Archbishop's Message

FAMILY PRAYER AND THE APOSTOLATE OF CREATING COMMUNITIES FAMILY PRAYER AND THE APOSTOLATE OF CREATING COMMUNITIES (Understanding Our support to Kerala Flood Victims as Prayeful Communion)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

As we know, following the incessant rains and the consequent floods in our neighbouring state of Kerala, the biggest devastation that the state has experienced in the last century, over 400 people have lost their lives and over 1.3 million people have been displaced. At this moment of suffering and loss, we stand one with the people of Kerala in the process of their rescue, relief and rehabilitation. I would like to sincerely thank all the priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, for their overwhelming response to my appeal dated 16 August 2018 for contributions to be forwarded on behalf of the Archdiocese. Our parishioners have responded generously to the announcements made in the parishes over the last few weeks and we have made sure that these contributions reach those who need them the most.

I would also like to extend our appreciation to the Madras Social Service Society (MSSS, the social wing of the Archdiocese), the Vincent De Paul Society, the Youth Commission and various other organizations and teams of our Archdiocese, who have reached out to those in need. In addition to these material and human power contributions, I would like to also insist on the value and need of our prayers for our brothers and sisters in Kerala. I am sure that our prayers will strengthen the hope and faith of those who have lost their loved ones, their possessions and their livelihood. May I therefore request you to pray for the afflicted in our family prayers, our common worship and in our personal prayers, as well.

Prayer is a bond that unites us to each other as much as it also unites us to God. As I have mentioned in my previous reflections in this column, when we pray together as a family, we extend the boundaries of our families to include those around us, beyond the boundaries of sects, regions and religions. Prayer is a powerful integrating factor. All along the history of Christian Spirituality, prayer and community have always been regarded as two supreme values which complement each other

  • Prayer is the privileged expression of the love of God, the vertical dimension of Christian existence.
  • Community is fraternal love, the horizontal dimension.

Creating community, either in the form of friendship in the family at home or in the form of apostolic love in the larger communities of one’s work means to recognize our common unity in Christ and to break down the barriers that separate us from each other. Friendship and apostolic love are variations on this theme of fraternal love or community. Creating community at home through Family Prayer is the primordial apostolate and is therefore the backbone of Church’s mission. Once rooted in our families, the apostolate of creating communities extends to larger communities of our lives, such as our Anbiyams, workplace, school, neighborhood and incorporates any person in need.

Therefore in my opinion, our contribution to the rescue, relief and reconstruction of the lives of the people of Kerala, is an extension of our family apostolate, rooted in prayer and embracing a cosmic consciousness to reach those in need of us. The sensibility of community life is not some Platonic abstraction, but an apostolate that becomes evident in our communion, koinonia.

The decree on the adaptation and renewal of religious life, Perfectae Caritatis, proclaimed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI recognizes the ultimacy of prayer and community by setting them as the goal of apostolic love. The decree states, “…the members of each community should combine contemplation with apostolic love. By the former they adhere to God in mind and heart; by the latter they strive to associate themselves with the work of redemption and to spread the Kingdom of God.”

Prayer signifies an interaction. It is always communal. By definition, a Christian is a member of Christ, joined to Him by faith and Baptism and having access to the Father through Him. Hence prayer without Christ is inconceivable. While at the same time, union with Christ is also communion, koinonia, with other members of Christ. For this reason Christian prayer in and through Christ, is communal by its very nature. Even in the most intimate, personal prayer, we cannot disassociate ourselves from our brothers and sisters; they are part of us and Christ takes us to those he wishes to reach out to. Thus Christian prayer always has the dimension of community apostolate, either explicitly, as in the liturgy, or implicitly, as in our Family and personal prayers.

May our prayers for our brothers and sisters in Kerala inspire us to an apostolate of creating communities as a living witness to our Christian discipleship. May the Blessed Mother, whose birthday we celebrate this month, pray for us and our families.

With prayerful wishes,

 

Most Rev. George Antonysamy

Archbishop of Madras - Mylapore