Fr. Thomas Philipose
Parishes in Gujarat Region
H.G.Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, the Diocesan Metropolitan,will lead passion week services at the Churches in Gujarat Region. His Grace will conduct Hosanna service at St Gregorios O.S.C, Silvasa, Service of Washing the feet and Pessaha service at and at St Gregorios Orthodox Church, Valsad and Good Friday service at StMary’s Orthodox Church,Vapi.
H G Dr.Gabriel Mar Gregorios, Metropolitan of Trivandrum Diocese, will lead the Holy week services in St Marys Indian Orthodox Cathedral assisted by Fr Varghese Yohannan (Vicar) Vattaparampil and Fr M B George (Asst Vicar).
St Mary’s Orthodox Catherdral, Dadar
H.G.Alexios Mar Eusebius, Metropolitan of South West America, will lead Passion week services at St Marys Cathedral, Dadar, assisted by Rev.Fr. P.C.Thomas ( Vicar) and Rev.Fr. Sunil Baby (Asst.Vicar).
Malankara Orthodox Church, Doha
H.G. Dr.Zachariah Mar Aprem, Metropolitan of Adoor-Kadampanad will lead Passion week services at Malankara Orthodox Church, Doha, assisted by Rev.Fr.Benjamin S Philip (Vicar) and Rev. Fr.M.E.Joseph (Asst Vicar)
St Thomas Orthodox Valiapally, Malad
H.G.Dr.Mathews Mar Severios, Metropolitan of Kandanad West will lead Passion week services at St Thomas Orthodox Valiapally, Malad, assisted by Rev.Fr.Thomas Varghese and Rev.Fr. Saji Thannimottil (Asst Vicar)
St Thomas Orthodox Valiapally, Kalyan (West)
H.G. Abraham Mar Epiphanios, Metropolitan of Sultan Battery, will lead Passion week services at St.Thomas Orthodox Valiapally, Kalyan West, assisted by Rev.Fr. Jiji K Thomas (Vicar).
By Rev.Fr.Jaise K George
Many of you might have heard the news of a baby in Philippines, born with the stigmata of Jesus that became viral in the social media. While we want to know whether this is a hoax or not, we have seen similar phenomenon earlier. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. Later, Christian history records many number of comparable occurrences. Mother Susan, a nun of the Malankara Orthodox Church, residing in Kerala is also experiencing this.
Stigmata refer to the wounds of Jesus that are miraculously reproduced in the body. On very rare occasions, the Catholic Church has accepted an occurrence of the stigmata as authentic, but has never defined their origin or nature, thus allowing physical, psychological, and preternatural explanations for these phenomena. Ian Wilson, in Stigmata (Harper & Row, San Francisco), declares, “They [stigmata] are one of the most baffling and intriguing of medical and scientific mysteries.”
It is possible that people had unusual wounds or blood blisters in places on their body that could be related to certain wounds of Christ. But each of these cases would need to be rationally explained. Are the wounds real or forged? Do they match the wounds of Christ or is this a product of imagination or self-inflicted? Are they natural or divine? Could they be the product of satanic activity? (We sometimes forget that Satan uses religion to draw people away from what is important). The question to ask is, how blood spots mysteriously appearing on someone’s hands is an evidence of ‘sharing in the suffering of Christ’. Does appearance of marks signify that the bearer is taking part in the suffering? If anything, these oddities minimize suffering. Obviously, there are few answers we can give or find about the stigmata.
We can only speculate and not be certain how the ‘stigmata’-wounds of the Passion looked on Christ’s body. But we do know that stigmata appear the same in all who are believed to have had them. Joe Nickell, a former detective and magician, investigates claims of the supernatural and paranormal for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, based in Amherst wrote a book on this topic in 1993. “Jesus most likely was nailed to the cross through his wrists. Once the notion that Jesus was nailed through the wrists became accepted, some stigmatics began to display wrist wounds. Here is my logic: Stigmata are supposed to be a reflection of the wounds of Christ, whatever those were like. If these were true manifestations, they ought to tell us where the wounds were,” Nickell said. Instead, stigmata appear “all over the place. There’s every kind of variant, and they keep changing.”
The evidence available is scanty with much of it supplied by supporters of stigmata. We do not see Stigmata mentioned in the bible. However, most of the occurrences started around 1200 years after the death of Christ, and there is a strong argument that it is a product of the superstitions in the darkness of the middle Ages. The Church is cautious about reported instances of the stigmata for two reasons: the possibility of a hoax (and thus all faith in God might seem questionable) and the possibility that some people could distort the meaning of the stigmata. For example, these marks might appear more central to a person’s faith than the passion-death-resurrection of Jesus, the Scriptures, the sacraments or many other things that are more central to faith than the stigmata are.
