Prolife Minstry – Hidden treasure of a JY

chiara_enrico

The moment I heard about Chiara Corbella and Enrico Petrillo, I was eager to know more about them, especially curious due to a comment – second Gianna Beretta Molla – by His Eminence Cardinal Vallini, the vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome. Why should someone compare ‘Chiara Corbella’ with St. Gianna? What difference Petrillose brought to this world? There was not much internet said about these silent saints. Like a gentle breeze Chiara passed thru our lives, left behind memories of her fragrance of joy, Enrico and Francesco.

It is always joyful to watch wondrous ways of Holy Spirit. Recently I had a chat with one of our young JY and accidentally said that I am in preparation to write about Chiara. He replied, “My daughters name is Chiara.” Chiara is a common name, so I never specifically asked the intention behind that naming. However, few days back I met his family with their baby girl. I asked: “Is this Chiara?” He said: “No, she is Gianna, Chiara is elder daughter”. Without much explanation, it is revealed to me that both names perfectly displays that family’s missionary intentions. They are inclined towards the pro-life values which The Movement holds tight to her core. For me, that incident was a confirmation from Holy Spirit to write about Chiara and Enrico.

Chiara’s and Enrico’s inspiring, joyful life lead me to think about large families who stood and took their daily cross, for the cause of pro-life ministry, within Jesus Youth Movement. Do we remember them? Do our youngsters understand that there is a cause to stand for life. Do they understand human in any form is precious? As Enrico reflects – “We are born into eternity, and we shall never die.”

I am sure we have similar lives within our JY communities. However, they are hidden somewhere deep as treasures, waiting for seekers footfalls.

I pray that Chiara’s and Enrico’s life be a light in the path of young couples who are married or who are engaged. Especially to understand from their life that – Choosing marriage, like consecrating oneself to religious life, also requires a vocation. It is more than simply a natural inclination; it is necessary to respond to a special call from God. But to what does God call us? What does He ask us to do? Marriage can make saints. To understand that a gift from God is a gift from God at any given situation, in any given form. Amen!

Chiara Corbella met Enrico Petrillo during a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in the year of 2002. She was 18 and He was 23. She was talented in drawing and in music. So was Enrico, he wrote and composed songs. They decided to get to know each other. The relationship did not go smoothly. There were painful breakups, they quarreled very often. Much of the incidents were either resolved by the interventions of their spiritual director or by their own pilgrimages and prayers.

In 2003, during the Franciscan march and during adoration of the Cross on Good Friday it became clearer for them, that there is no time to loose to get married. Soon they became parents of little Maria Grazia Letizia. Initial checkups during pregnancy period revealed that Maria has serious malformation-anencephaly, and doctors advised them for an abortion. It is waste of time carrying this baby for whole nine months. However Chiara and Enrico, decided to accept Maria, they went thru all sufferings of the pregnancy, still knowing that Maria will not live. They believed, even with malformation life of Maria Grazia Letizia is an authentic gift from God!

Maria Grazia Letizia was born alive, lived for 40 minutes. During this period she got blessing of her grand parents and friends, she was baptized and was born again in Heaven. Their second baby David Giovanni had a different malformation, now the public is complaining that parents are sinners, that is why they are having these type of babies. Still they took their crosses, accompanied David in his life time (he lived for 30 minutes after birth) and during his way to Heaven.

Their third child, Francesco was healthy baby. Again, his parents accompanied him the same way they accompanied his sister Maria and brother David. However, Chiara was recognized with terminal cancer. Doctors advised to start cancer therapy immediately, but pregnant Chiara did not wanted to do anything, that harms Francesco who is still growing healthy in Chiara. She refused any treatment on her until Francesco is born.

After Francesco’s birth doctors started cancer treatments, however it was too late to save Chiara. Year of 2012 Chiara died, saving life of her baby Francesco. What challenges us always is Chiara and Enrico’s joyful life even during their sufferings and their total submission to providence of God. They found, in any given situation there is no reason to be sad!

Chiara and Enrico’s life shows us for what a Christian family should stand for. They proved with their life, shorter or longer life is always precious and it is OK to die for another life!


