Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fr. Dr. V.C. Samuel - Architect of the Oriental Orthodox Churches

Fr. Dr. V.C. Samuel (1912-1998)
Author: Fr. Dr. Parackel K. Mathew, Canada

Architect of the Oriental Orthodox Churches: fellowship and Joint works 

The chief organizing force behind the first ever Conference of Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches held in Addis Ababa, 15-21 January 1965 was Dr. Samuel. (See the message send by Father Samuel immediately after the peace unity took place in Malankara in 1958, stressing the importance of a Conference of the representatives of the Five Orthodox Churches. Addis Ababa Conference known as Ethiopian Synod is first in the history of our Churches. Father Samuels message was published in the in one IOIF digest) It was providential that the Head of our Malankara Orthodox Church, H.H. the Late Catholicos, Baselius Augean I, an outstanding Scholar himself 
was assisted by Fr. Samuel, and together they contributed impressively to the Conference's deliberations. This Conference discussed the consequences of the Council of Chalcedon that have so far damaged the growth of Orthodoxy by its failure to give a united witness to the world. From this Conference, Fr. Samuel came emerged 
as the chief spokesperson of Oriental Orthodoxy to the Eastern Orthodox brethren. This Conference also paved the way towards the subsequent Pan-Orthodox Consultations.

Main Force behind the Pan-Orthodox consultations 

The imprint of Dr. Samuel's leadership was evident directly and indirectly at the Pan-Orthodox Consultations. Under the auspices of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, the first Consultation was held in Aarhus, Denmark in August, 1964, which expressed full agreement on the essence of the Christological dogma based on St. Cyril's famous clause. Next Consultation in Bristol in July 1967 agreed that since the 5th century different formulae were used to confess the common faith in the One Lord Jesus 
Christ, agreeing on the union of natures without confusion, change, division or separation. The Third Consultation in Geneva in August, 1970 more or less re-affirmed the agreement in Bristol. The Fourth Consultation in Addis Ababa, January, 1971 discussed the need for removing mutual anathemas and on the criteria for recognizing the 
saints of both factions and on the restoration of communion. These Consultations have become the model for subsequent Consultations between the Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches in Vienna, 1971, and the progress since.

A Word of Conclusion

In regard to Christology Dr. Samuel has not only discussed the general Patristics, but made special use of the rich old tradition of the Syrian Orthodox Fathers like Timothy Aelurus, Philoxenos of Mabbog and Severus of Antioch who with their Christological treatises have followed Dioscorus of Alexandria. 

To enter substantially into Dr. Samuel's voluminous contributions is indeed a mammoth task. I have been able to touch only on a fraction of available material. His writings have helped both scholars and others in general. His "The Orthodox Catechism on the Faith and Life of the Church" is an invaluable gift to everyone, especially to the 
youth and Sunday School students.

His personal qualities are fully known only to those who were close to him. I thank God for having given me the chance to be a close associate of his for a time. He is known for never losing spirit even in most trying moments. Criticism and opposition to his views made him more outspoken. He had a unique moral sense which many couldn't fully see. The sense of duty was a strong driving force throughout his life. I praise his greatness and brilliant intellect. He was working to the last, as I learned lately, by his principle: Don't stop until you drop.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Feast of St. Gregorios of Parumala (Parumala Thirumeni)

Feast of Parumala Thirumeni

November 2

Parumala Thirumeni
Kochu Thirumeni
St. Gregorios
1st ever “declared” Saint in India
June 15, 1848 – November 2, 1902
Passed away at the age of 54
Entombed: St. Peter’s & St. Paul’s Church (a.k.a Parumala Seminary)

We celebrate the feast of St. Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni), on November 2. We celebrate the feast of saints, to remember the way they lived their lives and to emulate them in our lives.

