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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Monthly Reflections

God Is Our Refuge And Strength… (Psalm 46:1) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Let us meditate together on Psalm 150, "Praise the Lord, Praise God in His Sanctuary, Praise Him in His mighty firmament. Praise Him for His mighty deeds. Praise Him according to His exceeding greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound, Praise Him with Lute and Harp, Praise Him with timbrel and dance. Praise him with strings and pipe. Praise Him with founding cymbals; Praise him with loud clashing cymbals. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord."

O God teach us to pray, teach us to praise you. Give us the grace to understand that our whole life and everything in it is Your gift. We have nothing that we have earned without Your Grace and teach our hearts to breathe always thanking and praising you, O God. Amen.

Praise Ye The Lord!

I want to reflect about one word, a biblical word, perhaps the one word that occurs in the Bible the most often. The Word is "Alleluia" which means "Praise Ye the Lord". At least fifteen Psalms begin or end with this word "Alleluia", "Praise Ye the Lord". It is a Word that you cannot utter without being excited about it. A very exciting Word because when I utter it from my heart, I know I am in the presence of my God. As the Word of God tells us, the God of Israel lives in the midst of the praises of His people. When my heart breathes praising God, when my lips open up praising God, I know God is there. God’s presence will be felt in my heart. When I say I praise my God, it is indeed a response. I can thank someone; I can praise someone, only as a response for a gift, for a grace received. It is a response and it shall be a constant response of the human heart because everything I have, everything that we have, is all given to us from the mercy of our God - and that realization will enable me to praise Him at every breath as the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 146: 2, "I will praise the Lord at all times. His praise will always be on my lips" and again in Hebrews Chapter 13:15, "Therefore through him, let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name".

Praising God – Heart of Our Faith

When I confess the name of Jesus, when my heart understands what my Jesus has done for me, I cannot but praise him always. Therefore praising is at the heart of our faith. Often for people prayer is begging, prayer is asking, prayer is demanding something from God. Of course, when there is a problem, when there is a need, we (you and I) need to come to God and ask Him, beg Him. But even when I pray for something, I tell God, "I thank You" because You are already giving me what I am praying - that is a promise given to us by Jesus, "Therefore I tell you whatever you ask in prayer believe that you receive it and you will." (Luke 11:10) Therefore I pray with confidence - with the confidence of faith. I am not like a beggar before God that when I ask Him something, I do not know whether He is answering me or if He would give me what I am asking for. I know He will give me what I am asking for and that is why when Jesus prayed to the Father, first Jesus thanked the Father. In the Gospel of John Chapter 11, Jesus was standing before a tomb - the tomb of Lazarus. Lazarus died four days ago and the dead body was buried. Everybody was in tears - Martha and Mary, the two sisters and all the neighbours. In the midst of all their tears, Jesus thanks the Father, "Father I thank you because you have always heard my prayer"(John 11:41). An attitude of praising God - an attitude of thanking God at all times; even when I am standing before Him in distress; even when I am in terrible need. What I do is to praise Him and thank Him in the confidence of faith and therefore praising God is at the very heart of belief of faith, it is also a heavenly experience to praise God.

In the Book of Revelation Chapter 19:1-6, "After this, I heard what seemed to be the mighty voice of a great multitude in heaven crying Alleluia! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. For His judgements are true and just. He has judged the great harlot that corrupted the earth with her fornication and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants. Once more they cried Alleluia! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever and the twenty four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who is seated on the thrones saying Amen, Alleluia! And from the throne came a voice crying, "Praise our God all you servants, you who fear him small and great and then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitudes, like the sound of many waters, like the sound of mighty thunder appeals crying Alleluia!" Again and again the word comes in, a great word, a great attitude, an exciting experience and St. John tells us why we should be praising God, why we should be crying "Alleluia!" all the time.

Why Should We Praise God?

There are three reasons why we should be praising God. Salvation, glory and power belong to our God. The first reason to praise God is because our God is a God of salvation and St. John tells us, " A father who loved us so much that he sent his only son into the world to die that we may not perish, that we may live for ever with him." (John3:16)

Even when I am overwhelmed with temptations, even when guilt burns into my heart because of my sin, I refuse to slip into despair or self pity because my God is my Saviour. He took upon Himself all my sins and paid the price of my sin in His blood. Therefore, I have forgiveness in the blood of Jesus and He will carry me through life, through death into eternity. Even at the moment of my death, I will not be destroyed because in death I am not losing life rather I am gaining eternity - so sin and death do not disturb me. My God understands and my God is there to save me. Even when I feel the powers of sin are encircling me, I will not be distressed because I have a God to set me free.

Praise – An Attitude of Confidence in God

In Romans 7:15 , when St. Paul felt the powers of sin overwhelming him, he turned to Jesus and said "Glory to you, praise to you O Lord, you are my Saviour" . This is the attitude we should have - an attitude of confidence that my God would save me, salvation belongs to me. If I am living in sin and if I do not want to come out of sin, if I prefer darkness to light, then I will not be able to praise God. Praise does not fit a sinful heart. Praise does not come from sinful lips. There is a very significant passage in Acts of the Apostles 16:25 - Paul and Silas were praising God in the prison. Even in that terrible situation of distress, they were praising God. Nothing disturbed them! At night they were praising God and part of the verse states, "the prisoners were listening." The prisoners could not praise God. If I am a prisoner, if I am in the prison of unholy powers of greed or hatred or lust or laziness or occult, I will not be able to praise God because I am a prisoner of my sin.

