Fr. Thomas Philipose
What made a non believer Chadian citizen; die for Christ, along with his “20 Coptic Christian friends”?
ISIS announced the execution of 21 Copts but only 20 names were confirmed, most of them were from the province of Minya(Upper Egypt). There was an inaccuracy in the number of Egyptian Hostages; there were only 20 Egyptians(Copts). Then who was this remaining one non-Coptic victim?
Ahram-Canadian News was able to gather information about this man. He was a Chadian Citizen (Darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him also.
Think about the faith, shining through those 20 Christians who made a non believer, a true believer in Christ, even at the point of death. In Bible, Gospel of Luke describes about two thieves, being on either side of Jesus as they were crucified. At that very point of death by Crucifixion, one of the thief accepted Christ saying, ‘LORD, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ Here this Chadian citizen showed the same faith in Christ.
Can we put ourselves into his place? The faith he showed was not a mean faith, at such a moment, he could believe in Jesus as Lord and King.
May God help us to strength our faith so that the world may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven. (Mathew 5:16)
(News referred from Ahram-Canadian news)
“Let all of us offer our prayers for the Egyptian nation and the world-wide Coptic community and for the entire region of the Middle East.
IIBM (Indira Institute of Business Management) which is run and managed by the Diocese of Bombay is sponsoring a ‘Workshop on Career Development’ exclusively for the Orthodox Students of Bombay Diocese.
This program is in association with MGOCSM Bombay as it would be a Golden opportunity for the MGOCSM members who are career aspirants. The target group is Orthodox Students who have completed their graduation or are to graduate in May of 2015 .The program is open not only for MBA Aspirants but also for other careers.
The workshop will be held at IIBM Campus Sanpada on the Sunday the 8th March 2015, from 3 pm to 6 pm. The Program will be addressed and led by eminent persons from various career streams.
It would be useful in case the participants list is sent to Mr. Robin Varghese (MGOCSM Diocesan Coordinator 9769377375) or that the participants contact IIBM (Ms.Annie Mathews 9769555385 or email@example.com) at the earliest.
“They were killed simply for the fact they were Christians,””The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard,”, “They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.’
Rijo Geevarghese, one of our MGOCSM member, who is presently studying Iconography in Cairo, Egypt, wrote in Facebook,on 16th February.
“And My Coptic Christian friend said, Forgive those militants and lets pray for them, for they do not know what they are doing”+
I want to share an experience and some thoughts, going through my mind from last couple of days.
Friday, 13th February I was having my exam and paper submission at St Mark’s Cathedral. Before leaving the Institute of Coptic studies I saw a huge crowd in front of Pope’s residency at Anba Rewis. I didn’t know the reason why they were standing there, holding banners with some Arabic inscriptions. Later my Egyptian colleagues told me they all are the families of 21 Coptic Christians kidnapped by ISIS. After reaching back in my room, I went through the whole issue in internet and was hopeful because there were very good chances of their release as Egyptian government and also many Islamic officials interfered in this matter. Earlier the Relatives of the kidnapped workers had urged even in front of UN office at Cairo for their release. I really hoped about their release and that evening the anxious faces of their relatives were going through my mind.
Sunday, 15th February, evening, the day before Great lent, which is also considered as the day of forgiveness according to Orthodox church belief. That day I received a message from one of my Egyptian friend,
Message: Rijo “ISIS beheaded all 21 kidnapped Copts “
I was shattered by this news because I couldn’t believe it happened, a very disturbing and traumatic event. Coincidentally, it happened on the day of Forgiveness (Al Shubkono), the day before Great lent. I messaged one of my Coptic friends asking forgiveness and she replied ,
Message: “First, lets forgive those militants, and pray for them for they do not know what they are doing.”
This above message unveiled that I don’t have the strength to forgive someone to that level. This incidence was not normal for me, especially being an Indian. I have only heard about Christian Persecution in Middle East but never experienced one. Or this might not even an experience in compare to the trauma victim’s families going through. The reason it happened on the day of forgiveness and just before the Great lent was not a mere coincidence.
