Invisible Hands Carrying Us Forward: A Review by George Joseph Enchakkattil

By Fr Simon Joseph
(Invisible Hands Carrying Us Forward)

A Review by George Joseph Enchakkattil

Fr Simon Joseph, presently Co Vicar at our St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Ernakulam and a member of St George Orthodox Valiyapally, Palarivattom, Ernakulam is not new to readers, as he has already authored three books earlier. However, this fourth one is drastically different in content and way of approach. In this book, Fr Simon Joseph analyses the meaning of tribulations in human life based on his personal experiences he has been undergoing for the past half a decade. The volume serves the purpose of counseling to many who suffer in their life this way or other, may be from sickness, may be from discordance in family and may be from business failure and so on.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2).

This is an assurance, but how many of us believe it in its essence? How many of us have experienced it in its essence? How many of us accept this is a possibility in its essence? Are not we reading this verse and viewing it as a verse good enough for priests to exhort the laity? This book by Fr Simon Joseph demonstrates this verse in its full depth and convinces the readers that the verse is not one to encourage the believers, but is one that is an absolute truth literally and word by word, that not even single alphabet there is exaggeration. The life of Fr Simon Joseph and his family demonstrates the absoluteness of what the glorious Prophet Isaiah exhorted millennia earlier. Thereby, Fr Simon Joseph underlines a truth that not even a single word in the Holy Bible is just for the sake of encouraging the readers and the believers, but they enliven them.

The book under discussion, a small volume of close to a hundred pages has two parts of which the first one contains generalized exhortations to readers as how to address tribulations in life. Here, we read about his experiences as a priest while dealing with men and women who suffer under different circumstances particularly out of illness, unexpected death of near and dear in accidents and the like. He also takes time to advise readers how to behave while paying visits to those who are ill and hospitalized, how to enquire details of their illness and sufferings and also how to restrict ourselves by staying away from visits under peculiar situations the patients are. He has narrated from his own experiences the positives we have while observing Fasts and Lents prescribed by the Church without dilutions. The need to be a regular participant in the service of Holy Qurbana in letter and spirit is highlighted. Further, Fr Simon Joseph has explained in some detail the things one has to keep in mind while choosing a Doctor or a Hospital. The dangers involved in self-experimentation using on-line inputs for treatment can cause problems aplenty.

In short, the narrations in the first part are highly useful information and contain various aspects about which each one among us are to take care.

Coming to the second part, we come face to face the stark realities of a grievous illness. Once you come across a medical report that your such and such organ is malfunctioning or almost dead, that alternative methodologies are to be explored which are very costly as well as risky to other systems within you, how do you address them? This is a scenario virtually unthinkable for many. Fr Simon Joseph was placed in this sort of situation about five years back. His wife had both her kidneys virtually non-functional. All on a sudden, she understood that her fluidal impurities needed to be removed by artificial methods leading to other related discomforts too. She had two school going children of which the younger one was just about seven years old. They thought that they were in a valley of darkness with no sign of even the slightest trace of light. Fr Simon Joseph was a solace of comfort to many believers in their moments of sorrows. He knew what it meant by tribulations. He knew how to strengthen others. Now he is finding himself in a different place. He had to strengthen himself and not the believers.

The second part of this volume is all about strengthening self, all by him, but experiencing the absolute truth that the One in whom we all believe is present with us all times carrying us through the inexplicably traumatic scenario. Fr Simon Joseph and family received support from close relations, friends, clergy of the Church, laity of the Church, neighbors and many like that. In the process, they had to be in many hospitals for different sorts of investigations and the Almighty had been providing His men everywhere quite out of the blue to take care of matters there, enlightening one as how Tobit was taken care by Raphael, one of the archangels deputed by our Lord (Tobit 5:4 ff ; Psalm 57:3). H G Dr Yakob Mar Ireniose says, “It has surprised me that Fr Simon Joseph has never been seen without an enchanting smile on his face albeit the dilemma he was undergoing in life”.

If Fr Simon Joseph can, you and I too can. This book serves as a catalyst for each one of us to overcome the traumatic feelings while carrying one’s cross as desired by our Lord. Thus, this volume turns out be a counselor par excellent. It is a worth reading volume, no doubt.

The second part of the book, further, contains useful inputs for patients suffering from Kidney related ailments with practical pieces of advice to handle them effectively.
The book commences with Blessings from HH Baselios Marthoma II Catholicose, the Forward from HG Dr Yakob Mar Ireniose Metropolitan and a small introductory message from Fr Dr T J Joshua.

Meant for private circulation, copies are available at St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Ernakulam and at the St George Book Stall attached to St George Orthodox Valiyapally, Palarivattom, Ernakulam.