Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

The worst circumstances often churn out the finest humans. It is in the darkest night that the glory of the galaxy is unveiled. It is from the furnace that pure gold is drawn. And Scripture affirms, “So are worthy men proved in the furnace of humiliation.” (Sirach 2:5) 

“The Lord Guides the Humble” (Psalm 25:9)

One of the darkest hours in human history and memory is the Holocaust where six million were wiped out by the Nazi regime in the most inhuman cruel manner. The enduring terror and sorrow of Auschwitz during the World War II however, revealed to the world the highest nobility of spirit that man can achieve through the person of Maximilian Kolbe whom the Church honours as a saint and martyr. This in short is the witness to godliness offered by St. Maximilian Kolbe, a hero of our modern times. As St. Pope John Paul II said, “Maximilian did not die but gave his life for his brother.” In doing so he reflected most powerfully the salvific self-offering our Lord Jesus made for humankind. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays his life down for his friends.” (John 15:13)

St. Maximilian Kolbe was born in humble circumstances to a poor weaver on 8 January 1894 in Poland. His baptismal name was Raymond. As a child, he seems to have been very mischievous. On one occasion his mother scolded him and expressed her concern as to what would become of him. This question stirred something within the child and led to a spiritual experience that brought about a radical change in his behaviour.

He explains this transformation as the outcome of a vision he had of Mother Mary. He saw the mother of God and asked her what would become of him in the future. She held out to him two crowns, one white and the other red. She asked him whether he was willing to accept either of these crowns – the white one was a challenge for him to persevere in purity or the red crown was an offer of martyrdom. He chose to accept both! With this experience, he gained a deep conviction that he was headed to a heavenly destination gained by the very offering of his life through martyrdom. This conviction impelled him to make bold decisions in life.

The journey of his life witnessed one more conversion in its course. As a student, he excelled in mathematics and physics - subjects essential for military studies. His teachers predicted a brilliant future for him. He also had a passionate interest in military affairs. His deeply patriotic trend of thinking led him to the idea that he should become a soldier to save his motherland Poland from slavery. The initial longing to become a priest died out as his fiery patriotism directed him towards a military career. This did not in any way reduce his commitment to prayer and to cherishing the heavenly experience of his childhood. In time as light clarifies details, the hours of prayer revealed to him that the call of his life was to live for the highest mission which is the Love of God. He laid down his dreams of becoming a soldier for his country to become a priest of God. As time revealed he remained a passionate warrior all his lifetime. Only that this fighter attitude took a spiritual orientation. He realised the world was bigger than Poland and that there were more crushing slaveries than earthly ones that man was enduring in this world. This revelation led him to found the Crusade of Mary Immaculate called ‘Militia Immaculata’ with six other companions on 16 October 1917.

“Behold, Thy Mother” (John 19:27)
His total commitment to Jesus with Mother Mary made him so free of worldly dispersions that he was focused only to live for God. We are told that day after day he came to be “mad with love for the Immaculate.” This madness of love for purity and the graces of heaven emboldened him to choose the path of great sacrifices for the Lord. He lived out this madness of love until it culminated in his martyrdom at the Auschwitz death camp. He became a martyr not merely by one moment of heroic choice with the final act of charity where he took the place of another inmate in the starvation bunker - but in every decision and activity of his life, he persevered and practised a daily martyrdom for love for God and the Immaculate.

Kolbe reveals how precious was the faithful guidance of the Mother of God in drawing him to a life for Jesus. He writes “I felt that that the Immaculate was drawing me to herself more and more closely and I used to pray to her very fervently all the time.” His strong spirituality would gain great following. He founded the first Monastery of the Immaculate in Poland by name Niepokalanow.

It took him great toil, stress and suffering for the establishment of this monastery. It is important to note that he took up this entire struggle in spite of his poor health. Towards the end of his studies in Rome, he suffered his first bout of tuberculosis and he became quite ill, often coughing up blood. Throughout the rest of his life, he was dogged by poor health but never complained - looking at every discomfort as a precious offering he could make towards his heavenly mission. The doctors had pronounced him incurable; one lung had collapsed and the other was damaged. It was with this ill-health that he built up the monastery of Niepokalanow. At first it consisted of a few shacks with tar paper roof. Nothing could stop it from flourishing. Within a few years, there were more than one hundred seminarians and the numbers were still growing. Before long, it became the largest friary in the world housing seven hundred and sixty two inhabitants! The priests in parishes all over the country reported a tremendous upsurge of faith which was attributed to the literature emerging from the Friary.

