Thursday, May 27, 2010

Saint Padre Pio vs The Devil

St Paul warns us in (Ephesians Ch 6: 12)  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

One of the first contacts that Padre Pio had with the prince of evil occurred in 1906.  One night, Padre had returned to the convent of Saint Elia of Pianisi.  He couldn't fall asleep that night because of the enormous summer heat. He heard the footsteps of someone coming from a nearby room. Padre Pio thought, "Apparently, Friar Anastasio couldn’t sleep either."  He wanted to call out to him so that they could visit and speak for awhile. He went to the window and tried calling to his companion, but he was unable to speak. On the ledge of a nearby window, he saw a monstrous dog. Padre Pio, with terror in his voice, said, “I saw the big dog enter through the window and there was smoke coming from his mouth.  I fell on the bed and I heard a voice from the dog that said, "him it is, it is him". While I was still on the bed, the animal jumped to the ledge of the window, then to the roof and disappeared."

Evil Attacks

The Devil attacked Padre Pio with numerous types of temptations. Padre Augustine also confirmed that the Devil appeared to him under many different forms.  "The Devil appeared as young girls that danced naked, as a crucifix, as a young friend of the monks, as the Spiritual Father or as the Provincial Father; as Pope Pius X, a Guardian Angel, as St. Francis and as Our Lady.”  The Devil has also appeared in his horrible forms with an army of infernal spirits. There were other times when Padre Pio was approached by the Devil but without any apparition. He was troubled with deafening noises and covered with spittle, etc. Padre Pio succeeded in freeing himself from these attacks of the Devil by invoking the name of Jesus.

 The struggle between Padre Pio and Satan became more difficult when Padre Pio freed the souls possessed by the Devil.  Father Tarcisio of Cervinara said, "More than once, before leaving the body of a possessed, the Devil has shouted, "Padre Pio, you give us more trouble than St. Michael"; also, "Father Pio don't steal the bodies from us and we won't bother you."

In one of the letters to Padre Agostino, dated January 18, 1912, he stated, “The Devil does not want to lose this battle. He takes on many forms. For several days now, he has appeared with his brothers who are armed with batons and pieces of iron.  One of the difficulties is that they appear in many disguises. There were several times when they threw me out of my bed and dragged me out of my bedroom.  I am patient, however, and I know Jesus, Our Lady, my Guardian Angel, St. Joseph and St. Francis are always with me.”  

(PADRE PIO DA PIETRELCINA: Epistolario I° (1910-1922) a cura di Melchiorre da Pobladura e Alessandro da Ripabottoni - Edizioni "Padre Pio da Pietrelcina" Convento S.Maria delle Grazie San Giovanni Rotondo - FG)

Satan's Deception - 'Father of all lies'

Satan went beyond all the limits of deception when he went to Father Pio pretending to be a penitent. This is the Father Pio’s testimony:  “One day, while I was hearing confessions, a man came to the confessional where I was. He was tall, handsome, dressed with some refinement and he was kind and polite. He started to confess his sins, which were of every kind: against God, against man and against the morals. All the sins were obnoxious! I was disoriented, in fact for all the sins that he told me, but I responded to him with God’s Word, the example of the Church, and the morals of the Saints.   But the enigmatic penitent answered me word for word, justifying his sins, always with extreme ability and politeness.  He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level.. He continued this way with the sins that were gruesome against God, Our Lady, the Saints, always using disrespectful round-about argumentation. He kept this up even with with the foulest of sins that could be conjured in the mind of a most sinful man.  The answers that he gave me with such skilled subtlety and malice surprised me. I wondered: who is he? What world does he come from? And I tried to look at him in order to read something on his face. At the same time I concentrated on every word he spoke, trying to discover any clue to his identity.. But suddenly; through a vivid, radiant and internal light I clearly recognized who he was. With a sound and imperial tone I told him: “Say long live Jesus, long live Mary!” As soon as I pronounced these sweet and powerful names, Satan instantly disappeared in a trickle of fire, leaving behind him an unbearable stench.”  (Don Pierino is a priest and one of the father Pio’s spiritual sons who were present at the same time.)

