K’fiptho Sunday/ healing the crippled woman

K'fiptho Sunday NEW_001

The wounds of people’s infirmities rarely escape Jesus’ notice and he was always ready to offer a healing touch. The woman in the story was walking around the church bend over, to see how the world looks from her vantage point.

How does it feel to walk that way?

What are the burdens that weigh you down and bend you over?

Take a deep breath and stand up straight, offering your burdens to God.

Stretch out your hands in praise to God, who declares you have been “set free!”

Feel the tightness and pain, in your heart and on your body parts. Breathe in and breathe out slowly. Each time you exhale feel the pleasant soothing sensation you have in Lord Jesus Christ.

Slowly and deeply inhale and exhale. From what all things does God want to set you free today, to stand upright to work for him and praise his mercies?


The Sacrament of Confession; 21st Century perspectives

Receiving Christ in communion during the Holy Eucharist is the foundation of living in communion with God, with people, with nature, and with the whole creation. Any act which breaks our communion with God and with God’s creation can be described as a serious sin. Sin is historically viewed as staying off the path, and getting lost from the communion of God. It is for this reason that in most of the Orthodox churches examination of conscience (if necessary going to sacramental confession) is an integral part of the preparation for communion. However, unlike an instant or ritualistic practice confession is an ongoing process of trying to see our life, thoughts, emotions and actions with clarity, openness, and honesty; to look at ourselves (introspection), our choices, our behaviors, and our life direction as known by God.

