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Feast of the Assumption and Annual Church Valiya Perunnal Concludes

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By the Abundant grace and mercy of our Lord, the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God and the Annual Valiya Perunnal of the Parish concludes. This year the Church was blessed with the presence of her former Vicars, Rev. Fr. V.P. Manikat and Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Jacob. More photos can of Perunnal functions can be seen at: 2015 Perunnal

Annual Church Perunnal and Feast of the Assumption

Assumption_96110__30985.1403906732.1280.1280Dear Brethren,

The Vicar, Board of Trustees and Members of St. Mary’s Church, Lynbrook, New York, cordially invites you with your family and friends to participate in the Annual Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary on Saturday, Aug. 15th and Sunday, Aug. 16th, 2015. Perunnal celebrations will be blessed with the esteemed presence of Rev. Fr. V.P. Manikat and Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Jacob.

Perunnal Program

Yours in our Lord,

Fr. Bijo Mathew

Vicar | St. Mary’s Church, Lynbrook, NY

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Perunnal Flag Hoisting: 6:00pm

Evening Prayer: 6:30pm

Devotional Address: 7:15pm

Message by : Rev. Fr. Varghese P. Manikat

Benediction: 8:00pm

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Morning Prayer: 8:45am

Holy Eucharist: 9:30am

Chief Celebrant: Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Jacob

Procession: 11:45am

Benediction: 12:15pm

Lunch: 12:45pm

Feast of the Transfiguration

Feast of the Transfiguration

On August 6th the Holy Church celebrates the feast of the transfiguration of our Lord.  We read about the events in three of the four Gospels, St. Matthew 17, St. Mark 9, and St. Luke 9.

To recap, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him up on a mountain to pray.  As Jesus prayed, He transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and His garments became glistening white.  Two men, Moses, representing the Law, and Elijah, representing the Prophets appear and spoke with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. Suddenly, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and they heard the voice of God the Father saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.

The glory of the Lord is revealed to the disciples at the transfiguration.  This astounded them so much that they wished they would always remain in that presence.  Peter suggested that they did not need to leave that place, but rather build three tabernacles. Peter realized that the splendor which was revealed to them could not be compared with any other experience he ever had. 

How are we in our daily lives?  Do we long to dwell in the presence of God?  Or do we only seek the presence of God in times of need?  As we celebrate this special Feast, can we identify ourselves with David as he writes in Psalms 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple” If not, let us use the spiritual weapons of Scripture, prayer, and fasting to experience the magnificence of His presence. 

Bijo Achen

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Feast of St Thomas-July 5th

We celebrate the feast day of St. Thomas the apostle on July 3rd.  Many of us identify St. Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” because he questioned the resurrection of Jesus Christ without physically witnessing Him.  Although he doubted, when Christ reappeared in their midst St. Thomas quickly converted and expressed a pious proclamation and prayer “My Lord and My God!” (St. John 20:24 -28).

An overlooked quality of St. Thomas is his bravery. St. Thomas knowing the fact that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus on their way to Bethany to visit Lazarus, said to the other apostles, “Let us also go, that we may die” (St. John 11:16).

As we celebrate the feast day of St. Thomas, let us emulate these qualities to proclaim “my Lord and my God” and declare our faith in Christ even to death.

May the intercession of St. Thomas be a stronghold for us.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Bijo Mathew

KOODOSH EETHO

KOODOSH EETHO (Sanctification of the Church)

 

