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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"Life in all its fullness“(John. 10,10)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Monthly Reflections

"THE SPIRIT HELPS US IN OUR WEAKNESS" (Romans 8:26) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

I remembered an incident that took place in the early years of my ministry here at the Divine Retreat Centre. It was an encounter with an angry young man which left me with a powerful lesson on the purpose and meaning of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He met me right on the second day of the retreat. In a rather arrogant tone he demanded, "I want to go home right now." I felt he was trying to intimidate me and I thought I needed to counter his arrogance. In a firm tone I told him, "I cannot allow you to leave the place. You have come for the retreat. You should stay till the end." He raised his voice and shouted "Is this the central prison? Who can tolerate the lousy food, the shabby accommodation and the boring talks?" I felt challenged. And in an even louder voice I said, "I will not allow you to leave till the end of the retreat and that’s final." At this his voice dropped just as I had hoped. But then what he murmured struck me.

He told me, "Father, you are as bad as I am. I cannot expect much from you. At least I have a reason to shout at you because I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms. I have a problem with alcohol. And it is unbearable now that I have stopped it. But you have no reason to get angry with me." I immediately apologized to him. But I had taken home a very vital lesson. Anger cannot be defeated by anger. I also realized that now I had lost the opportunity to bear witness to Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit vested in me is not manifested in the position I hold or the influence I exercise or the privileges I can claim. It is in the fruit of the Spirit that I bear in my words, service and living.

"Looking To Jesus the Pioneer And Perfecter Of Our Faith" (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus would point out to His disciples that "Each tree is known by its own fruit." (Luke 6:44) We do not judge the tree by its stature or any other quality. At the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus would make the focus of His last discourses on how we were to represent Him in this world. He went down on His knees before each of His disciples, even those who would betray him, abandon him and deny him and he would wash their feet. As he demonstrated this he stressed, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you." (John 13:14,15)

There is no doubt about how the Christian leader is to live his call. The call to lead in Christianity is the call to lead as Jesus led – by dying for those who went against us. It is while we give our life on the cross of humiliation that we can take confidence that our service will work out salvation. This is the difference of Christian leadership. Jesus pointed this out to His disciples in clear terms, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)

"Power From Above" (Luke 24:49)

Any fool can get angry and dictate terms. But it requires all the Power of the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus in humble loving service. For us to live our life and to accomplish our mission, the natural talents we possess and the power this world can offer are insufficient and irrelevant. The words Jesus spoke while giving the commission to the disciples to be His witnesses is very significant. Jesus said - "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8). Jesus clarified that bearing witness to Him is a mission that should be carried out in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

The power of the Holy Spirit will be actualized in us in nine ways as St. Paul teaches us: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23) These nine powers are the different manifestations of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This is like the ray of the sun passing through a prism. What emerge are seven fabulous colours. That is when we realize what is contained in the sun ray. In the same way, when we are anointed by the Holy Spirit, the Divine Power will be actualized in these supernatural capabilities.

"The Greatest Of These Is Love" (1 Corinthians 13:13)

St. Paul places love at the head of the list. Love is a spiritual power. Often love is presented as a sweet sentiment. Sentiments fluctuate and will soon evaporate with unfavourable situations. We have seen people profess their love for someone but soon they complain and give up since the other did not rise up to their expectations. Their love was confined to the superficial level of feelings and in a way was a calculated action. Jesus dismissed such attitudes, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." (Luke 6:32) But genuine love is indeed where the Power of the Spirit enables us to accept another even when the other is unacceptable. It is to commit oneself to the other even to the point of giving up one’s life. We see such love at the Cross of Calvary – undoubtedly the greatest symbol of love humankind has to look up to. As St. Paul describes for us, "God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) This power of love was able to quench the powers of hatred and anger around it. And it is this love alone that can fill our hearts and heal our relationships.

Moreover when we permit the Holy Spirit to move our hearts in love, the Lord is able to work miracles in our life circumstances. It is not for any mean reason that Jesus has said, "It is by your love for one another that everyone will recognize you as my disciples." (John 13:35) It is our experience here often that when one person makes a retreat and experiences the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he or she returns to the family as someone filled with the love of God. It is this power of love within them that draws the others in the family to now seek the way of the Lord. The word assures us - "Believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31) And the key the Lord uses to save a family has been the love of the Holy Spirit that is placed in the heart of the anointed person.

"If We Love One Another, God Abides In Us" (1 John 4:12)

Usually on Wednesday evenings here at the retreat, there is a special Mass for the families. Towards the end of this Mass, the couples are led to pray for each other. One Wednesday during this special prayer, I noticed something happening with a couple seated right in front. The man was partially paralyzed and bound to the wheelchair. His wife had come along with him. At one point during the prayer, the woman was in tears and the man got up from his wheelchair holding her hand. Later she shared with me her testimony.

A few years before this, her husband suffered a stroke and had become invalid. He had to leave his job and she had to take up a job to meet the expenses. She also had to take care of her husband all by herself since the children were very young and going to school. Every evening when she returned home tired, she would have to begin her many chores at home and look to the needs of her husband. Again, early morning she would wake up to prepare food, and to get her husband ready. Life had become an endless cycle of exhausting work. She could no longer relate to anyone. Her husband had become a burden. The children too were getting on her nerves. Life seemed impossible.

