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October 26th, 2013

Sufferings Are For Our Purification, A Preconditioning

Sufferings Are For Our Purification

St. Alphonsa was one who endured sufferings and made it a festival of joy within the cloisters of a convent. Padre Pio, the poor friar had only the pains of stigmata and harsh life of scorns and ridicule. They enjoyed the season of happiness passing through the narrow way of dryness. Those who stone from a hidden place; attack and false judgments on our personality even from those whom we have never seen at all; the helplessness of the one who is on verdict at the crossroads… Are these all the moments you make me purify, dear Lord?

“Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation” (Sirach 2:4-5). Dear friends, suffering is a state before our purification; it is like a ‘pre-conditioning.’

Saul’s life was one of arrogance and pride. Rest of Paul’s life was of realization and return. God comes in search of him on his journey to Damascus. There is a lightning in the desert. Saul’s external eyes are forcefully closed; and the internal ones open.

The term in between those sufferings are the road to goodness and moral life. Suffering is that wheat corn falls on the ground and dies; an individuality that fades away into a zero. From there comes the plants of goodness. A leaf, then two, three; thus it is the birth of a new wheat plant life.

Two women who crossed the red sea of sin

Bible shows us two women who cross the red sea of sin taking bath in the great holiness of Jesus Christ. One of them reached at the feet of Jesus having the tender mind of an attacked prey. Great crowd of people with stones were behind her; the cry of the just ones! For her, a mere word between life and death. The word of Christ, just a word. It would naturally judge her to death or life.

He did not speak a word. A little while later, He opened his eyes, looked at the angry crowd and said; “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn. 8:7). Woman closed her eyes and waited for her death. Yes, this public judgment is the unbearable suffering. Stones fall aside… not on her but to the bare ground. What remains is the big pile of stones, beside the woman and Christ; His consoling words. Just a loving correction not to sin anymore…

A dinner at Simon’s house; a woman of bad reputation is in the picture. For her too, his words were similar, ‘your sins are forgiven.’ Music is hidden in the holes of a flute. Pearls are the result of an age-old pain from the part of sea shells.

Sufferings to stay with the Lord

Job was a just man in front of God; among the few ones in the Bible whom God called ‘just.’ His life was very transparent. God was even surer than Job that he will stay with the Lord, in any amount of suffering. Job is a challenge in front of Satan; one who comes to the play ground from the side of God. If Job is defeated, God is defeated. Job’s victory will be God’s victory. We read in the book of Job; Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” St. Paul is of the opinion that sufferings make us perfect.

“It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.” (Heb. 2:10).

God, sometimes for us is like a blanket which we search for only in the heavy summer of perils and conveniently forget in our good days. Oh… God, we ask you sorry. 

A good Friday before Easter is not a possibility, but a sure reality and necessity. Good Fridays of suffering are the conditions for resurrection in holiness. Suffering is a process of cleansing from both exterior and interior malice – Just like fasting takes away unwanted fat from our bodies. The unwanted waste is burned in the fire of suffering. “I will turn my hand against you; I will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy” (Is.1:25). How fruitful is obedient suffering! It would be one of the reasons why fasting and penance opens us to the fullness of virtues.

Suffering that strengthens

The Word of God testifies that suffering is an awareness program; God’s plan to strengthen me. Suffering teaches us how to fly alone. Mother bird after taking the small ones on her shoulder leaves them in between. Later on their way down she takes them again. But the small bird may not know the purpose of this trial on its fall.

It is very vividly given in the book of Deuteronomy in a poetic language; “He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young; as it spreads its wings, takes them up, and bears them aloft on its pinions” (Deut. 32:10-13).

– – – written by Santimon Jacob

October 20th, 2013

God Is With You – The Everlasting Relief Provider

God Is With You

“God always has something for you – A key for every problem: A relief for every sorrow: A plan for every tomorrow”

When I read the above mentioned quotes, I felt some relief and happiness in my mind. In our daily life, we are facing so many problems in our professional life or family life or social life. Whatever may be the problem, it will create negative feeling in our thoughts. Human beings are emotional in nature. So we cannot separate emotions from people.

When problems are beyond the controlling limit of a man, he/she may feel loneliness or depression or sorrow. At that moment, nothing in this world can provide you the ultimate relief. Only the spiritual power our loving God is with you, the everlasting relief provider. If God is for us, who can be against us?

