BENGALURU: Bemoaning lack of necessary preparation during holy sacraments of service, HG Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Bengaluru Diocese Metropolitan, Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Syrian Church, says that for a successful conduct of marriage or baptismal ceremonies, the clergy and altar servers must understand that it is only the ‘Holy Spirit’ who can help towards completing the ceremonies.
“There has to be total preparation and dedication prior to the holy sacraments of matrimony, baptism and Holy Eucharist which the faithful lack now,” points out the Metropolitan.
“We need to create the right atmosphere for the ‘Holy Spirit’ to delve and complete the holy sacramental ceremonies. Our preparation must include physical, emotional and spiritual aspects but sadly what we see is the lack of these aspects and we give priority for all other gaiety that marks the occasion,” rues the Metropolitan.
Due to large participation of guests, it is extremely hard to bring in an order before leading the holy sacrament of matrimony or baptism ceremonies.
“I personally find it very hard to bring in an atmosphere which is chaotic and those responsible to be involved are totally distracted. It is only the presence of the ‘Holy Spirit’ that completes the sacramental ceremony,” explains the youngest Metropolitan of Indian Orthodox Syrian Church.
His Grace spoke at length in a recent interview about his views on church and holy sacraments and on how one should prepare and abide themselves during such ceremonies.
The Bishop took pains to explain how he struggles to bring some semblance of an order among the faithful before the commencement of such important ceremonies.
His Grace therefore calls for total dedication and preparation at least a week before the event.
“I have noticed even the God father or God mother present themselves with no clue on holding the baby during baptism or what to recite despite being asked to. They must feel that it is a big responsibility upon them and not just a privilege.”
The Metropolitan sees the role of the younger generation important and wants them to come forward and take the due role of god father or mother instead of the aged parents or grandparents so the newly baptized child will be blessed to take the long path in the journey of life.
Mar Seraphim further reiterates that baptismal ceremonies must precede Holy Eucharist and all those involved must confess and partake in the communion.
The use of pure white cloth or baptism robe during baptism signifies ‘garment of light’ relating it to Adam and Eve after they sinned. The cloth should be big enough to clean and absorb the water and closely wrap the body of the child which will aid in conveniently applying the sacred Holy Mooron on the body and not spill over others standing close by.
Even the elders are not prepared for the Holy Eucharist but should make efforts to be prepared days before the event and discuss the steps or procedures to be followed with the vicar as the younger generation may not be certainly aware of its importance.
The Bishop who completed a decade as the Metropolitan of Bengaluru Diocese rues the fact that during marriages he noticed some bride/bridegrooms coolly dozing off during the marriage sermon as they after late night stag parties faced lack of proper sleep.
“There is no use in having physical beautification or enhancing aesthetic looks,” he adds.
In the US the churches prepare the couples at least a year before the ceremony and they are in close touch with the vicar, taking counseling classes. They even suggest singing all the 21 stanzas during the marriage ceremony with the couples even volunteering to hold the hymn book.
“During marriage ceremony and the Holy Eucharist, the use of smart phones comes as a severe distraction facing the West with the shadow images. These unimportant things are now very important and we need to tackle these issues very seriously.”
Mar Seraphim admits that he comes out thoroughly exhausted after holy liturgy and sacramental ceremony but however mentions about the innermost satisfaction achieved. “It is my intention that the faithful should also go home satisfied rather than have only a participatory fellowship.”
The Metropolitan once again reiterated the need to bring in a dress code in church during holy liturgy.
“We have uniforms in schools and casual or formal wear in the office. What I would like to mention is, is the church above all these institutions that we take the dress code casually and enter the Church wearing Tees and jeans,” he asks.
Mar Seraphim also stresses preparation while partaking of Holy Communion in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus. The faithful should fast for at least six hours and recite the prayers, read Bible verses and partake in it. They should themselves do a self-analysis in order to obtain eternal life as St Paul says in the Scriptures.
The interview in two parts was conducted by Dn Job Sam Mathew and recorded at the Bengaluru Diocese HQ.
The full length interview in Malayalam can be viewed on YouTube at MOSC Bangalore Diocese.