The Feast of Exaltation of the Cross

 
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“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified“ (1 Cor. 2.2)

As we are living in an age of self will and pleasure, we are prone to sin and disobey commandments. Later when we suffer as a consequence of this, we cannot erase it from our lives. But God in His eternal wisdom and love, sent his Son to take away our sins and to die on the Cross on our behalf so that he may raise us from the death of sin to eternal life. Lord we thank you for it.

Today the whole world is fighting against Christ and Christianity. Therefore we pray to you Lord Jesus, that your Mighty Power which raised you from the dead and made you sit at the right hand of the Father (Eph. 1.19,20), bring back the unbelieving world to the feet of the Cross of Christ. May the Merciful Father redeem the whole world through the atoning Sacrifice of His Son. May the glorification of the Cross come into the life of every believer.

“Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, for the Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1.22-24).
‘We adore you O Christ and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world’.

Mary Pereira

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Birthday of Mother Mary

img-20160908-wa0004God knew from all eternity that man would sin tempted by the devil. In order to outdo the cunningness of the devil, God promised a Saviour for the human race. The eternal wisdom of God planned a mother for the Saviour who would not partake of the sin of Adam, but would have the grace that Adam and Eve had before their fall. Therefore the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity willed one thing: The Mother of the Saviour would be conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and be the beloved daughter of the Heavenly Father. She would be willing what God wanted her to will and thus she would become the handmaid of the Lord.

With this plan God created Virgin Mary, through her parents Joachim and Anne, already from the moment of conception, free from the original sin  and its consequences. Therefore when Jesus came into the world he said: Father, “you have prepared a body for me“ (Heb. 10.5).

The birthday of Virgin Mary  is the ‘Mother‘s day‘ for every believer in Christ because Jesus said from the Cross to the believing disciple: “This is your Mother“ and to his Mother: “This is your son“. “From that hour the disciple took her into his own home“ (Jn. 19.27). Do I take Mother Mary into my heart and mind, into my life, my family and give her the due love, respect and dignity that Christ and John gave her?

Jesus said: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and  my mother“ (Mt. 12.50). Only if we do the will of our heavenly Father, we can become the  brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of Mother Mary.

Prayer: Mother Mary help us to live like you, one will with God and say like you: “I am the handmaid of the Lord“.

Fr.James Mariakumar SVD

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The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary

       The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary

The Assumption of our Lady has been a belief in the Catholic Church since the Apostolic Times. It is a belief that the Most Virgin Mary, chosen to be the Mother of our Savior Lord Jesus, had been taken to heaven, soul and body. Mary had ‘slept in the Lord’  in the presence of the apostles; and the Apostles buried her body with due respect. But her tomb, when opened later , was found empty ; and so the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.

In the words of St.John Damascene of 8th Century, “Although She was duly buried, the body did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. She was transferred to her heavenly home“.

Mother Mary had the fulness of grace from her first moment of her life, through her Immaculate Conception (Feast- Dec.8th). All through her life, she lived a life completely undefiled by sin and as the Archangel Gabriel addressed her at Annunciation, she was ‘full of Grace’.

God did not create humans to die. “God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through devil‘s envy death entered the world” (Wis. 2.23,24). So death is the consequence of sin. Mother Mary who was preserved from the original sin at conception and who did not commit any sin in her life, was freed from the consequence of sin.

“The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God’s crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.“ (EWTN.COM)

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, exercising papal infallibility, declared in Munificientissimus Deus that it is a dogma of the Church “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” As a dogma, the Assumption is a required belief of all Catholics; anyone who publicly dissents from the dogma, Pope Pius XII declared, “has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”

Prayer: Mary, our Mother assumed into heaven, help us to live a sinless and holy life so that we may follow you into heaven.

 

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come to the light

“Those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God”(Jn.3.21). “Whoever says, “I am in the light”, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling” (I Jn. 2.9, 10). So when we live God’s word, we share the light of God. And only then can we bring forth the fruits of the light which consist in  goodness, righteousness and truth. The Psalmist, king David, was convinced that God’s word is ‘a lamp to his feet and light to his path’ because he has experienced that it is the ‘unfolding of God’s words that gives light’ (Ps. 119.105, 130). Nowadays many do not want to live God’s word and hence are not able to experience the light of the Lord. “There are those who rebel against the light, who are not acquainted with its ways and do not stay in its paths” (Job. 24.13).

 

The mission of Jesus is entrusted to every disciple : ‘To be the light of the world.’ (Mt.5.14). “So the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts. 13.47). Many people around us are groping in the darkness of sin, doubt and confusion. Like St. Paul, let us be aware of this mission, that the Lord is sending us “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus” (Acts. 26. 18). When we are in the light of the Lord, we can be “a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of the infants” (Rom. 2.19).The Lord is inviting all of us, as He invited Bl. Mother Theresa: “Come, be my light”.

