Questions through MTV

I on a regular basis receive question on faith and practice of our Church through MTV. I try to answer them bsed on my study and understanding. Here the recent ones:

Question 1.

I would like to know more about Baptism from a biblical point of view so that I have sufficient knowledge to explain to the Protestants when they ask ' Why Child Baptism?'

Answer 1.

Regarding your question, if you want to convince the sectarian community people, it will be a waste of time. They can not be convinced. By the means, you are using the term Protestants wrongly. The people you refer to like Pentecostals are not Protestants. They are called sectarian communities (in Malayalam – verpadu samuhangal). Communities like C.S.I, C.N.I and Lutheran are protestant Churches in India. They do not argue with us on this. Sectarians do not accept most of the ancient Christian practices. So do not argue with them. If you argue with them, it means you are not sure of your own faith. Our faith is not only based on what is seen in the Bible. In the Bible we do not have evidence for every thing we do now. It is because Christian community is a growing community and as it grows it will adapt practices that the community think good for the spiritual growth of the members based on the spirit of the teachings of our Lord. This is based on Jesus’ promise in John 16:13. It does not mean that Bible is not important. We have enough evidence in the Bible itself for infant baptism. This is not just a New Testament practice. It starts from the very first stage of the formation of God’s community, Israel. Look at Gen. 18:19 and a host of references in Old Testament. Look at Joshua 24:15 also in this regard where the whole family is invited to share the gift of God. Look at all the references in the New Testament where the word ‘household’ (kudumbam) is used. Also see Luke 18:15; Acts 2:17; 16:15; 16:30 etc. The practice of adult baptism is based on just one reference which Mark 16:15-16, a reference in fact is not about baptism at all. It is a direction to the disciples to go out and preach. Those who believe in what they preached Christ may be baptized. That is what this passage says. We can not formulate a principle so important like this on the basis of this verse alone. Once again let me say, do not argue with sectarian people, you can not convince them, it is a waste of time. Of course we do not baptize children of non-Christians. We baptize children only if they are from sacramentally wedded parents and if the whole family from non-Christian background is joining the Church. Otherwise we wait till they are grown up. Proclamation of faith is not an individual issue in a Christian family.

 

Question 2.

hope you are fine.after long time i am in touch with you.I think now you are not updating windows messenger.But i watched everything to malankara orthodox tv.

 

I am blessed by God with a baby girl-Juana.Please pray for us.

 

Congratulation Thirumeni for you have done a great job for Kolenchery issue and womans participation.May God bless you to do some greater things to our church.

 

Que: Why our bishop's names are like this? How it came?

 

Answer 2.

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. Let God be with her just as He has been with you.

I do not attend to Windows messenger as I used to since I have picture, voice and video along with text upload facility in my space. Address: https://yuhanonmilitos.wordpress.com/

Regarding your question, the names of the bishops in Syriac tradition is a combination of the person’s baptism name or given name with the name of one of the early Church fathers. Most of our Church fathers were Greek in their background. They had Greek names. The name of the fathers of Church becomes the family name of the bishop. This has been followed all along in Syriac tradition. Malankara Church is one in the Syriac tradition. This is how our bishops get their names.

 

Question 3.

What is the meaning for the usage of vettuthoppi in our churches during perunnal rasa?...From where we got this?
I searched everywhere to find an answer for this..Please clear my doubt.

Answer 3.

The vettuthoppi  is from western tradition. It is a remnant of the western influence in our community. It is called Mitre (meaning head band) in that tradition. The origin of this cap is traced as far as Judaism where high priests used to wear Mitznefet . In the western Church the cap originated in the imperial world. In the Catholic Church this cap is the exclusive right of bishops and abbots. The common shape is Mitra simplex.  The dress code of Malankara Metropolitans include this type of cap.

Further on this Question:

Is it an appropiate practise to use vettuthoppi during our church festival celebration procession(rasa). Some church are following others dont..No common rule for this. Also in some churches they are using arulikaa and some others use holy cross...

