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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

"Sealed with the Promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1:13) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

In the end of May this year, we had the 27th National Youth Retreat. This week we prayed with the offer of the Scripture of being "Sealed with the Promised Holy Spirit." Almost 700 youth participated in this and had brought along their parents for the couples retreat. Whatever their burdens and orientations were when they came in, we realized that according to His Promise, healing flowed into their hearts and joy radiated from their countenance. Truly they were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit!

"I Will Turn Their Darkness into Light" (Isaiah 42:16)

Right at the beginning of the retreat, a girl came to meet me. Though she was young and had much to live fo,r I found her to be very miserable. The very first thing she had to tell me was itself shocking, "I have no reason to live any more." She then narrated to me the shattering episode she had gone through. She was in love with a boy. She admired and trusted him completely. Their relationship had even become physical. This affair went on for over three years. She was dreaming dreams of a beautiful lifetime ahead with him. But suddenly without giving any reason, he opted for another girl. She was broken and inconsolable. The pain of being rejected and despised was unbearable. There was no meaning in life any longer. She began to despise herself. In her despair, she began to interpret the whole turn of situations as a result of her being a useless nobody. She reasoned saying, "If even the boy I gave my best to has thrown me aside, I must be crap." She contemplated suicide. It was in this desperate frame of mind that she reached Divine for the retreat.

I could see how broken she was and I prayed for her that God may take away all that sadness from her heart. As I was inspired, I counseled her that "It is God who took that boy away from your life. It is God who did not want you to marry that boy." She was shocked as this possibility had never occurred to her. "Why would God ever want to do something like that?" she questioned. I explained that here was a truth that must become a revelation for her - a truth which alone could set her free from her burden. The sufferings of life are beyond human comprehension. The goal of prayer would be to hear the voice of God revealing His purpose of love and wisdom behind the circumstances of life. For the Scripture reveals that everything that happens to us is according to a divine purpose for our welfare. (ref. Romans 8:28) And even everything tragic is taken over by God to be transformed into something for our good.

She recounted how she had prayed and had prayed hard that this boy may return and that his marriage plans with the other girl may fall through. But that boy did not come back. That marriage took place and they were well settled. Now she stood alone and defeated in life. Her heart had become desperate. Her hopes were ended. She wept saying, "I don’t understand anything in my life. I cannot understand or even take the burden of life anymore. My past seems to be a painful mistake. My future is empty. Where am I to turn to?"

I directed her to seek the reason of God, "If we want to understand anything, we need to open our heart to what God wants of our life. When I am stuck in my own understanding, when I insist that everything should happen by my plan, I am bound to end up frustrated for I am not in control of the world. My reasoning is limited. I have no control over that boy or any other individual. I am not even in control of my own life. So we need to wait upon God." I directed her to accordingly spend time praying for this revelation of God and His perfect will of love.

"Plans To Give You Hope and A Future" (Jeremiah 29:11)

I continued to pray that the Holy Spirit may descend upon her and give her understanding. For the most terrible experience is not to understand what is happening in our own lives. There is a lot of emptiness in the centre of our hearts, the future looks frighteningly blank and we feel too helpless to even deal with the day to day living. We perceive that our life is going haywire and we are bound to give up on life. But Jesus promises us this all important understanding, "The Holy Spirit will guide you to all the truth." (John 16:13) Hence we need to turn to Him as the refuge in our distress.

The young lady met me again at the end of the week. Her countenance had considerably changed. She shared with me her journey through the week - "I was stuck in my desire. I could not see beyond this relationship. I insisted that my will should be done in my life. The one thing that existed for me was the boy who had walked away. I could not let him walk away like this. Prayer was all about getting him back into my life. It was not about God in anyway." She revealed of how she had become so desperate that she even prayed that the other girl should die making a way for his return. And she confessed, "I was praying the wrong prayer. But when I came here, my prayer changed. It was the prayer of Jesus that was ringing within me, "Not my will but let yours be done." (Luke 22:42)

Of course I still loved that boy. But I prayed, "O God, I do not know what your plan for my life is. It is by your plan that my life should proceed. Only your plan will bring glory and bliss to my existence on earth." The moment I began praying this way, something happened with my perception. Now when I look back, I understand our relationship in a new light. I realize, and this realization does make me very sad, that this boy never loved me. He wanted my flesh but not me. The many things he was saying, the many things we were doing, were directed towards this one goal. What drew him to me was not love but lust. When I realized this, I was convinced that surely even after marriage he would approach me only in lust. Our relationship was superficial, skin deep and could never develop deeper roots of commitment. It would have been impossible for him to commit his life to me. I could never have been a good wife for him. And he would never have been a good husband to me. What is clear to me now is that the Holy Spirit was never there in our relationship. I was fascinated by him and he was using me. Now I am overwhelmed by gratitude to my Father God for intervening in my life and saving me from the misfortune of being married to a man who wanted only my flesh."