For further reading on Chiara and Enrico refer the book:
chiarabook
https://www.sophiainstitute.com/products/item/Chiara-Corbella-Petrillo?utm_source=CEArticle&utm_medium=TurleyChiara091615&utm_campaign=TurleyChiara091615

Chiara’s testimony with English subtitle :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbHpCJ8AfUY
Chiara’s testimony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX-gFbtC2dU
Enrico’s testimony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r1xVmYo_ME
Chiara Corbella Website

Will financial responsibilities suppress your missionary dreams?

 

In a way, I will say YES!
Actually, it is not financial responsibilities, it is ‘financial stress’ attached with the responsibilities suppresses missionary dreams. If married, then responsibilities are much higher.

Let me recall an advice from Babychayan:
“If you are getting married, remember this – both your family and God will be asking for your personal time, effort and resources.”

Institution of family have its own financial responsibilities and struggles. These struggles might force young couples to abandon their missionary dreams, live an unfeeling life and end up as ATM machines, just to spit money on demand. In reality, they do not have time and resources for their missionary activities.

Abandoning The Call, ignoring the graces receives thru The Movement will extinguish the joy they have received from The Movement, leading to a silent walkout from missionary charisms of The Movement.

Does that mean let us forget about our financial responsibilities? No.

Ignoring our own financial commitments are dangerous. Not to say more if you are married. When active JYs ignore family’s financial responsibilities, hiding in comfort-zones of bachelor-friendships, still ‘single mode’ enabled, displays an anti-witnessing life for their spouse and children. They damage the reputation of The Movement in front of their family. In addition, by alienating spouse they misses the greater call of a married JY – ‘Uplift your family towards the joy of The Movement!’

Ignoring financial commitments results in accumulating debt, damaging own reputation and shaken relationships. This might be one of the reason that we do hear inspirational stories of JY youngsters who were very active for years, but by their mid-thirties miraculously vanished from The Movement.

How long we will go forward with our disquiet life?
How long we can be ignorant to the grace flowing thru this The Movement?

Married or unmarried, to maintain financial commitments, financial discipline is mandatory. Financial discipline will help you to achieve financial freedom, which will give you more time and resource towards your mission, or at least it will help to bring back joy of your missionary life.

Jesus says: “…For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” – (Luke 14:28).

He cites a practical example to talk about discipleship. Every aspect of life requires some level of planning. Living in spirit does not mean we are excused from any kind of planning, but it does mean to use charisms for planning.

Here are some fundamental activities to practice if you like to achieve financial freedom. Before that understand  that:

  1. World will teach many things, but in a Christian context, financial freedom is not about making money and enjoying it.
  2. Financial freedom is not about getting rich.
  3. Financial freedom simply means you do not have to spent much time, effort or resource to meet your expenses.
  4. Financial freedom is all about crushing your greed and optimizing your expenses.

How to achieve financial freedom?
I have researched (Credits to Google, WikiHow) a bit to write down these steps:

  1. Have a Financial Plan
  2. Assess your assets
  3. List you expenses and priorities your expenses
  4. Cut down, least prioritized expenses
  5. Track your monthly spending habits
  6. Analyze why you are spending. Is it matching JY teachings?
  7. Is your monthly spending higher than your income? If yes, time deep correction.
  8. Save at least 20% of your income.
    -Saving is nothing but keeping some portion of your current income for your future expenses
  9. Have a proper yearly budget.
    -We have many JYs working in financial and business sectors, get advice from them.
  10. Set your financial goals. Short term and long term.
  11. Have a rainy day fund
  12. Categories your savings and allocate towards your financial goals.
  13. Invite financially disciplined JYs to your cells/ small groups and understand their financial habits, copy those habits into life.
  14. Do you have assets which are not used? Try to generate income from those assets.
  15. Do you have some hobbies? Have some extra incomes from your hobbies.
  16. Eliminate your debt and reduce your expenses.
  17. Instruct your bank to pay your credit card bill in full thus eliminating the interest and late payment fees.
  18. Do not go for shopping without a checklist. Stick to checklist while buying groceries, dresses and electronic items.
  19. Do not envy your neighbors money. Your focus on your own finance will help you to save some money
  20. Finally pay tithe and offerings on time

So as a thumb rule your monthly financial action should be like this:

  1. First allocate tithe.
  2. Second save 20% of your income (move it from current account to savings account.
    For savings there are many financial tools are available, which reaps more benefits than a saving account, it is better to opt one)
  3. Pay your bills
  4. Pay for family expenses, then your personal expenses
  5. Pay for offerings if any

Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” – Mathew 6:24.

