Friday, November 22, 2013

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Metropolitan Chrysostom's Message

Metropolitan Chrysostom's Message: "Metropolitan Philipose Mar Chrysostom has the rare quality to look back self-critically at the heritage and history of his own church. He accepts and cherishes the fruits of Reformation but affirms that it is not by romanticising the past nor by eulogizing the pioneers but by learning from the lessons as well as the mistakes of the past that we go forward. Speaking specifically of the period of Reformation in the Eastern church, Thirumeny recalls that, according to the historians, Abraham Malpan had two options before him: one was to join the missionaries with his reformed group; the other was to remain as a reformed eastern church. It is our accepted history now that the Malpan chose the latter course. Thirumeny, however, recalls that some scholars felt that one reason why the pioneers of the Mar Thoma Church did not want to join the missionaries was that the missionaries were set to work among the Dalits. He added: 'Our aversion was not so much to the missionaries as to the outcasts! We wanted to be independent of the missionaries not because we valued independence but so that we would not have to associate with the lower caste people. Though we do not accept this criticism, we should seriously examine whether there is any truth in such an understanding' (Mission in the Market Place, p. 33)." Full Text by Jesudas Athyal

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Amma is a blessing given by the Lord

BISHOP Philipose Mar Chrysostem Valiya Metropolitan with Mata Amritanandamai at Amritapuri

29 August 2008 — Amritapuri

Most Revered Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom, Mar Thoma Metropolitan—affectionately known as ‘Thirumeni’—paid a visit to Amritapuri on Friday. The bishop took a tour of the ashram, participated in the evening bhajans and then met with Amma in her room.

Thirumeni is the longest-reigning bishop in India; it has been more than 55 years since his consecration. He is currently the senior Metropolitan Bishop of the Mar Thoma Church at Maramon, Kerala.”Offering praise to the Lord itself is the fulfillment of life,” Thirumeni said to Amma. “When I came here and participated in the bhajans, it was something like that. It is a great blessing. I am very happy. We are very thankful for all the charitable activities that you are undertaking throughout the world. May the Lord bless you. We all pray for this.”

“The thing that makes me happy is how Amma is able to see the whole world as a one family and protect and support them accordingly. It is a great thing! We are always reading in the newspapers about people fighting. Here, the whole world has come to Amma without seeing any differences of caste, creed, race or religion. It brings such a great joy to us. We consider Amma as a blessing given by the Lord to his world.“To be able to see you, to have your darshan, is also a great blessing. At this age of 90, I consider it a great blessing to see you. I thought that at the age of 90, everything was over. But meeting you has given me new experiences and a look into the future. And I am very happy.”

Thirumeni then praised the Ashram’s humanitarian works and social-welfare projects. “I am so happy about everything Amma is doing for this village,” he said. “When you see the villagers, they are so happy! I saw them on the way. I have even more to say about the hospital [AIMS] you are running in Cochin. It is a great blessing for all of India. My relatives have sought treatment there, were cured and returned home happily. So, we thank you for all these things. In the name of my jurisdiction [Tiruvella], we pray the Lord blesses you even more for the benefit of society.”

Thirumeni then spoke about Amrita Setu, the bridge Amma’s Ashram constructed connecting Alappad Panchayat with the mainland. “A bridge is something that connects two separated entities. The tsunami was as great destruction. But because of that destruction, Kerala has now got a beautiful bridge. Amma’s service is a blessing, even in the midst of calamity. That is the message of this beautiful bridge.” One of the fathers accompanying Thirumeni said that the bishop doesn’t believe that people should live cut off from the rest of the world, like separate islands. “When the top order comes and meets Amma, the followers also will come. That is why Thirumeni has come,” he said.

“Nowadays I am visiting all the ashrams and participating in their prayers,” Thirumeni said. “Through this I am trying to understand different ways of worship and ways of service. Through that I am trying to come closer to God.”

Amma was very delighted by the bishop’s expansive outlook. “Nowadays everyone is becoming more and more narrow,” Amma said. “Not everyone has such an expansive vision. Thirumeni’s expansive mind is a blessing. I am very happy about it.” —Sakshi


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chrysostom Thirumeni

So much has been written about Chrysostom Thirumeni. Yet so much is to be written. There are simple things that speak a lot with a personal touch, which might have helped you to think and rethink; which might have changed your world view, ideology, theology or perception of yourself, your ministry. This blog intends to bring out such personal stories which would help others to think differently, creatively and critically. For example, when I was working in Allahabad Mar Thoma Parish, soon after my ordination in 1977, Chrysostom Thirumeni came to Allahabad with the intention of visiting the congregations in my charge, mainly, those at Obra, Renukoot and Singrauli. Few days spent with Thirumeni really altered many of my notions of ministry, theology and the world.