Many a time we underestimate the power and depth of Forgiveness. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two of the most difficult task. And this is what Christ taught us, sometimes I think, how it was possible for Jesus, when he was tortured and killed on Cross and then teaching us to “forgive those who persecute you and pray for them.”
This Great lent is a journey with hopeful heart, with pictures of newly crowned 21 Martyrs and their families in front of my eyes. In these days of Great lent their martyrdom teaches all of us to be firm and strong in our faith. Let’s not fear them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Mt 10:28). Let’s forgive and Love them who persecute us, who strike us, who hate us.
May God Almighty grant us that strength to forgive and Love those who persecute us.
Remembering the Martyrs, their families and the militants in prayers
We the Indian Orthodox Church members expressing our deep heartfelt condolence, solidarity and prayers. Continuing our prayer support to all persecuted Brethren, especially to the Coptic Orthodox Church.Let all of us offer our prayers for the Egyptian nation and the world-wide Coptic community and for the entire region of the Middle East.
Web Manager, Diocese of Bombay,
The annual retreat of Bombay Diocese Priest’s held at Vashi Aramana on 16th to 19th February 2015.The retreat was led by Fr. Bobby Jose Kattikkadu. 45 priests along with H.G Geevarghese Mar Coorilos attended the retreat.
The role of women in our church has not been clearly defined even though we do confirm that the greatest among the saints and the first evangelist commissioned to convey the resurrection message by Christ, are both women. The Old and New Testaments contain stories of women who were ‘Judges’, Prophets, and Evangelists. The genealogy of Jesus Christ mentions certain atypical women who were not really from among the Children of Israel.
These women played important roles in the salvation story of man. These women co-operated with God’s will and they in turn were blessed and became instruments for others’ blessing. They were truly like the virtuous wife depicted in Proverbs 31, that is, a definite and creative force, what is in today’s jargon called ‘women of substance’ and quite unlike the unusual wishy- washy door mat and kitchen drudge image that is projected as the ideal woman in the Church until recently. Raising funds through Food counters, kitchen sales etc. and no votingrights. There was a prevalent stress on the image of woman as Eve – irresponsible and unreliable. St. Paul was and is quoted to substantiate this stand. But now matters are changing.
The Church is still an area of male-dominance today, yet the role of woman in our Church is evolving to the image of women as ‘Helen’ as in Jung’s theory of the development of the Anima. With the increasing number of women going out to work and becoming financially independent and part-providers, women are now understood as ‘capable of worldly success and of being self-reliant, intelligent and insightful, even though altogether not virtuous. Now they can vote, attend general body meeting and even become a trustee. But still they are excluded from any kind of public service during the Church’s most important and central work, the Sunday worship.
I understand that the Church has granted or is considering granting permission to allow women to read the Old Testament before the public celebration of the Holy Qurbana. It is being done in some Churches and this would be a very welcome change as this would enable direct participation of women in Sunday worship beyond their role as participating lay-persons. At any point of time, more women than men attend Divyabodhanam and other such courses and there are many who are well-versed with the Bible. Old and young women, who are baptized members of the Parish, may be permitted to read the Old Testament with the consent of vicar and after due practice. This would add depth and meaning to women’s role in the Church.
When considering other roles that women can play in the Church, I am tempted to use my imagination to understand how it might have been in the first century Church. In the beginning. The Church lived as a close knit community, an extended joint family. The physical, mental and intellectual as well as the spiritual talents of each was available for the benefit of all. About fifty years ago, there were more joint families and smaller parishes. The wisdom of the grand-parents and the knowledge and support of neighbourhood were freely shared and received without barriers of the self. Any parish can even now extend the benefits of a joint family under a good vicar, who can co-ordinate the women and use their talents synergistically. The following services can be rendered by the women of the Church without infringing on male bastions.