Happy New Year! Am I nuts! Greeting Happy New Year on the first Sunday of November, then really I must be crazy. But some of you may know why we wished happy New Year today. Because today is the first Sunday of the Church Calendar year; we call this Sunday Koodosh Eetho, which means sanctification of the church. We are also commemorating the perunnal of St. Gregorios of Parumala. Unfortunately we do not realize the purpose and meaning of many of the arrangements, many of the important days, rituals, feasts that are important for us. And that’s the unfortunate part; we do not know when we are celebrating the all saints day / all apostles day. But we do know when and how to celebrate Halloween; that’s again “the all saints day”. We make deliberate efforts to celebrate Halloween, we throw parties, we dress up, we invite friends and family- because it’s fun; but is it appropriate to commemorate the feast days of the Church. Of course yes! What I’m trying to say; it has nothing to do with Halloween celebration, please; but I’m trying to present how this Sunday is important to us; and how the Sundays are arranged in the Church Calendar. How many Sunday’s are there in a year? 52/53 Sundays depending on the day a year starts. As I said the Church Calendar starts on the Sunday that falls between October 30th and November 5th, which is called Koodosh Eetho. The Sundays are arranged beginning from Koodosh Eetho to the 7/8th Sunday after Sleebo. Again, we need to know that the entire church calendar is divided into 6 / 7 cycles; just like the seasons in a year.. I. Sanctification of the Church* to Christmas (Yeldho) II. Yeldho to Epiphany (Dan’ho) III. Dan’ho to the Beginning Sunday of Great Lent (Kothine) IV. Kothine to Easter Sunday (Kymtha) V. Kymtha to Pentecost VI. Pentecost to the Transfiguration VII. Sleebo to Sanctification of Church (Koodosh Eetho) Knowing this arrangement will help us to better appreciate and understand the logical connection between different feasts, days of the church, gospel readings and what the gospel messages are intended to be. Moreover, there are general themes for each cycle; for example, theme for the first Cycle is confession, affirmation and purification, which helps us to prepare to welcome the Savior on the Christmas day. I’m not sure whether we teach this in the Sunday school. But the bottom line is, this needs to be on your fingertips. Otherwise, you won’t be able to appreciate or understand the logical connection between different feasts/ days of the church, gospel readings and what the gospel messages are intended to be. Coming back to the Gospel reading for today, from ST Mark 8: 27-33. The first part depicts St. Peter’s declaration; and on the way to a village Jesus “asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” If he asks the same question today in 2013, there will be millions of different responses. I was going through a blog that describes what people say about Jesus today. “There’s the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases; who argues for the family values, pro-life and at the same time owning firearms, against gun controls, against food stamps and so on. “There’s Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, demonstrating for minimum wages, lenient on pro-choice and so on. “There’s Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life’s problems “There’s Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals. “There’s Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone “There’s Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes run faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls. “Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him. “There’s Gentle Jesus –”There’s Spirituality Jesus–”There’s Revolutionary Jesus—”There’s Guru Jesus—”There’s Boyfriend Jesus—”There’s Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you. 2000 years back Jesus asks this question to his disciples. “Who do people say I am?” They gave him ‘others’ opinion; some think you are John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets and so on! Jesus further asks this question seeking some personalized answers from his disciples as a group; I mean he was seeking for the understanding and affirmation of Apostles as a faith community; “Who do you say I am?” He was not happy with “they say…Someone says…kind of responses; rather seeking their affirmations; looking for a “we say, we believe- kind of affirmations. Peter, the first among the Apostles, he opened his mouth, representing the other Apostles, representing the church; declared that you are the son of God! You are the Messiah. “Who do you say I am?” No other question will ever be as important to us, as this one question. This kind of a situation is true for us too. We always depend on jargons, philosophies and text book definitions to answer this question. But Christ is straight away rejecting ‘second-hand’ testimonies! What is your affirmation as a faith community, as the church; this is what Jesus looking for. Remember, he is not asking for your personal opinion; Ningalkku Njan Aranu? He clearly seeking the opinion of the disciples as a Group; he is not asking for Perter’s opinion, or Mary’s opinion. But as a faith community; who do you say I am? We have affirmed our faith in him on the Baptism day; we repeat our faith every day though reciting our Creed; but this is the time to reaffirm our faith together as a community. “Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: God in the flesh, the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim good news to the poor, the Lamb of God, come to take away the sins of the world; our savior and liberator Jesus Christ. If you further read, from verses 31-33; just after Peter’s affirmation Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection; But Peter do not understand what he talks about; Then Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things”. This may be confusing; therefore, I request you all to read further Mark 8 up to the last verses. You will further understand Peter’s declaration was indeed a confession; and this declaration and confession leads to holistic purification. This kind of an affirmation, confession and purification helped St. Peter and his fellow Apostles to take up the cross and follow their master. In verses 34 Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. And the Apostles denied themselves and took up their cross and followed their Master. Again, this is true with Parumala thirumeni. He denied his self, took up the cross and followed his master. In Christian life; you can see the Salvation is free; but discipleship is costly. Self-denial is the cost of discipleship. We call Parumala thirumeni a saint; not because he is a wonder-maker; not because he can do miracles in people’s lives. Rather he did things, served God’s people, not in the actual estimate of others; not in the estimate of human norms; but he counted everything in the estimate of God. Jesus Christ idea of a New Testament Saint is not the one who proclaims the Gospel merely; but one who becomes broken bread and poured out vine in the hands of Jesus Christ for others’ lives. Parumala thirumeni was indeed was a broken bread in the hands of lord for the sake of others. We are also called to be living a saintly life; deny our self and submit ourselves in the hands of God for the sake of others. But we remain as ourselves (as …) because we fail every day to pay the cost of Christian discipleship. As I said earlier, Koodosh Eetho means sanctification of the church. But it is not about the sanctification of church buildings! Rather, this Sunday is meant to call for reaffirmation, confession and purification of ourselves; the members of the church. Only through repentance, confession, affirmation and purification one will be able to prepare to welcome God on Christmas Eve. As we read in the Beatitudes/ the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the Lord”. I hope this year you can appreciate why the church calendar starts with purification; what it aims for; this cycle of the calendar year, constantly reminds us to purify ourselves to prepare for the birth of our lord Jesus Christ. May the almighty father help us to re-affirm our faith as a community, and confess and purify ourselves to prepare for the birth of our lord, to see lord, to feel the real heavenly joy on the birth of Savior; may the Holy Spirit help us to ‘deny self’ and pay for the cost of discipleship; and follow the master by taking our cross and to be faithful to the Christian way of life! Amen.

