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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

"We hold this treasure in earthen vessels" (2 Cor 4:7) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

As we go through life certain breathtaking images get enshrined in our heart. It may have been a meadow in springtime, a hill covered with flowers, a valley with a stream gently flowing through, the lovely face of a baby… What is it that captures our attention and has us transfixed? It is not merely the colour or the geometry or anything that the senses or mind can define. There is something deep within us, beyond our senses, embedded in our soul that lets us into the domain of the higher experiences.

“Deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7)

There is more to life than what can be seen and touched. It is no wonder then that man is not satisfied with what is earthly. In the deep longing for that “higher” experience, he tends to know and reach out to this transcendent dimension of life.

The gospel speaks about a well meaning young man who came to Jesus with the query, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) There was a heart in him that refused to be satisfied with the possibilities of life. He was rich and young and righteous. Yet he felt a certain lack deep within him that he could not pinpoint. So he came seeking the famed Master and asked about the way to gain eternal life. Here is a longing for eternity – for that which is beyond the parameters of time and space that define our worldly existence. This search is in every human person. The pleasures of this world and the horizons of this earth do not quench this thirst. As the psalmist cried, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God…, the living God; When can I go and see the face of God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

A man begins life looking for means of daily living - food for the body, roof over the head, clothes to wear. In the beginning he would be satisfied with what is necessary but soon possibilities of a better quality of life begin to colour his vision. He will work harder to gain more resources to cater to his ever-widening needs. It is at this juncture of life, a certain wisdom dawns on man that this thirst for more is not really for accumulating more of this world but to reach out to the very Source of life itself. The words of the prophet seem to beckon the heart of the weary human person, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

“What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20)

A young couple came to me and said that they were happily married, financially comfortable, proud about their child. And yet the husband confided that he was struggling with an emptiness gnawing at him from within. And this terrible feeling led to unnecessary problems. When they returned home in the evening almost every day there was a disagreement. Being educated people they avoided loud quarrels. Yet his heart was far from being content with this relationship. His wife also shared similarly. They were in love for a few years before marriage. And now they cannot find in each other the fulfillment of the dream that they cherished. She concluded saying there should be something more to marriage than what they were living out. I pointed out to them immediately that the “more” is the Divine dimension of marriage. Marriage is not an earthly relationship about two people sharing everything with each other. Rather it is God pouring out His Loving Presence to two people who are present to each other in love. Until the husband and wife are able to open their hearts to this outpouring of the Divine Love, there will be something wanting in their expressions of love and modes of sharing.

Life on this earth cannot be disconnected from our heavenly belonging. When we try to compartmentalize and isolate our existence and involvements we shall realize that we are reaching nowhere. We may attain the goals of our human planning but find the destination not matching up to our expectations. The Lord God who made us knows what we are made for and we cannot settle for anything less.

“Whom have I in heaven but You?” (Psalm 73:25)

The rich young man of the gospels had come to this realization rather early in life. But this young man misunderstood the way. This reaching out to the Source of Life is not for us to take hold of life but to allow that Divine Life to take hold of us. It is, as is often said, “To let go and let God.” To stop being in charge but to make God the in-charge of our life in an intimate relationship where His Spirit guides us step-by-step.

This well-meaning young man wanted to be good and he wanted to work out his goodness. He wanted to add one more credit to his many accomplishments and hoped that would fill him finally. He comes to Jesus seeking out a plan to work out his righteousness: “What good must I do to gain eternal life?” The response of Jesus is startling and revolutionary, “Why do you ask me about good? There is only One who is good.” (Matthew 19:17) Jesus speaks to him about observing the commandments. And finally Jesus tells him, that even after having observed all the commandments, “You still lack one thing… Come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

In the seeking of this idealistic young man, we can see a reflection of the movements within our soul as well. All of us want to be good just as he did. And how did he go about it. His query reveals that. “What good things must I do?” There is something important to note here. This young man thought by doing good things, he could achieve goodness. Jesus reveals to him however that all the good things he did could never make him good. The question the Lord first poses is meant for a deeper examination of what lies within us. “Who can earn goodness?” Perhaps we did imagine that we are good because we have been doing good things. We are gentle and courteous with everyone; we obey our parents; we fulfill our responsibilities. So we could mistakenly presume that we are good. But there is something more important than the good things we are doing. And that is answered by a soul-searching with this question, “Am I good?” I could be doing good things out of a bad motive. I could be gentle with someone in order to please him or to get something done. I could be courteous to someone to gain his favour for my own selfish purpose. I could go to church not so much to please God but perhaps out of a sense of obligation. Then the good deeds that I do are but deceptive.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)

“There is only One who is good,” Jesus had said. He was directing this young man away from the superficial religiosity to the authentic Source of holiness and life. There is only One who is good. And that is God - the fullness of goodness. It follows that for you and me to be good what is needed is to turn away from ourselves and towards Him in a faithful love. The closer we go to God, the holier we become. Therefore the Lord challenged this young man as He does us: If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) The first thing we need to be doing is to put aside our ego. It is that ego that prompted him to believe that he can accomplish godliness by doing good deeds. That however is selfishness that can manage only a self-centred spirituality. True spirituality is always God-centred. It implies faithfulness to the God who calls me to be always close to Him.

