1. Keep off liquor
It is commonly accepted that Christianity is a noble religion. It has grown through threats, tribulations and sacrifices. Yet its early phase was very bright, because the early believers were devout and pure. Times have changed. The church has grown rich and strong. But along with that its spiritual standards have started declining.
The evils that have befallen humanity, especially the Christian church, are many – the most dangerous being drinking habit. The Prime Minister of Britain said during the First World War: “We are fighting against Germany, Austria and drinks. But the most dangerous enemy is drinks”. Liquor remains the most dangerous of enemies we, Keralities are fighting now. The vanguard in this fight must be occupied by church fathers. That is why we are publishing this now.
Observing closely the evil impact of drinking on people and nations the USA brought in some regulation to check this menace. This led to a spell of peace and prosperity in the nation. But the relentless efforts of sections of people given to drinking finally led to scrapping of prohibition.
With Congress governments assuming power many states in India have introduced prohibition. Thirteen districts of Travancore-Cochin have enforced prohibition. We are happy about it. But we should not forget the American lesson that for prohibition to succeed more of people’s cooperation is required than legislation. So, while the government initiative should continue, people’s active co-operation only will ensure its success.
You may be aware that effective efforts are being carried on in Puthupally and its neighbourhood as it was done sometime back in Chingavanam. Many families are being saved from its evil impact. The hugely attended meeting that was arranged at Puthupally on September 12, 1951 with the active co-operation and support of all communities towards popularising prohibition was indeed a landmark in this regard. All the religions in the world explicitly denounce the evils of liquor. But the exhortations of the Bible are remarkably pertinent. “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans used to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry (1. peter 4:3). “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery” (Eph. 5:8). Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those whom linger over wine….Do not gaze at wine when it is red..In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper” Prov. 23: 29-32.
“We must make an earnest effort to root out this evil which debilitates humanity physically, emotionally financially, spiritually and morally. Towards this end the following suggestions will prove helpful.
1. We must make a decision to shun this evil and follow the right path depending on God’s grace.
2. Because man is a victim of circumstances, his environment should enable him to choose between the right and the wrong, the noble and ignoble. He should make an effort to keep off this evil by giving himself to more healthy pursuits.
3. Drinks should be strictly and scrupulously avoided during special occasions and celebrations. We should decide not to go for it, or encourage ourselves or others to take part in such celebrations.
4. Popular feeling should be so built up that those who are given to drinks are not given any position or office in the church.
5. Psalms should not be let out to generate toddy or premises let out to run toddy shops.
6. From the next abkari auction onwards none of our church members should bid for such shops or run them or help in some way to run them through benamis. Church/ diocese level conscientiousness must be embarked upon with this end in view.
A committee consisting of clergy and laity must be set up in every church to give the lead in popularising this movement.
One of the most crippling handicaps affecting the churches in India and Africa is the prevalence of drinking. So every church member should take a personal decision on this score so that his church shines like a city ‘built on a hill’. This only will strengthen our spiritual activities, giving it the right character. More than all let us trust in the Lord because nothing succeeds without His grace. Let us also pray hard for this dreadful evil to be rooted out of our society. May the grace and blessings of our Lord remain with you and grow in you for ever.
2. The Importance of Valiya Nompu (50 day Lent)
Let us thank God and praise Him for bringing us together again this year during the Valiya Nompu and the passion that our Lord suffered for our sakes. The memory of the lent that our Master observed in the desert and the sufferings that he endured on the cross should help us come closer to him and lead a life more pleasing to Him. Unless we grow spiritually day by day as a result of these observances they will simply descend into meaningless traditions.
We should check if we have wasted similar seasons during the past years and renew ourselves spiritually at least this year. This needs prayer and preparation of a high order. At least during this lent everyone except the children, pregnant women and ailing aged people should observe abstinence in food, avoiding milk, fish and meat and be regular in prayer sessions apart from minor self-flagellations like ‘Kumpideel’ at fixed times. What we save by way of fasting we should use to feed the poor and the needy. We can do it with pleasure if we love God with all our heart and soul.
Our practice of confession before partaking of Holy Qurbana is tending to become just a routine with some. This explains the spiritual aridity that our church is experiencing at the present time. These sacraments should help us grow closer to God and even to taste him as our spiritual food. That only will ensure our spiritual health.
Pampady Kuriakose Dayara
3. Duties of Priests
We pray that the sheep that our Lord and master has entrusted with us do grow spiritually day by day. When every member of the diocese has grown in spirit, the diocese altogether will have gained spiritual well being. House visits will help Achens to get to know of and cater to the needs of their sheep. Personal evangelization will also then become possible because the special needs of each member will catch the attention of the priests. People suffering from chronic aliments, terminally ill patients, widows, handicapped and destitute should get your special attention. I would like to have the names and addresses of such people at the end of every round of your visits. It would be good to appraise the congregation of the programme and purpose of such visits. Priests are free to workout the details depending on local needs and limitations. Some of you my feel that it is adding on to your already heavy burden. Remember our Lord’s word: “My yoke is easy and my burden light”. Bearing the burden for the Lord will no longer be a burden but a pleasurable duty. House visits should start immediately so that you can wind up by August 24. Progress should be reported to office then and there. Either me or my auxiliary Metran will visit all our churches in the diocese according to a schedule starting on 1st September.
Pampady Kuriakose Dayara
4. Greetings to the Students’ Movement
The youth of our church is the life blood of our students’ movement. If only they are strongly grounded in Orthodox faith and has spirit of service will they prove useful members to the church. The future of our church will not be bright unless our youth turn out to be steadfast in faith and active in spirit, especially in this time of trial for the church.
So I conclude this Jubilee message with a wish and prayer that all our young men and women grow in their commitment towards service to the church basing themselves on and inspired by the tenets of our faith.
Kuriakose Dayara, Pampady