaist attack on art; there is the background from which these movements sprang, most notably represented by several "possessed" individuals of the late nineteenth century poets like Rimbaud and Baudelaire, revolutionaries like Bakunin and Nechayev, "prophets" like Nietzsche; there is, on a humbler level among our contemporaries, the vague unrest that leads some to flock to magicians like Hitler, and others to find escape in drugs or false religions, or to perpetrate those "senseless" crimes that become ever more characteristic of these times. But these represent no more than the spectacular surface of the problem of Nihilism. To account even for these, once one probes beneath the surface, is by no means an easy task; but the task we have set for ourselves in this chapter is broader: to understand the nature of the whole movement of which these phenomena are but extreme examples.

To do this it will be necessary to avoid two great pitfalls lying on either side of the path we have chosen, into one or the other of which most commentators on the Nihilist spirit of our age have fallen: apology, and diatribe.


Anyone aware of the too obvious imperfections and evils of modern civilization that have been the more immediate occasion and cause of the Nihilist reaction though we shall see that these too have been the fruit of an incipient Nihilism cannot but feel a measure of sympathy with some, at least, of the men who have participated in that reaction. Such sympathy may take the form of pity ror men who may, from one point of view, be seen as innocent "victims" of the conditions against which their effort has been directed; or again, it may be expressed in the common opinion that certain types of Nihilist phenomena have actually a "positive" significance and have a role to play in some "new development" of history or of man. The latter attitude, again, is itself one of the more obvious fruits of the very Nihilism in question here; but the former attitude, at least, is not entirely devoid of truth or justice. For that very reason, however, we must be all the more careful not to give it undue importance. It is all too easy, in the atmosphere of intellectual fog that pervades Liberal and Humanist circles today, to allow sympathy for an unfortunate person to pass over into receptivity to his ideas. The Nihilist, to be sure, is in some sense "sick," and his sickness is a testimony to the sickness of an age whose best as well as worst elements turn to Nihilism; but sickness is not cured, nor even properly diagnosed by "sympathy." In any case there is no such thing as an entirely "innocent victim."

The Nihilist is all too obviously involved in the very sins and guilt of mankind that have produced the evils of our age; and in taking arms as do all Nihilists not only against real or imagined "abuses" and "injustices" in the social and religious order, but also against order itself and the Truth that underlies that order, the Nihilist takes an active part in the work of Satan (for such it is) that can by no means be explained away by the mythology of the "innocent victim." No one, in the last analysis, serves Satan against his will.

But if "apology" is far from our intention in these pages, neither is our aim mere diatribe. It is not sufficient, for example, to condemn Naziism or Bolshevism for their "barbarism," "gangsterism," or "anti intellectualism," and the artistic or literary avant garde for their "pessimism" or "exhibitionism"; nor is it enough to defend the "democracies" in the name of "civilization," "progress," or "humanism," or for their advocacy of "private property" or "civil liberties." Such arguments, while some of them possess a certain justice, are really quite beside the point; the blows of Nihilism strike too deep, its program is far too radical, to be effectively countered by them. Nihilism has error for its root, and error can be conquered only by Truth. Most of the criticism of Nihilism is not directed to this root at all, and the reason for this as we shall see is that Nihilism has become, in our time, so widespread and pervasive, has entered so thoroughly and so deeply into the minds and hearts of all men living today, that there is no longer any "front" on which it may be fought; and those who think they are fighting it are most often using its own weapons, which they in effect turn against themselves.

Some will perhaps object once they have seen the scope of our project that we have set our net too wide: that we have exaggerated the prevalence of Nihilism or, if not, then that the phenomenon is so universal as to defy handling at all. We must admit that our task is an ambitious one, all the more so because of the ambiguity of many Nihilist phenomena; and indeed, if we were to attempt a thorough examination of the question our work would never end.

It is possible, however, to set our net wide and still catch the fish we are after because it is, after all, a single fish, and a large one. A complete documentation of Nihilist phenomena is out of the question; but an examination of the unique Nihilist mentality that underlies them, and of its indisputable effects and its role in contemporary history, is surely possible.
We shall attempt here, first, to describe this mentality in several, at least, of its most important manifestations and offer a sketch of its historical development; and then to probe more deeply into its meaning and historical program. But before this can be done, we must know more clearly of what we are speaking; we must begin, therefore, with a definition of Nihilism.

This task need not detain us long; Nihilism has been defined, and quite succinctly, by the fount of philosophical Nihilism, Nietzsche.

"That there is no truth; that there is no absolute state of affairs no 'thing in itself This alone is Nihilism, and of the most extreme kind. " (The Will to Power, Vol. 1, in The Complete Works ofFriedrich Nietzsche, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1909, Vol. 14, p. 6.)

"There is no truth": we have encountered this phrase already more than once in this book, and it will recur frequently hereafter. For the question of Nihilism is, most profoundly, a question of truth; it is, indeed: question of truth.

But what is truth? The question is, first of all, one of logic: before we discuss the content of truth, we must examine its very possibility, and the conditions of its postulation. And by "truth" we mean, of course as Nietzsche's denial of it makes explicit absolute truth, which we have already defined as the dimension of the beginning and the end of things.

