Wednesday, April 11, 2012

POWER 2012: "CHRIST IN YOU - The Hope and Glory" (Col. 1:27) [22-27 July 2012] in Divine Retreat Centre, Kerala, India

My dear Friends of Divine,

On  behalf of Divine Retreat Centre, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to each of you to join us in Divine for POWER 2012 - "CHRIST IN YOU - The Hope and Glory" (Col. 1:27). Do come and be part of this vibrant and joyous celebration of Christ's Presence within each of us! 

Prayers are being lifted up to God daily by our 24-hour Divine Intercessory Prayer Groups for a mighty anointing and renewal in the hearts of every Youth, Couples, Children and Tiny Tots who will be attending this upcoming 7th International Family Renewal Week! The YouTube video above - POWER 2012 [22-27 July 2012] is to give you a preview of the Power and Joy of Divine's Annual International Family Renewal Week...

Listen to the Call of God's Voice in your heart - and come join us in Divine for a GLORIOUS celebration  of POWER 2012 with Youth and Couples, Children & Tiny Tots from all over the world!!!

Yours lovingly in Christ+
Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Attention to Youths and Families! POWER 2012 - Divine's 7th International Youth Conference & Couples Retreat themed "CHRIST IN YOU- The Hope of Glory" (Colossians 1:27) to be held from 22-27 July 2012 is just about 100 DAYS away! Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C. and Rev. Fr. Michael Payyapilly V.C. will lead the Divine team along with world-renowned preachers and dynamic and versatile Catholic music ministry bands!

To avoid any disappointment, do sign up early! The POWER 2012 registration cost is INR1200/- (Continental Cuisine) and INR400/- (Local Indian Cuisine). 

Registration  is on a "First Come First Served" basis.

 Please contact the Divine Youth Team to register for POWER 2012:
Tel: +91 8129185775

There is no other place to be from 22-27 July 2012 than in Divine Retreat Centre, Kerala, India for  POWER 2012 - Divine's 7th International Family Renewal Week!

Come and celebrate your joy that CHRIST IS IN YOU!!!
And Go Forth to be His Light to our World...



Dear Friends in Christ

“Why are you weeping?” (John 20:13) was the question Jesus asked Mary of Magdala in front of the empty tomb. A question the Risen Lord is asking every one of us on this Easter Day. Of course, there are many reasons and situations in our life that distress us and make us sad. And yet, the question is very meaningful because whatever is wrong and bad and sad in our lives receives a new meaning by the Easter event.

On Good Friday, it was announced from all the churches that God died. This is the same proclamation that many philosophers and writers gave they asserted the death of God. This assertion however was a cry issuing out of the desperation being unable to find God in the midst of their woes and struggles of life.

When the gospels speak about the death of God, it is a bold revelation of the reality and Presence of God in the midst of our sorrows and miseries. The death of God on the Cross was not the end of life but the beginning of a glorious existence for man! It was not the absence or the end of the relevance of God that Calvary signifies, but the great love and concern of God who came down to this valley of tears to wipe away every tear from our eyes, so that “there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” (Revelation 21:4)  The cruelty and death were not thrust upon the Lord but as Jesus had predicted – “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down on my own.” (John 10:18) By laying down His Life, we “might have life and might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  The Risen Lord has once and for all changed the whole meaning of sorrow and death. This curse and despair has vanished from every sorrow and death in the splendour of the Glory of the Resurrection; and every bit of suffering becomes an expression of love. Hence St. Paul affirms, “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

As I wish you a Happy and Blessed Easter from Divine Retreat Centre, my prayer for you is that the glorious rays of the Victory of the Risen Lord may illumine all that is sad and sorrowful in your life. As the disciples of Jesus, we are an “EASTER PEOPLE” who are able to rejoice even in the midst of our struggles because we know if we suffer fro Jesus, we also reign with Him! With this gospel truth, we will be able to encourage those who are struggling with us.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement,
who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able
to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with
which we ourselves are encouraged by God.”
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Blessings in the Name of Our Risen Lord+
Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

“WE SHALL ALSO LIVE WITH HIM” (2 Timothy 2:11)


Rev. Fr. Augustine Vallooran  V.C.