We have only one master – Jesus Christ. Money is not our master, it is just a tool in our hand to serve others. Control it properly before it controls your life. Let us detach from the craving for money, let us get out of the financial stresses. Thus let us allocate more time and resource sharpening our missionary life. Amen!

Note: I am not a financial adviser. Indeed, I roamed in streets with empty pockets. I did not knew how to manage my finance. At last HE caught me and taught me. HE used me to write about finance. Feel funny! Christ is always like this, he use very stupid people for his kingdom.

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KTSD9Q0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B00KTSD9Q0&link_code=as3&tag=readejourn0e-20&linkId=OFPKZ6AQFK4XK5UP

When I started my blogging journey, I got in touch with the author of this book Dennis Cardif. Somehow, I felt he is authentic! We communicated a couple of times. And I am really happy to see his dream came true. And money from this book goes to Street People.

Dennis really walked his talk. During his walk to office and home, he noticed poor people, spent couple of minutes to talk with them, brought food for them, supported them and wrote his experience in his blog.

It is a very simple act to kindness and compassion towards a human being. I was so inspired by him and shared about him in couple of JY groups and also wrote my own experiences of meeting street-dwellers in this blog. At the same time, I am really frustrated to realize that a out there, high potential JY communities and individuals are slowly comforting themselves into a sedentary lifestyle, and like to introduce themselves as proud Jesus Youth families!

Especially pin pointing the JYs, who are dwelling in their low risk comfort zones! Most of us are glued into risk-free ‘office missions’ and consider it as equivalent as risky missions. I appreciate the ideological explosions happening in The Movement for its collective growth but at the same time I do not want myself to compromise on our missionary calls.

The beauty of our Movement is its duality. Jesus Youth is a movement and at the same time is a person. I can point a person and tell my friend, “That person is a Jesus Youth”! And now the question is: “Are we willing to live up to the mission of The Movement?”

There is a famous quote by world’s richest man – Warren Buffet: “I stay within what I call my circle of competence.” Yes, what he said is about business and investments. Let this law rule the business and safeguard our businesses but do not bring this into our lives.

Therefore, I strongly believe the theory of Warren Buffet is not applicable when we talk about Christian life, and not at all applicable for a missionary. A Christian life is not profit loss statement! That is why Papa Francis said about a different theory “…But I tell you, I far prefer a Church that has had a few accidents to a Church that has fallen sick from being closed.

Which theory are you following in your personal life? Theory of business or theory of Church? Are we ready to go out and meet the people or still want to enjoy the comfort zones of our community? Let us make some loss for our brothers, let us make some loss for needy people.

Remember, Option for the poor – A least bothered pillar, which we keep near to our heart. I think it’s time to end our safe-play, break the circle of competence, take some risk and time to go out into mission fields. Yes, let us make some accidents!

Ref: https://gottafindahome.wordpress.com/

Christian Mysticism

Altar boys arrive in procession during a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI to commemorate cardinals and bishops who died this year, at the Vatican

The core of the Catholic Spirituality is ‘Christian Mysticism’ – Our secret paths of growth in God.

As a Jesus Youth, our pillars should fine tune us towards Christian Mysticism. But have to fight the emotions and temptations of flesh which will emphasize our self-importance. We are not important! Growth of Christ within us is important!

Remember, Kingdom of God is never spoon fed to anyone. Knowledge about the kingdom of God can be obtained from The Texts. But its existence cannot be experienced from texts. Its existence is revealed only to its ‘seekers’. So seek for that revelation in your life!

The truth is not what you see in this world. The truth is what is revealed to you. How much is it revealed to you? Let us reflect about it in this Lent season. God bless!

ASH WEDNESDAY

Ashes

Q: What is Ash Wednesday?

A: Ash Wednesday is the day Lent begins. It occurs forty days before Good Friday.

Q: Is Ash Wednesday based on a pagan festival?

A: Heck, no. Ash Wednesday originated in the A.D. 900s, long after Europe had been Christianized and the pagan cults stamped out.

Q: Why is it called Ash Wednesday?