Introspection and examination of consciousness open up the door to have communion with God. In simple terms, consciousness is an inner faculty that guides us in making choices in alignment with God’s will. Moreover, consciousness accuses us when we break communion with God (with God’s creation; nature, neighbor and so on).  It is a reflection of the divine image at the core of each person, developed or underdeveloped, faithful or distorted.
From a cognitive perspective consciousness can be viewed as those ‘frames of references’ (schemas) we held in our brain that includes our ‘core beliefs and assumptions’ regarding faith, spirituality, morality, God and so on. These schemas are developed and rooted in our thought processes based on our life experiences, and learning. We may not be aware of these beliefs and assumptions; but they automatically influence our decisions, actions, and emotions. In short, we all have millions of core beliefs and assumptions regarding faith, God and spirituality that directly or indirectly influences our behaviors, actions, decisions, choices, and emotions. Recent developments in cognitive sciences revealed that our thoughts lead to actions and feelings. The concept of ‘Sin’ also has three components; there will be actions, feelings and thoughts related to a sin. Though, these are all interlinked, based on the cognitive perspective it is right to say that “the sinful thoughts lead to the act of sin, and sinful emotions”. Introspection on the basis of consciousness specifically is a reflection of one’s thoughts, actions and feelings.
In order to understand confession in its sacramental sense, one first has to grasp with a few basic and practical questions: Why church is involved in the forgiving sins? Is the priest witnessed confession really needed? If God is really all knowing, why confess at all to a human being? Why confess in the church in the presence of a priest? Nobody will be ready to reveal their true inner world; if so, is it meaningless to expect that people will confess their sins to a priest? How can you guarantee confidentiality? How can I be certain that my parish priest is going to treat me the same way, even after I reveal some severe sins? Are there any limits of confidentiality?
The best approach to address the above chain of questions is to explore the value of confession as a sacrament and to analyze the state of mind from which we need to introspect and verbalize our sins and consciousness. During Great Lent, it is customary for all Orthodox Christians to go to confession to their priest. But confession is appropriate whenever an Orthodox Christian feels the need for it. The value of confession is multifaceted:
1.      Assurance of divine forgiveness; through this sacramental act (of the ordained priest and a Christian believer) we have the assurance of divine forgiveness (John 20: 23).
2.      Extremely beneficial to personal and spiritual life; confession provides the opportunity to talk about one’s deep concerns, feelings, and thoughts, to receive counsel and to be encouraged toward spiritual growth.
3.      Enhance resistance to temptations; confession of sins (thoughts leading to emotions and the actions of sin) or even temptations, help us to resist them better.
4.      Restores our communion with God; the purpose of confession is not only to have one’s sins dismissed as non-sins, but also to be forgiven and restored to communion with God and God’s creation (James 5: 16; 1 John 1:9).
5.      Realignment of relationships; without confession and forgiveness love is destroyed, and damages an existing loving relationship (either with God or with God’s creation).  For the sake of mutual relationships with others and nature we confess what we have done, we apologize, and we promise not to repeat the same.
6.      Assurance of peace of mind; secrets in general are hard to keep, but un-confessed sins not only remains in our conscious mind but also become heavier as the time passes; the greater the sin, the heavier the burden. Confession is the only solution to have peace of mind.
7.      Repentance is brought into community; we are social beings (think of the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the language we speak). Confession is an act of reconnection with God and with all the people and creatures that are depended on us and have been harmed by our ignorance and failure to take care. Think of the homeless, poor, sick, and starving children we have distanced from through the acts of non-communion. The community (the whole creation) is represented by the priest who is hearing the confession, who further provides guidance and wisdom that helps each pertinent to overcome negative beliefs, assumptions (schemas) and attitudes. Therefore, our repentance is brought into the community that has been damaged by our direct and indirect sins; a private event in a public context.
8.      Praise of God and affirmation of faith: confession is more than disclosure of sin. It involves praising the Trinitarian God and affirmation of our faith. Without the second and third element, the first is pointless.
Though the former practical questions on confession are relevant, it could only be placed as secondary if we have an understanding of the extended values of this sacrament. However, issues like confidentiality, limits of confidentiality, impacts on existing relationships, training of listeners, and anonymity of confessors (?) need to be studied and clarified in the modern world context.
Another issue is the question of how to approach introspection and confession? The question is from which state of mind do we need to introspect and confess? The brain researchers have observed that the human brain has two parts: a rational deliberate section and an emotional one. When it comes to faith, spirituality and God, people make decisions in a variety of ways; some may be very emotional and others may be very rational. While approaching confession either ways are of little help. For example, a youth who always wants to be logical, critical, and rational may struggle with introspection; may never want to kneel before God (priest); and may land up with an unfruitful ritualistic confession. Think of another person, who may be obsessed and ruminative of morality (excessive concern about right or wrong, commandments, or law); or a person suffering from major depression; they may retrospectively find faults with all or most of their behaviors in the past, and may feel extreme helplessness, worthlessness and guilt. This overwhelms the rational part of our brain and may finally end up with poor introspection, decisions and so on. There is a third possibility; a blend of rational and emotional mind. Some people call this a balanced ‘wise mind’. A balanced wise state of mind will help to meaningfully introspect, prepare, verbalize and participate in the process of confession. Always keep in mind; never be extremely rational or extremely emotional when you approach confession.
Another question is how can we prepare for a meaningful confession? Preparation for confession is a prayerful examination of our feelings, thoughts, words, acts, attitudes, habits, values, priorities, goals, direction and our way of life. This introspection and self-examination includes not only our personal religious life, but also our relationships, social involvement and activities, job conduct, business dealings, political and social commitments and even recreational pursuits. Extend the introspection and self-examination of our consciousness over several days. Pray to God to help us to recognize our sinful thoughts actions and emotions. Remember that our sins can never outweigh God’s love towards us.
Traditionally the self-examination and introspection for confession are aided by various simple tools;
·         Reflection on our life in the light of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. Reading them one by one and recognizing our failures and ignorance. Some people note it down so that at the time of confession they will be able to go through the list.
·         Another popular tool is a list of questions provided by Fr. Alexander Schmemann on the three key areas of confession:
o   Relationship to God: Questions on our faith in Trinitarian God, possible doubts or deviations, inattention to prayer, neglect of liturgical life, fasting, and so on.
o   Relationship to one’s neighbor: Basic attitudes of selfishness and self-centeredness, indifference to others, lack of attention, interest, love.  All acts of actual offense, envy, gossip, cruelty, and so on.
o   Relationship to one’s self: Sins of the flesh with, as their counterpart, the Christian vision of purity and wholesomeness, respect for the body as an icon of Christ, etc. Abuse of one’s life and resources, absence of any real effort to deepen life; abuse of alcohol or other drugs; cheap idea of “fun,” a life centered on amusement, irresponsibility, neglect of family relations, picky about your food, or wasteful of foods, forgetting that so many people are without proper nourishment, extravagance and so on.
·         Reading and meditating Psalms (Psalm 32, 38, 51, 102, 130), classic prayer of repentance of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:11-13), prayer of St. John Chrysostom, prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian and so on.
The cognitive perspective conceptualizes SIN on the basis of the sinful thoughts, emotions and actions. Remember, it is the sinful thoughts that lead to sinful emotions and actions. However, as we discussed earlier it is not easy to identify the thoughts, rather we can easily identify the emotions and behaviors (for example, the emotion of lust, and the act of an inappropriate ‘look’; what ‘thought’ made you behave like this or feel lustful?). Identify the sinful behaviors and emotions first, and then verbalize them in specific terms. Then try to visualize and think of the thoughts at that time (when I was feeling lustful?). Though it is difficult, eventually you will learn to identify the thoughts related to a specific sinful emotion or behavior. If you have a personal journal, write it down (only if you can keep it confidential!). If you continue practicing this, you will find patterns of core beliefs and assumptions, certain maladaptive or illogical frames of references, perspectives, developed or underdeveloped consciousness and so on. We know human beings are capable of logical and rational thinking, and therefore we are capable of identifying and correcting the ‘errors’ in our thought processes.  Once we are used to this exercise, its benefits are twofold; it will make our thought processes logical, positive, and helpful and gradually it will help to sharpen our consciousness. Secondly, once the root cause is identified (thoughts) and corrected the probability of repeating the same pattern of sinful behaviors and emotions are significantly reduced. Of course a priest can help and guide you better if you present your sinful thoughts rather than a vague or generalized description of a sinful act or emotion. Adapting a cognitive perspective in the process of introspection, self-examination and confession undoubtedly bear fruits of repentance, forgiveness and help us to sustain in communion with God.
Reference and suggested further reading;
Forest, Jim (2002) Confession: Doorway to forgiveness. Orbis Books, New York.

