Samstag, 1. August 2015

ധ്രുവദീപ്തി // Religion / Community and People / Chavara A Saintly Person / Prof: Dr. Fr. Thomas Kadankavil CMI

Dr. Thomas Kadankavil CMI

" Dr. Prof. Thomas Kadankavil CMI is a prolific writer both in English and Malayalam on philosophical, theological and spiritual subjects. There are several serious publications to his credit. Both his doctoral theses in philosophy subjected at Gregorian University Rome (1972) and Fordham University New York (1974) are published. He has been a member of the staff of Dharmaram College / Vidya Kshetram (DVK) throught his life-long teaching career and he became the first President of DVK from 1986 -1989 and thereafter rector of Dharmaram College during 1993- 96."
Chavara A Saintly Person

A Shot Biographical Sketch of Chavara

Here is a man named Kuriakose Elias Chavara

A perl truly Indian and oriental 
A model to follow Jesus of Nazareth
He shows us how to love and serve others
In family life, religious life and priestly life.

 On February 8, 1986 His Holyness Pope John Paul II declared Kuriakose Elias Chavara blessed. On the occasion pope introduced Chavara in these words: "Kuriakose Elias Chavara is one who was born in Kerala, who lived in the land for 65 years and laboured ardously for the renovation of the Christian life and growth of the church. His deep love of Christ filled him with apostolic zeal, which has helped him in a special way to preserve and strengthen the unity of the church. In the apostolic activities he generously cooperated with all, especially with priests and his confreres in religion. Today the church looking back remembers him with love and gratitude."
Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara
Fr. Chavara was born on February 10, 1805 of parents Kuriakose Chavara and Mariam in the village of Kainakary in Kuttanadu. In the same year on September 8, 1805 he was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Marian shrine at Vechoor, which he recollected with nostalgic sentiments in the early cantos of Athmanuthapam- Compunction of the soul. At the age of five he began his studies in the village school, called Kalari under a master, where he continued his studies until he was ten year old. In view of his seminary studies he spent about two years in the parish rectory under the care of the zealous and loving parish priest. In 1818 at the age of 13 he joined the seminary at Pallipuram under the tutelage of malpan Thomas Palackal.

Fr.Valerian, the Malayalam biographer of St. Chavara, traces the genealogy of Chavara family as follows : The Pakalomattam family migrated from Palayur to Kuravilangad. From there one branch established as the Mukkad family at Kainakary which gave rise to Meenappally of which the immediate descendant is the Chavara family. Antoney Thottamattam,son of Fr.Thomas Palackal's sister, married Mariam, Fr.Chavara's elder brother's daughter as heir- apperent of the family tradition. They had five sons and one daughter. Of the five sons Joseph, the eldest became a member in the CMI Congregation and the youngest son Kuncheria a diocesan priest. The present relatives of Fr. Chavara are the descendants from the three sons of his brother's daughter.

During the early years of his studies Chavara lost his parents and his lone brother, elder to him and so he had to return home to preserve his father's family tradition. He, however, made arrangements with his elder sister married to Valleli family at Chekkidikattil and her husband to look after his brother's wife and daughter and divided his parantal property between them.
Home of Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara at Kainakary.
Although the family problem was somewhat solved crisis to his vocation did not cease. Since Fr. Palackal took his relative young Chavara to seminary without obtaining the permission letter (desakuri) of the parish council(yogam) and the vicar, when he came from Kainakary to Chennamkary church after his first minor order (Asthappadupattam) for home visit (Veedukayattam) and to give a banquet to his parishioners, the Vicar, as desired by the parish council (yogam) closed the church and left the place. At this critical moment the Holy Cross Church, Alapuzha received him and in spite of this humiliation the cleric Kuriakose spent the night with the Vicar at Chennamkary. This Church, however, showed all the courtesy when he came for his first mass and home visit and the parish restored the benefices, his due from the parish, at the order of Vicar Apostolic peter de Alecantra.

