Tag: Christian

Divyakarunya Convention Mallappally 2014 – Fourth Day 21st December

MCBS Emmaus Retreat Centre, Mallappally

മല്ലപ്പള്ളി ദിവ്യകാരുണ്യ കണ്‍വെൻഷൻ 2014

Fourth Day – 21st December 2014

Talks by Bro. Pallathu Pappachan

Adoration by Bro. Santhosh Christeen

will be uploaded soon

Mary Mother of the Eucharist

Emmaus Retreat Centre

Mallappally West P.O.,

Anickadu, Pathanamthitta – 689585

Mob. 09496710479, 07025095413 (Common Numbers)

Fr Eappachan: 09447661995, 09495683234 (Personal)

Email: emmausrc@gmail.com

Facebook: Emmaus Retreat Centre

Web: https://emmausrc.wordpress.com

Divyakarunya Convention Mallappally 2014 – Second Day 19th December

MCBS Emmaus Retreat Centre, Mallappally

മല്ലപ്പള്ളി ദിവ്യകാരുണ്യ കണ്‍വെൻഷൻ 2014

Second Day – 19th December 2014

Special Message by His Grace Mar Joaseph Perumthottam

Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Changanassery

Talks by Rev. Fr James Kozhimala from the diocese of Kanjirappally

Adoration by Rev. Fr Jomy Panathara MCBS

Emmaus Retreat Centre

Mallappally West P.O.,

Anickadu, Pathanamthitta – 689585

Mob. 09496710479, 07025095413 (Common Numbers)

Fr Eappachan: 09447661995, 09495683234 (Personal)

Email: emmausrc@gmail.com

Facebook: Emmaus Retreat Centre

Web: https://emmausrc.wordpress.com

Mary Mother of the Eucharist, Emmaus Retreat Centre, Mallappally M1

Oh Parama Divya Kaarunyame: Song & Track

Oh Parama Divya Karunyame: Christian Devotional Song

Singer: Kester

Lyrics: Fr Thomas Edayal MCBS

Album: Athmavin Bhojanam

Oh Parama Divya Karunyame: Track – Christian Devotional Song

Pope Francis: Baptism is a Christian’s Identity Card

Pope Francis: Baptism is a Christian’s Identity Card

Syro Malabar Qurbana in Syriac, Syriac Mass

Click here to listen directly from YouTube

or

Easter Thought (Malayalam)

ഈശോ ഉയിർത്ത പ്പോൾ …. കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി പിളർന്നപ്പോൾ …. വീണ്ടും ജീവിക്കുന്ന യേശുവിനെ കണ്ടപ്പോൾ …. മഗ്ദലേന മറിയത്തിനും യേശുവിന്റെ അമ്മയായ മറിയത്തിനും യേശുവിന്റെ ശിഷ്യന്മാർക്കും അതിരറ്റ സന്തോഷവും അതിലേറെ സമാധാനവും സ്വാതന്ത്യ വും കൈവന്നു. എന്നാൽ പടയാളികൾക്കും യഹൂദർക്കും അത് അങ്കലാപ്പ് ഉണ്ടാക്കി. ഭയപ്പാട് ഉണ്ടാക്കി. സന്തോഷം പോയി. സമാധാനം പോയി. സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യം പോയി. അവരുടെ സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും യേശുവിനെ കല്ലറയിൽ അടച്ചപ്പോൾ ആയിരുന്നു. കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി പിളർന്നപ്പോൾ ….. യേശു ഉയിർത്തെണീറ്റപ്പോൾ സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും കൈവരിച്ച മഗ്ദലേനമറിയത്തെ പ്പോലെയും യേശുവിന്റെ അമ്മയായ മറിയത്തെപ്പോലെയും യേശുവിന്റെ ശിഷ്യന്മാരെപ്പോലെയും  യേശുവിനെ കല്ലറയിൽ കൊട്ടി അടച്ചപ്പോൾ സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും സ്വാതന്ത്യ വും കൈവരിച്ച പടയാളികളെ പോലെയും യഹൂദരെ പോലെയും ഇന്നും രണ്ടു കൂട്ടം ആളുകൾ ഉണ്ട്. സത്യവും നീതിയും സ്നേഹവും കാരുണ്യവും കനിവും ഒക്കെയും കല്ലറയിൽ അടക്കുമ്പോൾ സന്തോഷിക്കുന്ന, സമാധാനത്തിൽ ആയിരിക്കുന്ന, സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യം അനുഭവിക്കുന്ന ഒരു കൂട്ടർ. മറ്റേ കൂട്ടർക്കോ? കല്ലറ ക്ക് മുന്നിലെ കാവൽക്കാർ മറിഞ്ഞു വീണപ്പോഴാണ്. കല്ലറയെ കൊട്ടിയടച്ച കല്ലുരുട്ടി മാറ്റ പ്പെട്ടപ്പോൾ ആണ്… മുദ്ര വെച്ച കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി പിളർന്ന പ്പോഴാണ് … സന്തോഷവും സമാധാനവും സ്വാതന്ത്യ വും കൈവരിച്ചതു. അവർക്ക് മറക്കപെട്ട സത്യം സന്തോഷം നല്കില്ല നിഷേധിക്കപെട്ട നീതി സമാധാനം നല്കില്ല. അണ പൊട്ടി ഒഴുകാത്ത സ്നേഹവും കാരുണ്യവും കനിവും അവർക്ക് ശാ ന്തിയും സമാധാനവും സന്തോഷവും നല്കുകയില്ല. പുതിയ മാപ്പാപ്പയെ ഈ തുറക്കപ്പെട്ട കല്ലറയുടെ വക്ത്താവായാണ് ലോകം മുഴുവനും വാഴ്ത്തുന്നത് . പുതിയ പപ്പാ അടഞ്ഞ ബുള്ളറ്റ് പ്രൂഫ്‌ പാപ്പ മൊബീൽ തുറന്നിട്ട്‌ ജനങ്ങളെ ആശീർ വ്വദിച്ചു ജനങ്ങൾക്കിടയിലൂടെ നീങ്ങി. ലാറ്റിൻ അമേരിക്കയിൽ നിന്ന്  വാഴ്ത്തപ്പെട്ടവനായി ഉയർത്തപ്പെടാൻ പോകുന്ന  എൽസാൽവദോറിലെ ആർച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് ഓസ്കാർ റൊമേരോക്ക് സത്യവും നീതിയും സ്നേഹവും കാരുണ്യവും കനിവും ഒക്കെയും കല്ലറയിൽ അടക്കപ്പെട്ടപ്പോൾ സ്വസ്ഥമായി ഉറങ്ങാനായില്ല. ദിവ്യബലി മദ്ധ്യേ അൾത്താരയിൽ വെടിയേറ്റ്‌ വീണു കാസയിലെ തിരു രക്തത്തോട് സ്വന്തം രക്തം കൂടി കലർന്ന് മരിച്ച ആർച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് ഓസ്കാർ റൊമേരോയുടെ നാട്ടിൽ  നിന്ന് കല്ലറ തുറന്ന് കനിവും കാരുണ്യവും സ്നേഹവും സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യവും ആവോളം ഏകാൻ ഉയിർപ്പിക്കപെട്ടവന്റെ വിജയ കൊടിയുമായി ഫ്രാൻസിസ് പാപ്പ ഇന്ന് ഏവരുടേയും കണ്മുമ്പിൽ നിറയുന്നു.

യേശുവിന്റെ മരണത്തിനു ഒരുക്കമായി മറിയം കൊണ്ട് വന്ന നാർദിൻ സുഗന്ധ ദ്രവ്യ കുപ്പി യേശുവിന്റെ മനുഷ്യത്വത്തിന്റെ പ്രതീകമാണ്. കുപ്പി തുറന്നപ്പോൾ വീട് മുഴുവൻ നിറഞ്ഞ പരിമളം യേശുവിന്റെ ദൈവത്വവും. കല്ലറയിൽ അടക്കപെട്ട മനുഷ്യത്വം കല്ലറ പൊട്ടി തുറന്നു ദൈവത്വം ഉയിർത്തെ ണീ റ്റു. പുതു ജീവന്റെ പ്രതീകമായി നല്കുന്ന മുട്ട അമ്മ കോഴിയുടെ സഹനത്തിന്റെ ചൂട് ഏറ്റു വാങ്ങി പൊട്ടി പിളർന്നാലെ ജീവനുള്ള കോഴികുഞ്ഞു പുറത്തു വരികയുള്ളൂ . നമ്മുടെ ജീവിതമാകുന്ന കല്ലറകൾ പിളരട്ടെ.  നമ്മുടെ ജീവിതമാകുന്ന നാർദിൻ സുഗന്ധ ദ്രവ്യ കുപ്പി തുറക്കട്ടെ. ജീവിതത്തിന്റെ തൊണ്ട് പൊട്ടി പുതു ജീവൻ പകരട്ടെ …. ആമേൻ

Athirampuzha Church

The Church traces its existence back to 835 AD

Live TV (Online Telecasting)

Parish Directory

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Parish Bulletin

Official Website

St. Mary’s Forane Church, Athirampuzha

The forane church of Athirampuzha, a world renowned pilgrim centre of St.Sebastian is dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary.This church about 10Kms away from kottayam has been the hub of Christian life in and around central kerala from early 9th century. This is one of the biggest parishes of the Archeparchy of Changanassery. It consists of almost 2500 families and the total number of the faithful exceeds 10000.

Athirampuzha church must trace back her history to the Ettonnussery Illam which was the power centre of the local kingdom. It is said that the Namboodiri of this Illam donated the land to build a church in the name of blessed virgin Mary as a token of gratitude on the Miraculous birth of his son. The Church was blessed on August 15th 835 AD. Gradually it became an independent church and later was elevated to the status of a forane in 1929. The church also witnessed many historical events like the historic journey of Mar Abraham Karivatti and paremakkal Thoma Kathanar to Rome, the All India Eucharistic congress-the first and the last of its kind in Kerala conducted from 8 th to 15th May 1929.

The Church is an exemplary specimen of ancient architecture. There were ancient stones with engravings and Thaliyollas in ‘Nanam Moonam’ alphabet kept in the church. Here there is a good collection of objects of historic, Artistic, Archival, Archaeological and anthropological interest in granite, wood, metal ,ivory, including Granite cross, Altar, Bells, Articles used in holy Qurbana …etc.

Valiyapally

The present church was constructed during the time of Fr.Joseph Ithiparambil. The renovation began in 1962 and was consecrated by Mar Mathew Kavukattu, the Archbishop of Changanachery in 1966. The church, brilliantly enshrining the western architecture, in 180 feet tall and 55 feet wide. The ‘madbaha and Roopakoodu’ were build in Portuguese style. The intricate altar engraving, the awesome gothic structure, the three huge glockenspiels in the belfry, the well known Kalkurish and the renowned feast of St.Sebastian with all its traditional ethos and the magnificent pyrotechnics- all these adorn the church and its elegance.

Cheriyapally

The Cheriapally(Little or small church) is situated in the location where the first church was built and blessed in AD 835.It was renovated to the present form by Fr.Thomas Olakkapady and was blessed by his Excellency Kurialacherry Mar Thoma on January 22nd, 1919. Cheriapally is situated 200 meters away from the Valiapally. The Church is known in the name of St.Sebastian. Meeting the demands of the time, recently the church was renovated by very Rev. Dr. Mani puthiyidom.

The Church has two main feasts: the feast of St.Mary and the feast of St.Sebastian

The church dedicated to blessed virgin Mary Celebrates her feast on 3rd Sunday of September. This Festal celebration is commonly called as Kannimasa Perunal / naragana Perunal. The members of Darsans Samooham (a pious association) plays a major role in this feast. They participate in their special costumes in the mass and Procession.

As per the record, the feast of st.sebastian was started at Athirampuzha church from the year 1647.Now the principal festal week in from 19th to 26th of January every year. The flag hoisting ceremony marking the beginning of the festival is on 19th.The annual feast attracts a large no. of devotees from all over south India. The statue of St.Sebastian installed here is considered very ancient. During the days of the Portuguese, three figures were brought to kerala. Legend says that the smallest of them has brought to Athirampuzha by local traders. This is known as ‘Adiyelpicha Roopam’ (the Tortured Figure). The statue of St.Sebastian in Athirampuzha is unique as it is the only statue of the saint without arrowation is very attractive.

St Sebastian

St. Sebastian’s statue is exposed for public veneration only during the feastal season. The dazzling display of fireworks in connection with the festival is a colorful visual treat. The procession is a spiritual ablu for the devotees. Band set including school bands, flags, gold-brass-silver wooden crosses, allavattom, venchamaram, Thazahakkuda, theevetti and beaded ornate umbrellas etc make the procession very gorgeous and regal. Ettamidam extends the celebration for eight more days. The Festival comes to an end by February 1.

Contact

St.Mary’s Forane Church

Athirampuzha

Kottayam – 686562

Phone : 0481 2730 742, 0481 2730 559, 0481 2730 159

Email : athirampuzhachurch@gmail.com

Altar

Christmas

Nativity scene at Temple Square SLC

Nativity scene at Temple Square SLC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas
Christmas
A depiction of the Nativity with a Christmas tree backdrop.
Also called Noel
Nativity
Yule
Xmas
Observed by Christians
Many non-Christians[1]
Type Christian, cultural
Significance Traditional birthday of Jesus
Date December 25 (alternatively, January 6, 7 or 19)[2][3][4] (see below)
Observances Church services, gift giving, family and other social gatherings, symbolic decorating
Related to Christmastide, Christmas Eve, Advent, Annunciation, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, Yule

Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ‘s Mass“) is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ[5][6] and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25[2][3][4] by billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide.[7] Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations,[8][9][10] is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians,[1][11][12] and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.

The precise year of Jesus’ birth, which some historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown.[13][14] By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25,[15] a date later adopted in the East.[16][17] The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived,[18] as well as the date of the southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice), with a sun connection being possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2.[18][19][20][21][22]

The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7; all the Greek Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25.

The popular celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian and secular themes and origins.[23] Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore.[24] Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

Contents

Name

Etymology

The word “Christmas” originated as a compound meaning “Christ‘s Mass“. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.[6] Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), “Messiah“; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form “Christenmas” was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal;[25] it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally “Christian mass”.[26]Xmas” is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), “Christ”, though numerous style guides discourage its use;[27] it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where “Χρ̄” is an abbreviation for Χριστός).[26]

Other names

In addition to “Christmas”, the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The Anglo-Saxons referred to the feast as midwinter, “midwinter“,[28][29] or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from Latin nātīvitās below).[28][30]Nativity“, meaning “birth”, is from Latin nātīvitās.[31] In Old English, Gēola (“Yule“) referred to the period corresponding to January and December;[32] the cognate Old Norse Jól was later the name of a pagan Scandinavian holiday which merged with Christmas around 1000.[28] “Noel” (or “Nowell”) entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs), “(day) of birth”.[33]

Celebration

Further information: Christmas worldwide

Map of 39 countries where Christmas is not a public holiday. It is recognized in all countries colored gray.

Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees.

Countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include China, (excepting Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and North Korea. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.

Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance.

In Catholic countries, people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas. In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6, Epiphany.

Commemorating Jesus’ birth

Anbetung der Hirten (Adoration of the Shepherds) (c. 1500–10), by Italian painter Giorgio da Castelfranco

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament‘s Messianic prophecy.[34] The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Depending on one’s perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story.[35][36][37][38] These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.

On Christmas Day, the Christ Candle in the center of the Advent wreath is traditionally lit in many church services.

According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (KJV); and “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (NIV). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child.[39] Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow the Biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews.[40] The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.

Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions. In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve, and many families’ major observation of Christmas actually falls in the evening of this day.

A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a stable with livestock and include Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three wise men, the shepherds and their sheep, the angels, and the Star of Bethlehem.[41]

Decorations

Main article: Christmas decoration

Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio is the site of this Christmas display with over 3.5 million lights.

Saint Anselm College decorates with a more traditional display

The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green”.[42] The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.[43][44]

Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. They were popularised by Saint Francis of Asissi from 1223, quickly spreading across Europe.[45] Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world, dependent on local tradition and available resources. The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s, inspired by paper chains made by children.[46] In countries where a representation of the Nativity Scene is very popular, people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom.

The traditional colors of Christmas are green and red.[47] White, silver and gold are also popular. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter.[44][47]

The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City.

The Christmas tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship;[48] according to eighth-century biographer Æddi Stephanus, Saint Boniface (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the Trinity.[49] The English language phrase “Christmas tree” is first recorded in 1835[50] and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century[48] though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century.[51][52]

From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain.[53] By the 1870s, people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree.[54] Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.

Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures.

Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas display. The concentric assortment of leaves, usually from an evergreen, make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare Christians for the Advent season. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world.[55] Both of these antiquated, more subdued, Christmas displays are seen in the image to the right of Saint Anselm College.

Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places.[56] It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5.

Music and carols

Main article: Christmas music

Christmas carolers in Jersey

The earliest extant specifically Christmas hymns appear in 4th century Rome. Latin hymns such as Veni redemptor gentium, written by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, were austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism. Corde natus ex Parentis (Of the Father’s love begotten) by the Spanish poet Prudentius (d. 413) is still sung in some churches today.[57]

In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Christmas “Sequence” or “Prose” was introduced in North European monasteries, developing under Bernard of Clairvaux into a sequence of rhymed stanzas. In the 12th century the Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor began to derive music from popular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol.

By the 13th century, in France, Germany, and particularly, Italy, under the influence of Francis of Asissi, a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed.[58] Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty-five “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house.[59]

The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal folk songs sung during celebrations such as “harvest tide” as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols began to be sung in church. Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns, and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. Some carols like Personent hodie, “Good King Wenceslas“, and “The Holly and the Ivy” can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages. They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. Adeste Fidelis (O Come all ye faithful) appears in its current form in the mid-18th century, although the words may have originated in the 13th century.

Child singers in Bucharest, 1841

Singing of carols initially suffered a decline in popularity after the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, although some Reformers, like Martin Luther, wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship. Carols largely survived in rural communities until the revival of interest in popular songs in the 19th century. The 18th century English reformer Charles Wesley understood the importance of music to worship. In addition to setting many psalms to melodies, which were influential in the Great Awakening in the United States, he wrote texts for at least three Christmas carols. The best known was originally entitled “Hark! How All the Welkin Rings”, later renamed “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing“.[60]

Felix Mendelssohn wrote a melody adapted to fit Wesley’s words. In Austria in 1818 Mohr and Gruber made a major addition to the genre when they composed “Silent Night” for the St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf. William B. SandysChristmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) contained the first appearance in print of many now-classic English carols, and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the festival.[61]

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Jingle Bells, 19th century (instrumental)

Completely secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late 18th century. “Deck The Halls” dates from 1784, and the American “Jingle Bells” was copyrighted in 1857. In the 19th and 20th century, African American spirituals and songs about Christmas, based in their tradition of spirituals, became more widely known. An increasing number of seasonal holidays songs were commercially produced in the 20th century, including jazz and blues variations. In addition, there was a revival of interest in early music, from groups singing folk music, such as The Revels, to performers of early medieval and classical music.

Traditional cuisine

Further information: Christmas dinner

Christmas pudding cooked on Stir-up Sunday, the Sunday before the beginning of the Advent season.

A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday’s celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Some regions, such as Sicily, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served. In England and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose, meat, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies and fruit cake.[62][63]

In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served. In Germany, France and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan,[64] a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season. Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, bûche de Noël in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods.

Cards

Main article: Christmas card

Christmas cards with angels, Scandinavian “nisser”, Father Christmas, snow men and hearts.

Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. The traditional greeting reads “wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”, much like that of the first commercial Christmas card, produced by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843.[65] The custom of sending them has become popular among a wide cross-section of people with the emergence of the modern trend towards exchanging E-cards.

Christmas cards are purchased in considerable quantities, and feature artwork, commercially designed and relevant to the season. The content of the design might relate directly to the Christmas narrative with depictions of the Nativity of Jesus, or Christian symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem, or a white dove which can represent both the Holy Spirit and Peace on Earth. Other Christmas cards are more secular and can depict Christmas traditions, mythical figures such as Santa Claus, objects directly associated with Christmas such as candles, holly and baubles, or a variety of images associated with the season, such as Christmastide activities, snow scenes and the wildlife of the northern winter. There are even humorous cards and genres depicting nostalgic scenes of the past such as crinolined shoppers in idealized 19th century streetscapes.

Some prefer cards with a poem, prayer or Biblical verse; while others distance themselves from religion with an all-inclusive “Season’s greetings”.

Commemorative stamps

Main article: Christmas stamp

A number of nations have issued commemorative stamps at Christmastide. Postal customers will often use these stamps to mail Christmas cards, and they are popular with philatelists. These stamps are regular postage stamps, unlike Christmas seals, and are valid for postage year-round. They usually go on sale some time between early October and early December, and are printed in considerable quantities.

In 1898 a Canadian stamp was issued to mark the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate. The stamp features a map of the globe and bears an inscription “XMAS 1898” at the bottom. In 1937, Austria issued two “Christmas greeting stamps” featuring a rose and the signs of the zodiac. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star of Bethlehem, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child, and a mother and child.

