A Reflection on Eastern Catholicism on the Feast of St. Thomas

Fr. Matthew, vicar-general of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, showing us the local St. Thomas cross with lotus flower underneath signifying that the Cross reaches out to the whole worldSyro-Malabar. Syro-Malankara. Syro-what? It would be a safe bet to say that most U.S. Catholics have never heard of these terms, let alone understand what it means to say that they are liturgical rites of the Catholic Church. Yet for the twenty million Catholics living in India, they point to the very heart of what it means to be a follower of Christ in the world today.

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India Pictures

Meeting with His Beatitude George Cardinal Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic ChurchSome of us took upwards of 1,000 pictures, and here I’ve posted just “a few” so as to tell our India story in a little more detail. Later I’ll collect some of the best taken from others in our group and get them up as well. UPDATE: For other pictures of the BC 2013 India odyssey, click here and here.  My travelogue can be found here and here.

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India Travelogue, Part II

Mother's Teresa's tomb is decorated with a different quote every dayWell, I woke up at 3:30 and never fell back asleep, so it turns out I was able to finish the broad strokes of my India chronicle a couple days earlier than expected. Since I have all kinds of time today and tomorrow, I should get pictures up soon as well!  UPDATE: For pictures of the BC 2013 India odyssey, click here and here and here.  My travelogue can be found here and here.

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India Travelogue, Part I

Monkey about to attack RobertThanks be to God, we are back from India and home in the U.S.A. with family, friends, hamburgers, and the rest. As India is a third-world country, I had limited access to a computer over the past few weeks, so what I’m now posting a brief chronicle of our journey in two posts.  I have my camera equipment back in my possession after my bag was returned to from Chicago yesterday. The same bag, incidentally, was lost by the airline  on the way to India and on the way back!

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India Itinerary

With another busy semester now in the books, I am pleased to present here the itinerary of the class/trip to study religions in India which I’ll be co-leading less than one week from now. For family members, this will give you a chance to follow along where we are each day. For others, it may just be an opportunity to say, “Well, I’m glad I’m not going to be in Calcutta sweating it out all day in 113-degree humid heat!” I would blog the trip as we go along, but a) we won’t have much computer access b) we’re going to simply be too busy trying to take in all that we can in our 17-day travel window.

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Theology in India!

Well, I’m lagging behind on my blog ever since we have started classes again here at BC. Great classes, great students, and in all my “free” time I’ve been getting together a 16-day course in India this May. To see a flyer with more info, click here.

The religious atmosphere pulsing in the subcontinent of India can hardly be witnessed in any other country of the world. The apostle St. Thomas himself founded the first Christian community in India. The religions of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism also all have historic holy sites there. The sheer number of religions found coexisting in this country has deservedly earned it the name “Land of Religions.” In this two-week long trip will able to experience many of its major sites. Those on this trip will:

  • Walk as a pilgrim in the footsteps of St. Thomas the Apostle, visit his burial spot, and encounter the eastern Catholic community he founded which still exists today
  • Visit the home of Blessed Mother Teresa and volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity at their Home of the Dying in Calcutta
  • Witness Hindu practices first hand at the sacred Ganges River
  • Touch the roots of Buddhism in the place Buddha attained his enlightenment
  • Behold the majestic Taj Mahal, enter famous Muslim mosques, and discuss the current state of affairs between Christianity and Islam

If you are a young person or college student and are interested, send me an email at mramage@benedictine.edu.

Hopefully I’ll be back to blogging Pope Benedict and Jesus soon!