"Absolute truth": the phrase has, to a generation raised on skepticism and unaccustomed to serious thought, an antiquated ring. No one, surely is the common idea no one is naive enough to believe in "absolute truth" any more; all truth, to our enlightened age, is "relative." The latter expression, let us note "all truth is relative" is the popular translation of Nietzsche's phrase, "there is no (absolute) truth"; the one doctrine is the foundation of the Nihilism alike of the masses and of the elite.

"Relative truth" is primarily represented, for our age, by the knowledge of science, which begins in observation, proceeds by logic, and progresses in orderly fashion from the known to the unknown. It is always discursive, contingent, qualified, always expressed in "relation" to something else, never standing alone, never categorical, never "absolute."

The unreflective scientific specialist sees no need for any other kind of knowledge; occupied with the demands of his specialty, he has, perhaps, neither time nor inclination for "abstract" questions that inquire, for example, into the basic presuppositions of that specialty. If he is pressed, or if his mind spontaneously turns to such questions, the most obvious explanation is usually sufficient to satisfy his curiosity: all truth is empirical, all truth is relative.

Either statement, of course, is a self contradiction. The first statement is itself not empirical at all, but metaphysical; the second is itself an absolute statement. The question of absolute truth is raised first of all, for the critical observer, by such self contradictions; and the first logical conclusion to which he must be led is this: if there is any truth at all, it cannot be merely "relative." The first principles of modern science, as of any system of knowledge, are themselves unchangeable and absolute; if they were not there would be no knowledge at all, not even the most "reflective" knowledge, for there would be no criteria by which to classify anything as knowledge or truth.

This axiom has a corollary: the absolute cannot be attained by means of the relative. That is to say, the first principles of any system of knowledge cannot be arrived at through the means of that knowledge itself, but must be given in advance; they are the object, not of scientific demonstration, but of faith.

We have discussed, in an earlier chapter, the universality of faith, seeing it as underlying all human activity and knowledge; and we have seen that faith, if it is not to fall prey to subjective delusions, must be rooted in truth. It is therefore a legitimate, and indeed unavoidable question whether the first principles of the scientific faith for example, the coherence and uniformity of nature, the transsubjectivity of human knowledge, the adequacy of reason to draw conclusions from observation are founded in absolute truth; if they are not, they can be no more than unverifiable probabilities. The "pragmatic" position taken by many scientists and humanists who cannot be troubled to think about ultimate things the position that these principles are no more than experimental hypotheses which collective experience finds reliable is surely unsatisfactory; it may offer a psychological explanation of the faith these principles inspire, but since it does not establish the foundation of that faith in truth, it leaves the whole scientific edifice on shifting sands and provides no sure defense against the irrational winds that periodically attack it.

In actual fact, however, whether it be from simple naivete or from a deeper insight which they cannot justify by argument most scientists and humanists undoubtedly believe that their faith has something to do with the truth of things. Whether this belief is justified or not is, of course, another question; it is a metaphysical question, and one thing that is certain is that it is not justified by the rather primitive metaphysics of most scientists.

Every man, as we have seen, lives by faith; likewise every man something less obvious but no less certain is a metaphysician. The claim to any knowledge whatever and no living man can refrain from this claim implies a theory and standard of knowledge, and a notion of what is ultimately knowable and true. This ultimate truth, whether it be conceived as the Christian God or simply as the ultimate coherence of things, is a metaphysical first principle, an absolute truth. But with the acknowledgement, logically unavoidable, of such a principle, the theory of the "relativity of truth" collapses, it itself being revealed as a self contradictory absolute.

The proclamation of the "relativity of truth" is, thus, what might be called a "negative metaphysics" but a metaphysics all the same. There are several principal forms of "negative metaphysics," and since each contradicts itself in a slightly different way, and appeals to a slightly different mentality, it would be wise to devote a paragraph here to the examination of each. We may divide them into the two general categories of "realism" and "agnosticism," each of which in turn may be subdivided into "naive" and "critical."

"Naive realism," or "naturalism," does not precisely deny absolute truth, but rather makes absolute claims of its own that cannot be defended. Rejecting any "ideal" or "spiritual" absolute, it claims the absolute truth of "materialism" and "determinism." This philosophy is still current in some circles it is official Marxist doctrine and is expounded by some unsophisticated scientific thinkers in the West but the main current of contemporary thought has left it behind, and it seems today the quaint relic of a simpler, but bygone, day, the Victorian day when many transferred to "science" the allegiance ahd emotions they had once devoted to religion. It is the impossible formulation of a "scientific" metaphysics impossible because science is, by its nature, knowledge of the particular, and metaphysics is knowledge of what underlies the particular and is presupposed by it. It is a suicidal philosophy in that the "materialism" and "determinism" it posits render all philosophy invalid; since it must insist that philosophy, like everything else, is "determined," its advocates can only claim that their philosophy, since it exists, is "inevitable," but not at all that it is "true." This philosophy, in fact, if consistent, would do away with the category of truth altogether; but its adherents, innocent of thought that is either consistent or profound, seem unaware of this fatal contradiction. The contradiction may be seen, on a less abstract level, in the altruistic and idealistic practice of, for example, the Russian Nihilists of the last century, a practice in flagrant contradiction of their purely materialistic and egoistic theory; Vladimir Solovyov cleverly pointed out this discrepancy by ascribing to them the syllogism, "Man is descended from a monkey, consequently we shall love one another."

