March 2017
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Alencherry wants a cut down on over- the- top celebrations
Arch Bishop Cardinal George Alencherry head of Syro Malabar Church in Kerala has urged Christians in the state to revamp the way church festivities are held. His latest pastoral letter titled ‘Reviewing Feast Celebrations’is undoubtedly a thought provoking one. Here is a brief summary.

I had the blessed opportunity to lead holy mass during St. Alphonsa's feast held on July 28. I noted the absence of drumbeats and bands there.

No decorated elephants were brought in and firecrackers were given a miss. Still, the event was conducted with utmost devotion. This made me ponder over the need for doing away with such unwanted elements that have infiltrated our church festivities lately.

Feasts must encourage people to pray more and enable to deepen their faith in God. They should be celebrations of spirituality. In the present atmosphere of mike announcements and musical beats, they would be deprived of meaningful conversations and opportunities to pray peacefully.

Organisers resort to the use of fancy lights and crackers to attract more crowd. But, these are blowing out the spiritual flame of church feasts.

Sadly, smaller chapels and churches too imitate these acts of extravaganza. Miracles performed by our revered saints are presented in exaggerated manners. This is totally unwanted. People who had received blessings of our saints would anyway speak about their experiences. This is the only kind of publicity that is needed.

Before buzzing towns and cities sprang up, people depended on shops around churches during feast days, for their daily goods. In today's circumstances, such a situation doesn't arise.

Remember the episode in Bible when Lord Jesus took a whip and drove out traders from the temple of Jerusalem. Christ will always oppose similar acts even if they happen outside churches.

Offerings given by faithful Christians are used for adding glitter to these events. Can this be justified ? This money should be spent on helping the poor instead of unwanted luxuries.

Recently, Neduvannur parish in ErnakulamAngamaly diocese has set such a commendable example. They utilized the money set aside for fireworks to build houses for two poor families.

Meanwhile, Kunnappillissery parish under the same archdiocese uses this money to distribute tree saplings. Kandanad parish too has followed suit. Afterall, saints were human beings who lived lives of simplicity.

Feasts conducted in their names should not turn into occassions to splurge. Pope Francis has called us to lead a simple life. Let us revamp our feast celebrations in accordance with it.

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