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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

As gold in the furnace, He proved them

"(Is 2:5)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Divine Call Archives

Team Jesus - Think and live positive

By Linda Joseph Kavalackal

Have you ever wanted a magical formula that will help your prayer life, your daily walk, your relationships?

Begin with this: THINK right. The Word tells us “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, DWELL on these things” (Philippians 4:8) Thoughts have immense energy, science and psychology too has proven. They say if you keep thinking and repeating even jokingly like “I might end in the poor house one day,” chances are that you will. If you are praying for something, think positive, believe. Thoughts become words. What you think, later comes out of your mouth, then becomes an action and later a habit. Cut off that first evil thought and you are blessed. It will come back at noon, cut it off again. Then bury it with prayer, before you sleep at night. The Word speaks about the power of your thoughts. Satan knows very well that if he has your thoughts, he has his hook into you. When you join your mind self to Satan’s, he has you. Think for instance of Eve. He cleverly planted a picture in her mind – she saw the apple, imagined its texture, imagined its flavor, imagined eating it and before long, she had acted on it. You must have thought at age five that your father hates you. Day two, Satan will tell you he loves your sister more, day three he might be busy with work and Satan will tell you again he is horrid only to you and other dads are kinder. Then it goes downhill. You add more rotten potatoes to your sack of grievances and before long you have 365 of them.  The child may speak angry words. He may be resentful to the parent and then carry anger as a habit into adulthood.

I prayed with a dear woman who had struggled with her husband’s habit of drinking alcohol for years. Finally I realised that while we were praying our guts out, she was negating it all with her speech by saying, ”He has been so for so many years, he will never change”. Twenty one years of pain had taken any hope away from that poor woman. I told her to create a vision board in her mind. We were going to pray. And she would tell herself things would change. We listed the best things he could do, become. She began to pray and picture him as going for Mass, being a kind husband and even a Christian worker one day. Things changed.

ASSESS your thoughts first thing in the morning. Get up and tell yourself it’s a beautiful day from Jesus. Tell yourself you are blessed to have your spouse, your best friend, parents, siblings, ministry, health, job, anything you can think of – be GRATEFUL and thank the Lord. ENVISION more of it. We have a life to live, good fruits to bear. Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:17) The devil has a way of breaking us first thing in the morning, by bringing in hurts, insults, catastrophic situations. The Word asks us to be watchful. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) We are human, we have the tendency to think too much. But use any opportunity to channel your thinking into positive. Quickly wash the negative with the blood of Jesus and MOVE on. For instance, you may wake up and stub your toe, you may be late, your child may be sneezing or you must have just dropped the alarm clock. Tell out aloud that in Jesus’ name, it will be a beautiful day – “I can just stick on a plaster, no I will not be late for work, he just sneezed but he wont have a fever and maybe I can get a small clock on my way to town or better still, use my mobile as a clock”. You know you cannot give up on one whole day because the minute you put one rotten thought, it snowballs from there and before you know, the whole day is gone. Don’t let that happen.

PRAY first – bring those negative thoughts, feelings, worries to the foot of the cross. Pray over them, release them. Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) They say Christians take their sorrows to church on Sunday and when the Mass is over, they take them back home. It’s Jesus’ cross, not yours anymore. Sometimes, we can feel a sense of doom, depression – anything that makes you feel like its that day of the exams or makes you feel butterflies in the stomach or sharp pain like a knife being thrust into your soul – none of these are from God but from the evil one. Pray over them powerfully and IMMEDIATELY. Don’t delay. Put them into the Jesus kitty. He will tackle those. Lock up and give the key to the Lord. Leave and release. People – even dear ones, may come to you with anger or frustration. You cannot control them, but you can control yourself, your thoughts, your actions. Take those to God in prayer. And don’t worry about stuff that is coming from outside – catastrophes, family problems, natural calamities, work crisis. You cannot control those – those are a part of life. A wise old priest once taught me that people are merely bringing out filth and evil that is inside themselves. Let that not bother you. Don’t join hands, thoughts with that, but with God. When you struggle to come out of depression on a real Jonah day, find a prayer partner and pray together as Christian friends. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:20)

