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Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"Hallowed be Thy name"(Lk 11:2) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

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DO NOT TOUCH MY ANOINTED! - Rev. Fr. Michael Payyappilly V.C.

It has been more than two years that I have been a priest. Even as a young priest, I have received a lot of respect and appreciation. In the two years I have been in this retreat centre, I have received a lot of blessings from people of all age groups. Many of them going to the extent of even kissing my feet - which has made me want to melt and disappear with embarrassment! Not only the elderly, but the young too, have made me cringe with embarrassment because of the way they have given me 'star status'. As a priest, I have had people of all age groups in my 'fan' list. I once had a mother and daughter stand in a queue for an 'autograph'! Children have come up to me asking me to fill up my bio-data in their books. The questions were neatly formulated and cleverly put out, to get out of me, all the information which they knew I would not give out to them directly. Many of them saw my age in the date of birth column and gave me the look that said, "You don't act as old as your date of birth says you are". But these two years in this retreat centre has made me so proud about my priesthood. Anyone who gets this kind of attention would be proud. If I had recorded all the praise they have showered upon me in the past two years, I could use that as an effective tool for vocation promotion! And if the emphasis was on quantity, then we would have had more priests than aspiring film stars.

But though I have gone through this, I am not living in a make-believe world. Whenever many people praise me, they also add a little about how 'inefficient' their priests are. They have all kinds of complaints against those priests who seem to be doing nothing at all - "Father, our priests are useless." That very statement makes me think if we share the same priesthood! Today, this has become a trend - to be critical of priests and religious; to find fault in all that they do; to prove that they are not good enough. It has become the norm to scrutinize every action of priests - to gauge the power of their priesthood on the gifts and charisms they possess. There is the tendency to evaluate and criticize a priest's sermon based on his style and delivery rather than listening to God's message that the priest is imparting to the faithful. At times, it becomes a kind of calculated effort to put down the priesthood.

As I write this article, I want to first acknowledge humbly that it is true that a few priests are not living good lives. There are a few of them who have been a scandal to the faithful. Yes, maybe there have been instances when the priests have not been Christ-like. Their actions have not been very commendable. But I write this article for the faithful. God has very hard words for the shepherds who are not doing their ministry of shepherding the flock in the Book of Ezekial Chapter 34. However, the problem is that now even the faithful have taken up the role of God and are criticizing the clergy. The faithful are going into the very dangerous area of 'Playing God'. To the faithful there is also a warning - 'Do not play God'.

Very carelessly we end up taking upon ourselves a very big sin when we condemn the 'anointed of God'. For the priests, their portion is God. This is what we read in the Book of Numbers 18:20 - "Then the Lord said to Aaron, 'You shall have no allotment in their land, nor shall you have any share among them; I am your share and your possession among the Israelites.'" They belong to God. The priest's possession is God and God's possession is the priest. Their protection is the Lord. In Deuteronomy 18:1 we read, "The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no allotment or inheritance within Israel. They may eat the sacrifices that are the LORD's portion. But they shall have no inheritance among the other members of the community; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them." The inheritance of the priest is God Himself. In Joshua 18:7 we read, "The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their heritage." The very priesthood is the heritage and gift of God. It is to be respected in every way possible. Whatever happens and whatever is done, God will not abandon the one He has promised to support. By criticizing the clergy we end up criticizing God!

We do tend to forget at times that the choice of the priest has been made by God. If they have a position in the Church, it has been given to them by God. True, at times it does get misused. But the fact is that the choice has been made by God. It is in our ignorance and arrogance that we make the mistake of looking down on the priests of God. In the Book of Numbers Chapter 16, we read of an incident - Korah along with Dathan and Abiram and two hundred and fifty men came up to Moses and Aaron. And they said "You have gone too far. All the congregation are holy, everyone of them, and the Lord is among them. So why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?"(Numbers 16:3) The people here were speaking out against the ones appointed by God Himself. They made a very ignorant accusation that Moses and Aaron had exalted themselves. In actual fact, it was God who had exalted them. We read later of how God is so angry at the arrogance of these people that He destroys them. Moses and Aaron were protected by the Lord. The Lord will always protect His anointed. Later, the whole congregation rebelled against the two of them saying that they were wrong. By standing together against the anointed of God, they thought that they could justify their actions. But God's wrath is further enkindled and we see the destruction of more than fourteen thousand people. A rebellion against the anointed of the Lord led to the destruction of many.

Saul was chosen by God. In many ways Saul was unfair and wrong especially to David. He was ungrateful to the man who saved Israel. Yet, we read of how David gives respect to Saul inspite of what Saul has done to him. David is made to flee and Saul keeps trying to hunt him down. In 1 Samuel 24: 1 ff, we read of how David and his men are hiding in the wilderness. Saul who is in search of David in order to kill him, comes into the cave where David and his men are hiding. The men tell David, "Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'"(1 Samuel 24:4) But later David was stricken to the heart and he did not do anything to Saul, who he had at his mercy. In 1 Samuel 24:6 we read, "The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord's anointed." It is true that Saul was rude to David and logically speaking, Saul deserved death. But David realized the importance of the anointed of God. He chose to let God do the correction and he stayed away from taking that sin upon himself. We could be speaking the truth at times when we speak out against the chosen sons of God. However, that does not mean that it will be accepted by God. If God is the only portion of the clergy, then God is the only One who can punish them for their wrong attitude. We leave it to God.

Today, it is important to support the clergy with prayers. Usually people come to the clergy with prayer requests. We tend to forget that the clergy also needs prayers. They are also as human as everyone else! Let us not forget the sacrifices the clergy has made for the people of God. Yes, it is true that every person makes sacrifices in life. The laity makes sacrifices for people they love, people they see. But the clergy make sacrifices for people they do not see; people they do not know. When they leave their homes, they sacrifice their family for the sake of other families. They sacrifice their happiness for the sake of another's happiness. We should never forget the sacrifices they have made for the sake of the Kingdom of God. God protects them. We, being the children of God, better protect them from the powers of darkness through our prayers too.

A praying community will have a praying priest!

 
Divine Updates

MAGNIFICAT in Chennai

Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat', on June 23, 2018. Fr. John Prince VC will lead the services. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - drcsydney@gmail.com. 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, 2018

POWER 2018 at Divine Retreat Centre

DRC is back with the highlight of the year: the 13th International Youth Conference - POWER 2018. 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 22 - July 27, 2018

Divine Retreat Schedules

ENGLISH RETREATS

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.

MALAYALAM RETREATS

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

OTHER LANGUAGES

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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