Friday, August 28, 2015

New School Year 2015-2016

Prayer at the Beginning of School

Read with the children the following books from the bible and pray.

Proverbs 3:13-15
14 14 14 14 
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.

She is more precious than rubies,

And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.


O Lord, our Lord and Creator, who has honored us with Thine own image; who has taught Thine elect, so that most wise are they who give heed to Thy teaching; who reveals wisdom unto babes; who has imparted Thy teaching unto Solomon and unto all who have sought Thy wisdom; open Thou the heart, the mind, and the lips of this Thy servants... our children, our hope and glory, that he/she/they may receive the power of Thy law, and understand the knowledge which shall be taught him/her/them to the glory of Thy all holy name, to the profit and the building upon Thy holy Church, and that he/she/they may comprehend Thy good and perfect will. 
Almighty God, send down upon (these children) the spirit of wisdom and understanding; open (their) minds and lips to learn their lessons well, enlighten (their) hearts unto receiving of precepts of good instruction, so that they may have a wise and virtuous life and prosperity through their faith and consolation to everyone involved.
Deliver him/her/them from every hostile oppression, tribulation, wrath and peril, keep them by Thy grace; preserver him/her/them in the Orthodox faith and in holiness all the days of his/her/their life/lives, that he/she/they may increase in wisdom, and in the fulfilling of Thy commandments; that being thus prepared he/she/they may glorify Thine all holy name, and become an heir of Thy kingdom. Give their teachers the spirit of wisdom and grace so that they may direct their pupils to reverence truth, desire goodness, and rejoice in beauty and of them may come to know and worship Thee, the giver of all that is good.
For Thou art God, mighty in mercy, and gracious in strength; and unto Thee is due glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now, always, and forever, and ever. Amen.

Source: Priest's Companion by Very Rev. Thomas P. Mundukuzhy Cor Episcopa

Friday, August 14, 2015

Feast of Soonoyo (End of 15 day Fast)

Feast of Soonoyo (Transfer or Dormition of St. Mary)

An excerpt from the homily of John of Damascus during the feast of Soonoyo and Bible Readings

"Theofanus uspenie" by Theophanes the Greek - Own work (scan). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
Icon of the Dormition by Theophan the Greek, 1392. The Theotokos is depicted lying on a bier, surrounded by the Twelve Apostles. At center, Jesus Christ is shown in a mandorla, swadling the soul of the Virgin Mary (a red seraph is shown above his head). To either side of him are depicted the Hieromartyrs Dionysius the Areopagite and Ignatius the God-Bearer who, according to tradition, are responsible for transmitting the account of the dormition.

10. Oh, see how the source of life is carried over into life, through the midst of death! See how the one  who overcame the defining limits of nature in her childbearing now gives way to those same limits, and submits her unsullied body to death!...Se how the maker of all things receives into his own hands her holy soul, now separated from that tabernacle that received God. He rightly honors her who was by nature his handmaid, but whom by his saving plan he made to be his mother, in the unfathomable ocean of his love for humanity. For he truly became flesh, and did not feign incarnation.

The Apostles saw, we are told, the ranks of angels waiting your departure from this world of human life. O lovely emigration, which was for you a migration to God!....

11. The angels and archangels carried you there. The unclean spirits of mid-air trembled at your departure. The air was blessed by your passing through it, the aether of the upper regions was sanctified. Heaven received your soul with joy!....

12. And so your holy, spotless body is committed to a reverent burial as angels go before you and stand around you and follow after, doing all the things by which it is fitting to serve the mother of their Lord. The Apostles, too, are there, and all the full membership of the Church, crying out divine hymns to the music of the harp of the spirit and singing... The company of the Apostles lift you up n their shoulders, the true ark of the Lord God, as once the priests lifted up the typological ark that pointed the way to you; placing you in the tomb, they carry you, as through another Jordan, into the true land of promise - to the Jerusalem which is above, the mother of all the faithful whose builder and craftsman is God. For your "soul did not go down into the underworld, nor did your flesh see corruption. Your immaculate, completely spotless body was not left on the earth, but you have been transported to the royal dwelling-place of heaven as queen, as lady, as mistress, as Mother of God, as the one who truly gave God birth...
Source: On the Dormition of Mary - Early Patristic Homilies by SVS Press

Bible Readings on the Feast of Soonoyo:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2015 - St. Mary, Prophets, Apostles and Fathers of the Church

The month of August is quite a treat for the faithful.

August begins with the Soonoyo fast (falling asleep and transfer of Virgin Mary), the feast of Priest Eleazar, Marth Shmooni and her seven sons who were martyred for their unwavering faith (2 Maccabees 7). The Feast of transfer (Soonoyo) of Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15.

On August 6 we celebrate the feast of Transfiguration (the feast of tabernacles) and we remember the great father H.G Alexious Mar Theodosius (50th anniversary) who stood firm with our Church when his compatriot left the Orthodox faith.

This month we also celebrate the memory of three other great fathers of Malankara Orthodox Church: Mathew Mar Ivanios (Pampady Monastery), Joseph Mar Pachomios (Mulakkulam Carmel Monastery near Cochin), and PauloseMar Pachomios (Ranni Perunad Monastery).

We also celebrate the feast of all the Prophets, Prophet Samuel, Apostle Labi (Judas Thaddeus), Apostle Matthias, and Feast of St. John the Baptist (his beheading).

2015 August is also the 100th dukhrono (memorial) of Patriarch Abdul Mesiha who helped with the re-establishment of the Catholicate of the East in India.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Soonoyo Fast: The Fast before Transfer/Migration of St. Mary: August 1 - 15, 2015

Soonoyo Fast

August 1 - 15, 2015

Soonoyo means Transfer. Soonoyo Fast is observed to commemorate the falling asleep and transfer of St. Mary, the Mother of God, to Heaven. As per tradition, when Mother Mary was on her death bed, all Apostles from different parts of the world came together and witnessed her departure from this earthly abode. As per Syriac tradition, Apostle Thomas could not get back in time for her funeral, but sees St. Mary being "transferred" to the Heaven. This can be seen in the special songs section in the Holy Qurbana book (August 15, end of the Soonoyo fast).

"Theofanus uspenie" by Theophanes the Greek - Own work (scan). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
Jesus receiving the soul of Mother Mary, surrounded by the Apostles

There are some Christian denominations that teach Mother Mary did not die, but was assumed to heaven alive before death. However, Orthodox tradition is unambiguous and teaches that Mother Mary did die a natural death. 

Soonoyo fast is a "fixed" fast and every year it is observed between August 1 -15. Through the observance of this fast, Holy Church admonishes the faithful to prepare for their own death and pray for a death as coveted as Mother Mary's. This fast ends with Holy Qurbana on August 15.