He was ordained priest on November 29, 1829 at the age of 24 by Vicar Apostolic of Varapuzha Msgr. Maurelius Stabilini at St.Andrew's Church at Arthungal. It is recorded in the cronical that the main personal intention of Chavara in the first mass was the realization of the establishment of a religious institution for priests at the earliest. His priestly ministry of forty years (24. 11. 1829- 3. 1. 1871) was really a spiritual saga foreshadowed in the forty years wandering of the Israelites whom Yehweh transformed into a great nation. The legacy St.Chavara left behind is an in dominable spiritual power embellishing the church, the bride of Christ.

The vision and mission of Fr. Chavara is today embodied in the religious communities he also was instrumental to plant, water, manure and nurture through his forty years of dedicated priestly and religious life. On May 11, 1831 the foundation stone for the proposed religious house was laid by Fr.Thomas Porukara at the order of the Vicar Apostolic. More members began to join the religious institute at Mannanam. However they did not have any written rule or regulations. In 1840 on the feast of Holy Cross the members then present resolved to start community life, sharing their assets in common and meeting all their expenses from the community. On January 16, 1841 Malpan Thomas Palackal, and on January 8, 1846 Malpan Thomas Porukara died leaving the whole responsibility of organizing the religious community to Malpan Kuriakose Elias.

Village of Kainakary
On December 8, 1855, on the first anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of Immaculate conception of Blessed Mother Fr.Kuriakose made the profession of religious vows before Fr. Marceline Berardi OCD, the deligate of the Vicar Apostolic, adopting the new name Kuriakose Elias Chavara of Holy family. Then his ten companions made their religious wows before Fr. Kuriakose who was constituted as the Superior of the religious community. The new religious community was known at that time as Servants of Mary Immaculate (SMI). It was Fr. Kuriakose who introduced the name Mary Immaculate,in the title of the Congregation. Later from 1858 by the influence of the Carmelite Missionaries the community began to be known as Servants Of Mary Immaculate of Carmel.

Since the life and activities of Fr.Kuriakose Elias Chavara goes along with the beginning, grouth and activities of the CMI Congregation it has to be seen in the context of the history of the Congregation. However we shall at this juncture briefly enumerate the areas of his apostolate, and touch up on only on his spiritual vision and literary contributions and the his memorable personal traits.

* He collaborated with Fr.Thomas Palackal and Fr. Thomas Porukara in the establishment of the first indigenous religious house form men at Mannanam in 1831.* Established the first Syro Malabar common seminary at Mannanam in 1833 which continued up to 1894 and then amalgamated to the Puthenpally seminary. * Introduced the devotional practice of way of the cross at Mannanam-1833. * Served as Malpan and examiner of seminariens and was authorized to give patents to the newly ordained to hear confessions and to preach in the churches-1844. * Started a press and opened a publishing house amoung the Ctholic St.Thomas Christians -1845. * Founded the first school (Sanskrit) amoung the Christians at Mannanam-1846. * stated a Catechumanate amoung the Catholic St.Thomas Christians at Mannanam-1853.

He became the first Vicar general in the Syrian Church after the time of archdeacon -1861. * Took the leadership in saving the Syro-malabar Church from the schism of Bishop Roccos 1861.* He became the author of the first Malayalam narrative poem - Anasthesiayude Rakthasakshyam-1962. * Popularized the May- month devotion of Blessed Virgin Mary with the help of Bishop Bernadine OCD-1864. * Implimented the idea of ' School for a Church' In the Syrian Churches when he was Vicar general in 1864. He took pain to unify and codify Syriac Divine Office, Liturgical Rubrics, and Calendar in the Malabar Church-1862- 1869. * In collaboration with the Italian missionary Fr. Leopold Beccaro OCD, the first indigenous Congregation for women was started -1866.* Started 40 hour adoration first in the monastery chapels in the Syrian Church-1866.

Started the first boarding house and school for girls at Koonammavu -1868. * Prepared the text A Good Father for Christian Families,may be the first of its kind in the whole of the church -1868. Founded a Lay organization with the name the Confraternity of St. Joseph for a happy death -1869. Founded a charity house upavishala of St.Joseph for the sick, old and destitute in our society-1869. * He became a renowned and dependable historian of the Catholic St.Thomas Christians from 1805 to 1871 through his Chronicles. * For the recognition of his services to the welfare of the community, the Government of India released a postal stamp in honour of Blessed Chavara in 1982./-

A few memorable Events.