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I AM WHO I AM

The Divine Name of God was revealed to Moses at the Burning Bush. “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus.3.14)  When Jesus came as the Incarnate Word and lived among us He said: “Father and I are one” (John.10.30). “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me (Jn 14.9, 11). “If you do not believe I am He, you will die in your sins”(In.8.24). “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn.17.3)

Mary Pereira
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Authentic versus deceptive life

Jesus came to give us victory over death and Satan. The core message of the Bible is the good news that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3. 16). Through His Son’s death on the Cross, “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, forgiveness of sins” (Col.1. 13, 14).

 

As we are journeying through the Solemn Season of Lent, the Church is calling each one of us to check our ways to see whether we are treading on the path of Truth leading us to eternal life in the kingdom of God or whether we are treading on the path of Lie and deception which will lead us to eternal damnation. As the Word of God exhorts us: “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord” (Lam. 3.40).

Lent is the Season to reflect on what the wickedness of Evil and our sins have cost the Lord – the most painful Passion, the most heinous and shameful Crucifixion. He willingly embraced the Cross in order to redeem us from the clutches of the Evil. Such was His love for the humanity! But Satan, who is the enemy of man’s salvation, ‘comes disguising himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor. 11. 14).

Quite a number of people are alarmed at the news of ‘warning’ about the End of the Age. Jesus has foretold the signs of the End of the Age 2000 years ago. (Mt. 24. 3- 44; Mk. 13;  Lk. 21. 7- 36). Many things are already happening in the world now. But we are not to be alarmed, but only need to prepare to reach our goal by returning to the Lord through our fasting, penance and treading on the ‘narrow path’ that will lead us to heaven, our eternal destiny. Jesus is telling us lovingly: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mt. 7. 13, 14)

Also let us take note of what the Word of God reveals about the working of the devil in the end days: The end day “will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2. Thess. 2. 3, 4, 9). Those who choose the lie and the ‘fleeting pleasures’ of this world will be such as revealed by the Holy Spirit: “since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, deceit, and spite. They are gossipers, slanderers, God-haters. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God, that all who practise such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practise them” (Rom. 1. 28-32).

 

Let us pray for those who are ‘refusing to love the truth and so be saved’, who are brainwashed by the tactics of the Evil and blindly follow the path of destruction. Jesus shed His Precious Blood to save everyone irrespective of caste, creed, language and nation (Rev. 5.9), to redeem all for the kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit reminds us that we need to ‘work out our own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2, 12). “You know what time it is, it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we became believers; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13, 11-14).

Lord, help us in this Season of Lent to make a radical decision to choose your way that will make us mature in you, by living our baptism against the currents of the world. Lord, by choosing the narrow path, and thus discovering the beauty of Christian life and wisdom we are prepared to become fools in the eyes of the world.

 

Mary Pereira, Fr. J.Mariakumar

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Goodbye to 2015 and welcome 2016

“Every beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”, so said Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman Philosopher of the 1st Century. Yes, when we think of it, it is so very true in our lives. It does not need any further explanation. We can think of any aspect of life and grasp the reality of it.

 

Now that we are at the close of the year 2015, let us acknowledge with gratitude, all the blessings we have received from God from the day one of 2015. Gratitude is divine. We express our gratitude to our God Almighty, from whom all good things come; and also we express our gratitude to those whom God has put with us in our life’s journey, for all that they have brought into our lives.

 

No doubt, there have been some unpleasant things that might have happened in our personal lives, in our families, in our communities and in our society at large. Life is a mixture of good and evil; of pleasures and pains. But “we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans. 8, 28). So we are called to “give thanks to God in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5, 18)

 

As we say goodbye to 2015 with a grateful heart, let us welcome 2016 with a joyful hope so that it will bring more love, joy, peace and harmony which every human heart longs for. Let us take a New Year Resolution to become more rooted in the love of God so that we can love one another more deeply; to accept one another as the children of the loving Father who is so merciful and kind-hearted. Let us shed off all the spirits of division, condemnation and judgement.

 

In this Year of Mercy may we become ‘merciful, just as our Heavenly Father is merciful’ (Lk. 6, 37). We are in the holy Season of celebrating “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (Jn. 1, 14); celebrating “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (Jn. 1, 9) who came into the world. Let us not forget our mission that in the places where we live, we have to be ‘the Word become flesh’ so that others can ‘hear, see, look at, and touch’ (ref. 1 Jn. 1, 1) Jesus in and through our lives. Since ‘the Word became flesh to make us Divine’, it is our everyday task to strive to ‘be conformed into the image of His Son’ (Rom. 8, 29). May our Lord ‘Immanuel’, God with us, grant us His Grace and Power in order that we may fulfil this task in this short earthly life.  As our loving Father has gifted us with the New Year, 2016, may He impart us the Priestly Benediction with which He blessed the Israelites through Moses:

 

“The Lord bless you and keep you; 

                 The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you

                The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace”.

 

 

 

Mary Pereira

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Waiting

After the fall of our first parents, our loving God promised a Saviour to the fallen humanity in order to restore the lost Divine Life to them. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3,15). St. Paul write: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4, 4) but the humanity had to wait 4000 years before the fulfilment of God’s promise at Paradise. In the Liturgical year of the Church, the faithful are exhorted to wait for the coming of the Lord, to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Saviour, preparing for four weeks.