Both the US Postal Service and the Royal Mail regularly issue Christmas-themed stamps each year.

Gift giving

See also: Gift economy

The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making the Christmas season the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. Gift giving was common in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, an ancient festival which took place in late December and may have influenced Christmas customs.[66] On Christmas, Christians exchange gifts on the basis that the tradition is associated St. Nicholas with Christmas,[67] and that gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were given to the infant Jesus by the Biblical Magi.[68][69]

Gift-bearing figures

Main articles: Santa Claus and Father Christmas

Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas, considered by many to be the original Santa Claus.

A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus (derived from the Dutch for Saint Nicholas), Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.

The best known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus, of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.[70]

Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.[70]

The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular in New York. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). Following the American Revolutionary War, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city’s non-English past. New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was reinvented as Saint Nicholas.[71]

In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City.[72] At his first American appearance in 1810, Santa Claus was drawn in bishops’ robes. However as new artists took over, Santa Claus developed more secular attire.[73] Nast drew a new image of “Santa Claus” annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast’s Santa had evolved into the robed, fur clad, form we now recognize, perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.[74]

Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts.[50] In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.

Santa Claus is famous around the world for giving gifts to ‘good’ children.

There has been some opposition to the narrative of the American evolution of Saint Nicholas into the modern Santa. It has been claimed that the Saint Nicholas Society was not founded until 1835, almost half a century after the end of the American War of Independence.[75] Moreover, a study of the “children’s books, periodicals and journals” of New Amsterdam by Charles Jones revealed no references to Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas.[76] However, not all scholars agree with Jones’s findings, which he reiterated in a booklength study in 1978;[77] Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York was alive and well from the early settlement of the Hudson Valley on.[78]

Current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children’s homes, a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.

In South Tyrol (Italy), Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Switzerland, the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. Greek children get their presents from Saint Basil on New Year’s Eve, the eve of that saint’s liturgical feast.[79] The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus/Father Christmas). St. Nikolaus wears a bishop‘s dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.[80]

Date of celebration

In the earliest centuries of Christianity, no particular day of the year is known to have been associated with the birth of Jesus. Various dates were speculated: May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17 or 20.[6][81] When celebration on a particular date began, January 6 prevailed at least in the East;[82] but, except among Armenians (the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church), who continue to celebrate the birth on January 6, December 25 eventually won acceptance everywhere.[81]

The birth of Jesus was announced in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Moreover, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.[83][84][85]

In the early 4th century, the church calendar in Rome contained Christmas on December 25 and other holidays placed on solar dates: “It is cosmic symbolism…which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the southern solstice, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the northern solstice as that of John the Baptist, supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception. While they were aware that pagans called this day the ‘birthday’ of Sol Invictus, this did not concern them and it did not play any role in their choice of date for Christmas,” according to modern scholar S.E. Hijmans.[86]

Around the year 386 John Chrysostom delivered a sermon in Antioch in favour of adopting the 25 December celebration also in the East, since, he said, the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26) had been announced during the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist (Luke 1:10–13), which he dated from the duties Zacharias performed on the Day of Atonement during the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar Ethanim or Tishri (Lev. 16:29, 1 Kings 8:2) which falls from late September to early October.[6] That shepherds watched the flocks by night in the fields in the winter time is supported by the phrase “frost by night” in Genesis 31:38–40. A special group known as the shepherds of Migdal Eder (Gen. 35:19–21, Micah 4:8) watched the flocks by night year round pastured for Temple Sacrifice near Bethlehem.[87][88]

In the early 18th century, some scholars proposed alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas, celebrating the birth of him whom Christians consider to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2,[19] was selected to correspond with the southern solstice, which the Romans called bruma, celebrated on December 25.[89] In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a “paganization” that debased the true church.[22] It has been argued that, on the contrary, the Emperor Aurelian, who in 274 instituted the holiday of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, did so partly as an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already important for Christians in Rome.[90] In 1889, Louis Duchesne proposed that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after the Annunciation, the traditional date of the conception of Jesus.[91][18]

Using the Julian calendar and the revised Julian calendar

Eastern Orthodox national churches, including those of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark feasts using the older Julian calendar. December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the internationally used Gregorian calendar. However, other Orthodox Christians, such as the churches of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland and the Orthodox Church in America, among others, began using the Revised Julian calendar in the early 20th century, which corresponds exactly to the Gregorian calendar.[4]

Listing

Church or section Date Calendar Gregorian date Note
Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem January 6 Julian calendar January 19 Correspondence between Julian January 6 and Gregorian January 19 holds until 2100; in the following century the difference will be one day more.
Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church January 6 Gregorian calendar January 6
Eastern Orthodox: Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem December 25 Julian calendar January 7
Other Eastern Orthodox Churches, including those of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland and the Orthodox Church in America December 25 Revised Julian calendar December 25 Revised Julian calendar usage started in the early 20th century
Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria Koiak 29 (corresponding to Julian December 25 or 26) Coptic calendar January 7 or 8 Since the Coptic calendar’s leap day is inserted in what the Julian calendar considers September, the following Koiak 29 falls one day later than usual in the Julian and Gregorian calendars
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tahsas 29 or 28 (corresponding to Julian December 25) Ethiopian Calendar January 7 After the Ethiopian insertion of a leap day in what for the Julian calendar is September, Christmas is celebrated on Tahsas 28 in order to maintain the exact interval of 9 30-day months and 5 days of the child’s gestation.[92] The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church uses the same calendar but, like the Coptic Church, does not make this adjustment.
Western churches December 25 Gregorian calendar December 25

History

The earliest evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus is from the Chronography of 354 AD. This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6.[93][94] The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century,[94] probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century.[95] Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380.[96]

Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity. These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia,[66] became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages,[97] to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century reformation.[98][99] Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within Protestant Christendom due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.[100][101]

Mosaic of Jesus as Christo Sole (Christ the Sun) in Mausoleum M in the pre-fourth-century necropolis under St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.[102]

Pre-Christian background

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

Main article: Sol Invictus

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the unconquered sun”.

Some early Christian writers connected the sun to the birth of Jesus, which Christians believe was prophesied in Malachi 4:2 as the “Sun of Righteousness.”[6] “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…Christ should be born”, Cyprian wrote.[6] In the fourth century, John Chrysostom commented on the connection: “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . . ., But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.”[6]

One ancient source mentioned Dies Natalis Solis Invicti in the Chronography of 354, and Sol scholar Steven Hijmans stated that there is no evidence that the celebration precedes that of Christmas:[86] “[W]hile the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas, and none that indicates that Aurelian had a hand in its institution.”[86]

Winter festivals

A winter festival was the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached.[103] Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year; and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.[104]

Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period.[citation needed] As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas, especially Koleda,[105] which was incorporated into the Christmas carol. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas,[106] a usage first recorded in 900.

Christianity

The New Testament Gospel of Luke may indirectly give the date as December for the birth of Jesus, with the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist cited by John Chrysostom (c. 386) as a date for the Annunciation.[6][18][88][107] Tertullian (d. 220) did not mention Christmas as a major feast day in the Church of Roman Africa.[6] In Chronographai, a reference work published in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox.[108][109] The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar, so this implied a birth in December.[110]

Bishops Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 175) and Hippolytus of Rome (204) are often cited among the earliest Christian references to December 25 being the Date of Christ’s birth.[citation needed] In 245, the theologian Origen of Alexandria stated that, “only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod)” celebrated their birthdays.[111] In 303, Christian writer Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration.[112] Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ’s birth “as God” but “as man”, this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time.[6] The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.

Feast established

The earliest known reference to the date of the nativity as December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome.[113] In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus.[114]

Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.[6]

The Examination and Trial of Father Christmas, (1686), published shortly after Christmas was reinstated as a holy day in England.

Middle Ages

In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in western Christianity focused on the visit of the magi. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the “forty days of St. Martin” (which began on November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours), now known as Advent.[97] In Italy, former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent.[97] Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.[97]

The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066.

By the High Middle Ages, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten.[97] The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. Caroling also became popular, and was originally a group of dancers who sang. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form.[97] “Misrule”—drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on New Year’s Day, and there was special Christmas ale.[97]

Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens.[115] Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.[115] The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques and pageants. In 1607, King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games.[116] It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.[70]

Reformation into the 19th century

Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the “trappings of popery” or the “rags of the Beast.”[100] The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old style Christmas generosity.[116] Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England’s Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647.[100]

Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans.[100] The book, The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652), argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with “plow-boys” and “maidservants”, and carol singing.[117] The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland also discouraged the observance of Christmas, and though James VI commanded its celebration in 1618, attendance at church was scant.[118] The Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been “purged of all superstitious observation of days”.[119] It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday.[120]

In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.[101]

At the same time, Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely. Pennsylvania German Settlers, pre-eminently the Moravian settlers of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz in Pennsylvania and the Wachovia Settlements in North Carolina, were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes.[121] Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom.[122] George Washington attacked Hessian (German) mercenaries on the day after Christmas during the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, Christmas being much more popular in Germany than in America at this time.

In the early 19th century, writers imagined Tudor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol, that helped revive the ‘spirit’ of Christmas and seasonal merriment.[98][99] Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion.[123]

The Queen’s Christmas tree at Windsor Castle published in the Illustrated London News, 1848, and republished in Godey’s Lady’s Book, Philadelphia, December 1850.

Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centered festival of generosity, in contrast to the community-based and church-centered observations, the observance of which had dwindled during the late 18th century and early 19th century.[124] Superimposing his secular vision of the holiday, Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit.[125] A prominent phrase from the tale, ‘Merry Christmas’, was popularized following the appearance of the story.[126] This coincided with the appearance of the Oxford Movement and the growth of Anglo-Catholicism, which led a revival in traditional rituals and religious observances.[127]

The term Scrooge became a synonym for miser, with ‘Bah! Humbug!’ dismissive of the festive spirit.[128] In 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was produced by Sir Henry Cole.[129] The revival of the Christmas Carol began with William B. Sandys Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833), with the first appearance in print of ‘The First Noel’, ‘I Saw Three Ships’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, popularized in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

In Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover, by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen to King George III. In 1832 a young Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with lights, ornaments, and presents placed round it.[130] After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain.[53]

An image of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, created a sensation when it was published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. A modified version of this image was published in the United States in 1850.[54][131] By the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.[54]

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand.

In America, interest in Christmas had been revived in the 1820s by several short stories by Washington Irving which appear in his The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon and “Old Christmas”. Irving’s stories depicted harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities he experienced while staying in Aston Hall, Birmingham, England, that had largely been abandoned,[132] and he used the tract Vindication of Christmas (1652) of Old English Christmas traditions, that he had transcribed into his journal as a format for his stories.[116]

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (popularly known by its first line: Twas the Night Before Christmas).[133] The poem helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance.[134] This also started the cultural conflict of the holiday’s spiritualism and its commercialism that some see as corrupting the holiday. In her 1850 book “The First Christmas in New England”, Harriet Beecher Stowe includes a character who complains that the true meaning of Christmas was lost in a shopping spree.[135]

While the celebration of Christmas was not yet customary in some regions in the U.S., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow detected “a transition state about Christmas here in New England” in 1856. “The old puritan feeling prevents it from being a cheerful, hearty holiday; though every year makes it more so”.[136] In Reading, Pennsylvania, a newspaper remarked in 1861, “Even our presbyterian friends who have hitherto steadfastly ignored Christmas — threw open their church doors and assembled in force to celebrate the anniversary of the Savior’s birth”.[136]

The First Congregational Church of Rockford, Illinois, ‘although of genuine Puritan stock’, was ‘preparing for a grand Christmas jubilee’, a news correspondent reported in 1864.[136] By 1860, fourteen states including several from New England had adopted Christmas as a legal holiday.[137] In 1870, Christmas was formally declared a United States Federal holiday, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.[137] Subsequently, in 1875, Louis Prang introduced the Christmas card to Americans. He has been called the “father of the American Christmas card”.[138]

Controversy and criticism

Throughout the holiday’s history, Christmas has been the subject of controversy and attacks from various sources. The first documented Christmas controversy was Puritan led, and began during the English Interregnum, when England was ruled by a Puritan Parliament.[139] Puritans sought to remove the remaining pagan elements of Christmas. During this brief period, the Puritan led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirely, considering it “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior.[140] In Colonial America, the Puritans outlawed celebration of Christmas in 1659.[141]

Christians and defenders of religious freedom have claimed that attacks on Christmas continue in the present-day (dubbed a “war on Christmas”).[142][143] One controversy is the occurrence of Christmas trees being renamed Holiday trees.[142] In the United States there has been a tendency to replace the greeting Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays.[144] Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have initiated court cases to bar the display of images and other material referring to Christmas from public property, including schools.[145] Such groups argue that government-funded displays of Christmas imagery and traditions violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the establishment by Congress of a national religion.[146] In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lynch vs. Donnelly that a Christmas display (which included a Nativity scene) owned and displayed by the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island did not violate the First Amendment.[147]

In November 2009, the Federal appeals court in Philadelphia endorsed a school district’s ban on the singing of Christmas carols.[148] The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.[149] In the private sphere also, it has been alleged that any specific mention of the term “Christmas” or its religious aspects was being increasingly censored, avoided, or discouraged by a number of advertisers and retailers. In response, the American Family Association and other groups have organized boycotts of individual retailers.[150]

In the United Kingdom there have been some minor controversies, one of the most famous being the temporary promotion of the Christmas period as Winterval by Birmingham City Council in 1998.[151] Critics attacked the use of the word Winterval as political correctness gone mad, accusing council officials of trying to take the Christ out of Christmas.[151] The council responded to the criticism by stating that Christmas-related words and symbols were prominent in its publicity material.[151] There were also protests in November 2009 when the city council of Dundee promoted its celebrations as the Winter Night Light festival, initially with no specific Christmas references.[152]

Economics

Christmas market in Jena, Germany

Christmas is typically the largest annual economic stimulus for many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas and shops introduce new products as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies. In the U.S., the “Christmas shopping season” starts as early as October.[153][154] In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween (October 31), and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11. In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on.[155][156] In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season.[157] Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that expenditure in department stores nationwide rose from $20.8 billion in November 2004 to $31.9 billion in December 2004, an increase of 54 percent. In other sectors, the pre-Christmas increase in spending was even greater, there being a November – December buying surge of 100 percent in bookstores and 170 percent in jewelry stores. In the same year employment in American retail stores rose from 1.6 million to 1.8 million in the two months leading up to Christmas.[158] Industries completely dependent on Christmas include Christmas cards, of which 1.9 billion are sent in the United States each year, and live Christmas Trees, of which 20.8 million were cut in the U.S. in 2002.[159] In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales.[156]

Each year (most notably 2000) money supply in US banks is increased for Christmas shopping.

In most Western nations, Christmas Day is the least active day of the year for business and commerce; almost all retail, commercial and institutional businesses are closed, and almost all industries cease activity (more than any other day of the year), whether laws require such or not. In England and Wales, the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 prevents all large shops from trading on Christmas Day. Scotland is currently planning similar legislation. Film studios release many high-budget movies during the holiday season, including Christmas films, fantasy movies or high-tone dramas with high production values to hopes of maximizing the chance of nominations for the Academy Awards.

One economist‘s analysis calculates that, despite increased overall spending, Christmas is a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory, because of the effect of gift-giving. This loss is calculated as the difference between what the gift giver spent on the item and what the gift receiver would have paid for the item. It is estimated that in 2001, Christmas resulted in a $4 billion deadweight loss in the U.S. alone.[160][161] Because of complicating factors, this analysis is sometimes used to discuss possible flaws in current microeconomic theory. Other deadweight losses include the effects of Christmas on the environment and the fact that material gifts are often perceived as white elephants, imposing cost for upkeep and storage and contributing to clutter.[162]