Passion Week and Easter Liturgy in Malayalam, English and in English Transliteration

Dearly beloved in Christ,

With great gratitude to the Almighty Father, the long term need of Malankara Syrian Orthodox faithful living outside Kerala to have Liturgical translations especially for the younger generation who are not familiar with Malayalam has been fulfilled by the St. Gregorious Indian Orthodox Church, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. This work has been originally compiled by Very Rev. Lazarus Ramban. We thank almighty Father for helping Very Rev. Lazarus Ramban for accomplishing this work.

Although this is not an official or authorized translation of the Church, prima facie this is very helpful for the non-native speakers of Malayalam to meaningfully participate in the Passion Week and Easter Services.

However, user discretion is highly recommended and please consult with your parish priest.   

The following documents are downloadable.

May the love of the Father, grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon us though out this great season of Great Lent and forever.

Thanks again,

Dn Renjan


CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK TO DOWNLOAD FROM GOOGLE DRIVE (Copy and Paste on your browser, if the link is not auto hyper-linked)




Passion Week Liturgy Part I- Palm Sunday


Easter Service

4th Sunday of Great Lent/ Canaanite woman

Canaanite woman_001


Jesus was amazed by the faith of the Canaanite woman and her daughter was instantly healed.

The physical and practical nature of Jesus’ ministry is remarkable. Not only does he teach deep truths, but he also heals people who are sick or disabled and take time to feed a crowd of hungry people.

In what ways can we minister to people- caring for the “whole person”- as Jesus did?

