Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Hail Mary Full of Grace

Mother Mary
 Photograph Taken at Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Janakpuri, New Delhi

Hail Mary 
We ask you O the Saint full of glory 
the ever Virgin Theotokos 
the Mother of Christ 

We ask you to raise our prayers 
to your beloved son 
that He may forgive us our sins 

Hail to the Holy Virgin 
who bore for us the True Light, 
Christ our Lord 
Ask the Lord on our behalf 
to have mercy upon us and forgive us our sins. 

O Mary the Virgin Theotokos 
the holy and trusted intercessor of the human race, 
intercede for our sake 
before Christ whom you bore 
that He may grant us the forgiveness of our sins. 

Hail to you the Virgin 
the true and just Queen 
Hail to the pride of our race 
who for our salvation 
gave birth to Emmanuel 
We ask you, the trusted intercessor 
to remember us before our Lord 
Jesus Christ 
that He may forgive us our sins. 

From The Coptic Orthodox Agpeya(Book Of Hours)
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When faith Falls, False Preachers & god men thrive!

This was the topic of debate at the recently held Delhi Inter parish competition for Orthodox Christian students (MGOCSM), also known as Olive. Given the subject, I wanted to provide a personal perspective on the same coming from my background as an Orthodox Christian.

Proverbs 14:15-16 states “A simple man believes in every word, But an astute man comes to repentance. A wise man fears and turns away from evil. But a man without discernment persuades himself to mingle with a lawless man. “

Here simplicity refers to a man who is foolish, naive enough just like the man who built his house upon the sand. Building his foundation on a weak premise, what else did he expect but that the next storm would carry off his dwelling into oblivion? Today, unfortunate as it is, I see more of us being naive in faith versus our faith falling. Falling faith can be attributed to us as a society, but not to us as individuals. We don’t understand what it means to be an Orthodox Christian & like the musk deer that keeps seeking fragrance outside of itself, we look towards other denominations & seek a faith that we have barely tried to understand ourselves.

god men thrive in this environment. A combination of extreme individualism & emotional highs, after all, does seem appealing to most of us. The question to ask is, when did Christianity become about us and not God? When is it that our worship of God started getting defined by MY LANGUAGE, MY CONVENIENCE, MY TIMING, and MY DESIRES & WANTS? Is not God’s first & foremost commandment to LOVE HIM with all our heart, all our mind and all our soul first? When did that change to ‘LOVE MYSELF FIRST’?

It is this sense of individualism that corrupts our souls and makes us susceptible to ‘False Preachers’-god men who preach that who claim that all of our whims & desires are meant to be fulfilled by God, god men who preach that Christ is created, god men who preach that homosexuality, adultery, fornication is okay. Then there are those also who preach that we should hate the sin and hate the sinner as well. What kind of Christians are we, if we choose to judge others when our very lives are full of hypocrisy?

In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells His disciples “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves’. Do not retaliate to those who do wrong to you but don’t be foolish in your understanding of the gospel such that others take advantage of you and lead you astray.

Yes, god men thrive but they thrive because we are naive, we are foolish.

I am no one to judge whether another denomination is right or wrong. However, as an Orthodox Christian, as belonging to the Church setup by Christ Himself, I know my way of faith is the true faith and hence, ORTHODOX (Ortha: True/Straight  Doxa: Path/Way). It does not just mean that I go to an Orthodox Church every Sunday. What it means is that I strive to live Orthodoxy every single moment of my life and it is about God, not me.

Ask yourself, what does it mean to be an Orthodox Christian? And keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. For Christ himself says ‘Ask, and it shall be given you, Seek and ye shall find, Knock and the door shall be opened unto you’ (Matthew 7:7). Let us be the wise man, for he built his house on a rock firm foundation of faith, so that when the storm came, his dwelling was not damaged by it.

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Be the Light to this World!