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b Christmas as a Multi-faith Festival—BBC News. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  2. ^ a b Several traditions of Eastern Christianity that use the Julian calendar also celebrate on December 25 according to that calendar, which is now January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. Armenian Churches observed the nativity on January 6 even before the Gregorian calendar originated. Most Armenian Christians use the Gregorian calendar, still celebrating Christmas Day on January 6. Some Armenian churches use the Julian calendar, thus celebrating Christmas Day on January 19 on the Gregorian calendar, with January 18 being Christmas Eve.
  3. ^ a b Ramzy, John. “The Glorious Feast of Nativity: 7 January? 29 Kiahk? 25 December?”. Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  4. ^ a b c “Christmas in Bethlehem”.
  5. ^ Christmas, Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
    Archived 2009-10-31.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k “Christmas”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913.
  7. ^ “The Christmas Season”. CRI / Voice, Institute. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  8. ^ Canadian Heritage – Public holidaysGovernment of Canada. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  9. ^ 2009 Federal HolidaysU.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  10. ^ Bank holidays and British Summer timeHM Government. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  11. ^ Why I celebrate Christmas, by the world’s most famous atheistDailyMail. December 23, 2008. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  12. ^ Non-Christians focus on secular side of ChristmasSioux City Journal. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  13. ^ Some of the historians and Biblical scholars who place the birth of Jesus in the 7–2 BC range include D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, 54, 56
  14. ^ The year 5 BC corresponds to year 749 AUC used during the Roman Empire.
  15. ^ [1] Sourcebook for Sundays, Seasons, and Weekdays 2011: The Almanac for Pastoral Liturgy by Corinna Laughlin, Michael R. Prendergast, Robert C. Rabe, Corinna Laughlin, Jill Maria Murdy, Therese Brown, Mary Patricia Storms, Ann E. Degenhard, Jill Maria Murdy, Ann E. Degenhard, Therese Brown, Robert C. Rabe, Mary Patricia Storms, Michael R. Prendergast – LiturgyTrainingPublications, Mar 26, 2010 – page 29
  16. ^ The Chronography of 354 AD. Part 12: Commemorations of the MartyrsThe Tertullian Project. 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  17. ^ Roll, Susan K., Toward the Origins of Christmas, (Peeters Publishers, 1995), p.133.
  18. ^ a b c d McGowan, Andrew. “How December 25 Became Christmas, Biblical Archaeology Review, Retrieved 2009-12-13”. Bib-arch.org. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  19. ^ a b Newton, Isaac, Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733). Ch. XI. A sun connection is possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2.
  20. ^ Robert Laurence Moore (1994). Selling God: American religion in the marketplace of culture. Oxford University Press. p. 205. “When the Catholic Church in the fourth century singled out December 25 as the birth date of Christ, it tried to stamp out the saturnalia common to the solstice season.”
  21. ^ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Merriam Webster. 2000. p. 1211. “Christian missionaries frequently sought to stamp out pagan practices by building churches on the sites of pagan shrines or by associated Christian holidays with pagan rituals (eg. linking -Christmas with the celebration of the winter solstice).”
  22. ^ a bChristmas“, Encarta
    Roll, Susan K. (1995). Toward the Origins of Christmas. Peeters Publishers. p. 130.
    Tighe, William J., “Calculating Christmas“. Archived 2009-10-31.
  23. ^ West’s Federal Supplement. West Publishing Company. 1990. “While the Washington and King birthdays are exclusively secular holidays, Christmas has both secular and religious aspects.”
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  28. ^ a b c Hutton, Ronald, The stations of the sun: a history of the ritual year, Oxford University Press, 2001.
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  30. ^ Serjeantson, Mary Sidney, A History of Foreign Words in English
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  33. ^ noel Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 12.
  34. ^ Geza Vermes, The Nativity: History and Legend, London, Penguin, 2006, p22.; E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, 1993, p.85.
  35. ^ Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing The Hidden Contradictions In The Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them), Harper Collins, 2009, Bart D. Ehrman, P. 19-60
  36. ^ Larry W. Hurtado (2005-12-15). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. ISBN 978-0-8028-3167-5. Retrieved 2010-12-02. “Yet, as in a number of other matters, in this emphasis Matthew essentially has extended and elaborated an affirmation that is already made in Mark, which opens (1:2–3) with a citation of “Isaiah the prophet” to introduce and frame the ensuing story of Jesus. The Lukan nativity account shows a similar concern and emphasis, even though the author uses different techniques in presenting them.”
  37. ^ JPH. “The Nativity Stories Harmonized”. TEKTON. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  38. ^ Richard Bruce. “Reconciling the Nativity Stories of Matthew and Luke”. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  39. ^ “Luke 2:1–6”. Biblegateway.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  40. ^ Matthew 2:2.
  41. ^ “Matthew 2:1–11”. Biblegateway.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
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  43. ^ Heller, Ruth, Christmas: Its Carols, Customs & Legends, Alfred Publishing (1985), ISBN 0-7692-4399-1, p. 12.
  44. ^ a b Ace Collins (2010-04-01). Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-87388-4. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  45. ^ Collins, Ace, Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, Zondervan, (2003), ISBN 0-310-24880-9 p.47.
  46. ^ Collins p. 83.
  47. ^ a b Hal Siemer, Christmas Magic: The History and Traditions of the Holiday, QuestMagazine.com, 2004-12-02.
  48. ^ a b van Renterghem, Tony. When Santa was a shaman. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1995. ISBN 1-56718-765-X
  49. ^ Fritz Allhoff, Scott C. Lowe (2010). Christmas. John Wiley & Sons. “His biographer, Eddius Stephanus, relates that while Boniface was serving as a missionary near Geismar, Germany, he had enough of the locals’ reverence for the old gods. Taking an aze to an oak tree dedicated to Norse god Thor, Boniface chopped the tree down and dared Thor to zap him for it. When nothing happened, Boniface pointed out a young fir tree amid the roots of the oak and explained how this tree was a more fitting object of reverence as it pointed towards the Christian heaven and its triangular shape was reminiscent of the Christian trinity.”
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  56. ^ Murray, Brian. “Christmas lights and community building in America,” History Matters, Spring 2006.
  57. ^ Miles, Clement, Christmas customs and traditions, Courier Dover Publications, 1976, ISBN 0-486-23354-5, p.32
  58. ^ Miles, pp. 31–37
  59. ^ Miles, pp. 47–48
  60. ^ Dudley-Smith, Timothy (1987). A Flame of Love. London: Triangle/SPCK. ISBN 0-281-04300-0.
  61. ^ Richard Michael Kelly. A Christmas carol p.10. Broadview Press, 2003 ISBN 1-55111-476-3
  62. ^ Broomfield, Andrea (2007) Food and cooking in Victorian England: a history pp.149–150. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007
  63. ^ Muir, Frank (1977) Christmas customs & traditions p.58. Taplinger Pub. Co., 1977
  64. ^ “Imbuljuta”. Schoolnet.gov.mt. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
  65. ^ Christmas card sold for record price BBC News. Retrieved 2011-10-28
  66. ^ a b The Origin of the American Christmas Myth and CustomsBall State University. Swartz Jr., BK. Archived version retrieved 2011-10-19.
  67. ^ Ace Collins (10 April 2012). Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. p. 17. “The legend of St. Nicholas, who became the bishop of Myra in the beginning of the fourth century, is the next link in the Christmas-gift chain. Legend has it that during his life the priest rode across Asia Minor bestowing gifts upon poor children.”
  68. ^ Trexler, Richard (23 May 1997). The Journey of the Magi: Meanings in History of a Christian Story. Princeton University Press. p. 17. Retrieved 10 April 2012. “This exchange network of ceremonial welcome was mirrored in a second reciprocity allowing early Christians to imagine their own magi: the phenomenon of giving gifts.”
  69. ^ Ace Collins (10 April 2012). Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. p. 17. “Most people today trace the practice of giving gifts on Christmas Day to the three gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus.”
  70. ^ a b c Forbes, Bruce David, Christmas: a candid history, University of California Press, 2007, ISBN 0-520-25104-0, pp. 68–79.
  71. ^ Jona Lendering (2008-11-20). “Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Santa Claus”. Livius.org. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  72. ^ John Steele Gordon, The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power: 1653–2000 (Scribner) 1999.
  73. ^ Forbes, Bruce David, Christmas: a candid history, pp. 80–81.
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  83. ^ The Liturgical Year. Thomas Nelson. Retrieved 2009-04-02. “Christmas is not really about the celebration of a birth date at all. It is about the celebration of a birth. The fact of the date and the fact of the birth are two different things. The calendrical verification of the feast itself is not really that important…What is important to the understanding of a life-changing moment is that it happened, not necessarily where or when it happened. The message is clear: Christmas is not about marking the actual birth date of Jesus. It is about the Incarnation of the One who became like us in all things but sin (Heb. 4:15) and who humbled Himself “to the point of death-even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Christmas is a pinnacle feast, yes, but it is not the beginning of the liturgical year. It is a memorial, a remembrance, of the birth of Jesus, not really a celebration of the day itself. We remember that because the Jesus of history was born, the Resurrection of the Christ of faith could happen.”
  84. ^ “The Christmas Season”. CRI / Voice, Institute. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  85. ^ The School Journal, Volume 49. Harvard University. Retrieved 2009-04-02. “Throughout the Christian world the 25th of December is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ. There was a time when the churches were not united regarding the date of the joyous event. Many Christians kept their Christmas in April, others in May, and still others at the close of September, till finally December 25 was agreed upon as the most appropriate date. The choice of that day was, of course, wholly arbitrary, for neither the exact date not the period of the year at which the birth of Christ occurred is known. For purposes of commemoration, however, it is unimportant whether the celebration shall fall or not a the precise anniversary of the joyous event.”
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    Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 18:59
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  109. ^ Roll, p. 79, 80. Only fragments of Chronographai survive. In one fragment, Africanus referred to “Pege in Bethlehem” and “Lady Pege, Spring-bearer.” See “Narrative Narrative of Events Happening in Persia on the Birth of Christ Narrative“.
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  112. ^ McCracken, George, Arnobius of Sicca, the Case Against the Pagans, Volume 2, p. 83, . “Therefore if this is a fact, how can Jupiter be god if it is agreed that god is everlasting, while the other is represented by you to have a birthday, and frightened by the new experience, to have squalled like an infant.”
    G. Brunner, “Arnobius eine Zeuge gegen das Weihnachtsfest? ” JLW 13 (1936) pp. 178–181.
  113. ^ This document was prepared privately for a Roman aristocrat. The reference in question states, “VIII kal. ian. natus Christus in Betleem Iudeæ”.[2] It is in a section copied from an earlier manuscript produced in 336.[3] This document also contains the earliest known reference to the feast of Sol Invictus.[4]
  114. ^ Pokhilko, Hieromonk Nicholas, “History of Epiphany”
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  157. ^ Gwen Outen (2004-12-03). “ECONOMICS REPORT – Holiday Shopping Season in the U.S.”. Voice Of America.
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  159. ^ US Census 2005
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  162. ^ Reuters. “Christmas is Damaging the Environment, Report Says” December 16, 2005.

Further reading

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Christmas Traditions

When was the first Christmas card sent? Why do we kiss under the mistletoe? Learn the origins of Christmas and fun facts about some of our favorite christmas traditions and symbols.

There are lots of Christmas traditions that are practiced by a number of countries all over the world during the holiday season. These traditions can be as diverse as the culture and religious practices of each and every country in the world.

Read about some of the most common christmas traditions her.

Origins of Christmas

christmas traditions From the Old English ‘Cristes Mæsse’~ meaning the ‘mass of Christ’ ~ the story of Christmas begins with the birth of a babe in Bethlehem.It is believed that Christ was born on the 25th, although the exact month is unknown. December was likely chosen so the Catholic Church could compete with rival pagan rituals held at that time of year and because of its closeness with the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, a traditional time of celebration among many ancient cultures.

Luke, Chapter Two
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Santa Claus

christmas traditions The origin of Santa Claus beginsin the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas’ popularity throughout Europe.His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop’s mitre.

In Greece, he is the patron saint of sailors, in France he was the patron of lawyers, and in Belgium the patron of children and travellers. Thousands of churches across Europe were dedicated to him and some time around the 12th century an official church holiday was created in his honor. The Feast of St. Nicholas was celebrated December 6 and the day was marked by gift-giving and charity.

After the Reformation, European followers of St. Nicholas dwindled, but the legend was kept alive in Holland where the Dutch spelling of his name Sint Nikolaas was eventually transformed to Sinterklaas. Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace, and Sinterklaas would reward good children by placing treats in their shoes. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.

In 1822 Clement C. Moore composed the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, published as The Night Before Christmas as a gift for his children. In it, he portrays Santa Claus:

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Other countries feature different gift-bearers for the Christmas or Advent season: La Befana in Italy ~ The Three Kings in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico ~ Christkindl or the Christ Child in Switzerland and Austria ~ Father Christmas in England ~ and Pere Noël, Father Christmas or the Christ Child in France. Still, the figure of Santa Claus as a jolly, benevolent, plump man in a red suit described in Moore’s poem remains with us today and is recognized by children and adults alike around the world.

Read even more abou christmas traditions andt Santa Claus

Christmas Trees

xmas traditions In 16th-century Germanyfir trees were decorated, both indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies, and colored paper. In the Middle Ages, a popular religous play depicted the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.A fir tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden of Eden — the Paradise Tree. The play ended with the prophecy of a saviour coming, and so was often performed during the Advent season.

It is held that Protestant reformer Martin Luther first adorned trees with light. While coming home one December evening, the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home

The Christmas Tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert from his native Germany. The famous Illustrated News etching in 1848, featuring the Royal Family of Victoria, Albert and their children gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle, popularized the tree throughout Victorian England. Brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans, the Christmas tree became by the late 19th century.

Read even more about Christmas Trees

Focus on Christmas Traditions in US

The variations of the Christmas traditions of USA equal the number active cultures that have settled in the land. These cultural contributions were given a new lease of life by creative artists, authors, poets and songwriters, and it was melded together by the power of secular and commercialized media in record companies, radio stations, television, cinemas and now the internet. The unwritten law of media is the presentation of a seemingly uniform celebration of the Christmas traditions of USA. This is responsible for the world wide acceptance of a universal Christmas image which they get from the media. Nevertheless, the celebrations are peculiar to each region.

Christmas Stockings

According to legend, a kindly nobleman grew despondent over the death of his beloved wife and foolishly squandered his fortune. This left his three young daughters without dowries and thus facing a life of spinsterhood.

The generous St. Nicholas, hearing of the girls’ plight, set forth to help. Wishing to remain anonymous, he rode his white horse by the nobleman’s house and threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were fortuitously captured by the stockings the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry. Read more about christmas stockings

 

Christmas Gifts

Mistletoe

Mistletoe was used by Druid priests200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter.The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.

Scandanavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

Holly, Ivy and Greenery

In Northern Europe Christmasoccurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed.

Poinsettias

A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant.

The Candy cane

It was not long after Europeansbegan using Christmas trees that special decorations were used to adorn them. Food items, such as candies and cookies, were used predominately and straight white candy sticks were one of the confections used as ornamentation. Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created the white sticks of candy in the shape of shephreds’ crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.The candy treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom of passing out the candy crooks at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.

According to the National Confectioner’s Association, in 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack’s brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious process of creating the treats and the popularity of the candy cane grew.

More recent explanations of the candy cane’s symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ’s purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for these notions does not exist, they have become increasingly common and at times are even represented as fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite holiday treat and decoration.

Christmas cards

A form of Christmas card beganin England first when young boys practiced their writing skills by creating Christmas greetings for their parents, but it is Sir Henry Cole who is credited with creating the first real Christmas card. The first director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Henry found himself too busy in the Christmas season of 1843 to compose individual Christmas greetings for his friends.He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley for the illustration. The card featured three panels, with the center panel depicting a family enjoying Christmas festivities and the card was inscribed with the message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

Read more about Christmas Cards

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

The Chicago-based MontgomeryWard company, department store operators, had been purchasing and distributing children’s coloring books as Christmas gifts for their customers for several years. In 1939, Montgomery Ward tapped one of their own employees to create a book for them, thus saving money. 34-year old copywriter Robert L. May wrote the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer in 1939, and 2.4 million copies were handed out that year. Despite the wartime paper shortage, over 6 million copies had been distributed by 1946.May drew in part on the story “The Ugly Duckling” and in part from his own experiences as an often taunted, small, frail youth to create the story of the misfit reindeer. Though Rollo and Reginald were considered, May settled on Rudolph as his reindeer’s name.

Writing in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, May tested the story as he went along on his 4-year old daughter Barbara, who loved the story

Sadly, Robert Mays wife died around the time he was creating Rudolph, leaving Mays deeply in debt due to medical bills. However, he was able to persuade Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, thus ensuring May’s financial security.

May’s story “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was printed commercially in 1947 and in 1948 a nine-minute cartoon of the story was shown in theaters. When May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, the Rudolph phenomenon was born. Turned down by many musical artists afraid to contend with the legend of Santa Claus, the song was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 at the urging of Autry’s wife. The song sold two million copies that year, going on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time, second only to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. The 1964 television special about Rudolph, narrated by Burl Ives, remains a holiday favorite to this day and Rudolph himself has become a much-loved Christmas icon.

Hanukkah

Commencing on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Syrians.In 168 BC, members of the Jewish family Maccabee led a revolt against the Greek Syrians due to the policies of Syrian King Antiochus IV which were aimed at nullifying the Jewish faith. Part of this strategem included changing the Beit HaMikdash – the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – to a Greek temple complete with idolatry. Led by Judah Maccabee, the Jews won victory over the Syrians in 165 BC and reclaimed their temple.

After cleansing the temple and preparing for its rededication, it was found there was not enough oil to light the N’er Tamid, an oil lamp present in Jewish houses of worship which represents eternal light. Once lit, the lamp should never be extinguished.

A search of the temple produced a small vial of undefiled oil — enough for only one day. Miraculously, the Temple lights burned for eight days until a new supply of oil was brought. In remembrance of this miracle, one candle of the Menorah – an eight branched candelabra – is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, which means dedication, is a Hebrew word when translated is commonly spelled Hanukah, Chanukah, and Hannukah due to different translations and customs.

The tradition of receiving gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is relatively new and due in part to the celebration’s proximity to the Christmas season.

Kwanzaa

Doctor Maulana Karenga, a Professor at California State University in Long Beach, California, created Kwanzaa in 1966. It is a holiday celebrated by millions of African-Americans around the world, encouraging them to remember their African heritage and consider their current place in America today. Kwanzaa is celebrated fom December 26 to January 1 and involves seven principles called Nguzo Saba:Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).In the Kwanzaa ritual, seven candles called Mishumaa Saba are placed in a Kinara, or candleholder, which is then set upon the Mikeka, a mat usually made of straw.

Three green candles are placed on the left, three red candles on the right and a black candle in the center, each candle representing one of the seven principles of the celebration. One candle is lit each day of the Kwanzaa celebration, beginning from left to right The colors of Kwanzaa ~ black, red and green ~ also have a special significance. Black symbolizes the faces of the African people, Red symbolizes the blood they have shed, and Green represents hope and the color of the motherland. The name itself – Kwanzaa – is a Swahili word meaning “fruits of the harvest.”

ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS: Members of the All Things Christmas List at eGroups share their favorite Family Traditions for the Holiday season.

The Means of Evangelization and of the Formation of Evangelizers – A Youth Response

The Means of Evangelization and of the Formation of Evangelizers –

A Youth Response

Puthiyidathu Mathew MCBS

bijumcbs@gmail.com

 Introduction

The influence of different Christian movements and organizations has made several youngsters come forward with great enthusiasm and commitment to the Church and her mission in the modern world. The increasing number of youngsters gathered at the World Youth Day affirms this fact.  Each WYD produces new enthusiasm in the hearts of millions of youth, the present and the future of the Church.  After the WYD 2005 of Cologne Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the German Bishops on behalf of the youth, “Yes we came to worship him, we met him. Now help us to become his disciples and witnesses”.[1]

            The challenge is to help the young to live their ‘present’ here and now in the Church.  Youngsters are always searching for challenges; they like to move differently. The great Pope, the admirer of youth, John Paul II asked them to become a joyful contradiction in the modern world. 

            At the same time there is a large mass of people who are still far away from the Church, especially in the Asian continent.  The Universal Church is well aware of this situation and says, “It is indeed a mystery why the Saviour of the world, born in Asia, has until now remained largely unknown to the people of the continent”.[2] It must be remembered that “Evangelization and church – planting are a slow and painstaking work.  To reach the desired goal the evangelizer needs to use effective methods.  Thus not paying attention to effectiveness simply means that we are in fact using wrong methods.”[3]

The Importance of New Ways and Means

            Change is fundamental to the human person and to society.  As a social being man tries to adapt himself to his changing circumstances. The Church also is travelling the same way.  She searches and finds new possibilities to continue her mission in the modern world.  There is a wide horizon of possibilities open to us. “Missionary methods reflect the social relationships in the society where the church lives; new situations spawn new methods.  The church acquires a new self awareness, both cause and effect of a new way of existence, new ideas, new ministries, new apostolic movements etc”.[4]

 

Our duty is to benefit from it according to the needs of the time.  The Magisterium of the Church is very much open to new means in evangelization.  “How do we bring the message of Christ to non-Christian young people who represent the future of entire continents? Clearly, the ordinary means of pastoral work are not sufficient: what are needed are associations, institutions, special centers and groups, and cultural and social initiatives for young people.”[5]

            The traditional means of evangelization are not enough to cope with the modern technological world. “Missionary activity, which is carried out in a wide variety of ways, is the task of all the Christian faithful,”[6] The complex life situations invite us to find out more effective and attractive methods which give an impetus to the zeal of youngsters. Church also acknowledges it through her teachings, “This question of ‘how to evangelize’ is permanently relevant, because the methods of evangelizing vary according to the different circumstances of time, place and culture, and because they thereby present a certain challenge to our capacity for discovery and adaptation.”[7]

            One of the positive aspects of the missionary enthusiasm of the new generation is their sharing mentality.  They are ready to share their time, energy, talents, resources, prayer, etc, for the Kingdom of God.  At the same time they are very strict about the concrete results of their sharing.

            It is the duty and privilege of each and every one to find and open new vistas of attractive and effective means of evangelization.  It doesn’t mean that traditional ways are totally outdated.  Perhaps they are the foundation of our new endeavors and we are modifying them according to the needs of the time.  Each and every Christian has the obligation to proclaim the Good News. But each one is different and unique and so the ways and means of participation is also different.  One cannot be higher than the other, but only in the level of commitment of the individual.  At the same time we have to fan the flame in the hearts of many so that they may be more and more committed to their missionary vocation. 

            In this paper I intend to present some possible ways and means which would enable us to bring the Good News to the hearts of many.  This can help us to bring the mission nearer to the people, especially the youth, who are searching for their role in the Church’s missionary mandate. The formation of Laity is a special concern of the Church too. “The shortage of priests makes it imperative for us to givegreater attention to the formation of the laity and their effective participation in the apostolate.”[8] To achieve this goal, suitable ways and means must be evolved by answering to the needs of the situation.

  1. 1.      School of Evangelization

            “And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him?  And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them?  And how will there be preachers if they are not sent?” (Rom 10:14-15)

            The proclamation of the Good news is the duty of each and every Christian. It cannot be completed by a few priests and religious alone.  So the active participation of the lay people is very important. There are many churches which have been planted and nourished by lay missionaries.  The Church in Antioch in the first century is a decisive example for this.  “It is the task of the Pastors to ensure that the laity are formed as evangelizers to be able to face the challenges of the contemporary world, not just with worldly wisdom and efficiency, but with hearts renewed and strengthened by the truth of Christ.”[9]

            It is a matter of great encouragement and hope that “in many Asian countries, lay people are already serving as true missionaries, reaching out to fellow Asians who might never have contact with clergy and religious.”[10]

            Meanwhile ignorance of the Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church creates serious problems among lay missionaries.  Although well-motivated, their ignorance of essentials often causes more confusion in the mission field.  Systematic and continuous training is necessary for these missionaries.

A serious preparation is needed for all workers for evangelization. Such preparation is all the more necessary for those who devote themselves to the ministry of the Word. Being animated by the conviction, ceaselessly deepened, of the greatness and riches of the Word of God, those who have the mission of transmitting it must give the maximum attention to the dignity, precision and adaptation of their language. Everyone knows that the art of speaking takes on today a very great importance. How would preachers and catechists be able to neglect this?[11]

This training should help to build up a group of good missionaries.  A missionary must be a leader and he/she should train others as leaders.

 

An effective evangelizer needs prayer, leadership qualities and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  One of the effective methods of evangelization is the formation good leaders.  An effective evangelizer must win over a good number of followers.  Jesus spent more time with his disciples than with the crowd.  He conquered the world through his disciples.  We know that St. Paul also did the same. St. Paul instructs Timothy, “Pass on to reliable people what you have heard from me through many witnesses so that they in turn will be able to teach others.” (2Tim 2:2)

 

We have to find leaders from the community itself in order to preach the Gospel.  Yahweh said to Moses, “Collects me seventy of the elders of Israel, men you know to be the people’s elders and scribes.” (Num 11:16)

 

Training Programme

 

Proper training is an important aspect of the formation of the laity.

While we are spending great sums of money to educate and form our clergy in large houses of formation and with well-organized programs, we cannot allow the formation of laity, as particular groups or as lay ministries, to be neglected. …..  the local churches must be encouraged to appreciate and support lay formation programs. Remuneration of lay persons for their stable services must respect the demands of justice and charity.  Much could be improved in their programs of formation by an exchange of personnel and resources.[12]

            Sometimes the prolonged intellectual formation and training reduces the commitment and effectiveness of the mission.  Scriptural studies and teachings of the Church are the most important things to be learned by an evangelizer.  Long term training with all kinds of intellectual development may not be an effective way of training lay missionaries.  For instance, in a battle each person has his own position and weapon in which he has been trained well.  When somebody tries to master in all kinds of weapons simultaneously he/she becomes the master of none.  So also for an evangelizer the Word of God is the weapon given to him/her and he/she should have been trained well to use that weapon.        

 

Two kinds of training can be arranged: Formal and Informal.

 

a)                  Formal training: This training is focused on the individuals who are ready to spend their life in mission areas as full time missionaries or at least for three years in a particular area.