All philosophy presupposes, to some degree, the autonomy of ideas; philosophical "materialism" is, thus, a species of "idealism." It is, one might say, the self confession of those whose ideas do not rise above the obvious, whose thirst for truth is so easily assuaged by science that they make it into their absolute.

"Critical realism," or "positivism," is the straightforward denial of metaphysical truth. Proceeding from the same scientific predispositions as the more naive naturalism, it professes greater modesty in abandoning the absolute altogether and restricting itself to "empirical," "relative" truth. We have already noted the contradiction in this position: the denial of absolute truth is itself an "absolute truth"; again, as with naturalism, the very positing of the first principle of positivism is its own refutation.

"Agnosticism," like "realism," may be distinguished as "naive" and "critical." "Naive" or "doctrinaire agnosticism" posits the absolute unknowability of any absolute truth. While its claim seems more modest even than that of positivism, it still quite clearly claims too much: if it actually knows that the absolute is "unknowable," then this knowledge is itself "absolute." Such agnosticism is in fact but a variety of positivism, attempting, with no greater success, to cover up its contradictions.

Only in "critical" or "pure agnosticism" do we find, at last, what seems to be a successful renunciation of the absolute; unfortunately, such renunciation entails the renunciation of everything else and ends if it is consistent in total solipsism. Such agnosticism is the simple statement of fact: we do not know whether there exists an absolute truth, or what its nature could be if it did exist; let us, then this is the corollary content ourselves with the empirical, relative truth we can know. But what is truth? What is knowledge? If there is no absolute standard by which these are to be measured, they cannot even be defined. The agnostic, if he acknowledges this criticism, does not allow it to disturb him; his position is one of "pragmatism," "experimentalism," "instrumentalism": there is no truth, but man can survive, can get along in the world, without it. Such a position has been defended in high places and in very low places as well in our anti intellectualist century; but the least one can say of it is that it is intellectually irresponsible. It is the definitive abandonment of truth, or rather the surrender of truth to power, whether that power be nation, race, class, comrort, or whatever other cause is able to absorb the energies men once devoted to the truth.

The "pragmatist" and the "agnostic" may be quite sincere and well meaning; but they only deceive themselves and others if they continue to use the word "truth" to describe what they are seeking. Their existence, in fact, is testimony to the fact that the search for truth which has so long animated European man has come to an end. Four centuries and more of modern thought have been, from one point of view, an experiment in the possibilities of knowledge open to man, assuming that there is no Revealed Truth. The conclusion: which Hume already saw and from which he fled into the comfort of "common sense" and conventional life, and which the multitudes sense today without possessing any such secure refuge the conclusion of this experiment is an absolute negation: if there is no Revealed Truth, there is no truth at all; the search for truth outside of Revelation has come to a dead end. The scientist admits this by restricting himself to the narrowest of specialties, content if he sees a certain coherence in a limited aggregate of facts, without troubling himself over the existence of any truth, large or small; the multitudes demonstrate it by looking to the scientist, not for truth, but for the technological applications of a knowledge which has no more than a practical value, and by looking to other, irrational sources for the ultimate values men once expected to find in truth. The despotism of science over practical life is contemporaneous with the advent of a whole series of pseudo religious "revelations"; the two are correlative symptoms of the same malady: the abandonment of truth.

Logic, thus, can take us this far: denial or doubt of absolute truth leads (if one is consistent and honest) to the abyss of solipsism and ir rationalism; the only position that involves no logical contradictions is the affirmation of an absolute truth which underlies and secures all lesser truths; and this absolute truth can be attained by no relative, human means. At this point logic fails us, and we must enter an entirely different universe of discourse if we are to proceed. It is one thing to state that there is no logical barrier to the affirmation of absolute truth; it is quite another actually to affirm it. Such an affirmation can be based upon only one source; the question of truth must come in the end to the question of Revelation.

The critical mind hesitates at this point. Must we seek from without what we cannot attain by our own unaided power? It is a blow to pride most of all to that pride which passes today for scientific "humility" that "sits down before fact as a little child" and yet refuses to acknowledge any arbiter of fact save the proud human reason. It is, however, a particular revelation Divine Revelation, the Christian Revelation that so repels the rationalist; other revelations he does not gainsay.

Indeed, the man who does not accept, fully and consciously, a coherent doctrine of truth such as the Christian Revelation provides, is forced if he has any pretensions to knowledge whatever to seek such a doctrine elsewhere; this has been the path of modern philosophy, which has ended in obscurity and confusion because it would never squarely face the fact that it cannot supply for itself what can only be given from without. The blindness and confusion of modern philosophers with regard to first principles and the dimension of the absolute have been the direct consequence of their own primary assumption, the non existence of Revelation; for this assumption in effect blinded men to the light of the sun and rendered obscure everything that had once been clear in its light.

To one who gropes in this darkness there is but one path, if he will not be healed of his blindness; and that is to seek some light amidst the darkness here below. Many run to the flickering candle of "common sense" and conventional life and accept because one must get along somehow the current opinions of the social and intellectual circles to which they belong. But many others, finding this light too dim, flock to the magic lanterns that project beguiling, multicolored views that are, if nothing else, distracting; they become devotees of this or the other political or religious or artistic current that the "spirit of the age" has thrown into fashion.