“You Will Be My Witnesses To The Ends Of The Earth” (Acts 1:8)
Fr. Maximilian Kolbe’s fighter attitude would not let him rest content in his native land Poland. He undertook a long journey in 1930 to Japan and came to reside in Nagasaki. The legendary experience of Maximilian in Nagasaki was nothing less than a testimony to the power of daily martyrdom. His only shelter was a wretched hut whose walls and roof were caving in. They slept on the straw and their tables were planks of wood. He knew not a word of Japanese and he had no money. In short all the odds were against him. Yet a year later he would inaugurate a monastery there by name ‘The Garden of the Immaculate’! It was built on the slopes of a mountain which was much criticised. The choice of this site in the suburbs was because of poverty but it proved a great blessing because in 1945 when the atom bomb razed Nagasaki to the ground, the monastery remained shielded from all the effects simply because of its location. Today it forms the centre of the Franciscan Province in Japan.

When Kolbe left Japan on his way back to Poland, he stopped by Kerala and established a printing press to spread the word of God. He left a trail of evangelistic work. 

His tireless hard work for the love of God was not limited to establishing monasteries. In his era, he was prophetic in the approach to using media for reaching the masses with the Good News of Jesus. When he returned to Poland in 1919, he started a monthly journal by name ‘Knight of the Immaculate’. Its aim was as he explained “to illuminate the truth and show the true way to happiness.” As there were no funds, he started printing 5000 copies. In a few years time, the circulation swelled to one million copies! He soon started a daily newspaper ‘Maly Dziennik’. The media ministry of Maximilian became so effective that the Catholic Church in Poland was deeply influenced. He also gained a radio licence to step up the fervour of faith among the masses.

“Do Not Be Surprised of the Trial By Fire” (I Peter 4:12)

When Poland was overrun by the Nazi forces of Germany in 1939, Kolbe was arrested under general suspicion. At what should have been a gloomy moment he encouraged his confreres - “Courage my sons! Don’t you see that we are living on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible.” Indeed he had embarked on his last mission.
He was sent to the work camp in Auschwitz. Martyrdom as a way of life continued. He and other priests arrested with him were made to carry heavy blocks of stone for the building of a crematorium wall. Their work was overseen by a dreaded ex-criminal called ‘Bloody Krott’ who was known to despise priests. Krott came to single out Kolbe for brutal treatment. Despite the awful conditions and the cruel treatment in Auschwitz, it is reported that Kolbe kept deep faith and equanimity. On one occasion, Krott compelled Kolbe to carry the heaviest planks until he collapsed. He then beat Kolbe brutally and left him in the mud thinking he was dead. The fellow prisoners secretly took him to the camp dispensary where he recovered.

A marked characteristic about him was his consistent selflessness, always more concerned for the needs of his fellow prisoners - often sharing his meagre rations with them. He sent a letter from the camp to his mother: ‘Dear Mama, at the end of the month of May I was transferred to the camp of Auschwitz. Everything is going well with me. Be peaceful about me and about my health because the good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love. It would be well that you do not write to me until you will have received other news from me because I do not know how long I will stay here. Hearty greetings and kisses, affectionately. Raymond.’

This was the last letter of Kolbe from the camp and he would not live very long after that. It was shortly after this that the final tribulation was to set in.

“Blessed Are They Who Are Persecuted For The Sake Of Righteousness” (Matthew 5:10)
Three prisoners escaped from the Auschwitz camp. The camp leader vented his fury by ordering ten men to be starved to death in an underground bunker. One of the ten, was a certain Franciszek Gajowniczek. Struck by the harsh summons to death, he cried aloud in deep grief, “My wife, my children.” At this tragic scene Kolbe stepped forward, volunteering to take his place. The Nazi commander seeing a prisoner step out of line grunted, “What does this Polish pig want?” Kolbe pointed to the condemned Franciszek and fearlessly explained, “I’m a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place because he has a wife and children.” Rather shocked the commander ordered the change. Franciszek later said, “I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me – a stranger. Is this some dream?”

Kolbe was led away with the other nine to the underground bunker where they were to be starved to death. The dark chambers of death were illumined throughout with prayer. Kolbe throughout the hours would lead the men in prayer, encouraging them to put their trust in God. Whenever the guards checked the cell, Kolbe would be seen kneeling in the middle and leading the others in singing hymns to God. As they were diminishing in their physical strength, the prayers continued as frail whispers. One by one the inmates of the starvation chambers fell to the ground lying on the floor. Kolbe remained kneeling as he looked cheerfully in the face of the prison guards.