Course-

  • The training period can last up to three years.
  • The first session is for 6 months and after that they will be sent to the fields for six months.
  • The second session will last for 3/6 months and going back to the fields for 12/15 months.
  • The third session lasts 3/6 months and final commitment.

 

Main Thrusts in the course:

           

v  The Word of God                                                      

v  Prayer                                     

v  Openness to The Holy Spirit  

v  The providence of God

v  Special training for the ‘Kerygma’ (the explicit proclamation of the saving act of Christ).

 

b)     Informal Training:          Informal training is meant for young students as the future leaders and also for the women in the family who are able to become a leaven in the neighborhood.

           

            The Women flockare powerful evangelizers. It is evident especially in the North Eastern region of India. Their tender love and care for the neighborhood and society bring many conversions in the villages.  But I think we do not have an organized programme to tap this powerful resource.  With a little training we can make big differences.  In his General audience on 13th July 1994, Pope John Paul II appreciated the efficacy of women in spreading the Good news. “Woman has a quite special aptitude in passing on the faith, so much so that Jesus himself appealed to it in the work of evangelization. That is what happened to the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at Jacob’s well: he chose her for the first expansion of the new faith in non-Jewish territory”.[13] Their role in evangelization particularly in person-to person cannot be ignored.  Church has given special attention to this mode of Gospel sharing.

For this reason, side by side with the collective proclamation of the Gospel, the other form of transmission, the person-to-person one, remains valid and important……. It must not happen that the pressing need to proclaim the Good News to the multitudes should cause us to forget this form of proclamation whereby an individual’s personal conscience is reached and touched by an entirely unique world that he receives from someone else.[14]

The involvement of women in evangelization activities is to be specially nourished through informal trainings like seminar on evangelization, prayer groups, bible study groups, etc.

  1. 2.      Mission Volunteers

            In this programme youngsters are encouraged to stay with missionaries for at least six months after their graduation. They will be trained as missionaries of Christ in different ways. They should have ample opportunities to explore their talents in mission and ministry according to their aptitude and creativity. This programme helps the youngsters to discover their aptitude in mission. It will be a period of experience that enables the youth to commit their whole life for the Kingdom of God where ever they may be. We can also hope for their support to the missions in different ways.       

The enthusiasm of youth to accept challenges is an important factor in this regard.  Our duty is to tap it properly and direct it positively.  We can see a renewed vigor in the hearts of youth all over the world.  The number of youth who are willing to live and share the gospel is increasing steadily. 

The Church asserts her hope about the youth whose participation in evangelization brings new enthusiasm in mission fields. “Circumstances invite us to make special mention of the young…….. young people who are well trained in faith and prayer must become more and more the apostles of youth. The Church counts greatly on their contribution, and we ourselves have often manifested our full confidence in them.”[15] The Church has great hope in their conviction, “To them the Church offers the truth of the Gospel as a joyful and liberating mystery to be known, lived and shared, with conviction and courage.”[16]

            Programme

  • Inviting the youngsters through dioceses, retreat centres, youth movements and other religious organizations
  • Training for 10 to 40 days
  • Priority for village ministry
  • Food and accommodation provided / contribution is highly recommended
  • Preference for  smaller groups

 

  1. 3.      Mission Hostels and Teachers

            The Catholic Church is considered as one of the largest ‘NGOs’ in the country having a wide range of network and numerous institutions.  The government and politicians have accepted this fact openly or secretly.  Nobody will ever question the excellence of our social undertakings. But unfortunately, if we look at all of our activities from a Christian perspective, we cannot but admit that we are very poor in carrying out the Church’s missionary mandate, which is the core of all our activities.  When we realize that only a handful of institutions and activities are earnestly proclaiming the kerigma through their services, we ought to admit that a  large chunk is running out of track.

The Goal of the Programme

            The important goal of this programme is to train a group of youngsters who, enlightened by Christian values, become responsible for their life and community. They should become the light and salt of the community, especially in their schools and colleges. It is our duty help them in this regard.    

The system of Catholic education must become still more clearly directed towards human promotion, providing an environment where students receive not only the formal elements of schooling but, more broadly, an integral human formation based upon the teachings of Christ.Catholic schools should continue to be places where the faith can be freely proposed and received (EA-37). [17]

We achieve our goal in and through Jesus.  Students should have the opportunity to hear and experience the love of God. In short our ultimate aim is to give Jesus to the young hearts so that they may become blessings for the community.  Jesus will colour their lives.  This is the hope and vision.

            Adolescence is an important and crucial period of time where the young search for identity.  If we are able to inculcate Christian values in them and directing them to find their identity in Jesus, it will bear much fruits. 

            Since school is a large arena, giving personal care is very difficult.  So we think of hostels. A hostel with 40 to 100 catholic students both boys and girls where each one will be cared for and nourished properly, is our vision.

             Apostolic schools run by different dioceses are a possibility in this regard.

Working Strategy

  • Identify a group of 40 to 100 catholic students of class 7 and above
  • They will be selected according to different criterion
  • Different types of training programmes for their spiritual, intellectual and social developments
  • Full scholarship is given, though contribution from them is appreciated

Teachers

            Genuinelymotivated and committed teachers can do wonders through their students.  Proper training will help them to live their life more profoundly.

For education in schools to become more effective as a vehicle of transformation in society, a true and proper vision and spirituality among teachers are needed.  This vision requires that the task of teaching be viewed as a call from God to share in the teaching ministry of Jesus who announced and taught about the Kingdom and that teaching is not simply the communication of knowledge but even more importantly the formation in values.  From such a vision flows a spirituality involving sacrifice, other-directedness, concern, love, justice and other Gospel values.  As in catechesis, the more effective is not the one who simply teaches but the one who also witnesses.[18]

ü  Committed mission teachers will take care of the children

ü  Only devout Catholics having mission motivation will be selected as teachers

ü  Teachers will have Good salary package

ü  They should undergo a mission training programme for at least 30 days.

ü  Day time teachers will be entrusted with prayer and village ministry which includes informal schooling and women empowerment programmes

ü  They would assist the children in the evening

ü  A teacher has the responsibility of 15 to 20 students

ü  Life of the teacher should be a witness for the children

Mission teachers working in some of our catholic schools are doing great services to the Church.

  1. 4.       Mission Clinics

            A mission clinic enables aspiring nurses and doctors to serve God’s kingdom by liberating the sick and the needy from their bondage.  This experience of mission will produce much fruit in the long run.

            Motivated by divine love, youngsters voluntarily spend certain months of their important span of life to share this love.  It may be a few months or one to two years.  It may help them to be more generous to the poor in their future life.  Their support even after their period of commitment is expected.  The village youth can possibly be motivated by the service of these volunteers.

Mode of Action

  • Arranging village clinics according to the availability of the doctors and nurses
  •  Possibility of getting medicine free of cost
  • Finding the aspiring nurses and doctors is done through retreat centres and other youth movements
  • Assistance of religious sisters are also recommended
  • Medical camps can be conducted in the villages where the sick and needy receive the message about the divine healer
  • Explicit proclamation also is possible through this group

 

  1. 5.                  Tourism for mission

            We are familiar with terms like eco-tourism, health tourism, etc.  Mission Tourism   aims at giving some idea about mission fields to the people who are really interested in mission but have not been able to be directly engaged in the process of evangelization. We help them to have a foretaste of the mission. The possibility of using tourism as an activity of mission is a concern of The Church too.

International tourism has now become a mass phenomenon. This is a positive development if tourists maintain an attitude of respect and a desire for mutual cultural enrichment, avoiding ostentation and waste, and seeking contact with other people. But Christians are expected above all to be aware of their obligation to bear witness always to their faith and love of Christ. Firsthand knowledge of the missionary life and of new Christian communities also can be an enriching experience and can strengthen one’s faith. Visiting the missions is commendable, especially on the part of young people who go there to serve and to gain an intense experience of the Christian life.[19]               

            Our target groups are the professionals and employees working in and outside the country.

Mode of Action

            Interested people are invited to visit some of the mission centres. They will get opportunities to understand the village life and people.  Those interested can stay in the village for two or three days.  If they wish we will direct them to other tourist places in the region.  All expenses must be met by them.

Expected Results

v  Heard knowledge turns to touch knowledge.

v  They can find out their own possible way to support the community with their professional experiences in different walks of life. For eg: an engineer sees the things and recognizes the possibilities from his perspective.  So as in the case of doctors, business men, educators, social workers etc

v  Can be motivated by the selfless work of the missionaries

v  Can be motivated by the role of the church

v  May help us through their prayer and resources

v  May encourage others

v  Possibility of vocation from the group or from their offspring

v  Moreover, it may help to increase the esteem of missionaries in the hearts of ordinary people

It is true that everything needs a large amount of home work and preparations.

  1. 6.      Business as Mission

Through this programme we try to lead business people to an encounter with Jesus and there by a personal God experience.  There are good number of positive business people also. We motivate them to start some enterprises attune to the specialty of particular area and culture.  The conversion of such people, when it is supported with their time and resources will make great difference in the mission fields. 

 In this context the laity belonging to the world of business hear the call of God to live out their faith according to Gospel values and the needs of the others.  This involves a number of options in their business- from the simple exercise of the values of truth, justice and love to their active participation in transforming the social structure of the whole process towards greater worker participation, more discerning consumer guidance, more responsible interventions by Governments and a more equitable society.[20]

Highly populated modern cities are formed due to the establishment of big industries and multinational companies. They have created a culture which mostly degrades and diminishes the human values and leads to greed, self centeredness and all kinds of luxuries etc.

Business as mission calls the catholic business people who are ready to do something for the poor.  When we support them for such endeavors they are expected to do something for the people according to their growth in the business.  They can support missionary activities in different ways, such as primary school, clinics, training centers, student scholarships etc. In order to support the entrepreneurs practicing and enthusiastic catholic persons should be employed.

  1. 7.            Church in Asia Forum

“The heart of the Church in Asia will be restless until the whole of Asia finds its rest in the peace of Christ, the Risen Lord.” (EA-10)

 

The goal of this forum is to enrich and keep up the missionary zeal in the hearts of seminarians/religious/lay people in order to make them equipped for the Evangelization, with an emphasis on Asia, tuned with the call of the Church especially through the Vatican II, encyclicals and other documents of the Magisterium on mission.  Universal Church hopes a real spring time in Asia.”Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent.” (EA-1)

Since our main focus is seminarians, we are not planning to do some mission works during this formation period but we are trying to be equipped for our future mission through different means.

Some of the aims

  • To make the seminarians say ‘yes’ to mission.
  • A common plat form for deepening the mission interest
  • To help the brothers know more about mission activities.
  • A forum that thinks dreams and prays for mission.
  • Helps to prepare for future mission.

Some of the Means

  • Adoption and Intercession for different countries and Indian states.
  • Short term training programmes.
  • Sharing sessions of active missionaries from different parts of the country.
  • Reading of magazines, leaflets and palm lets which give motivation.
  • Watching of some encouraging movies and documentaries about mission.
  • Study of the official teachings of the Church which speak about mission mandate (Apostolic letters, encyclicals etc..).
  • Modern medias and communication technologies especially Internet.

 

  1. 8.      Cultural Exchange Programme

The youth from younger Christian communities are motivated to visit the places where they can be enriched through the faith life of the people. In order to experience the life of the people they can be put up in different houses.  A better understanding the country and cultures would broaden the mind as well as the spiritual encounter through different programmes would strengthen the faith of the youth. 

  1. 9.      Specific Ministries

There are different organizations and Associations where likeminded people from different profession and carrier coming together for their common cause.  Trade unions, Employment organizations, etc are familiar to us.  In such institutions people come together and think together and move together. 

Evangelization also can be done in such a way that one student invites another students, one teacher preaches to another, one doctor motivates to another..etc. When a person really motivated by the love of God he/she spontaneously shares and invites others to experience that joy.  It is easy for him/her to share it with whom he/she meets every day life.  As a result of such individual initiatives there can be different ministries like campus, teachers, doctors, engineers, nurses, policemen etc.  Conducting retreats, arranging prayer groups…etc are some of the means to achieve this goal.

  1. 10.  Village Outreach

In this programme a group of youngsters after having a short orientation programme reach out to villages where they spent few days according to the need of the village.  They stay in different houses according to the number of the team and involve in different activities.  They visit houses as a group of 3 to 5 members.

Usually in the remote villages people go for their work during the day. So they spend time in prayer and gather the children who are out of the school.  Visiting and praying over the sick and elderly people is another activity during the day. Children may be animated through stories, catechism, songs etc.  In the evening they meet the family members, conduct prayer groups, share the gospel and if possible they show some devotional movies also.  Through such direct interventions they are able to touch the hearts personally.

Visiting Houses: during the visitation one of them hears the parent/family member and shares gospel through his/her personal experiences.  Mean while others pray in heart unceasingly.  If necessary they also interact with children in order to avoid distractions in the conversation. Inviting the family members for the evening prayer meeting also should be done.

Results:  personal interaction will help convincing the people easily.  Hearing the worries and grievances of the people will be a great comfort for them.  In many instances people have come back to the church and the sacraments.  Since the fruit of the programme is very evident for the participants deepens their faith.

 

  1. 11.  Special Thrust on Activities Among Politicians and Celebrities

“Missionary cooperation can also involve leaders in politics, economics, culture and journalism, as well as experts of the various international bodies” (RM-82).

Gospel should be proclaimed in every walk of life. Christian missionaries having the idea of option for the poor, have moved towards rural villages.  But at the same time we fail to evangelize the elite and rich people whose conversion could have resulted a dramatic change in the missionary activities.  The rapid growth of the protestant churches are in a way indebted to such conversions.

Influence of politicians and other people like film actors, sports persons, musicians etc, in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people cannot be ignored.  A single sentence of such persons influence the people like a 10 second advertisement in the Television.  Thousand preachers’ influence can be achieved with a split of second. We witnessed such an incident when the Brazilian player showed the words on his dress which proclaimed ‘we belong to Jesus’ after their victory in the 2002 World Cup foot ball. It was seen by more than one billion people!

In the same way the involvement of laity in the politics is very important. It will help us to influence the policies of the government.

The need of the hour in Asia is for competent and principled lay persons to enter into the realm of party politics and from within, influence the philosophies, programs and activities of political parties and personalities for the common good in the light of the gospel.  We commend the lay persons who already have contributed much to this area of public life.[21]

The assassination of Shabhaz Bhatti, Pakistani minister for Minorities who spoke against blasphemy law made a great impact in the life of the faithful in Pakistan.  His words are really strengthening the persecuted Christians in Pakistan.

Conclusion

We are taken you through these methods which are of course not exhaustive.  Looking into what we have presented, we are aware of their incompleteness and limits.  Each of these methods though effective in their own way besides their limits, has the power to change the lives of people.  We need to place these methods in their cultural contexts to reap maximum fruits.  Or we need to adapt these methods into the culture where it will be planted this could only muster the result we expect.  At this point let me also remind that the church has never been stagnant.  Church will encounter new ways in the future. There is no method that is called the best.  Suitable methods evolve from answering to the needs of the situation.   Still we should not forget that no method is effective unless we follow the biblical method which is seen in Acts 2:43-47. Believers came together for prayer, breaking of the bread, sharing, etc.  The life based on Christian charity and communion attracted many. There by the number of believers were also increased steadily. Sharing the Good News is not a propaganda it should be a life witness motivated by one’s own personal God experience.  This is the challenge which is responded by an evangelizer throughout the life.



[1]Benedict XVI,

[2] John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, no. 2.

[3] Paul Vadadkkumpadan, Mission in North East India, Shillong: Vendrame Institute Publications, 2007, p 141.

[4]Felipe Gomes S.J, “Method in Mission: Lessons from the History of the Church,” in Indian Missiological Review, January-1989, Vol.11, No.1, pp 15-53

 

[5] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, Encyclical, no. 37.

[6] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 71.

[7] Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Apostolic Exhortation, no. 40.

[8] Indian Missiological Review, January-1989, Vol.11, No.1, pp 54-60, Emerging Priorities and New Perspectives of Evangelization in Asia, ( A summary of the discussions:  All Asian Conference on Evangelization, Suwon, South Korea- 24-31 August 1988)

[9] Propostio no. 29, as sited in John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 45.

[10] Propostio no. 29, as sited in John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 45.

[11] Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi,no. 73.

[12] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47,  p 43.

 

[13] L’Osarvatore Romano, No.29, July- 20, 1994, p 7.

[14] Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi,no.46.

[15] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 72.

[16] John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 47.

[17] John Paul II, Ecclesia In Asia, no. 37.

[18] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47,            p 33

[19] John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 82.

[20] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 36

 

[21] FABC, Final Statement of Fourth Plenary Assembly, September 16-25, 1986, Tokyo, Japan, in FABC Papers No.47, p 26.

Social Involvement of Syro-Malabar Church: A Historical-Critical Analysis

Social Involvement of Syro-Malabar Church

(A Historical-Critical Analysis)

Kundukulam Vincent

Introduction

All religious segments play a significant role in shaping the vision and character of the national civilization. They influence the national life through spirituality, ethics, culture and social involvement. The Syrian Christians, though a minority, have been playing a pertinent role in shaping the social life of Kerala from the early days. Jawaharlal Nehru has rightly mentioned it in 1946 by saying: ‘Indian Christians are part and parcel of the Indian people. Their traditions go back 1500 years and more and they form one of the many enriching elements in the country’s cultural and spiritual life’. On the occasion of the Silver Jubilee Celebration of Paurastya Vidyapitham, an Institute renowned for its commitment to the Oriental studies, it is quite opportune to look into the Syro-Malabar Church’s social involvement, an essential factor for her theological reflection.

The study on the social involvement of Syrian Catholics is challenging mainly for three reasons. Primarily the majority of sources at our disposal do not enable us to reconstruct concretely the particular story of the Syro-Malabar Church’s social involvement. There is ample literature on the contribution of Kerala Christians to the nation building but few documents directly deal with Syrian Catholics’ unique role in this process. Secondly, we lack reliable sources about their social involvement. Much literature exists regarding their history. There are only a few authors who sociologically analyzed their involvement in the society. Hence our search is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Yet, we can glean some data that suggest trends of social impact of Syrians from what is generally told about the Christians in Kerala.

 Thirdly, when we go through the literature concerning the Christian involvement in the society we come across people belonging to different denominations in Christianity including Latin Catholics, Non-Catholic Churches and others. By the very fact that some Syrian Catholics were involved in a social intervention will it be considered as a Syrian intervention? On what basis we determine the Syrian aspect in a social involvement? In the same way the community based identity is practically insignificant with regard to some areas of life. For example what does it mean in saying that Syrian Christians have made outstanding contribution to politics on account of the fact that A.K. Antony is by birth a Syrian? Above all, will it not be communal to identify an involvement on the basis of race or rite? This problem cannot be solved here as it is beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore for the time being we will avoid mentioning the contribution by way of individuals and movements where the Syrian identity does not have any special emphasis.

Let me briefly explain the limits of the following exposition:  (1): We are trying to engage with the role and history of Syrian Catholics living only in Kerala. As we know, at present, thousands of Syrians live outside Kerala and a good number of them are settled abroad. Unfortunately we don’t have records about the social roles played by them in their respective regions. (2). Again we are constrained to focus our attention only to certain periods in the history of the Syrian Christians. Their history is crowded with incidents of various genres, protracting through twenty centuries, which we can in no way expound in this short paper. Therefore we concentrate on two periods of their life: a) from the early beginnings of Christian era to the arrival of Portuguese missionaries; b) from the end of 19th century to the formation of Kerala state in 1956.  (3). We have to precise also the types of social involvement of the Syrians we deal with. The role played by a community is determined in terms of several factors: culture, economy, politics, education, literature, media, etc.  Since the faith experience of Syrian Catholics in their cultural context is already studied in another paper we would like to concentrate more on their economic, political and social involvement.

This paper has a critical function. Our intention is not merely to assemble some data regarding the social involvement of Syrians. If not assessed with scientific tools history becomes a decayed story. In the academic world social involvement is the concern of social sciences and hence we will examine our corpus with the instruments of social sciences. Thus, this paper is a search into the political and social involvement of Syrians Catholics in ancient and modern periods of their history in Kerala and a critical assessment of their contribution in the light of theories of nationalism and communalism.

The procedure of the study is as follows. There will be three parts in the paper. At first, we will investigate the social stature the Syrians enjoyed until the arrival of the Portuguese. The second part will be about the social and political interferences done by the Syrians at the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, a period marked by growing political consciousness in Kerala. Finally we will put in perspective the findings of the first two parts and interpret the nature of Syrian social involvement.

Part 1:  From the Early centuries to the arrival of Portuguese

Christianity was introduced in Kerala three centuries before it became the established religion in Rome. The Syrian Christian population, comprised of immigrants from Asia Minor and the inhabitants of the land developed into a powerful community because of their investment in the field of trade and commerce. What helps us to pinpoint their position in the early centuries of Christian era are four Copper Plates, which deal with the privileges granted by the Hindu monarchs to the Christians settled in Quilon and Cranganore. The earlier document is a grant given to Thomas Cana in 372; the second dated 774 offered to Iravan Kortan, chief of the Christians of Cranganore; the third and fourth both dated 849 and addressed as Teresapalli to the local Church at Quilon by Ayyan Atikal Tiruvatikal[1].