In fact no one lives but by the light of some revelation, be it a true or a false one, whether it serve to enlighten or obscure. He who will nor live by the Christian Revelation must live by a false revelation; and all false revelations lead to the Abyss.

We began this investigation with the logical question, "what is truth?" That question may and must be framed from an entirely different point of view. The skeptic Pilate asked the question, though not in earnest; ironically for him, he asked it of the Truth Himself. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."(John 13:6) "Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free."(John 8:32) Truth in this sense, Truth that confers eternal life and freedom, cannot be attained by any human means; it can only be revealed from above by One Who has the power to do so.

The path to this Truth is a narrow one, and most men because they travel the "broad" path miss it. There is no man, however, for so the God Who is Truth created him who does not seek this Truth. We shall examine, in later chapters, many of the false absolutes, the false gods men have invented and worshipped in our idolatrous age; and we shall find that what is perhaps most striking about them is that every one of them, far from being any "new revelation," is a dilution, a distortion, a perversion, or a parody of the One Truth men cannot help but point to even in their error and blasphemy and pride. The notion of Divine Revelation has been thoroughly discredited for those who must obey the dictates of the "spirit of the age"; but it is impossible to extinguish the thirst for truth which God has implanted in man to lead them to Him, and which can only be satisfied in the acceptance of His Revelation. Even those who profess satisfaction with "relative" truths and consider themselves too "sophisticated" or "honest" or even "humble" to pursue the absolute even they tire, eventually, of the fare of unsatisfying tidbits to which they have arbitrarily confined themselves, and long for more substantial fare.

The whole food of Christian Truth, however, is accessible only to faith; and the chief obstacle to such faith is not logic, as the facile modern view has it, but another and opposed faith. We have seen indeed, that logic cannot deny absolute truth without denying itself; the logic that sets itself up against the Christian Revelation is merely the servant of another "revelation," of a false "absolute truth": namely Nihilism.

In the following pages we shall characterize as "Nihilists" men of, as it seems, widely divergent views: humanists, skeptics, revolutionaries of all hues, artists and philosophers of various schools; but they are united in a common task. Whether in positivist "criticism" of Christian truths and institutions, revolutionary violence against the Old Order, apocalyptic visions of universal destruction and the advent of a paradise on earth, or objective scientific labors in the interests of a "better life" in this world the tacit assumption being that there is no other world their aim is the same: the annihilation of Divine Revelation and the preparation of a new order in which there shall be no trace of the "old" view of things, in which Man shall be the only god there is.


Manjinikkara Mor Ignatius Dayara Cathedral

 Manjinikkara Mor Ignatius Dayara - front view

Front view of Manjinikkara Mor Ignatius Dayara

The Dayara at Manjinikkara derives its importance from the holy tomb there. The sacred body of the late lgnatius Elise III, the holy patriarch of Antioch and all the East was interred there. The Dayara has now become one of the foremost places of pilgrimage in Malankara. A large number of pilgrims visit the church to receive spiritual blessings and healing of their bodies and souls.

 Manjinikkara Mor Ignatius Dayara - rear view

Rear view of Manjinikkara Mor Ignatius Dayara


An eye witness account of the last days of H.H. Moran Mor Elias III, the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East.
by Prof. E.K. Zachariah

“I wish I could live here permanently”. These were the words of Moran Mor Ignatius Elias III, Patriarch of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, when he reached St. Stephen’s church Manjanikkara at the last leg of his sojourn in Malankara. Here is a first hand account of the last days of the Patriarch, Moran Mor Elias III. The writer of this article had the privilege of being an eye witness to the grand reception accorded to the Bava Thirumeni and the subsequent happenings at Manjanikkara. I had also the rare privilege of getting blessings directly from him. I remember I knelt before the saint and he prayed for more than half an hour with his hand placed on my head.

It was Lord Irvin, the British Viceroy in India who invited the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, H.H. Elias III to India. The viceroy was wonderstruck when he heard that there was an ancient Christian Church in the southern most part of India which was as old as Christianity itself. St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ reached India in AD 52. He preached the Holy Gospel in Kerala and converted some Brahmin families to Christianity. He constructed seven and a half Churches in Kerala and ordained priests. Thus a Christian Church came into existence in Kerala from the time of St. Thomas. The Jacobite Syrian Church which was a part of this ancient Church was facing disharmony and disunity from the beginning of the twentieth century, caused by group rivalries and infighting. The viceroy felt pain at this. He wanted this Church to prevail and prosper. So he invited the Head of the Church, the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, H.H. Elias III to come to India to bring peace among the warring groups. Though H.H. was not healthy enough to take a tedious journey and though the doctors advised him not to travel, the Patriarch decided to go to India, because for him peace in the Church was more important. He reached Kerala, visited many churches, had discussions with the Metropolitans of the opposite faction. He had prolonged talks with Vattasseril Mar Dionysius. Though the Patriarch made many concessions, Mar Dionysius was stubborn in his demands and peace efforts failed. The Patriarch was very much disappointed. He was so sad that he decided to return without achieving his goal.

