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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"I dwell with the crushed and the dejected“ (Is 57:15)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Divine Call Archives

Am I a mere observer? - Fr. Michael Payyapilly VC

A year or so back, the family strength of the Divine Retreat Centre touched ten million. In the past seventeen years since the Retreat Centre has started, ten million people have attended retreats here at Divine Retreat centre. A lot of people come here and keep coming back here because of the experience they have received from this place.

Even the ones who come in with a very negative attitude to this "scam", go back with a very deep experience of joy and peace. I often wonder why? We go to Lourdes, Fatima, Vellankanni and so forth. In all these places, many people have felt deep spiritual experiences. But often people say that they fail to have the same experience in their own Parishes. I know this through experience as I too had a close experience of the Lord only after coming for my first retreat in Divine way back when I was a student. Why is it that we do not have a close encounter with the Lord in the Parish? Is it because there is something wrong with the Parish? Is it that there is no anointing' in the parish church? Is it that the priest in our parish is not good enough?

For the past two years, I have been seeing the flow of retreatants into this retreat centre. I have many a time watched them very closely to see how they approach this place. The reverence and faith that they have, once they enter this place is amazing. I have literally seen people kiss the ground when they enter the gates of the Retreat Centre! It is true that some of the faithful do come to meet some of the priests here and seek their blessings. But is it because of these priests and preachers that people receive blessings? I remember the time when I was newly appointed at the retreat Centre. One day I was asked by the Director to conduct the physical healing adoration. I was caught unawares as I had never conducted a physical healing adoration before. I was terrified because I did not have any of the gifts at that time. I was only a newly ordained priest. And I was sure it would turn out into a disaster. The Director would have none of it and I was forced to do it. During that adoration, I did not have even one healing to announce, not even a message to give! I came down from that stage an hour later feeling miserable about myself, wanting to give the Director a piece of my mind. But that night after the Holy Mass, so many retreatants came up to me and said that they had received a healing during the Adoration from sicknesses that were troubling them for years. That is the day I realised that it is not the priest but it is the FAITH of the people that got them their healing! They came for an encounter and they received. I believe all this has more to do with the approach that the people have once they come here. They come seeking an encounter with God. This is why the Lord says, "Seek and you will find." (Luke 11:9)

We can approach the Lord in two ways: one as a person who desires an encounter and two as a person who is there to observe. The end result for both are very different. I remember an incident narrated to me by a colleague. In Kerala, India, there is a very famous water theme park called "Veegaland". It is a place where children love to go. A family decided to go to this place to spend the day. The whole family packed up for the exciting experience. The two daughters-in-law of the house decided to stay back and sent the elderly grandmother for this experience. The old lady barely had any interest. The children and the others got into the water and had a whale of a time. All throughout the old grandma stayed away. At the end of the day all of them went back home. On reaching home the daughters-in-law asked the grandma how the experience was. The grandma said, "We went all the way to this place, spending all that money only to take a bath. We could have done that in the river here." For the grandmother, the whole exercise was futile and non-experiential. But for the others it was experiential because they went with that mentality. Many times this is the same with us! We do not get an experience of God in our parishes because we do not go with the desire to encounter Him.

In the Bible we read of many people who followed Jesus around as he went about doing his ministry. But not all of them had an experience of healing. It was those who desired the experience who received it. The others came to watch. They watched and went back empty-handed. The Pharisees were one such set of people. They would be everywhere that Jesus went BUT never do we read of a Pharisee receiving a healing. They came to observe, they went back empty-handed. It is the one who desires an encounter who receives it. In the Gospel of Mark Chapter 5, v24 onwards, we read about the woman who was suffering with hemorrhages for twelve long years. She walks up amongst the crowd and touches the helm of Jesus' garment. Though there was a crowd around, Jesus asks, "Who touched me?" Realizing it was her, He gave her the healing. Though the crowd was pressing in on Him, He told this only to the woman who desired an encounter. She did not come to see a magician but came to receive from the Divine Healer. For me as a Christian, I started experiencing Jesus in the Holy Mass of my parish after that first retreat. Suddenly the Holy Mass started becoming an area of encounter, an experience of Jesus. It was the same Church, the same parish priest, the same compound but only that my whole approach changed! From then on, I started desiring for an encounter every time I entered the Church - and I started receiving according to my approach.