Genevieve Lemercinier and Francois Houtart in their work on the ‘Genesis and Institutionalization of Indian Catholicism’ after analyzing the rights conferred to the Syrians make a few important conclusions. The social position of Syrians was largely determined by their function in the mercantile economy. They had monopoly over commercial transactions: foreign trade in spices, salt, sugar and oil. By the title of manigranam the group had the right to deal in all kinds of trade goods. In addition, they could collect the customs duties on commercial transactions[2].

The Syrians were also predominant in the areas of agriculture and warfare. They excelled in the production of pepper, a coveted commodity in the pre-industrial European markets. ‘Thomas Christians maintained a high standard in the art of war’ testifies historian Edward Gibbon. They were finest soldiers and this persuaded the kings to respect them and to protect their rights and privileges[3]. The greater the number of Christians a king had in the army, the more his neighbors respected him. Hindu monarchs constructed churches for Christians and endowed them with tax free lands in order to secure their military service.[4]

The kings accorded three types of grants to the Syrians: a) symbols of the integration of the group into the cosmic universe:  the right to erect a pandal on the occasion of wedding and setting up a pillar before their houses; b) symbols recognizing the status of the leader of the group: right to speak in the assemblies, to use a carpet and a palanquin and to employ sandalwood paste; c) symbols carrying privileges to the whole group: the right to wear festal attire, the right to build a wall around their houses, etc[5].

The mercantile economy gained for the Syrian group an enviable stature because it was central to the social structure of Kerala of that age. It was the mercantile money, which enabled the whole system to function without any danger to the interests of the various dominant groups of the society. Due to the lack of experience in the trade and the inability to engage commercial transactions with the foreigners the Hindus failed to play role of intermediaries between the foreigners and the Kings[6]. What made it easy for Christians to step into such a privileges position might be also the absence of a vaishya caste in the Kerala society of the time.

Needless to affirm that the Syrians were well integrated into the culture of mainstream castes in Kerala. There were a number of ceremonies derived from the local social practices like the Yogam or Church assembly at the local as well as general level. They had close ties with the aristocrat class namely Nayars. Until 16th century marriages took place between them. The lower casts had to keep rules of untouchability towards Christians[7]. The chiefs of Christians enjoyed the same privileges as were enjoyed by Hindu feudal landlords[8]. The Christians were noted for their courteous manners. They kept high morality in business dealings. Unlike the Hindu women, the Christian women were fully dressed, covering the upper part of their body. The Syrians wore practically the same ornaments as the Hindus. The vast majority among them were vegetarians and as a class was not addicted to drink during this period. The fact that the rulers of the time like the Cochin Raja and the chiefs of Vadakkumkur, Thekkumkur and Ambalapuzha helped the progress of Christianity in their kingdoms by donating lands for the erection of churches shows that they had an esteem position in the state[9]. It is said that at that epoch a word by a Christian was as good as signing an official stamped paper[10].

The Syrians seems to have played an impressive role also in the field of education. Hindu educational institutions were the guarded preserve of a few elite Hindus, but Christians opened them to all. At the close of the 15th century when the Portuguese arrived in Kerala there were schools conducted both by Hindus and Christians. Children irrespective of religious affiliations attended these schools. This is evident from relevant decrees adopted by the Synod of Diamper requiring the removal of shrines kept in schools run by Christian teachers for the worship of Hindu children and according permission to Christian children to attend schools run by Hindu teachers without showing any religious reverence to idols[11].

The Syrians accepted the caste system as they were reckoned among the high castes, on par with the Nairs, writes Cardinal Tisserant, in the light of decrees of the Diamper Synod. This Synod forbids the Syrians from the practices like purification of vessels, touched by the members of the low castes (decree 3), piercing the ears like the Nairs (decree 17), etc. The Council blames the women for omitting to attend any service during the forty days (Session IX, decree 5)[12] Mathias Mundadan interprets the oneness of Syrians with their social-cultural milieu as an expression of implicit way of living the incarnational approach of inculturation, in the model of Christ who assumed everything human and redeemed all social and cultural values[13].

Part 2. The closing decades of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century

The Syrian Christians, though a petit minority, played vigorous role in the struggle for freedom at the national level. In the historic Salt March to Dandi on the sea set out on 12 March 1930, 78 members of the Sabarmati Ashram accompanied Mahatma Gandhi. Among these disciples of Gandhi was Thevarthundiyil Titus, a member of a Thomas Christian Family in Travancore. He was taking care of the Ashram diary[14].

Coming to Kerala, at the end of the 19th century there was widespread resentment among the educated classes against the Government’s policy of importing Tamil Brahmins to hold the most important posts in the public service even when persons with similar qualifications were available inside the State. Their resentment found expression in the ‘Malayali Memorial’ submitted to the Maharaja on 1 January 1891. Among the 10, 028 petitioners who called the attention of Maharaja to the exclusion of the educated natives from higher grades of the public service and asked to provide fair quota of government appointments, there was considerable number of Christians[15]. Nidhirikkal Manikathanar and Cyriac Nidhiri played a leading role along with C.V. Raman Pillai and K.P. Kesava Menon[16].

The Christians actively participated in the Nivarthana (abstention) movement, which was a joint venture against the Nairs by the Ezhavas, Muslims and a section of the Christian community claiming representation in the Legislature in proportion to their numerical strength. They formed an organization known as Samyukta Rashtriya Samiti (Joint Political Congress) of which at the top was Syrian Christians like T. M. Varghese, N. V. Joseph, Joseph Chazhikkatu, A.C. Kuriakose, A.O. Joseph, etc.[17] The Travancore government was entrusted to the people as the result of the deliberations made by the then Congress leaders including Syrians like T. M. Varghese, A. J. John,  P.T. Chacko, Thariathu Kunjithomman and K.M. Chandy. The resolution on Responsible Government presented by T. M. Varghese in the Sri Moolam Assembly is described as historic. As E.M. Kovoor notes, T.M. Varghese, one of the leading heads of Travancore state Congress from its inception on February 23, 1938 was a person who sacrificed most and struggled most for establishing Responsible Government in the State. The women who joined the agitation for the freedom of Travancore came mainly from Thomas Christian community.  The heroic resistance of the Catholic Bishop Mar James Kalassery of Changanachery Diocese against the attempt of Travancore government (1945) to bring Christian Primary school system under its control is another hallmark in the fight of the Christians for the freedom in education[18].

In the field of education, the Syrian schools and colleges have been expression of social justice and equality. Quality and discipline remained always as the hallmarks of their institutions. Among the Syrian pioneers of education Fr. Chavara Kuriakose Elias, the co-founder of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) deserves special mention. He started religious houses, seminaries and institutes for secular education, printing and publication[19].  He popularized the idea that there should be a school along with the church. With a revolutionary insight he started pallikuudams for pulayas when only high caste people had the right to study. He founded a Sanskrit school at Mannanam and taught lower caste students along with the Brahmin students. He introduced Uchakanji (midday meal) in schools so that students were attracted to schools. For that he popularized the custom of pidiyari (a handful of rice set apart every day for the poor)[20]. Thus the Syrian educational institutions, as others in this field, worked untiringly for the eradication of injustices, social evils and taboos.

In the field of media, Nazarani Deepika, which was launched on 15th April 1887, deserves our special attention. It was begun to represent the atrocities, injustices and cruelties meted out to the poor folk before the court of rulers and ministers, and to voice the grievances of the mass like a faithful messenger. It has succeeded to pass on to the 21st century making it the oldest existing Malayalam Newspaper.  Deepika provided chance to many leader-writers and columnists of the different religious sections in Kerala. Deepika fought from the very beginning against social evils like caste system and untouchability and gave impetus to the social movements like Malayalee Memorial and Nivarthana movement and freedom struggle of Travancore. It took up causes of opening the temples to all Hindus[21].

The service of the Syrians in the field of agriculture cannot be left unstated. Land has always remained a weakness for the Syrian Christians. They proved a thrill of their own in tilling the soil and sowing the seeds and reaping the harvest. They demonstrated an inimitable sense of adventure in going the mountains and forests, fighting the wild animals, resisting the hostile weather and climate and taking to their strides all hardships on the way. The health care services rendered by the Syrians, as it can be said about other Christian institutions alike, is the embodiment of preferential option for the poor. Hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, mental health care centers, leprosy cure centers, orphanages, destitute homes and care centers for HIV patients are to be mentioned in this respect. Among the veteran leaders of the Syrian community we don’t ignore the first woman High court Judge Anna Chandy, first woman Chief Engineer P.K. Thressia, Chevaliar Joseph Thaliath, Kattakkayam Cherian Mappila, Sr. Mary Baninja, all eminent personalities[22] in the public life of Kerala.

Part 3 Critical Appraisal of Social Involvement of the Syrians

We have briefly stated the contributions of Syrian Catholics in the economic, social and political fields.  Our remaining task is to study critically the Syrian interactions in Kerala applying scientific tools of research.  The two ideologies with which we can analyse the impact of social involvement of the Syrians in our state are nationalism and communalism. Let us see now whether their involvements go par with either nationalism or communalism?

Hans Khon defines nationalism as the state of mind in which the supreme loyalty of the individual is felt to be due to the nation-state. The essential element of nationalism is the living and active corporate will[23]. A.D. Smith distinguishes two types of nationalism: ethnocentric and polycentric. The advocates of ethnocentric nationalism are very adamant in preserving the cultural and religious heritage of their own group and in imposing them on other ethnic groups. On the other hand, polycentric nationalists recognize that other groups do have noble ideas and structures and they assimilate them for the common good of the society. There are three essential elements in the polycentric nationalism. They are collective autonomy, collective individuality and pluralism. According to Smith the polycentric nationalism only merits the title of nationalism for it only stands for the common well being of a nation[24].

In India, the equivalent of ethnocentric nationalism is communalism.  In our political scenario communalism is a negative concept. One becomes communal when he or she discriminates others on account of immoderate attachment to one’s own community. As Rasheedhudin Khan has rightly observed, religious communalism has taken the shape of narrow and blind devotion to one’s own religious community for acquiring political and economic benefits. In that sense communalism is opposed to secularism and nationalism.[25] Though communalists play with religion, in fact, religion is not the fundamental cause of communal conflicts. As Louis Dumont, a French sociologist, remarks religion becomes here a mere appearance. People are not really concerned about the substance of religion. Religious communalism is the affirmation of the religious community as a political group. What appears to be clash of religions is really clash of interests of a small group. [26]

The political and economic undercurrents of religious communalism are thoroughly examined by the Indian sociologist Asghar Ali Engineer. One of the macro-factors promoting communal tension in the society is the uneven development of the economy. The upper classes of the less-developed community feel a strong sense of rivalry vis-à-vis their counterparts in the developed community.  In such a situation, in order to win the support of masses of one’s community, the grievances are formulated in terms of the ethos, including religious ethos[27]. A recent example for economic basis of religious communalism is the joint venture done by the leaders of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) and the Nair Service Society (NSS) to form a grand political Hindu alliance against minorities in Kerala. There is a widely held perception that Muslims and Christians possess more political and economic clout than their numbers would warrant.  A study on the economic scenario of Kerala shows that the 82.5 per cent of Non Resident Keralites (NRK) during the period 1998-2002 are in the Gulf countries. Out of these, 49.5 per cent were Muslims and 31.5 percent Christians. The Hindu share is only 19 %.[28] “The accumulated money amongst the minorities is mostly invested in land. A little over sixty percent of available cultivable land in Kerala is in the possession of Christians and the Muslims are fast acquiring the urban land and properties to the envy and dismay of other communities. In the field of education, the Muslim and Christian communities together manage 223 arts and science colleges, whereas Hindu jatis all together possess only 42 colleges.[29]

In the light of above analysis we have to examine whether the social interactions of the Syrian Catholics project nationalist or communalist tendencies? I would say that they were rather communalist in the economic and political spheres whereas nationalist in the field of education and social service. The behaviour pattern of Syrians towards the lower casts until the coming of Portuguese was certainly guided by communal spirit and not by any Christian principle. I seriously doubt whether the Syrian insertion into the higher castes can be interpreted as an incarnational model of inculturation? Likewise, to my mind, many a struggle that the Syrian elites led in the beginning of the 20th century to compute the number of posts their members held in the government cannot be whitewashed as freedom struggles[30].  In saying so I don’t put the whole blame on the Syrian Christians. They performed exactly as other communities of the age. The history of modern Kerala became partially the history of communalism because the political parties in their turn used also the ideology of communalism to divide the community affiliations and gain electoral support from the different groups within the same religious community[31].

Conclusion

As a concluding note I would like to make the following suggestions. 1) The Syrian Christians couldn’t be accused of communalism in the field of education and social service until the formation of Kerala state. 2) What we said about the past cannot be applied uncritically for our times. We may need to do a sole searching criticism to deliver us from both falling into self-absolution and self-pitying. 3) The threat of communalism whether on the basis of religion or caste is eroding the social fabric of society in many overt and covert conflicts. How efficient are our institutions to fight out this evil? 4) This paper is limited by reading the past from a sociological perspective. Biblical and theological evaluation can throw further light on these comments, which is beyond the scope of present exposition. Let this exercise become an eye-opener in the pursuit of Syro-Malabar Church to carry out her mission in the third millennium on the basis of gospel.

Mangalapuzha Seminary

P.B. No:1, Alwaye 683102

23/01/07


[1] Fancois  Houtart & Genvieve Lemercinier, Genesis and Institutionalization of the Indian Catholicism, Universite Catholique de Louvain, 1981, Chapter 1

[2] Ibid.,

[3] George Thomas, Christianity and the Modern Indian Civilization, Indian Christian Directory, Rashtradeepika, Kottayam, 2000, p. 70.

[4] C.V. Cherian, Kerala-Empowerment through Enlightenment, Indian Christian Directory, p. 132.

[5] Fancois  Houtart & Genvieve Lemercinier, Genesis and Institutionalization of the Indian Catholicism, Universite Catholique de Louvain, 1981, Chapter 1

[6] Ibid.,

[7] R. Deliege, Inde, Dictionnaire d’Histoire et de Geographie Ecclesiastiques, Paris, p. 990.

[8] A. Sreedhara Menon, Social and Cultural History of Kerala, pp. 49-51.

[9] A. Sreedhara Menon, A Survey of Kerala History, Madras, 1991, p. 228-229

[10] Cyriac Thomas, Christian Involvement in the Building up of the Nation, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, S. Ponnumuthan (ed.), POC, 2004, p. 67.

[11] C.V. Cherian, Kerala-Empowerment through Enlightenment, Indian Christian Directory, p. 130.

[12] Cardinal E. Tisserant, Eastern Christianity, pp. 164-165.

[13] A.M. Mundadan, St. Thomas and St. Thomas Christians, Indian Christian Directory, p. 55.

[14] George Thomas, The Christians and the Freedom Movement, Indian Christian Directory, p. 65.

[15] A. Sreedhara Menon, A Survey of Kerala History, pp. 300-301.

[16] Pala K. M. Mathew, The Role of Christians in India’s Freedom Struggle, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, p. 30.

[17] A. Sreedhara Menon, A Survey of Kerala History,  pp. 302-303

[18] George Thomas, The Christians and the Freedom Movement, Indian Christian Directory, p. 67; Pala K. M. Mathew, The Role of Christians in India’s Freedom Struggle, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, p. 32.

[19] G. Menacherry, Christian Saints and Sages of India, Indian Christian Directory, p. 76.

[20] Antony Kalliath, Paths of Contextualizing Indian Spirituality, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, p. 206.

[21] Thomas A. Aykara, The Deepika, Indian Christian Directory, pp. 90-92.

[22] Cyriac Thomas, Christian Involvement in the Building up of the Nation, Christian Contribution to Nation Building, p. 68.

[23] H. Khon, Nationalism: Its Meaning and History, Florida, 1982, pp. 9-10.

[24] A.D. Smith, Theories of Nationalism, London, 1971, pp. 158-163; 170-171.

[25] R. Khan, South Asian Portents, India Nation-State and Communalism, G.S. Balla [ed.], 1989, 40-42

[26] L. Dumont, Nationalism and Communalism, Contribution to Indian Sociology, VII, 1964, 45-47.

[27] A.A. Engineer, A theory of communal riots, Seminar, November 1983, 15

[28] Economic Times, May 19, 2003.

[29] Organizer, September 26, 2004

[30] For a detailed study of the subject refer George Mathew,  Communal Road to A Secular Kerala, New Delhi, 1989, chapter three.

[31] For a detailed study read P.M. Mammen, Communalism VS Communism, Minerva Associates, Calcutta, 1981, pp. 183-190

Religious Fundamentalism – Denial of Religion

 

 Religious Fundamentalism – Denial of Religion

Dr Vincent Kundukulam

 

                                                                                    Vincent  Kundukulam

 

 

 

Introduction

A vast amount of pain and suffering was heaped on the world by the attack on the World Trade Center on 11th September 2001. No words can be adequate to condemn this event, which was directed against the innocent civilians. This tragedy has brought back into public the discussion about religious fundamentalism. Opinions are divided on the question whether religions can be held responsible for such crimes. Some believe that a true religious man cannot indulge in terrorist activities. Yet it remains a fact that these terrorists adhere to such practices, which are considered to be generally religious. This paper is an attempt to know the origin of religious fundamentalism, its general features, its particular meaning in Indian context and the factors leading to religious fundamentalism. We will also discuss the question whether fundamentalism is native to religion and see how fundamentalism can be checked with the essentials of religions.

We want to begin with a clear and simple definition of fundamentalism. But it is a very difficult task due to various reasons. First of all, one man’s fundamentalism is another person’s normality. What may seem excessive to a non-believer could be very real for a believer. Secondly, fundamentalism is a catchword for many a narrowed suggestion like conservatism, evangelicalism, sectarianism, obscurantism or bigotry. This term is often evoked in the context of fanaticism, terrorist activities and communal violence. Due to its vague and multifaceted meanings any attempt to define it creates confusion rather than clarity. Therefore what is being attempted here is an extended description of the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism.

1. Origin of fundamentalism

The origin of the term fundamentalism dates back to the last phase of the 19th century in USA. It was mainly a deliberate reaction to the general liberalism spreading in North America. The decade after the First World War was marked by the increasing degree of scientific and historical knowledge. Some clergymen and theologians attempted to interpret the Gospel and the fundamentals of faith with the scientific tools, which were developed in biblical and theological disciplines. This attempt to say something in tune with the spirit of modernism was perceived by the traditionalists as watering down the essentials of the gospel and diluting it into something easier and comforting to man’s environment. They felt that modernism built up man’s pride in himself and this would lead many to reject the help of divine grace and ignore the dependence of man on God. They were under the impression that modernism made the Church cold and dead.

In opposition to this liberal attitude, a series of books with the title The Fundamentals: A Testimony of Truth was published between the years 1909 and 1919 by evangelical and conservative theologians. The term fundamentalist seems to have been used for the first time by Cutis Lee Laws, a Baptist from North America on 1st July 1920 in the editorial of a New York weekly The Watchman Examiner. It designated those who were blindly attached to the great fundamentals of Christian faith and vehemently opposed to modern interpretations of the Bible based on new exegetical methods. (P. Lathuiliere, Le fondamentalisme catholique, Cerf, Paris, 1995, pp.15-19).

Its conservative supernaturalism was mainly expressed in five doctrines: inerrancy of the Bible; the Virgin birth of Jesus, the supernatural atonement (redemptive sacrifice through the blood of Christ), the bodily resurrection of Jesus and Jesus’ ultimate return in glory. The fundamentalists raised strong opposition against the historical interpretation of Holy Scripture, which they thought would undermine the status of the Bible as absolute and perfect symbol of the religion. This movement was characterized not only by its conservatism with regard to traditional popular Christian beliefs but also by its aggressive efforts to impose its creed upon the Churches, on the public and on denominational schools of the country. A political campaign was started in general places against the schools, which ceased to insist upon the obligatory prayer before classes, the reading of the Bible and divine service in colleges and universities. It removed from the churches and educational institutions those who did not share the conservative faith. In a number of denominational colleges the teachers were asked to subscribe to the fundamentalist creed on pain of dismissal. It induced state legislatures to pass laws prohibiting the theory of evolution. In short it refused, as it was said, to let a vociferous minority of godless men and woman bring America to the brink of ruin. (H.R. Niebuhr, Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences, vol.6, 526; S. Fuchs, The Fundamentalists, Indian Missiological Review, June 1995, 5-8.)