To whom might we reach out today?

Healing the Paralytic/ M’Saryo Sunday

healing the paralytic_001

In the story of healing the paralytic, there were two categories of people around Jesus; those who were ‘hearing God’s words’ (they think they are close to God and listening to the Word!) but indirectly ‘blocking’ the needy from reaching God. The second category is those who helped the paralytic to reach God; those who are helping the needy to reach God.

Who are we?

Are we blocking (directly or indirectly) the needy from reaching God?


Are we helping the ‘needy’ to reach God to receive healing and blessings?



Touching the Untouchable! Reflections on Garbo Sunday

Garbo_001The study of the Bible is absolutely necessary for the nourishment of Christian life. The facts which the Scriptures present are the basis of faith in the Trinitarian God. Acquaintance with these prophetic and devotional facts in the light of the contemporary world realities is the only sensible means to imbibe and disseminate a true dynamic Christian faith. The nourishment of the Scriptures is necessary to the spiritual life as that of food to the body. The following Bible study is based on the Gospel reading on the ‘Sunday of the Leper’ from St. Luke 5: 12-16; and St. Luke 4: 40-42.

And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.” However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed (St. Luke 5: 12-16).

When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ (St. Luke 4: 40-42).

To me these beautiful verses portrait various dimensions of Jesus ministry; for example his Gospel ministry, Social ministry, Prayer ministry, and Healing ministry are all mentioned here in an integrated fashion.  The beginning of chapter five depicts Jesus gospel ministry; And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (St. Luke 5:10). This is followed by a portrait of Jesus social ministry; a depiction of his interaction with a marginalized, stigmatized and dehumanized leper is portrayed followed by a miracle of healing. Finally, Jesus prayer ministry is also depicted; he went to wilderness for prayer and to refuel the spirituality for sustaining his ministry.

Let’s have a look at the context of Jesus social and healing ministry with the leaper. Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him (St. Luke 5: 13).  If you look into this story, cracking the healing part, it is very clear that Jesus did something unconventional! He challenged the cultural misconceptions and social prejudice by ‘touching a leper’. The word challenging has got different meanings to different people. What does challenging means? Challenging does not mean ‘shoot first and ask questions later’, or disobeying parents or elders. Believe me sometimes they are sick, idiosyncratic in their value systems and Hippocratic! But challenging does not mean raise voice against something that stands in our way, I mean against our freedom of choice, our freedom to dress, to talk or to date!

The term challenging has got a social meaning and implication, especially in a Christian context. Number one, it assumes that we human beings are capable of using our freedom in a responsible way. Imagine you are standing on the top of the Sears Tower. You can see the traffic, cars and trucks moving on the road like ants marching. When you watched closely you could see a car moving in the wrong direction. You could easily anticipate that it’s going to hit another car coming in the opposite direction. Can you do something? Of course something can be done; but the point here is there are traffic rules and regulations and the car driver is supposed to follow them. She has the freedom to travel in wherever way she likes, the only presumption is that she will have to follow the driving regulations or rules. Friends, it’s up to us, whether to follow the right way or to head against the expectations; this is a kind of irresponsible and aimless challenging! Moreover, it’s our choice whether we want to enjoy the ‘myth of total freedom’ or behave in a responsible way.

Number two, challenging in a Christian context aims at social transformation. Social transformation is not a familiar concept in the Orthodox context. But it’s very important to live in the current sociopolitical context and to meaningfully involve and live in the present. Many times we are ignorant about the political and economic chaos and struggles around us. We may have little idea about what is happening in Syria or in Egypt; May not even heard that the fast-food employees in New York are on strike demanding minimum wages. The people and the world around us are going through various turmoil and challenges. What I’m trying to say is as an Orthodox Christian youth we also should get exposed to the social transformation activities like human rights-non-violence movements, Anti-war movements, and free software movements! The spirit of this argument is the bottom-line of Christian ideology; never dissociate our faith and life with the society, culture, art, work or with politics.

