Gregorios Thirumeni I knew

I still remember with fondness the visit of Mar Gregorios to our church the St. Gregorios Cathedral, Hyderabad. It was the year 1991, and I was busy with my engineering. Church was hardly my place of go, yet my uncle told me " Paulos Mar Gregorios thirumeni is coming, don't miss the opportunity of seeing him. So off I went Sunday morning to see Mar Gregorios.

One thing struck me during the qurbana. It was Mar Gregorios special understanding of events. While administering qurbana to a senior woman, the bread fell off and hit the carpet. I could see thirumeni fumble for a moment. Then he passed on the kassa and pilaasa to the achen who stood nearby, bent down (he was old but agile), picked up the bread; held it up in the air, like as if he was showing it to us and then ate it himself, the lady he gave another piece from the kassa. We traditional people, who have been used to a ritual at that moment (bending, thirumeni kneeling, licking the bread off the ground, and burning the ground with fire.), were denied that privilege.

The moment thirumeni came out of the madbaha, achen read out an announcement that thirumeni would speak to the children specially. Kaimuth was a rushed up affair. And then we children gathered around thirumeni to hear what he had to say. We were all shocked to see thirumeni wearing a Russian hat, as he walked out of the madbaha, and took his special seat. All of us had gathered around him, the mike set was not working, and thirumeni had a small voice, we could barely hear what he spoke. From what I heard I gather thirumeni was asking the children questions. One particularly naughty child got the honor of sitting in Thirumeni's lap. In a short time he became our object of observation. Slowly he was pulling thirumeni's beard and we were shocked, when with a swish he pulled out thirumeni's cap and threw it away. Even thirumeni stopped talking. I could see no anger in his face, but a mischievous smile. Someone returned thirumeni his cap, which he promptly replaced on his head. The child's mom apologised & took him away; thirumeni looked greatly relieved. TIME QUICKLY RAN OUT. Thirumeni was a very busy man. He came for attending some conference at which he was the chief speaker. He bade us good-bye and walked away.

Many years later (I had just returned from the US for a vacation), when I heard the news on Doordarshan, that thirumeni was no more. I tried following his funeral, but was sad that none of his so called big and intellectual friends had turned up in Kerala. Quietly our beloved thirumeni was buried, as per his wishes at Kottayam seminary.

I learn a very valuable lesson from Thirumenis life. That is to hold firm to my savior even if it causes me shame. Not to waste time talking to budddhi jeevis of this world and her various religions. Being a Christian, doesn't mean that you are a convert or have been converted but simply that God has chosen you to be His even before the beginning of time. For what we talk of and believe in (Christ, Salvation and Eternal life), is nothing but nonsense to the people of the world? I take shelter in you my Lord. I now understand your prayer and your great joy when you said these words "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You, have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes." (Matthew 11:24-26)

Mar Gregorios was a great bishop of our church. His intellectual genius and ecumenical concerns are laudable. Coming generations will look with awe to the man who was Paulos Mar Gregorios. May his soul rest in peace.

Joseph Cherian

(From: Gregorian Study Circle Daily Digest, Sept. 26, 2004)