Jesus Is Risen indeed Halleluiah

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Jesus Is Risen indeed Halleluiah

Jesus’ Resurrection is the ultimate source of our faith and hope. It is the fulfillment of God’s salvific plan. As St. Paul said, ‘Jesus was handed over to death for our sins and was raised for our justification’(Rom.4.25). So resurrection is the foundation on which our Christian faith is built. “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Cor.15.14)

Jesus foretold his Death and Resurrection to his disciples more than once. Yet they were confused and perplexed about everything that happened on the Great Passover day and on Passion Friday. But Jesus never wanted to give up on them. Again and again He tried to reaffirm their faith in the presence of the Risen Saviour. For fear of the Pharisees and the Scribes who crucified Jesus, when they were hiding in dark rooms, and when they were trying to run away from the scene, Jesus appeared before them to recoup their faith. Yes, when we live in the darkness of uncertainty, doubt, despair, fear and frustration, He is all the more eager to enter into our lives to give us His joy, peace, love, comfort and security. He is ready to fill our lives with all these ‘without money and without price’ (Is.55.1).. He wants to involve fully in our pain of rejection, loneliness, insecurity…and release us from them. Let us thank our Risen Savior who wants to walk with us, befriend us and make us enjoy His abundant life. It is for this that He is Risen Indeed Halleluiah!

Mary pereira

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Way of the Cross

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A Parish Priest noticed one parishioner every day praying the ‘Way of the Cross’ lighting a candle at each station. Very devoutly she would say all the prayers and at the close of each Station of the Cross she would say beating her chest: “Holy Mother, pierce me in my heart each wound renew of my Savior Crucified”. One day after the prayer she approached the Priest who asked her about her wellbeing. While telling about her life she said: “Father I have many sufferings. Please pray that God may take away my sufferings”. Then the Priest said: “Every day you pray to Mother Mary: ‘pierce me in my heart each wound renew of my Savior crucified’. And now you ask me to pray that God may take away your sufferings. Will God listen to Mother Mary’s prayer or my prayer?”

Yes, often we do not really mean what we pray. In the very meaningful devotion of the Way of the Cross, as we meditate on the Passion of Christ in each Station, we are led more and more to realize that He bore all that for our sins. So we pray: “We adore you O Christ and bless you, because by your Cross, you have redeemed the world”. Jesus willingly accepted the Cross, followed the Way of the Cross and ultimately laid down His life on the Cross. “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own free will” (Jn. 10.18). In each moment of His Passion He thought of us and was willing to bear all that in order to atone for our sins. His love for us was such! “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).

In our day to day sufferings, we ‘bear on our body the marks of Jesus’ (Gal.6. 17). In the prayer of the Way of the Cross, we ask Mother Mary to ‘pierce in our hearts, each wound renew of our Savior Crucified’. This means that we should be willing to accept all the wounds and hurts, all sorts of persecutions, unjust accusations, and undeserved sufferings with the attitude of Christ.  As Jesus came “not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10.45), we, as His followers should be willing to give our life as a ransom for others.  Let us pray not to take away our sufferings; rather let us pray for the grace and power to accept it willingly as a ransom for those who are the cause of our sufferings, unite our sufferings with that of Christ, and have the attitude of Christ in bearing it without any anger, grudge or sorrow; thus we can change our sufferings into redeeming sufferings. May the beautiful prayer of ‘Way of the Cross’ becomes more meaningful and fruitful in our lives.

Mary Pereira

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Lent – A Season of Self-Denial and Self-Renewal

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We are gifted with one more Season of Lent in our life-time in this pilgrim land. It is a time given by the Lord in order to repair our past sinful ways through a life of deeper prayer, fasting, penance and alms -giving. By controlling the passions of our body, we can free our souls for deeper prayer. By refraining from eating, we can set aside food or money that we can give to the poor and needy. The Church is not forcing us to practice these spiritual exercises, but it is intended to bring about a revival in our relationship to God and to our fellow beings. It is a time of self-denial and self-renewal. We can fast not only from food, but also from television serials, from idle talk and gossip, from judging others, from telling lies, from indulging in lustful passions….and the like. Our fasting indicates or symbioses our decision to give up the ‘dead works in us so that we may serve the living God’ (Heb.9.14).

We can see in the Old Testament and New Testament examples of fasting and prayer when people became aware of their sins against God or when they needed to get guidance and strength from God. 40 days of fasting and prayer reminds us of the 40 days of flood in Noah’s time (Gen.17), 40-year journey of the Israelites in the desert to the promised land (Exodus), Moses’ 40 days on the mountain with God (Ex. 34.28), King David’s rule for 40 years, 40 days of journey of prophet Elijah to reach Mount Horeb, (1 Kg. 19),  40 days of fasting and penance of the people of Nineveh (Jon. 3.4-10) and Jesus’ fasting and prayer for 40 days in the desert (Mt. 4. 1-10). It will only do good if we spend little time every day reflectively going through these Scriptures in order to understand the significance of these incidents.

