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Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

“I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

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Spiritual tragedies

By Fr. Michael Payyapilly VC

As I write this article, the news of the Indonesian earthquake on the 11th of April is just hours old. The earthquake that measured 8.6 on the Richter scale was one of the biggest in the past 100 years. This quake was followed by aftershocks - one measured 8.2 on the Richter scale. With the quake came tsunami warnings. These warnings were issued to nearly twenty eight countries and all were on disaster alert. Here in India, the beaches were cleared, the metro rails suspended service, disaster management teams were in place. It was like as though a part of the world came to a stand still. The painful memories of the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2004 which killed more than 230,000 people was brought back during those few minutes after the earthquake. Eight years after that painful incident, it still stays fresh in every human’s mind, so much so, that the news of another earthquake brought an immediate rescue response.

Memories do not pass away very soon; especially the painful ones. They keep lingering in some part of our minds and we are very aware of them. These memories could be induced by someone or they could be self-inflicted or by nature. But they will all remain in our minds and anything that touches things connected to that memory would get us into a defensive or rescue mode. An immediate defensive response is triggered within us instinctively the moment we see or feel danger round the corner. The moment the news about the earthquake broke out, people started moving towards higher ground. With what had happened in 2004, nearly everyone knew what to do this time.

If this is the case with tragedies connected to our bodies or our emotions, should it not be the same with tragedies connected to our spirituality as well? Does not the spiritual side of our being also go through tragic moments? But does it trigger a defensive or rescue mode as prompt as the kind triggered in the physical or emotional mode? Or is there a general apathy towards the spiritual tragedies that we go through?

In the history of the Israelites we read of the very famous incident of the golden calf. In the book of Exodus, chapter 32, we read about the people of Israel getting anxious when they find that Moses has not come down from the mountain, where he had gone to pray. So they went up to Aaron who was in charge of them and asked him to make a God for them, for they did not know what had happened to Moses. So Aaron in his foolishness, made a golden calf with the gold that he collected and then gave it to them saying, “These are your Gods you brought you out of the land of Egypt”. This would lead to the Lord getting upset with the attitude of the people and His anger burnt livid. It was a great spiritual tragedy in the history of Israel. A tragedy that would always be remembered against them and amongst the generations to come. But though they had sinned, ultimately, because of His mercy, God forgave them and gifted them with the ten commandments.

This incident was to be etched in the mind of every Israelite and it became a part of their history; something that they would never forget and would be spoken about generations later. But surprisingly, centuries later, 1 Kings chapter 12 records an incident connected to King Jeroboam who ruled the people of Israel. Though a king, he was not faithful to God and had his own ideas. So he would say to himself in 1 Kings 12:26&27, “Now the kingdom may well revert to the house of David. If this people continue to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, the heart of this people will again turn to their master King Rehoboam of Judah”. So he manipulated the situation and in order to distract the people, Jeroboam created two golden calves and he told the people, “Here are your Gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And all the people began to worship these calves. Even the similarity of the words used is striking. Just as Aaron told them ‘these are your Gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt’, Jeroboam used the same words. And all the people worshipped the calves.

It is surprising that the people of Israel did not realise what they were doing. It was surprising that they did not even recall the close resemblance to the spiritual tragedy that took place centuries back. The very act and words of King Jeroboam should have triggered a defensive response by the people. But they did not even think twice when it happened and went on to commit the same sin that their ancestors did. There was a general apathy towards the spiritual tragedy that had taken place centuries ago during Aaron’s time. And that is why when it happened again, they were so numb that it did not even trigger a defensive response from their side. I often wonder why they let it happen. I believe this general apathy towards their spiritual tragedy was a result of them taking the Lord and His mercy for granted. They knew the Lord would be merciful and so they did not care or feel bad about the spiritual tragedy that they themselves were responsible for. So for the second time round, they would take His mercy for granted. History repeated itself and they did not even take preventive measures.

In stark contrast is King David. King David in one incident itself commits many major sins. In 2 Samuel 11, we read about David’s sins of adultery, deceit, and ultimately murder. Through that one incident, he made a mess of his life and abused the position that he was in. It was a moment of spiritual tragedy for him. He had reached his lowest point. But from there, we see David rise again. He became aware of what he had done and from then onward, he remains faithful to the Lord. He would never allow history to repeat itself. He would never allow a spiritual tragedy to strike again. The sole reason was that he would never take the Lord’s mercy for granted. God Himself would say, “David, kept my commandments and followed Me with all his heart.” (1 Kings 14:8) David’s heart was so much with God that he would never allow himself to take the Lord’s love and mercy for granted.

Today it would be good to ask ourselves as to how careful we are about the spiritual tragedies that have struck our life. Are we so aware of them that we are careful not to let them happen again? Or are we people who have a general apathy towards our spiritual tragedies because we take the Lord’s love for granted? Are we the kind of people who put ourselves into the same places and situations of sin, which ultimately leads us into further spiritual tragedies? Sometimes in our arrogance we turn numb to our spiritual tragedies. At times we turn a blind eye to the spiritual degeneration of our soul. We choose to ignore the fact that we have gone away from the Lord or that the Lord is hurt with the kind of acts we have committed. Ultimately we reach a stage when we are not even aware of the dangerous areas that lead us to sin. If we are not careful, we could end up drifting away from the Lord. Today let us ask ourselves if history keeps repeating itself in our spiritual lives. Do we have apathy towards our spiritual tragedies? Are we growing numb to them today?

Divine Updates


Divine comes to Chennai with the 'Magnificat on March 10, 2018. Fr. Jacob Arimpur VC will lead the services. With special sessions for children.

Venue: Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on March 17, 2018. Services to be led by Fr Jacob Arimpur VC. All are welcome. Music by Glen and Teresa La'Rive.

Venue: St. Joseph's Boys' School Chapel, Museum Road, Bangalore

38th 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 20 - 25, 2018

Kannada Convention 2018

Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our annual Kannada convention in May, 2018 The convention will be blessed by the vibrant preaching of many anointed servants of God. Please come.

Date: May 6 - May 11, 2018

Konkani Convention - Kuttumb Utsov 2018

Divine Retreat Centre's annual Konkani Convention will be held at the centre. The convention will be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, Director. Talks to focus mainly on the renewal of the family. All are welcome.

Date: April 22 - April 27, 2018

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, 2018

Hindi Convention Ojas 2018

The Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our eighth Hindi convention, in 2018. Two retreats will be held simultaneously on the campus; one for adults and another for couples and youth. All are welcome.

Date: May 27 - June 1, 2018

Divine Retreats in Australia

Fr. Michael Payyapilly will lead several special retreats across Australia - in Brisbane, Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne. Please bring your family and friends. Hear the Word and be refreshed. 

Date: February 19 - March 4, 2018

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. Mathew Elavumkal, 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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