As a young priest I was assigned to offer Mass on certain days of the week at a convent not far from our house. One morning it was drizzling and the motorbike I was riding slid on the slippery road and landed on the ground. My leg got burnt by the hot metal of the silencer that fell on it. My cassock got torn. When I got up, the first thing that occurred to me was what my Superior had said to me the previous night to not take the bike out during the rainy season. I then realised that it was crucial I reach the convent in time for the Mass or else the sisters would call up the house and they would be alerted. So I rushed on to the convent and entered directly to the sacristy. I put on a long alb so that the stained and torn cassock would not be visible. I endured that burning pain throughout the Mass and as soon as Mass was over, without even bidding farewell, I quickly made my exit and went to a dispensary far away to get treated. I then returned to the house and no one knew of what had happened.

“Whither Shall I Flee From Thy Presence?” (Psalm 139:7)
I recalled then how as a child when I would get hurt and return with scrapes and bruises, I would rush to my parents and cry relating the entire episode and describing my pain. They would instinctively pick me up and cajole me, dress my wounds and give me a sweet and speak to me stories so that I would forget the pain till the pain faded away. With this, the painful fall was transformed into an occasion of tender love! But as years passed, I identified growing up with becoming independent and turning inwards for solutions. With this, unknowingly I lost the joy of relatedness. The adult had settled for the pain of isolation and loneliness.

Due to this conceited understanding of adulthood, man becomes increasingly secretive - losing his freedom to be genuine in the company of others. Man feels he has to hide something and project something else in order to be accepted and respected by others. As a result, he is haunted by a deep and nagging sense that there is something radically wrong with him. He has to suffer his limitations and has only himself to fall back on. Crushed by the burden of his incompleteness, the one preoccupation of man is to find a mask that must provide a shield from painful rejection. It is in this light that the Love of God becomes salvific.

God’s Love manifested in Jesus Christ is an affirmation of the value of every man and woman as he or she is. Even in our unworthiness, He found us so precious as to give up His life for us. “But God proves his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  The death of Jesus makes me free to be myself even in the moments of my shortcomings and mistakes because I have the assurance that I am loved in spite of my negativities.

The Last Adam Became A Life-Giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45)
What happened in the tomb is what God promises to do in the situations where my weaknesses threaten to define me. The Holy Spirit entered into the broken and dead body of Jesus and raised it in the fullness of glory. That iss what St. Paul means when he says that If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through His Spirit which dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)  St. Paul continues that this activity of the Holy Spirit raising Jesus from the dead was the first fruits of our salvation (1 Corinthians 15:20).  Among the Jews, the concept of offering first fruits was very meaningful. The belief was that in the first fruits, the whole harvest is contained. Therefore when the first fruits are offered on the altar, it was offering the whole harvest to God with the understanding that it now would all belong to God. When Jesus was raised from the dead, all of us have been included in that saving activity of God. This is the basis of Christian hope.

Nothing offered to God will perish. Everything placed in the Hands of God becomes an offering in which the Holy Spirit moves in order to redeem, transform and sanctify. This Hope must be awakened in us whenever anything unfortunate and disastrous occurs. When Martha and Mary offered the deadly sickness of their brother to Jesus, the Lord responded with the glorious assurance: “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” (John 11:4)  What was to end in disaster was taken over by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit in order that the Glory of God may be manifested through it. Hence St. Paul exclaims – “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)  This hope gives us great courage in the moments of our distress. What naturally should have ended in mourning was transformed to celebration. With the Resurrection of the Lord, all of humanity united with Jesus shares the Glory of Easter! “And the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’. ‘O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?’” (1 Corinthians 15:52-55)

This Hope is not a faint idea lost in the pages of theology texts but is a real privilege for those who are baptized to claim. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)  By being identified with Christ, we are now equipped with the power for a glorious living.