A: Actually, Ash Wednesday is its colloquial name. Its official name is the Day of Ashes. It is called Ash <Wednesday> because, being forty days before Good Friday, it always falls on a Wednesday and it is called <Ash> Wednesday because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.

Q: Why do they have their foreheads marked with a cross?

A: Because in the Bible a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person’s ownership. By having their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross, this symbolizes that the person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on a Cross.

This is in imitation of the spiritual mark or seal that is put on a Christian in baptism, when he is delivered from slavery to sin and the devil and made a slave of righteousness and Christ (Rom. 6:3-18).

It is also in imitation of the way the righteousness are described in the book of Revelation, where we read of the servants of God (the Christian faithful, as symbolized by the 144,000 male virgins):

“Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.”(Revelation 7:3)

“[The demon locust] were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads”(Revelation 9:4)

“Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.”(Revelation 14:1)

This is in contrast to the followers of the beast, who have the number 666 on their foreheads or hands.

The reference to the sealing of the servants of God for their protection in Revelation is an allusion to a parallel passage in Ezekiel, where Ezekiel also sees a sealing of the servants of God for their protection:

“And the LORD said to him [one of the four cherubim], ‘Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark [literally,”a <tav”>] upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.’ And to the others he said in my hearing, ‘Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.’ So they began with the elders who were before the house.”(Ezekiel 9:4-6)

Unfortunately, like most modern translations, the one quoted above (the Revised Standard Version, which we have been quoting thus far), is not sufficiently literal. What it actually says is to place a <tav> on the foreheads of the righteous inhabitants of Jerusalem. <Tav> is one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in ancient script it looked like the Greek letter <chi>, which happens to be two <crossed> lines (like an “x”) and which happens to be the first letter in the word “Christ” in Greek <(christos).> The Jewish rabbis commented on the connection between <tav> and <chi> and this is undoubtedly the mark Revelation has in mind when the servants of God are sealed in it.

The early Church Fathers seized on this <tav-chi->cross-<christos> connection and expounded it in their homilies, seeing in Ezekiel a prophetic foreshadowing of the sealing of Christians as servants of Christ. It is also part of the background to the Catholic practice of making the sign of the cross, which in the early centuries (as can be documented from the second century on) was practiced by using one’s thumb to furrow one’s brow with a small sign of the cross, like Catholic do today at the reading of the Gospel during Mass.

Q: Why is the signing done with ashes?

A: Because ashes are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance. In Bible times the custom was to fast, wear sackcloth, sit in dust and ashes, and put dust and ashes on one’s head. While we no longer normally wear sackcloth or sit in dust and ashes, the customs of fasting and putting ashes on one’s forehead as a sign of mourning and penance have survived to this day. These are two of the key distinctives of Lent. In fact, Ash Wednesday is a day not only for putting ashes on one’s head, but also a day of fasting (see below).

Q: What are some biblical examples of people putting dust and ashes on their foreheads?

A: Consider the following verses from the New International Version:

“That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh, his clothes torn and dust on his head.”(1 Samuel 4:12)

“On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and with dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.”(2 Samuel 1:20

“Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”(2 Samuel 13:19)

“When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head.”(2 Samuel 15:32)

Q: Is there another significance to the ashes?

A: Yes. They also symbolize death and so remind us of our mortality. Thus when the priest uses his thumb to sign one of the faithful with the ashes, he says, “Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return, “which is modeled after God’s address to Adam (Genesis 3:19; cf. Job 34:15, Psalms 90:3, 104:29, Ecclesiastes 3:20). This also echoes the words at a burial, “Ashes to ashes; dust to dust, “which is based on God’s words to Adam in Genesis 3 and Abraham’s confession, “I am nothing but dust and ashes”(Genesis 18:27). It is thus a reminder of our mortality and our need to repent before this life is over and we face our Judge.

Q: Where do the ashes used on Ash Wednesday come from?

A: They are made by burning palm fronds which have been saved from the previous year’s Palm Sunday, they are then blessed by a priest—blessed ashes having been used in God’s rituals since the time of Moses (Numbers 19:9-10, 17).

Q: Why are ashes from the previous year’s Palm Sunday used?