In order to prepare the humanity for the coming of the Saviour, John the Baptist was sent who exhorted the people, “Repent, for the kingdom of God has come near”. Our Lord and Saviour who was born in history, wants to be born in human hearts. But we need to ‘prepare the way’ as exhorted by the Baptist. Especially when we are preparing to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, the Church wants that we, the faithful take this message seriously. St. John testifies “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (Jn.1, 14). During this season of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, we are to strive to make this Word to become flesh in our lives. Every true follower of Christ needs to put an effort so that the Word can find its home in our hearts, in our lives. The Lord comes into the life of everyone who is ready to welcome Him wholeheartedly and is eagerly waiting for Him. So there is a great significance in our preparation for Christmas in these 4 weeks. Let us not be preoccupied and busy with only the external celebrations, but also take interest in our spiritual preparation, wanting to make our Lord ‘feel at home’ in our lives . “He comes, He comes, and He ever comes”. But only when we are waiting for Him with due preparation, ‘making the rough ways of our lives smooth, making His paths straight’ , we really can make Him feel at home in our hearts and lives. He is searching for a place to be born. Can we come out of our unforgiveness and bitterness, our unwillingness to reconcile with people, our self- righteousness and pride, unwillingness to accept correction, our seeking for vain glory, ;our life of prayerlessness and so on so that we can prepare a place for Him to be born? “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Rev. 3,20). Each time we honestly try to make ‘the Word become flesh’ in our lives, we give meaning for the celebration of Christmas. A blessed Christmas to all.

Mary Pereira

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Looking forward for a comfortable stay

It is the normal desire of everyone to have a beautiful house of one’s own. That is ok as it is not a sin to make our lives comfortable here. But let us not forget that we are only pilgrims here and ‘our citizenship is in heaven’ (Phil. 3.20). Most of us seldom consider what our Lord has in store for us. “In my Father’s house there are so many dwelling places…..I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14. 2,3). But responsibility is laid on us to make our house beautiful. While trying to make our stay comfortable in this pilgrim land spending much time, energy and money for it, let us also try to make our stay in our eternal house as beautiful as possible. Let us not be always preoccupied with ‘storing up for ourselves treasures on earth’, but let us also take time and effort to ‘store up for ourselves treasures in heaven’ (Mt. 6. 19, 20). We have to live for all eternity in that house and let us strive to build it in the best possible way- through leading our lives in a way most pleasing to the Lord. In our lives when we give the first place for God, duly honour Him, and when we do works of goodness and kindness to others, we are beautifying our house more and more. God is giving all of us the grace and time in this life to build our house in our eternity- through our prayers, Sacramental life, in every way ‘living our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ’ (Phil. 1.27). As St. Paul puts it: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw- the work of each builder will be visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only through fire” (1 Cor. 3. 10-15).

Let us not bury the talent that the Lord has given to each of us, and we make use of time in proper way so as to bear ‘lasting fruits’ (Jn. 15.16) which will help us to attain all glory in eternity. We all strive to make a name, a good reputation, good possession and the like, but all these are not lasting. The good things we do for the glory and honour of God, and for the good of others, are the ones which will earn for us the due reward from the Lord on the Last Judgement Day. Let us hear from our Lord on that Day: “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trust worthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Mt. 25.23)

Mary Pereira

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The Feast of the Assumption of our Lady

Around 135 AD the emperor Hadrian tried to remove the memory of the holy city of Jerusalem by making it a pagan city honouring Jupiter. Around 200 years later the emperor Constantine (285-387AD), restored it as a holy city. In 336 AD the Church of Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt together with other holy places and restored the memories of the life of our Lord.

One of the memories was about the Mother of Jesus centred on ‘the tomb of Mary’, close to Mount Zion, where early Christians lived. On this Mount was a ‘place of the Dormition of Mary’- ‘falling asleep’- and close to it was her tomb.

Here the memory of the Dormition was celebrated, which later became the Feast of her Assumption. This was initially celebrated in Palestine, later it was extended to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century it was celebrated in Rome under the title: “Dormitio”( Falling asleep).

At the council of Calcidon, the emporer Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of the Mother of God, but the Patriarch explained that there were no relics of Mother Mary in Jerusalem. And he said that ‘Mary had died in the presence of the Apostles, but her tomb, when opened later, was found empty. And hence the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven’.

St. John Damascene (8th Cent.) expressed the meaning of the Feast thus: “Although the body of Mary was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it decayed. She was transferred into her heavenly home”.

The Assumption completes the work of God in Mary, the Mother of God, since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God Himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is the crown of God’s work in Mary as she ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The Feast helps us to turn our eyes in that direction, where we will one day follow her when our earthly life is over. On November 1st 1950, Pope Pius the XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Church: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into heaven”.

Pius Parsch in his book, ‘The Church’s year of Grace’ writes: ‘Now towards the end of summer season, at a time when the fruits are ripe in the gardens and fields, the Church celebrates the most glorious ‘harvest festival’ in the Communion of Saints. Mary, the supremely blessed one among women, again Mary, the most precious fruit which has ripened in the fields of God’s kingdom, is today taken into the granary of heaven’.

Fr. James Mariakumar SVD

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