“If We Live, We Live For The Lord” (Romans 14:8)
A young man shared with me his experience of this tremendous Power of the Spirit that turned him over from death to life. He was addicted to drugs already at a young age. His parents were working and living abroad and had no idea of his miserable existence in the bondage of sin and meaninglessness. Money flowed in only to be wasted in loose living. His friends and entertainments became more important to him than his classes. He did not care to even appear for his exams. Every time he was threatened with dismissal, he would bring an excuse to the authorities. He came to the final year of his engineering course and even then the seriousness of his studies did not seem to make sense to him. One night he was going on the motorbike with a friend and since he was in a dazed state, he violated the road rules and met with an accident. He was lying unconscious on the hospital bed for several days and when he regained his consciousness, he came to know that his friend had died in the accident. He became angry with himself and desperate in remorse. He did not want to live because he felt he had no right to liveHe was shattered as he felt responsible for the death of the young friendIn the hospital he poured out his struggles to a nurse who then spoke to him a word of hope and directed him to give God a space in his circumstances.

Once he was discharged, he came directly to the retreat centre. On the one hand he was very confused, angry, guilty and desperate. On the other hand, the cravings for the evil addictions of his past were felt stronger even though he had no access to drugs. He could not discipline himself to the program of the retreat centre. Neither did anything spoken in the retreat hall make any sense to him. Despite all the turmoil within, he was feeling within himself an inner urge to remain in the retreat hall. Gradually he felt gripped by the Power of the Lord though thoughts of the past would surface every now and then - dragging him to despair and fear. During the Eucharistic Adoration, he felt a great surge of hope in him and he made a total surrender of the waste he had made of his life. He began to praise God in an uncontrollable way. He told me later that it was then that the Lord met him in the abyss of his misery and raised him up to a new life. Since then there has been no looking back! His one desire now was to spread the rays of hope to a world that has succumbed in despair and loneliness.

“Born Anew To A Living Hope Through The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3)
Easter is the Festival of Hope. A hope that does not disappoint us (Romans 5:5). A hope that in Christ, I can be more than my mistakes. Or rather that I can live the righteousness Christ won for me through His victory over sin on the Cross. The culture of death is tightening its grip over all the areas of human life. As a result, man meets with failures and frustrations pushing him into the pit of hopelessness. At the same time, man is aware of his necessity to live, fulfill his responsibilities and achieve his goals. In the process, life becomes very painful and burdensome. He drifts along without joy in the heart - often unable to find a meaning in life. It is in this context that the Feast of Easter comes to give the message of Hope. The Holy Spirit working in the brokenness of Jesus raised him up in glory. The same Holy Spirit is given to us and He continuously works in us healing our wounds turning everything to our good and transforming us into the image of God. This hope never lets us down because it is rooted not in human possibilities but in the unparalleled Power of God.

A young man confided in me his hope for the future. I met him a year after the retreat that had changed his life.  It was when everything had gone wrong with him. He slipped into unholy company that destroyed him financially. His wife and child left him and all he had in hand was a shattered sense of his self. At the retreat, the one grace he received was the confidence of faith to enable him to look beyond the ashes of his circumstances. With that confidence, he went and spoke to his estranged wife who gave him three months time to prove his claims of conversion. Even when she came back to him, she was not ready to trust him. Every time she would question his motives and ask humiliating questions. He confessed that he was still tempted to slide back into his former way of life. The suspicious behaviour pattern of his wife made him want to rebel and this conflict did not support him at all in his fight to be faithful to the Lord! He paused and added thoughtfully, “I don’t trust myself but I have been looking daily to the Power of the Holy Spirit of God who saves me and comforts me at all those moments of my inadequacies. I am determined to share in the victory Jesus won over sin and death because He is still working on me.” Indeed this is the hope that should sustain us in the low moments of our life.

The rays of Hope emanating from the empty tomb of Jesus should fall upon the dark moments of our lives and enlighten our hearts. Then we will have a relevant message for the broken world we are living in – the message which is the first Promise of the Risen Lord: “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10)  Even in the darkest moments of our life, we will see the glowing Face of the Lord dispelling all darkness and bringing the splendor of the glory of the Resurrection.

Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus, we hail You for You are our victor. You rose from the dead and have won for us Hope and Life. We bring to You the burden of our shadows. Till this moment we could not even face our own shadows and they only became deeper. Today Lord, we bring to you our failures and limitations for You love us and Your Love will be the Light for us to live by. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but you O my God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” (Psalm 73:26)  As I stand by the empty tomb I rejoice O Lord for I know Your Strength shall never fail and Your Power shall defeat death and raise me to live in Your Glorious Presence.