An important area where women can contribute in a significant way is in guidance/counselling. It comes naturally to women in their role as mothers and care-givers. There are several areas where nurturing and guidance are needed by the lay.
The first of these concerns women who marry into the Church from other denominations. They really need a basic idea about the Orthodox faith, rituals, prayers, etc. to make their integration smoother. Otherwise they may carry their husbands to their old faith or they might be unable to participate meaningfully. A panel of women can be appointed in each parish to identify such newly-weds and to make them feel welcome. They can offer the young women books and gentle and casual guidance regarding the liturgy, the Orthodox calendar, the importance of the day, attitude to saints, the use of incense, bells, etc. The women guides need special training to be effective. A special blue print can be developed by the Church to decide on the areas that are sacrosanct and private as well as those to be covered and the methods to be employed such as one-to-one or group interaction, literature etc. Every parish should have a library with books especially for the new converts. Women can be entrusted with the management of the library.
Women staying in each ward may also be entrusted with the duty of welcoming and acclimatizing new members of the parish in their respective wards. Relevant information regarding the parish, its routine etc. as well as the rates of wages for daily help in the locality, nearest grocery and other markets, medical help, pediatrician etc. would come in the very useful to the new comers to that area. New members must be introduced to the congregation after Sunday Service.
Marriage counseling should go beyond the spiritual. We read stories about young couples who have had stressful and unhappy marriages because of ignorance and guilt regarding the physical aspects of marriage. The necessary details regarding physical relationship, fertility, conception and child birth and possible problems should be explained to the newly married soon after marriage.It can be an optional service where couples can phone in and seek appointments/ advice in private. There are more ignorant couples than promiscuous ones among the young who are unjustly pictured in movies and novels as cohabiting and drinking pleasure-pilgrims. In fact many have hardly any energy after their taxing jobs and the constant pressure of heavy job commitments. The awareness regarding the basics of life that children developed gradually in joint families, growing up with animals and the pets is lacking now. Older women/ doctors/ nurses etc. can do this job, if trained, without embarrassing either side. The Library can also be useful here.
Counseling is required urgently in the area of child rearing Pregnancy and Parenting sessions can be arranged in each parish periodically where older women and young mothers can provide informative sessions and lead discussions. Christian parenting sessions should be conducted for prospective and young parents to train them as ‘Listening and praying parents’ without becoming paranoid about it. Importance of quality time with the children to know where the child stands at each moments within his heart, of walking the terrain with their offspring and inculcating the awareness that God walks with them must be stressed. Parents must be ‘watching parents‘as well as ‘listening parents’, but never spying or intimidating parents. Their children’s friends must be encouraged to visit so that the parents have an idea about the company the child keeps. Older women can provides the guidance, acting as foster grandmothers to help young parents and children. Again, training is needed here. A child learns first to love and trust his father and mother and later learns to love the father in heaven. It is agreed by all psychologist that there is a firm link between how children see their fathers and their understanding of God. The role of each parent in shaping a child’s God image and later his own parenting style and vice versa is significant. Obedience comes naturally where there is love. Parents must be taught to moderate their expectations, identify special talents and needs and nurture them. The church can use senior women as well as men and have annual sessions for carrier guidance. The talent that lies dormant in the adult population of the Church is vast and hardly utilized.
Parents of the children with special needs need special assistance and support from others who walked the path before them. It is within our power to train children to face defeat instead of giving up on life out of a sense of inadequacy and unworthiness.
The respect and trust that men have for women must evolve further if women are to be allowed to exercise their full potential and do their maximum for the Church. If considered appropriate, at least on special days such as women’s day, if not oftener and in other meetings, women with the necessary talent can be asked to give messages.
Women can also be formed into teams to keep an eye on sick or old faithful of the area living alone, visit them in hospitals and if possible offer help including help to come to church.
