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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

Monthly Reflections

"His Mother Kept All These Things In Her Heart" (Luke 2:51) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

On June 20 we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mother Mary. As we gaze into this heart that beats for God and for us in motherly love, we realize how richly we are loved and especially of the calling issued to us to follow the path of our Mother in giving ourselves in total self forgetfulness in loving service and faith.

Saint John defines "God is love." (1 John. 4:8) And there is no better human symbol for this God than the heart. No wonder in traditional Catholic spirituality the Sacred Heart has come to be a longstanding devotion. The supreme message of the Bible is that God loves! He loves to such a great extent that He gave Himself up even unto death for our salvation - "By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us." (1 John 3:16) The extent of this love is further highlighted in that "God shows His love for us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) St. Paul drawing from this magnanimity of love reasons that "He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also give us all things with Him?" (Romans 8:32) God's love reaches out to tend to every need of ours on this earth. And after our earthly sojourn, He waits to receive us as Jesus promises - "I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may also be." (John 14:3) St. Paul finally declares "and so we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians. 4:17) The love of God is so extensive that it provides everything for our temporal and eternal fulfilment.

Jesus reminds us of this all-knowing all-providing love of our Heavenly Father, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on…For your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." (Matthew 6) St. Paul celebrates this great Providence as he writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing." (Ephesians 1:3)

"He Who Loves Is Born Of God" (1 John 4:7)

All those who are close to God imbibe His great spirit of love. Mother Mary is the human being who came into the most intimate union with God. And she is presented to us in the form of a heart. The devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the most widespread and it's feast placed right next to that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The gospels reveal to us that the Heart of Mary was always concerned with the needs of those around her. In fact St. John portrays her as the most powerful intercessor! It was at the marriage feast at Cana, the first manifestation of the power of Jesus, that we see this vital role of the Mother. The Jewish wedding is a grand joyous occasion. When the celebrations were at its peak, it is recorded that they ran out of wine (John 2). By Jewish traditions this is a rather tragic omen. The moment the guests would realize this there would be great confusion and shame. It was a dark moment of despair for the family. And they stood helpless. At that moment where nobody could help Mother Mary placed the need of the family before the Lord. Jesus intervened and the empty wine jars were filled with the best wine. Mother Mary shows us that it is when our hearts are turned towards God and given to Him in hope that we can be a blessing to those around us.

"Who Is My Neighbour?" (Luke 10:29)

It has been our experience how we can be alone even when we are surrounded by many people. Again we can be physically present and yet far removed or even totally absent to the person just next to us. For instance when after a train journey someone asks us whether we traveled alone we would promptly answer in the affirmative. The fact though was that we were actually with at least another 500 passengers on the train. And we would have been sitting next to, sleeping near and eating with some of them. Physical proximity speaks little of being present to the other.

Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan highlights how the priest and the Levite too passed by the same pathway (Luke 10). They too saw the man lying wounded and bleeding. But they were not present to the wounded Jew. But the Good Samaritan saw the suffering man and felt the pain and urgent need of the man and of his family. He changed his plans, took the wounded man on his own animal and paid for his care and restored to life the man who was left to die. Being present to the other allows God's hands to "give life to the dead and call into existence the things that do not exist." (Romans 4:17)

"Weep With Those Who Weep" (Romans 12:15)

Mother Mary shows us that it is when we are effectively present to the other that we can be a blessing. Such a presence must have the three theological qualities of love, hope and faith. "So faith, hope, love abide." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Right at the beginning of the narrative, the gospel while placing us at the feast at Cana, specifies that Mother Mary "was there." She was lovingly present to the difficult situation. What the gospel means is that she was more than a physical presence. She was spiritually present there sharing the agony of the family, sensitive to their unspoken need and pain. There were surely many others who were present there. Some were finding fault with the arrangements and making harsh judgments; others were unaware of or indifferent to the pain of the family; some others were waiting to watch the outcome of the drama. But Mother Mary could make a positive difference to the situation and be a blessing because her heart opted for compassion, to participate in the agony of those who stood helpless.

"Hope Does Not Disappoint Us" (Romans 5:5)

Love finds ways beyond the human limitations to reach out to the infinite possibilities of God's love. And this is when love becomes hope.

The angel Gabriel had assured Mary that "With God nothing will be impossible." (Luke 1:37) Imprinted in the heart of Mary was the surety of God's Providence. Hope never gives up. However impossible the situation may present itself, hope refuses to be tied down to what is humanly possible. "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But we hope for what we do not see." (Romans 8:24-25)

I remember an incident in the early days of my ministry when we were visiting a certain parish for mission. The entire retreat team went to the house of a cancer patient to pray. He was young and in the final stages of cancer. He was suffering great pain and was even finding it difficult to breathe. He had a young wife and two children. They too were looking so wasted with days and nights of watching their beloved one disappear over what were now months of struggle with the deadly disease. We prayed with the family and tried to comfort them. As we were returning one of the team members asked each of us what we prayed for. And one of us replied that we prayed that the man would have a peaceful death and a quick release from this burdensome life. Immediately the elder in our group replied, "I prayed for the healing of the man." We were stunned by what seemed to be his naïve attitude. We tried to reason with him that anyhow this man was dying and there was no chance of recovery. It was only the agony that was being prolonged. But he replied, "For our God who raised Lazarus from the dead it is not impossible to heal a man even if he is in the last stages of dying."