Young adulthood is the best time in human lifespan. You guys are full of energy, you guys look for fun, you guys look for innovation, and I believe you can also take part in Jesus social ministry. As we become older our energy level and enthusiasm declines. I believe in the power of youth. Take my words, the youth in our church can do lot of challenging activities in the ministry of social transformation.

Follow the daily news, not the Cowboy or Mavericks insider; but news about what is happening around the world. Get updated about people’s struggle like what is happening in Wall Street in New York? Who is helped by raising the minimum wages? Why does the richest country (USA) in the world have the second highest child poverty? Why the land of the free is the home of the world’s largest prison population? Many youths are very alive in the social networking sites. Get involved in the social campaigns for peace, justice and humanity by sharing or liking in Facebook or twitter. You may think you have better works to do, I know, but keep an eye on this too.

Why I’m saying this because, we should acknowledge one thing: the so called freedom we enjoy and the rights we have is not our privilege! We enjoy freedom because somebody fought for us sometime back and it’s truly Christian to do something back to society. Moreover, it’s a Christian ministry to take care of our fellow beings and our environment.

The bible verses says Jesus touched the leper; touching the leaper reflects the call for not to ‘discriminate’ anyone based on illness, cast, class, sex, race or even based on sexual preferences. This may be controversial, but the Kingdom of God is for everyone. Remember, touching a leper was controversial at the time of Jesus, but not in the 21st century. Believe in the magic of time and walk ahead of time!

At a more personal level, we can see Jesus is ‘empathizing’ with a leper. I mean there is an action component, not just the faith alone- he touched and healed. A proactive action is much higher than simply sympathizing (which we frequently do in our daily life). We feel sorry about a lot of things, we feel sorry about others illness, others fate, others helpless situations. We may say one hundred times that ‘I feel sorry about him/ her’ but there is any action. Of course it is easy to sympathize and move on with our busy schedule. And that’s quite okay. But do something meaningful in your daily life (at least occasionally!) that can relieve someone’s stress, pain, or burden.

If possible, get involved in volunteer work, be a good listener, listen to someone, especially listen to old people, listen to their stories (Please, do not charge on hourly basis!) reassure them to make them feel their existence meaningful, write a blog, tweet something that can help and inspire your friends about your experience with a helpless person or situation. Let all these become part of your efforts to empathize with your fellow-beings in a Christian way. Remember it’s very hard to be a Christian!

The next theme portrayed is the prayer ministry; So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed (St. Luke 5:16). Jesus withdraws to the wilderness for solitary prayer and meditation. And this is to refuel spirituality. We all need this kind of ‘spiritual refueling’ to get inspired for a meaningful life and to advance in our ministry as a true Christian.

The most important focus of this gospel passage is the fourth dimension; the ministry of healing. All those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them (St. Luke 4:40). However, I want to look healing in a broader perspective. We usually equate healing with well-being. We are working hard throughout our lives because we all need happiness, financial well-being, social well-being, health and security. And that’s quite okay. But that’s not complete, remember, Christian life is not a buffet! We are not supposed to take or eat what we like. And reject or ignore what we do not like. What I’m trying to say is, we need to accept illness just like health, bad things just like good things; sadness just like happiness, failures just like victories. And remember, healing need not always mean a ‘positive state of well-being’.

There are hundreds of Saints, Martyrs and Blessed fathers whose story depicts their agony, pain and suffering in their Christian life. They all accepted suffering, they all praised God even in the midst of deadly sorrow! That could be one reason why we call them Saints.

Orthodoxy is a way of life that is continuously inspired by the life stories of the Saints. Unfortunately, the popular modern pleasure theology depicted Saints as the agents or mediators of blessings. But they are actually the witnesses, inspirations and role models of Christian life. Keep in mind that God’s primary purpose is not to bless us with pleasures, wealth, or happiness. But he is there to heal you! I may have to use St. Paul’s words to facilitate our understanding of healing. My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I hope this bible study could illuminate some insights into our perceptions and help us to reflect on our attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and actions in our faith journey. May God bless!

