Bangalore – Every year to meditate on the passion of Christ, the Guanella Preethi Nivas community ‘climbs the mount.’ A few of the residents and staff took part in the Calvary journey led by Frs. Nevis and Gabriel and Bro. Regent on March 2nd. As a Lenten preparation, parishioners from area villages gathered to take part in the passion of Jesus. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Mass were offered on ‘Mt. Calvary’ which is in the forest near Mudhiyanur. With the protection of forest guards they worshiped safely without disturbance by the wild animals. At the end, lunch was served by the parishioners in the forest.
As we are in the Lenten season, it would be appropriate to reflect upon the greatest testament which our beloved Founder St. Louis Guanella left to us his disciples: Prayer and Suffering. It can be well understood from the words of Bishop Aurelio Bacciarini, the successor of Fr. Guanella. Prayer is the first necessary condition for the stability, progress and success of the Houses of Fr. Guanella. He also differentiates prayer and the spirit of prayer: Prayer is the common and ordinary invocation of God that we raise to Him during the day. Spirit of prayer is something more intense and deeper. Therefore for these extraordinary charitable acts not only mere human hands are needed but also the kind and strong intervention of God. Without the spirit of prayer, we would not receive God’s favors. Hence it is a requirement for every member of a community and whole of the congregation to be soaked in prayer and make the Houses of Charity real tabernacles of constant praise to God. How to make our life prayer? a) from the Altar of the Holy Eucharist, let us draw the treasures of Divine Mercy b) from the reception of Holy Communion, let us unite ourselves with Jesus with the fervor of saints, so that nothing of this world may separate us from Him c) From the Holy Tabernacle – Paradise on Earth – let us sanctify our work, our travelling and our rest by keeping our hearts and minds on the Lord, in conversation with heaven.
Suffering is a word that drips drops of blood. Unless and until one is filled with the spirit of prayer, it is highly difficult to understand the term suffering. From the very life of Jesus, we can perceive that there is no redemption without the cross, suffering. The Church of Jesus Christ floats on the blood of the martyrs. All her triumphs are rooted in suffering. The Houses of Fr. Guanella were born from martyrdom. Fr. Louis Guanella suffered martyrdom in everything: contradictions, accusations, opposition, humiliations, disappointments, hunger, thirst, tiredness, agonies of body and soul. Let us understand that suffering is the key to reach paradise. As imitators of Jesus Christ and followers of Fr. Guanella, let us strive to endure daily suffering, suffer discomforts and privations, endure and carry the crosses that faithfully accompany our daily lives. The very legacy of Prayer and Suffering teaches us a lesson to despise the world and detach ourselves from its allurements. Let us live in God by prayer and suffering as our beloved Father and Founder did.
At the invitation of our Holy Father the season of lent is a favorable time which is offered by God as ‘a sacramental sign of our conversion. Lent summons us and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly, and in every aspect of our lives’. Prompted by Pope Francis, we shall recollect the aspect of prayer and suffering as Guanellians. He says that prayer should become the driving force to enable us to reach out to the poor, marginalized and the victimized. Prayer is the constant response of our hearts to the will of God. The attitude of penance reminds us that we need to suffer with endurance, to say no to our selfishness. Acts of charity should be the constant striving of our hearts to share our time and resources with those who have nothing or nobody.
Added to our own physical, psychological, socio-economic problems, the present religious and political situation impels us to march forward with much courage to face the prejudices and persecutions against us Christians in order to be rooted out from a particular country or territory. Generally this might arouse in us questions like where is God? Why all these to us alone? and make us lose hope in God. On a positive note this happens to us because God wants to communicate with us but we are busy doing our work. Often we are after our minds by being too much indulged in social networks, technology, media which keeps us away from the creator who is behind every sphere. Rather we are called to be after our hearts from where love proceeds and inclines us to care for the anthropological aspect of our existence. It is high time this Lent that we fast from the media, network culture and be rooted in communicating with God in prayer and receive graces to face our trials and tribulations. May this Lenten Season help us to have metanoia and a fruitful celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord.
Bangalore – St. Guanella Mercy Church celebrated Holy week in a prayerful manner. It was more meaningful that the entire community participated with great joy and enthusiasm throughout the events during Lent. The Way of the Cross was organized and led weekly by each different group. Each day of Holy Week was planned and executed in a way that set a bench mark for us. Both Tamil and English Masses were well attended. Mass of the Lord’s Supper and washing of the feet went well. On Good Friday the confreres, Cooperators, GLM and parishioners enacted the passion of Christ as a live Skit, touching many hearts. The scene at Calvary could be visualized by everyone who participated. Veneration of the Holy Cross followed in a service combining Tamil and English. The Easter Vigil was solemnly celebrated by the presenting of the Resurrection in an imaginative way, with thunder our Lord rose in Glory. The faithful reacted by singing the Gloria. The house was decorated beautifully with lights and flowers for this glorious occasion. After Mass we shared Easter eggs, cake and milk.
Cuddalore – God may not give us an easy journey to the Promised Land but he will give us a safe one. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish arranged a Lenten pilgrimage on March 26th. Fourteen churches arranged to mediate on the way Jesus chose to redeem the universe. One hundred people gathered on two buses and traveled to three different dioceses. Special prayers were said for the Church, construction of a new church, our congregations, and the faithful. Reflections were made at each station to help the people understand that life passes by very quickly, and that they ought to think more of how to love than how to live.
Cuddalore – Youth can provide us with an opportunity to grow as a person. It is a season of hope, enterprise and energy toward society as well as to an individual. The thirteen young Guanellians of Sahaya Matha parish, Samupillai Nagar, along with senior members visited the Global Institute for Mentally Challenged Children for a Lenten program on March 12th. It was a wonderful experience for our group, and provided them with a wake-up call. Various games warmed up the atmosphere; tea and snacks sweetened up the discounted; dance cheered up the discouraged, and storytelling caused the distressed to look-up. At the end, the team provided the teaching aids for the institute. The legion of Mary also visited the deaf and dumb school as their Lenten program for March 20th.
Thalavadi – The point of Lent is to have a reoriented life towards God. This reorientation is more powerful when it is done with desert and wilderness. This is what the community experienced in the Lenten journey. The Nazareth Illam community joined the Lenten spiritual journey that was arranged by one of the parishes in the Thalavadi vicariate. Fr. Lawrence, Fr. Gabriel, Bro. Arun, Bro. Arul Claret OMI, staff and residents participated in the journey with full devotion. They climbed the mountain top which is about a 5 km journey, by reciting the rosary and praying the Way of the Cross. Other faithful from different parishes also took part in this Lenten journey. All classes of people prayed piously and walked through the jungle, thorn and bushes, showing a thirst for God and the unity of people. After climbing to the top of the hill, the gathering celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation and continued the Holy Eucharistic celebration that was a beautiful experience of God’s mercy and His presence. Afterwards the village people provided lunch to all the faithful. This Lenten journey helped them to experience the re-LENT-less love of God.
Chennai – On March 4th a Lenten pilgrimage was organized for Don Guanella Special School Staff and Special Children. They prayed for world peace and the good health of the students. During the pilgrimage four different parishes were visited; and the Way of the Cross recited alternatively in each parish. Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Parutipattu, was the first stop, then to Kamaraj Nagar Mangala Annai Parish, proceeding next to Amala Annai Parish, J.P Estate and concluding the pilgrimage at St. Antony’s Shrine, Avadi.