Jesus had declared - “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) And again He would tell of His disciples “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) How do we get the light? I get the light by drawing closer and closer to the Source of Light.

Hence Jesus said “Come and follow me.” (Matthew 5:19) Following Jesus at every moment of my life, in every decision I take, in everything that I do - it is such faithfulness to God that transforms us to goodness.

The Lord spoke of how a good tree gives good fruits. Good fruits come from a good tree. It is not the fruits that make the tree good. It is however, the tree that makes the fruits good. Therefore my pursuit of goodness is to be punctuated by asking myself at every moment, “How close am I to my God – the only One who is good, the only goodness?” The more I abandon myself into the Hands of my God, the more I long to be close to Him, the holier and the more perfect I would become.

“The Lord is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6)

Otherwise there is always that danger that St. Paul describes in his Letter to the Romans, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do… Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death.” (Romans 7:19,24) If we just want to be good and our eyes are turned towards ourselves all the time, navel-gazing as some say, that is where we end up, in wretchedness, despair and frustration that we are not able to do the good we want to. It was at such a moment of despair that St Paul realized the great truth that the one thing needed is to abandon himself in the Hands of the Lord and so he said, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25)

The moment St. Paul accepted Jesus as the Lord and Saviour and surrendered Himself in trust, was when he experienced the Glory that God alone could bestow. It was in the context of a warm relationship with God that he became good. That is the one way to life and holiness. The way Jesus was pointing out to the young man: “Are you ready to sell everything even yourself, to forget even your ego and come after Me? Make Me the centre of your life?” We can take no credit for doing good things. We have no claim with God because we have done a lot of good things, observed a lot of commandments and refrained from all that was prohibited. The only way to please God, to enter life and be filled with the fullness of joy and peace in this world and in the world to come, is to grow into oneness with God, in total surrender in His Loving Hands.

“From Me comes your fruit” (Hosea 14:8)

This mystery Jesus reveals to us in the parable of the vine and the branches. (John Chapter 15) For the branch to bear fruit, what it has to do is to abide or remain connected with the main stem of the vine. The fruit that the branches bear will not be the effort of the branches but the outcome of the connectedness of the branch with the main stem. It is not a lot of planning or hard endeavours of the branch that enables it to bear fruit. The fruits indeed belong to the main stem from where the life sap flowed. Hence the words of Jesus, “He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The branch that claims the credit for the fruit it bears is like a man reaching out for the laurels for his work. Much of our unhappiness in life is due to this that the credits are not always forthcoming.

Have not you heard a wife complaining that in spite of all the hard work she puts in to maintain the family, she is not appreciated or loved by the husband? Have not you heard a man upset because his wife does not respect him in spite of his sincere efforts to fulfill his responsibilities at home? In fact, the love and respect between a husband and wife is not what one should reach out for but offered freely out of an affectionate attachment to each other. The moment there is a complaint, one needs to understand the love is defective. By repairing the expressions of love, the defect does not get treated. What is needed is to sit together and wait for the Presence of God to be felt tangibly in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Presence of God is a treasure given to us earthen vessels. Our worth is in this treasure that we hold in us.

“Behold, the dwelling of God is with men” (Revelation 21:3)

With the Incarnation, God had entered into human history and in fact into the earthly life of every individual. Nothing in life can be truly or fully lived outside of an intimate involvement with God. And the emptiness we experience is an invitation to never remain stuck with the visible and the tangible but to reach out to the transcendent. A decision made in the light of one’s own collected data remains imperfect since God is waiting with a higher Plan to counsel man to the right path. A failure in life can cause bitterness until it is offered to God who will bathe it in heavenly joy. A success in a venture will lead one to arrogance unless it is offered to God in thanksgiving. A celebration remains empty until it is graced with the Living Presence of God. There will always be something wanting in a relationship until the two related open their hearts to God to pour out his love in them. This is eternal life – a liife into which eternity breaks in! Man is called in his day-to-day life to live out eternity. Then will come a moment when the Lord will enter to take him unto Himself forever. As Jesus said, “I will come back again and take you to myself.” (John 14:3) That will be the glorious moment of our death when we will be with the Lord forever - “And we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

We are called to live out this life with the Lord at every moment, in every decision and in all relationships. Life indeed is not what we live but what the Lord lives out in us. To respond to His presence and promptings always is the one command of our Lord that makes our life truly divine on this earth.

Let us pray

Lord God, You have made us for Yourself. And You constantly reach out with Your Arms open wide to receive us and relieve us of our burdens. You hold us close to Your Heart and refresh us. You fill us with the living waters of the Holy Spirit that we may never thirst again. You speak Your Word of Comfort and give us Your Own Body in the Eucharist that we may never be in want.

We thank you for Your Love that holds us up. We offer to You our life, everything in our life and we pray Oh God, hold us up that we may live and move and have our being in You. We know that when You are with us, we shall never fall or fail. Lord, You are our Strength, our Hope of Righteousness and the Joy of our living. We shall ever sing of Your Love and Presence. And our life will be a song of praise to You.


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

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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.


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.


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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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