The growth of fundamentalism in America was closely related to the conflict between rural and urban cultures. It coincided with the depression of agricultural values after the First World War. Its popular leader was the agrarian W.J. Bryan. Modernism was identified with bourgeois culture having its strength in the cities and in the churches supported by urban middle classes. Fundamentalism flourished in those isolated communities where educational institutions were not adequately developed and culture remained static. The rural societies, which depended for their livelihood on the processes of nature and who received least profit from a rationalized culture distrusted reason and doubted the human ability to solve ultimate problems of life. (H.R. Niebuhr, 527)

The main feature of Christian fundamentalists is that they think of their own position as the only Christian position. They cannot tolerate any other Christian positions that can be contrasted with their own. They are the true Christians and those who did not share their viewpoint are not genuine Christians. They consider a non-fundamentalist as anti-evangelical. They cannot admit that different forms of service have all alike been pleasing to God. There is no value in talking of manifold ways of coming to God when God himself has made known to us the way by which he intends us to know him. To the fundamentalists, noble life, good deeds and saintly character of others do not matter because man is saved through faith and not by the goodness of any human work. In short Christian fundamentalism lived two pairs of contrasts: on the one side the contrast between the true Christian and the nominal Christian, on the other side the contrast between the more conservative theological opinions and the more liberal. (J. Barr, Fundamentalism, London, SCM Press, 1991, pp. 4-6; 12- 15)

2. Religious fundamentalism today

Fundamentalism has cut across Christian world and has become one of the most obvious characteristics of almost all the institutionalized religious traditions of the world. Israel carries out systematically terrorist attacks on the people of Palestine to deprive them of their homeland. Muslim fanatics are reported to be involved in insurgent acts of political terrorism, kidnappings and sectarian violence from Philippines to Indonesia to Thailand to Kashmir to Afghanistan to Algeria to Chechnya and Bosnia. Groups like Jama-at Islami, Lashkar Toiba, Al Qa’ida, etc., are examples of the growing fanatic tendencies in the contemporary Islam. The fundamentalist tendencies prevailed among the Hindus since time immemorial in the form of caste system and untouchability. With the advent of Sangh Parivar movements, who maneuvered the destruction of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, Hindus have explicitly turned against other believers in the country. To deal with the variable forms and meanings that fundamentalism acquired throughout the world is beyond the project of this paper. Therefore we limit our study to India, which will show how fundamentalism grows here along with communalism.

In India The growing religious fundamentalism in India is not necessarily the same of Christian fundamentalism of 19th century. It is both the cause as well as the effect of communalism and inter-religious conflicts in Indian society. Fundamentalism is breeding a false consciousness among the members of their respective groups. It has emerged in India as an ideology to be a succour in the game of power. Its platforms are beginning to yield political returns. The ruling elites have found phenomenon of fundamentalism quite convenient to divert the attention of people from the genuine issues and demands. They disseminate fundamentalist ideology through communal conflicts; a violent clash here and a hostile atmosphere there; a case of discrimination here and another case of blatant partiality there. In one area one group faces the threat and humiliation and in another area the other group meets the same fate. The vested politicians create vote banks manipulating such circumstances on religious base  (R. Punjabi, Mainstream, 5, January, 1991, pp.18-20)

Fundamentalists of both majority and minority communities have adopted exclusiveness to flourish in the country. Instead of making efforts to seek commonalities, which could be brought forth among various religions, they prefer the literal interpretations of scriptures and adopt antagonistic postures towards other groups. They seek guidance from the societies and persons, which have no experience of living in multi-religious societies. They marginalize the moderate religious leaders. It is important to note that fundamentalism wages a two-pronged attack. First, it annihilates physically the moderate forces within the ranks of their religious groups. Thus the moderate voices of different religious groups are getting feebler in the cacophony of the fundamentalists. Second, fundamentalism tailors the religious beliefs and adjusts the doctrines of a particular faith according to their requirements.(R. Punjabi, pp. 19-20)

The recourse to history has become a frequent technique of fundamentalists. They go back to what they regard as the purer standards of bygone days. This recourse to history helps to do with the culture of people today. This is to infuse in the marginal minds a sense of false superiority complex. This device helps them distort the perceptions of average minds and shape new stereotypes and attitudes. Due to these distorted perceptions they come to clash with those groups and cultures, which do not share these false notions. They view the other with suspicion and cynicism. It gets reflected in their behaviour patterns in the offices, in schools and in day-to-day dealings. Underneath the peaceful society, groups of people are arraigned against each other as adversaries and they get divided on the slightest provocation. (R. Punjabi, pp. 18-20)

To consolidate their hold, the fundamentalists launch pseudo-religious organizations. These groups apparently maintain their independent identity as defenders of faith but extend their support during crucial moments of political mobilization. They adopt militant postures and at times they give the impression of coming in collision with the state. It is through these groups that the ideology of fundamentalism is diffused in society. Through their mechanizations the ‘I teach them a lesson’ syndrome has become operational in Indian society. (R. Punjabi, p. 20)

Main characteristics: Here are a few major characteristics of growing fundamentalism today. a) A fundamentalist is always certain what he means by the terms he employs. His value system is non-negotiable. The Fundamentalist position is intrinsic to faith. To ask him to modify it is to ask him for something that he cannot perform. He thinks that a rigid and uncompromising position suits their interest best. He thinks that his is the best system of thought and management that is available to humankind. To argue that there could be a plurality of ideas which could be equally valid is for the fundamentalists sacrilege; b) Another feature is the moral fervor with which the fundamentalist speaks. He is certain that some people have God’s authority to do what they will because they are doing all that in the name of a higher value which is unquestionable; c) The Fundamentalists believe that those who do not believe in his value system are evil or are inspired by evil. They regard their victims no longer as human beings but as creatures of the devil. (GPD, EPW September 29, 2001, 3668) d) the Fundamentalists reconstruct a golden past through historification of legends and myths. e) The Fundamentalists support communalist leaders by supplying literal and anti-religious interpretations of the Scriptures, which legitimate the exclusion of the other. f) The Fundamentalists transform themselves into fanatic groups who become insensitive to human suffering and use violence against the fabricated enemies.

3. Factors leading to religious extremisms

            Incapacity to confront change: Stability was a positive value in the Middle Ages. But with the Copernican discovery people came to realize that the earth has four seasons because it orbits the sun. Change was then slowly looked upon as creative. Change became law of progress. But all are not responding positively to change. Man finds it at ease with a known trajectory than an unknown trail. Changes engender insecure feelings in him as he comes to know that many of the values, which molded his personality in the childhood, are persistently devalued. He finds it difficult to adjust to the new habits and values. He feels the foundation of his life terribly shaken.

            To escape from this fear he is in search of principles, which are permanent. He finds them in religion. For him they are the Religions, which uphold the perennial values and principles of life. All through the centuries religions have proposed and taught the fundamental answers to his quest. It is not only expedient but also necessary for man to depend upon God and religion to face squarely the distress and frustration. Religious beliefs were born as a response to man’s existential fear. The problem arises only when this attachment to religion becomes narrowed and blind. The spirit of intolerance begins when he absolutizes his experience at the expense of others.

            Inability to discover the true religion: The undue attachment to one’s own religion happens partly because of the misconception about what really religion is. Scholars of religion identify four elements in every institutionalized religion: external customary rites, myths, ideals and spiritual experience. The customs and traditions remain at the threshold of religions. The aim of religion is not to keep people in the mechanical practice of external rites but to lead them to the level of spiritual bliss. The ideals, symbolic representations and rituals must help the individual enter into the spiritual experience of the Absolute present to him in the universe and in the fellow men. But the populace often cannot reach the fourth (nth) stage of religious experience. It clings to the customs and traditions mistaking them for the absolute truth. For the common people one who marks his head with sandal is a Hindu, he who lights lamp in the church is Christian and one who recites the name of Allah is a Muslim. Those who mistake religions for external rituals and traditions take weapons to protect them. (S. Azhikode, Navayathrakal, D.C. Books, Kottayam, 2000, p.100)

            False reaction to anti-religious movements: With the advent of modern era reason became norm of truth. Secular thinkers, in their eagerness to affirm the inevitability of reason for progress, disqualified religion as superstitious. Gods were presented as man’s creation. Religions were projected as stumbling block in the path of human development. They tried to build a society where traditional religions would have no significant role to play in the cultural and political life.

The expulsion of religion from the social life had adverse effect. It created a vacuum in the mind. Man became insecure before the catastrophes that happened to him. Man understood more and more that science couldn’t give satisfactory answer to the ultimate questions of life. As a result he began to perch again in the limits of religions. Unfortunately this return journey towards religion means for some an extreme imposing of the bygone forms of religion as a solution to world-problems. They think that the reestablishment of the olden “golden age” of religions would usher in a right solution to the present problems. Such an approach is unrealistic because neither that man can rebuild his past nor that old solutions are inept to meet the problems of the present. Fundamentalists are those who are incapable of adapting religious values according to the present needs and cultural patterns.

            Move against globalization: Another important factor, which contributes to the rise of religious fundamentalism and terrorism, is the phenomenon of globalization. World is in the process of becoming one village. The cultures of the powerful nations are spreading and stretching into every nook and corner of the developing countries through television and Internet. The diverse cultures of the world merge into a monolithic culture. The negative effect of this uniformity of cultures is the disappearance of the “little traditions”. The “little cultures” exist in relation to specific regions, languages, races, geographical settings, etc. They don’t have the efficient means to resist the invasion of western culture. Their identity as well as existence is being threatened by it. Due to the fear of being removed from the earth, the regional cultures become defensive and reactionary (T. Henri, ‘La montee des extremismes religieux dans le monde’, Le Faits Religieux, J. Delumeau (ed.), Fayard, Paris, 1993: 740). Since they are unable to fight against the onslaught of an international culture they search support in traditional religions. Fundamentalists isolate texts from Scriptures and misinterpret them in view of disqualifying globalization.

Economic factors: Every society is very sensitive about the privileges, which others possess and are denied to it. Each one formulates strategies for capturing their rights. When it is difficult for a community to earn their rights through democratic and lawful means they take refuge in terrorist activities.  For example, behind the terrorist movements in Kashmir, Nagaland and Punjab are the economic interests of those states. K.N. Panickkar interprets the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as Muslim reaction to the totalitarian policies of America in economic field. He observes that the three sites targeted by the terrorists are symbolic of American power. World Trade Center represents its economical strength, Pentagon the military power and the White House the political supremacy. The American companies collect the major share of the income of the petroleum industries in Gulf countries. The same way the Muslim countries pay a good deal of their road-tax to American companies. The attack on New York is a reaction of the Muslim fundamentalists to the economic supremacy of America. (K.N. Panikkar, ‘Matha Teevravadam – Saamoohika Manasika Maanangal’ Mathavum Chintayaum, vol. 82, no: 2, 2002, p.18)

4. Are the religions fundamentalists?

We have studied the components, features and causes of fundamentalism. The question that has to be answered now is whether fundamentalism is intrinsic to religion? Why people resort to religion for legitimizing their fundamentalist approach?

When we study the history of religions we come across several incidents where the religious leaders made divisive and pejorative remarks despising other religions as enemies. Crusades are best examples in the history of Christianity. When Islam conquered much of Christian territories and holy places in Europe, Popes instigated the Christians to fight against Muslims. Pope Urban II’s appeal for war is very famous:

“I beseech and exhort you – and it is not I but God who beseeches and exhorts you as heralds of Christ – both poor and rich, to make haste to drive that vile breed from the regions inhabited by our brethren, and to bring timely aid to the worshippers of Christ. I speak to those here present, I will proclaim it to the absent, but it is Christ who commands …If those who go thither lose their lives on land or sea during the journey, or in battle against the pagans, their sins will at once be forgiven; … What can I say more? On one side there will be poor wretches, on the other the truly rich; there the enemies of God, here his friends. Pledge yourself without delay.” (P. Regine, The Crusades, London, 1962, pp. 23-24)

The worldwide dismay and outrange caused by Taliban’s edict of 26th February 2001 ordering the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas raised a host of questions of fundamentalist nature. The justification offered for such an act of religious intolerance and vandalism is that these graven images offend the religious sentiments of Taliban. Their supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was quoted as saying: ‘I ask Afghans and the worlds Muslims to use their sound wisdom… Do you prefer to be a breaker of idols or a seller of idols? Is it appropriate to be influenced by the propaganda of the infidels?’ On 27th April 2001, human rights activist Salim Saboowala was harassed and assaulted by the BJP activists in Mumbai and the books on Pariyar Ramasamy Naicker and BR Ambedkar, which he was selling, were confiscated on the grounds that they carried derogatory references to Hindu gods. (R. Hensman, EPW, June 9 2001, 2031)

The mode of expressions that president Bush employed over the September 11th terrorist activity may be identified as that of fundamentalist nature. He posed the entire problem not in terms of secular international politics but rather as problem of faith. Needless to say, for the Americans preaching of Christian faith is curiously combined with political involvement in the world. They are convinced that the USA has a missionary mandate to save the world from unbelief and immorality. This is also to win the support of the fundamentalist protestant sects whose financial support is decisive for the politicians. Bush gave the proposed military operation a code name, ‘Infinite Justice’. The reference was again to the belief that only the Lord can bestow infinite justice. America sees itself as the Lord of the universe. It was not president George speaking but rather St. George speaking. (GPD, EPW, September 29, 2001, 3668-3669).

In the light of the above-mentioned inglorious stories, can we conclude that fundamentalism is native to religions? The answer depends upon how we comprehend religions. Amongst the numberless definitions that have been suggested in the history of religions, those that have been most frequently adopted for working purposes are that of Tylor’s and Frazer’s. E.B Tylor suggested a simple definition: religion is the belief in spiritual being. J.G. Frazer defined religion as a conciliation of powers superior to man, which is believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life. (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 19, p.103). Friedrich Schleiermacher defined religion as the feeling of absolute dependence. Religion stands for the pattern of beliefs and practices through which men communicate with or hope to gain experience of that which lies behind the world of their ordinary experience. Typically it focuses on an Ultimate or Absolute, thought of by some believers as God (Encyclopedia Americana, vol.23, p. 359)

Sociologists and anthropologists are not satisfied with the above-mentioned formalistic and experiential type of definitions. They rightly argue that religion is a social institution. Religion is never an abstract set of ideas, values or experiences developed apart from the total cultural matrix. As a social phenomenon it has to include the practices of all those who profess a certain faith regardless of whether they conform to or deviate from the teachings of the founder. If we understand religion from its social perspective, religion is to be considered as sources of peace and compassion but at the same time responsible for violence.

The interesting point here is that even while we consider religion as responsible for fundamentalism we don’t find the latter evolving from the Scriptures, but from the believers. James Barr who has done a thorough study of Christian fundamentalism argues that contrary to general belief, the core of fundamentalism resides not in the Bible but in a ‘particular kind of religion’. What is this particular kind of religion? Barr means here a particular type of religious experience the fundamentalists draw out of the Bible, which they think is a necessary consequence of the Bible. Such a religious experience controls the interpretation of the Bible within fundamentalist circles. The fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible works out as a necessary condition of the self-preservation of their religiosity. Therefore Barr writes, “fundamentalism is based on a particular kind of religious tradition, and uses the form, rather than the reality, of biblical authority to provide a shield for this tradition” ( J. Barr, 11)

Barr’s findings clearly show that fundamentalism exists not in the Scriptures, the reality or the basis of religion, but in the form i.e. the interpretation given by a group to the revealed texts. I think that to argue the contrary would be disastrous to faith. All religions recognize God as the source of the Scriptures. To consider the latter as source of fundamentalism would be making God a fundamentalist. If the Scriptures were the real root cause of violence, anyone who is genuinely practicing the scripture-based values should have been intolerant. But that is not the case. The strict and stiff observance of the Bible or the Koran or the Gita does not immediately make one enemies of other religions. For example, every devout Hindu is not necessarily a VHP activist. Therefore we have to conclude that there is no automatic passage from the Scriptures to religious fundamentalism. As Dr. S. Radhakrishnan observes, in the human mind, the primitive, the archaic, the infantile exist side by side with the civilized and the evolved. All our enemies are within. The impulses, which seduce and the flames, which burn, spring from that inner region of ignorance and error. The struggle between the life-affirming and life-denying impulses is permanent in man. (S. Radhakrishnan, The Present Crisis of Faith, Hind Pocket Books, Delhi, pp. 20-21). While believers, attracted by the political and economical interests, subdue themselves to the negative impulses they become easily prey to fundamentalism.

Yet one may ask whether some religions provide a better potential for fundamentalism since they contain also the interpretations of the Scriptures developed in course of history? In this regard it is worth recollecting the distinction made by A.A. Engineer about religion. According to him we must make a difference between religion as faith and religion as an identity. Religion as a faith has largely a spiritual function and religion as an identity acquires political overtones. (A.A. Engineer, EPW, October 20, 2201) The doctrines, laws and the code of conduct of religions are generally the outcome of interpretations made by the authorities on the revealed texts in view of adapting them to the particular context of their believers. Consequently, due to pressure from the believers or due to the influence of experts having extremist tendencies some interpretations may run the risk of fundamentalism. Any group that is violent is always in need of fanatical interpretation of religion to bind its followers together. Thus fundamentalism grows in so far as the followers use religion as an identity. Otherwise violence is not the product of religion. Religion as a faith cannot produce a fundamentalist.

Thus even though there is a communal potential in every representation of religiosity we cannot equate faith with fundamentalism. Fundamentalism originates from the believers who manipulate religion as identity for vested interests. Applying moderate and scientific tools of interpretations, which are developed in religious sciences, we can check the deviated explanations of the Scriptures. Similarly, we can purify the religions with the anti-fundamentalist potentials that are inherent in them. Following the 11 September event the leaders of the Islamic movements brought out a statement in which we read as follows: ‘we have unequivocally condemned the dastardly terrorist attack on establishments in New York and Washington. Islam upholds the sanctity of human life as the Koran declares that killing one innocent human being is like killing the entire human race. The tragedy of September 11 is a crime against humanity and Muslims all over the world mourn all the victims of the aggression as a common loss of America and of the whole world’. The main role of religion is to bind and to bring together the believers as well as to relate them to a wider and cosmic whole. The study about universalism, pluralism, love and compassion, innate to every religion, will prove that fundamentalism is denial of religion and that it can be resisted from within the religion itself.

6. Religions teach the spirit of pluralism and universalism

The Islamic attitude towards others is based on the concept of creation. According to the Koran(49,13), in spite of the different nations and cultures all are God’s creatures, all are children of the same parents. A Muslim has to believe in all the prophets, who came to this world. They have to respect the sacred works of all religions. One who does not believe in them is not a Muslim. “Say: We believe in God and that which is revealed to us; in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them.” (2, 136) This respect for other religion is also seen in the counsel of Babar to Humayun: ‘India is a land of different religions. You must be grateful for that. If Allah gives you power you should not show any favoritism. Don’t kill the cows, which may hurt the feelings of the Hindus…Don’t destroy the temples and places of worship….  Enrich Islam by a merciful heart and not through suppression (T.V. Muhammadali, ‘Bahumata Sauhradam Islamil’, Mathavum Chintayum, vol. 82, no: 2, 2002, pp. 41-43)

Hinduism is always known for its tolerance towards other religions. For a Hindu who holds this principle of ekam Sat vipra bhahudha vadanti doesn’t have any difficulty to accept that Allah, God the Father, or Yahweh as the different names of the same God. That is why even the materialist Charvaka is respected by the Hindu believers. One can draw a lot of other expressions in Hindu prayers and hymns like Vasudaiva kudumbakam, Atmavat Sarva Bhoodhani, Sarve Bhavandu Sukina, Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavandhu, which indicate that the universe is one family and all men are its members.

The Christian vision of the world and man is based on the theology of creation. The book of Genesis tells us that God created man in His own image and likeness. (Gen 1, 26-27). Consequently, men belonging to various religions, cultures, races, etc possess God’s image. Whoever lives according to the voice of his conscience is doing the will of the Creator.  Christian openness towards others is marked by Jesus’ respect for the believers of other religions. Even though Jesus was born as a member of Jewish community he honoured other believers in a special way. Seeing the faith of the centurion Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 8, 10-11) Jesus praised the Canaanite woman’s faith “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish”. (Mt 15, 28). He projected a Samaritan as model to practice the love of neighbor (Lk 10, 25-37). He did not hesitate to drink water from the Samarian woman, which was forbidden at that time.(Jn 4, 7)

7. Religions demand the practice of love and compassion

Religion is not only the way to God, but also the way to man. It is not mere contemplation, the fight of the alone to the alone, as Plotinus said. It is also a way of active service. All religions demand the practice of love and compassion.

The Atharvaveda says: “Like-heartedness, like-mindedness, non-hostility do I create for you; do you show affection, one towards the other, as does the cow toward newborn”.

Lao Tse says, ‘we must reply to our adversary with mercy and goodness’. The Mahabharata says: Even an enemy must be afforded appropriate hospitality when he enters the house: a tree does not withhold its shade even from those who come to cut it down.

In Rock Edict XII Asoka proclaims that the faiths of others all deserve to be honoured. By honouring them one exalts one’s own faith and at the same time performs a service to the faith of others. By acting otherwise, one injures one’s own faith and also does disservice to that of others.

Hillel remarks: “What is hateful unto thee, do not do unto thy fellow”. Isiah (2, 10) made Yahweh the one God of all mankind. Amos declared that Yahweh cared nothing for ceremonial worship but for justice and righteousness. Prophet Malachi says: “Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another?”