What she said was truly a life-changing wisdom, given by God! Lust is of the flesh and would always leave the partners dissatisfied and used. Love springs from a deeper source and is possible only by the movement of the Spirit. If I am moved to commit my life to the other, there is the Holy Spirit very clearly behind this noble motive of love.

"Put Me Like A Seal Over Your Heart" (Songs 8:6)

St. Paul exhorts us to be "Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit." (Ephesians 1:13) This call has a very deep meaning rooted in the context of the slave system that was prevalent in the ancient world. What we hear of all the time is of excesses of the slave system. It was definitely an inhuman structure with people being sold as commodities and enslaved by the moneyed. Slaves were often treated in cruel and inhuman ways. But there was another dimension we hardly hear of in the slave system which was good and humane. This is not to justify the slave system which was evil and deserved eradication. And yet there were instances of goodness in certain slave establishments. Many owners of the slaves were not inhuman and cruel. Rather they adopted these individuals to care for them. When people had no way of living, they were taken in as members of the household. And we are told that slaves often were loved, respected and trusted by their masters and given responsible positions in the management of the house and the business. The slaves were sealed with the insignia of the family of the master. Every family had a family seal and that seal would be put on them so that the whole world may know that this slave belongs to this family. The slave is identified with and cared for the rest of his life by the family. And the children of those slaves are given the name of that family. His every need and protection was from the family he belonged to.

This is the context in which St. Paul invites us to be sealed with the Holy Spirit. He declares that we belong to the household of God. In fact, we were enemies of God. By our sin we rejected God. We had travelled to a distant country, far away from God. Famine came upon the land we settled in. We lost out in life. We were rejected and crippled by the very sins we gave ourselves to. And here in this hopeless moment, God came down in Jesus Christ to claim us as the adopted sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. So we ask for the seal of His Holy Spirit. We now belong to the household of God. And we want to declare this to the whole world. We belong to God! He will fight our battle and lead us to life. We remember that "if God is on our side who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) We have no anxiety for "The Lord is my Shepherd and there is nothing I shall want." (Psalm 23:1)

St. Paul stresses that we are not aliens any longer groping through life for now we are the members of the household of God. The whole world would know this because of the seal of the Holy Spirit, not on our flesh but on our spirit.

"The Guarantee Of Our Inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14)

Since the Holy Spirit is given to us, we are sure to receive the inheritance of the family. St. Paul describes the Holy Spirit as the first installment given to us (2 Corinthians 5:5). The first installment is, as certain translations describe, the guarantee for everything else to follow. In business, even to this day, we understand the implications. When we go to purchase a land, we bargain with the seller for a good price. We decide to buy and strike a deal. At this time, as a guarantee, the buyer pays a part of the entire cost right away which is called as the first installment. The payment of this amount in advance is the assurance from the buyer that the whole money will be given. It also implies now that the land officially belongs to the one who bought it. The land will be fully his when the money is fully paid. But the first installment ensures for now the privileges of the whole amount to be given.

When St.Paul says the Holy Spirit is given to us as the first installment, we can understand that the manifold and glorious promises of God over the pages of salvation will be fulfilled in every one of us. The inheritance in full measure will reach us. Life in all its fullness will be ours! It is a matter of time. What we need to do is to never lose sight of God’s promise for us in this gift of His Spirit for us. The flame of hope should banish every shadow that begins to creep into our life.

There are many things going wrong with us. There are unsolved problems, unexpected disappointments, tiring frustrations, and painful failures. Life can begin to seem far too tough and wrong. We get desperate and think life is not worth living. But this happens only because we do not understand the plan of God. There is a vital insight in the Scriptures that we must necessarily cling to. The plan of God for us is to unite us with Christ Jesus in glory already in this life. His plan will be realized because the Holy Spirit is given to us.

"I Will Uphold You With My Righteous Right Hand" (Isaiah 41:10)

We have this assurance - "If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you." (Romans 8:11) When we read this promise, we might think that this is the resurrection to expect at the end of our life. This is just as Martha had thought (ref. John 11:24-27). We die and are buried. And then at the second coming of Jesus, we will be raised to eternal life. But this is not an accurate truth. The gospel very clearly reveals that resurrection is a mystery that happens to us all the time. Is death about that moment when we are breathing our last? "We are being killed all the day long" (ref. Romans 8:36). We are constantly dying and the pain and agony of death tries to gain entry into our hearts at every opportunity. There are times we take up a project; we work hard for it; but we fail. The project flops. There is an agony, a frustration and no courage now to go ahead any more. We have lost! This is the kind of death that is always happening to us.