Bruno Borgowiec, a Polish prisoner who had the duty of overseeing these prisoners later testified, “Fr. Kolbe never asked for anything and did not complain. Rather he gave courage to others, encouraging them and praying with them.”

Falling to the ground all of them died of dehydration and starvation. Only Kolbe survived and in order to empty the bunker they had to execute him with the administration of a lethal injection. Those who witnessed this say he calmly accepted death with his arms lifted up. His life mission on this earth was accomplished by his faithful response to live and die as a martyr. Kolbe once said, “Every man has an aim in life. For most men it is to return home to their families. For my part I give my life for the good of all men.” The spirit of martyrdom that animated Kolbe all through his life was indeed crowned in the final act of total giving.

Fr. Zygmunt Rusczak a fellow prisoner recollects later, “Each time I saw Fr. Kolbe in the courtyard, I felt within myself an extraordinary effusion of his goodness. Although he wore the same ragged clothes as the rest of us, with the same tin can hanging from his belt, one forgot this wretched exterior and was conscious only of the charm of his inspired countenance and of his radiant holiness.” This divine charm that expressed itself in the heroic self sacrifice was recognised officially by the canonisation of Kolbe in 1971.

Jerzy Bielecki, a Polish leader and Holocaust survivor, declared that “Fr. Kolbe’s death was a shock and yet was filled with hope bringing new life and strength. It was like a powerful shaft of life in the darkness of the camp.” His life and death was a sharing in the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. As St. Paul, “If we have died with Him we shall also live with Him.” (2 Timothy 2:11). The death of Jesus was not the end of His life and mission but the culmination of it. The life of Kolbe that started as a martyrdom in daily sacrifices culminated in the ultimate offering through his death. The rays of the glory of the Resurrection were spreading all through his life and activity. In the desert of hatred in Auschwitz he sowed love and gentleness. The Polish bishops wrote “The life and death of this one man alone can be the proof and witness of the fact that the love of God can overcome the greatest hatred, the greatest injustice and even death itself.” For all of us who are living and struggling to cast out the evil in our midst, Kolbe is a great hero showing us the way.

Let Us Pray

Heavenly Father, we thank You for giving us martyrs who brilliantly point out to us the glory beyond this earth. We thank You for St. Maximilian Kolbe and every such prophet who in the hours of deepest darkness revealed to us that the Light of Heaven cannot be quenched or diminished by the deepest darkness. In the moments of our struggles, let us never lose heart. May we be able to find inspiration in Your Ever Faithful Presence. Your Son has promised us that He would never leave us alone. Let His Light shine upon us in the darkest moments of our life that we may be witnesses of hope.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016


In about a month's time from 24 -29 July 2016, the CALLED...GIFTED...SENT FORTH 2016 Annual Retreat & Formation for Priests, Religious & Lay Leaders in Ministry will be conducted in Divine Retreat Centre. This retreat has transformed and converted the hearts of many who are serving in our Lord's vineyard. It is a blessed ocassion to commit yourself to a time set apart for Jesus - to allow Jesus to speak to your heart.

Is this retreat meant for you? If you are serving the Lord or want to serve the Lord whether it is in a church ministry or in a call God has placed in your heart, then it is meant for you. It is a special grace to come and experience in a personal tangible way how to answer God's Call and to truly serve Him with all your heart.

Is daily and ministry life so busy that I have no time to experience a personal retreat?

Am I busy ministering to others but have no time for Jesus to minister to 
my heart, my mind, my soul?

What is my Call from God - how am I answering His Call? 

Am I listening to what God wants of me NOT what I want to do for God?

Is my ministry bcoming burdensome, dry and rife with politics...just a routine?

Is there prayer, reflection, humility  and discernment in how I live for Jesus each day??

Is there joy, peace and love in my ministry?

If any of the above quesions has touched a chord in your heart, this Divine Annual CALLED ...GIFTED SENT FORTH 2016 Retreat & Spiritual Formation for Priests, Religious & Lay Leaders in Ministry is an anointed time of Grace to sit, listen, be renewed and empowered at the Feet of Jesus!

Many have asked what is the retreat all about. Come with an open heart and God touches each person in a unique and blessed way. Below are three (3) beautiful testimonies of Friends of Divine based in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong who have attended this retreat previously. We praise and thank God for touching their lives in a blessed way!