Often in our Divine Retreat Centre, on the first day when people come in, I have seen people just standing there without opening their mouths – indifferent and non-participative. After the Sacrament of Confession when they are set free, when they are given the assurance of their forgiveness, they become so happy and liberated. They raise their hands up, they open their lips and they praise God! They rejoice in the presence of God because they have had an experience of salvation. I know that my God is a God of Salvation and therefore I praise God at all times.

Praise – Giving Glory to God

A second reason to praise God is Glory belongs to Him. The other word is Righteousness and Revelations 19:2 tells us that "His judgments are true and just and He has conquered; He has judged the great evil power". Here "harlot" typifies a symbol of evil power. Evil power is judged and I know evil powers will not overpower me; they will not destroy me. There are moments in our life when others misjudge us - when we are misunderstood. Even the best of our intentions are misinterpreted. That is when we become sad and we question, "Why did I go into that problem? I wanted to help someone and I am misunderstood," and we slip into a little depression. Why should I be scared that others would judge me wrongly? After all, I can never expect to be understood by everyone in the world but I know I will be understood because God is my judge. God will understand me and that is enough! I cannot go about pleasing everyone. I cannot go about currying favour from everyone. I cannot go about making impressions on everyone, That is not possible. I need to live the way God wants me to, according to God’s Word. In the process, I will be misunderstood; I will be misinterpreted but I know my judge is my God. Glory to Him! He is the Judge, He is Righteous. My righteousness comes not from the lips of the people, not even of my friends but from my God. Thus, even in such moments, I praise my God knowing for sure that my God is there to understand me - He is my Judge.

Praise – Power and Honour Belong to God

The third reason to praise God - power and honour belong to Him. All honour belongs to my God and therefore when something good happens to me; when I succeed in my attempt; when people appreciate what I am doing; I do not take all that honour on me. No, As St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:7, "O Man! what have you that you have achieved on your own power? Have you anything that you have not received from God? If you have received everything from God, then why do you pride yourself as if you achieved, you earned anything?" That will lead us to pride and pride is disastrous. I have heard people complaining. A husband told me, "Father, my wife, she sits at home doing nothing. I do all the work in the office. I earn all the money, so why can’t she obey what I say? Why can’t she serve me as I want to? An attitude of pride because he thinks he is the one who earns everything, who does everything. Indeed after having done everything, Jesus said, "say you are unworthy servants" (Luke 17:10) . An attitude of ascribing glory to God is what Mother Mary did when she said, "The Almighty has done great things for me, let his name be praised, not my name". (Luke 1:49-50)

A Life of Praising God!

There is a very significant event in the Book of Judges Chapter 6 and 7 - God wanted to save Israel from the hands of the Midianites and God chose Gideon, known to be a coward. The Angel came to him and said to him "O strong man of Israel!" and Gideon began to look around, "Is it me that the Angel meant or is it anybody here?" The Angel gave him a mission, "Go, and save my people" and Gideon was sort of flabbergasted! He thought, "Anyway I am a coward and God has selected me, I am not good enough, let me choose a big army". He chose a big army of 32,000 people and presented them before God. God said, "No, No, too many, too many people" and then God said, "Send 22,000 away" and Gideon sent 22,000 away There were 10,000 left and even then God said, "No, No, too many, I don’t need them" and finally God settled on 300 weak soldiers. You know what God gave them as a reason? The Lord said to Gideon, " The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites to their hand lest Israel warned themselves against me saying, my own hand has delivered". God wants to deliver Israel. God wants to do everything for me and God wants me to know that He is in charge. Power and honour to Him!

Therefore when things go right with me; when I succeed in all that I do; my attitude is of praise. Praising and thanking God at every moment of my life - when I am sad, when I am sick, when I am in sin, when I am distressed, when I achieve things and when things go well with me. In all the experiences of my life, I come to God praising God. That is the heavenly experience that God wants us to live in.

Let us pray:
O God! Thank you for Your Word. Thank you for Your Assurance that You are there for me at every moment. Even when I am misunderstood, when I am tempted, when sins bother me at every moment of my life. When I turn to you, my Lord, I will see Your Face. In the midst of all the glorious success of my life, it is to You that I turn and I will see Your Face. I will experience Your Presence and in that heavenly experience, I will live my life on this valley of tears. It is praising that lifts me up from this valley of tears to the paradise – Heaven!
Amen
 
Divine Updates

MAGNIFICAT in Bangalore

Celebrate an evening with our Lord in Bangalore at the 'Magnificat' on December 16, 2017. Services to be led by Fr Augustine Vallooran VC. All are welcome.

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

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

Emmanuel Conference at DRC

Welcome to the season of blessings - mark this Advent with special retreats for discipleship, couples and children at the Divine Retreat Centre. A time to strengthen yourself in the Lord, before the end of the year. Led by Fr Augustine Vallooran and the Divine team.

Date: December 24 - 29, 2017

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 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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