St. Luke records for us such a dark night in the lives of St. Peter and the other disciples (Luke Chapter 5). They were toiling the whole night at sea but they caught nothing. It was a moment of the bitterness of death for Simon Peter. Simon Peter would have thought to himself even if he did not voice it, "It has never been so bad. The whole night was toil. I, a man of the sea, kept casting the net again and again into the sea. Day breaks, and there is no fish in my nets. The light is beginning to shine and everything is over." The net is empty. The boat is empty. The heart of Simon Peter is empty. He was not ready to take up that day. A sad, desperate man he was! Into that despair the risen Lord walks in. We know what happened after that. Defeat is turned to triumph. The Lord directs him to launch out into the deep and cast his nets again! Peter followed the Master and there was a very rich catch of fish. When we read this event closely, the Spirit will reveal to us that it was the mystery of the resurrection being realized at a moment of darkness.

In the dark nights of our life, we will hear the Lord inviting us into His Presence. Jesus clearly said, "No one can come to me unless my Father draws him." (John 6:44) The love of the Heavenly Father impels us towards Himself for a purpose - of revealing His plan for us in that situation! The plan is clear to St. Paul and he says it is "To manifest the glory of God in us." (Ephesians1:14) The glory that was manifested in the life of Simon Peter and the other disciples will be manifested in our own lives as well.

"You Have Turned For Me My Mourning Into Dancing" (Psalm 30:11)

It is possible that when we look into our past and examine our hearts, we would despair that far too many things have gone wrong. And everything that went wrong has left scars - deep scars of frustration, despair, anger and bitterness in our lives. Perhaps we are questioning God, "O God why did this happen to me?" - and we are very angry with lot of people who we see as responsible for what went wrong. All that anger and despair is because we did not look for the plan of God, which will be unfolded in time.

As the Lord invited Peter to again "launch out into the deep", let us look into our past - to the journey of our hearts. We examine everything that happened to us for it is important to know what is happening to us - all the sorrow, the anger and bitterness, all the defeats and despair, all the failures and frustrations. This is the background of our journeying to God. It is because of all that we are summoned into the Presence of God. God is going to reveal to us the reason and wisdom behind all that we did not understand and could not accept. As we wait in His Presence trusting in His love, God is going to manifest his Glory to us. Our mourning will be turned to dancing, our sorrow into joy. That is when all the sin will be taken away and we will be set free! That is when our hearts will be filled. This is what happened to Simon Peter at the shores of Galilee when the Lord saw his empty nets.

This is what happened to Zacchaeus when the Lord entered his home. This extremely sinful man, rooted in greed, in the presence of Jesus was dramatically transformed. When the light of the love of Christ shone on him, the chains of sin were broken and he was a free man. He said, "Why do I need all that money. I made all that money. That money did not make me blessed. That money did not bring the bliss to my heart. Of all my property, half I give to the poor. I have cheated many – that is how I made all the money. All of them, I restore four-fold." A spontaneous transformation! This always happens to every one coming into the Presence of the Lord.

An alcoholic once told me, "I never imagined there would be a day in my life when this evil habit would be out of my life. It had become a power that had taken complete control of me." I explained to him that nobody can find the strength to say "No" to such a deep rooted sin. A person who is trapped in such sinful habits has become a slave and a slave is not free to resist his oppressive master. But Jesus has promised us that "When the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) And I explained this to him, "That is exactly what happened to you. The Son of God has set you free."

This is exactly what is to happen to every one of us. Our hearts are disturbed because of the many things that went wrong with us. There is guilt burning in our hearts because of the sins of the past. Spontaneously you will feel the power of God's love setting you free! When we come to Jesus, what happens to us is what happened to the sick and suffering who encountered Jesus. The leper cried out to Jesus, "If you wish, you can make me clean." (Mark 1:40) And Jesus said, "I do will it. Be made clean." (Mark 1:41) Instantaneously the leprosy left him. He was made whole. The power of the Presence of the Lord stretches out to heal us of all our aches and ailments of the body and mind.

We have the assurance that God’s will, will lead us to the Glory, because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This anointing of the Holy Spirit will leading us in the way of the Plan of God - to be His chosen instruments.

Lord of mercy and power, we bring to You the burdens of our past and the emptiness of our future. All we have left are our empty hearts and weak hands. As we stand before You, O God, shine Your Light upon us. Anoint us with the Holy Spirit. And may the Fire of the Holy Spirit place a seal on us that we may bear Your image, live in Your Hope and proclaim Your Glory. We trust in Your Love and look to Your Eyes of compassion and we are held up as we live each day singing Your praises.


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

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, 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

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. Joshi Kochukudiattil, 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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