Jubilant and joyful, we have gathered here today to celebrate the Post Canonization of two great saints from our soil who succeeded in awakening the world through their sanctity.’ Be glad and rejoice’- the reverberation of this words of the Psalmist can be sensed well in the faces of all who are present in this august assembly. I am delighted in seeing your cheerful faces and enthusiasm to keep this event a memorable and glorious one.
Every Indian can be proud of these two saints who always treasured in them the passion for God and the passion for humanity. Saint Chavara, a pearl of the east was a powerful, electrifying and inspiring force that revitalized the Church and the society of his time. His life is a shining example of a Carmelite in contemplation and a mystic in action. We can undoubtedly say that he has become a herald of contemplation as well as Christian charity. St. John Pal II reminds us ‘that all the consecrated persons are invited to find new answers to the new problems of the new society’. We can proudly say that this was highly proved by St. Chavara in the 19th century itself.
He was a man of action throughout his life. His was a multifaceted personality marked by great vibrancy and efficiency. Within less than half a century he kindled innovations in all aspects of human life which an ordinary man can do only with many centuries St. Chavara has made tremendous and admirable contribution in the field of education and social life. Education was an activity close to his heart. He took a revolutionary innovation to start schools attached to every church. He felt that promotion of education was very important for the renewal of the Church and for the transformation of the society. The most far reaching, enduring, all embracing and even sanctifying field of activity initiated by St. Chavara was that of printing press at Mannanam. This had been an inexorable instrument of spreading the gospel of Christ.
He taught his people “A day spent without doing good to others is being wasted’. The home for the destitute started by St. Chavara (1869) at Kainakary was the first of its kind in India.
To achieve his goal of reforming the society, he focused on families. He believed that it is from families every community, organization and society spring forth. Hence he worked for the total reformation of the family. St. Chavara recognized the role that family played in the ebb and flow of a society and held that, for a healthier society in future, family needs to have a sense of direction. It is to this effect that he wrote a statute for family life. His loving advices for the parishioners of Kainakary is considered the magnacarta of family life.
When St. Chavara took initiative to start the first religious congregation for women in 1866, namely CMC,he has also a far reaching mission in his mind,ie., well trained and well motivated religious women must come forward as catalytic agents for social reformation. He thought those women should take responsibility to form Indian women to become good housewives and mothers and they in turn brighten their families.
Among the Indian saints canonized recently, two are women. All the women can be proud of. My dear women friends here, you and I need to continue this trend by taking the lead in the path of holiness. Both St. Chavara and St. Euphrasia testify the role of their mothers in implanting the Christian faith in their lives. St. Chavara wrote many lines in his autobiographical poem ’Atmaanuthaapam’ praising his mother in the way she brought him up. St. Euphrasia also speaks of her mother’s devotion and Christian virtues which was transmitted to her. We know very well that for a better family life, value based life of women, is inevitable. Their influence in the family and society has a unique touch which no one can replace. Pope Francis reminds all the women, that ‘We have to be compassionate and joyful mothers’. This is clearly proved in the life of St. Euphrasia in a remarkable manner. The kitchen maids of Ollur convent enjoyed the care and concern of Mother Euphrasia who was a compassionate mother for them. When exam approached the school children came running to her seeking her prayer support. She had time to pray with them and to listen to their problems. Many house wives from far and near approached her in order to pour out their troubles and to get her words of wisdom and blessing. She appeared to be an angel of consolation for all those who approached her. Sisters who were sick, especially those who were affected by contagious diseases such as T.B. , cholera, and chicken pox wished to have Mother Euphrasia at their sick bed and it was a joy for her to serve them and prepare them for a happy death.
St. Euphrasia did not speak much and people saw her as an empowered and glorified contemplative nun. Her special devotion to Virgin Mary was remarkable and reciting rosary continuously she showed us the power of prayer and became solace to many.
Those who lived with her experienced something divine in her conversation with them and in her austerity and above all her constant prayer life. She was always pleasant and composed. The secret was that she was constantly experiencing the divine presence in her soul. Witnessing her life of prayer and virtues people called her the ‘praying Mother’, ‘Cherpukaran’s Holy Nun’ and the sisters in her convent called her the ‘Moving Tabernacle’.A good number of people received her maternal love and tenderness, accompanied with the comforting words of Jesus from the gospel. ‘Won’t forget even after death’ was her reply for each little kindness bestowed upon her. Keeping up this promise she brings us the choicest blessings of God Almighty through her intercession.
As she was so concerned about the Church and its problems, she offered all her mortifications and penance for the success of it. Even the departed souls sought her help that was granted to them through her intercession. By the abundant graces of God, this charismatic figure became adorned with gifts of love, vision, prophecy, prayer, healing and performing miracle. Though she lived in Carmel at a time when Carmelite sisters were not allowed to go out of their convent to do the apostolic work, people came to her from distant places seeking prayer support and solace. She taught them loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity in life along with ‘even if we lack in riches, never lack in virtues’.
St. Euphrasia lived her consecrated life according to the will of God and remained faithful to the will of God till her last breath. This spirit filled and spirit guided holy religious, reached that heights of sanctity by living the CMC charism and the heritage of prayer of Carmel.
To conclude St. Chavara and St. Euphrasia loved others and lived for others and gave meaning and beauty to the lives of many. Many received their favours even after their death and thus spread the fragrance of their holiness wide. Let us thank God for this great blessing, the sacred moment in the history of the Syro-Malabar Church. May the lives of these saints inspire and transform us to live the gospel in all circumstances. In the words of Daniel ‘Those led many to righteousness shall shine like the stars of the sky forever (Daniel: 12:3). Let these shining stars in heaven, be a beacon light showing the way to the heavenly kingdom. May the God Almighty shower His choicest blessings upon each one of us through the powerful intercession of these great saints.