The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, otherwise known as the Indian Orthodox Church, traces its apostolic roots to St. Thomas, the Disciple of Jesus Christ. St. Thomas preached the Gospel in the southeast Asian subcontinent of India, specifically in a state presently known as Kerala. It is there that St. Thomas established 7 Churches and 1 chapel. This Church grew from hundreds of converts to a present day of 3.5 million faithful. More than 2,500 families of those humble faithful live in the Northeast North American continent.
What do we believe?
Orthodoxy is primarily a community, which has inherited the Christian faith as the raison de etra of its existence in the world. In order to have the faith made a dynamic reality in the lives of its members one of the important means adopted by Orthodoxy is its worship. Infact, in Orthodox worship, liturgy and theology are so combined that the latter is made part of the devotional life of the people throughout the former. This fact may be illustrated by referring to four ideas repeatedly noted in Orthodox worship.
1. The worship invariably begins and ends with the Trinitarian affirmation of God's nature. It begins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and it ends with the Trinitarian benediction. Besides, God the Holy Trinity is remembered and invoked or glorified on various occasions in the course of the worship itself. This repeated remembrance of the Holy Trinity should, whatever it may imply otherwise, enable the people to commit their lives to God, who included in Himself the foundation of fatherhood, sonship and the love that binds them together. In this way the Trinitarian understanding of God's nature would lead us to realise our task in building up our human community. Created in the image of God, amen reflect His Creator and grow into His perfection, and this is to be accomplished in a community.
2. Orthodox worship is Christ-centered. God the eternal son has redeemed us by His incarnation making His saving grace available to us through His death and resurrection. We are called upon to receive this grace in faith, both spiritually and sacramentaly and lead life worthy or our calling. Here the doctrine of incarnation is taken seriously and, like the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, its value for everyday living is proclaimed. Orthodox worship recognised the fact in the historical realm man needs salvation, which has been given to us by God in His eternal son throughout the death and resurrection endured in His incarnation.
3. There is no worship in Orthodoxy, which does not include `the Communion of Saints'. Saints on earth and saints who have gone behind the veil are commemorated, praying to God to them and asking for their prayers. By so doing, it is the reality of the Churches fullness, in which the local congregations is a part, that is brought to the mind of the worshipping the congregation for their contemplation. Through his death and resurrection Jesus Christ has brought in to being in His own Person, a new human community, in which the entire human race is expected to participate.
4. In the context of these ideas. Orthodox worships presents our life on earth, its need and problems to the Triune God. Prayers are offered to God, asking for His blessings all that we do and beseeching Him to direct our steps so long as we leave in this transitory world. Those in sickness or any kind or human trouble as well as those who have fallen in evil ways are remembered. So also the wider community with rulers and leaders as well as the world of nature are committed to God's care and protection.
Orthodox worship is thus aimed to strengthen the community in the faith, inorder that the community as a whole and its members individually may become confirmed in the Christian calling and character.