REBECCA POO, Singapore: PERSONAL TESTIMONY - Called...Gifted...Sent Forth 2012 

MOLLY CHAN, Malaysia: MY UNPLANNED JOURNEY TO DIVINE-Called...Gifted...Sent Forth 2014

The upcoming retreat is conducted by Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C., Director, Divine Retreat Centre, Rev. Fr. Jacob Arimpur, Asst. Director, Divine Retreat Centre, Steve Ray - renowned Catholic Apologetic (USA), Lalith Perera - Community of the Risen Lord (Sri Lanka), Colin Calmiano - Spread Your Wings-Leadership Institute, (Bangalore) and other gifted preachers and music ministry leaders

Please join us to pray for a truly anointed and joyous experience for all the retreatants!

Thursday, March 24, 2016


In this Grace-filled Healing Adoration, "JESUS PROMISE: 'I WILL COMFORT YOU'"  by Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C., Director of Divine Retreat Centre, Kerala. India we experience the Merciful and Compassionate Love of Jesus - our Divine Healer!

Fr. Augustine prayerfully leads everyone into the Presence of Jesus.

"My dear sisters and brothers, in thishour, we hear the Voice of God inviting every one of us 'Come to Me! -  Come to me you  who are tired and burdened. There is a burden on our body - a burden of our aches, our ailments, burdens on our mind, all the distress, all the fears and anxieties and above all - all the painful memories of our past."

"Let us bring it all to Jesus today and claim the Promise of the Lord - 'I will confort you.'"

Fr. Augustine exhorts every one of us to proclaim - 'I believe in  the Power of Jesus.'"

"HEALING ADORATION" is a weekly 60-minute TV programme conducted by the Director or Asst. Director of Divine Retreat Centre and produced by Divine Vision - the media wing of Divine Television Ministry.

For the past 8 years Divine Television has been telecasting 24 hours of commercial-free Catholic Gospel programmes in UK, Europe, the Middle East, USA, Canada and in India through Goodness TV., It is available on the Internet as DVNOnline TV in EVERY country around the world.

Divine's HEALING ADORATION can be viewed online weekly on

Divine Retreat Centre is the largest Catholic retreat centre in the world. Retreats are held every week of the year in English and 6 Indian languages.

Over 10 million people have attended retreats here since the Divine-Potta ministry by the Fathers of Vincentian Congregation of India opened Divine Retreat Centre in late December 1989.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


In this heart-provoking sharing of God’s Word on Jesus Death of the Cross - “WHAT DOES THE CROSS MEAN TO ME TODAY AND NOW?”, Rev. Fr. Michael Payyapilly V.C., Director -- Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby NSW, Australia, opens the eyes of our hearts to the true meaning and significance of Jesus’ Death on the Cross as it pertains to our daily lives “Every day we look at the Cross and we know, ‘My sins have been taken up by my Lord on that Cross.”

Yet many of us ask today – ‘What does the Cross signify or mean to me today?

How does this Cross touch my life or inspire my life today and now?

How does the Cross touch my life or inspire my life today and now?   
What about my daily problems and difficulties – how do I relate that to the Cross?

Fr. Michael reminds each of us what we need to do as disciples of Jesus in our daily living. “The thorns of our burdens will pierce through; many of the thorns will cause us a lot of pain but the Lord tells us - ‘take it up!’ – just as I have taken it up for you!”

“The Lord gives us an answer from the Cross!”

This blessed sharing of God’s Word by Fr. Michael explains with holy clarity why the Cross is truly a sign of Hope for every Christian.

On Holy Thursday, as we unite our hearts with Jesus, a EUCHARISTIC ADORATION  video by  Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C., Director of Divine Retreat Centre, Kerala, India will be shared as a holy preparation of the Healing Touch and Hope we receive from Jesus. It is the finale of our preparation for this Lenten season 2016.

Please do share this Divine Lenten 2016 Weekly Video Reflection series with your loved ones, prayer groups and friends to make this sacred season of Lent in this Holy Year of Mercy a truly transforming experience in our Christian life.

Monday, March 14, 2016


The fifth video of the 6-part DIVINE LENTEN 2016 WEEKLY VIDEO REFLECTION SERIES at the top of this post is "PRAYER - STAY ROOTED AND CONNECTED TO GOD" is by Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C. - Director of Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, Kerala, India

Fr. Augustine’s wisdom-filled sharing reminds every Christian of a most pertinent fact – “It is only when we keep our hearts open to God that we will be able to hear the Voice of God speaking to us.“

“Often we feel a certain dryness in our mind, a certain emptiness, sense of boredom, feeling tired, not finding any enthusiasm to go about doing our responsibilities. Even in the best things of life, we do not find much interest."