Fr. Perino tells  this story:

 “One day, Padre Pio was in the confessional, hidden by two curtains. The curtains of the confessional were not closed all the way and I succeeded in seeing padre Pio. The men, following the bookings, were prepared on a side, all in single row. From the place where I was, I read the Breviary and, sometimes I  looked up to see the Padre. From the little church, through the door, a man came. He was handsome, with small and black eyes, grizzled hair, with a dark jacket and ruled trousers. I didn’t want him to distract me and  so I kept on reciting the breviary, but an internal voice told me: “Stop and look!“ I stopped and looked at padre Pio. That man, while taking footstep back and forth and without waiting his turn, stopped just in front of the confessional, after the previous penitent went away. He immediately entered among the curtains, standing, up in front of padre Pio. Then I didn’t see the dark haired man after that moment. Following some minutes I saw that man sank on the floor with his legs widened. On the chair in the confessional, where Padre Pio had been sitting, I didn’t see padre Pio anymore; but, Jesus. He was blond, young and handsome and he gazed upon the man that had fell to the floor. Then again I saw padre Pio coming up from there. He returned to take a seat to in his place and his appearance melted with Jesus’ appearance. Then I saw only Padre Pio. I immediately heard his voice: “Hurry  up, everyone.”   Nobody noticed this happening!  Everybody started with their turn again. 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Padre Pio started to have apparitions when he was a child.

One evening Padre Pio was in a room, on the ground floor of the convent, turned guesthouse. He was alone and had just laid down on the cot when, suddenly, a man appeared to him wound in a black mantle. Padre Pio was amazed and arose to ask the man who he was and what he wanted. The stranger answered that he was a soul in Purgatory.

“I am Pietro Di Mauro” he said “I died in a fire, on September 18, 1908, in this convent. In fact this convent, after the expropriation of the ecclesiastical goods, had been turned into a hospice for elderly. I died in the flames, while I was sleeping on my straw mattress, right  in this room. I have come from Purgatory: God has granted me to come here and ask you to say Mass for me tomorrow morning. Thanks to one Mass I will be able to enter into Paradise”.

Father Pio told the man that he would say Mass for him..., “but…“padre Pio said: “I, wanted to accompany him to the door of the convent.  I surely realised I had talked to a dead person, in fact when we went out in the church square, the man that was at my side, suddenly disappeared”.

I have to admit that I re-entered in the convent rather frightened. Padre Paolino of Casacalenda, Superior of the convent, noticed my nervousness, after explaining to him what happened, I asked “permission to celebrate Holy Mass for the deceased soul,”  

A few days later, Father Paolino, wanting to verify the information, went to the office of the registry of the commune of St. Giovanni Rotondo.  He required and got the permission to consult the register of the deceased in the year 1908. The story of Father Pio Father was true. 

In the register of deaths of the month of September, Father Paolino found the name, last name and cause of death: “On September 18, 1908 in the fire of the hospice, Pietro Di Mauro died.”


Padre Pio told this story to padre Anastasio. 

“One evening, while I was alone in choir to pray, I heard the rustle of a suit and I saw a young monk that stirred next to the High altar. It seemed that the young monk was dusting the candelabra and straightening the flower vases. 

I thought he was Padre Leone rearranging the altar, and, since it was supper time, I went to him and I told him: “Padre Leone, go to dine, this is not the time to dust and to straighten the altar”. 

But a voice, that was not Father Leone’s answered me”: “I am not Padre Leone”, “and who are you? “, I asked him. “I am a brother of yours that made the noviciate here. I was ordered to clean the altar during the year of the noviciate. Unfortunately many times I didn’t reverence Jesus while passing in front of the altar, thus causing the Holy Sacrament that was preserved in the tabernacle to be disrespected. For this serious carelessness, I am still in Purgatory. Now, God, with his endless goodness, sent me here so that you may quicken the time I will enjoy Paradise. Take care of me.” 

I believed to be generous to that suffering soul, so I exclaimed: “you will be in Paradise tomorrow morning, when I will celebrate Holy Mass”. 

That soul cried: “Cruel!” Then he wept and disappeared. 

That complaint produced in me a wound to the heart that I have felt and I will feel my whole life. In fact I would have been able to immediately send that soul to Heaven but I condemned him to remain another night in the flames of Purgatory.”

