Homily by His Beatitude George Cardinal Alencherry in Dharmaram, Bangalore, on Sunday, 11 January 2015
Iam very glad to celebrate this Holy Qurbana with all of you, especially with Bishop Gratian Mundadan CMI, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Fr Paul Achandy CMI, Prior General, Fr S. Jayanathan, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Bangalore, Fr Thomas Aikara CMI, Rector Dharmaram College,andFr Cherian Thunduparampil CMI, Postulator for the Causes of St Kuriakose Elias Chavaraand Mother Euphrasia Eluvathinkal. Today we are celebrating here at Dharmaram Vidyakshetram the canonization of these two consecrated persons. These two saints are a great gift of God to the Church in India. Together with St Alphonsa, they now form a triple communion of canonised saints in the Syro-Malabar
Iam very glad to celebrate this Holy Qurbana with all of you, especially with Bishop Gratian Mundadan CMI, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Fr Paul Achandy CMI, Prior General, Fr S. Jayanathan, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Bangalore, Fr Thomas Aikara CMI, Rector Dharmaram College,andFr Cherian Thunduparampil CMI, Postulator for the Causes of St Kuriakose Elias Chavaraand Mother Euphrasia Eluvathinkal. Today we are celebrating here at Dharmaram Vidyakshetram the canonization of these two consecrated persons. These two saints are a great gift of God to the Church in India. Together with St Alphonsa, they now form a triple communion of canonised saints in the Syro-Malabar Church. Their communion, with all the saints in heaven, recalls to us the communion that we have to live in the Church.
Before these canonized saints we had the Martyr Saint Gonsalo Garcia and we are going to have the canonization of still another son of India, Joseph Vaz in Colombo on 14th of this month in which I will have the joy to participate.
It is worthwhile to note that both St Alphonsa and St Euphrasia had received blessings of God through the mediation of St Kuriakose Elias. The great consolation that St Alphonsa received during her excruciating sufferings through the vision of Kuriakose Elias is now known to all. Mother Euphrasia is one of the earlier members of the Congregation of Mother of Carmel that St Chavara founded. Prior to her religious commitment Mother Euphrasia was a resident at a Koonammavu convent founded by St Chavara.
An exemplary trait that we first note in the life of St Chavara is his fidelity to his priestly vocation. It was during his priestly formation at the Malpanate of Pallipuram under the direction of Palackal Thoma Malpan that he lost his parents and brother in an epidemic that ravaged the people of Kuttanad at that time. Then he was under enormous pressure from the family to return from the seminary, but he did not take back his hand from the plough. As Jesus told his parents at the temple, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? (Lk. 2:49), the young Kuriakose also responded to the pressure from those around him by stressing the need to be faithful to his vocation. He too was twelve or thirteen at that time: a good food for thought for us who are distracted by the family and worldly affairs in our vocation.
About these two saints of ours, the HolyFather Pope Francis said: “Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia Eluvathingal, who was a member of the religious Institute founded by him, remind each of us that God’s love is the source, the support and the goal of all holiness, while the love of the neighbour is the clearest manifestation of the love for God. Father Kuriakose Elias was a religious, active and contemplative, who generously gave his life for the Syro-Malabar Church, putting into action the maxim “sanctification of oneself and the salvation of others”. For her part, Sister Euphrasia lived in profound union with God so much so that her life of holiness was an example and an encouragement to the people, who called her “Praying Mother”. There are many consecrated religious here today, especially consecrated women. May you also be known as “Praying Sisters”.
“Sanctification of oneself and the salvation of others” is a maxim very valid for all of us. It is our union with God that takes us to communion with people. Our vocation is to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, each one entering into it according to the measure of grace to which he or she is able to respond. But as you know, the Kingdom of God can come under threat, as the Child Jesus was threatened by Herod the King, by the false fears that Jesus was a rival to him. Jesus through his life and mission proved that his Kingdom was not of this world. To those who falsely think that Christianity is a threat to their religion or culture we have to proclaim that Christianity recognizes all that is true in other religions and cultures. We all have to go on a path of dialogue in matters of faith and culture. Aggression and attack have to be replaced by dialogue and sharing of the values of life in the society.
It is to establish the Kingdom of God that St Kuriakose Elias started schools, homes for the poor, handicrafts for poor women, literature and art, the first press at Mannanam, the family renewal programmes etc. From the Christian Community his work of liberation spread to the other down trodden communities of the then Travancore – Cochin State. Therefore the society of Kerala now acclaims him as a pioneer of the social reforms in the state.
Fr Kuriakose Elias stood for unity in the community of Syrian Christians. It is for that he, according to the directions given by the Vicars Apostolic of Verapoly and the Apostolic See strove hard for the recall of Rokos by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch. He did not want a further division among the Syrian Christians. My dear brothers and Sisters, unity has to be the prime concern for all of us both in the Church and in communities and houses of consecrated men and women. Let us resist the temptations to create dissensions and group rivalries. Let us foster all our good ideas and vision in a spirit of communion taking all into our love and concern. Let no one feel that he or she is estranged from the communion of life in the community, parish or the Church as a whole.
Taking the example of St Euphrasia, let me say a word about prayer. She said: ‘Even in want of wealth let virtue flourish”. St Chavara founded the two Congregations with a double fold charism: Prayer and action. It is actually the prayer that flows into action. In the dictum “Sanctification of oneself and the salvation of others” also we can see the basis of this evangelical vision. Really it is the prayer of great men that revolutionizes societies. Gandhiji’s struggle for freedom was a revolution of prayer. All other revolutions pass by, the revolution of prayer persists. The example of the praying of Jesus and the repeated instructions of Paul for perseverance in prayer should be remembered at this moment.
We have received these saints as a gift of God. Every gift takes along an added responsibility. It is up to us to explore the riches of these two great minds. Researches should go on in every contribution from their lives. The life and writings of St Chavara are rich resources of spiritual and doctrinal treasures; so also the letters of St Euphrasia especially those written to Bishop John Menacherry. Universities like the Christ University will have to take up research on the works of these saints and there will surely come a time when the Church will declare St Kuriakose Elias Chavara a Doctor of the Church.
Let me conclude quoting words of Pope Francis: “May these new saints help you to treasure their lessons of evangelical living. Follow in their footsteps and imitate them, in a particular way, through love of Jesus in the Eucharist and love of the Church. Thus you will advance along the path to holiness”.
Finally, I offer this Qurbana in thanksgiving for of all the blessings that the Church has received through the service of these two Congregations: CMI and CMC. The growth of the Syro-Malabar Church in India and the world over is partly due to the missionary zeal and extensive commitment of the CMI and CMC. Thank you, in the name of the Church! My special thanks also to you, Fr Rector in particular, for having successfully organized today’s celebrations. May God bless you all of you. Iam very glad to celebrate this Holy Qurbana with all of you, especially with Bishop Gratian Mundadan CMI, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Fr Paul Achandy CMI, Prior General, Fr S. Jayanathan, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Bangalore, Fr Thomas Aika