A: Because Palm Sunday was when the people rejoiced at Jesus’ triumphal entrance to Jerusalem. They celebrated his arrival by waving palm fronds, little realizing that he was coming to die for their sins. By using palms from Palm Sunday, it is a reminder that we must not only rejoice of Jesus’ coming but also regret the fact that our sins made it necessary for him to die for us in order to save us from hell.

Q: Is having one’s forehead signed with ashes required of the faithful?

A: No, it is not required. However, it is to be strongly encouraged as it is a fitting and visible spiritual reminder that encourages one to adopt an attitude of prayer, repentance, and humility. As James said: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”(James 4:10).

Q: Is Ash Wednesday a holy day of obligation, that is, a day on which we are required to go to Mass?

A: No, it is not a holy day of obligation. However, it is strongly advisable since it is fitting to mark the beginning of penitential season of Lent by going to Mass. The formal, corporate worship of God is a good way to get a good start to the season. Also, even though it is not a holy day of obligation, it is a day of fast and abstinence.

Q: Why isn’t Ash Wednesday a holy day of obligation?

A: Holy days of obligation are either commemorations of particular events (such as the birth of Christ or the presentation of Jesus in the Temple), particular people (such as Jesus’ earthly father, St. Joseph), or important theological concepts (such as the Kingship of Christ). Ash Wednesday does not commemorate any event (nothing special happened forty days before the crucifixion—at least not that we know of), and could only be said to indirectly commemorate a Person (Christ) since it is the beginning of preparation for the greater celebrations of Christ’s saving work, which follow, and although Ash Wednesday is a day of penance (like all of the days of Lent except Sundays, which are feast days no matter when they occur in the liturgical calendar since they celebrate Christ’s resurrection), the Church has never chosen to make it or any other specific day the definitive commemoration of the concept of repentance.

Reference: EWTN, James Akin

Has Christ been divided? (1 Cor 1:13)

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Of course, Christ was not divided. But we should recognize with sincerity and pain that our communities continue to live in division that is scandalous. Division among us Christians is a scandal. There is no other word: a scandal. “Each one of you,” St Paul wrote, “says, ‘I belong to Paul,” or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ’I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ’” (1:12).

Even those who professed Christ as their leader were not applauded by Paul, because they used the name of Christ to separate themselves from others within the Christian community. But the name of Christ creates communion and unity, not division! He came to bring communion among us, not to divide us.

Baptism and the Cross are central elements of the Christian discipleship which we share. Division, however, weakens the credibility and effectiveness of our work in evangelization and risks stripping the Cross of its power (cf. 1 Cor 1:17).

Paul rebukes the Corinthians for their disputes, but he also gives thanks to the Lord “because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge” (1 Cor 1:4-5). These words of Paul are not a mere formality, but a sign that he sees primarily — and for this he sincerely rejoices — the gifts given by God to the community. The Apostle’s attitude is an encouragement for us and for every Christian community to joyfully recognize God’s gifts in other communities. Despite the suffering of division, which sadly still exist, let us welcome the words of St Paul as an invitation to sincerely rejoice for the graces God has given to other Christians. We have the same Baptism, the same Holy Spirit who gave us the Grace: let us recognize it and rejoice in it.

It is beautiful to recognize the grace with which God blesses us and, still more, to find in other Christians something we need, something that we could receive like a gift from our brothers and our sisters. The group from Canada who prepared the texts for this Week of Prayer did not invite communities to think about what they could give to their neighbour Christians, but urged them to meet with one another in order to understand what they all can receive each from the others. This requires something more. It requires much prayer, it requires humility, it requires reflection and continual conversion. Let us go forward on this path, praying for the unity of Christians, that this scandal lessens and that it may cease among us. – Papa Francis

God’s kingdom, is it so wonderful ??!

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“For the kingdom of God is not food and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17

Imagine that you are closely watching God’s kingdom. There you met joyful angels, you felt the loving communications of saints and you saw the immense grace of God. As a human at this point there are two possibilities of actions. First possible action is that you may thirst for this heaven, adapt it and may recreate its experience for others. Second possible action is that  you may get jealous. You may feel awkward, irritated by seeing their unity and love and may act against heaven.

Now let us come back to our world, when we closely observe some families and fellowships in church, we may sense and feel the same righteousness, peace and joy of God’s kingdom. In reality we are closely watching God’s kingdom in-front us.

