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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

"Emmanuel, God with us" - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

The holy season of Advent is the celebration of waiting. Waiting is usually detested because when one is required to wait, there is much tension and pain involved for one is never sure of the end - when and whether what is waited for will be realized. At Advent however we are blessed with the assurance that our waiting is sacred and purposeful; and that the end will be realized at the appointed time. The Lord comes into our lives with the purpose of ushering in a celebration. Therefore Jesus said, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24)

“For Everything There Is A Season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In this season of waiting, we touch the very mystery of life. When we look closely, we will realize life is all about waiting. We look around and we see that this is the reality all creation resounds with. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now.” (Romans 8:22) Nothing real comes without waiting. Every goal becomes meaningful because of the waiting involved. A farmer sows the seed and waits for the harvest. A boy sees the bud on the rose bush he planted and waits for the full blossom. The caterpillar must wait pressed inside of the dark cocoon for it to form strong wings and to become a delightful butterfly that would dance around many beautiful blossoms. An expectant mother waits to see the cute face of the child God is giving her. A student studies hard and writes the exam and must wait for the results to know his real aptitude in that particular subject. Fruitful waiting requires a certain faith that God will participate in our effort and bring it to fruition. Nothing about life can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. This love has to intervene to lead us to victory. Hence St Paul writes that we are more than conquerors (ref. Rom 8:37-39). With God on our side, celebration is our destiny.

A seed that is sown has within it the promise of the harvest. The tiny bud that is formed holds the power of the unfolding of the blossom. Whatever maybe the circumstance of our life, the Word of God is holding out to us - “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14) This promise given of old is truly fulfilled in Jesus Christ. As St Paul confirms - “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

“Behold, The Dwelling Of God Is With Men” (Revelations 21:3)

Jesus is God who entered human history to become part of all the events of every man and woman. He is “‘Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:23) Indeed, He is the God come to dwell within us. He becomes part of whatever happens to us in our day-to-day life.

Therefore the Risen Lord could tell us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20) In Biblical language, a banquet is always a symbol of a celebration. At every moment and event, however sad, sinful or broken these may appear, we need to wait to hear the knock of Jesus who is determined to enter and turn all things to a celebration. This is the certainty of our faith - “We know that in everything God works for good.” (Romans 8:28) Every drop of tear contains in it the seed of celebration. Every failure has a way leading to success. Every sin holds the offer of forgiveness and restoration. “This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:23) In fact, only the Lord can make it happen and He comes among humankind and to every person to make it happen. This assurance Jesus explains “your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:20-22)

This is the magnificent promise that Christmas offers us. It is to this great celebration that Advent is leading us. Nothing in this world should ever dishearten us or lead us to despair. Every pain is to be seen as a waiting for God’s intervention that will transform the situation and usher in rejoicing. Every struggle, however difficult it is, should be understood as the waiting towards a successful culmination. It is in this context that we need to understand the assurance of Jesus - “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) The one problem with us humans is that we become too tired of asking, too impatient while seeking and too apprehensive to knock. We give up easily and we tend to slip into despair. We lose out on that treasured prize that awaits us.

“To Him Who Knocks It Will Be Opened” (Matthew 7:8)

I remember an experience - while as a young priest I was appointed vocation director. Information came from a parish priest that a youngster from his parish was interested to join the congregation. He recommended this young man whole-heartedly. I wanted to go and interview this candidate in his own home situation. His house was located in the high ranges of Kerala. I went with an elderly person who was familiar with this region. It was the rainy season and the roads were muddy and slippery. Because of the heavy rain no buses were plying that way. We walked about 10 kms in the steep and slippery roads and reached the home of this young man. I was highly impressed with the interview. I invited him to join the congregation. It was already evening when we were leaving his house. A few minutes after we began our walk back, it began to pour down heavily and our fragile umbrellas broke in the strong wind and rain. I was totally drenched and began to shiver and my elderly companion understood that I would not be able to walk all the way back. Moreover, because of the rains, electricity had failed and there was no light anywhere. He told me the only option was a chapel that was still one mile ahead of us. There would be no priest there but there was an elderly man maintaining the place and we should be able to find refuge there for the night. I summoned all my energy and walked with him. It was already 10 at night when we reached. We knocked at the door of the presbytery. But there was no response. We knocked again. And there was still no sound. The door looked unyielding. I began to despair that we would have to remain in the rain. My companion clearly said there was no question of going back and we had to get this door opened. I then used all my energy and hit the door and fell back. That’s when this man came from inside with a lantern and opened the door. I was helped up and he took us inside. My clothes were soaking wet and so the old housekeeper gave me to wear a set of dry clothes that belonged to the priest who had been there. He boiled some black coffee and I began feel warm again. That night I understood what the challenge of faith the Lord is inviting us to take on is and the greatness of the promise that awaits those who dare to respond to Him.

“The Lord Waits To Be Gracious To You” (Is 30:18)

Christmas is the feast we are invited to, in order to partake of the great offer of love that God gives to everyone. We are called to live life with God - a life which God wants to be part of because the mystery of Christmas is revealed as God becoming part of every human person. Emmanuel is the God with us. He wants to be part of every struggle, every labour, ever search, every knock, every asking. He is waiting to enter and make every struggle fruitful, every knock answered and every asking rewarded.

