What could be the life-message of our most respected holy father late Baselios Mathews II? In my view his life was a testament to the fact that liturgical-life offers a scientific, and holistic way of living. From a very young age he followed a liturgical life style both in his home and parish. He used to say that he could not even remember a day in his life that he missed the canonical prayers and meditation. He used to wake early in the morning, after his ablutions to clean his physical body, do the canonical prayers with prostrations followed by a personal silent meditation. For all liturgically important occasions he celebrated the holy Qurbana in the morning with fasting and full preparations. On Wednesdays, Fridays and lent-seasons, he fasted at least till noon even without drinking water. Likewise he conducted evening prayers, Bible study, spiritual reading and other spiritual exercises. All these strict principles and life-style kept him cleansed in his spiritual entity, helped maintain his total body-fitness and gave him a radiant personality. Undoubtedly, one could notice that the ‘Grace and Provisions’ he has received from the liturgical and highly sacrificial life he led was the unceasing power behind his successes story.
What does it mean to lead a liturgical life style in a modern society? How far and in earnest can one practice such a lifestyle in a society where we always lament that “I have no time”? I maintain that not only is such a lifestyle important for us to lead a healthy life but necessary to elevate us to the spiritual potential that we are each capable of.
Liturgical life is a style of living. Our prayers and meditations should not be something that we are doing to please God, church, parents or even our personal ego; rather it is something vital for your existence itself. It is the discipline you very much need to organize your very basic living. Just think of an electronic device that you handle daily. To maintain such a device we have to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual. Complaining to the manufacturer without following the owner’s manual will not get us any results. Same is the case with each one of us. If we do not keep our physical body clean and healthy, it will deteriorate after a while. Complaining to God, after having failed to take good care of the body he gave us, will not yield any results. When I came to know that I am a diabetic, I started to cry out to God and asked him why it happened to me. I knew the answer. It was very simple because I was not at all taking care of the physical body God gave me. I ate what ever I got without any regard to the time! I did not exercise consistently and let my body deteriorate.
Following the life-style prescribed by the Fathers of the Orthodox Church, with its weekly and seasonal fasting, meditations and life principles will give the practitioner a healthy body. This will help us raise our level of spirituality and spiritual pursuits.. The Life of Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II is an excellent example of this basic tenet of Orthodox life-style.
How do you make time? The answer is if you do not find time to remain healthy, you will get time to be sick. Further, if there is a will, we will find a way. For example, no matter how busy we are, we always make time to fill up our cars if the gas gets too low. A change of life style is necessary. Instead of spending time on non-value adding activities such as watching TV, we need to be actively involved in our physical and spiritual daily exercise. We still need to eat, but we can be careful of what we eat, the amount we eat and the number of times we eat. At least twice a week be perfect vegetarian, eat only half stomach, know what you eat and drink, observe daily fasting of any twelve hours (6 pm to 6 am preferably), observe the five Lenten seasons and so on. Do the morning and evening prayers with standing posture with prostration when ever it is suggested, have a silent meditation at least for ten minutes in the morning and evening after the daily prayers and then plan your next day. Then you will see that you are managing your time in a very productive way. It will make you both physically and spiritually happy. You may never say to anybody anymore that “I have no time”, because now you have a time management
This was the reason why His Holiness was never busy, though he was really doing wonders. He was never tired, though he was so active more than eighteen hours a day. Can we try this on a trial basis this Lenten season? Then get ready to start from Feb. 26th with the inception of the Great fifty days fast. You will then realize that you are and resurrected and realized being in Christ our Lord.