It was about this time that Fr. Kuriakose Elavimamannil, Vicar, St. Stephen’s Church Manjanikkara invited the Patriarch to his Church. The immediate response of the Patriarch was a question. “Do you want my skeleton in your church?” This was really a prophesy which came true after he reached the church. Now some thing about this church. This church at Manjanikkara, named after St. Stephen, was founded by Elavainamannil Skaria Malpan, the father of Fr. Kuriakose. He was a Malpan or teacher at the ‘Pazhaya’ (Old) Seminary teaching deacons, Syriac and the rites and conduct of Holy Qurbono. Vattsseril Mar Dionysius was his colleague at the Pazhaya Seminary. When Mar Dionysius questioned the authority of the Patriarch and established his own faction, Fr. Skaria Malpan who was a staunch supporter of the Patriarch left Pazhya Seminary and returned to Omallur. But the condition in churches south of Kottayam was not at all favourable to the Patriarch side. Most of the churches here were with Mar Dionysius. Entry of new priests in the existing churches was not allowed. So Skaria Malpan wanted to have a church of his own for his son Fr. Kuriakose and the believers. He constructed a small church in his own land in Manjanikkara. It was on a lonely hill, no road to reach there, no availability of water. He hoped all facilities would be there soon. There were only 28 poor peasant families as members of the church. It was in the midst of Church’s enemies. Fr. Kuriakose hoped a visit of the Patriarch will be a boost to the Church and be helpful for its continued existence here.

H.H. The Patriarch agreed to visit the Church. The Vicar now began to face challenges; no road to the Church, no rooms for the Patriarch, Metropolitans, priest and other invitees to live in. Water was not available on the hill. It was a steep hill, no place for the devotees to stand. He could not collect funds for these from the poor parishioners. Fr. Kuriakose took the challenges boldly. First a new road, 4 km. in length was constructed. People of the locality gave land for the road and church members volunteered the construction work. Hill top around the church was leveled so that thousands of people could stand there, temporary sheds were constructed, many wells were dug and water was made available; everything was ready within a short time.

A grand reception was accorded to the Patriarch befitting his dignity and majesty. The journey was tedious, but once he reached the church the cool breeze that blew incessantly on the hill top, the beautiful scenery around, the green valleys and fields, the serene atmosphere, tranquility – all attracted him very much. He was very happy and pleased. He told the Metropolitans who were near him that he liked the place very much and that he wanted to stay here permanently. Hearing this, Fr. Kuriakose, the vicar told him that he and his parishioners were very happy to have him here permanently. But he was sad that the Church was very small and facilities very meager. To this St. Elias replied “This small church will become famous all over Malankara and abroad. You will see it”. His prophesy has come true. The church became famous. The Holy sepulcher, Mar Ignatius Dayro and church, all attract people from all over India. It has become a great pilgrim centre. There were many other occasions when he prophesied that the end of his journey was here in Manjanikkara and that his body will be buried here. Ordinarily when the Patriarch visits a church he will give a piece of the holy relics of saints or holy people to the church to keep it there or ordain the Vicar, a Corepiscopa. At Manjanikkara a Metropolitan who came along with him asked him what present should be given to Fr. Kuriakose, the Vicar. To this St. Elias replied “Next Sunday - Feb 13, after the Holy Qurbono relics of a Church father will be buried in this church and the vicar will be ordained Corepiscopa. To the surprise of all who heard this, the dead body of the saint who prophesied this, was buried in the church at the exact time on the exact date – Feb 13.

It was a usual practice for Bava Thirumeni to walk around the church after dinner for some time. The Metropolitans and priests will follow him then. On 12th Friday, after dinner, he walked around the Church as usual. He sang a hymn in Syriac and asked those who followed him to repeat it. This was a song to be sung at the time of burial of the heads of the Church. He also taught them the rites to be followed then. Thus he taught them how to conduct the solemn burial of a Patriarch – the last journey of the head of the Church rehearsed the night before his death. It was a prophesy!

To turn the prophesy true the holy body of Moran Mor Elias III, the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East was buried near St. Stephen’s church Manjanikkara on Sunday Feb 13 after the Holy Qurbono. This place was the private property of Fr. Kuriakose Elavinamannil and his brothers. Fr. Kuriakose thus had the unique privilege of burying the holy body of a Patriarch, the head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church in his own land. I believe nobody else in the world had such a blessing. Later Fr. Kuriakose gave 30 cents of land, on which the holy sepulcher stood, to the Holy Patriarchate as a gift. The St. Ignatius church, the Dayro are all here, in this land given free by him.

H.H. Moran Mor Elias III was a holy man, a saint in every sense. From the very beginning miracles happen at this sepulcher. It continues. Pilgrims come here from the different parts of Manjanikkara and get blessings. To attend the perunnal on Feb 13, thousands of pilgrims go to the Holy Qabar, walking a great distance. I think Manjanikkara is the only pilgrim centre in the whole world where pilgrims walk some 200 to 300 km to reach the church.

The 30th day of demise of Bava Thirumeni (adiyanthiram) was observed on a very grand scale. On that auspicious day there happened a miracle. As thousands of pilgrims were expected to attend the function, a very big feast was being prepared. In the early hours of the day the cooks complained to Fr. Kuriakose that there was shortage of coconut oil to make ‘pappadams’. It was not possible to have a fresh supply of oil at that hour. To this the Vicar said, “Don’t worry; this is Bava Thirumeni’s adiyanthiram. He will provide you with necessary things, please carry on the work”. The cooks started the work. To the surprise of all, oil began to boil in the vessel and overflow. The overflowing oil was collected in a vessel. This phenomenon continued for some time and oil was collected in many vessels. The devotees thronged around the vessels and took this wonderful oil home in bottles. The miracles at the sepulcher continue…

* from the Silver Jubilee Souvenir (2002) of Dubai,
Mar Ignatius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church

On terrorist attacks in India

OBL Statement on Terrorist Attacks in India

Dear Members/Readers

The recent terrorist attack on India can be seen as an act to challenge
democracy and peace. Many innocent people has lost their lives in this
barbaric act by some anti-democratic and perverted groups. OBL strongly
condemns this barbaric act.