Since ‘Church’ means the people, anything done for the upliftment of the people is also for the Church. Grandparents played an important role in the joint families of yore as story tellers and communicators of moral values. They were close to the heart of the children and formed a bridge between parent and child. Today this blessing is out of our reach but we have many young and healthy grandmothers and grandfathers sitting alone and idle in their homes while in nuclear families with young working parents, children sit alone and listless before the TV during the long vacation, waiting for their parents to come back from work. Many parents try to enroll their children in summer camps or music classes. Some are sent to the grandparents. There is a supply and a lack. But I am not sure how this may be balanced. Already the Church has a Vacation Bible school to engage the young for a week.
Men and women are physically, mentally and psychologically different and this is a God created phenomenon. God made them to complement each other and to compete with each other for prominence or dominance. This difference ensure that each has to depend on the other and nurture the other for maximum welfare. Married life is the first step to learn love, synergy and sacrifice. It is like a river, stormy and turbulent near the source, but serene and calm towards the estuary where it meets with the sea.
Families are the building blocks of society and also of the Church. Men are the natural heads of the family through their physical and psychological attributes while women as in Proverbs 31 form the backbone of the family, the iron hand in the velvet glove, constantly working towards moral, spiritual and physical welfare of the unit. This is the primary role of women in the Church, though not the only one, and while the woman builds the families of the church according to our own faith and tradition, the church builds the woman through its training, worship and other nurturing activities.
Above all, women can and must pray for the church and its leaders as well as for the community as a whole as fervently as they pray for their families.
We are immensely delighted to present before all the faithful of Bombay Diocese, one day family fellowship under the banner of Spiritual Revival programs. The event will be held on Sunday 15th February 2015 at St Thomas Orthodox Church, Vashi Aramana from 10.30 to 4.30 pm. The theme for the conference shall be “They are One”. H.G.Geevarghese Mar Coorilos Metropolitan urged all the wedded couples in Diocese, between 25 – 50 years to attend this family fellowship and achieve spiritual and moral strength to confront the challenges of today’s Christian married life.
The registration fee will be Rs.100/- per head.
This one day fellowship will be an introduction for the 3 day family conference at a later date. The earlier 3 day conference has been a blessing for all who participated, with motivates us to organize more such events in the family ministry. We plan to conduct such events in different zones of the Diocese.
For more details and registration please contact:
Rev. Fr. Jacob Koshy (Cell No 9892129033)
Mr. Viju V John (Cell No.9323407946)
Master Doney Biju, Son of Biju Mathew, who is a member of St George Orthodox Church,Nashik secured 1st rank in the SSFC XII Examination conducted in December 2014 by Outside Kerala Region of Sunday School. Congratulations.
The annual retreat of Bombay Diocese Priest’s will be held at Vashi Aramana on 16th to 19th February 2015.This retreat will be father is Fr. Bobby Jose Kattikkadu.
The tentative schedule of the retreat is herewith attached. H.G.Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, the diocesan Metropolitan, in his Kalpana No.5/2015 urged all the diocesan priests to attend the retreat on time and also confirmed participation. Pray for the blessings of the retreat.
Arrival on 16th /Feb/2015
Evening Prayer 6.00 PM
17th Tue & 18th Wed
6.00 – 7.00 AM Namaskaram
7.00 – 8.00 AM
8.00 – 9.00 Free
9.00 – 10.30 1st, 5th Section
10.30 – 10.45 Song
10.45 – 12.15 2nd, 6th Section
12.15 Ucha Namaskaram
2.30 – 400 3rd, 7th Section
4.00 – 6.00 Tea & Break
6.00 Eve Prayer
7.00 – 8.00 4th, 8th Section
6.00 – 7.00 AM Namaskaram
7.00 – 8.00 AM
8.00 – 9.00 Free
9.00 – 10.30 5th Section
10.30 – 10.45 Song
10.45 – 12.15 6th Section
12.15 Ucha Namaskaram
2.00 – 4.00 Evaluation & Future steps
4.00 Tea & Departure