Repent Ye, Holy Church

Written By: on Apr 16th, 2011 and filed under Editorial, Features.

The World

The World is very attractive, and as such it is innocuous; and it basically provides for our physical preservation. When does it become a peril for us? When it becomes the goal of our living on earth. The goal of a Christian is to reside in the kingdom of God. That is why Jesus said, “You are from this world, but not of this world”. The pleasures of this world are only to be used for the greater purpose of achieving our ultimate goal, which is the abode where God is. Look around us and see the world around us. The world generally praises glittering pomp and shining gold and empty extravagance and delusory affluence; and it attracts its residents. We need a lot of money for this kind of life style. This style is not satisfied with the minimum needs. For minimum needs one does not need a lot of money. Our problem is that we do not stick with the minimum anymore. We buy the biggest house possible to show off our affluence, we buy expensive jewelries when can still be modestly attractive with a modest amount of jewelries. We buy unusually expensive cloths to compete with our neighbor. Our cars should carry the mark of high affluence. The list goes on… Behind all these desires grow a number of cardinal vices, which are fundamentally sinful, and hence evil. Greed, vengeance, envy, gluttony, injustice, covetousness and many related vices grow very rapidly in this kind of environment; and we forget that these are not just sins, but deadly sins that take you directly to hell.

Is luxury is vice? Strictly speaking pomp is a vice. A decent living with all the conveniences to meet our needs is not a vice at all. When does it reach the point of being despicable before God? When our luxuries do glorify ourselves and our egos, forgetting the needs of the poor, and forgetting the source of every good we enjoy. Any necessities beyond the level of our reasonable needs come to borderline sinfulness. For example, ask ourselves if we reasonably need a gold-filled Rolls Royce, or a five storey building for our house. If there is no justifiable reason for a possession, there is sinfulness hidden in it. We need a decent house; but we do not need a palace for ordinary living. The house of a head of State could be bigger to accommodate his offices and ministers.

But does an Orthodox bishop need a palace (Aramana)? Definitely no! First of all, he is a monk; a monk does not live in a palace (Aramana); he lives in a monastery. The Church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be a humble entity without any claim to worldly royalty; and the Church of Christ does not need a palace to run its business. The best that the Church of God can aspire is only a secretariat, or a Church Center, or a Diocesan Center, not an Aramana or a Palace. Why does then an Indian bishop have no scruple to utter the following: “I am calling from Aramana”; “Send the report to the Aramana”, etc., etc. Or why can’t he say, “I am calling from my residence”, or “from my monastery”. Believe me, a bishop does not live in a palace; if he does live in it, it is a violation of his vows, and it is against Christian simplicity. He is definitely committing a sin. The Church should be the symbol of Christian poverty, and the top of the hierarchy should show its commitment to Christian poverty. If an Orthodox bishop is found guilty in this area, he should be singled out as a scandal to the Christian faith.

See how much we are immersed in the World that destroys the soul of a Christian.

We are so much attached to earning more money. This writer does not say that we do not need money; we need money for a decent living in this world, and it is for that purpose we all work hard. When we multiply our needs, often unnecessary needs, we need more revenue, and we are forced to work beyond our physical capacity, finally crippling our own health with overtime work and subsequent fatigue or high blood pressure. We compete with our neighbor in possessing a better luxury home or car. The truth is that we seldom sleep in or enjoy that home as we are always away working two jobs to pay off a heavy mortgage! There are several vices involved in this scenario. God is not against you having a good home or a car. However, when we pass beyond our modest needs, we might slowly slip into sinfulness.

When we are anchored on possessing more and more, our greed also becomes limitless. People generally seek unethical methods to grab more money. Greed for money is often the source of many evils in the society, and in the Church. Often greed for money is a constant problem among the clergy. A priest who is greedy of money would definitely sacrifice his integrity as the custodian of orthodox faith and morals. Such a priest becomes so liberal and lenient in observing his faith, because a stricter priest is not appreciated by the rank and file and his donations generally do not multiply. Back door money comes only from people who seek exception to the rules or violation of canons. Or a liberal position by a priest is the only way to please his flock, which is often translated into tapping more money from his parishioners. Often such liberal behavior involves violation of standard canons or even violation of God’s law.

A year ago a new bishop visited one of the regions of his diocese and held a clergy meeting. In the meeting, the bishop very gladly expressed his happiness for being their bishop saying: “Many of the other new bishops desired to come here as your bishop; but I was the lucky one to be chosen to come to this diocese…” What were his inner emotions when said so? Every bishop wanted to become the head of that affluent diocese or he himself was so lucky to get such a wealthy diocese to rule over. In either case it reflects the passion for wealth that is rampant in our higher clergy, and it is evil and sinful. In the same meeting one of the elderly priest, who is well-educated and a former professor, suggested, “Your Grace, we hope that you do not run around cities after cities blessing marriages and houses, which are the functions of local priests; this will not enhance a bishop’s image, which would be interpreted as greed for money”. Another priest also encouraged the priest with his body language. The bishop immediately looked at him and the rest of the priests and frowned at the participants and asked, “If some request for it, what could I do?” (Meaning, he did not want to give up this money making practice kept by the majority of the episcopate in his Church). The priest who originally pointed out the problem smiled at all other priests and gave up without asking additional questions. Later in the same meeting, the bishop wanted to impress them with a “new idea”, which he wanted to implement as a new practice. “I will turn over the honorariums I will be receiving from parishes to the diocese…

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4 Responses for “Repent Ye, Holy Church”

  1. john says:

    I applaud !!! … Rev Fr. Kuriakose. He is truly representing Jesus words!!!remarkabe words of wisdom !! rare in IOC leadership !!! Bibilical !!!

