Kuriakose Mar Gregoriose (Pampady Thirumeni): A Personal Reflection Fr. M. K. Kuriakose, Philadelphia
Knowing the limitations of reflecting on a person whom I never met I am making this humble attempt to express my personal feelings. I am hesitant to touch upon the life of a saintly person because it is impossible to fathom the spiritual depth of anybody. In the case of Pampady Thirumeni this attempt is simply a personal witness of how we the Orthodox reflect on lives of saints and help ourselves and others to reach the heights that other saints climbed.
I am indebted to two authors who brought light to my life, first Prof. K. M. Kuriakose and second Mr. K. V. Mammen who through their books allowed me to open my eyes to a saint’s life. I heard some anecdotes from different people about His Grace. One day His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas Metropolitan of the American Diocese shared the incident of Pampady Thirumeni’s love of animals and the way they responded to him. The incident was that of the female dog that used to come to the Aramana (bishop’s residence) everyday. The pregnant dog did not appear for a few days during the confinement and one day it returned to the Aramana. His Grace asked, “where are your babies?” The dog instantly went and brought one of its babies in its mouth and left in front of the bishop. I later searched for books on His Grace and found the above authors.
My reading progressed and my life changed slowly. Let me express three of the major points I learned and that which I am trying to practice in my life.
1. Humility in Real Life:
His Grace has shown utmost humility in all aspects of life. Whether it is towards his teacher a Hindu or to the members of the General Body of the parishes, His Grace dealt with them soberly and gently. His Grace could solve problems in parishes not with arrogance and administrative power but with humble approach. Often people with humility are considered weak. Pampady Thirumeni proved that humility is strength.
2. Faith-filled Courage in Real Life:
His Grace faced life without any fear of consequences because he knew that God is in charge. Even when His Grace did not have much to eat at the Aramana, he gave to the needy from what he had. The incident of giving away a little measure of rice that is kept of dinner to a beggar, shows his courage to give to others ignoring one’s own needs. But God provided His Grace with more than what he gave to others. I learned this truth more powerfully from His Grace. True faith is true courage.
3. Respond to Evil with Good:
It is a rare thing to see in the world of today. All problems begin when people use evil means to respond to situations to solve problems. From the Church’s court cases to parish administration, there is severe tendency in the minds of people to retort using evil ways. Pampady Thirumeni will not respond any evil with an evil response instead, His Grace would pray over the matter and take the suffering. Goodness cannot be destroyed because goodness is from God. No one can kill God and so is the case with goodness. Temporarily goodness may appear to be losing but those who can suffer to the end will be victorious. Often I have taken a lot of abuse from many people because I did not respond evil with evil. Most of our people are revengeful. I used to have the same mentality but fortunately I got enough strength when I read from Pampady Thirumeni to take a soft approach to problems. Many considered it a weakness. I don’t worry about convincing people about it because people do not think spiritually. Most of our people are trained in the worldly demeanour system that is alien to Christ.
I hope many will read from this great saint and convey that simplicity and truthfulness to others as well. I used to read a small portion from His Grace’s biography just before night. Often I slept with tears still rolling down from the eyes but when I woke up I had an inexplicable joy and peace to begin the way with hope and trust in God.
I am happy that I could share these feeling with other members of the Indian Orthodox Church about what I learned from a saintly bishop of our Church. Hope God will raise many more bishops of the same kind.