Charism of Bethany

The charism of the Order of the imitation of Christ is following Jesus Christ in his life of prayer and action, realized in oriental monastic tradition and Indian sanyasa and aimed at the evangelization of India through the spiritual renewal of the Malankara Church.

To imitate Jesus Christ in his life of prayer is to experience a sense of constant union with God through meditation, with special emphasis on the Word of God, active participation in the liturgical life of the Church, and the observance of the spiritual exercises prescribed in this Holy rule and such other practices.

To imitate Jesus Christ in his life of action to follow his footsteps, who by proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom God on earth and leading the people to the eternal Father, saved us from sin and sufferings and made us partakers in his divine life. Our active life consists of apostolic works, connected with and directed towards the spreading of the Gospel.

The following of Jesus Christ according to the charism of our Congregation is realized in the oriental monastic and Indian sanyasa traditions with due consideration to time and place.

Our Congregation undertakes to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, especially to India, keeping intact the spirit and traditions of eastern monasticism which gives priority to the inner attentiveness to God as the “one thing necessary” (Lk.10:42). This inner attentiveness to God calls to a lifestyle of radical living of the Gospel, in an atmosphere of joyful asceticism, conversion of heart, flight from the world, silence, fast, and long vigils that are nourished by lectio divina, unceasing prayer and ceaseless celebration of the divine liturgy. Such a lifestyle generates creativity and enthusiasm for charitable services and apostolic endeavour.

The realization of the charism in Indian sanyasa is to imbibe and safeguard the inner spirit and lifestyle of Indian spiritual tradition in order that the rich Indian culture and sanyasa which tends to union with God might be made perfect in Christ. The simple life of Jesus, who always united with the Eternal father in prayer and went about doing good to all, is imitated with the detachment and simplicity of Indian asceticism. The members of our Congregation should always remember that it is the essential nature of our inherited spirituality and religious life to strive to attain union with God, the Lord of all and foundation of all goodness, and to try our best to live constantly in Him and with Him. They must, as much as possible, realize that glorious ideal in their lives.

Our charism is aimed at the evangelization of India through the spiritual renewal of the Malankara Church. It was primarily the missionary consciousness of our founder Mar Ivanios that generated in him an insatiable desire to spread the Gospel, that great light of the faith kindled by St. Thomas the Apostle throughout India. The founding of the monastic communities in the Malankara Church by Mar Ivanios was ultimately the consequence of this zealous vision.

Our Congregation is a clerical congregation (c 505 2. 1, 3) of religious priests and brothers. It is of Pontifical right.

The houses of our Congregation are given the name Bethany Ashrams. Bethany means “house of consolation”. Bethany in the Gospel is a name which indicates the nature and charism of our Congregation, which gives supreme importance to prayer and activities. It was a house which intimately loved our Lord Jesus Christ and which was specially loved by Him. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and witness to the resurrection; Mary was a symbol of prayer life; Martha, a model of service and apostolic activities. Ashram is the abode of a sanyasi where strenuous effort for God experience is made in prayer, silence, simplicity and hard work.

The patron saints of our Congregation are the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Thomas the Apostle of India, St. John the Evangelist, the Saints of Bethany, St. Basil and St. Therese of the Infant Jesus.

The life and vision of our founder, Mar Ivanios, is a source of inspiration for our lives. His intercession helps us realize the charism of our Congregation.

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Bethany Ashram