We salute the courage of the hotels staff, NSG members, Military, Police
Force, Commandos,Media and all those who have risked their lives to defend
Mother India.

May these kind of incident never repeat anywhere in the world. Regardless
of caste, creed, sex or nationality let us all unite against terrorism and
defend democracy, fraternity and peace. We take this opportunity offer
special prayers for the departed souls, may God strengthen the families of
the lost ones. Peace be with them.

Thanking You
Mr Subin Varghese
For the Entire OBL team

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Role of Saints in Christian Life

In Syriac Language the word ‘ breeso ‘ means creation is derived from the root word ‘bro. ’When we use ‘bro’ in the form of a noun it stands for ‘SON’ but if it is used instead of Created in its verbal form. In our holy faith we agree that the Son, the second in the Holy Trinity has created. We believe that the Father makes the master plan, Son executes and the Holy Spirit completes it. That is the reason why we address the Father as the Creator of all. The Creator of the Cosmos is adorned by the entire creation irrespective of living or non-livings.
God’s Objective of Creation:

We read in the Holy Bible that God has created man from soil in his own Image and Likeness.Geneses 1 : 26 : “ And God said, Let’s make man in our own image, after our likeness “ we also read in the second chapter verse seven : “ And the LORD God formed Man of the dust of the ground….Before this master creation of Man, God has created an emphatic infrastructure for him such as The Earth, Light, water, seas and the inhabitants of it, all kinds of birds and animals, reptiles, different kinds of fruit bearing trees etc. in Five days. And he found all these as Good. As he found it as good he expects only good from his hand work.

God’s Objective of Creation of Man:

On completion of this Great Work, God made the entire universe in man’s control. Geneses 1 : 26 : “ And God said, Let’s make man in our own image, after our likeness, and let them heave domainover the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and all over the earth, and over every creeping thins that creepeth, upon the earth.Moreover, he made man with a free will. Though he had the free will god anticipated his complete devotion and dedication to the Almighty. Unfortunately, as Isaiah says in 5 : 2 :“ And he fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also built a winepress therein : and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.”Instead of fine grapes, he proved himself as useless and unworthy. It was only man who turned traitor while the entire universe remained loyal to the God. The Psalmist warns that we shall be crushed and destroyed by the wild boar.Psalms 80: 13 : The boar out of the wood doeth waste it, and wild beast of the field doeth devour it. This may happen in the Christian life even. Sometimes God may put us on tests through temptation or sufferings.

Our Great Grand parents got tempted in the Garden of Eden and they failed in being loyal to the Creator, where as the first king of Israel Saul surrendered before his impertinence, to give way to David as his successor of the throne. As a just man Job proved himself in glorifying the God even in the sufferings that shall be a definite model to all believers. His Dogmatism was incomparable and incredible before the Almighty and was justified to be counted as Just in the Bible.

Life in Christ:

God wishes that our life shall be fruitful in him. If we fail to produce the choicest fruits, then that action has been generated our selfishness advocated by the deceiver. We have to humble ourselves before God to get His will be executed in us. Or else, the result shall be negative. Either married or bachelor doesn’t makes any difference in complying God’s plan. All activities that are against the will of god is counted as sin before the holy throne, and be accounted for from which there shan’t be any escape. In this point of view, to fulfill God’s plan is the supreme duty of a man in Christ.

A Crowning Example for a Gracious life:

The life of H.H. Moran Mor Ignatious Elias III, sacrificed his precious life on the throne of peace in Malankara, was the personality who had distinctly identified the Call and the Master plan of the Big shepherd. As we all know his sacred mortal remaining is preserved in the holy shrine, in Manjinikara. The Holy father was ailing during his infancy, whom his parents devoted in the Kurkuma Dayara in Turkey early before his teens. He got well over there in the nurture by the spiritual inmates. He was ordained as a deacon and in due course the Almighty has selected him as the Descendant of the Holy Throne of St. Peter in Antioch. He was admired as a living saint during this period.

We shall participate in God’s Plan:

God has a defined plan with each and every one of us. In order to make it clear see St. Paul’s letter to the Church of Rome. Romans :12:2 : “ And be not conformed the to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect, will of god “We should get transformed by renewing our mind, as St. Paul advice us. We shan’t be a Dying Sacrifice as Jesus but, we should devote ourselves as Living sacrifice by transforming us into living and sanctifying offerings to the Creator.

We, the humble servant at the holy shrine, pray for all of you through the great intercession of St. Mary The Mother of God and in the name of Saint Ignatious Nurono and in the name of Saint Ignatious Elias the Third, for the blessings of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit for now and for ever.

Deevannasios Geevarghsese
Manjanikkara Dayara


Glory to Jesus Christ!