Researchers of stigmata, even Catholic believers like the late Herbert Thurston, S.J., almost unanimously agree that such phenomena are best explained as bodily reactions to intense ecstatic and psychological experiences. The film- ‘Stigmata’, one of the most controversial religious movies, released in the year 1999 was highly controversial due to the manner in which it dealt with issues close to Catholic’s hearts. A Jesuit priest, one of the main characters of this film, discovers a connection between the stigmata and one of the Gnostic Gospels (4th century religious writings condemned by the Catholic Church). The priest uncovers a plot to keep the gospels “truth” concealed.
Some modern researches has showed stigmata are of hysterical origin, or linked to dissociative identity disorders, especially the link between dietary constriction by self-starvation, dissociative mental states and self-mutilation, in a religious belief. Anorexia nervosa cases often display self-mutilation like stigmata as part of a ritualistic, obsessive-compulsive disorder. A relationship between starvation and self-mutilation has been reported amongst prisoners of war and during famines. A psychoanalytic study of stigmatic Therese Neumann has suggested that her stigmata resulted from post-traumatic stress symptoms expressed in unconscious self-mutilation through abnormal autosuggestibility.
BIBLICAL VERSES FOR CONSIDERATION:
“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:28. It could be said that stigmata are cuttings in the flesh, which seems to contradict God’s command.
One verse sometimes referred to by people who want to defend stigmata, is found in Galatians 6:17 Paul wrote: “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” The word “mark” comes from the Greek word “stigma” which means a tattooed mark, or mark burned in by a brand. Now we know that it was against God’s law to mark one’s own body with cuttings, so Paul would not have inflict them on himself, so what did he mean?
It was common in Paul’s day for slaves and sometimes soldiers to be branded, and followers of the cult of Mithra were also branded. In later times, the followers of Hinduism marked themselves with the trident of Vishnu. The mark or brand signified ownership, a scar of service and the initiate usually bore it proudly. But in the context in which Paul is writing, he is making a defense to the Judaizer, who practiced circumcision, and he refers to his own physical sufferings which he had had to endure for the sake of the Lord Jesus. These, he says, are his stigma, or branding. The scars, scratches, and bruises in his body are proof of His ownership.
The Amplified Bible says: “From now on let no person trouble me (by making it necessary to vindicate my apostolic authority and the divine truth of my Gospel), for I bear on my body the (brand) marks of the Lord Jesus (the wounds, scars, and other outward evidence of persecutions – these testify to His ownership of me)!”
MY PERSONAL VIEWS AND THOUGHTS:
I am sure that stigmata exist as real wounds in some people’s bodies. I also believe visions, apparitions, signs and wonders have been seen and experienced by many people down through the ages and that stigmata are just one of hundreds of other similar marvels. However, it is not the authenticity of stigmata that should be our main interest; it is what these wonders are pointing to. The devil is able to perform signs and wonders too, for example, the wizards of Egypt were able to turn water into blood, as well as Moses, but the wizards were pointing away from God, and were fighting against Moses.
The Bible depicts that Jesus came to the world and gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice. Nothing can be added to or taken from the one great sacrifice. On the other hand, Stigmata is challenging the finality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ because it seem to be extending it, and repeating it at least in some measure. It would therefore seem that, despite their absolute sincerity, those who manifest stigmata are not being worked on by the power of God. They are manifesting lying wonders with their force being either demonic or psychosomatic, or a combination of both. We would do far better if we put our trust in the finished work of Jesus than seek after people who seem to be in a state of crucifixion all over again. No one could bear the sins of the world except Jesus. It is futile to even imagine bearing those sins in our own body, and a great insult to God to think that we could HELP Him with the redemption of the world.
The media are always looking for ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And it is no surprise how the news about Jejomar Castillo, baby with stigmata of Jesus born on March 15 in Philippines went viral. We have entered the second half of the Great Lent; we meditate and reflect on the sufferings of Jesus Christ. This is a time when we are doing an unusually amazing job, staying focused but newsflash like this are too tempting. It is imperative we should keep our focus on the Cross. Can we compare anything with the sufferings and wounds inflicted on Christ? Can any human being share the pain Christ suffered for us? That is why our father in Christ, St. Thomas who proclaimed the faith in the resurrected Christ demanded to “see in his hands the print of the nails, and put his finger into the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into Jesus’ side (John 20:25)”. For a believer, these are personal marks of the identification of our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us on the Cross. I, as a believer, cannot find the same wounds in anyone or anywhere.