REPLACE everything negative, evil – Scientists tell us that around 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts pass through our minds in a day. Good and evil battles in our mind daily and we cannot afford to let wrong get the upper hand or speak it out. A spring cannot pour both fresh and brackish water from the same opening (James 3:11) Replacement is a very important technique because if you have one constant worry in your mind and you keep pushing it down, by evening you are exhausted. An empty vessel is going to be filled with something. Fill it with: one - the Word of God. One thing that helps me is - picking a powerful verse (usually from the Psalms) and using it as my vitamin for the day. Chew on it, relish it and use it throughout the day. For instance, when ill, you could meditate over: “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint” (Isaiah 40:31) or “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1) When you picture a shepherd carrying you, you cannot really worry about that slight from the boss or a cranky neighbor.  Two – fill it with the most positive image you can think of. For instance, if your child has cancer, instead of the sight of death which is plaguing you even in your sleep, pray for him, then imagine him growing up. Think of him as an adult, picture his wedding day, him living a life of health and vitality. I am not saying you deny reality and cut off his medicines, but to think positive, after giving your cross to Christ. He will either heal him or give you the grace to help him fight the battle.  If you worry about your daughter’s grades, pray with her, give her practical help and then imagine her as a good student, may be even the best in class. Don’t let anyone change that positive belief – even concerned grandparents, teachers or other relatives. Sometimes great things, relationships in our life are broken by silly ideas or a vague doubt planted by so called ‘concerned’ people. And by the time we realise it was a misunderstanding which Satan played over and over in our minds like a broken record, its too late. All will be well…tell negative people that. Don’t lose out on your greatest dreams, best relationships.

SPEAK affirmative, speak good. Never let one negative word come out of your mouth. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:6) There is power in the word. Like thoughts attract more like. And before long you speak those out. Don’t refer to people or yourself as broken, bad. We don’t look at Barack Obama as a broken man who came from a broken home, but as the most powerful man in the world - the President of the US. The more you refer to people or yourself as something, the more hurt you carry. If a friend repeats that he is not a good person, stop him. Affirm the friendship. If someone writes you a hurt letter or confronts you, pick the affirmative words to think about. Its not usually easy and really hard on some days. But you speak good to them, to yourself. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29) If you tell the world repeatedly that your son has an anger problem and wonder why things don’t change, now you know why. TELL yourself “he is a great boy, he is God’s magnificent creation, it must have been a hard day, we love each other to bits, he will be fine, I will be fine”. If you try an experiment – speak 5 sentences such as ‘I am bad, nobody loves me, my friends don’t care, my family is cursed, its a horrible life’ – you can sense the stress in the air. Now replace it with “I am stunning, people love me, my friends are crazy about me, my family is so blessed, I have a magical life”. Sounds better?  You can sense your spirits lift if you make this a habit. Again, I am not asking you to deny reality. If you are in an abusive relationship or in any real danger, protect yourself; then affirm yourself in prayer that you will be protected by the One who never sleeps. Speak good and speak loving to your own – daily, persistently. Love pays.

FEEL good. Don’t just think of the nicest thing but feel the feelings that go with it. If you are looking forward to a great holiday, picture it. Feel the waves and the sands tickling your feet. Feel the feelings of being with your loved ones, of holding that baby. If you have had a hard day, go be with a good friend who will lift you up or give you a knock when required. Fight if you want to, but make up. Surround yourself with positive things, caring people. Be one. Get your daily dose of care from fellow Christians because loneliness is the first thing that God’s eyes deemed as ‘not good’ (Genesis 2:18) The church needs love. Give and get it daily because as humans we need it from trusted friends. Or find a dear friend who will pray with you, for you. One who will listen to your complaints but will not encourage you to hate, but love others and yourself. Bible speaks about true friendship between David and Saul's son Jonathan, who, in spite of his father Saul's pursuit of David and attempts to kill him, stood by his friend. (1 Samuel chapter 18 - chapter 20) Find a friend who may get angry with the sin in you, but not with you. One who will stick on when the chips are down. Then feel real good about that rich friendship and be grateful with every ounce of your heart to God for that lovely friend God gave you. A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24)

FILL your life with good thoughts and ACT on them. We are too much into sacrifices, aches and pains. The Word asks us to “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) Think and do things that will make you laugh, giggle. Be like little children. Go for a barefoot walk. If gardening makes you happy, do it. Run in the rain. Get some physical exercise. Read a good book. Listen to soothing music. I believe that God also created beautiful books, nature, music and little things like cartoons to make us giggle. Go out with friends or call them up or write. Meet family. Do something daily for others and for self. That makes you and them feel good. Keep busy too, because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Don’t imagine a catastrophe when none has happened. Be prepared in prayer for challenges, but don’t imagine and create them.  As the wise say, 95 percent of things we worry about in life have not really happened, so don’t add more straws to your pile. Cross the bridges when you come to them.

