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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

"All Things Are Lawful For Me, But Not All Things Are Helpful" (1 Corinthians 6:12) - Franziskus von Boeslager, Germany

About four years ago, I heard the "call of God" to who I felt drawn and decided to become a priest. It was a difficult decision for many of my friends and loved ones to understand. What exactly was I looking for and why? How has this call, this vocation of mine taken seed in my life and matured? How did I 'fall in love with Jesus' for the first time after my decision and how was it proved? For the past few years I have been part of this "quasi-priestly culture of life". It is quite impossible to put in words one's vocation call; it is secret and mysterious - our personal faith, the very duty of our lives that fulfils us - the Will of God and our individual desires!

The most important thing I have learnt in my journey as a seminarian is that I am able to develop my relationship with God and to be thankful to Him and to feel what He felt. I place myself before the same question that Jesus asked Simon Peter three times (the same Peter, who denied and said he did not know Him three times!) - "Do you love me?" (John 21:15)

To me such an undivided and absolute Love for Christ ("in all and over all", as we pray so well in the prayer of the day) is vital for the existence of a priest and for that of a seminarian as well!

In 2005-2006, two years which were very intense for me, my love for the Lord grew. As time went by, I got to know Him more and was able to acknowledge the truth that Christianity has to offer and I had a better understanding of the love of God, the Creator, in His work of sustaining and maintaining His creation. Besides the studies and the "rational" elements of the seminary training, which are very important, I found much time to 'dialogue' with my God: based on the Word of God, I could know more of His existence from the Bible and through my prayers!

There are many different forms of to pray: Besides the Holy Mass the Divine Office, which helps you with the texts, which we pray in our seminary, the Albertinum, (all together two times per day); there is the Eucharistic Adoration, the rosary prayers, meditations, contemplation, treasures of the church like Latin, the incense, fixed places and fixed times… But there is also the personal prayer in my "silent little cell". I had and still have to learn better, to often take enough time for this, in calmness in spite of all the other things that have to be done. This is not only a question of time management but also of being motivated and passionate and setting my priorities right.

For me it was and still is much easier to praise God, to please and to thank Him through songs (alone and in the community). I am quite astounded that singing (as a form of prayer) has developed itself into a real delight for me (I must recommend it to everybody) as it makes me really happy and free! Fortunately, in the musical-liturgical field, we delight in having an extraordinary good and professional training which makes the singing still much more interesting.

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). - this truth is making me grow more and more and gives me the necessary strength to give myself totally to Christ as a priest; to give (or, as the theological language says better, to surrender) myself to this endlessly loving God, who became man and about whom I am extremely astounded about! On different levels, I still see the necessity of a ripening process before I may feel a hundred percent grown up spiritually - enough to be His tool as a priest.

As the average understanding goes, the vocation to priesthood would require one to become a perfect wedding organiser, a top manager of diverse parish festivals, a good entertainer or a clever builder of new kindergartens (If it was so, the others have got the right talents!). I feel the need to have the spiritual authority, which enables me to minister the Sacraments (especially to forgive sins and to celebrate the Eucharist), to preach the Word of God and to be the spiritual leader of a community.

I am quite happy to have an extra three years before the ordination will be conferred upon me. Time in which God Himself can show me more and more that He intends have me do just where I am on this earth - because it is what I am meant to do and is His life plan just for me personally. In the meanwhile, I want develop a blind trust (because He is not visible) in the way that St. Teresa of Avila tells us "it is enough because He is enough". The "free year" I spent in Salamanca, Spain in 2006 helped me greatly to move forward to the answer of this question. It is given for this reason.

For many, when you have read about my experience, it may seem to be so difficult BUT it is a real big and exciting experience which makes me happy! From the moment I made a clear decision to become a priest, I felt happy thinking of God and my state of life! I feel this joy from time to time. Jesus promised, "Abide in Me and I will abide in you." (John 15:4) - It is a superb condition and conviction for me. I could compare it with the love between two human beings which refreshes each other again and again!

It is also a great joy for me to meet Jesus in the human form, face to face so I canalready live through what priestly service would require of me along with the Sacraments. For example, I could experience very tangibly in 2005 - a year I served practical training in a "Kinderdorf" with children who have gone through various prob-lematic situations - the Word of God, "Whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me!" (Matthew 18:5) Although it is not a new "passion" of mine, to be engaged in working for the people, this not only prepares me for priesthood but is incredibly attractive and promises me much more joy - besides all the burden, restric-tions and dryness that I do experience, having a 'direct contact with heaven', I can lead the people to God!

This joy can be shared not only with my family and friends but in my new family, the "Community of all believers" that is growing - the Church as well. In that context, of course, the young men, with whom I am studying in the seminary, are very worthy. They are able to understand and to share special emotions, problems and certain situations in the best manner possible. My friendship with some of them has a special depth - another new and important experience for me.

Mostly, when we speak about each other, we say "co-brothers", a term which I am still not familiar with. Therefore, I still prefer to call them my 'brothers'. (As we all are sisters and brothers, sons and daughters of the same Father!) These brothers are a great help to deepen my vocation. But at the same time they are also now and then a big challenge! This may be the same in every community but I feel that our community is different in that there is an element of a boarding life, which makes it quite special for most of us who are not familiar with it. It makes us to be a quite complicated mixture - having to live with different temperaments and life experiences.

I must confess I have not had the same enthusiasm with the theory part of my seminary studies. Until now, I have gone through with the university studies only with medium success. It is not really much learned in the fields of theology and philosophy. This was against my personal expectation to know the Catholic doctrines in its fullness so that I can find and give answers to the different questions that I myself and the others have. I am currently in my so-called 'Main Studies' to learn at least the minimum which I shall need for the practical training of being a priest. For example, I wish to get a much more profound knowledge of the New Testament. The Word of God gives so much healing and tells about the truth behind every situation of life! It is evident that I cannot go over my limitations but it seems to me realistically that there will be quite a lot more for me to truly learn.

Finally, in front of all my studies of the Christian doctrine, which has matured in 2000 years, stands its Source, the person Jesus Christ! And it will remain an adventure for my whole life, to taste, to realise more and more through the Sacraments and the Church, what God has done in Jesus and is still doing for us. To do this fully and absolutely (with my body and soul) - to surrender myself fully, as I have written before, this needs a lot of grace. The grace to become the representative of Jesus Christ, that He Himself can become a reality in the parish through the Sacraments.

This need of grace may also explain logically the need of a celibate life of a priest. In this duty, one is not able to give one's life in the same time fully to God and to a wife. The understanding for celibacy is embedded into the understanding of vital Catholic beliefs and, of course, it is impossible to explain this in two sentences.

Instead of this, a very last thought seems important to me: I touched it before but I would like to say some more about motivation. I have written about the love which Christ desires. But my love is only the answer of that Love, which first was given by God Himself - a personal love which I can feel and experience. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI says so clearly, "Who wants to give love, to whom must it be given before." (Deus Caritas est, Nr. 7) I really can give this testimony - this love was and still is given to me!

The way of a Christian is not easy, for you always must turn back after admitting failures, accepting your own weakness and misery. The experience of reconciliation, of being accepted, of the mercy and the unconditional love of a God who is very near to me motivates me again and again to go on with this adventure of mine to be a priest of Christ!

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

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