I pray for baby Jejomar’s speedy recovery but am greatly saddened by the so called believers’s responses: “Welcome to the Saviour”, “biblical return of Jesus Christ”. Holy Scripture reminds “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? “(Gal 3:1). This verse compels us to ponder if we wish to be foolish like the Galatians and be infatuated by events such as stigmata or we rekindle our faith in Christ, Our Saviour.
Christians must not waste time or devotion dwelling on miracles and wonders. These ‘stigmata wounds’ does not move me or ‘strengthen’ my faith in Christ, but I am stirred by martyrdom of the 21 Coptic Orthodox young men and the sufferings of the 72 year old sister who was ganged raped in Bengal, examples of true believers taking part in the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let signs and wonders spark valuable conversation rather than being the manifestations of spiritual realities. Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit leading us into a life of holy living, not be in a state of awe and reverence for the occurrences of body marks corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ.
By Fr.Jaise K George
*Fr. Jaise K. George has completed the theological education from STOTS Nagpur and serving as the Vicar of various parishes in the Diocese of Delhi. He is the Co-ordinator for the Pre-Marital Guidance Programme, Diocese of Delhi. He is a research scholar in Psychology. e-mail: email@example.com
Hundreds of members of Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches organized a peace rally in the city on Tuesday, 24th March, 2015 to support the rights of minority communities in India and protest against the gang-rape of a nun in Kolkata. The rally commenced from Saint Felix School in Bund Garden at 9 am and the protestors marched up to Council Hall by 11 am.
Speaking to the crowd that gathered for the rally, Pune Bishop Thomas Dabre said, “We are forgetting the secular approach of the Indian Constitution. In a situation, where minority groups are being targeted and their houses of worship are being vandalized, it is a direct attack on the constitutional rights of the citizens. We demand that the Modi government must ensure that that the culprits behind the attack on the Panvel church and the nun in Kolkata must be punished.”
Emphasising on the concept that God is one and every religion preaches the tenets of peace, Father Malcolm Sequeira said, “We are all one and if we stay united nobody can do any harm to us.”After the collector expressed his support to the cause and assured that the government would ensure that such incidents do not occur in Pune, the peace rally ended with the protesters singing the national anthem.
Rev.Fr.Thomas Myalil, Vicar of St Gregorios OSC, Dighi, Pune, and Rev. Fr. Jacob Thomas(Sherin),Vicar of St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church,Pimpri represented Malankara Orthodox Church in this peace rally.
Edited by Aneesha George.
HH Baselius Marthoma Paulos II,the Catholicos of the East appointed Fr. Dr. Reji Mathew , former Principal of St Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary,Nagpur as the new Director General of OSSAE from 2015 May 1.Congratulations Achen.
PARISH HISTORY IN BRIEF
Orthodox Church in Doha has a history of more than 70 years. People from Kerala started to arrive here as oil exploration started in the year 1939. Since 1940, priests from Bahrain used to visit Doha via Dukhan using British mini aircrafts visiting for business purposes and conducted holy services. In the beginning all Christian denominations joined together and started community prayers. As time passed, more members from Orthodox churches arrived and felt to have their own church and traditional prayers as followed in Kerala.
During the year 1973, members of our Doha congregation approached H.Ga. Mathews Mar Athanasius, Metropolitan of outside Kerala with this request and His Grace issued a Kalpana on 20th September 1973 declaring a parish named “Malankara St. Thomas Orthodox Parish”.
HG appointed Rev. Fr. C.C. Gheevarghese as the first vicar for the new parish and was succeeded by Rev. Fr. M. T. Easo, Rev. Fr. Joseph Mankidiyil, Rev. Fr. A.M. Peter, Rev. Fr. Joseph Kalapurayil and Rev. Fr. Yunan Mulamootil till 1988. The Parish was at the residence of Late Mr. Baby Kongalam and Orthodox Parish cannot forget his devoted services to Orthodox Church in Qatar. What we are now is the result of sacrifices done by late Mr. Baby Kongalam.Rev. Fr. C.C. Geevarghese was the vicar of Bahrain Church also and in the beginning he used to come once in six weeks and conduct Holy Qurbana.
