Diaconate Ordinations 2013
The journey and mission in India
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever” (Ps 136:1)
Our life on earth is full of surprises, events with profound significances. At times we go through frighteningly impenetrable darkness with the little torch of faith, although it does not remove all the darkness around us, is sufficient to illumine our rough path of life, which leads us to our desired and true goal.
My life has become an ongoing journey and a continual pilgrimage. Since January 2013 I have been to Ecuador, Ghana, Nigeria, Albania, Poland and India. Travelling has become more demanding and more adventurous, highlighting my experiences of sharing, growing in understanding and above all in learning greater patience.
It helps us to appreciate, to admire, even to wonder. In this, I become more and more humbled, grateful to God for his incredible wisdom and love, which no human being can easily understand. We are drawn to prostrate before the astounding mystery in loving adoration, together with the adoring angels to sing praises with the saints who have fallen in love with God while living on earth.
No real journey today is simple. It demands a lot of patience, tolerance, acceptance and surrender. It demands more and more sacrifices of time in waiting at the airports, in the words of St. Paul, without food, without sleep and proper rest. The bodily hunger for food and water reminds us of the hunger of the soul for God and the thirst of God for our souls. In these travels there is a meeting and merging of God’s thirst with our thirst, which becomes an unforgettable experience which makes us forget all the fatigue and weariness of any such tedious and demanding journeys. It reminds us that we are always on a journey toward our final and definitive destiny. The Trinity is our goal, which we now experience in glimpses of the Trinitarian love, which we will have in fullness in the world to come.
There is a twofold journey we are called to make in this earthly life of ours: the journey toward God and the journey toward our fellowmen, especially toward those who live in poverty and hunger, who are being forgotten and neglected. In all our journeys there is a transcendental dimension. Only when we understand the inherent mystical dimension and divine milieu can we travel without counting the cost and without seeking rest or reward. Our journey becomes never ending and we can feel better and happier. This becomes easier and greater when we are sure that what we do is the will of God, which would please our sovereign Lord the most.
It is very important therefore to pray hard to know the will of God, and that nothing is to be done to please oneself but to please God and God in others. The prayers and sacrifices must be done for this single reason and for this holy purpose.
My journey to India, though very tedious and demanding, was pleasant and rewarding. It is a joy to see the happiness and joy of others; and our person to person encounters increase the joy of the Lord. In this trip to India I was happy to meet people of all walks of life at the airports, on the flights, in the houses, in the Church and wherever the Lord allowed me to be present. Many of the meetings were both spontaneous and sacramental. The results were extremely positive and productive.
I left Rome on Tuesday 30th July 2013, travelled the whole night, reached New Delhi airport at about 9.20 a.m. (local time). Within minutes the necessary formalities of immigration and customs were done with and I was out by 9.30 a.m. By 10.30 a.m. Bro. Jan-Timo M.C. and Bro. Vimal John M.C. came to pick me up to bring me to Anandashram, where we had Holy Mass, lunch, adoration, personal meetings, etc. By evening I came to Deepashram, where I spent the night preparing to travel on the following day to Pariyaram, Kannur, via Bangalore. Reaching Bangalore by late evening I was picked up by Mr. Shibi. Thanks to the warm welcome and generous hospitality of Mr. Shibi and Mrs. Shyni ad the family of Mr. Sunny and others. On the following morning I travelled by bus to Kannur. The journey was long and tedious, and I felt so very uncomfortable, that I felt really sick and weak. Bro. Benedict M.C. and his brother , Mr. Jolly, helped me to reach Shantidaan on time to have Holy Mass and prayers.
On Saturday 3rd August we had the Holy Mass in our new Chapel, during which we did the simple blessing of the Chapel, the altar and the whole house. While the sprinkling with holy water was taking place the Lord from heaven sprinkled us with drizzling rain outside, the land and the surrounding place. For us it was a sign of God’s approval. He extended the blessing to outside, which we had not done.
The Chapel could not hold the crowd. Almost one third of the people were Hindus, who came to join us in the blessing ceremony, followed by a high tea, which was graciously provided by Bro. Benedict M.C.’s father. There were plenty of left overs, which was shared with Sisters and others.