"Blessed Is She Who Believed" (Luke 1:45)

At Cana, in fact humanly speaking, nothing could have been arranged to save that family in this particular hour of crisis. Very soon all the guests would come to know of the problem and that family would be put to great shame. It is at this juncture that we see in Mother Mary hope opening itself to faith.

It has been written of Abraham that "in hope he believed against hope... No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God." (Romans 4:18-20) When we realize our own nothingness, it is faith that enables us to abandon ourselves in the hands of God strengthened by the firm conviction that God will intervene. This is what we see at Cana. Mother Mary handed the entire problem to Jesus. The angel had promised that her Son would be the Saviour of the world. She had understood the mystery of salvation from the prophecy of Isaiah about the Saviour - "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases." (Isaiah 53:4) Jesus accomplished this on the Cross. This act of salvation is completed at the Second Coming of the Lord as the Lord speaks in the book of Revelation, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men… He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore… Behold, I make all things new" (Revelations 21:3-5). Responding to this promise the prayer of the early church was, "Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, Come!" (ref. Revelations 22:20)

It is this prayer that Mother Mary takes up at Cana in that impossible situation asking the Lord to intervene and save that family. Jesus in fact had said "My hour has not yet come." (John 2:4) But Mother Mary's intervention of love anticipated the appointed time of Jesus. This is the great power of love! It can hasten the hand of God to rain down salvation in our lives. This is also the invitation of the Lord to open our hearts to our suffering brethren and raise our hands to Him and help in ushering in the kingdom.

"My Soul Is Very Sorrowful, Even To Death" (Mathew 26:38)

There is a prophetic moment that inaugurates the mystery of the Immaculate Heart. On the eighth day, at the purification ceremony Jesus was circumcised according to the Jewish tradition. Here Mother Mary offered back to God her first born Son whom God the Father had placed in her hands. This offering was for the salvation of the world which she knew could be achieved only with the price of His blood.

On this first occasion where Jesus shed His blood, Simeon inspired by the Spirit recognized the foreshadowing of the great sacrifice of blood at Calvary. He exulted, "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples" (Luke 2:30-31)

It is next at Calvary, that Jesus hanging on the Cross, sheds His Blood for the salvation of mankind. As the prophet explained, "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities." (Isaiah 53:4-5) It was for our salvation and healing that Jesus accepted the sacrifice at the Cross. In fact what happened on Calvary was not a brutal murder. It was indeed the self offering of the Son of God in supreme love for us. Jesus had said, "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." (John 10:18)

Simeon also perceived that the Mother will have a participation in the Son's sacrifice. He turned to Mary and said, "And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break through your own heart." (Luke 2:35) This sorrow of every man and woman is what she opted to share at Calvary. That decision made her the Mother of suffering humanity. By the opening out of the Mother's heart, the burden of her Son became hers. The pain of all of humankind was laid on Her heart. A love that was clearly manifested at Cana now gets a universal proportion. At Calvary Jesus entrusted her with every human person shackled by the Cross, as He directed her - "Behold, your son!" (John 19:26) Mother Mary is asked by her Son to be present to all the tears and needs of her struggling children and to bring it all to Him in faith and hope.

Genuine love dares to be present to every situation of pain in the firm hope that nothing is impossible for God. As we place our tears and needs in the hands of God we believe that God will save for His promise is there, "Surely I am coming soon" (Revelations 22:20) The Immaculate Heart of Mary opens our eyes to the wonder of love. Humankind is languishing in the dark prisons of thoughtlessness and indifference. The arrogant cry of Cain echoes in the hearts of many today, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The Immaculate Heart of Mary sets the tone of our heartbeat to dare to be compassionate.

Where there is love, there is the Presence of God and the manifestation of His Power and Love!

O Lord as we stand before Your own Heart of Love, we are overwhelmed by Your great Love and Sacrifice. Here we are to respond to Your invitation to share in Your mission to bring Love, Hope and Faith to those who dwell in the valley of despair.

We thank you for presenting Your Mother to be with us and care for us, to bear our burdens and guide us in the way of salvation. In every situation that we pass through, may Your Spirit prompt us to respond with compassion. When the wine runs out in our lives, we shall lift our eyes to You – for You, O God, are the never drying fountain. It is in Your Mercy that we trust!

Mother Mary, stand by us in our hours of trial! Lead us to Jesus, to see His Presence and Providence in all our moments of emptiness.


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

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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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