Sunday, May 16, 2010



In July 2008 a severe persecution of Christians broke out in the Indian state of Orissa. A 22 year old nun was burnt to death when angry mobs burnt down an orphanage in Khuntpali village in Barhgarh district, another nun was gang raped in Kandhamal, mobs attacked churches, torched vehicles, houses of Christians destroyed, and Fr. Thomas Chellen, director of the pastoral center that was destroyed with a bomb, had a narrow escape after a Hindu mob nearly set him on fire.  The end result saw more than 500 Christians murdered, and thousands of others injured and homeless after their houses were reduced to ashes.  Recently a strange and dramatic event took place in Orissa, which has many people talking and wondering.

In recent months, herds of wild elephants have begun to storm villages that are home to some of the worst persecutors of Christians during the troubles.  In one village, where in August a year ago the Christians had to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by rioters, a herd of elephants emerged from the surrounding jungle exactly one year later, in July 2009, at the same time of the day of the attack.
These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement.  They then went on to destroy his house and farms.
Hundreds of villagers have been forced to take shelter in camps in the Indian state of Orissa after repeated attacks by a herd of elephants.

Seven people have been killed and several others injured in attacks by a herd of 12-13 elephants over the past few weeks in Kandhamal district.

Over 2,500 people living in 45 villages have been affected by the attacks, district chief Krishen Kumar said.

It is, however, unclear why this herd of elephants migrated from the Lakheri sanctuary in a neighbouring district. He said the herd had travelled some 300km into Kandhamal, and even entered a town in the district. Wildlife officials were camping at the site of the attacks and trying to find out why the elephants had come out of their sanctuary. The villagers say elephants attack their areas in herds, causing heavy destruction.
Gaining momentum, they rampaged through other non-Christian homes, demolishing gardens and singling out the home of persecutors, leaving Christian homes untouched.

These strange attacks have spread, and according to a report, the elephants have already destroyed more than 700 houses in 30 villages, and killed five people.  Nobody in this area has seen or even imagined the unique appearance of a herd of wild elephants such as this. The elephants are not ordinary elephants; they appear to be on a mission.
Typically, smaller elephants enter a village first, appearing to survey the community.  They then rejoin the larger herd, and larger elephant soon follow and get the job done.

The ministry partner in India stated “We think that it might have something to do with the avenging the blood of martyrs.  In fact the fear of God has fallen on the local people, who have labeled these elephants “Christian elephants.”

With little help coming from the administration, the villagers have taken to road blockades. "The elephants have destroyed crops and selected houses. But officials too express helplessness. "There is no permanent habitat of elephants in Sundargarh. They come from Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where their habitats have shrunk. But is not clear how and why these elephants reached Orissa. 


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Muslim MEHBOOB KHAN encounters Jesus to become Catholic

A personal testimony of Mehboob G Khan, Goa, India

"And you shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall set you free"
Gospel of St John 8:32

I am from a Muslim family and work on the construction site. I have studied only up to 4th Standard in a Kannada medium school. I ran away from my house when I was ten years old because of a quarrel between my father and me. I wandered all over India in search of work, peace of mind and aim of my life. 

Encounter with Jesus Christ
Finally I reached Goa where I met a Catholic Lady and she introduced Jesus to me. She suggested that I make a retreat at Divine. Before meeting Jesus, I felt my life was worthless and lonely without friends. I felt very insecure and anxious and was always tensed about my future.

"I will never fail you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
It was at this moment of distress and discomfort that Lord Jesus entered my life and gave me assurance of His Fatherhood. He told me that He loves me, He cares for me, He has a plan for my life - that I am His Child and precious for Him. It was for me that He died on the Cross and He is my Saviour and Lord. I used to long for my father’s love and Jesus filled my emptiness with His love and concern. 

John 15:18, "I will never leave you alone"
He is transforming my life everyday and I experience more and more of His love by listening to the Word of God. I thank the Lord for taking away all my worries, sadness, loneliness and feelings of insecurity. 