There were six priests, many religious sisters and others from the area, who came for Holy Mass and blessing. Since the house is yet incomplete, we hope to have a more solemn blessing by the bishop upon completion, which may take some time.
Our parish priest Fr. Joseph from St. Anthony’s parish of Sreestha joined us in preparing and arranging everything that was necessary for our simple celebration, while two of the Visitation Sisters from the same parish came to help to clean and tidy the house, to prepare the Chapel and the altar with flowers and decorations. I was very much edified by the co-operation of so many lay people. The community of the Brigidtan Sisters took care of the cooking. It was very much like a family feast and celebration. While thanking God for his many blessings and graces, our heart-felt gratitude goes to one and all without exception. In return we have neither silver nor gold to offer, but our humble prayers and generous sacrifices for their intentions. May the good Lord reward each one in abundance, this is our humble prayer.
The remaining days we also did necessary office work, purchases, visits, Holy Masses at nearby convents, also more work on the house itself.
There is much work yet to be done. Shantidaan will not feel like home without the presence of some poor people. Soon we hope to concentrate on building a small house for our poor people, which will make a big difference to our presence in the area. It was Rev. Fr. Mathew Assariparambil, the founder of Blessed Mother Teresa centre, who advised us to start a community as there are so many very poor individual homeless men who come to Pariyaram medical college for treatment, but very often they do not know where to go after being cured. Many of them come from the neighbouring states, especially from Karnataka.
On Wednesday 7th August 2013 Bro. John Vianney M.C. began his two days long train journey to Delhi. Wishing him a safe and pleasant journey, we accompanied him to Payangadi railway station, which is about 20 minutes drive from our house. On Friday 9thg August 2013 after Holy Mass Bro. Benedict M.C., Bro Presad M.C. and I were on the road heading toward Kozhikode (Calicut). Although I was one of the first ones at the check-in desk I came out the last as they had cancelled my connecting flight from Chennai to Delhi. Here was a six hour wait for the next available flight to Delhi by Spicejet, instead of three hours.
In the end, it worked out well as the Regional Superior, Sr. Glberta M.C. accompanied by two Sisters met me at the airport, and brought some refreshments. We also visited Periyamalai, which is next door to Chennai airport, where the martyrdom of St. Thomas the apostle took place. There we visited the perpetual adoration Chapel, where there are the relics of over one hundred saints plus the relics of all the twelve apostles. There is also the famous St. Thomas Cross exposed on the wall. I was told that this was the Cross that bled while St. Thomas was praying on his knees before his executioners, which helped many to become Christians. We also met several pilgrims from France, Argentina, etc. On this mount people come from far and wide to pay homage to their great apostle of faith who said while Jesus’ life was being threatened: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (Jn 11:16). It was to St. Thomas that, when he said: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:5-7).
Thomas appears again in the 20th chapter of John. This is one of the most important revelations of Jesus (cf. John 20:24-29) and one of most profound acts of faith, nay it was one of total surrender, when St. Thomas gave us the exclamation of Easter faith: “My Lord and my God”. Jesus replied: “You believe because you see me, Thomas, don’t you? Happy are those who have not seen, but believe” (Jn 20:29).
The sisters brought me back to the airport and I went into the departure area and left for New Delhi, where I was so kindly met by Bro. Jan-Timo M.C. and Bro. Jerry Michael M.C., who took me to Deepashram.
The three candidates for diaconate ordination began their triduum in preparation for receiving the ministry worthily and well. We thoroughly went over all the questions and answers, which took some time. Priesthood for our Society is not a status, but a more responsible way of serving our Brothers and our poor people according to our Constitutions. If one of our Brothers is sent to study medicine, for example, he, after the completion of his studies does not go out and serve the people or go to work in a hospital or clinic but works for and with the Society. The same can be said of an ordained Brother who is not ordained to work in a parish but to serve much more responsibly in and for the community of Brothers and for the poorest of the poor. His fourth vow of whole-hearted free service is practiced to the full in every way. Priesthood in our Society is another way of practicing the fourth vow. No matter what others think or speak or deal with. Our priest Brothers must become more and more humble and dedicated, responsible, gentle and obedient and all the more fall in love with our Society.