This practice was continued for a long time. As number of members increased, frequency of visits of priests from Bahrain had increased to once in three weeks. During the year 1988 Rev. Fr. George Joseph was appointed as a full time vicar for the parish.
Mar Gregorious Orthodox Parish was established during the year 1990 and St. Mary’s Orthodox Parish in 1995. Until the establishment of the new Church with the consecration ceremony held on 2,3rd July 2009, the three Orthodox Parishes were independently serving the orthodox community in Doha.
A new place of worship for Malankara Orthodox Church in Doha
The New Church Interior
The new church built for Malankara Orthodox Church in the deserts of Arabia, with the approval of the rulers of Qatar,was consecrated under the name Malankara Orthodox Church Doha (MOC Doha). The members of St. Thomas, Mar Gregorios and St. Mary’s parishes of Doha came under the banner of Malankara Orthodox Church Construction Committee to build this church which can accommodate up to 1500 people at a time. The building consisting of 1968 sq.mt.has the Parish hall, two parsonages, guest room, conference hall, office room etc. at the ground floor.
Seven buildings are constructed on 12,861 sq. Meter land given free of cost by the government of Qatar to the Inter Denominational Christian Church (IDCC) Doha. 28 different Christian denominations conduct their worship here. The foundation stone for the church was laid on 23rd December 2005 by His Grace Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Metropolitan of Mumbai Diocese. An amount of Qatar Riyals 9 million (Rs. 12 crores) was spend on the construction.
The consecration ceremony of July 2nd and 3rd 2009 started with the arrival of lamp from St. Thomas Parish, Censor from Mar Gregorios and Flag from St, Mary’s as a true symbol of unity of the three parishes. The Metropolitans and guests were received at the main entrance of IDCC complex and led to the church in ceremonial procession. The public meeting started after the flag hoisting, opening of the main church entrance, lighting of the lamp and offering of the first censor.
- G. Geevarghese Mar Coorilose presided over the public meeting which was inaugurated by H.H. Thomas Mar Athanasios, Metroplitan of Chengannur Diocese. Felicitation addresses were given by H.G. Dr. Mathews Mas Savarios, H. E. Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa –Indian Ambassador to Qatar, Fr. Jose Thachukunnel – president of Ecumenical Clergy Fellowship Doha, Rev. Fr. T J Joshua – Former Vice-Princopal of Orthodox Theological Seminary and Mr. K C Cherian – IDCC Co-ordinator. Mr. M B Thomas – Convenor of Church Construction Committee presented the working report and Mr. George Pothen – IDCC Chief Co-ordinator placed on record the efforts put in by all in completing the church building. Rev. Fr. Thomas Myalil – Convenor of Consecration Committee gave the welcome speech and Mr. George Thomas- General Convenor of Consecration Committee proposed the vote of thanks.
At the conclusion of evening prayer, Mr. K S Varghese – Secretary of Church Construction Committee handed over the keys of the Church to H. G. Thomas Mar Athanasios which was then handed over to the Diocesan Metropolitan, the Diocesan Bishop to the Vicar and finally the Vicar to the Church Trusty – Mr. M P Philip.
The Metropolitans were assisted during the 2 days of the consecration ceremony by Rev. Fr. Joseph Mankidi – Past Vicar; Rev. Fr, P C Thomas, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Stephen, Rev. Fr. George Abraham and Rev. Fr. M E Joseph, all vicars during the construction stage of the church. Besides Priests from Syro-Malabar, Marthoma, CSI, Knanaya, Malankara Catholic rite etc were participated. The 55 member Choir for the ceremoy was trained and led by Rev. Fr. M P George – Director of Shruthi School of Liturgical music.
Holy Qurbana is conducted in the Church on Friday (morning and evening), Saturday (evening) and on Sunday (evening). The Intercession prayer for St. Mary is on Wednesday and for Parumala Mar Gregorios on Thursday. The church celebrates August 15th as the feast of St. Mary, November 2nd as the feast of Parumala Mar Gregorios and December 21st as the feast of St. Thomas.
The church which is under the leadership of l – Rev.Benjamin S Philip Vicar and, Rev. Fr.Skaria Varghese – Assistant Vicar is managed by 15 member Working Committee and 42 member Managing Committee. The Spiritual organisations like Sunday School, Bala Samajam, MGOCSM, Youth Movement, Martha Mariam Samajam, Elders Forum, Medical Forum, Prayer Group, Divyabodhanam, Shruthi, AMOS are very active
His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan has graciously appointed Dr Varghese Punnoose (HOD,Psychiatry, Kottayam Medical College) as the honorary Secretary of the Orthodox Medical Forum. Dr Siby Tharakan (Former Associate Director of Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore) is appointed as the Director of Emotional Support Helpline under the Ministry of Human Empowerment of Malankara Orthodox Church.