What do you feel when you see such wonderful families?
What do you feel when you see such wonderful fellowships?

That feeling will tell you where you are at the journey to heaven.

Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara – The Champion of faith

blskuriakosechavaraDuring the Year of Faith, Pope Francis published his first Encyclical Lumen Fidei in order to intensify the faith that everyone receives in baptism, to face the realities of life, and to help them stand firm with the Lord. It is in this context we see the example and relevance of Blessed Chavara, a priest of the Syro-Malabar Church in India.

Fr Chavara was the Vicar General of the Syrian Christians of Kerala during the time of Vicar Apostolic Msgr Bernadine Baccinelli. He was also one of the founders of the Syrian Men TOCD in collaboration with Fr Thomas Palackal and Fr Thomas Porukara and the founder of the Women TOCD with the help of an Italian missionary Fr Leopold Beccaro OCD. He was a man who lived his faith, protected the faith of the Church and cultivated faith in the minds of many.

Born in Kainakary, in the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, on so February 1805, he was baptized eight days after his birth. After his preliminary education, at the age of 15 he entered the Seminary at Pallippuram and was taught and guided by the Malapan Fr Thomas Palackal. During his early years of seminary studies there was an epidemic in his native village in which he lost his parents and only brother. He resisted the pressure of his uncles to leave the seminary and take care of his ancestral home. With firm faith and trust in God, he left everything behind and entrusted the care of his sister-in-law and niece to his own married sister. He returned to the seminary by acclaiming aloud: “God is my portion and my cup” (Ps 16:4).

Though very young, Chavara was strongly attracted and inspired by the austere life of his malpan Fr Palackal who aspired to monastic life. Fr Porukara, the bishop’s secretary was also a zealous priest and of the same mind as Fr Palackal. The Church of Kerala in spite of receiving Christian faith in the first century itself from St Thomas the Apostle was deprived of monasteries and convents. Both of them approached Bishop Maurelius Stabilini to seek permission to lead an austere life. They received permission to establish a monastery in 1829. Chavara was ordained on 29 November 1829 and offered his first Mass with the intention, as he says in the Chronicles of Mannanam monastery: I “asked God to bless their efforts to establish the monastery at Mannanam”. The fruition of the cherished dream of the fathers with the laying of the foundation stone for the monastery at Mannanam on is May 1831 marked the very important event in the history of the Church of Kerala.

The beginning of the monastery at Mannanam witnessed the hard toil of the three fathers who faced much opposition and. many tragedies on the way. Bishop Francis Xavier who succeeded Msgr Stabilini transferred Fr Chavara to a south Pallippuram parish which was far from Mannanam. Thus he could not concentrate fully on the construction of the monastery. Moreover, the fathers, Palackal and Porukara, who were like two hands to Fr Chavara, died respectively in 1841 and 1846. This was a great blow to Fr Chavara. Yet he continued with firm trust in the heavenly Father whom he addressed asAppa (Abba). He wrote in his Colloquies as follows: “Oh my Appa (My Father)! My heart however tells me to call you by no other name than my Appa”. Such was his deep relation with his heavenly Father. After the death of the Reverend Fathers, the whole burden of the construction of the monastery fell on Fr Chavara. In spite of his busy schedule as a parish priest, retreat preacher, teacher of the seminarians he could complete the construction of the monastery. Together with some’ fathers and seminarians he started gradually an austere and pious life in the monastery. On 8 December 1855 he made his religious profession canonically and the other 10 priests made their profession.

Fr Chavara’s trust in the Lord enabled him to take up new ventures. He opened a Sanskrit school for children in 1846 and admitted everyone, irrespective of caste and creed. It was the first public school in Kerala. Thanks to the generosity of those around him, he acquired a field for cultivating paddy (rice fields) in order to provide a midday meal for the poor children in view of encouraging them to come to school. It was a very challenging and innovative attempt and was unheard of till then in the history of Kerala. He provided the study materials, clothes etc. for the children. He did all this “out of nothing” depending only on the treasures of the heavenly Father who is the creator and provider of all. Another significant endeavour was the establishment of the first Catholic press in Kerala. The hardships he took for it were tremendous. The non-cooperation he encountered from certain people didn’t deter him and he went ahead holding the very powerful hands of God. He was successful in his effort to establish the first Catholic press of Kerala at Mannanam.