Reply: According to Orthodox understanding, Church is basically local and universal only in faith. There will be varient practices and customs according to the culture and life situation of various places. Some of those practices may be an adaptation for another tradition or even another religion. Of course when we adapt them, we have to have an our own explanation of the same. There is nothing wrong in that and we do not have to condemn that. There is nothing called uniformity in that regard. We need only to look whether we have unity in faith.

Question 4.

I writing to you from Muscat, My Name is Vinsent I. Kollannur, I would like to clarify the following doubts.

 

1) Its mentioned in the Bible that "You must not call anyone her on earth 'Father'; because you have only the one Father in heaven"(St.Matthew Ch 23:9) but we will calls our high priests and bishops as father "Pithav". is it right?

 

2) Its mentioned in the Bible that "When you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it" (St.Matthew Ch 6:2), however may of Churches do have the different kinds of charity functions and the money collected from the members is announced in the church. is it right to do so?

 

3) what is the frequency to have the Holy communion? It is to be done on daily or weekly or once in year!

 

It would be grateful if you could provide the details of above quires and request you to remember us in your prayers.

 

Answer 4.

1. The first question is regarding calling the bishops of the Church Father as it is forbidden in Mat. 23:9. We do not take Biblical passages literally. If we have to, we can not call even our biological father, father. Jesus’ teaching comes from the context of him making a distinction between the old community and the new one. In Christianity nothing becomes absolute against the Lordship of Jesus Christ and of His Father. In Judaism Ab, or father of the Sanhedrin claimed absolute authority in the community (of course they accepted the Lordship of God in theory, but they did not put that in practice). All the other titles referred in that passage are used in the Jewish community. In Jesus’ community, there should not be any one in that style. In Christian community, for an Orthodox believer, all are children of God and each hold different positions. If one is called ‘father’ that person gets that position by virtue of that being chosen by God and by being selected by the people and do not hold any absolute authority.

 

2. Yes it is not right according to Christian principles to make it a big thing when we give charity to others. But there are two things to consider. One, a public event will be helpful to promote the culture of giving. Two, it will be a way of showing transparency.

 

3. The Canon would ask you to receive H. Qurbana as frequently as possible including daily. It also states that if you leave without receiving H. Qurbana after attending the Eucharistic service you should be excluded from the community.

 

Question. 5.

What is our teaching about Holy Spirit?  Holy Bible says “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall sent send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26) Again in John 16:7 Jesus says “….but if I depart, I will send Him to you”.  So the Gospel tells us the procession of Holy Spirit is from Father only, while sending the Holy Spirit is by our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is my understanding of Holy Spirit.  The Nicene Creed also confirm that “the life giving Lord of all, the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified”

In one of the premeon (first service during the Pentecost) says “Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and taken from the Son”.  To me ‘taken from the Son’ is very similar to the Roman Catholic faith ‘the Fillisque clause’.  Is this contradicting our understanding of the Holy Spirit?  Nowhere in the Holy Bible that says the Holy Spirit is taken from the Son.  Could it be an error crept into ours when it was translated from Syriac to Malayalam and then to English?

Answer 5.

I think I clarified this issue in one my earlier replies. You are right, our Church holds that H. Spirit proceeds from the father and we receive it from the Son. The text you referred was not originally written in Malayalam, but in Syriac. When translated in to Malayalam, old Malayalam was used. The word “edikkappedunnu” may simply mean received, that is to say  we receive it from the Son. Note that it is not purappedunnu which may be interpreted as against Orthodox faith. So we do not have what is referred in filioque clause in our prayer.

 

Question 6.

It is very good to see clarifying doubts of orthodoxy but we are wasting time on subject i don't thing no people with knowing meaning of orthodox will there in community that why we r different from other Christian denomination. Instead if we make subject on this put this pay channel program so that we clarify the doubts of Jacobite who does feel they are not orthodox & if we r broad mind issue kalpna every Church that Jacobite r also orthodox Christian they should give respected given holy qurban during services. If this happens orthodoxy will grow .I hope so you will take my points.

