English translation of an article written by H.G. Geevarghese Mar Ivanios of Kottayam Diocese,
published in Malayala Manorama special supplement dated 19th January 2006
H.G. Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese
While Lord Jesus Christ was teaching the multitudes, some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They tried to take him inside the house and put him in front of the Lord. However, as they could find no way due to the thronging of the crowd, they climbed on to the roof, removed some tiles and lowered the man on the bed down into the middle of the room, right in front of Christ. When Jesus Christ realized the magnitude of faith they had, He said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven”. He then uttered, “I tell you, get up, pick up your bed and go home”. At once the man got up in front of them all, took the bed he had been lying on and went home, as recorded by St. Luke in the Holy Bible.
It is quite evident in the above instance that our Lord cured the paralytic person not because of the faith shown by him, but on the contrary, by witnessing the staunch faith delineated by those who brought him. This incident points out and clarifies that the Lord will be compassionate to a person even by the prayers of others. In accordance with the exhortations of Jesus Christ, “Those who believe in me shall live even if he dies; those who live and believe in me shall not die”, Orthodox Church teaches that there is no death for a faithful and even though ‘dead’ is a word in common usage, it is only meant to denote one’s departing from the earthly body. Moreover, the Orthodox Christians believe that even though the departed faithful are invisible, they too, like any other living persons, are members of the Holy Church and the same fruition can be availed when they pray for a living person, similar to the effect of prayers by the living faithful for one another. One can attain Lord’s grace by his own prayers for self or by the prayers of others for him.
It has been our untainted faith that the Saints who departed from their bodies live with Christ and they also continue to pray for those living in their bodies. When the Saints are requested to intercede for them by those who take refuge in their prayers, mediation of the Saints is wholeheartedly accepted. They get a chance to share the solidarity of the Saints. Moreover, they also become obliged to imitate the Saints. The author of the Epistle to Hebrews instructs the faithful to remember those who had preached the Word of God and led them. He advises to reminisce the memory of the end of their lives and be imitators of their faith.
Pampady Thirumeni, although departed from the earthly body, still continues to live. He persists to pray for others still, the very same way he used to do while living in the body. Prayers of that Saint are effective and fruitful. Those who indulge in the refuge of the Holy Father’s intercessory prayers are numerous.
I had served Karapuzha Mar Gregorios Chapel as its Vicar from 1973 till 1985. In 1978, I was confronted with a fatal illness. First, I was admitted at the Carithas Hospital. Later on I was transferred to Kolenchery Hospital. But once again I was shifted to Carithas Hospital where my illness got diagnosed. I soon realized that I was affected with the deadly disease Cancer, which had already begun encompassing me. I reached a particular mental state of affairs.
Everyone felt that remedy was impossible. Just before I was being taken to Adayar Cancer Institute in Madras from Carithas Hospital, my colleague at seminary, Rev Fr. K.M. Alexander came near me and asked, “Acha, What are your feelings in your mind right now?”. I replied that a Bible verse was surfacing in my mind then. St John 11:40, “You will see God?s glory if you believe”. Respected Achen prayed only after pacifying me to expect and believe so. My relatives and friends who had gathered there bid farewell to me. In the meantime an unaffordable amount had been already spent on my treatment. Bill of Carithas Hospital was settled with an amount taken as loan. Immediately after reaching Adayar Cancer Institute and undergoing the preliminary check up, the Chief Medical Officer informed me, “Father, you must be admitted immediately. You need not pay anything. We will do our best. The rest is in God’s hands”.
Chemotherapy treatment started instantly. Before long, I started losing my hair and beard. At one point of time only three whiskers remained on my chin. I was moving into a hopeless condition. The second phase of treatment was very crucial and critical. I became unconscious. I slipped into a sinking stage. Fierce fight against death had already begun. Doctors informed my bystanders that they would come to know the result within 10 minutes. My colleagues and friends had already undertaken arrangements with regard to transferring my dead body back home and elaborate plans for funeral also got finalized.
At that time, while being in an unconscious state, I had a vision. Four Saints were standing near me! One of them asked me, “Why are you lying down?”. He told me to sit upright. I saw that he was lending a helping hand to make me sit on the bed. Suddenly all the four Saints disappeared.
Myself and those near me were wonderstruck as I was by then sitting upright on the bed, fully conscious, as if resurrected from death. I got miraculously cured! Treatment was started in May 1978. But, by November 1978, by the Grace of God, I was again able to celebrate Holy Qurbana!
After 2 years, while on a check up visit to Adayar, Dr Subramanya Swami (the earlier mentioned Doctor who had treated me during the critical period) asked me, “Father, How are you?” I replied that I was keeping good health. His reply was, “Father, I am very pleased to see you in good health. Now I believe in prayer”.
I was bestowed with the grace of God in abundance. I did get relieved from a very critical illness. Gradually my hair and beard began to grow. I regained my former status. In March 1979, I was raised as Ramban. In 1985, I reached the position of Metropolitan. I was infected with cancer while I was in the service of the Chapel of Pampady Thirumeni. I am sure that Pampady Thirumeni had been praying for me. I had been taking refuge in the intercessory prayers of Thirumeni regularly. I firmly believe that by the power of prayer, especially by the prayers of Pampady Thirumeni, my illness got cured. I received the blessings from the invisible hands of the Holy Saint while serving in his Chapel. It was because of those blessings that I was fortunate to become his successor as the Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese. The Lord hears the fervent prayers of the righteous.