Monday, September 4, 2017

Ramban Mathews of Mylapra, Pray for us Sinners

One of the most unknown Fathers of the Orthodox Church in India ,in my mind, is Ramban Mathews of Mylapra , whom we remember in our prayers and departed this world on September 4, 1991

The lives of our Fathers and Mothers in Christ who have lived and departed this life are  helpful as much as how they learned ,lived and practised their Faith in their lives and how much the future generations choose to select  the good from them and implemented in their own lives. Mylapara Ramachan Mathews communicated with God and fellow man through his life while alive and yet now. Even as last week had a Priest witness that he was inspired to become a priest by Mylapra Rambachan and a family tell that in privacy of their home praying the prayers of Ramabachan

It is with that in mind ,praying that through this posting others would know him , seek his prayers to follow in his steps and thereby each of us as individuals and Church glorify God.

 A lot of what taught and lived came to light only after he departed.  He left as a faithful record of his silent communications with God through a Malayalam manuscript coming to almost 5000 pages which he called "Madhurabhasanam"("Sweet Conversation" ).  This was later on published in Malayalam and to my understanding is either translated or being translated fully into English . Below are two small sections from the small translation of the first volume to English that touched me deeply  :

Witness of others in the Eulogy by Fr. Sam George  (Fr. Sam was praying with him on the day Rambachan died).

" It was midnight on 4th September 1991. Ramban Mathews woke up to say his midnight prayers. He stood with folded hands before his Creator in the silence of the night ,reciting prayers. And when the regular prayer was completed he laydown to sleep. He woke up at 3 a.m. for prayer . After prayers he took a draught of water and laid down to sleep . In bed he felt an uneasiness. Yet he did not disturb the sleeping dear ones around. He gradually sank to unconsciousness, " The death of the just" like a deep sleep embraced him, leaving memories of a glorious Christian life  of adventure with God".

Rambachan lived his life with prayer and find God's will in his life in obedience  Correspondence between him while a priest and his spiritual father the Catholicose of the East HH Gee Varghese Mar Baselios II .

" May it pleases your Holiness ",

" I am glad to know that your Holiness has returned to the Aramana after a surgical operation on your eye and is well. I thank God for the great healing showered upon your Holiness and praise His Holy name. I very much desire to go to your holy presence and seek your blessings.

It is a long while since I thought of visiting with your Holiness and seeking the comfort I very much want at present. I very humbly request your Holiness who is my spiritual father to forgive my errors and bless me with wise counsel and give me proper direction if at all I have offended your Holiness in any way out of ignorance or human weakness . I submit that I am always prepared to accept any word of yours regardless of my sentiments.

Holy Father, I am a humble servant of thine raised to the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ by your Holiness's blessed hands. I am at one thankful to God and to your Holiness . I praise his most holy name. But as days pass by , I realize more and more my incompetence and weakness. I regret that no good as envisaged by God proceeds from me. I regret very much that I am not of any consolation to the Holy Fathers who desire my good and pray for me. The quarrels within our Church, legal suits, the infiltration of the catholics to waylay our faithful , the immodest claims of the Jacobites, the treachery of the priests teaching dividing the flock instead of uniting them in the name of God , the tendency of the priests and laity to cross the floor upon petty differences vex your Holiness ;  my heart pines . What can I, a weakling do to remedy these evils? I am prepared when it becomes to die for the benefit of our Church. I often feel it is better to die than to wallow in the present dirty confused condition of the Church.  Who am I to judge others? I very much long to see Church flourish to bear good fruits. Faith and Love have departed from the world. Above all , my daily responsibilities increase beyond my capacity to meet them and, unforeseen adversities confront me. Thus I am put to confusion and feel exhausted.

Under these circumstances, I am deeply moved in my soul to seek your Holiness's permission and blessing to keep aloof from the miserable affairs of the world for one calendar year from 15th August 1930 to 14th August 1931, spending my time in total silence and prayer in peace and solitude. I have to move to some forest or some cave for solitude . But my present circumstances and the compulsion of the Attachakkal parishioners do not permit to leave the present premises. So I prefer to remain in the parsonage and do penances. I cannot be contented otherwise . I pray your Holiness to bless me and permit me to pray in silence for the above said period  for my spiritual perfection and for the overall progress of Church. I think I should undergo voluntary imprisonment for my sins as well as for the sins of my forbearers and my parishioners.

During this period, I shall not talk to anyone. I shall offer Holy Qurbana on Sundays, Wednesday and Friday and give the homily on the scripture reading of the day. I want myself exempted from hearing confessions from other priestly obligations for the successful completion of my vow.

I have made arrangements with Rev. Fr. Jacob of Kodassanad to look after the spiritual needs of the parish besides with Fr. Geevarghese Pulimukathu. He is happy with my conditions. I have made necessary arrangement to see all my responsibilities faultlessly met.  There might be errors and pitfalls in my thinking . I know of your Holiness, mindful of my welfare, would remedy them and order the best way and end I should choose . I am prepared to follow your orders verbatim. Nevertheless my soul yearns to perform the penance and wait your Holiness's well considered disposal of my petition.

Your Holiness's obedient Spiritual Son Velasseril Mathews Kassisa
Mar Philoxenos Church , Attachakkal \

His Holiness Geevarghese Mar Baselios II , Catholicose of the East from the Holy Apostolic See of St. Thomas to dear Fr. Mathews Velasseril , Attachakkal.

Beloved Son,
Received your mail. Your longings are appreciable. . Prayer and Penance are sure methods to ward off Satan . We are glad to know that you do it. But it is not wise to start with such severe vows to face unforeseen troubles during the progress and fall back. Satan help one towards holiness and fells him unawares. So make firm steps gradually and patiently. My son be not so holy that you may perish ;be not so impure that you may not perish. Some monastics observed fasting for 40 days and resumed normal lives the following 40 days. I think it will be wise to follow such a course in the beginning and progressively to try year long  penances. Better you think yourself. Our lent prayers and other spiritual exercises are for ordinary people. If you will practice that properly high steps can easily be reached. It depends upon you to do everything according to the result of your self examination and spiritual capability. We hope to leave for Parumala by next week and from there to Kottayam.
Yours in the Lord, God bless you
Bishops House Kundara

The sweet wisdom of the Holy Father was heartily accepted by Rev Mathews. For the time being he postponed the idea of year long silence. He practised short periods of silence and fasting . His pupils too followed the course

Lord have mercy

September 4, 2017
Calgary, Canada

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