 

 

Great Lent Message by Archbishop Mor Theethose Yeldho

Great Lent Message by Archbishop Mor Theethose Yeldho.

As one week of Lent has quickly passed, I just wanted to know how you are doing?

Many of us receive the news of the Great Lent with mixed feeling, some with grief of refusing hearty meals and enjoyable activities while others welcome it as a means to show off their ability to fast and pray in competition with others. Both ways are not in line with the Lord’s intent of Lent itself.

The Holy Church prescribes fasting as a spiritual exercise to learn humility, discipline, and dependence. It is a time to kneel at the feet of the Heavenly Father, physically and spiritually, acknowledging His supremacy and absolute necessity in a mortal life. It becomes a period of purification by reconciling with our self, with others and with God.

Just as an athlete would prepare his body for an upcoming marathon through concentration, physical endurance, diet adjustment; the Christian must prepare to receive his Savior through prayerful vigilance, purposeful meditation, prostrations, and physical controlling.

Let me encourage you to observe the Lent in a meaningful manner, and, in a way that is pleasing to God. As St. John Chrysostom states, “It is folly to abstain all day long from food, if you fail to abstain from sin and selfishness.” Also in the Morning Prayer for Monday of Lent, we are reminded that, “Though the Fasting is great, if it is not observed with love, it is futile. If love does not enable its wings, it cannot rise to the presence of the Most High”. Hence, may reconciliation and mutual love be the guiding principles of your fasting this year.

As part of the observance of Fasting this year we recommend you to raise some fund to support the brothers and sisters of our Holy Church in the Middle East – especially in Syria – who are suffering with no food, gas or electricity and live in a dreadful and violent situation. Whatever amount we gather, will be sent to His Holiness the Patriarch directly for that purpose.

As we stand at our one week mile marker, we have an opportunity to evaluate ourselves. Try to spend more time in prayer, reading the Holy Scripture and on meditation. Get ready for a true Confession to unload our burden and to proceed the journey in a spirit-filled manner.

Wishing you all success and looking forward to greet you at the Finish Line.

May God bless you,

Your Theethose Thirumeni

Lenten Message by Rev. Fr. Bijo Mathew, Atlanta, Georgia

A priest was invited to speak at a convention. After the convention, dinner was arranged at a nearby house. Due to lack of time, the priest wanted to skip the dinner. But the lady of the house, where the dinner was arranged, insisted that the priest come and have dinner. Finally the priest gave in and decides to visit the house for dinner. At dinner, the priest was happy with all the items the lady had cooked. To his further delight, while serving the food, the lady quoted topics she loved about the sermon. She said “Father, I loved it when you talked about forgiveness, about loving your neighbor, about not gossiping, about leading a moral life etc. etc.’ The Father was ecstatic because finally he thought, there was at least one person inspired by the speech. Then to his surprise, the lady continued “everything was great! but, my neighbor who needed to hear all this was not in attendance today”.

This is our story. We too think the world needs to change while the speck remains in our eyes. This Great Lent season, let us find time to be honest with ourselves, reconcile our differences with others, and seek forgiveness from God while we forgive our trespassers. Like the tasteless, odorless, colorless water transformed in to sweet, fragrant, colorful wine, let us too experience a transformation in our lives through the observance of the Great Lent. 

Humbly asking for forgiveness for any wrong I have done against you,

Bijo Achen