God overlooks our times of ignorance, ‘but now he calls on all people to change their ways’ (Acts. 17.30). “He allows those who repent to return; he comforts those whose hopes are fading” (Sirach. 17.24). In the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, the Liturgy of Mass ends thus: ‘We do not know whether we will come again for the celebration of Mass”. Yes, our life is so fragile and indefinite. Any moment we can be knocked down by a vehicle, or get a paralysis or a heart attack….; thus the door opens before me to say good bye to this earthly life. Let us not forget the truth that we are living in the End Times; ‘in the time of Revelation’ as Mother Mary revealed to Sr. Lucy, the Seer of Fatima. God, in his goodness and kindness has given us one more time of grace in order to repair the damages and afflictions in our lives and to restore our original ‘God-like image’ in us (Gen.1.26,27). Thus our eternal life in the kingdom of God can be guaranteed. But we need to cooperate with his grace. The Holy Spirit reminds us through St. Paul: “Are you taking advantage of God and his infinite goodness, patience and understanding, and do you not recognize that his kindness is meant to lead you to conversion?” (Rom. 2.4)

Prayer: God of mercy and compassion, we come to you seeking your pardon for our iniquities. Send your Holy Spirit upon us and convict us of all that is not of your kingdom. We place our lives in your hands and seek your will in everything. Let this Lenten Season be a season of complete transformation of our lives. Sweet Holy Spirit of God, touch our hearts and set us on fire for love of you.

Mary Pereira

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God’s Word Becoming Flesh In Us

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The day had come for the auditing. Since I was at that time holding the post of Accounts Superintend in the college where I was working, I entered the office with a little tension, though I had kept all files ready for auditing. I had kept a little box of ‘Bread of Life’ (Word of God) in my drawer, from which I used to take a message every day before I start my work. That day when I opened the box , what I picked up was Isaiah 41.10. “Have no fear, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will give you strength, and bring you help, I will uphold you with my right hand”. I felt quite at ease after getting that message as it cooled down all the fear and anxiety I had within. The auditors came at 10 am and as usual started with the auditing of the account files. I had the previous experience of auditors making unnecessary queries and finding fault with the maintenance of something or the other. But that day there was no such queries and I kept thanking the Lord for fulfilling His promise.

After lunch break, before starting my work also, I used to open the ‘Bread of Life’ box. Quite surprisingly what I picked up was from the same book, but different verse: Isaiah 41.13. “For, I, the Lord, your God take hold of your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you”. I believed that everything will go smoothly. By evening the auditing of all the files which I handle was completed and there were no negative comments from any one of the team of auditors. I lifted my heart to the Lord in thanks giving as I walked out of the office after my work.

That evening was the weekly prayer meeting for the hostel students. I shared this experience with the students, and thus God gave me a chance to build up their faith in God’s word. Yes, every promise in the Bible is meant for us, and we need to believe in it and claim it. I entered into Charismatic Renewal by attending a retreat preached by Fr.Marcellino Iragui , a Spanish Priest. In one of his books he has written:

“There are three steps:

1.  God promises;
2.  Man responds;
3.  God fulfills His promise.

We usually skip the second step and hence God cannot fulfill His promise”

Is it so in our lives? We respond to God’s promise, when we believe what He says and claim the promise. Then we will experience the faithfulness of God and we can feel the thrill of God’s word becoming flesh in our lives. No wonder, inspired by the Holy Spirit Prophet Jeremiah said: “When your words were found, I devoured them; your words became my joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer.15.16). Along with the Psalmist we can say: “Your words O Lord are sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119.103).

                               

                                Courtesy: ‘Hope with God’

Mary Pereira.

 

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Potter and clay

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After attending a Conference in Christeen Retreat Centre, Kottayam, I was waiting for the train to go back to my place. I was at the Railway station sitting on a bench at the first platform. There was a train halted on the track near the second platform. What was written on the compartment opposite to me captured my attention. “For differently abled”. Since I do not travel often by train, and was outside India for some time for Mission work, I was seeing that caption for the first time. First I did not understand what it meant. But soon I realized that it could be the compartment set apart for disabled people. I felt so happy and fascinated to see the writing changed from ‘disabled’ to ‘differently abled’. Yes, even though these less fortunate brethren of ours seem to be handicapped and disabled in our eyes, the fact is that God has given them many skills and talents. The good will and the wisdom of the people behind the change of this phrase should be appreciated!