It was the time of annual Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. Millions of people were gathered there for a dip in the Triveni Sangam, meeting place of the holy rivers of Ganges, Yamuna and the Invisible Saraswathi, at Prayag. It never occurred to me that I should visit such a place. I am a Christian priest. What would others think about me if I go to a Hindu festival. In my younger days, once I went to some Hindu festivity very near to my house with a Hindu friend. My father was very upset about that, as he thought himself to be an evangelical Christian to whom a best way to witness Christ was to look down or avoid all non-Christian festivals. In my family we never celebrated Onam, the most important festival in Kerala. So when Thirumeni asked, I thought Thirumeni would appreciate my Christian commitment if I said no and confidently said that I do not intend to visit the festival. Of course, my Kolkatta days as a student in Bishop's Collge has given me some exposure to Kalighat and Sri Ramakrishna mission, and I even wrote a thesis on Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the great Hindu philosopher. Yet my basic views have not been changed about non-Christian religions. It was also a fact that I wanted to spend my life as a missionary and visited many ashrams with that purpose and finally decided to join the Satna Ashram and requested the Church for permission. Even at that time of making a decision, Chrysotom Thirumeni visited the Kolkatta parish and then started asking me questions about what would I do in Satna. I told him that I would enter into dialogue with the Hindu Pundits and Thirumeni smiled at me but kept a meaningful silence. That silence haunted me several years later when I started reconsidering my decision and decided to leave the Satna ashram. Thirumeni might have seen the immaturity in my arrogant confidence about such heedless aspirations of becoming a missionary. Even if I have decided to go to Prayag, I would have gone to that holy bathing ghats, with Gospel tracts, which I used to do as student chaplain in Kochi before joining the Seminary. When Thirumeni asked me why don't I go with him to Prayag I haven't not got the slightest idea of what he would be doing. I was wondering what would happen If all the sanyasins see Thirumeni and Christians like me in white cassock .

I discovered that Thirumeni was fully enjoying the crowd at Kumbh Mela. He in his long brown cassock would visit each and every stall, say hello to sanyasins, buy something or other, browse through some holy books. Now after thirty years, after reading the remarkable volume on Thirumeni's thought, titled, Mission in the Market Place, edited by Jesudas Athyal and John J. Thatamannil, I have come to understand that Thirumeni considered mission as permeation of the fragrance of the Gospel rather than any act of arrogant display of the superiority of Christianity, in the name of uniqueness of Christ. From some puja pandal some swami offered us some prasadam (sweet goodies offered to idols of deities.) which Thirumeni respectfully received. Seeing me hesitant to receive them Thirumeni nodded as if to tell me that it would be all right if I take them. I obliged half heartedly. Then to my surprise Thirumeni started eating it. I was holding it in my hand so that I can throw it away when nobody would notice, the very same thing which I used to do when my Hindu friends in College used to bring Prasadam either from Sabarimala or any local temple. Thirumeni then asked why I am not eating it. It is very tasty he said. I thought it would not go down my throat as it was offered to some idol. Thirumeni told me: Don't you know that there is only one God and idols are only human creations. They have power over us only as much we concede. Then I started slowly swallowing the prasadam little by little. It was a turning point in my life. There came a stage when I realized that Thirumeni was right when I studied Paul's confrontation with Peter on account of eating with the gentile Christians. Even though Peter had the vision and mandate from the risen Jesus not to consider unholy what God has created holy, as it was difficult for Peter to get over the tradition of people, the same thing happened to me, holding me back from exercising the freedom of a Christian over against my conscience which was certainly shaped by the customs and manners of my community. Later in my life I had several opportunities to see the freedom of Christian in the life of Thirumeni, though I had some reservation in fully endorsing my statements because I see occasionally in Thirumeni some features which question my general opinion about his radical Christian faith, mainly the administrative decisions he took with regard to women's ordination or decision to defrock one of the achens whose book became controversial. Still I strongly hold that I have seen no other greater Christian leader than Chrysostom Thirumeni, perhaps with the possible exception of Dr. M. M. Thomas.