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

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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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Blessings of the Year of Mercy

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We all know that we have been in the Jubilee Year of Mercy which started from December 8, 2015 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and is coming to a close on  20th November 2016, on the Solemnity of Christ the King. We are privileged to live in this graceful time of the jubilee Year of Mercy in which we are even able to obtain plenary indulgence (complete remission of temporal punishment due to sins), provided we sacramentally confess our sins and make all effort to live in a state of grace (the doctrine and practice of indulgence in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the Sacrament of Penance), receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and praying for the intentions of our Pope. Pope reminds us that Confessional is not only the place to put our sins down but it is also the place of God’s mercy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in para 1465 that the ‘Priest at the Confessional ‘is the sign and the instrument of God’s merciful love for the sinner’.

While declaring this Jubilee Year Pope Francis intended that we become more convinced of the wonderful Mercy of God, and experiencing that merciful love in our day to day life, we also in turn share this mercy with others.

There are people who think that they have committed many grave sins and there is no way out. If we tend to think so, it is because we have a false image of God, our Father. Moses introduced to Israelites, “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.( Exo. 34.6).Jesus, the visible face of the invisible Father (Col. 1.15), reflected this Merciful Father through his life and teachings. Let us rely on this Mercy of the Lord and lead people to embrace it. St. John Chrysostom has said: “Instead of crying over our repeated sins, think of the mercy of God”.

St. Faustina is known as the Apostle of Mercy. Once Satan told her: “You do me more harm than a 1000 souls coming together to attack me. When you tell about the mercy of God to the sinful souls who are to come to me, I lose them. When you soak them in the ocean of God’s Mercy, they reach heaven”.

Once a woman who was the parishioner of St. Cure of Ars, Fr. John Mary Vianny went to him and said quite happily: “Today, my husband fell from a bridge, broke his head and died. His body and soul will go to hell”. Then Cure of Ars asked her: “Why are you saying so?” The woman replied: “My husband was a very cruel man. Every evening he comes fully drunk and beat me a lot. This evening he was coming back after drinking and he fell from a high bridge. The Cure asked her: How high was the bridge from the water beneath?” She said: “Oh! it was so high. His head hit on a rock and immediately he died”. Deep in thought, the Cure told her gently: “While falling from such a height, if he had cried out to the Lord, when you go to heaven after your death, your husband robed in white cloth will be welcoming you”!

This is the wonderful Mercy of the Lord. Recalling what God said through Prophet Joel, Peter proclaimed in his first speech at Pentecost: “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2.21). Let us try to turn as many people as possible to this Merciful Saviour who ‘desires everyone to be saved’ (1 Tim.2.4). “He was slaughtered and by his blood he ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5.9). St. John saw the heavenly scene in revelation: “I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev.7.9)

In our life-time, the door of Mercy is opened to us. To St. Faustina, the Lord said: “Those who do not pass through the door of Mercy will have to come through the door of judgment”. Let us continue to fulfill the conditions which our Pope has said in order to gain the indulgences in the Jubilee Year, even after its closure. With the grace of God, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, let us try to live in a state of grace, detaching ourselves from every sin, with true repentance frequenting  the Sacrament of Confession and receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist in a worthy manner and praying for the intentions of our Pope. Let us try to save our souls, the souls of others who sink deep in the darkness of sin and confusion, and also the souls in Purgatory (CCC 1471) through our righteous lives, prayers and penance. Let us “go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that the house of our Master may be filled” (Lk. 14.23).

Mary Pereira

 

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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

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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

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       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

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“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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