The Lord invites and says, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me." (John 7:37) It is when a person is thirsty that they receive in full measure. The woman with hemorrhages was desperate and thirsty. When the disciples first came to Jesus in the Gospel of John Chapter 1, they came with a thirst. Jesus invited them and said "Come and see." (John 1:39) The Word tells us that they "remained with him." (John 1:40) It was the thirst for an encounter that brought them to experience Jesus. The observer comes in only to scrutinize and evaluate. This is why many in the Gospels lose out on the experience of Jesus because of this attitude. In the Gospel of Luke, we read about the Pharisee named Simon who had invited Jesus into his home. The invitation of Jesus by a Pharisee should indicate that he had accepted the Lord and wanted to know him. But in the events that take place consequently with the entry of the sinful woman into Simon's house, we see the true attitude of Simon. He looks at the sinful woman and her washing the Lord's feet and says. "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him - that she is a sinner." (Luke 7:39) He was evaluating the Lord rather than trying to experience Him.

Many of us end up like Simon. We end up evaluating the Lord rather than trying to experience Him. We end up evaluating the miracles the Lord has performed rather than believing it. A person once sarcastically remarked to me that most of the miracles that the people talk about are normal incidents. He could not look at them as miracles. And then he tried to scientifically prove that all this "miracle stuff" was bogus. I felt sad for that person only because he was making God so small that according to him, miracles cannot take place. He considered himself to be a believer in the Lord but yet did not believe in the power of God. For him God will always remain small. Though like Simon many of us invite the Lord into our homes. maybe we are still at the stage of only evaluating Him rather than trying to experience Him. Let us believe and approach the Lord in faith. There is a song by Don Moen titled "Be Magnified". The song starts out with the words:

I have made You too small in my eyes O Lord,
Forgive me
And I have believed in a lie that You were unable to help me.
But now O Lord I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong
And in my eyes and with my song
O Lord be Magnified.

Let our Lord be magnified in our lives! For this, we have to go to the level of trying to experience Him. Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace to have the right approach to Him.

Divine Updates

39th National Youth Retreat

Our annual National Youth Retreat will be held at the Divine Retreat Centre. Come and let the word of God refresh you. Simultaneous retreats for couples, children and Bible nursery to be held. Contact Divine Youth for more details.

Date: May 19 - 24, 2019

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2018 - December, 2018

Retreats in Divine Retreat Centre, UK

Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate UK, has announced several English and Malayalam language retreats to be led by Fr. George Panackal VC and Fr. Joseph Edattu VC. All are welcome.

Dates: Jan - Dec, 2019

POWER 2019 at Divine Retreat Centre

DRC is back with the highlight of the year: the 14th International Youth Conference - POWER 2019. The very best international preachers and gospel bands will be here to lead us into worship. Be there to experience a totally different atmosphere of prayer. A Couples' Retreat and a Kids' Retreat will be held simultaneously. Don't miss it.

Date: July 21 - July 26, 2019

Divine Retreat Schedules


English retreats are held every week from Sunday to Friday. Special retreats are conducted for priests, religious and laity as well. Come and experience the Lord and grow in Him.


Inner healing retreats, growth retreats, couples' retreats and youth retreats in Malayalam, are led by Fr. Joshi Kochukudiattil, Fr. Mathew Naickomparambil and Fr. Binoy Chackanikunnel.


Retreats in Konkani, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu

Every week, retreats are held in five different regional languages of India, apart from in the local language - Malayalam. The retreats are led by Vincentian priests and supported by powerfully anointed laity of God.

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