Answer 6.

There is no single effort to clarify doubts of others. Education happens through various media. There are lot of people who are not subscribed to pay channels. We have a mass communication department which does regular programms on faith and practices of Orthodox Christians through TV channels. Still we get questions. There are people who do not have internet connections who can not ask questions through email and receive answers. We need to explore every possible means of communication to help our people learn about our faith.

 

Question 7.

Is there any difference in belief  & rituals of Jacobites  from ours,recently 2 of my cousins married to Jacobite,

In orthodox church "mothiravazhvu is done only at marriage ceremony but for Jacobites its at time of engagement. In orthodox & marthoma churches brides wearing crown is banned since we have kireedam vazhvu, but in Jacobite church its compulsory the bride to wear crown,

 

In youtube we can see wedding of antiochian orthodox &other orthodox churches,all these orthodox churches they have unique rituals like "singing dance of Isaiah(a procession around sacrement table) &common cup,but why we dont have that,

Heard from aged that we are following antiochian rituals & thaksa,? but antiochian traditions r different,

The Holy Eucharist prayers of Jacobite & orthodox churches is different,Lent also jacobites have only 20 days & for us 50 days nombu is compulsory.If we go to Manarcadu pally for Qurbana its very difficult,but if we go to a malankara catholic church mostly same

 

Hope thirumeni could clarify my doubt,Can we receive holy communion from Jacobitechurch

 

Answer 7.

There is absolutely no difference between Orthodox and Jacobites in matter of faith. As a matter of fact these people call themselves Jacobite for lack of proper understanding. Their patriarch would never call himself a Jacobite. The name he uses is Syriac Orthodox. So he is Orthodox and not Jacobite. That is the first thing.

There are regional differences between Jacobite and Orthodox and also among Jacobite and Jacobite and Orthodox and Orthodox. If you visit various Churches in Orthodox Church itself you will witness this.

Regarding marriage, mothira vazvu is called betrothal and earlier days it was conducted at the residence of believers. Even today it can be done that way. Bride coming to Church with crown is a western practice. Strictly speaking we have to have crowns instead of chain with cross for the wedding. The second part of the liturgy is called ‘liturgy of the blessing of the crown’. But culturally we have changed this. There is nothing wrong in us using crowns on bride and bridegroom to bless them. If we are not using a crown to bless them, there is nothing wrong in them coming with crown. We do not have to object that. This is widely used in Orthodox Churches in the northern region in Kerala. Jacobites do not make it compulsory for brides to wear the crown.

Wedding ceremony and the following feast in Syriac tradition is a very joyous occasion. We because of some western influence have made it very dry. The Cananite community in Orthodox and Catholic denominations still make it a joyous event. There is nothing wrong in it. Yes we are following Antiochean rite. That rite has regional variations. In Malankara we have made several changes to that. Those changes are primarily cultural and have no binding on faith.

It is not correct to say that the Jacobites reduced the number of days of great lent. They still have 50 days. Some time back the patriarch issued a kalpana announcing that lent can be observed in a little light manner. But recently this was reversed by the patriarch and asked the people to observe it as it used to be.

If you are attending Holy Qurbana in a Jacobite Church you could receive H. Qurbana there.

Question 8.

Can you explain and give the Bible words/chapters with referance about Child Baptism. Through ORTHODOXY.

 

Answer 8.

Regarding your question see my different postings about the matter in my space. Address is https://yuhanonmilitos.wordpress.com/

Question 9.

Kindly let me know who is the successor of Apostle St. Peter.

 

Answer 9.

Every bishop (episcopos) properly ordained and having good standing in faith is a successor of St. Peter according the faith of the Church.

Question 10.