Fr Chavara yearned for the establishment of a convent for women after the construction of the first monastery at Mannanam. He writes in the Chronicles of Koonammavu Convent “…for those women who desired to live a chaste life had no way to embrace such a life-style”. He hoped and prayed unceasingly to God who hearkened and answered his prayer. At the request of the Bishop, Fr Chavara, was staying with the provincial delegate Fr Leopold at Koonammavu monastery. Divine Providence brought them together. Fr Leopold happened to meet a widow called Eliswa and her daughter Anna at the Confessional, who were willing to lead a chaste life. They entrusted themselves to the parish priest, Fr Leopold. He consulted Fr Chavara who was the most experienced religious in the land of Kerala and the prior of all the five monasteries of Syrian men, as how to help the women to lead a chaste life. Fr Chavara, happily offered his whole-hearted cooperation for providing a convent for such women. As the Vicar General, Fr Chavara from his visit to parishes found women like Eliswa Puthengady, Vaikom who desired the same way of life. Fr Chavara and Fr Leopold moved with one mind to find the means for constructing a convent. And soon they were able to start construction of a small bamboo-mat convent in the land of Anna, the daughter of Eliswa, a land with a considerable debt which was cleared by the Fathers. Fr Chavara collected funds from different parishes and persons with the help of Fr Leopold and finally constructed a two storied convent building with a boarding and a residential school in a new plot within a year.

Fr Chavara was a man of contemplation and action. One can imbibe his deep spirituality from his own writings like theCompunction of the Soul, Letters and Colloquies. His deep spirituality can be summarized in the following words: “Abide in the love of Jesus Christ; always sit before his face; walk along with him; converse with him unceasingly”. His union with God was total submission to his will. Like a child he entrusted himself to the providence God.

When we delve deep into the very life of Blessed Chavara we sec that he was a man of deep faith in God as well as in people. He could approach God as his Father so the people as his children, hence, his brethren. This vision of universal fatherhood and brotherhood enabled him to ‘initiate and continue many unheard of endeavors for the benefit of the human beings.

Yes, he was the light of the Kerala Church and the mirror that radiated the rays of faith. As he himself testified before his death, that “the devotion to the Holy Family inculcated in me by my parents helped me to keep safe the grace that I received in baptism”. This is the testimony of a true man who lived the faith in its fullness.

Reference # Sophy Rose, Congregation of Mother of Carmel

Option for the poor

Options For the Poor

“When the Church speaks of the preferential option for the poor, she does so in light of the Lord’s universal love which was seen precisely in his preference for those who needed him most. It is not an ideological option; neither is it a matter of letting oneself be trapped by a false theory of class struggle as a vehicle of historical change. Love for the poor is something which is born of the Gospel itself and which must not be formulated nor presented in terms of conflict.

In fact, to forestall unacceptable reductionism it is imperative to emphasize that this love for the poor, the marginalized, the sick and the needy of all types is neither exclusive nor excluding. Jesus was born, suffered, died and rose for all people. He came to proclaim divine sonship with the Father, as well as fraternity among all peoples, called to be children in the Son. Therefore nothing is more alien to one who is called to act “in the person of Christ,” than to shorten the universal reach of his mission and his love.” – John Paul II

FRIENDS: DO THEY LEAD YOU TO CHRIST?

friends

It is He, Jesus Christ, the true life, who gives hope and purpose to our
earthly existence, opens our minds and hearts to the goodness and beauty
around us, to solidarity and friendship with our fellow human beings, to
intimate communion with God Himself, in a love that goes beyond all limits
of time and space, to unassailable happiness.

Remember when we talked about how good friendships can lead you to Christ?
Today I want to talk about the flip side of that. What about friendships
that lead you away from Christ? Can that happen?

As Christians, it’s easy to want to be a good influence. We feel like we
have something really great (eternal life, for starters) and we want to
share it with other people, especially the people we care about. And that’s
a good thing. We weren’t put here to “hide our light under a bushel
basket,” as Scripture says. We were meant to shine our light up on a hill,
where people can see it. We’re supposed to be examples of good Christians
and to lead people to Christ.

And sometimes it really works. I’m sure that, as a result of knowing you,
some people around you have re-evaluated their lives. I’m sure some have
turned away from sin. Some know Christ better or pray more, because of you.

