A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Feast of St Mary. Syro-Malankara Catholic Church commemoration of the establishment of the First Church in honour of Mary, the Mother of God. St Thomas the Apostle and Apostle of India founded the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church when he landed at Malankara in 54. He converted to Christianity two Hindu Nambudiri Brahmin families and two Nair families and gave priestly powers to a local family for the Niranam church, now the Kerala Niranam St Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, where the mortal remains of Metropolitans of the Malankara Orthodox Church are buried. This Niranam Valiya Pally is one of the oldest churches in India and in the world, the present 1912 building having been renovated in 2000. There are 5 altars and shrines, the main altar being to St Mary and the others to St George, Mar Behnam, St Thomas and Mar Thoma II, St Stephen, and Mar Thoma V. The relics of St Thomas the Apostle are enshrined there. In 345, about 400 Syrian families immigrated to Mahathevar Patnam to establish the first known Christian centre in India and, after local Jews became inhospitable, they took refuge in Ankamalee (Angamaly), now Kerala and built a thatched wooden church near to the palace of the local chieftain. St Mary’s Indian Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church was built in Angamaly in 409 and is now known as St Mary’s Soonoro Cathedral. It is the seat of the Archdeacon, the local head of the Malankara Church and has held an important position in Malankara for many centuries. Decrees of the 1599 Synod of Diamper were resisted and the militant Portuguese bishop caused a schism, establishing a Roman Catholic presence, but the St George Church of St Mary’s Church in Angamaly was one of the 45 churches that remained faithful to Syrian Orthodoxy. In 1816, Anglican missionaries arrived to open schools in Kerala without interfering with the faith and administration of the St Mary’s Orthodox Church, Kottayam (Kottayam Cheriapally). They began to translate the Bible into Malayalam and the Syrian seminary at Kottayam, Kerala’s first educational institution, welcomed English missionary teachers. Other local Feasts are the 15 August Feast of the Assumption of Saint Mary (Vaangipu perunnaal, Shoonoyo), the 1-8 September Eight Day Lent of Saint Mary Mother of Jesus, and the 21 December Feast of the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas. In India, the Eastern Catholic Syro-Malabar Church and the Malankara Orthodox Church commemorate St George from 27 April to 14 May. Image: en.wikipedia.org.
Lucas Cranach der Ältere (Lucas Cranach The Elder, Lucas Maler) (c1472-1553). Lutheran commemoration of German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving who changed his family name to the name of his birthplace, a custom at the time. He is known for his portraits of German princes and of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, whose cause he embraced with enthusiasm. He was a close friend of Martin Luther and painted religious subjects, first in the Catholic tradition, and he later tried to find new ways of conveying Lutheran religious concerns in art. Cranach first made an engraving of Luther in 1520, when Luther was an Augustinian Friar. Five years later, Luther renounced his religious vows and Cranach was present as a witness at the betrothal festival of Luther and Katharina von Bora. He was also godfather to their first child, Johannes (Hans) Luther, born 1526. Cranach was the court painter to the Electors of Saxony in Wittenberg, an area at the heart of the emerging Protestant faith. His patrons were powerful supporters of Martin Luther and Cranach used his art as a symbol of the new faith, making numerous portraits of Luther and providing woodcut illustrations for Luther’s German translation of the Bible. Cranach was given a printer’s patent with exclusive copyright privileges for the Bibles and his presses were used by Martin Luther. Cranach died at Weimar, where the house in which he lived still stands in the marketplace. He was buried in the Jacobsfriedhof in Weimar. The Lutheran Church remembers Cranach as a great Christian on 6 April along with Dürer and possibly Matthias Grünewald or Hans Burgkmair the Elder. Patron of the Electors of Saxony. Image: Luther Portrait kunst-fuer-alle.de.
Evelyn Underhill (Mrs Moore) (1875-1941). Since 2000, Church of England commemoration on Feast Day in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Australia APBA (A Prayer Book for Australia) Lectionary commemoration of the death of the Wolverhampton-born English Anglo-Catholic pacifist, spiritual writer, poet, novelist and Christian mystic who married a Protestant. Initially an agnostic, she gradually developed an interest in Neoplatonism and from there was increasingly drawn to Catholicism and, despite the objections of her husband, became prominent in the Anglican Church as a lay leader at spiritual retreats, spiritual director for hundreds of people, guest speaker, radio lecturer and proponent of contemplative prayer. She was a cousin of Francis Underhill, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and was the first woman to lecture to the clergy in the Church of England as well as the first woman to officially conduct spiritual retreats for the Church. She was also the first woman to establish ecumenical links between churches and one of the first female theologians to lecture in English colleges and universities, which she did frequently. Underhill’s greatest book, Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness, was published in 1911 and is distinguished by the very qualities that make it ill-suited to being a straightforward textbook. The spirit of the book is romantic, engaged and theoretical rather than historical or scientific, Underhill arguing that mysticism is: practical, not theoretical; an entirely spiritual activity; a business and method of love; and something that entails a definite psychological experience. Underhill died in London. Image: thecarpentersnail.blog.
Prayer Contemplation is a knowing that in no wise never can it sink down into the Reason and above it can the Reason never climb. It is not God, but it is the Light by which we see Him. Those who walk in the Divine Light of it discover in themselves the Unwalled, that which is in no wise above Reason, not without it. May we learn that the contemplative life is without amazement and walk in the Divine Light to discover in ourselves the Unwalled, that which is in no wise above Reason but not without it. Amen