During the Commemoration of Saints, we normally remember mostly only saints of Malankara. Do you think it is important that we remember also our early church fathers like Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Athanasius of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria, Basil of Caesarea, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Dioscorus of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem etc during their feast days and also priests talk something about their contributions then or during sermon?

Answer 10.

In the liturgical calendar, feasts of many of the early fathers are listed. For example on January 1st the feast of St. Gregorios and St. Baselius are observed and many of our Churches do celebrate this feast as perunnal. Of course we celebrate perunnals mostly of saints whom we know. This is quite natural. Do you remember the day of the demise of your great grand father or great grand mother, though they also contributed to your life in this world? We in Holy Qurbana remember all these fathers.

Question 11.

Is Manna a vegetable?

Answer 11.

I guess, you are referring to the Manna referred in the Old Testament that the Israelites ate on their way to Canaan (Ex. 16; Nub. 11; Deut. 8; Jos. 5; Neh. 9 and Ps. 78). There is no single explanation of the material among the interpreters of the Bible. Several Biblical interpreters say it came from a certain scale insects in the desert like honeydew. Some others say it is the wax of a particular tree called Tamarix Gallica which was seen widely in Southern Sinai region and that melts in sun. There are others who say it was a kind of mushroom. Still others count it as a secretion of certain lichens (Lecanora esculenta) which is widely used as food like maize in Eurasian Steppe. (It is narrated in the hadith Sahih of Islam that Prophet Muhammad said "Truffles are part of the 'manna' which Allah, sent to the people of Israel through Musa (Moses), and its juice is a medicine for the eyes."). It is very difficult for us today to say for sure what it was.

Question 12.

It is clear for me that St Mary didn't lose her virginity by the birth
of Jesus. Can you please make me clear about the fact that she was
virgin all over her life time.

Answer 12.

There is a clear reference in the Bible that Mary conceived Jesus before Joseph had any sexual relation with her (see the phrase, ‘before they came together’ Matt. 1:18). She was only betrothed to Joseph at that time. That means she was a virgin when she conceived Jesus. We do not have any record of Joseph later marrying Mary. We do not have any reference in the Bible that Mary gave birth to any other child. So we can very well be assured that Mary continued to be un- wed and a virgin all through her life.

Question 13.

For your kind  attention .. I have some doubts  about the following matters...

 

1.Pentacose  kar parayunna  maru bhasha (anya bhasha or Uncleared language) ..is it allowable in our  sabha.???…But  whn I read the bible  that support this   maru bhasha….Refer..1Corinthians 14:39

& Corinthians 14:21-39

 

2.  While v praying Y we stand against East…For this I find an answer in bible Ezekiel 43:1-2 & 44:1…..But as per protestant  They say that  Tht is equal to  Sooraya namaskaram..& they also  say that  Kizhakku(EAST) ninnu alla, padinjaru(WEST) ninnu alla, thekku (SOUTH) ninnu alla & Vadakku  (NORTH)   ninnum alla uyarcha varunnathu…….

 

 

I expect   a clear  REPLY……Please send  reply to this ID….

Answer 13.

1. Sure we have maru bhasaha. You wrote to me in Malayalam which is a maru bahsha to non-Malayalees. I write this mail in English which is a maru bhasha to lot of people. I could speak in Syriac language. If I speak in that language, it will be maru bhasha for you. If you speak Italian it will be maru bhasha for me. Maru bhasha is not an otherworldly language. It is some thing to be understood by others through an interpreter according to the Bible.

2. Well, religion is some thing experienced and practiced in culture. So there will be lot of things related to cultural life of the people in a religion and its practices. Facing east while praying is one of those cultural things. To face east while praying is not part of our cardinal faith. God is every where and so can listen to our prayers any way we stand or sit or lie down. Strict polarity of north, south, east and west works only in the equator region. East is the source of light. But sun is not always in the east for every one. Even in Kerala we have sun rise slightly different during seasons. A religious community like Orthodox Church in Turkey certainly had this influence. We in our spirituality and religious practices followed those of the Syriac tradition that originated in Turkey.

