Assumption of Virgin Mary

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It is fitting that the Holy God, who has become man and suffered the worst form of suffering, be raised by the Father to be the Perfect Man in heaven. God ‘prepared a body for His Son’ (Heb. 10.5) in order to come into the world through the Immaculate Virgin (Gen. 3.15, Is. 7.14, Gal. 4.4). She was conceived without original sin, and cooperating with the grace of God, she lived a sinless life. So it is fitting that the Mother of Jesus, the Word Incarnate, who partook in His salvific mission, should be raised to heaven, body and soul. It was God’s plan that through conversion, faith and living of our Baptism we become the members of the Body of Christ (Col. 1.24) and children of Mother Mary assumed into heaven. She draws us  to share Her own glory. It is our Vocation and Mission to live in such a way that we become worthy of being Her children so as to share Her glory in heaven. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pangs of child birth even until now. Not creation alone, but we ourselves, who have the first fruit of the Spirit groan in our innermost being, eagerly awaiting the day when God will adapt us as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (Rom. 8.22-24).

Let us rejoice in the Lord and celebrate this feast in honour of the Virgin Mary, at whose assumption the angels rejoice, giving praise to the Son of God. Mary, the well beloved Daughter of the Heavenly Father, the tender Mother of His Son Jesus and the Most Beloved of the Holy Spirit, please pray for India as she celebrates the 70th year of her Independence today. May we all aspire for the true freedom of the children of God. The song of Rabidranath Tagore: “Into that heaven of freedom, my Father let my country awake” be the song of prayer arising from the heart of every citizen of India.

Fr. James Mariakumar SVD

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The Transfiguration of Jesus

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And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light (Matt. 17, 2)

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Forgiving Love

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Loving the unlovable is the specialty of Christianity

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Walking with Jesus and Mary

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Walking with Jesus and Mary-Fr.James Mariakumar -Heede, N.Germany

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Healing through the renewal of our mind

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Jesus Is Risen indeed Halleluiah

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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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