“St. Paul tells us of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) – Love, Peace, Joy, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. All these beautiful feelings, emotions, attitudes and characteristics will be missing in our hearts when we are cut off from Jesus.”

“We need to stay rooted to Jesus. When we are rooted in Him in prayer, all these beautiful sensations, attitudes and characteristics will abound in our hearts.”

“How should we pray? Jesus said we should not pray as a habit, a routine, an obligation or as a rule.”

Why is prayer truly intrinsic for us to lead a truly meaningful life of faith?  Why does prayer make THE difference? What is the need for prayer in our daily life? Fr. Augustine’s sharing shows us why our relationship with God is rooted in prayer. 

Next Sunday, Rev. Fr. Michael Payyapilly V.C., Director of Divine Retreat Centre Somersby, Australia will be sharing the Word of God on "WHAT DOES THE CROSS MEAN TO ME TODAY AND NOW?"

Please do share this Divine Lenten 2016 Weekly Video Reflection series with your loved ones, prayer groups and friends to make this sacred season of Lent in this Holy Year of Mercy a truly transforming experience in our Christian life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


As we prepare to open our hearts and life totally for our Resurrected Lord in the most sacred week of our Catholic Church, we praise and thank God for the great blessing of a 3-Full Day HOLY WEEK RETREAT [18-20 March 2016]  in Church of Blessed Sacrament Singapore!

"Holy Week is a very sacred time of the year in the Catholic Church as we commemorate and remember the last week of Jesus' life on this earth. 
These are the days leading to the great Easter Feast.  
Holy Week is a time to clear our schedules of unnecessary activities. 
Our minds and hearts should be fixed on Jesus and what He did for us! 
Let us bear the Cross so that we may be worthy of wearing the crown He wore." 
(Grace McKinnon - The Meaning of Holy Week (March 2003)

3-Day HOLY WEEK Retreat  [18-20 March 2016] 
Church of Blessed Sacrament,

Led by

Rev. Fr. Michael Payyapilly V.C
Divine Retreat Centre Somersby
Rev. Fr. Joby Anthkaddan V.C.
 Assistant Director
Divine Retreat Centre Somersby


Praise & Worship by:
Jude Amalraj
Divine Retreat Centre Somersby

1 Commonwealth Drive
Singapore 149603 

18 MARCH 2016: 9.00 a.m. - 9.00  p.m.
19 MARCH 2016: 9.00 a.m. - 9.00  p.m.
20 MARCH 2016: 10.45 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.

SGD50/- per person

Please note registration will be done after all the masses at Church of Blessed Sacrament Singapore on 12 and 13 March 2016 

Sunday, March 6, 2016


In this Spirit-filled homily - “CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP BEGINS WITH ME”, Rev. Fr. Michael Payyapilly V.C., Director -- Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby NSW, Australia, exhorts every Catholic to remember our faith is based on a community and not of our individual relationship with God only. “Today, if you go to parishes, after the Blessing is over, immediately people have disappeared and the priest will go outside thinking the people will be outside. But forget about the people, even the cars are not around! Everyone has disappeared – no one is talking. That is when we realize how individualistic we have become.”

“That is why even after the Holy Mass, the feeling of oneness is not there because we have become individualistic. We do not have the ‘time to spare; the time to waste’ – we are very time-bound Once we become individualistic, there will never be an experience. We are only praying for our own needs; we are praying only for ourselves. When we come for Mass, we do not even know who is sitting next to us!”

“What we do inside the church is what we do outside.”

“What did the early Christian community do? Why were they so vibrant? ‘They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of Bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42)’ Fellowship is where the difference is today. In our parish communities, there is no fellowship. If there is n fellowship, the parish community will always be incomplete.”

“Are our parish community increasing? Why?”

“It starts with each of us to make the difference in a parish community. There has to be fellowship. It has to start from you!

Are you able to help build up your parish community?”

This timely message of God share by Fr. Michael shows how critical it is for each of us to make our Catholic Church vibrant as it was in the early Christian community days.

Next Sunday, Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C., Director of Divine Retreat Centre, Kerala, India will be sharing the Word of God on “PRAYER - STAY ROOTED AND CONNECTED TO GOD”