Indian Orthodox Herald welcomes the new dawn of the Church as she enters a new epoch in her history with the enthronement of her new Supreme Head, His Holiness Mor Thoma Baselios Didymos I. At this juncture of the church, when she faces insurmountable impediments to establish her own canonical identity and autocephaly the entire church looks up to the new archpastor with confidence and wonder. We wish the new Catholicos health, long life and God’s providence to lead our Apostolic Church with fortitude, prudence and divine wisdom.
His Holiness started his service to the Church as a monk when he was a teenager. He was called to the monastic life by the late Metropolitan Mar Dionysius of Niranam. He went through a rigorous monastic life that tuned up his body through hard work and his mind through intense discipline and his spirit through spiritual exercise. This writer believes Mor Baselios Didymos I is an exemplification of eastern monastic life. Our tradition of selecting bishops from the monastic ranks has a long history. Unfortunately due to discontinued monastic communities, we could not always select our bishops from thorough-bred ascetics. Mor Didymos is an exemption to our recently fabricated monasticism as a preparation to receive the episcopate. He has been deeply rooted in his monastic practices and exercises long before he became a priest and a bishop. This writer has observed his monastic career as a priest and bishop. He has witnessed many late nights during which our new Shepherd kept vigil in the chapel of Mount Tabor Monastery. Yes, indeed the church of Malankara is blessed to be shepherded by a monk of prayer.
Mor Didymos is not just a monk, who is enamored of some primitive practices of monasticism. He is endowed with erudition which he derived from his long career as a student of theology, mathematics and English literature. Prior to his consecration to the episcopate he had been a professional educator holding various positions in the academia. He was a mathematics instructor for many years, and was a high school headmaster for more than a decade. After receiving his post graduate degree in English literature he held his lecturership in English literature when St. Stephen’s college of Pathanapuram came into existence. His Holiness is also rightly credited with his musical skills; his divine liturgies are musically mellifluous to the ears of the participants.
The new Shepherd has many challenges in front of him. The most important challenge he has to face is the spiritual crisis that debilitates the mission of the Church. The spiritual aridity being experienced within all the ranks of the Church from top to bottom should be of primary concern for our new Shepherd. We hope he will mobilize all his energies and efforts to rejuvenate this old Church with new spiritual vitality and vigor.
The second challenge that confronts the Church is our relationship with the Patriarch of Antioch and his supporters in Malankara. We urge our new Shepherd to initiate negotiations leading to the autocephaly and autonomy of the Church of Malankara and to cordial relationship with the Patriarchate of Antioch, within the perimeters of the legal ramifications stipulated by the Supreme Court of India. We hope he will take adequate steps to deal with this crisis and close this chapter in the history of our church.
Ad Multos Annos, Domine!!