We shall also make an attempt to collect a few more memorable events which shed more light on the personality of Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara. The house of Chavara, which is believed to have built in 1790,is now preserved in its original form as a shrine in the pilgrim-centre at kainakary. When he was the Vicar general he laid the foundation stone on 1864 for the reconstruction of the church at Vechoor in which he was dedicated to Mother Divine on sept 8,1805. Chavara was instrumental in propagating the devotion of Rosary in Kerala. He trained women religious and members of the boarding house at Koonanmavu to make rosaries for the propagation of Marian divotion in 1868. Gradually the village of Koonanmavu took it up as a cottage industry. Now this village is one of the leading ones in making Rosary on a commercial basis.

Fr. Thomas Palackal
First School and boaring house (Educumdath) for the girls was started by Fr. Chavara and Fr. Leopold Beccaro at Koonanmavu in 1868. St. Euphrasia was a student in this school for eight years before she entered the convent at Koonanmavu. At that time there was only one teacher village schools(Ashan Kalari) in Kerala. Chavara had his "Kalari" studies from 1810- 1815. It was a challenging step that Chavara had taken   to start a Sanskrit school at Mannanam in 1846. Through learning Sanskript was restricted to upper class Hindus, he opened his school to all without any distiction of caste,creed or religion. He received the permission to start the press at Mannanam from the king of Travancore through the British Resident Mr. M. Kallan in 1846 at the recommendation of the Vicar Apostolic of Varapuzha. The original wooden press which Chavara designed in 1846 is preserved at Mannanam as the "Grandma" of printing presses. Fr.Chavara and members from monastery welcomed the junior King of Travancore, near Ettumanoor and showed their obeisance to the royal family.

Chavara used the press for spreding the Christain faith. The first book he published from in the press was "Njana Piyusham", the fundamentals of Christian faith, translated from Tamil. "Nasrani Deepika" ,the first daily of Malayalam came out from the press at Mannanam on April 15,1887. It stood as the voice of the Catholic Church in Kerala. In order to check the illegal entry of bishop Thomas Roccos into the Kerala Church, Vicar Apostolic of Varapuzha, Archbishop Bernadine Baccinelli appointed Chavara as the Vicar General of Syro-Malabar Church on june 8,1861.Chavara received a message from Pope Pius IX as a response to his quarry on september 5, 1861 that Bishop Roccos is an intruder reached Malabar without his authorization.

Chavara advised his relatives and parishioners to start a charitable organization, a Confraternity of St. Joseph for Happy Death, for helping the sick, destitute, aged and dying. He started a home of  charity (upavisala) for the deprived and deprived and destitue in 1869 at Kainakary. To help the poor he exhorted the families since 1865 to keep aside a handfull from the rice (Oru Pidi Ari) taken for daily cooking to help the poor.

Chavara gave an instruction manual in 1868 as his spiritual testament for families and named it "Nallayappante Chavarul". This Manual contains 40 pieces of advice which even today is very relevant to lead a meaningfull and satisfying family life. He started the first Catechumanate in the Syro-Malabar Church at Mannanam in 1853. The early CMI monasteries also took up this mission and the number of those who received faith from the former depresed classes is more than 48700 during the last 100 years.

Though Fr. Chavara is not developing here any theological science, these writings reveal the soul of a man who really loved Holy Family, the Mother Church and her authorities and his own Syro-Malabar tradition. He kept always alive a desire to have a life of communion amoung the Rites in the Catholic Church and with all other separated churches from the St.Thomas Christian tradition. As his deeds reveal his personality, his writings also reveal very well how saintly he is.

Chavara used to remain long hours in prayer before the Eucharistic Lord. In his prayers he used to address Christ Jesus as "ente nalla appa" -my good father, an appellation very unusual in Christian prayes, although there are a number of other names given to Christ Jesus in the Gospels. The justification for such appellation could be found in the fact that Christ is the bridegroom of the Church, his bride and we being the children of this Mother Church, Christ becomes our father too, although Jesus taught to call his father as Our Father.

