Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16
The shrine of St. Alphonsa welcomes all the children of the Father who have come in His chosen’s home to quench their thirst. Even though the mother earth received this saint 105 years ago from today, her life continues to draw millions to request her intercession in understanding the kingdom of God. As Rev. Fr. Romulus C.M.I. said during the sermon of the funeral mass of the saint, “It takes a divine language and a speaker from heaven to delineate this holy person’s life or to expatiate on her spiritual acquisitions and on the working of God’s grace in her”, the shrine of St. Alphonsa at Bharananganam to this day continues to chime the prayers to imbibe in the holiness of St. Alphonsa While the Indian diaspora celebrated her as the first Christian saint from India on 12 October 2008 by H.H. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the world drew its eyes and ears on this tiny town in Kerala to know more about her life that inspired many. In this ever changing and challenging world where our own identity gets questioned and ridiculed everyday words of Alphonsaamma should bear light to all of us. In one of her letters to Fr. Louis C.M.I her Novitiate Director she writes “I feel that I will get over this illness partially and become well enough to walk so that the Lord may make me shoulder more crosses. I welcome everything”. These words of her should strike a thought in our mind about her infallible trust that God would definitely cure her not for her to enjoy the likes of the world but to bear more crosses. The cross, the symbol of salvation and hope is attributed and understood as suffering, but in turn it is God’s message of love and acceptance. St. Alphonsa’s request for more crosses was not meant to physically endure more pain but rather be able to reach out to those who have wandered away from His love, to find those who are in search for their master and to bring all those who yearn to live His presence. Her love for her creator was so steadfast that in the same letter to Fr. Louis C.M.I, she mentions that she wishes to see and console her mother who is worried about St. Alphonsa’s health but she thinks that this temptation to console her mother would deflect her from her love to God. This should be an inspiration for all of us to empty ourselves and forgo the individual amongst us. It should awaken our soul to find what He has chosen us for? Her words should drive us to resonate our love for our creator by renouncing ourselves and offering ourselves in His hands. We need to trust in him as St. Alphonsa says, “If God administered the bitter medicinal concoction, He is sure to give the sugar also with which to remove the bitterness from the mouth”. The Shrine of St. Alphonsa welcomes everyone to come, visit her, and seek her intervention to experience the love of God. Her life does not reside in her tomb nor the four walls of the Shrine but in every heart that has visited her and is longing to visit her. Today masses and novena’s are celebrated daily in her honour ,requesting her interventions for the supplicants’ prayers. While 1 Corinthians 3:16reminds us that all of our hearts are God’s temple, then St. Alphonsa’s shrine reaffirms these words by beaming her life and the simple truth it holds. The Rector and the community of the St. Alphonsa Shrine, Bharananganam await your visit for a holy experience. Very Rev. Fr. Berchmans Kunnumpuram Rector.
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