Let every prayer of ours, then, be accompanied with thanksgiving. And we are commanded to pray for our neighbors, not only the faithful, but the unbelieving also. For this reason God has given us a definite form of prayer, that we might ask for nothing human, nothing worldly, and that you that are faithful know what you ought to pray for.   John Chrysostom - Homily on St. Timothy

For Americans this is a day of Thanksgiving, a day when families come together. For many, there are children this moment sitting in front of the televisions watching the Thanksgiving Day parades. And shortly, their fathers, uncles, and others will gather around the same televisions to watch the first of the day’s football games.  Mothers, grandmothers, aunts are rushing around the kitchens making sure that the turkey is roasted just right, that there are plenty of mashed potatoes, stuffing, homemade bread, and lots of other goodies.

But we should all remember that it is first of all a day of thanksgiving.  And I ask you in your prayers to remember and keep in your hearts all those who do not have the abundance that many do, and those who will not be able to be with their families.

I seem to be remembering that old song “Over the hills and through the dales, to grandmother’s house we go...”  So in a little while I will climb in my car and drive to my mother’s house to discover what mouth watering things she has prepared for today. For those of you who remember, she is the one who makes that awesome soup for after Sunday’s liturgy.  And I am sure that today’s feast will be awesome.  

But it will only be her and me. Anyone who has no place to go today, you’re invited to join us.  Today will be a day of telephone calls. First there is our daughter in Washington state with her mother, celebrating but also whiling for our son-in-law to return from his third deployment.  Like so many other service members families, they will be praying for their love ones who are in harms way, and asking God to keep them save.   Next there will be a telephone call to our other son-in-law who waits at home while our daughter, his wife, completes Navy OCS training. There will be no telephone to her or from her because calls are not permitted during the training. Our family will have a day apart in different parts of America and the world.

I am sure that I will over eat.  But I will also remember that there are many who will have no more today than any other day.  Today will be just another day or hunger and cold. So I will be making several other telephone calls for them.  And those calls we can all make. Please make those calls yourself.  Take more than a moment, set quietly, and make a long call to God.  Pray for all those who have very little to be thankful for. And also pray that we can know how to be an active participant in making a difference in all their lives.  Also, pray for those who are not able to be with their families today because thy are serving their country.

You are all in my prayers, today and always,
Father Theodosius

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Catholicos of India & Metropolitan Trustee

 Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I

Catholicos of India & Metropolitan Trustee
Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I
[Presiding Hierarch of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church in India]

  • Date of Birth - 22nd July 1929
  • Ordained 'Korooyo' & 'Shamshono' by Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose II - 1957
  • Ordained 'Kassisso' by Mor Yulius Elias (Patriarchal delegate) - 1958
  • Ordained Metropolitan by Patriarch Ignatius Yakoob III - 24th February 1974
  • Elected President of Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara - 23rd February 1999
  • Chosen as the Catholicos-designate - 27th December 2000
  • Malankara Church accepting the new constitution - 06th July 2002
  • Consecrated as CATHOLICOS - 26th July 2002

Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, the spiritual head of the Syrian Christians of India, was born in the Cheruvillil family of Vadayambadi, Puthenkuriz to Mathai and Kunjamma on 22nd July 1929. Early part of his life was full of sufferings. Though he belonged to an aristocratic family, by the time he was born the family had seen bad days. As a child he had frequent bouts of illness which affected his education. His mother used to take the young boy frequently to the nearby Malecuriz Dayro where the relics of late Patriarch St. Ignatius Elias III and Saint Gregorios Geevarghese (Parumala Thirumeni) had been interred. One night, as his mother prayed with the young boy on her lap, she had a vision which prompted her to dedicate the boy to the service of the church. Within days, the boy's illness was entirely cured. God was with him, guiding him and shaping him.

His priestly formation was under the guidance of Mor Philoxenos Paulose (late Catholicos Mor Baselios Paulose II) who ordained him 'Korooyo' in 1952 and 'Shamshono' at Kadamattom Church in 1957. In August 1958, C M Thomas was ordained 'Kassisso' (full priest) by Mor Yulius Elias at the Majanikkara Dayro. In 1959 he was appointed as the vicar of St.Peter's church, Puthencuriz. Later he served the churches at Vellathooval, Keezhumuri, Fort Cochin, Valamboor, Calcutta and Thrissur. For a period of seven years from 1967, he was the organizing secretary of Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital. He also served as the Chief organizer of the North Indian mission at Bhilai in 1970's and as the secretary of the 'Pourasthaya Suvishesha Samajam' in 1974. He was well known as a great revivalist preacher and was also recognized as an excellent organizer.

In January 1974, Fr. C M Thomas was elected to the episcopate by the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Association convened at the Karingachira St. George Church and was consecrated Metropolitan with the title 'Mor Dionysius' by H.H. Mor Ignatius Ya`qub III on 24th February 1974 at Damascus, Syria. He was entrusted with the charge of Angamali diocese, the largest of all the Syrian Orthodox dioceses which has a membership of more than half a million. The untiring efforts of Mor Dionysius in those days had helped a lot to revive the confidence of not merely the faithful of the diocese, but the entire Malankara Church. Metropolitans Mor Dionysius, Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (late) and Mor Koorilos Kuriakose (late) together were a great support to the (late) Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II, the then Chief of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. As the Metropolitan of Angamali Mor Dionysius had successfully initiated many welfare programs and also reorganized the diocesan administration. In 1978 Mor Baselios Medical Mission Hospital at Kothamangalam was started under his patron-ship.

