By 2012, Indian Orthodox Church will be completing 1960 years of existence as a church and 100 years as a Catholicate. It must be the dream of Holy Church’s 1960th anniversary and Catholicate re-establishment’s Centenary Celebrations. Though the dreams of the Catholicate re-establishment’s centenary celebrations have varied aspirations and dreams of a vivid nature, we could say that the sum and substance of the dreams reaches the total transformation of the IOC (Indian Orthodox Church) as OIC in all aspects. The change desired is not in the structure or name or so, but only in the meaning of the term. The term ‘OIC’ is familiar to all Orthodox faithful. We could attribute two types of explanations for OIC. The term OIC is often referred to the Order of the Imitation of Christ. This is commonly used by the Monastic orders of our Holy Church. But it is desired that all Orthodox faithful must be imitators of Christ. All Christians are supposed to grow to the perfect imitation of Lord Jesus Christ. The very incarnation of Lord Jesus is the revelation of God Almighty’s nature of being Love. The Holy Bible introduces God as perfect love, which is greater than the love explained by St. Paul in his first epistle to Corinthians chapter 13, verses 1-13. In 1 John 4:16, we read, “And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God and him in God.” St. John is establishing that the world came to know the depth and width of the love of God only through His begotten Son, who incarnated to enable humanity to live in God. Our Lord’s teachings and entire life on earth was the perfect expression of Godly love. He exhorted us and taught us to love God and love our brethren. His will about all the human beings is that we all must be in perfect love or all our deeds, words and thoughts must be filled with love. Not even a single word, deed or thought should be there from the entire humanity without his everlasting love. This is the will of God and is the expectation of God about His children on earth. God established the Church where members are the parts and parcels. All of us are united in the love, hope as well as peace of God, where Lord Christ is the head and providing continuous instructions to all the parts of the body so that it could grow to maturity. We might be confused in identifying the will of God. We all are supposed to be humble in our word, deed and thought. To be humble means it is the expression of our perfect obedience of God Almighty. If one could obey God without questioning or arguing, it is the perfect simplicity and humbleness. St. Mary, Mother of God was so humble in her word and deed and she obeyed God and His commandments so sincerely. So she was exalted the most by God Almighty. No one else on earth is as exalted as St. Mary, Mother of God.
The second meaning for OIC is “Orthodox Indian Church”. We must give priority and significance to Orthodoxy and we must prefer to introduce ourselves as an Orthodox church rather than anything else. Orthodox means obeying Jesus and His commands without additions or deductions. At a time, we were in good contacts with almost all Orthodox Churches in the world. Though there was no attempt to change this attitude, quite recently it seems that we are not so particular in keeping up the relations with the Orthodox Churches across the globe. We cannot ignore the fact that so many Christians all over the world are seriously studying about the Orthodox style of worship and many are attracted to the various Orthodox Churches all over the world. We, the ancient Orthodox Church in India have a serious role in bringing coordination among the world Orthodox community. Our relations with all Apostolic and Orthodox Churches are to be so strong and energetic. We have to give priority for everything in the light of Orthodoxy. In other words we must adopt an Orthodox style of viewing and evaluating all matters of faith, rituals and traditions. We either lost many of our rich traditions or we do underestimate many of the traditions and rituals. We are bound to trace back the intention and meaning of each of the rituals and traditions and we have to revive them in our practical use. Many of our rich traditions have become routines and none of us are aware of the deep meaning of them. In fact no one is interested too. With a small example I shall try to explain this factor. As far as we are concerned, Censor is an unavoidable thing for the worship. But how many of the faithful (including the clergy) are aware of the full meaning of each part of the censor. All of us know that the 12 bells on the censor denote the 12 blessed Apostles. Originally the bells used to create musical sound while waving the censor. It was to remind each and everyone that the sounds of the Apostles are still echoing in the Holy Church. If someone might try to give awareness to such things, others might not accept what is reminded. This is what is happening in the Holy Church, which claims the rich back ground and ancient tradition. We as a Church must make initiatives to analyze all the traditions and rituals in the proper way and manner and try to re-introduce them in the Holy Church at least by 2012. We must have a new start by the beginning of 2012. We must say bye to all name sake traditions and must re-use them with better knowledge, understanding and in the genuine meaning. One more example I shall quote. On Christmas day we burn wood to have flames. In olden days we used to get dried Loranthus (Ithil Kanni) a parasite on mango and jack fruit branches for this purpose. It had a very notable meaning. As we know the parasites would destroy the fruit bearing trees. In the same way the sins destroy the lives of the faithful. When we burn the ithil Kanni, it denotes that we must take out the sins from us and must burn them in the fire. (Fire of course represents God) So it teaches a lesson that permanent deliverance from sin could be obtained through God only. And like wise all our traditions are rich in meaning. Let us uphold them in the way they should be.
H.G. Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan of Chengannur Diocese and Chairman of the Central Centenary celebrations Committee had requested to the concerned to send suggestions regarding the celebrations/programs to be conducted etc.
If anyone is interested to do so, can send their suggestions by post tothe Centenary Celebrations Central office,Catholicate Aramana, Devalokam, Kottayam, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.