God loves and honours everyone whom he creates. He is our potter. As He revealed to the Prophet Jeremiah: “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand” (18,6). He moulds the clay in His hands with much love.

 

Each one is unique and precious for him. No one is to be despised and rejected. God sends everyone to the world with a mission to fulfill and accordingly he equips one with the needed skills. Helen Keller, though born a healthy child, became blind and deaf because of a sickness which struck her at the age of one and a half year. But she proved so gifted that she learned the fingertip alphabet (Braille). Yes, God gifted her with the necessary talent and skill that she became the champion of the blind. History unfolds a lot of people like this who gave benevolent contributions to humanity through their enthusiasm, confidence and hard work in spite of their handicaps because they submitted themselves to the plan of God and cooperated with His grace.  “O Lord, indeed all that we have done, you have done for us” (Is. 26.12). When we give our lives into His hands, out of all our misery and confusion, He changes us into something beautiful for Him and for others!

Once I was in a train (in a foreign country) and there was a group of youngsters who were deaf and dumb. I was much delighted to see them so joyously conveying many things to each other, even cracking jokes with bodily language and with much laughter! I thanked God for giving them that spirit of joy and contentment which we lack many times.

We need to acknowledge the giver of all gifts and blessings. As St. Paul says: “By the grace of God, I am what I am” (1. Cor. 15.10). “Who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (1 Cor. 4.7)

Mary Pereira

 

 

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At the threshold of the New Year

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We are still in the Festive Season, joyously celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. In Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises of God. God pitched His tent among us and became ‘God Immanuel’ in order to save the humanity from all that is evil; to  heal us and to help us experience His abundant life, to manifest the love and mercy of our Heavenly Father and ultimately to lead us to our eternal  Home.

We (in the Liturgy of the Latin Rite) started the month of January with the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God on the 1st of January. This is the highest title of Mother Mary. When the Virgin Mary visited Elisabeth, hearing the greeting of Mary, Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”(LK. 1, 41-43). Let us be grateful to our Church for celebrating the Solemnity of ‘Mary, the Mother of God’ at the very outset of the New Year, on the octave of the Feast of Christmas. When Jesus entered into the world (from the moment of conception), Heavenly Father chose Virgin Mary as the Mother of His Son. At the death of Jesus, Jesus gave the same Mother to all his disciples and she became the Mother of all believers.

On the 3rd of January the Church celebrated the Holy Name of Jesus. In fact the month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, the name given to the Son of God by the Heavenly Father, through the Archangel Gabriel. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: “Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and will bear a son, whom you shall call ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins’ (Mt.1.21). Let us become more aware of the power of the name of Jesus, which is the name above all other names.

The solemnity of Epiphany is o celebrated 12 days after Christmas that is on the 6th of January. When it falls on a week day, the Solemnity is kept on the following or previous Sunday for the convenience of the faithful; this year on the 8th of Jan. The three Kings who came to Bethlehem to adore the Holy Babe were led by a star. The star can symbolise the inner light that guided them to the Saviour. Let us also recognise this inner light in us and, in this New Year, may we be ever ready to take every step guided by that ‘star’ which God is sending in our lives path.

The Season of Christmas comes to a closure with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord on the 9th of January. When Jesus had been baptised by John the Baptist “suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3. 16, 17).  He received baptism on behalf of you and me, in order to ask pardon from the Father for the sins of humanity which He has created. Yes, the heaven which was closed when our 1st parents, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, was opened at the time of Baptism of Jesus who, “when came into the world said: I have come to do your will, O God” (Heb. 10.7). We who are baptised with Jesus, also share in this mission of doing our Father’s will. May the Holy Spirit of God strengthen us in fulfilling this mission in every walk of our lives.

As we are at the threshold of this New Year which we are privileged to enter in, may we glorify God with our lives, with more zeal and commitment for the kingdom of God, which is doing the will of God. “Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all,  and especially for those of the family of faith” (Gal. 6. 9, 10). As we live for the glory of God, “God will restore the years which the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2.25).

Mary Pereira.

 

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Joy to the world

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“The King of the Heaven deigned to be born in a stable, because He came to destroy pride, the cause of man’s ruin” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

Christmas is a celebration of the Feast of our Salvation. The Son of God has become the Son of Man, born of the Virgin Mary as the Saviour of the world, as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel” (Lk. 2, 32).

