Repent Ye, Holy Church

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

however I will keep donations given by individuals in my pockets for buying ‘soap and comb’”. (“soap and comb” is a slang phrase in his native tongue to mean ‘incidental expenses’).

Think about the most frustrating situation when a bishop is severely criticized for his excessive attachment to money before making decisions related to his pastoral work.

We hear that a bishop attempts to force his visits in all the parishes of his diocese, without being invited, during the Lenten Season under the pretext of conducting retreats, and he is heavily questioned by his priests and laity because of his simply pecuniary motive. In the past none of his predecessors forced such a Lenten program unless the parish council had offered an invitation. Hence the people would be really concerned about this newly fabricated spiritual activity, especially in view of his reported utilitarian agendum. It is said that a bishop receives honorarium from every parish he visits. WE wonder if any of this money is utilized for the glory of God, for the poor, for educating the poor children, running orphanages or treating the sick or for paying off the debts of his diocese! Some even wonder how a priest or bishop, who is always running around during the entire week, could even observe the fasting season with the right spirit! It is also interesting to note that some parishes have clearly expressed their unhappiness about it, because they are not financially strong to support an episcopal visit, which involves the bishop’s air travel, stay, accommodation and a decent honorarium (which is generally unaccounted in the books of the diocese, and could be possibly unreported to the IRS). Corruption, indeed!

Some years ago we heard about a hierarch who was richly rewarded with a sumptuous sum of money by a parish so that their parish could be honored in future with the title “Cathedral“ instead of Church. It is said that the bishop like any other bishops became an easy target of corruption (who would refuse money!?) and without scruple accepted it. Later the request for cathedralship came from the same parish, and the bishop could not deny their request (the power of money was so strong), with the full knowledge that there could be only ONE cathedral in a metropolitanate or diocese. He himself conducted the service of naming that parish church a “cathedral”. We are reminded quite often of similar cases in many places. Thus the canons of the Church are strangulated! Again corruption!

There was report about a young newly ordained bishop, who engraved his own image on a metal sheet ornamentally framed, mostly resembling the look of a saint, with his miter on his head and his crosier in his left hand and a blessing cross in his right hand, and sent to every home in his jurisdiction, with individual salutation! Some estimate $40,000 for this extravagance. Whose money was it? God’s money? If it is donated money, would the Lord justify its use for such a wasteful and meaningless enterprise? Look at the episcopal crave for worldly adoration and fame! Whose idea was it? It is clearly understood that the bishop himself must have approved this act which would even numb the mind of atheist. If the bishop sent an engraved icon of the Lord or the Theotokos, with a spiritual message and greetings, it would definitely have been more appreciated. Look at the mess in the Holy Orthodox Church! Yes this act was nothing but sinful. Think if the word “corruption” would apply to this ungodly episode.

We point this out not to collect and expose the filth in the Church, but to show how worldly we are, how hedonistic we are, and how sinful we are. It is not sinful to work for one’s subsistence; however, when a monk, who is supported by his Church, shows unhealthy attachment to the treasures of this world, the World becomes his enemy, an enemy of the Kingdom of God. If a priest’s life is such a messy one, how much can we expect from a layperson? This writer believes that he has a prophetic role (in additional to his priestly and teaching functions), the role played by the Prophets Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah and others of the first covenant, to preach against this grave sin that spiritually destroys not only the one who sins, but also Church that envelopes him. St. Jerome, one of the fathers of the undivided Church, instructed that we should run away from the priest who accumulated more wealth than what he had at the time of his ordination, just as the way we run away from persons with contagious diseases!

Priests of the Holy Church, whether you are of presbyteral order, or of monastic order, or of chorepiscopal order, or of episcopal order, your spiritual calling is the same; you are all called to separate yourself from this world and its attractions. Otherwise this World will subjugate you. Your attachment to wealth, gold, expensive cloths, expensive houses or palaces, or luxurious living, will detach you from the grace of God; do not forget you are the imparters of divine grace to the people of God, you are “dividers of the word of truth”. God will punish you unless you repent and come back to a simple Christian life for which you are called in order to become worthy ministers of the mysteries of God.

People of God, you are also reminded by our Lord that you do not belong to this World although you live in this World. You may enjoy the resources of this world, and it is for you to enjoy. But be aware that gluttony in any area is one of the deadly sins; overindulgence is indeed not a virtue. Yes, you can enjoy this world modestly and moderately. Anything in excess is a vice. Virtue stays in the middle, like Aristotle taught. Everything applicable to the priesthood, mentioned above, is also applicable to you, because we are all called for the same perfection, the perfection of the Father, which was demanded by our Lord Jesus Christ.

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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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