There is another way of looking at the question of east. The magnetic polarity of the earth could also be a matter to consider in this regard. If you go to North Pole east will be different from what we consider east now. We are facing east not because of what is said in the book of Ezekiel.

It must also be said that facing east while praying has nothing to do with sun worship or surya namaskaram.

Question 14.

I have heard many speeches of Achens and Thirumenis that in the Orthodox perspective, the terminology RASA during Perunal is wrong because we do not carry Holy Qurbana during our processions and that the word RASA comes from Rosary and that Catholics carry Holy Qurbana during procession and hence the term RASA is apt for them and not for us and that we should use the term PRADAKSHINAM and nothing else.

This logic is quite understandable, but what I do not understand is in spite of all such speeches and classes by achens and Thirumenis, we invariably use the term RASA again and again. Latest example is the just concluded Parumala Perunal and the Perunal at Devalokam ( Mathews I Bava). All official notices carry the term RASA.

If RASA is wrong, we must avoid it and the message should reach down the line with absolute clarity.

Answer 14.

Yes what the Achens you mentioned said is correct. RASA is a word from the catholic tradition. There are several words used by other communities we borrowed. Kappyar, arulikka and acolyte are examples. In such instances we may not carry the same meaning originally they had. We can give a different meaning to the same meaning. This happens in all cultures and communities. How ever it will be better if we use a less confusing term, of course we have one - pradikshanam.

Question 15.

Can you please explain the song Aadyacharyathwam kaikkondu Aharon Moosayodonnichu..................?  Your Grace has given a reply to the above question from  -- through the new column 'ORTHODOXY' in MTV. Regarding this, I have a very humble thinking that the song can be interpreted as John, the Baptist is standing as a line of demarcation between the two 'classes' of priesthood. God had conferred priesthood to Aaron which got transmitted down the line up to John exclusively through the tribe of Levi. Just at the time of John, son of God, himself God came and John 'handed over' the Levi priesthood or rather 'returned' the old priesthood to God to make way for the new priesthood. And the priesthood from Jesus got transmitted down the line irrespective of 'tribe'.

 

I do not know whether this thinking of mine carry any sense at all. I leave this before Your  Grace for a guidance.

Answer 15.

Thank you for the mail. Hope you and your family are doing fine.
Regarding the comment of the hymn, I do not think we can interpret it the way you suggested. The hymn talks about a line that continues from Moses with Aaron through Jesus to reach his disciples who passed it on to all communities in the world. One thing is right, when it was transmitted through Jesus, it lost its communal nature and became inclusive. But there is no suggestion to say that what Moses with Aaron got was returned by John. It is some thing like a water flow. It started from Moses with Aaron and went as far as Jesus in one stream, from him it took so many branches to flow through all communities. Think of it as a reverse river. River is made of several brooks and finally reaches the ocean in one flow. Here it starts from one source and reaches all corners of the earth.

Question 16.

In continuation to my earlier question, of course I got the point, yet the song conveys  the sense that John, the Baptist gave priesthood to Jesus, as Ms Anju too raised, and that is not correct because Jesus was a High priest even earlier. With this in mind I thought that John might have surrendered the Levi priesthood to Jesus to pave way for the new order. Notwithstanding the continuity of priest hood from Aaron to till date unbroken, could it be that John played that role for a new beginning?

Answer 16.

Do not theologize the hymn too much. It is a meditative hymn from a pious person. This is the way that person looked at the matter of priesthood of humans. It so happened that people of that time found it good to be part of the liturgy. There are other issues also in that hymn if you try to analyze it. Biblical interpreters would ask whether Jesus' priesthood, if at all he had to have some thing of that sort being God, was of Aaronite, Levite or Mechizedekite (as the epistle of Hebrews would say). Do not read too much in to this hymn.

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