Justin Martyr said: “All those who have lived with the Logos i.e. with the eternal divine world-reason are Christians, even if they have been taken as atheists, as Socrates and Heraclitus”. In Tertullian’s phrase, the pagan soul is naturally Christian. Nicholas of Cusa regarded all religions as different expressions of the Word of God: ‘It is you, O God, who is being sought in the various religions, in various ways and named with various names, for Thou remainest as Thou art, to all incomprehensible and inexpressible.

            The Sufis advocate the following view

                        A Church or a Temple or a Kaaba stone,

                        Koran or Bible or Martyr’s Soul,

                        All these and more my heart can tolerate,

                        Since my religion now is love alone.

A scientific study of religions and their interrelations in the past show that there is a common substratum of all religions: the unredeemed situation of man, the longing for liberation, the recognition of the Divine Reality and many ways to reach the Real are found in all religions. The concepts of Virgin birth, the death and resurrection of the redeemer God, the inspiration of the sacred scriptures, the efficacy of grace, the use of the rosary, the conception of Trinity, the kingdom of God, priesthood, monasticism, etc. are found in every religion. Religions have influenced each other, helped each other and enriched the world. For example, Christianity received from Babylonia the idea of God as the maker of heaven and earth, from Persia the dualism of Satan and God, from Egypt last judgment, from Phrygia the worship of the Great Mother, from Greece and Rome the idea of universal law. (S. Radhakrishnan, pp. 51-58)

The above study shows that it would be erroneous to assume that the mind-set, which is labelled by the word fundamentalism, is invariably connected with the essence of religion. What happens really is that at a time when everything is in a flux and nothing seems to be stable and permanent, people feel a nostalgia for the customary and routine-bound past. They make a resolute and stubborn return to a way of life in the past based on religion though for our time it may be outworn and irrelevant. The political and religious leaders having vested interests manipulate the religious minded people and transform them as inimical to other religious groups.  The illiterate hope that the irrational attachment to the fundamentalist interpretation of sacred texts and exclusion of the ‘Other’ will resolve their contemporary problems.

Conclusion

Mankind is today in the midst of one of the greatest cries in history. In spite of the fact that the great scientific inventions have liberated us from servitude to nature, we seem to suffer from a type of religious neurosis. We need a moral and spiritual therapy, which would heal the human mind. The best medicine to be applied may be the spirituality of a universal religion, a religion of awareness and love, of wisdom and compassion, of truth and love. Religions are to be cured of their provincialism and they must rediscover their resources of pluralism, universality, compassion and love. We are born and trained in certain traditions of religion. But we are not supposed to transfer the absoluteness, which belongs to the Divine Reality, to its historical formulations. We must be able to hold our particular formulation as valid without denying the other forms. This is the only one attitude consistent with faith in a Universal God. (S. Radhakrishnan, The Present Crisis of Faith, Hind Pocket Books, Delhi, pp.  24-26)

            The religious and social leaders must turn their energies to fashioning new ways of understanding their own religions so that they can play a role in promoting peace, dialogue and social justice. There should be inter-religious forums in every village to isolate those who mix religion with political and economical interests. Dialogue sessions, common defense of human rights, joint endeavours for development, sharing of spiritual exercises, etc., will increase mutual confidence and cooperation among the followers of various religions. If we don’t take this challenge of decreasing the widened gap that exists between the temple, mosque and the church, our world may become an unlivable planet. We have to live together or die together and if we are to live together we must multiply our fight against fundamentalism

 

The fate and fortune of Indian Christians

 The fate and fortune of Indian Christians

Dr Vincent Kundukulam

Since 1998, the media, both in India and abroad, reports various incidents of attacks against Christians by the Hindu communalists (word used in India for those who show extreme attachment to one’s own religion in view of making economic and political gains). Even though the SanghParivar (term used to designate the Hindu militant movements, which tries to establish a Hindu-rashtra in Bharat. The head of these movements is Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: RSS) disqualify them as false propaganda, it remains a fact that the Christians, their institutions and missionaries often become victims of violence in the country. All those who have heard about the non-violent methods of Gandhi wonder how such atrocities can take place in a country known for tolerance. They don’t find any reason to blame the Christians for these conflicts as the latter form merely 2.34 % of the population and as they do not engage in any terrorist activities.  In this context, the social observers ask the following question: why Christians are targeted in India? This article is an attempt to understand the reasons behind Sangh Parivar’s vehement attitude towards the Christians.

First of all, we can say that targeting Christians is part of RSS’ strategy of ‘constructing against others’, which is a tactic often used by the communalist organizations to flourish rapidly. It consists in identifying the friends and enemies of a group and inviting its members to organize themselves against the imagined enemies. M.S. Golwalkar, the ideologist of Hindutva in his famous book, Bunch of Thoughts, explains about three internal threats of India. They are Muslims, Christians and Communists. The RSS and its associations have increased their support among Hindus by propagating calumnies against any of the above said enemies according to the favorable contexts in the country. One of the primary missions assigned by Dr. Hedgewar – the one who founded RSS in 1925 – to swayamsevaks (title given to the ordinary members of the RSS. It indicates those who offer voluntarily their life for the service of the nation) in the early period of the movement was the protection of Hindu pilgrims. When the Muslims once attacked the visitors to a temple at Nagpur during the festival period, the swayamsevaks made an efficient counter attack. This gave the impression to the Hindus that the RSS is an organization in their interest. The further history of RSS also shows that the consolidation of the Hindutva consciousness has won to a great extent through various social conflicts that are pre-planned by the Sangh Parivar against its enemies.

The combined effort of BJP-VHP-RSS since 1985 in favor of the construction of Ram Janma Bhoomi temple at Ayodhya, a small town in Uttarpradesh, falls in line with this strategy of uniting Hindus against minorities. As a means to consolidate the Hindu consciousness the Sangh-Parivar selected religious symbols which are dear to Hindus and Muslims. According to the Puranas the Hindus are attached to Ayodhya being the birthplace of Lord Rama. The Babri Masjid in the same town evokes for Muslims the souvenir of their glorious past in India. The Hindu communalists interpreted the presence of this Muslim institution as a shame and threat for independent India. It aroused anti-Muslim feelings among the Hindus. They conducted various yatras (processions) and pilgrimages all over the country in order to collect the bricks needed for the construction of the temple. Distribution of medals, icons, stickers and calendars of Hindu gods like Ram and that of the temple could arouse a “we-feeling” among Hindus. The broadcasting of Hindu Puranas like Ramayana and Mahabharata was also intended to forge unity among Hindus who are divided into various fragments. This way of playing with religious symbols brought grand political success for BJP in the elections. It could increase its strength in the Lokasabha from 4 in 1984 to 119 in 1991. Sangh-Parivar’s opposition to the Christian missions and the recent demand of the RSS-chief towards Christians to cut off its foreign affiliations and to construct a National Church are new forms of applying the above-explained strategy of strengthening Hindu unity against minorities. Through these controversies RSS pictures Christian community as responsible for all the problems in India and advises Hindus to be alert in watching over the activities of Christians.

It is true that RSS earns support among the Hindus by uniting them against Muslims, communists and Christians. When we study the attitude of Sangh Parivar associations to these enemies we notice that its opposition was mainly towards Muslims in the past. But since 1998 they project Christians as the main threat of the nation. Why this shift in selection of the enemy? This may be partly due to the rise of Sonia Gandhi in national politics. As Sonia took the leadership of Indian National Congress, the Hindutva movements were afraid that she might come to power at Delhi. To avoid such a probability they wanted to give a communal image to Sonia. She was presented as the convoy of Pope and the defender of Christians. They propagated that missionaries were converting massively Hindus with the support of Sonia and that if she would become the Prime Minister, India might be once again colonized by the western powers. Such propaganda got random, as Sonia is foreigner and Christian by name. To enforce their argument, on the one hand, they instigated their followers to harass the missionaries and on the other hand they put the responsibility of such crimes on the shoulders of the missionaries. They interpreted that Hindu attacks were provoked by unjust missionary activities. As a result the BJP could win the vote-bank of Hindus in Gujarat during the election of 1999.

The targeting of Christians is also due to the realization that Muslim community is a dangerous enemy to accommodate with. The destruction of Babri Masjid followed the Hindu-Muslin riots and bomb blasts in different parts of the country and thousands were killed. Since the Muslims form almost 12 % of the Indian population, enmity towards them will destroy the harmony and peace of the country, which is decisive for the economic prosperity at present time. The inter-religious conflicts will retract the foreign industrials from investing money in India. The same way Sangh Parivar knows that opposition to the Muslims in India will irritate the Gulf countries on which India depends at large for its economic growth. Daily India exports huge quantity of spices and vegetables to Gulf countries and imports the oil, which is terribly lacking here. A serious attack on Muslims will adversely affect the financial situation of India.

On the other side, RSS knows that the situation of Christians is quite different from that of Muslims. They are a petit minority here and even if they make a counter attack on Hindus, it can be easily controlled. Moreover Christians are generally non-violent people. The gospel does not promote terrorism. They have to follow the command of Jesus to love their enemy. So whenever they are persecuted they won’t retaliate. They would express their resentments through peaceful methods like processions, fasting, etc. and not through rifles and bombs. At the same time the wide spread presence of the Christians in the country and their affiliation with foreign countries make them a symbol of suspicion and fear among the Hindus. In short, targeting Christians is not at all dangerous, but is advantageous to the Sangh Parivar in bringing unity among the Hindus.

Another element, which influenced the Sangh to turn against Christians, is their conscientization work. In the beginning of this epoch, the Christian missionaries were mainly concentrating on education, health and employment. They established schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, orphanages, small-scale industries, etc. all over the country and all Indians irrespective of casts and creed benefited out of them. Slowly the missionaries realized that such kind of social works would bring only an immediate relief to the poor. They can not change radically the poor situation of the people. The unjust social set up produce millions of poor every year in India. Unless and until these evil structures are destroyed India will remain always as a poor nation. They felt the need of educating the downtrodden classes about the evil structures. In these endeavor they were influenced by the notion of human rights which is one of the basic moral principle of the human society today. They were also influenced by the liberation theology i.e. theology originated in Latin American countries and later spread all over the world according to which Christianity has to be primarily a liberative force in the society since Christ was the liberator of the poor. The missionaries left the huge institutions and went to the poor villages, where they lived with the people and fought with them against the injustice.

These fights against unjust structures turned to be an attack on the high caste Hindus in the particular situation of India. In the northern states of the country a few landlords possess the land and the majority of the people are peasants. These peasants have to depend upon the landlords for their livelihood. They are condemned to work for the whole lifetime as slaves for minimum salary. The missionaries educated the untouchables and the low casts to oppose the system of the bonded labors. The children started going to the missionary schools. The missionaries opened evening schools also for the adults. The self-help programs, which worked as cooperative banks, gave certain autonomy to the villagers in the economical field.  The poor stopped borrowing money from the high casts. Today they demand just salary for their work. They are slowly becoming a self-sufficient community. As the result of the conscientization work of the missionaries, the high casts are obliged to share their political and social rights with the poor. They are annoyed with this new social set up for which the missionaries are highly responsible. Since they can not accuse the missionaries for their liberative works, they misinterpret their service as a new method of proselytization. The missionary attacks are nothing but the reaction of the rich landlords towards the efforts that are taken by the Church to develop the poor people in India.

The above reflections lead us to a further question: how should the Christians respond to the growing Hindu communalism? The scope of this article does not permit us to deal in detail this important issue. We can state merely a few guidelines in this regard. Hindu communalism is a very complex phenomenon having multiple causes and faces and so the Christians should also adopt diverse strategies to face it.

RSS is primarly a reaction of the Hindu intellegentia against the humiliation it underwent during the period of colonization. Christians are responsible to a certain extent for creating a wounded psyche among the Hindus and so they have to understand Hindu feelings with great sympathy. An approach of dialogue will be useful in this respect.

At the same time there are extremists among the Hindutvawadis who keep a hidden agenda against Christians. They apply different methods systematically and strategically to weaken the Christian strength in India. Christians must be vigilant towards these types of movements. Basing on the fundamental human rights and the freedom granted in the Indian Constitution, they have to struggle for the maintenance of religious freedom in the country.

Among the Sangh Parivar one can also find people who have nothing to do with the religion. They have merely economic and political motives. They refer to religion only to gain power and money. They manipulate the illiterate and poor Indians by inculcating in them religious animosity against the minorities. Christians must fight against the communalists in alliance with the secular political and social organizations.

In this fight against Hindu communalists Christian can not adopt violent methods because it is alien to Christian message. The same way they have to take care not to give the impression that all Hindus are communalists. The majority of Hindus is still secular in India. Only 24 % of the people vote for the BJP. Christians may try to get the support of the tolerant Hindus and thus they can isolate the communalists in the society.

Finally the challenge of Hindutva gives to Christians an occasion for self-examination. The Spirit of the Lord who is at work in this world may speak to Christians also through their enemies. Hindu communalists can also play a prophetic role in India. Oh Indian Catholics of Houston please pray so that Christians in India be able to improve the quality of their witness by accepting positively the criticisms made by the RSS.

November 2000                                              Vincent Kundukulam,                                                                                                            Mangalapuzha Seminary,

Aluva, Kerala 683103

Deepening Inculturation

 Deepening Inculturation

 Dr Vincent Kundukulam

Dr Vincent Kundukulam

 Dr Vincent Kundukulam

Introduction

 

            Since the Second Vatican Council the theologians spoke much about the necessity of transmitting the gospel values in the indigenous cultures. Various local Churches in Africa Asia and Latin America took initiatives to develop Christian practices proper to their cultures. This interaction of the Christian message with the local cultures gave birth not only to adapted liturgies but also to diverged forms of theologies like liberation theology, theology of dialogue, etc. which sowed certain confusion in the Church. There was a feeling that individual Churches are moving away from the old traditions of the catholic Church. As a result certain precautions are taken by the Church to make sure that the efforts of inculturation do not risk the faith and unity of the universal Church. Unfortunately, today many individual Churches left aside the efforts to reinterpret the gospel message in their religious cultures and are content with adopting a few local external customs in the liturgy. The objective of this article is to show that inculturation is to be done not merely at superficial realms of indigenous cultures but also at religious aspects. The meaning of inculturation, its relation with the mystery of incarnation, the process of inculturation and the intrinsic connection that exists between the culture and religion proves the pertinence of such an argument.

 

1. Meaning of Inculturation

Origin: We don’t know the exact date of the first apparition of the term inculturation[1].  It seems that it was Fr. Pedro Arrupe, the Superior General of Jesuits, who first used this term during the thirty-second general assembly of their Congregation, which took place in Rome from 1st December 1974 to 7th April 1975[2]. The first Assembly of Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (F.A.B.C) organised at Taipei between 22nd to 27th April 1976 had also spoken about an indigenous and inculturated church[3]. This word first appeared in the official text of the Catholic Church during the Synod of Bishops in 1977. John Paul II officially pronounced this word during his allocation addressed to the members of Pontifical Biblical Commission on 26th April 1979. In his speech, he placed inculturation at the centre of the Mystery of incarnation[4]. Since then during his various visits in different countries and in his official documents Pope speaks about inculturation as a constitutive element of evangelisation. We can better understand the significance of inculturation if we compare it with other notions like adaptation, accommodation, localisation, indigenisation, contextualisation, acculturation and enculturation which are often employed in missiology to explain the new rapport established between the Church and different cultures.

Adaptation, accommodation and localisation: The initiative for adaptation was existing in the Church from the very beginning of her mission. It was more prevalent from 16th century when the European missionaries began to go in the Far East countries. It denotes the efforts taken by the missionaries on the one hand to adapt to the local customs in dress, lodging and food and on the other hand to present the Bible in an intelligible and understandable way for the non-Christians. In this sense the accommodation and localisation signify the same reality of adaptation. But inculturation is distinct from them in two aspects: a) Adaptation is essentially the work of missionary while inculturation is the result of the efforts taken by the members of the local Church to receive the Christian message in their culture. b) Adaptation limits itself to external aspects of the culture while inculturation is a process in which the Church makes of gospel new expressions and interpretations in a given culture[5].

Indigenisation and contextualisation The missiologists do not prefer to use the term Indigenisation to designate the transmission of the gospel in a particular culture because the term Indigenous designate those people who lived in ancient colonised countries. It revives the memory of colonial culture. As regards the term contextualisation, in its original usage, refers to the theological formation in the non-accidental countries. Later, it was utilised for explaining the various aspects of life and the mission of the church[6]. The benefit of this term is that it evokes the sum total of cultural political social and religious situations in which the Bible must be inculturated and by the same fact it represents well the object of inculturation. But the disadvantage of this term is that it does not represent well the theological dimension i.e., the encounter of gospel with human situations.

Acculturation:  This term is employed in sociology to evoke what one designated by inculturation in theology. Since thirty years, the missiologists use it to explain the relation between the Church and various cultures. Acculturation stands for that process by which one person moves from one culture to another with the consequence of changing the modes of his original culture. It is a historical process in the sense that the individuals and the groups do not stop modifying their cultural traditions by the contact of other people and other cultures[7]. But since this term is of sociology, the theologians prefer to use the word inculturation, which belongs properly to the theology.

Enculturation: This term also has its origin in sociology to indicate the process by which an individual is initiated and grown up in his culture, the first act of socialisation[8]. What distinguishes enculturation from inculturation is that the former is concerned about the insertion of an individual in a particular culture while the latter points to the process by which Church becomes a part of the culture of the people. Again, in the case of former, the child does not have a-prioi the culture while in the case of latter, the Church is already deep-rooted in a particular culture[9]. The above explanations helped us to see the differences between inculturation and other concepts, which describes the relationship between the Church and the culture in missiology. Now we have to study the significance of the term inculturation in a positive way.

            Fr. Arrupe used the term inculturation for the first time in his letter to the Jesuits written on 14th May 1978 defining it as follows: “Inculturation is the incarnation of Christian life and of the Christian message in a particular cultural context, in such a way that this experience not only finds expression through elements proper to the culture in question (this alone would be no more than a superficial adaptation), but becomes a principle that animates, directs and unifies the culture, transforming and remaking it so to bring about a new creation”. Then Arrupe gives the following explanation: “In every case, this Christian experience is that of the People of God, that lives in a definite cultural space and has assimilated the traditional values of its own culture, but is open to other cultures. In other words, it is the experience of a local Church which, accepting the past with discernment, constructs the future with its present resources”[10]. The FABC at Taipei in 1976 used the term inculturation when it defined the local Church: “The local Church is Church incarnate in a people, a Church indigenous and inculturated[11]. Pope John Paul II in his first utilisation of this term, he connects it with the mystery of incarnation: ‘the term inculturation is perhaps a neologism, but it expresses very well one of the components of the great mystery of incarnation’[12].

            The above explanations make clear that inculturation is more than adaptation. The gospel must be inculturated in the cultural political social and religious situations of the indigenous communities. Let us now contemplate on the inseparable link that exists between inculturation and mystery of incarnation, which will convince us of the need of giving flesh to the Word even at religious level.

2. Inculturation – Incarnation

            The heart of mystery of incarnation is the fact that the ‘word is made flesh’. (Jn.1:14)  God has taken the contingent form of humanity. The ultimate divinity has been incarnated in a man called Jesus. The connection between incarnation and inculturation consists in the fact that the latter follows the same logic of the former. In the process of inculturation, Gospel becomes a concrete word for the people. It takes a new expression and at the same time it enriches the culture. The advantage of comparing inculturation to the incarnation, as Claude Geffre says, is that there will be evangelisation only if the gospel is presented in a particular culture as the fullness of revelation of God in a man can take place only if he is incarnated in a particular and concrete man called Jesus of Nazareth.  Another advantage is that we can show the incorruptible nature of the word of God. Gospel does not lose its identity even though it is realised in different cultures, as the transcendence of God is not compromised in the incarnation[13].

            St. Paul presents the mystery of incarnation as a real denouncement  (kenosis) of God (Phil.2:6,7), a mystery according to which God accepted to incarnate as one of the member of a particular group (Jews) in order to open the way of universal salvation. The process of inculturation contains also this aspect of kenosis. The four gospels, even though they are inseparably linked with the cultures of their times, in order that they become a ferment in a particular context of today, they must be detached of the cultural contingencies of their time. The Indian theologians are really convinced that inculturation will take place only when there is kenosis of the word of God: “ To become a Christian is to become incarnated: to become a seed, to die, to be reborn in the cultural roots. There must be a fundamental transformation in our attitudes. We are born here and we must be harmonised to the vibrations, to the rhythms and to the music of Indian culture.”[14]

            R. Jaouen gives the example of a seed to speak about inculturation. As soon as the seed is fallen on the earth, it begins to work slowly and invisibly. The sower does not know how the seed sprouts and grows. The same way, the missionary sows the Word but the result is produced without him. Everything happens as a mysterious action that takes place between gospel and culture where the missionary remains as a useless servant. This reference to the symbol of seed helps us to understand the gist of inculturation: The principal actor of inculturation, as in incarnation, is not man but Jesus Christ himself who germinate his church in each man where he is preached. In other words inculturation is not the product of a human project. It is not the result of an encounter between two human cultures. But it is a divine project realised due to the encounter of Gospel with a particular culture. Jesus Christ is the Word proclaimed by the predicator and the Word received by a culture[15].