One day, one of my colleagues told me “You know, I am working in a good company, deal with problematic issues daily along with good salary and other benefits. In the midst of all this, lot of tension prevails and i have no peace of mind”. I am sure, most of us are experiencing a similar situation. How can we overcome this situation?

Certain people may find the solution through drinking alcohol or enjoying life in the most sinful manner. It will provide you happiness, but that happiness won’t last throughout your life. Because, God is with us every moment even when you are doing a sinful act. You may get bail or relief from jail or others, but the ultimate relief provider is counting your acts. How can you prove yourself before our loving God?

Now, one question may arise in our mind: From where can we find the everlasting relief or happiness or peace? “Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the law of the Lord. Happy are those who follow His commands, who obey him with all their heart. They never do wrong; they walk in the LORD’S ways” (PSALMS 119:1-3) 

So we should pray to our Loving God “You are all I want, O Lord; I promise to obey your laws. I ask you with all my heart to have mercy on me, as you have promised”. Believe in Almighty, He can cure our mind; He has a plan for us; He is the one and only relief provider for our sorrow. Amen.

– – – written by Anuja Dhanoj, Thiruvananthapurm, Kerala, India

September 22nd, 2013

Receive The Sacred Heart Of Jesus

Receive The Sacred Heart Of Jesus

It was a day in November, in Chittoor retreat center. Under heavy sunshine I burned like a candle. People were participating in the services wholeheartedly. The voice of the priest is heard, ‘Fall on the feet of your spouse and ask pardon for all the sins committed in your life. And pray this kissing those feet.

Those who fell on the feet as well as others were crying louder… ‘Ask pardon from all those whom you caused pain in your life… from those whom you hate… write their names on a piece of paper. Mention the names of all those who caused you pain and write them too. Feel in your mind that you are in their feet… ask pardon from them…’ The strong voice of the priest is heard loud.

My God, this piece of paper would not be sufficient for me. Whom I have caused pain and those who caused me harm… Those who stripped some fruitful years from my life harshly… This life is a piece of paper marked with dots and strikes. Now the procedure is to burn this paper in the fire before the Altar. How beautifully symbolic an action? That heat and soaking of tears provide us with deep consolation unattainable through any confession.

‘There would not be anyone who has never thought of ending life at least once in life. Remember those moments you thought of committing suicide. The blood of Jesus pouring out from Calvary is cleansing you out of all sins…’ says the priest.

Yes, I too have thought of committing suicide once in my life. It was that night in November when I had lost everything. The angel of the Lord caught hold of my hands and made me walk from death to life.

A Friday in November, 2004. I thought of loosing all that I have earned in my life. Hard work of years… wealth… good name… nothing was safe except my life and those of others who live depending on me. All around the voice of calumny… murmur of the enemies… completely unacquainted city… I was all alone in the world.

“Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.” I found refuge in Psalms 22:11-12. These words were true in my life too.

What is life for… I just thought… a time when I find trouble in everything. I should get an answer today itself. If my God loves me, I should know it this day itself. The priest is filled with zeal on the Altar with the Blessed Sacrament. People pray like anything. Suddenly I felt something extra ordinary… a moment of unconsciousness… my eyes are filled with tears. It turned into a loud cry. I couldn’t see those who are around me looking fretfully at me.

I saw a vague figure on the Altar. Then slowly it became clearer… a man whom I knew very well; Jesus of Nazareth, with white dress and a red shawl. He is smiling at me. I have never seen such an innocent smile in my life to this day. He called me to His side. Now… a heart in his hands… a beating heart. He stretched it to me and told me to eat it. Suddenly I moved back. He stretched it again and smiled.

Swiftly I got into consciousness as it is just from a deep sleep. Now all around me was the sound of praises and calls of Hallelujah. Yes, my Lord. You love me; you have already touched me.

Jesus, from then on, I have never been unfaithful to you. I don’t claim that I have never sinned but I had never been far from you. To say, I love you, is not complete. My God, I enjoy you each moment… That day turned my life all upside down. We were in a new world coming back to UK. As we put our life into order with deep prayer, we could see solutions for all our troubles.

Slowly I started studying the Word of God. The Word led me from mere reading to deep insights. Prayer groups big and small started inviting me for reflections on the Word. Mini’s change was tremendous and it really surprised me. She had nothing other than her husband and children before. But renewal changed her life altogether. Now many sisters call her on telephone requesting prayers and advice.

“Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you.” (Is. 43:4-5).

– – – written by Santimon Jacob

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