In the earthly life of Jesus, He initiated this process. He stood at the sea-shore waiting to be part of the fatigue and futile labour of Simon Peter. Peter submitted to wait on the Lord - “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5) And the gospel records that indeed his nets were filled to the point of tearing. When because of the word of Jesus, Peter was ready to launch out again and not remain stuck in his failure and languish in despair, his boat and his heart were filled.

Jesus sat by the well waiting to be part of the desperate struggle of the Samaritan woman lost in her sinful slavery. He gave her the living waters that quenched the thirst of her soul and made her a channel for her entire village to find renewal of life. In her life at that very moment, we see the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that “the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

Martha was willing to hope again though her brother was decaying in the tomb for four days. In her grief she rose to respond to Jesus and believe - “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ.” (John 11:27) She rolled the tombstone away and her brother Lazarus was raised to see the light of life once more.

“Mine Eyes Have Seen Thy Salvation” (Luke 2:30)

God has made His offer. It is up to every individual to accept this offer or not. Even in the time of the birth of Jesus, God’s offer of love was whole-heartedly accepted by some and rejected by others.

Right at the beginning of time, when sin and suffering darkened the horizon of human existence, the light of hope given by God was the promise of the Saviour. Over generations this promise was renewed through prophecies and consolations. Many did give up. But Scriptures honour those who in every generation waited in faith. “These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar.” (Hebrews 11:13) And yet at the appointed time when the Saviour was manifested on earth, there were but a few who recognized the time of their salvation and could respond to the call of God to usher in the redemption of all mankind. Every figure in the Christmas event were those who were so vigilant and hence rewarded to be part of this glorious moment in all of eternity.

We read of Simeon and Anna who were “righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel.” (Luke 2:25) They held on to the promise of generations and waited an entire lifetime at the Temple for the coming of the Messiah. They would be among the first to hold the Promise in their hands. The wise men from the East took great sacrifices to come to the Presence of the Lord to worship Him which really means to accept Him as the Lord and Saviour of their lives. The simple shepherds heard the message of the angel and in haste they came to worship Him.

However the gospels also show how the leader of the Jews, King Herod, rejected Him and took measures to eliminate Him. His position and authority were too much for him to part with in order to accept Him. This dichotomy continues to this day. Our sin has led us to turn our eyes from Him. As St John says, “the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19) There is a higher option available though - “But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“Wait For The Lord; Be Strong, And Let Your Heart Take Courage” (Ps 27:14)

Life in the world is bound to bring in negative attitudes and aspirations into our heart. If one tends to find the joy of life in the pleasures of the world and success by unjust means and glory in one’s own selfish achievements, one is bound to be confined to the darkness of the world. But even in such situations, the offer of God remains for everyone – to let God’s Presence take over and turn all darkness to light. Refusal to let the Presence of God into such circumstances of life will plunge man into the abyss of misery.

I remember a young man who had come for retreat. He had made a mess of his life in drinking and wrong relationships. His wife was too hurt to trust him anymore and she went away from him. In deep distress he took to drinking and even tried to commit suicide. In the retreat experience, he got a ray of hope that God would save him. He began to open his heart in faith but his past began to haunt him and the urges to drink and trends of depression were too much for him to handle. I told him to turn to the offer of God’s Love. At every moment, I asked him to hold before his eyes this gift of the Emmanuel – God with us. Every time the urge to drink becomes irresistible, he needed to call upon God to enter into that sinful tendency and to believe that God would give him the power to dismiss the desire. Every time the thought of despair crept into his heart, he needed to turn to the Lord in faith and let the Presence of God enter into him to dispel that negative attitudes of fear. Soon he realized that the mess he had made of his life was cleared in the power of God’s Presence. He was able to pray for long hours and he found a new hope in God.

Later, I called the wife to the retreat centre. She was amazed about the change that had come over her husband. But the hurts of the past were too painful and haunting that even though she longed to accept his conversion, she was afraid to accept him. She wept and told me that every now and then the memory of the hurt surfaced and gnawed right into her heart and she could not bear the pain of what no longer existed in truth. I asked her at every such moment of darkness to look to the Face of God and let the power of His Love flow into her. Initially the struggle seemed unbearable but at one time she was anointed and enlightened to accept and embrace the good news of salvation. She became a new person trusting in God and in her husband and strengthening him in his commitment.

This year as Christmas dawns, the words of St John shall become an experience for us. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) It takes courage to accept Him into our lives. But when we open ourselves to His power, we shall be raised up as symbols of hope in a world apparently slipping into despair. Whatever be the uncertainties of our life, we need to wait on Him and rejoice in this promise we have before us for we know that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)



Lord Jesus I worship You for You are the God who is with me. Though I have been unmindful of You and gave up on You, You O my God have waited for me to crown me with the joy. O Lord I bring to You every painful moment of my life, every sickness and struggle, every situation that made me wonder whether You were there. Lord as I give You my heart, reveal Your Presence in my life and Your loving purpose that has prevailed to lead me to life. May Your Light shine into my darkness that I may see Your Face.

Lord Jesus, as I offer my life, I pray empower me with the power of Your Holy Spirit that I might be able to believe in Your unchanging love and all transforming goodness. This belief will keep me faithful in seeking and finding Your answer in my every trial.

Above everything else O God I thank you that You are there with me, to justify me and strengthen me. I praise You, O God, that I can never be alone or helpless for You choose to walk with me. Hold me close to Your heart that the warmth of Your love may breathe life into my soul. May my life of faith bring pleasure and glory and honour to You always. Amen.


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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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