Friday, January 1, 2016

HH Baselios Geevarghese II - Glimpse into His Holiness' Life

Baselios Geevarghese II, Catholicos of the East

Geevarghese Dwitheeyan Bava (the second) is also fondly called as Kallasseri Bava (family name), or Kurichi Bava (place of birth) or Valiya Bava (The Great Catholicos).  

Bava Thirumeni was a disciple of two saintly fathers of the Church, Parumala St. Gregorios and Vattasseril St. Dionysius. Just as his role models, Bava Thirumeni led a pious and prayerful life. Bava Thirumeni declared Parumala Thirumeni and Yeldo Mar Baselios as saints of the Church on November 2, 1947.  
Kalapana directing Parumala Thirumeni and Yeldo Mar Baselios to be remembered in Diptychs

Bava Thirumeni presided over the unification of the Orthodox Church in India. Bava Thirumeni was the first to hold the office of Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan simultaneously.

Important dates in the life of Bava Thirumeni:

  1. Born:16 June 1874 born to Ulah- anan and Naithi of Kallaserri family in Kurichi, Kottayam
  2. Ordained as deacon: 24 April 1892 by Kadavil Paulose Mar Athanasios 
  3. Ordained as Priest: 24 November 1898 by Parumala Thirumeni
  4. Ordained as Ramban (Monk): 27 November 1898 by Parumala Thirumeni
  5. Ordained as Bishop Geevarghese Mar Gregorios8 September 1912 by His Holiness Patriarch Abdhedh Meshiah
  6. Installed as Catholicos of the East: 15 February 1929 with Malankara Metropolitan Vattasseril Thirumeni as the Chief Priest
  7. Elected as Malankara Metropolitan: 24 December 1934
  8. Passed Away on: 3 January 1964

Excerpt of Bava Thirumeni's Last Kalpana

Dear brethren and beloved children,

We believe that all of you have known that we have been bedridden for some time. Like Psalmist had told us, man's span of life is seventy years or utmost eighty. And its glory, pain and grief. But having reached the ripe old age of ninety with all its accompanying ailments, We would not wish or desire to have our life on earth extended any further. So We have to do nothing other than give ourselves up happily to the immutable and merciful will of God. The string of pains and ailments that We endure everyday remind one that Our days have really been numbered. Our blessed children, let us go the very way everyone does at the end of his life on earth. God gave us the opportunity to lead you as shepherd and father, for sixteen years as Metropolitan and thirty four years as Catholicos, of which twenty eight were in the dual capacity of Metropolitan of Malankara as well. He had given Us very heavy and preponderant responsibilities. We don't believe that they had all been fulfilled precisely and meticulously. We are fully aware that owing to human frailty many a time We have failed. We request you that you too may pray to the compassionate Lord that they are all forgiven and peace and solace descend on the Church as well as on Us.

Dearly beloved,

We feel that the thirty four years elapsed since We were consecrated Catholicos have flown off like a fleeting shadow. Yet We know the fruits borne out of that will have a pre-eminent influence on the history of our Church, which has gone through experiences glorious and inglorious, pleasant and unpleasant. We cannot but remember with a heart filled with praise and thankfulness that it was the safe, sure, and compassionate hand of the Lord that upheld Us and guided Us through those spells of trials and vicissitudes.......

Beloved ones in Christ,

As We urgently exhorted you often, We want you to be rooted firm in true faith and steadfast in the rites and traditions of the Church. Our holy and ancient faith which was entrusted with the sages of yore are our perennial wealth. Even in the face of extreme trials, even at the cost of heavy sacrifices you should cling on to our true faith and noble tradition. It is Our feeling last breath that inform this exhortations. The Church which was founded by St. Thomas in the early years of Christian era has been built on the rock of faith. It has withstood and will withstand the heaviest of storms and thunderstorms. The precious life blood of its founding father has been shed for it. The precious memory of his faith and dedication, of the manifold tribulations he had to undergo, all these pass through Our mind like a kaleidoscope on this day when we remember his martyrdom as We write this letter to you. Follow all this for your model. "Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Hebrews 13:7). "Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (1 Cor. 4:15,16). Like St. Paul reminds the Corinthians, we should remember that St. Thomas is continually reminding us. So we who are his (St. Thomas) spiritual children, should be his followers. 

It is purely because we are followers of a Church founded by an Apostle - St. Thomas - that we as a Church have been respected by World Churches. It is because of our ancientry,apostolicity and true faith that high ranking prelates of ancient Churches like Greek, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Armenian have visited us and paid their respects to our Church. We believe that everyone of you will be particularly careful about this and faithful to it......

Beloved Children,
We pray that the Gracious Lord, our heavenly Father will receive Us unto His heavenly paradise along with all those dear ones of yours who have died in faith. May the unseen hand of God strengthen Our feeble and sinful right hand to bless you all, your families and all those good things which He has made it possible for you to accomplish. We leave Our final benediction on all of you.

May the Grace and blessings of Our Lord be with you and abound in you. May the prayers of blessed Mary, mother of our Lord, of our spiritual father St. Thomas and of all saints down the ages be with you Amen. Our father who art in heaven...

Dated 21st December 1963, the Martyr's day of St. Thomas from the Aramana of the Catholicos, Kottayam (Sd.)

Excerpt of the Kalpana taken from the book "The Saintly Shepherd of Malankara Church"

Journey through the life of Catholicos Baselios Geevarghese II

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