The main purpose of religious life is not to become ordained priests, but to become truly holy. No matter what else we may become, if we are not holy our M.C. priesthood will be a failure in God’s eyes. Let us pray much for our priest Brothers that they may become more and more holy, humble and gentle, ready to serve the Brothers and the poorest of the poor. Who will take care of our orphaned, homeless, handicapped boys, if all our ordained Brothers have no time because of the pastoral work they choose to undertake? It will be our Society’s ruin. Let us not in any way spoil God’s work entrusted to us. “I have absolutely no one for my very poor” (Jesus to Bl. Teresa M.C.).
During the three day retreat we also went through the talk given to the novices, religious, priests and seminarians by the Holy Father Pope Francis Bergoglio on Saturday 6th July 2013. This must be studied meditatively by all the Brothers and then try to put into practice, as if the Holy Father gave this talk to us M.C.s.
Then came the day of the diaconate ordination, Wednesday 14th August 2013. At 5.00 p.m., in our Holy Family Chapel, Deepashram, Rajivnagar, Gurgaon. The day was cloudy and humid; there remained a lot of work of cleaning and arranging. Bro. Jan-Timo and the Brothers worked very hard, assisted by the LMCs and others. There was a team spirit.
At 5.00 p.m. the dance group led the procession with songs, accompanied by loud drumming. Right in front of over twenty priest concelebrants walked the three candidates: Bro. George M.C., Bro. John Vianney M.C. and Bro. Jerry Michael M.C. At the entrance of the Chapel all in procession were welcomed in the traditional Indian way.
After the entrance hymn the Mass started. The following words of welcome were given by Fr. Sebastian M.C.:
“Namaste. We are on the eve of two very important events: the solemnity of the Assumption of our Lady and the 66th anniversary of India’s Independence Day. The former is religious and spiritual and the latter is national and political. On the eve of such important events we have gathered here in joy and in gratitude, prayerfully to praise and thank God for all his many gifts and blessings.
This then is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
In the name of Deepashram and Anadashram communities and specially in the name of our homeless, orphaned and mentally and physically challenged boys and men, in the name of the Brothers who are going to be ordained deacons to serve, I extend a very warm and hearty welcome to His Excellency Rt. Rev. Anil Joseph Thomas Couto, the archbishop of Delhi and our archbishop, who so kindly accepted our invitation to preside over the Eucharistic celebration and confer on Bro. George M.C., Bro. John Vianney M.C. and Bro. Jerry Michael M.C. the order of deacons. So from the depth of our hearts we welcome you, our father and our bishop.
With our archbishop I would like to welcome all the many priest concelebrants who have so kindly and so lovingly come to pray with us and pray for us, and make this event a real experience of God. May I welcome all of you, Sisters of the various congregations consecrated to God in love and in truth, to spend your lives in loving service of the Church and his people. I extend a very warm welcome to Sr. Sherine M.C., the regional Superior and the M.C. family, including our LMCs together with Mr. Justin LMC, the national link from Mumbai, all our co-workers, benefactors, family members, friends and to all.
Just a word about our Brothers: Bro. George M.C., Bro. John Vianney Soosai M.C. and Bro. Jerry Michael Gonzalvaz M.C.
They had their preparations: spiritual, religious and academic for several years and in various places. They also had nine months’ preparation in the holy Land, in our House for Tertians in Nazareth, before making their vows for life in the Society of the Missionaries of Charity-Contemplative. Today these Brothers are being ordained deacons. Through their diaconate they reaffirm their M.C. vocation, and determine with greater conviction to give whole-hearted free service to the poorest of the poor. Our present Holy Father said in one of his recent talks that he would like to have a Church with aprons on, ready and willing to serve the most despised, the under privileged, the unwanted and the “useless ones” of the busy and competitive world in which we live. He said that he would like to have a more contemplative and missionary Church. This is our aim, our prayer and our effort. May I ask you all here present to close your eyes and pray for a few seconds in silence, so that we may not spoil God’s beautiful Church and his little Society of the Missionaries of Charity-Contemplative, but become enthusiastic witnesses of the Gospel of love.
I would like to conclude with the words of our Bl. Mother Teresa M.C., who is not only watching us from heaven, but blessing us all: “What you do, we are not called to do; what we do, you are not meant to do, but together we can do something beautiful for God”, and that is what we have come to do together this evening. Let us pray much for one another.