When they came for the retreat, after years, she got to spend time with her husband in prayer. During the prayer at the Mass for the couples, she said she felt a great surge of love for her husband. She described that never had she loved her husband this much. Not even when they were newly married and healthy and everything was going well in their lives. As she felt this great current of the love of the Holy Spirit, she felt prompted that this would be the moment of healing and she lifted her husband’s hand which for years could not be moved. And this was the moment of his complete healing! The Holy Spirit has been described as the finger of God. And the finger of God moves in our lives by stirring us to love and heal those around us.

"Righteousness And Peace And Joy In The Holy Spirit" (Rpmans 14:17)

The fruit of the Spirit are the building bricks with which we construct the kingdom of God. We are called to participate in this mission with joy as "God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) St. Paul insists that this is God’s will for us that we "Rejoice always." (1 Thessalonians 5:16) And Jesus offers us the fullness of joy (John 15:11). This joy is not merely a pleasant feeling when the tide turns in our favour. In fact, genuine joy is never the outcome of external circumstances. It wells up from the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

This was the experience of the apostles Peter and John when they were condemned and beaten up mercilessly in the jail. Though pain was burning in their bodies and the authorities were threatening to destroy them, they went "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name." (Acts 5:41). This power is what enabled the martyrs of the Church to sing hymns and proceed courageously to be eaten up by the wild beasts. A person who is able to rejoice in the Spirit can never come under the cloud of despair. Rather they will bring joy to everyone around!

The gospels record for us a journey of Jesus with the disciples. They were all in the boat and Jesus was sleeping. Then arose a violent storm in the seas and water began to enter the boat. Naturally the disciples began to panic. But Jesus continued to sleep. When they did awaken Him seeking help, He calmed the storms with a word, but only after rebuking them for their little faith! (Matthew 8:23-27) As His disciples, we are expected to hold our peace even in the storms that assail us – and this peace is what we long for. Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is not even the sense of well being that is there when everything is going smoothly for us. Everything anyway is not going to go well always. Even when friends turn against us and situations become adverse, a Spirit-filled person will be able to hold on to inner tranquility.

Such peace comes from a deep experience of security in the Lord who promises to be with us to the end of times. For He has said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5) This spiritual power is promised to everyone who is committed to the Lord. As the prophet writes, "Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee." (Isaiah 26:3) And Jesus assures us that when we receive this fullness of peace from Him, nothing in this world can disturb us (John 14:27).

"Not By Might, Nor By Power, But By My Spirit" (Zechariah 4:6)

Self-control is the power of the Holy Spirit giving us the wisdom to understand the sinful leanings of the situations and the courage to say "no" to temptation. There are occasions in life where sin comes to us in unknown ways. St. Paul would say that "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14) The evangelist Matthew describes an instance in the life of Jesus where we see this power exercised. Jesus is prophesying His passion, death and resurrection. Out of genuine concern, Simon Peter strongly dissuades Jesus from the option of suffering. Peter had said, "God forbid Lord! This shall never happen to you." (Matthew 16:22) Jesus could discern the activity of the evil one that was trying to drag Him away from pursuing the path the Father had laid out for Him. He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men." (Matthew 16:23) This power coming from the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom to discern clearly and oppose bravely and firmly all attractions to sinful pleasures and evil designs.

A closer look at the other fruits of the Holy Spirit will reveal to us that these are purely spiritual powers. They have been conferred on us by the Holy Spirit as tools to enable us to live and experience life in all its fullness and to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth by witnessing to Jesus in our daily life and circumstances.

Life is difficult. But our Lord promises and provides for us beyond our asking and imagination. In every circumstance of our life, He has promised He would never leave us alone. He promised us the constant Presence of the Power from Above - "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever… You know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate" (John 14:16-18).

Lord Jesus, we praise You for Your great saving Love for each one of us. You gave Your Life for us though You are our King and God. And You remain with us constantly through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Your Presence with us is our confidence and joy of living.

Lord, You have called us to abide in You that we may bear the fruit of holiness in our lives. We thank you Lord for this intimacy You enfold us in. We bring to You the daily circumstances of our life, our families and relationships and the challenges of our situations. We pray - anoint us with your Holy Spirit that we may bring Your Healing and Salvation in every moment by revealing Your Face of Mercy to everyone around us.
Amen

 

 
Divine Updates

Retreats and Healing Masses in Sydney

Divine Australia invites you to healing Masses and retreats to be held across various venues in New South Wales, Sydney. To be led by Fr Augustine Vallooran VC. For details, email Fr Roni George, Director, Divine Australia - drcsydney@gmail.com.

Date: 2 - 7 October, 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 - drcsydney@gmail.com. Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2018 - December, 2018

Divine Retreats in Adelaide, Melbourne & Canberra

Divine healing Masses and retreats to be held across various venues in Australia. Masses to be offered by Fr Augustine Vallooran VC. Praise and worship by Glen and Teresa La'Rive.

Date: 22 September - October 1, 2018

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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. Joshi Kochukudiattil, Fr. Mathew Naickomparambil and Fr. Binoy Chackanikunnel.

OTHER LANGUAGES

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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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