Pastoral Message
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,
My heart is filled with joy and pleasure to thank God, the Almighty for His marvelous guidance throughout my Episcopate for the past thirteen years. I also extend my thanks to Vicar General, all the Priests, religious, catechists, teachers and the faithful of our Diocese for the meaningful celebration of the completion of my Episcopal ministry on 23 rd of last month. As I complete my thirteen years of Episcopate, the celebrations reminded me of the wonderful and marvelous works of God in my Shepherding ministry. I feel and experience that the Lord has been very close to my life through which I try to uplift my diocesan people in good measure.
Month of September is known as the Month of life-giving because this month contains 3 important feasts namely, the Nativity of our Blessed Virgin Mary on 8 th , The Exaltation of the Cross on 14 th and the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrow on 15 th . All these three feasts are one way or the other giving life to the whole humanity.
As we know 1Mother Mary was born and she gave birth to Jesus for the redemption of whole human race. Jesus gave his life on the Cross; in return people are washed away from their sin and get new life. Mother Mary said “Yes” to the God’s plan for us which she kept till the end and thus, she becomes the Mother of God eventually the mother of the whole Universe. As the Catholic Church of Tamil Nadu we have a special privilege of celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Velankanni, popularly known as Our Lady of Good Health which is the pride of our soil.
I would like to reflect on the words of Pope Francis, “we rejoice when something so beautiful happens that it is not enough to rejoice inside, in the soul, but we want to express happiness with the whole body”. Mary rejoices because of God...She teaches to rejoice in God, because He does great things. Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord. She shows us that if we want to be happy, God must be placed first, because He alone is great. Let this month bring us closer to our Lady of Good Health. It is a reminder and hope that she is in our midst, ensuring good to everyone on the land. It is a great joy for us to thank our Lord for the gift of our Mother.
As we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, let us meditate upon the Holy Cross as the source of life for our spiritual nourishment. This feast is also called as the Exaltation of the Cross, Elevation of the Cross, Holy Cross Day, Holy Rood Day. When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent over the people, it was a foreshadowing of the salvation through Jesus when He was lifted up on the 2Cross. Our Mother Church sings of the triumph of the Cross, the instrument of our redemption. To follow Christ we must take up our cross, follow Him and become obedient until death, even if it means death on the Cross. We identify with Christ on the Cross and become co- redeemers, sharing in His cross. The Cross, for believers, is not so much a symbol of pain, but rather of the Love. Jesus said during the Last Supper, “No one has any greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” and that’s precisely what Jesus, as our Good Shepherd, did when he gave his own life on the Cross so that we might live. The Cross is a picture not principally of agonizing suffering but of mind-blowing love of God for us. St. Paul stated that the Cross is a scandal to the Jews and a folly to everyone else — declared that “to those who are called, the Crucified Christ is the ‘power of God and the wisdom of God.’” Christ on the cross manifests the power of God’s love and the wisdom of His plan of salvation.
Our Lady of Sorrow also makes us experience a lot of life- giving promises. Specifically the Marian thinkers express that “So much does the Crucified Lord desire humanity to ponder, along with His own saving Redemption, the co redemption of his Mother that He has attached to the prayerful meditation of the seven principal historical events of Our Lady’s sufferings promises of grace and mercy that are nothing short of extraordinary and miraculous.”
I take this opportunity to wish all the members of Vincent de Paul society as they celebrate the feast of their patron saint. The society of Vincent De Paul in our diocese is 3doing a great work through our lay people. Many of our Parishes have this unit that does marvelous apostolate both spiritually and economically. In the name of the Diocese, I would like to thank them for their sacrificing and hard work.
Finally, I request all your valuable prayers as I am going for Ad Limina Visit to Rome. We pray for the Bishops of India for the safe travel and for the success of the visit to Rome. Let us place ourselves at the foot of the Cross and on the lap of our Mother. I will also visiting our Lady of Lourdes. I certainly will place our diocese at her blessings. Let us renew our spiritual life and joyfully celebrate these life-giving feasts. Once again I wish everyone the blessings of our Lady of Velankanni and assure you of my prayers.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
+ Most Rev. Dr. P. Soundararaju, SDB.,
Bishop of Vellore