Life History of Parumala Thirumeni

PARUMALA THIRUMENI" was born on 15th of June 1848, in Chathuruthy family in the village of Mulanthuruthy near Cochin, India.  He was baptized by name Geevarghese (George) at the Mulanthurtuhy Mar Thoman Church. After he lost his mother   when he was a small boy, he was brought up under the loving care of his elder sister Mariamma.
 From his early childhood, he had been leading a very disciplined life, enriched by prayer and fasting. Even as a boy, he had a deep fascination towards Syriac, the liturgical language of the Church.
His uncle, (father's brother) Malpan Kassisso Geevarghese, who was himself an authority in Syriac, and a celibate priest, noticed his nephew’s extraordinary ability to sing, gave him proper guidance. Through his continuous prayers, he made it clear to the world, that Prayer and devotion is mightier than any other worldly possession.

Remarkable Life:
  •  A Deacon at the age of 10
  • A Priest at the age of 18
  • A Metropolitan at the young age of 28 (the reason for referring to him as 'Kochu Thirumeni')

Parumala is a small stretch of land on the shores of the river Pampa (,76.5361582,12z) . 

Map of India
Kochi Airport – Mulanthuruthy (25 miles)
Kochi Airport – Parumala (75 miles)
Malankara Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius wanted to establish a seminary in this area. A plot of land with an area of 2 acres was donated by Arikupurathu Mathen Karnavar to the Malankara Metropolitan for this purpose. An ordinary building called ‘Azhippura’ was soon built on this plot of land for conducting classes for the deacons etc. Syriac classes were begun here under the care of Fr.Yakob. In course of time, Metropolitan Mar Dionysius gave the charge of the seminary to Metropolitan Mar Gregorios (Later known as Parumala Thirumeni), in order to carry on the Syriac teaching sessions more efficiently and also to help him in other church matters.

Thirumeni became seriously ill at the age of 54.  He knew that his end was near.  On November 2, 1902, while the Metropolitans and priests and others around him were praying, Kochu Thirumeni uttered, "MY LORD" and closed his eyes.

Miracles when Thirumeni Lived:

Thirumeni brought the solar system under his control like Joshua, the prophet. Mr. D ‘Cruz the official Royal painter and famous thinker got the fortune to witness the ability of the saint. Mr. K. M. Varghese (Chithramezhuth great painter) had reported the matter in the newspapers of those days.  “Wonder happened in the sky” was the headline of the news.  Mr. D’cruz stated that the incident was above reasons and explanations.  Mr. D’cruz admits that he was really frightened.  He says that he had thirty year’s experience in the photography. The day on which he had attempted to photograph Parumala Thirumeni was not at all a favorable day. It was in 1902.  He had attempted to take a photograph of Thirumeni as the Divan Mr. Nagamayya directed him.  The Divan wanted a photograph of the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church to add in the Travancore state manual as a model.  Parumala Thirumeni was staying at Trivandrum church in those days.  As pre-planned, Mr. D’cruz reached the church in the morning itself.
   At that time Thirumeni was inside the church conducting prayers followed by the celebration of the Holy Qurbana.  By 7 a.m. the sunlight was hot.  So he returned and went back by 4 p.m. By that time Thirumeni had entered the private prayers and meditations.  He had to go after Thirumeni two or three days to get a convenient time. One day he got a chance at 10 a.m. By that time the sunlight was too bright.  Thirumeni understood the photographer’s problem and pitiful condition.  Then he looked at the sun and stood two minutes in silence. The photographer looked at Thirumeni’s face as well as at the sky.  In the meantime, Thirumeni raised the Sleeba in his hand and blessed in the shape of cross.  Within no time the bright sun was covered by a thin cloud so that the extreme brightness was covered, providing most suitable light for the photography. Thirumeni said, “You may take it”.  As soon as he took the photograph the sun became extremely bright as before. The said photograph is the one provided at the beginning of this article.
There are countless many other miracles that were performed by God through Thirumeni when he was alive and continues to do so after his departure. For more information, read:

Parumala Perunnal (Feast) and Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage processions from different parts of the country (on foot) travel many days and reach Parumala for the feast of the saint.
People from all walks of life regardless of faith, take vows and visit the saint’s tomb year round. They stay for many days near the saint’s tomb and do bhajana (meditate) reading bible, attending canonical prayers, holy liturgy and return home with blessings received from the tomb.
Pilgrimage Procession

Kodiyettu (Flag Hoisting for the feast of Thirumeni))

 May the prayers of Thirumeni be a stronghold for us!