Following the demise of Mor Baselios Paulose II in 1996, Mor Gregorios Geevarghese (Perumpally Thirumeni) become the President of the Episcopal Synod of the Church in India. After the passing away of Mor Gregorios Geevarghese in February 1999, Mor Dionysius assumed the Presidency of the Malankara Church Synod. On 27th December 2000, His Excellency was chosen as the Catholicos-designate by the Holy Episcopal Synod. The Church delegates meeting held at Puthencuriz on the same day, unanimously approved this decision. H.H the Patriarch, however, waited for two more years in expectation of a peaceful settlement to the longstanding dispute between the two factions of Malankara Church. But as it became clearer that the chances for reconciliation is remote because of the insincerity on the part of the opposite faction; a crucial convention was convened at Puthencuriz, Kerala on 6th July 2002 in which delegates from all the parishes participated and they approved a new constitution for the effective administration of the Indian Church, with the consent of the supreme head, the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East. H.E. Mor Dionysius Thomas was elected as the Catholicos and the Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church at this historic Church Association. The election was later ratified by the Holy Episcopal Synod of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church on 22nd July 2002.

Metropolitans who were the co-celebrants of the Catholicos enthronement:-

H.G Julius Yeshu`Çiçek ( Central Europe)
H.G Philoxenos Matta Semavun
H.G.Theophelos George Saliba (Lebanon)
H.G Timotheos Samuel Aktas (Tur'abdin)
H.G. Philoxenos Yusuf Cetin (Istanbul)
H.G Osthatheos Matta Rohum (Jezirah & Euphrates)
H.G Gregorios Joseph (Kochi)
H.G. Dioscoros Benyamin Atas (Sweden)
H.G. Severios Malke Mourad (Jerusalem & Jordan)
H.G. Dionysius Isa Gurbuz (Germany)
H.G. Julius Kuriakose (1st Secretary to the Patriarch and the Patriarchal Vicar for Indian affairs)
H.G. Silwanos Petrus al-Ni'meh (Homs and Hama)
H.G. Ivanios Mathews (Kandanadu and USA)
H.G. Ivanios Paulos Al-Souky (Damascus)

After the enthronement ceremony a reception was given to the Catholicos His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas the First. During the speech delivered on the occasion, His Holiness emphasized the commitment of the Holy See to the Church in India. Replying to the congratulatory messages, His Beatitude the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I reiterated that he like his predecessors, will always take great care in the continuance of the faith and traditions of the Syrian Church.

Catholicos reaching India
On Saturday 27th July at 10.50 am, His Beatitude arrived at Cochin International Airport where he was given a rousing reception by thousands of people from all walks of life. The representatives of the State government including Cabinet Ministers were present at the Airport to welcome the new Catholicos. Soon after his arrival His Beatitude went to the nearby Akaparambu Mor Sabor Mor Aphroth Church and offered prayers.

The Catholicos then proceeded to the Kothamangalam MarThoma Church where the mortal remains of Maphriyono St. Baselios Yeldho (1685) is entombed. Later His Beatitude visited Malecuriz Dayro and offered prayers at the tomb of his immediate predecessor Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II. By around 7.00 PM the Catholicos reached St. Joseph's Cathedral, the headquarters of Kottayam diocese and then visited the Manarcaud MarthMariam Church, a major Syrian Orthodox pilgrim centre in Kerala. All through the way, huge gathering of faithful assembled at various places to have a glimpse of their beloved Catholicos and chanted, 'long live Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas', 'long live Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I', 'long live Antioch-Malankara relationship'. On Sunday the 28th, H.B. the Catholicos celebrated the Holy Qurbono at the Kyomtho Seminary chapel to commemorate the second dhukrono of Mor Osthatheos Thomas, the former Metropolitan of Kochi diocese.

On 31st July 2002, the Sunthroniso of Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Bava was held at the Kothamangalam Marthoma Cheriapally. H.E. Mor Julius Kuriakose, the first secretary to the Patriarch of Antioch read the Susthathicon, the Patriarchal Bull, proclaiming the enthronement of the new Catholicos for the Church in India. The function was attended by all the Metropolitans of the Malankara Church, hundreds of priests and very large number of laymen who came from all parts of Malankara.

As the head of the Church in India the Catholicos presides over the Holy Episcopal Synod of Malankara Church which includes all the Metropolitans of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. His Beatitude is also the Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Association.

H.B. Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Bava with the Metropolitans of the Syrian Church in India during the consecration of five Metropolitans at the St. Thomas church, Paravur on 3 July 2006

H.B. Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Bava with the Metropolitans of the Syrian Church in India during the consecration of five Metropolitans at the St. Thomas church, Paravur on 3 July 2006

Catholicate Office
The Catholicate office of His Beatitude Baselios Thomas I functions at the Patriarchal centre in Puthencuriz near Kochi, which is also the headquarters of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. His Beatitude resides at Mor Ignatius Seminary at Kothamangalam.

Catholicate Office:
Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Centre
(Patriarchal centre)
Puthencuriz - 682 308
Ernakulam, Kerala, INDIA.
Tel: 0484 - 2732804
Fax: 0484 - 2732804

Biography of the Catholicose prepared by
John Philip Kottapparambil, Kottayam - 686 004, India
Malankara Syriac Orthodox Resource