Think positive for OTHERS. If you have a spouse, friend or parents who tend to focus on the negative or if you meet a stranger who has a worry, help channel their thoughts positive. Tell them things will be okay. The greatest social work is cheering up another human and lifting a crushed spirit. I don’t mean flattery. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27: 6) I don’t mean you stop correcting a friend – But let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14) Don’t cut off good influences because all of us need angels. Genuine friends must be cherished and not forsaken (Proverbs 27: 10)

Think GOOD of people when they hurt you. One of the hardest things to do, but it brings down heaven on earth. It works. Relationships are not magical. They have to be worked on and on some days, you have to work real hard. If a loved one has corrected you, see the good – take the love and cut off the sting. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:6) If you love, someone, you cannot keep a record of wrongs (1 Corinthians, Chapter 13) Clean that comment before you take it into your mind. Our greatest sorrows come from brooding over the harsh words of our dearest ones. Don’t dwell or brood. See the love. Don’t tell yourself you are above their advice – that’s arrogance. Don’t think ill of the friend – that’s uncharitable. Think of the nicest things he/she has done instead. Count them, sit down and make a list if required. That will get you through a hard day. Talk it out as soon as possible. Pray it out. Fast if required. Let our hearts be like a crystal glass vase which we are keeping ready for the Lord each day as though it were the last day of our life. We should be so filled with goodness and happy thoughts that even when people poke us the wrong way, only kindness and goodness should flow out. THAT is the ultimate target of a Christian. To live LOVE. Even in a speech or a letter or a chat, focus on the goodness of people and let that flow out of you. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him (Matthew 12:35) They say its easier to forgive an enemy than a friend – because with a friend the feeling of ‘How could he/she?’ is doubled. But that is when we need to fight our mind battles more. Or speak to a Christian who can lift you up and help you build and not break relationships. Even if it’s a stranger, don’t have misgivings. Give them the chance to show their goodness before you judge them as imperfect. And if they are not perfect, be a friend still.

Be PERSISTENT – The lady I mentioned earlier did not see miracles happening the instant her thoughts changed. When you try your best is when you are attacked the most. Her husband went into real abuse when they met next and things turned sour but she persisted with positive thinking and prayer. Today he has changed. So be strong and keep being grateful; don’t doubt. If you fell into temptation and hurt people back; apologise and come back on track quickly. If a negative thought has taken root, pluck it out. Come out of brooding. Cleanse your mind daily, constantly. People are all created with God in them. The world is not too bad after all. When you try to see good in people, God will help you see more good because then Jesus is teaming up with you. Life is short, let it be riddled with merciful thoughts, charitable acts and good speech.

FIGHT with all your love – We can fight our greatest challenges in prayer with the greatest antidotes. Fight cruelty with kindness. Anger with love. Hear the Bible say it ”If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25: 21, 22) One of my favourite anecdotes is about a famous rich man in New York – he was a big miser who came to know the Lord quite late in life. After his conversion, a poor man came to his home and asked for a sausage to get him through the day. The rich man agreed and as he was walking to the smoking room, the enemy whispered in his mind that it was a hard winter and he really had not many sausages to spare. Then Satan told him that the man who came seemed to be perfectly healthy and he should have saved up for himself and his family. All the way to the smoking room, he fought one of the hardest battles in his mind after he came to know Jesus. Finally when nothing worked, Satan sent the final shot –“Anyway you are making a stupid mistake giving this man free food, so might as well give the smallest piece”. The rich man walked to the farm where he kept the smoked meat, took the BIGGEST sausage from the lot which would feed the entire family and gave it to the poor man. Satan left him alone, he says in his testimony. So find your biggest antidote. If a friend choses to be unkind, you chose to be your kindest. If he is struggling to share, you share. If he fails to write, you write more. So that your channel of love is open and clear. Life is a battle – so fight for the good all day, every second to “press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Philippian 3:14)

LOVE earnestly – Bible asks us to pray without ceasing and love unconditionally. If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20) Not all of us are religious or hermits who can live a cloistered life or meditate for long hours. We have to be Christ’s love in the world we live and work in. This would be a good test of your ability to love - let everything that you think or do be defined by love. If you love a person as a creation of God, you cannot think bad of her, hurt her, lie to her, gossip about her or insult her. If God’s love is defining your action, you have to be sincere at home, honest in your workplace, gentle to your angry friend and forgiving to that unkind stranger you meet on the street. So before you think or act, run a quick check to see if you are obeying God’s greatest commandment to love Him and your neighbour (1 John 4:20, 21)

Imagine your life as that barren tree, the kind of image Brother Lawrence carried in his mind during his life on earth. Picture that tree in winter – a dark silhouette against the frosty backdrop and standing still in that biting cold air. Now breathe God’s love and life into it. Think of yourself as a God-touched new tree – with fresh new green shoots, beautiful flowers, sparkling dew-drenched leaves, luscious fruits and strong branches. Be that tree to the world. Be God-kissed. Go forth and love like our Saviour did.

Think good, be good. Team up with Jesus. God be with you.

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Our Directors Fr Augustine Vallooran and Fr Joshy Kochukudiyattil have announced that ALL retreats to be held in DRC, in ALL languages, will be suspended, until further notice - because of the Coronavirus alert.

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