With His coming the light of the world has been dawned; the Prince of Peace is born to reign in our hearts forever. Let us adore this Holy Child- the ‘Immanuel’, ‘the-God- with-us’ lying in the mangers in the cribs of our homes, in the churches and in institutions. Let us realise that this Babe is happy in a lowly soul. Hence the economically poor and the ‘poor in spirit’ have more reason to celebrate Christmas. ‘Joy to the world, the Saviour is born’! The external celebrations, the colourful decorations and expensive food cannot substitute for this inner joy. The hour of God’s grace is closer to us than ever it was. This grace is open to all irrespective of cast, creed; ‘for every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Rev.5.9); and hence the Angel sent by God announced to the shepherds on the first Christmas night: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day n the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk.2.10s, 11). If only we open our hearts to this Grace of God, flood gates of joy will be opened in our lives.

Let us pray: Lord, make us persons on whom your favour rests, so that we may be worthy to receive your blessings of joy and peace in this Festive Season.

Mary Pereira

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Come Lord and save us

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Faithfulness of God

The_unfailing_Protector

Now a days we see many people going through a lot of misery in their lives. They do not experience the ‘joy of living’. Some are so heavily burdened with the problems they face, and they even think of committing suicide. Why is it so? Does our loving Heavenly Father, who is our Creator God, want that His children go through such miserable lives?

The loving God has a plan of welfare for His children. He reveals it to Prophet Jeremiah: “I know what plans I have for you, plans for peace and not for disaster; plans to give you hope and future” (Jer. 29, 11). Christmas is the time we celebrate the coming of this God who was incarnate and lived among us. If we call upon Him in our misery, He will answer us and come to our help. “When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from their distress” (Ps.34, 6). Let us turn to Him in faith. As we journey through the Season of Advent, we often become too busy with the mundane affairs, but let us not forget to spend some time with the Lord daily pleading with Him to intervene in all the miseries of our life; not only ours, but also of others. Let us have  faith in this loving God who calls all of us to come to Him and rest. “Come to me, all of you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens, and I will refresh you” (Mt 11, 28)

Recently I heard a preacher explaining the meaning of the alphabets of the word ‘joy’. J stands for Jesus, O for others and Y for you. Jesus should come first in our lives; others should be second (and hence we need to turn to our brethren and help them in their spiritual and material needs); you should come last. When we have this attitude, we can really experience the joy and meaning of our living. As we give the prime place in our lives to Jesus and to His Word, like David who went through many crises in his life, we too can say: “even though I walk through the shadows of death, no harm would I fear, for you are there by my side. With your rod and your staff you give me comfort” (Ps.23, 4).

As long as we are on this earth we will encounter problems and trials. We experience a lot of negative things, things against our dreams and aspirations happening in our lives. But these problems should make us a victor, not a victim! Problems are challenges for us to overcome so that we may become victorious. This is possible only when we stop looking at the problems and turn to our Loving Lord who has become God Immanuel, God with us as the ‘Prince of Peace’.  In order to become radiant in spite of the problems that we face, we only need to look at Him. “Those who look to him are radiant with joy; their faces are never clouded with shame” (Ps. 34, 5). “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom.10, 13).

Let us pray: ‘Come Lord and save us from this Godless, faithless, joyless and hopeless life’.

Mary Pereira

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Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary

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img-20161205-wa0009The doctrine of Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary teaches that from the very moment of conception, Mary was free from all the stains of original sin. On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX pronounced the dogma: “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin” (Constitution- Ineffabilis Deus). It was confirmed by Mother Mary herself when she appeared to St.Bernadette in Lourdes in 1858! Before that in 1830 Mother Mary had revealed this truth to Catherene Laboure in Paris; but in obedience to the confessor she did not reveal it.  Yes, in view of her mission to become the Mother of God, and in view of the redemption that Jesus Christ would bring to us through his passion,   death andresurrection, th Virgin Mary  was conceived Immaculate.

In her life, she fully cooperated with the grace of God and led a life without sin, walking in faith. Hence the angel Gabriel sent by God addressed Virgin Mary: “Hail, full of Grace”. She is the model for us to live a sinless life. The first Eve, ‘the mother of all the living’ (Gen. 3.20) brought death to the humanity, but the Second Eve, the Virgin Mary brought life to humanity and became the Mother of all the believers.  As we honour Mary today, let us resolve to imitate her virtues; her faithfulness to God in striving to lead a pure and humble life, and her deep faith and trust in God. As the mother of every disciple of Christ, she wants nothing more than to bring us to her son, Jesus. Let us go to her, not just for our needs but to ask her to help us grow closer to the Lord.

Mary Pereira.

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Immaculate Conception of our Mother

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Today we start the Triduum -the 3 days of special prayer in preparation for the of the Feast of our Lady on 8th December

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