The Lighthouse

Photograph taken in Pondicherry, India

An inspiring illustration of shining Christ’s light to others occurred during WWII, when the Russians began their counter march against the Nazis. A young Nazi soldier found himself behind Russian lines.  He was bleeding from a gun wound in one arm.  Bewildered and afraid, he found his way into the home of a poor Russian peasant. She welcomed him into her humble home, and offered him food and rest.  He did not understand why she was so kind, since he was her enemy, but before he departed, he noticed how she would stand before her icons of Christ and the saints, praying. This soldier recalled years later, “I could see God living in that home, even though I had never known Him before. Before this, I believed that God didn’t exist, but that the State was my god. And this false god taught me to hate those who didn’t believe as I believed. Although I had never even seen a Bible in my life, no less read one, from the witness of that woman, I came to realize that God was alive because I saw Him in the life of that poor peasant woman.”

A short time later, as this same soldier attempted to find his way back to the German lines, he became lost and returned to the home of this friendly Russian woman, only to discover that her home had been burned down because of what she had done to help an enemy soldier. Well, the soldier did eventually find his way back to the German side, but he found his way back as a new man! He had seen the light of God! And following the war, he decided to dedicate his life to serving Christ and trying to share the light of Christ with others, all because he witnessed God’s love and mercy through this humble Christian woman! – This story is an excerpt of a sermon from here

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven – Matthew 5:14-16

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Who art thou?


Who art thou? who for me, was mercilessly slain

and yet asks me to forgive in a world that survives on strife

Who art thou? who was shown no mercy in pain

and yet asks me to show mercy in a world where violence is rife

God thou are, forgiving and merciful

My Lord thou are, faultless and faithful

For to live now is Christ and to die is gain

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Which School are you from?

I am a Syrian Christian and being one exposes you to rituals and customs which are very typical to the church. One such ritual, called the Hoosoyo, is associated with the ‘Holy Communion’. The Holy Communion is a sacrament where the ‘body and blood of Christ’ (bread and wine/water) is shared with believers who see it as eternal life being bestowed upon them through the union with Jesus Christ.

In the Syrian Christian tradition, one must have not had food or water for at least 6 hours prior to receiving the communion and it is mandatory to undertake Hoosoyo to be able to partake in the Holy Communion. Though the term sounds complicated it involves the priest touching your forehead, saying a prayer of forgiveness on your behalf and making the sign of the cross. The entire process takes 5-10 seconds. The process of handing out the Holy Communion, on the other hand, is a more elaborate process with the Church curtains opening and ‘Achen’ coming down the ‘madbaha’ (altar) to give out bread and water to the believers who are standing in a line with there hands folded in prayer and reverence

As a 4 year old, the elaborate process of communion never ceased to amaze me. The entire church joining together in singing praises while Achen (the vicar), would pick a piece of the brown bread and toss it into the receiver’s mouth. The receiver would then go onto have water and gulp the bread down. (It is believed that not even a single morsel of the ‘body of Christ’ should remain in the mouth). What intrigued me more was that everybody I knew seemed to get a chance to taste that seemingly delicious bread (I didn’t know it was bread at that time) while I would stare and gape at them, puzzled.

A few Sundays of gaping helped me make up my mind. I had to have that elusive bread and it seemed easy to obtain it. I just needed to stand in the line, fold my hands in prayer and open my mouth in front of Achen. My parents did not need to know of this covert operation and everyone would go home happy.

And so the day came when it was to be my turn. the curtains parted and Achen came down the stairs. Looking around and seeing none of my folks around, I slipped into the line, unnoticed. As the line progressed, I became increasingly nervous of facing Achen. Achen knew me and my family quite well and I hoped that he would stick to the business of tossing the bread into my open mouth rather than ask me questions in front of the entire church.

That was not to be. As I arrived in front of Achen, I saw a glint of suspicion in his eyes. He proceeded to ask me ” Have You taken Hoosoyo?”. The Key senses activate their own defense mechanism when they feel that the subject is incapable of handling a situation. My ears refused to hear that question and instead, interpreted the question as ‘Which School are you From?”, a question with the ready answer ‘St. Columba’s School’.

Achen wanted to say more but eventually had to succumb to the pressure of feeding many more needy, open mouths and I made a dash for the safety of the church crowd….A great escape indeed.

ps: The incident was eventually conveyed to my parents, who being responsible Sunday School teachers themselves, ensured a sound scolding followed by a strict warning was implemented.

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