Liturgical Hours: “Seven times a day I praise You”

Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments.  - Psalm 119:164

Liturgical Hours:

  1. Evening Prayer (Sandhya/ RAMSHO)
  2. Bed-time Prayer (Soothara/ SOUTORO))
  3. Night Prayer (Rathri/ LILIO)
  4. Morning Prayer (Prabhatham/ SAPRO)
  5. Third Hour (9 am/ Moonnam Mani)
  6. Sixth Hour (12 pm/ Madhyanam/ Noon)
  7. Ninth Hour (3 pm/ Onpatham Mani)


Great Lent Common Prayer Book

Click here to download the Great Lent Prayer Book (Morning & Evening):**

Great Lent Common Prayer Book

**This is not an authorized translation of the church; user discretion requested.

50-Day Lent Gospel Reading & Meditation Planner- 2014: According to the Lectionary of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Tradition

Great Lent is a special season to meditate and read the Bible. The attached Gospel Reading planner is according to the Lectionary of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox tradition. It is free! Download and use as you can very well stay connected with the Bible and the tradition of the Church, thereby experience an enriched relationship with savior God.



50 day lent reading planner


50 day lent reading planner short version

Lectionary Great Lent 2014 Malayalam Part I & English

lectionary Great lent 2014- palectionary Great lent 2014- part Irt Ilectionary Great lent 2014- part I

First Monday of Great Lent


First Tuesday of Great Lent

  • Evening
  • St. Luke 4: 1 – 15
    • Morning
    • Exodus 32: 30- 35
    • Hosea14: 1 – 9
    • Isaiah 30:1-4
    • St. James1: 12-27
    • Ephesians 4: 32- 5: 21
    • St. Matthew 6: 1-6

First Wednesday of Great Lent

  • Evening
  • St. Matthew 6: 19-24
  • St. Luke 16: 14-18
    • Morning
    • Genesis 1: 14-18
    • Isaiah 13: 6-13
    • St. James 2 : 1 – 13
    • Romans 2:7-24
    • St. Matthew 6: 25-34

First Thursday of Great Lent

  • Evening
  • St. Matthew 7: 1-12
    • Morning
    • Exodus 22:5-6
    • I Kings 18: 16 -24
    • II Kings 17: 7 – 23
    • Isaiah 36: 1-7, 37: 1-7
    • St. James 2: 14 – 26
    • Romans 2: 28 – 3: 8
    • St. Matthew 7: 13-27

First Friday of Great Lent

  • Evening
  • St. Matthew 5: 17 – 26
    • Morning
    • Ezekiel18: 20-32
    • Hosea 4:1-11
    • Deuteronomy 6 : 1- 13
    • Isaiah 1:1-9
    • St. James 3: 13 – 4: 5
    • Romans 3:9-26
    • St. Matthew 5: 27-37

First Saturday of Great Lent

  • Evening
  • St. Matthew 10: 24 – 38
    • Morning
    • St. John 15: 17-16: 3
      • Before Holy Qurbana
      • Genesis 2: 4 – 17
      • Zechariah7: 8-14
      • Isaiah 1:24-31
        • Holy Qurbana
        • Acts 12:1-24
        • Romans 12: 10-21
        • St. John 4:46-54

Second Sunday of Great Lent (Lepers’ Sunday)

  • Evening
  • St. Mark 1: 32-45
    • Morning
    • St. Mark 9 : 14 – 29
      • Before Holy Qurbana
      • Genesis 7: 6 – 24
      • II Kings 5: 1 – 14
      • Isaiah 33:2-9
      • Jeremiah 50 : 4- 7: 15 : 15 -21
        • Holy Qurbana.
        • Acts 5:12-16 :19 :8-12
        • Acts 9:22-31
        • Romans3: 27- 4: 5
        • St. Luke 5: 12-16, 4: 40 -41