Fr Simon Joseph, Asst. Vicar, St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Ernakulam
[A Review by George Joseph Enchakkattil]
THIRUVACHANAMARGAM is the second book authored by Fr Simon Joseph in the last 10 years. The book bears close relationship to his own pamphlets BELL OF GOD published much earlier for Sunday School children enabling them to get associated with Biblical truths. However, those who had benefitted from these, be children or parents, were persuading Fr Simon Joseph to come up with a book on similar lines. This made him to think over the suggestions and came up with this small volume which by no means is a repetition of BELL OF GOD series, but totally different in content and value. Yet, one can trace it as an offspring of BELL OF GOD.
The messages from HH Baseliose Mar Thoma Paulose II Catholicose and HG Yuhanon Mar Polycarpus Metropolitan throw light on the efforts undertaken by Fr Simon Joseph in authoring this volume; in the preface, HG Dr Yacob Mar Irenios Metropolitan briefly evaluates the contents and how they would be useful for our growing generations.
The book covers various virtues classified into twelve headings, each analysing deeply their relevance to humanity and how they prepare the believers to THEOSIS. The topics once we just scan through enlighten our soul and mind akin to the basic virtues and the positive characteristics one should develop that he is provided with abundant life, as we read in our Order of Holy Confession. For the benefit of those who read this, the topics covered are Peace, Thanks, Holiness, Faith, Suffering, Hope, Truth, Death, Wisdom, Love, Friends and Forgiveness.
Fr Simon pictures resurrected Christ in wholeness to drive home his message on Peace in a most convincing manner that enters anyone’s soul and mind as lasting impressions. Likewise, to illustrate Thanksgiving, he leans on to Orthodox Liturgy so impressively that the reader has a total conviction that Orthodox Liturgy and Thanksgiving move hand in hand. In the chapter on Holiness, the stress is on sanctification of Church and believers, with the realisation of presence of God in Church every time. The approach to each of the subjects those follow is on similar convincing manner that no one is in search of further clarity as far as understanding the basic concepts on these. Notably, the need to be ‘Brother’s keeper’ gets effectively revealed in Friends.
In short, each of these twelve chapters is fascinatingly readable and beautifully convincing. The narrations are just not the author’s personal insights; they are purely Biblical. Whatever he says are backed up with appropriate verses and incidents from Bible. In each chapter he has given fifteen to twenty or more verses for references as also for further studies; verses to be studied by heart are also provided.
The book, no doubt, turns out to be a perfect gift for any youngster to be in close relation with Bible. Bible is the true base for Orthodoxy in as much as our Liturgy is a reflection of Biblical truths. We rely on Traditions too which again is born out of Biblical truths. Therefore we have no existence without true Bible and THIRUVACHNAMARGAM opens way to the depth of Bible.