Once again a very warm and hearty welcome to each and every one of you and may God bless you all”.
His Excellency Rt. Rev. Anil Joseph Thomas Couto sang practically the entire Mass so beautifully and so devotedly that the whole celebration was a profound Pentecostal experience. The choir too was exceptionally angelic and celestial, especially the singing of the Litany of all Saints in Hindi by Bro. Sushant M.C. and one of the OLF Sisters and the choir group directed by Fr. Suman Paul, the vice rector of Vinaya Gurukul Minor seminary. These words are inadequate to express our gratitude to the Archbishop, the many priest concelebrants, the choir group, Bro. Charles, the ceremony master who took so much trouble to come all the way from Delhi so many times to do the practice, the Gurgaon LMC group together with our Brothers deserve our special thanks for their hard work and effort to make the celebration into a beautiful and enjoyable event and a God experience.
The doxology was so celestial and so moving as five girls welcomed and greeted Jesus in the Bread of Life with incense, flowers and light in dance form.
The three newly ordained deacons distributed Holy Communion to all the participants. The vote of thanks was given by Bro. George M.C.
The Bishop said that he would want the Missionaries of Charity-Contemplative Brothers to spread through out the world. The Church is meant to be contemplative and missionary, especially to love and adore Jesus in the Bread of Life and to love and serve him in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor. It is our duty to live our lives in simplicity and poverty in order to take care of the really poor people who live just around the corner or across the street.
The reception and the cultural programme followed in the basement, directed by Bro. Vimal John M.C. with the help of the LMCs. Fr. Sebastian M.C. expressed in Hindi our gratitude to God for all the wonderful things he did and does through weak, sinful and unworthy people like us. He also thanked all the organizers and all those who took active part in the cultural programme making everyone happy and grateful.
Finishing the short cultural programme all were asked to move to the food courts, arranged in two places. All enjoyed the meal very much.
God blessed the celebration with a very heavy shower while the candidates were being ordained deacons. But the rain stopped early enough to serve the meal to the people in the open air.
What we experience again and again is the story of the amazing grace of God. May the good Lord be praised, adored and glorified always and everywhere.
At the end of a long and busy day one can feel exhausted, as if he has come to the end of his strength. But then one experiences a greater and higher strength. The battery is once again recharged with the grace and power of God through prayer. As long as we remain faithful to prayer, as long as we realize that the surpassing power comes not from ourselves but from God, as long as we become more and more grateful to God and humble in our attitude, nothing and nobody can defeat us. Our help is n the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. The work we do is God’s work and the life we live is meant to be a holy life. “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can and give me wisdom to know the difference”.
The journey back to Rome was another experience of God and of his tender care and loving providence. The Brothers from Bandhwari: Bro. George M.C., Bro. Jerry Michael M.C., Bro. Suman M.C., Bro. Denis M.C. and others drove me to I:G:I: international airport in New Delhi. Luckily the road was fairly free. As soon as I came to the check-in area, three representatives from China Airlines took me to a special check-in desk, filled out my immigration form, and showed exceptional respect and kindness. I felt humbled by such VIP treatment.
While waiting for the flight, the China Airlines crew came in. I just smiled at one of them from Taiwan. Very simply we started our conversation and he wanted to know about who I was and what I was doing. He kept asking me: “Why are you so happy?” “What is the secret of your joy?” I said to him that he could also be joyful as he is doing a service, to which he said that his was “a job” and not “a service” as he needed money. In response I said to him: “Of course you need money, but still yours is a service, serving the many passengers. So you have to have a service mentality”.
In the flight he looked for me and gave me a bag full of nuts and things that they usually serve in the flights with refreshments before meals.
I felt very grateful to God and all those who prayed so much for me, especially for my safe and pleasant journey.
The plane landed ten minutes before time and the Brothers: Bro. Stephen M.C., Bro. André Marie M.C. and Bro. Luke M.C. brought me home by 8.00 p.m.
As St. John evangelist would say: there are many more things that took place in this trip, but what I have accounted is enough to confess the goodness and the sweetness of God.
Love and prayers.
God bless you.
Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.