My dear Fathers, Sisters and Brothers,
Peace and Grace of Jesus!
- Since the time of Easter, our liturgical journey has been “on a high plateau”, coloured with joy in the certitude that the Lord is living. It climaxed with the Pentecost and led us further to an extraordinary experience of sharing in the eternity of God’s life, one with the Father, one with the Son and one with the Holy Spirit. We experience the gentle invitation to participate in the intimate union taking place among the three divine persons and to join them around the Table. By eating the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi), the human body becomes part of the life of God, in risen Christ, and thus prepared to be lifted up with him into divine life. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke’s description of the Jerusalem Church relates fraternal unity (koinonia) with the breaking of the bread, ie. Eucharistic Celebration. “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and the prayers…. had all things in common” (Acts 2: 42-44). John’s Gospel describes this more precisely as an act of extraordinary relationship of “mutual interiority”: “he in me and I in him”(Jn 6: 56). It is in union with the divine life, with the body of Christ, that I come to know the full significance of my human body: that it is not a mortal object of pleasure and pain, rather it is a home where fullness of divine glory is manifested. Corpus Christi is given to us to fully recognize this truth and find ways to live reverently and joyfully in expectation of sharing the sublimity of life with the triune God. Eucharist can transform us to the extent that we allow ourselves to be transformed and to be the bread broken for others.
Spiritual life is life lived in the spirit of Jesus: to live in the world without belonging to the world. Through the Eucharistic body, Jesus sets us free from constraint and compulsion, forms a fellowship in shared vulnerability, offers us the love that forgives even our enemies and gives the grace to see God in every human heart. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, truthfulness and self-control (Gal. 5:22) – are the most compelling qualities of life in the Spirit of Jesus; all carry in themselves a very wide dynamic that we call mission…that we are always being sent out to bring and receive the gifts of God to and from all people and nations. As our liturgical journey advances through many ordinary Sundays, feast day of saints and solemnities, let us be in focus by reminding ourselves that our hope lies not in earthly arrangements and securities, but in our readiness to receive fully the virtues of divine life; to be part of the active presence of God – the movement of God’s Spirit-with in us and all around us.
- On July 1, 2022, the Missionary Sisters of the Queen of the Apostles (SRA) are stepping into the 100th year of the founding of the Congregation. It is a humbling experience and a privilege for all of us to become partakers of this historic moment of the Congregation. A hundred years ago, (1 July 1923) the saintly German founder Fr. Antonius Maria Bodewig, a zealous missionary who dedicated his life for the mission in India, was challenged by the Spirit, to ‘establish an entirely new Congregation, which would specialize itself in a totally new mode of life having its apostolate uniquely culturespecific’, and willed them to India, especially to Benares. Sooner and promptly, the sisters “walked into their own” (as it is recorded) in January 1927, and “remained the main-stay of feminine apostolate, the only queenly touch in an otherwise rugged life”. The centenary year as such, in a legitimate way, is about Mission Benares of SRA. Varanasi Province is dedicating the year, July 1, 2022 – July 1, 2023, as a special year of grateful jubilation of the blessings received from God and Mother Mary through the intercession of Fr. Antonius Maria Bodewig. This will be inaugurated on 2nd July 2022 (4.30 pm) with a solemn concelebrated Eucharistic Celebration by the Bishop and the priests of the Diocese. Rev. Sr. Shruti, SRA, the Provincial, along with all the sisters, has warmly solicited the participation of all in this graceful event. It is our fraternal privilege to join together in prayer that the grace which influenced the birth of the Congregation may continue to grant the courage to move boldly into future as joyful and passionate missionary disciples. You will receive more details about the Centenary year from Sr. Shruti SRA, through the communities in different centres.
- As we are set to reopen the schools, I convey my best wishes to all for the good results you have recorded in the Board / Council examinations. School education, as you are aware, is the most affected area in the post covid times. It is crucial that the head of schools be mindful of this reality and do the best to develop collective resilience in the mind of all – students as well as teachers – for addressing it effectively. Primary schools in the village parishes will need to take it as a special challenge to deal with the ‘learning-gap’ that has happened in the last two years. Education Secretary may suggest ways for the same.
- Subsequent to the transfers effecting from June, many of you will find yourself in a new environment. Though different and new, it will be in your good stead if you are gentle, graceful and patient. A person of inner strength is never afraid of the unfamiliar; never would he find fault nor be in discord with it. Rather, he/she is open to adapt, affirm and appreciate the good in the new set up, grateful for the newness it brings to his/her life, and learn from the people and place. This will win the hearts for you, and you can build mutual acceptance and collaboration for the mission entrusted to you. Remember, apostle Paul performed his apostolic work “in all patience” (2 Cor 12.12) in order not to give offense and in order to prove himself a worthy minister of God (2 Cor 6. 4–6). He wished his patience to be an example to Timothy (2Tm 3.10) and urged him to work patiently. His apostolic zeal was in line with what God wanted him to do, not what he wanted to do for God. The virtue of patience had equipped Paul to do things God’s way. Most of all, present yourself, in the new environment, as a person of God; pray eagerly for the gift of serenity, even to embrace adversity, and be at home. I assure you of my spiritual closeness and fraternal support as each of you take up your ministry in the new place.
- I am happy to announce the appointment of Rev. Fr. Rajan Lakra, SJ as the new Parish Priest of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Nagwa. He will take charge on Sunday, 10 July 2022. We assure him and the Jesuit community of our prayers and fraternal support for fruitful ministry in the Diocese.
- Our annual missionary meeting will be held on 13,14 July 2022 at Nav Sadhana. More details will follow. On the solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the patron of our Diocese, let us pray through his intercession for the Lord’s blessings upon us in order to be humble witnesses of Jesus, “the ONE who is greater than I am” (Mk.1).
Yours in the Lord,
Bishop of Varanasi