            As incarnation, inculturation is also an evangelising act. Amalorpavadass mention the missionary connection that exists between the process of incarnation and that of inculturation. According to him by incarnation, Christ has assumed in his humanity the whole creation and by the death and resurrection, he has recapitulated it in him. The church is called to continue the mission of recapitulation of everything in Christ of which inculturation is the accessible means for the church. If the church does not follow the same channel of incarnation done by Christ, she cannot fulfil her mission[16]. We listen to the same idea in the mouth of a bishop working in a missionary region of Kerala: “The incarnation of Christ is mission to be lived continually and everything that is good in different cultures must be assumed in his humanity[17]. Puthanangady affirms this dimension of inculturation saying that it does not mean simply the encounter of gospel with a culture in view of making a pertinent and adequate formulation of Gospel but it is the way in which God encounters the humanity in need of salvation[18]. In short, inculturation is a fundamental exigency for the church which is missionary among the diverse cultures of the world.

            Even though there are common elements between these two concepts, we cannot for the same reason exchange them mutually since the mystery of incarnation is absolutely unique. The incarnation has taken place only once for all while inculturation has to be realised many times everywhere in the world. Another important element which distinguishes inculturation from incarnation is that the latter evoke the relation between one person, Jesus Christ and a Jewish Aramanic culture while the former suppose a relation between a religion, Christianity which has already assimilated the elements of particular cultures and an another culture[19].

            This study on the relationship between the mystery of incarnation and inculturation shows the necessity of realising the process of inculturation even in religious level. We have seen that by incarnation, God has not taken shape only in the superficial aspects of humanity but in all the dimensions of man’s life. If the inculturation has to follow the same logic of incarnation, we cannot be content with an adaptation of the Church in Indian culture. We have also seen that incarnation was an act of evangelisation. Jesus has recapitulated the whole humanity in God. In order that the inculturation becomes an act of evangelisation, the gospel must assimilate and transform the profound aspects of human person including his religious culture. The study on the double movement of inculturation will clarify such a necessity in a better way.

3. The double movement of inculturation

            Inculturation is an encounter of the gospel with the culture. In this encounter, the two partners transform by the grace of their dialogical rapport. As the local culture is transformed by the gospel, the gospel is renewed by the culture. John Paul II in his encyclical Slavorum Apostolii published in 1985 during the 11th Centenary of the evangelising works done by Saints Cyril and Methode mentions this double face of inculturation: In the work of evangelisation that they undertake in the territories of Slav, one finds  a model which we call today inculturation: The incarnation of gospel in the native cultures and at the same time the presentation of the cultures in the life of the Church.[20]

3.1 The inculturation of the Gospel

            It designates today the process by which the gospel takes shape in the local culture of our time as the four gospels were formed in the early Christianity. The four gospels witness the possible cultural variants of the translation of the word of God. For e.g. in the discourse on love of enemies, when Matthew speaks to Jews, he uses the term- gentiles. (Do not even the gentiles do the same? Mt 5: 47) On the other hand, Luke uses another expression, sinners, while addressing to the Gentiles:  (For even sinners do the same; Lk 6:33) Thus the evangelists do not reproduce the exact words of Jesus, but translates the thoughts of Jesus in the cultural patterns of his addressee.[21] The objective of inculturation is, as says Peelman, to write a fifth gospel.[22]

   What does this expression mean? Should we try to write a gospel for India another for Brazil and a third one for Cameroon? I would never say that the gospel must be radically transformed. Anyway, by inculturation we would not be able to produce texts equivalent to the four gospels, which are part of the Canon of the church. The four gospels due to their proximity with Christ and the apostles are unique and they cannot be reproduced in any place. But at the same time, the process of inculturation of the Gospels implies that if the gospel takes root deeply in a culture of a particular people today, the latter will receive gospel in a quite different manner than the first Christian communities. The fact that the words of Christ are read and re-interpreted in a pertinent way for a particular people will bring a certain novelty in the very understanding of gospel. These new elements cannot be reduced to simple adaptations or applications of the word of God because they modify the very understanding of Christ, Church and her mission in the world. Inculturation is the renewal or the updating of the good news without losing its unique message. In realising such a task, the Spirit of Christ incorporates into the Church the new fruits of the kenosis of the word of God.

   In the process of inculturation, even though the principle agent is the Spirit of Christ, it is the missionary who acts in his name. When the Word of God is sown on the earth, it is the missionary who represents the presence of the church in that place. What is the role of missionary in the inculturation of gospel? First of all, let us remember that like gospel, the missionary is never culturally pure. Take the case of a Indian missionary in Africa. He is profoundly conditioned on the one hand by the Hindu culture and on the other hand by a Indian catholic culture. The gospel, which he announces, is in determined by the specific cultural paradigms of India that he lived during the course of centuries.  As says Jaouen, the cultural and religious affinity of a missionary compels him to create certain apriori cultural ethnocentrism. In order that his personal cultural roots do not become an obstacle in the encounter between the gospel and the local community, he has to put in dialectical contact his original culture and the new culture in which he is sent. In any way he has to avoid the risk of imposing the ecclesiastical culture proper to him upon the local Church. The missionary must act in such a way that the indigenous Christian community respond in an authentic manner to the gospel. On the contrary, if the missionary tries to implant his own Church, he imposes there a response, which is already made by his Church a few centuries ago. It has nothing to do with the local culture of Africa. The missionary must wait patiently so that the encounter between the gospel and the indigenous culture give shape to a new Church, which is the improvisible creation of Holy Spirit.[23]

   But in this process, the preacher should not also forget the risk of reducing the Christian message to the local culture because it will make Christ and his gospel to merely a human wisdom. St. Paul had averted the Christian communities of his time about such a danger. “For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin” (Gal.1, 11) “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ“”(Col. 2, 8) It is therefore Evangelii Nuntiandi after having indicated the necessity of inculturation of the gospel says: “But on the other hand evangelisation risk losing its power and disappearing altogether if one empties or adulterates its content under the pretext of translating it; if, in other words, one sacrifices this reality and destroys the unity without which there is no universality, out of a wish to adapt a universal reality to a local situation. Now, only a Church which preserves the awareness of her universality and shows that she is in fact universal is capable of having a message which can be heard by all, regardless of regional frontiers”. (EN 63) Bishop Poupard has reason to say that any effort to make cultural assimilation in a totalitarian manner, will end up in the very refusal of Christianity. In her concern to reach man in his modern culture, the Church cannot at the same time allow to be perished. She has to bring leaven to the local culture.[24]  Such an observation leads us to speak about the evangelisation of cultures, the other face of inculturation.

3.2 Evangelisation of cultures

   It means to criticise those elements in the local culture, which contradict the spirit of the gospels and to transform it by creating a new culture, which is in harmony with the gospel. The document Gaudium et Spes stresses this aspect of transformation of the culture when it speaks of the evangelisation. “Good news of Christ continually renews the life and culture of fallen man; it combats and removes the error and the evil which flow from the ever present attraction of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of people. It takes the spiritual qualities and endowments of every age and nation, and with supernatural riches, it causes them to blossom as it were, from within; it fortifies, completes and restores them in Christ” (G.S. 58, 4) The Evangelii Nuntiandi explain like this: “For the Church, evangelising means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new  … the Church evangelises when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs.” (EN 18) The question that we have to ask here is this: why and how the gospel is capable of transforming the cultures?

   We can find the answer in the creative power of the Word of God. As we have said earlier, it is Christ himself, who is the word preached and the missionary. The good news that Christ is made man, died and resurrected is too strange that it provokes in the mind of the listener a rupture with his original culture. It results in the change of the person and the reception of the gospel.[25] According to Puthanangady, the word of God is a critical word and so it is liberating. If Church allows the gospel to play its critical role, it will bring in the conversion of oppressors and the liberation of the oppressed.[26] Those who receive the gospel message like Saccheus (Lk.1:19), says Amaladoss, change their representations of God, of the world and  of the other, of  the material things, etc. Thus a new culture is born in the society.[27]

   Those who are actively participating in the activities of the Church are aware of the transforming aspect of inculturation: “The inculturation includes also the process of questioning the Hindu cultural practices which are not in harmony with the gospel message. We have to accept what is coherent with the spirit of gospel and refuse which do not[28]. “The church must assimilate the concepts of Hindu culture but at the same time, she has to re-interpret them in order that they become capable of carrying evangelical sense. The Christians must purify and evangelise the cultures and if nessary, they have to formulate a new one.[29]” The process of evangelisation of cultures finishes only when the gospel exercises its critical function and contributes to the creation of new evangelical cultures. It is not sufficient that the anti-gospel and the anti human values are denounced. We must detect the spiritual aspirations hidden deep inside the minds of the people, which may enlighten in a better way the gospel message and thus create a new gospel culture.

   But this evangelisation of the culture must be lead without destroying the prestigious indigenous culture, which may appear to the missionaries eyes as non evangelical due to his estrangement to the local culture. The directives given by the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith to the first missionaries of Asia in 17th century had already evoked the necessity of being prudent vis-à-vis the local cultures: “Don’t make any tentative to persuade the people to change their customs, way of life and daily practices, when they are not contrary to the morals and religious life. It is absurd to transport to China what is lived in France, Spain and Italy or in other parts of Europe. Don’t bring them at all, but only faith which does neither reject nor offend the way of life and the usage of the people when they are not bad. On the contrary, the faith may conserve and protect those morals and ideas.”[30] Even then, these instructions do not come from the urge for the inculturation of the gospel, as we understand it today. Rather it shows the desire to be successful in the conversion of gentiles.

   But in our time, Pope John Paul II in his address to the Australian aborigines on 29th November said: “Your culture, which witness the permanent genius and the dignity of your race, should not be disappeared. Don’t believe that your talents are not of great value that you need not preserve them no more. Share them among you and transmit them to your children; your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your language…They should never be lost.”[31]  The objective of all these official declarations of the church is the same: We should not confuse the values, the cultures and the way of life in Europe or in Mediterranean world with the substantial and essential message of the gospel. The missionary Church is neither Christ nor the Kingdom of God Her mission is to witness Christ and to dispose herself at the service of the Kingdom as the sign and sacrament of God. Such a conviction will allow the preachers to make gospel a leaven in the inside of each culture.[32] Finish this treatise with the description of inculturation proposed by Crollius who resumed the double movement in inculturation as follows: “Inculturation of the Church is the integration of the Christian experience of a local Church into the culture of its people, in such a way that this experience not only expresses itself in elements of this culture, but becomes a force that animates, orients and innovates this culture so as to create a new unity and communion, not only within the culture in question but also as an enrichment of the Church universal”.[33]

            The above study shows that if the inculturation is made only in the exterior aspects and if we remain foreign to the profound dimensions of Christian life that is not the spirit of the theology of inculturation. A serious approach to inculturation demands that the Gospel penetrate even in the religious cultures of a locality in order to transform them and recapitulate them in Christ. In this mission, Church cannot leave aside the non-Christian religious traditions, which guide the half of human population. As says Claude Geffre, all the existing values and ideas must undergo a metamorphosis and a new synthesis of which the Christian message is the catalysing factor. Thus re-actualising the fundamental Christian experience in new historical forms, the Church will become really universal.[34] To achieve this objective, as bishop Zoa of Cameroon says, ‘It will not be sufficient to put together the rituals of some religions or cultures. The word of God must take flesh in the economic, political and social situations of the local people. One must be able to say as the Samarians told to the Samaritan woman converted by Jesus. “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe. For we have heard for ourselves and we know that this is truly the saviour of the World” (Jn 4:42)’[35].

   Evangelii Nuntiandi reminds that the gospel message must be be inculturated not merely in a decorative way as it were by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their roots. (EN 20) During the encounter with the Pontifical Council for the Culture, on 13 January 1986, Pope John Paul II referred to the work done by the Synod of Bishops and affirmed it clearly: ‘Inculturation is another thing than mere simple exterior adaptation. It signifies a deep transformation of the authentic cultural values by the integration into Christianity and the deepening of Christianity in the different human cultures’[36]. If this is the very objective of inculturation, we cannot be satisfied with adaptations in the superficial level.

4. Culture and religion

   The concept of culture can be studied from different angles. There is the classical understanding of the culture according to which it is the sum total of refined habits that are practised by the dominant classes. The modern anthropologists prefer a more open definition of the culture. Among many definitions, I would like that of Edward Tylor and Clifford Geertz: “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs and any other capabilities or habits acquired by man as a member of society[37]. “Culture is a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which human beings communicate perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and their attitudes towards life”[38].

   The description of the culture given by Gaudium et Spes is in coherence with the modern anthropological vision: “The word culture in the general sense refers to all those things which go to the refining and developing of man’s diverse mental and physical endowments. He strives to subdue the earth by his knowledge and his labor: he humanises social life both in the family and in the whole civic community through the improvement of customs and institutions; he expresses through his works the great spiritual experiences and aspirations of man through out the ages; he communicates and preserves them to be an inspiration for the progress of many even of all mankind.” (G.S. 53:2) These definitions show that the term culture is to be understood in its largest sense: the integral vision of the life which is developed from not only social but also religious heritage of people through the history in a determined context.

   The relation between the culture and the gospel brings into our focus the inevitable place of religious factor in the processes of inculturation. With regard to the message of salvation, gospel is distinct from diverse cultures and still there cannot be total separation between gospel and culture. Gaudium et Spes says that God revealed himself to his people until the coming of his son through different cultures of the time.(G.S. 58) For the same reason in every culture we can find some sort of preparation to receive the gospel message. (G.S.57) Evangelii Nuntiandi affirms also the connection between culture and gospel: The Gospel, and therefore evangelisation, is certainly not identical with culture, and they are independent in regard to all cultures. Nevertheless, the Kingdom, which the Gospel proclaims, is lived by men who are profoundly linked to a culture, and the building up of the kingdom can not avoid borrowing the elements of human culture or cultures. (E.N. 20) As Cardinal Poupard says if Bible had been completely separated from the culture, it could not have the capacity to transform, to purify, to elevate, to strengthen, to perfect and to renovate the cultures as it does since 2000 years[39].

            There exists a reciprocal interaction between culture and religion in almost every countries. Religion is often the secret motor of every culture. So any attempt to get involved in a culture will necessarily lead to the involvement in their religious sphere. Perhaps what keeps away the missionaries from the religious inculturation is the fear of losing the Christian identity. Some think that by adopting some Hindu symbols, the Christians will be ‘Hindusised’. This fear is understandable because the co-habitation of the symbols belonging to different religious languages may cause syncretism. But the universal character of symbolic language shows that such a fear is baseless. As Michel Meslin says, ‘The symbol reveals a logic of correspondence: Above the immediate signification, there will be a second meaning which surpasses the material reality and make possible a mediation between man and his world. The efficient symbol speaks to man at a cosmic and social level. The symbols exist in and through the signification given by human individuals.’[40] If it is the human interpretation that gives sense to a symbol and if the symbols have the capacity to represent the ideas in a universal realm, I think that the Christianity can re-interpret the Hindu religious symbols without committing the mistake of syncretism.

Conclusion

            The inculturation is an inter-religious encounter. The particular culture that the gospel meets is not devoid of religious elements. The culture is transporting the human aspirations about transcendental realities and it is very difficult to separate the religious elements from the culture even in those countries which are very much secular. Much more difficult in countries like India where the daily life is some way or other related with a event in Scriptures which are numerous. So Indian Church has to take a renewed interest in reading and interpreting the word of God in the diverse religious cultures of this land. This is part and parcel of her mission to transform the Indian society from within. Only when the she fulfils this task she will be really Indian and Catholic.

                                                                                                Vincent Kundukulam

                                                                        Mangalapuzha, Aluva, January 2000


[1] For the details see A.A.R.Crollius, ‘What is so new about Inculturation? A concept and its implications’ , Gregorianum, Vol 59 n.3. 1978, pp. 721-738 : M. Sales, ‘Le christianisme, la culture et les cultures, Axes XIII – 1-2, 1980, pp.3-40: J. Masson, L’ Eglise, Ouverte sur le monde,  Nouvelle Revue Theologique, Vol 84, 1962, p.1038.

[2] Cf. P. Arupe, Fr.P Arupe’s letter on Inculturation to the whole society of Jesus,  Indian Missiological Review, January 1979, p.87.

3 Cf. G.B. Rossalez and C.G. Arevalo (eds), For All The Peoples Of Asia : Federation Of Asian Bishops Conference Documents From 1970-1991 , Clarition Publication, Quenzon City, 1992, p. 14

[4] John Paul II, Allocution a la Commission  biblique Pontificale: L’insertion culturelle de la Revelation, Documentation catholique, no: 776, 1979, p. 455

[5] Cf. N. Standaert, L’histoire d’un neologisme, Nouvelle revue theologique, no: 111, 1988, pp. 556-557.

[6] Cf. A.A.R. Crollius, What is so new about Inculturation? op.cit., p.723.

[7] Cf. A. Shorter, Toward a Theology of Inculturation, Orbis, New York, 1994, p.7.

[8] Ibid., p.5.

[9] Cf. A.A.R. Crollius, What is so new about Inculturation? op.cit., pp. 726-727

[10] P. Arupe, Fr.P Arupe’s letter on Inculturation to the whole society of Jesus,  op.cit., pp.87-88

[11] G.B. Rossalez and C.G. Arevalo (eds), For All The Peoples Of Asia, op.cit., p. 14

[12] John Paul II, Allocution a la Commission  biblique, op.cit., p. 455

[13] Cf. C. Geffre, Mission et inculturation, Spiritus, vol. 28, no: 109, 1987, p. 412

[14] Interview with Albert Nambiaparambil at Delhi.

[15] Cf. R. Jaouen, Les conditions d’une inculturation fiable, Observations d’un missionnaire au Cameroun, Lumiere et Vie, vol. 33, no: 168, 1984, pp. 29. 35-38.

[16] Cf. D.S. Amalorpavadass, Theological Reflections on Inculturation, Indian Theological Studies, vol. 27, no: ¾, 1990, pp. 234-240.

[17] Interview with Bp. Zoosai Pakiam at Trivandrum, Kerala.

[18] Cf. P. Puthanangady, Which Culture for Inculturation: The Dominant or the Popular, East Asian Pastoral Review, vol. 30, no: ¾, 1993, p.301.

[19] Cf. N. Standaret, L’histoire d’un neologism, op.cit., pp. 561-562.

[20] Jean Paul II, Homelie pour le jubile des saints Cyrille et Methode, le 14 fevrier 1985, La Documentation catholique, no: 1893, 1985, p. 308.

[21] Cf. S. Anand, The Local Church and Inculturation, Ishvani Kendra, Pune, 1985, pp. 34-36.

[22] Cf. A. Peelman, L’inculturation: L’Eglise et les cultures, Desclee, Paris, 1989, pp. 91-92.

[23] Cf. R. Jaouen, Les conditions d’une inculturation fiable, op.cit., pp. 34-37

[24] Cf. P. Poupard, L’Eglise au defi des cultures: Inculturation et Evangelisation, Desclee, Paris, 1989, p.44.

[25] Cf. N. Standaret, L’histoire d’un neologism, op.cit., p. 563.

[26] Cf. P. Puthanangady. Which culture for Inculturation: The dominant or the popular ?, East Asian Patoral Review, vol. 30, no: ¾, 1993, p. 302

[27] Cf. A. Amaladoss, Inculturation and Intentionality, East Asian Pastoral Review, vol. 29, no:3,1992,p.240

[28] Interview with Paul Thelakkatt, editor of Satyadeepam weekly at Ernakulam, Kerala.

[29] Interview with Francis Kodenkandath, Diocesian Pastoral Council member of Thrissur, Kerala.

[30] Alexandre VII, Instructions a l’usage des Vicaires Apostoliques en partenance pour les Royaumes chinois de Tonkin et de Cochinchine, Collectanea SC Propaganda Fide, 1, p. 42, no: 35

[31] Jean Paul II, Voici pour vous l’heure d’une novelle naissance: Discours aux aborigenes a Alice Springs, La Documentation Catholique, no: 1932, 18 janvier 1987, p. 61

[32] Cf. A. Peelman, L’inculturation: L’Eglise at les cultures, op.cit., pp. 78-85

[33] [33] Cf. A.A.R. Crollius, What is so new about Inculturation? op.cit., p.735.

[34] Cf. C. Geffre, Mission et inculturation, Spiritus, vol. 28, no: 109, 1987, pp. 418.420.

[35] From the homily which was made at Notre Dame de Lorette in Paris on 10 December 1995.

[36] Jean Paul II, Un temps nouveau de la culture humaine, La Documentation Catholique, no: 1912, 16 fevrier 1986, p. 191.

[37] E.B. Tylor, Primitive culture: Researches in to the development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, Custom, vol.1, Peter Smith, Gloucester, 1871, p.1.

[38] C. Geertz The Interpretation of Cultures, New York, 1975, p. 89.

[39] Cf. P. Poupard, L’Eglise au defi des cultures, op.cit, p. 27.

[40] Cf. M.Meslin, L’experience humaine du divin, Cerf, Paris, 1988, pp. 197-201.