But sometimes it can work the other way. Sometimes friends, especially
boyfriends or girlfriends, can lead us away from Christ while we’re trying
to lead them toward Christ. It’s usually not a really blatant thing. You
know you’re a strong Christian and you know you’re not going to stop
believing in Christ. They couldn’t convince you He doesn’t exist or that He
doesn’t love you.

But ask yourself this — how does this relationship affect the practice of
your faith? Have you made this person the center of your life, instead of
God? Do you pray less regularly because of this relationship? Do you “deny
Christ” around this person or this person’s friends, in order to gain
acceptance?

Most importantly, does this relationship cause you to sin? There are a lot
of ways a friendship can lead you to sin. Does this person gossip? Does
this group abuse drugs or alcohol? Do they destroy people’s property?
One of the most common, and most serious, ways that a relationship can lead
us away from Christ is when a dating relationship leads to sexual sin. When
you’re attracted to someone, it’s natural to want to bring them closer to
Christ. But when you’re sexually attracted to them and they don’t share
your standards for sexual purity, you’ve entered a very dangerous
situation. When the hormones get flowing, logic tends to go out the window.
If you’re with someone who doesn’t believe in saving sex for marriage or
who doesn’t at least fully respect your commitment to it, they have no
reason not to want to go further. And, when resistance is down, you’re
pretty likely to follow.

A lot of Christians get into this situation. Sexual sin happens in a
relationship over and over, and they find it difficult or impossible to
stop it. Either the other person just isn’t as committed to chastity as
they are, or habits are formed, or whatever. But they rationalize staying
in the relationship, saying, “But because of me, he’s closer to Christ. He
goes to Mass sometimes.”

But at what price? Repeated mortal sin is putting your soul in serious
danger, as well as the soul of the person you’re with. That’s not the way
to lead anyone to Christ. It’s pretty much a guarantee that your
relationship won’t be infused with grace. You’re going to struggle,
emotionally and spiritually. It will probably keep your friend from finding
Christ. Remember, faith is a grace job, not a logic job. And sin denies us,
and them, that grace. And it will drive you away from Him, and take away
your peace of soul, in process.

If you’re in a relationship that’s leading you to serious sin, it’s
important that you realize that the sin has to stop. You’re risking your
immortal soul, as well as your friend’s. Eternity is resting on this. The
stakes could not possibly be higher. You have to look at what’s going on
and take serious action to stop it. That means, if it’s sexual sin, never
being alone together, or staying out of the house or car or wherever
there’s a problem. You need strict rules and you need to follow them. Get
help if you need it.

A lot of people in this situation think, “I’ll just keep going to
confession every time it happens and I’ll be fine.” Wrong. Think about it.
Repenting says to God, “I’m sorry this happened and I’m going to try really
hard to make sure it never happens again.” That’s what it means to be
sorry. That’s the condition of your forgiveness. You need to be committed
to serious change.

Just going back to the same old habits isn’t going to cut it. If you do
that, you know it’s going to happen again. You can’t just say, “I’ll go
back into that tempting situation/being in a dark room alone/making out in
the car/whatever. Only this time I’ll be stronger.” No, you won’t. Your
hormones aren’t made that way. And going into a situation where you’re
pretty sure you’re going to sin is a sin in itself. That’s right. You can
sin before you’ve even started sinning, just by going back into a situation
where you’ve repeatedly lost control and having no guarantee this time,
besides “I’ll try really hard.” Confessing means committing to avoiding the
situation.

Sure you may fall again. But that means going back to confession and
backing up further. It means making even stricter rules next time.
And, if that doesn’t work — soon — you need to end the relationship.
Period. I know that may sound harsh, but think about it. Who is the god of
your life? God? If so, what’s worth jeopardizing your relationship with
Him? Who could be so important that you’d risk losing Him? Where will you
be without Him?

Pope John Paul II says that it’s God who “opens our hearts to friendship.”
If a friendship is marred by persistent, serious sin, real love is not in
action. You can say “I love you,” but you’re not loving and God is not
there.

Don’t you want Him around? Don’t you want Him in your relationships? I
guarantee, they won’t work right any other way.

Ref# Mary Beth Bonacci
Ref# Arlington Catholic Herald