Hearty congratulations to both the personalities.
Dr. Varghese Punnose: +91 9447085734
Dr Siby Tharakan: +91 9446029859
Hope that you got the Kalpana from the Diocesan Metropolitan regarding this. Hope that your parish will register the courses before the cut off date. For more details visit www.divyabodhanam.org
Fr. Thomas K Chacko (Manojachen)
Divyabodhanam, Bombay Diocese
This is the article copied from ucanews.com. For the readers, sharing the article.
“Thousands of Christians rallied in Kolkata on Monday in a show of outrage over the recent gang-rape of an elderly nun.Some 4,000 Christians, including nuns and priests clutching lit candles, sang hymns and said prayers as they gathered in a public park.
Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, the main organizer of the rally, called it a “solidarity rally, not a protest rally”. He said he wanted to show that Christians in Kolkata stood united at a moment of “pain and sorrow”.“We definitely protest the crime, and demand the arrest of the culprits at the earliest,” he told ucanews.com. “Such a crime should not take place at any place, at any time.”Florence Gonsalves, a woman who attended the rally, said they could only pray “for peace and that people grow to respect each other as human beings”. The attack on the nun, 71, occurred last Friday after robbers broke into her convent in the town of Ranaghat, some 80 kilometers from Kolkata.Police said Monday that 10 men have been detained for questioning but no arrests have been made, even though the faces of four of the robbers were captured on CCTV footage.
Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesman of Delhi archdiocese, urged a swift response from authorities but bemoaned the lack of arrests.
“There cannot be any result unless the local police show sincerity,” he said.
Fr Sankar said the nun’s rape should not be dismissed as an isolated incident.
“We should know that there is already a vicious atmosphere against Christians in the country, which encourages criminals to attack Christians,” he said.
The assault on the nun is the latest in a string of high-profile rapes in India and comes after a spate of attacks on churches that prompted Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promise a crackdown on religious violence.Priests and other Christian leaders have blamed those attacks on religious hardliners, who are said to have become emboldened since Modi swept to power at general elections last May.Modi had been heavily criticized for not speaking out earlier against religious violence and has also faced flak for remaining silent about a spate of mass “re-conversions” of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.The Prime Minister’s Office has asked for an “immediate report on facts and actions taken” regarding the rape and another attack on a church in Hisar in the northern state of Haryana, according to a spokesman for the prime minister.
The junior federal minister for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju, also told ucanews.com on Tuesday that the government has asked for a detailed report from the West Bengal state government on the attack on the convent school.”We have asked the West Bengal government to provide details of the existing security arrangements at convents and other Christian educational and social institutes in the state,” he said.”
Additional reporting by AFP
The Gregorian Community conducted a survey and identified about 400 plus children in Roha who are mentally challenged and need a special school to help make them self reliant. We believe that the availability of a Residential Special School in Roha will relieve the burden of anxious parents by supporting them throughout the upbringing process.
We humbly request every well-wisher, corporate firm & individual to reach out and lend a helping hand to support the Gregorian Community to provide maximum service to these very special children.
On Thursday, April 23rd, 2015, H. G. Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, the Diocesan Metropolitan has consented to ordain six students studying at St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur (STOTS) for the Diocese of Bombay to the order of Sub-Deacons (Yavpadyakno) at St. Thomas Aramana Chapel, Vashi. These six candidates have become eligible for Ordination on the successful completion of four years of training in the Seminary. A unique aspect about all of them is that they are brought up in Mumbai. Since they belong to five different Parishes, the Ordination service will be held at the Diocesan Centre. These six candidates are:
- John Mathew (St. Thomas Orthodox Vallyapalli, Kalyan West)
- Anish Chacko(St. Thomas Orthodox Vallyapalli, Kalyan West)
- Jobin Varghese (St. George Orthodox Syrian Church, Kalyan East)
- Bejoy George (St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Ulhasnagar)
- Raji Varghese (St. George Orthodox Syrian Church, Mulund)
- John Mathai (St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Dombivili)
We request the prayers of all faithful for the blessed Ordination Service and future ministry of all these six candidates.