  2. Bibin Babu says:

    I had some suggestions which I felt would be useful for everyone including children and youth if you could please include a series describing

    a) The history of Orthodox Church in India and the overall history of the church around the world from the time of St. Thomas.
    b) The impact of Christianity and its role in the shaping of modern Indian and World society.
    c) Church and Regional Politics
    d) The present Leadership
    e) The Legends (Scholars, Academicians, Priests, long serving members).
    f) A biography on our saints
    g) The several terms we use during the Holy Mass and the name of the prayers we recite in the church all Fridays and the meaning of those prayers.
    h) The new denominations that came out of the church since the time of its inception including the Protestants and Marthomites, the reason for their revolt and following separation
    i) The various legal battles we have been fighting with other denominations, the history, the present and the future scope of its ending and the benefits of mutual cooperation among all the churches to form “One God, One Church”.
    j) The various institutions run by the church including Schools, colleges, vocational training centres, SHGs if any, industries if any, Hospitals ( run by the church or have tie-ups) etc.
    k) The various reforms being carried out for the upliftment of the society, generally the poor and the helpless mass around us.
    l) The budgetary allocations for various events sponsored by the Church ( Devalokam) and our Maha Edavaka Etc.

    What I am trying to emphasis here is that we need to instil belief in people that we are a transparent group interested not only in fighting with each other and peeping into other’s pockets but we are equally keen in educating its people and children about our tradition and values. More than the in-fights and legal battles with other denominations, we should try to find out a path of compromise as it is our dutiful responsibility as the oldest followed faith in India. We should lead the way and path to other churches by showing ourselves as an example. Our spirits should be high in thinking of repent than revenge.

    By fighting with other denominations, we are just inflaming the already fragile situation, putting pressure on the pockets of the very few faithful remaining. We should show the ones left that the door they opened to go out can be used by us to go after them and work in tandem with them keeping up the status and record of being the oldest denomination in this part of the world. Here we see a “Divide and Rule” policy designed by the evil forces. It was the Satan or the Satanic influence Christ had in him to bow in front of the Satan (Give up to the temptations) and rule the whole World (Live a common life as anyone else). But he chose to curse the evil spirit and continued his fasting. But we in the name of God fight blind folded with our brothers for some materialistic benefits as positions, power and money and are destroying the very roots of our community. Here if Satan could influence Christ, Just imagine what he can do with us. The only way out. Open up our spiritual eyes and ears and listen to His Voice. Ego and Prejudice are evil. It is Satanic. How can a church do such a thing to its believers! Or is it that since Jesus Christ himself once told that he was here to save the down trodden, the Church is pushing down all the souls to mud so that even they too can be saved!!!

    Christ taught us to love each other and come to compromise with our friends before dusk of that day. But now we are teaching others the game of hatred.

    He wanted to keep the materialistic thoughts outside the church, but we are bringing in even politicians to flame up our emotions and burn our pockets. By symbolically throwing the merchants out of the church, he wanted us to think that our heart and mind belongs to the Lord Almighty and it is to him we owe our gratitude and thanks and we should not be falling into evil hands thinking of material gains and profits

    If we stop fighting with our brothers in the other denominations and start cooperating and work together with them, we can achieve a lot of our dreams of uplifting the society, if they were true by any chance. We will get more resources to spare as the legal battles will not be needed. Also the human resources we spent on the fights can be used for a better tomorrow, both for the people and the Church.

    He wanted us to be the salt of the Earth, but by fighting with each other, we have become the fools on the surface, few bunches of puppets in the hands of its political handlers who are using the numbers and their feelings for improving their voter base. Our feel for the church is being milched by these people for their own energy and benefits. They are using us for a bargain. Beware of these Jackals in sheep skins.

    More than money and funds to support the activities of Church, what we need is a complete education on what our Church is and what can do or dream of in the future. That why I thought the suggestions I gave at the beginning would help us know more on the Church. With education comes Enlightment. People will start thinking of these matters. They will start asking questions. They will start correcting the ways they have been wrong trekking till date. The pressure from the people can make the Church and its instruments think. They will think of reforms. If all people can come together in the name of God, then the Pappa’ at the top will come together and they will make the dream come true. I.e. One God, One Church, The True Bride of Christ.

    In the name of Holy Trinity

  3. Let me first of all congratulate Kuriakose Achen for a challenging and thought provoking article, also commend IOH for publishing the same.

    I would definitely expect worthy guidance from such a senior priest as Kuriakose Achen in this respect, both for the good of the diocese and the Church.
    Yours in Christ
    Fr.Thomas Ninan

  4. Martin Jose says:

    Thanks Rev Fr Kuriakose for these prophetic words. This article needs a more prominent space. Your rhetoric against the three vices, especially flesh needs to be dessiminated to the lay public for bringing in a moral awakening in the Christian world.

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