The last earthly journey of Fr. Chavara was to settle a disputed issue in the parish of Anakkallu (the present Bharananganam where St.Alphonsa, whom he miraculously cured thrice, is buried). Realizing his nearness to eternal farewell, Fr. Chavara kept a note in his room for visitors requesting them to talk only about spiritual matters. The following is an extract from his last words from his death bed: "Every man, who ever he is, has to die on day. Now it is my time. As I had always the protection of the Holy Family, I have never lost the baptismal grace" and then he entrusted the Congregation and all the members to the protection of the Holy Family.

At Mannanam there was a mango -tree planted and taken care of by Fr. Chavara and so known all over Kerala as "Priormavu" (the mango -tree of the Prior). In a letter he wrote : " This Mango-tree (1870) and its seedlings leave a loving patrimonial memory for us". Fr. Chavara sending the mango - seedlings to monastries, told to the members: Name these seedlings Dukran (Orma = memory) and plant them". May the memory St.Chavara left behind through a simple mango tree help us to remember and cherish the sweetness of this saitly man and his wonderfull God-inspired works.

Writings of Chavara.

It is estimated that about 101 writings (including all catagories) of Chavara have come to us. Of these 75 are in Malayalam, about twenty -four in Syriac (mostly related to divine worship) one or two in Latin and one in Tamil but in Malayalam characters. Some of the letters sent to Rome ware accompanied by translation in Latin or Italian. The writings of Chavara may be divided into four categories :
1) Chronics of historical works
2) Spiritual writings
3) Letters
4) Writings related to administration
To this may be added a fifth category, namely the nine Liturgical texts to which reference is made in connection with the discussion on his contribution in Liturgical reform. The authenticity of Chavara's writings published in the Complete works series (CWC) has been scientifically established. Of the 101 writings 89 are original in the hand of Chavara, 54 of them even bearing his signature. Three of his writings, namely "Thukasa" (Order of the Mass), the liturgical calander and Divine Officewere printed during his life time. Besides these, two or three circulars also were printed at Mannanam.

In his own estimate there were other worthwhile books to be printed and made available to the public for their well being and so he did not care to get his books printed in the press he established with much diligence and hard work. Fortunatly today we possess, as indicated above, alarge quantity of unpublished manuscripts which are a mine shedding light on various aspects of the history of the Kerala Church, CMI (TOCD) Congrgation and the enriching personality of St. Chavara himself. We shall have a short survey of the treusure he has bequeathed us.

1. Chronicles and Historical Writings:
Canonisation of Kuriakose Elias Chavara
 Under the title 'Mannanam Nalagamangal', we possess two manuscripts 'Mannanam chronicals' Vol.1& Vol.II kept in the library of Mannanam Monastery. Book 1- consists the matter originally written in six separate not books, later bound together. The continuous numbering of pages in this document was the work of the custodian when the fascicles were bound together. These books contain "Darsanaveedu panivaka Varthamanam "- the record of the matters pertaining to the work for Monastry- ending up with the profession of Br. Jacob Kaniyanthara on Feb.2, 1865. Book II narrates the events that happend from 1855 to 1864 at Mannanam and from 1864- to 1870 at Koonammavu. The Events described are more of the Kerala Church of time than merely of the CMI Congregation. CWC, Vol. 1, 1990 contains five Chronicles. The first two deals with the foundation of the Monastery at Mannanam. The third is the history of Roccos Schism. The fourth and fifth contain the history of the foundation of Monastery at Ambazhakkad and the Convent at Koonammavu respectively.

II  Spiritual and literary Writings:

The complete Works divides these writings into two categories literary (Poetic) writings (Vol.II) and spiritual writings(Vol.III). In the first of these are published: Compunction of Heart (Atmanuthapam), Dirge (Pana, song to be sung in the house of the dead), and Martyrdom of Anastasia ; in the second a number of Meditations and prayers are collected. Though the first three have a special literary flavour, they are also very spiritual in content.

III letters-
It is known that Chavara wrote letters at defferent occations to various persons or groups. Of these, about 67 in originals or copies have come to us. These are published in 'Complete Works of Chavara' Vol.IV. Three letters written to the nuns at Koonammavu are found in the chronicals of their convent, and the chronicle says that he wrote to them many letters and notes, of which only three are recorded.

IV. Writings related to administration: 
About 16 writings have been identified in this category. A few of these are written on palm leaves, others on paper. Since these letters deal with matters of importance for the particular time we shall not go into them for the survey of their contents./-
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