Monday, May 10, 2010

From Christ experience to the Trinitarian experience

Saint Paul - From Kristanubhava To Traikyanubhava
- Fr Bryan Lobo S.J


The Christ experience on the road to Damascus, obscured the sight of Saul to reopen it in Paul. This experience was not a personal effort on the part of Paul trying to search for liberation, or self-illumination like Gautama who opened his eyes one day under the Bodhi tree in the full experience of self-actualization and became the Buddha, but quite the contrary. 
It was an experience that was given to the furious persecutor of the Christians by Jesus Christ, the risen Lord who brought about a deep transformation in him and changed his perception of God in a radical way. 

He no longer called on YHWH – Adonai  in fear but called Him ABBA – Father  in love (Rom 8:15). He also felt his whole being as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). It was as though the Christ experience of Paul gave him a Trinitarian experience of God that vibrated with self-giving love for the salvation of humankind; and this became the central message of his gospel.

In this short article of ours we shall try and reflect on this Trinitarian experience of Paul to challenge our own Trinitarian faith and its perceptions. We shall start from the Christ experience of Paul in particular to move slowly towards his Trinitarian experience. We shall not make any theological analysis of the Trinity in the epistles of Paul; this can be found in many recent theological writings. We could rather use such an analysis, when necessary, just to cull the treasures of Paul’s Trinitarian experience as sparked by his Christ experience. We could then use this discovery as a springboard to give meaning to our own experience of the Trinity in Jesus Christ for its better proclamation as a mystery of salvation.

In knowing Christ Paul knows the Trinity

As we very well know, Paul was not heir to the dogma of the Trinity as we are, because the dogma of the Trinity was finalised towards the end of the fourth century. Paul never used the word ‘Trinity’ nor did he preach the Father, Son and the Spirit as una substantia tres personae (one substance and three persons), as the dogma states, where the three persons are considered one in divine nature but distinct in relations. Nor was the word ‘person’ used for God by Paul. How then can we say that Paul had an experience of the Trinity? Does the experience of the Trinity presuppose the knowledge of the Trinitarian dogma? Just because Paul did not use the Greco-Roman philosophical language of the later centuries, does it mean that Paul never had a Trinitarian experience of God? Our basic response to these questions is simply that in knowing Christ, Paul necessarily comes to know the Trinity.   We shall elaborate this response in some detail for better clarification.

To know the Trinity one need not know the dogma. The dogma could be considered as an anti- heresy device, something similar to the anti-virus programme. It was formulated precisely to end the heretical versions due to philosophical problems about the divine nature of the Father, Son and the Spirit which were being circulated in the early Christian community and causing problems. Such a formulation did not give, of itself, a Trinitarian experience to the early Christians; rather, it simply stated their Trinitarian faith which was to be believed and accepted in submission to the revelation of the triune God.

Today we have no dearth of Christians who have not really experienced the Trinity and could still be considered as practical “monotheists” despite their Trinitarian confession, as  Rahner would say.  They pray to Jesus and are devoted to him without having any connection to the Father or the Spirit in practice. Although they would not deny the dogma of the Trinity, because they recite the creed which professes their belief in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Such a profession of faith gives them a verbal knowledge of the Trinity; but at the depth level they lack the experience of the Trinity. In Paul’s case it was not so.

The whole conversion event of Paul (Saul) including his first preaching involves Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father. He is commanded by Jesus to go and enter the city where he would be told what to do (Acts 9: 6). Ananias goes to Paul and, laying his hands on Paul, says, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on your way here has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9: 17). 

Later after being baptised, the first statement that Paul proclaims about Jesus is, “He is the Son of God” (Acts 9: 20). The title Son of God presupposes the Father. It would be interesting to note here that in a single encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus, Paul experiences the whole Trinity. Paul receives no catechetical instruction, no apostolic supervision either of his faith or doctrine (we are not told anything of this kind in scripture). 

Without such a formation, Paul could easily have mistakenly proclaimed Jesus not as the Son, but as a kind of majestic God in solemn isolation, something similar to the supreme Divinity taught in the schools of Vedantic Hinduism or to the doctrine on Allah in orthodox Islam. Rather Paul preaches a Jesus who is intrinsically related to the Father and the Spirit. Paul’s rigorously monotheistic Jewish God was all at once transformed into his experience of the triune Christian God. It was therefore the Christ experience that was foundational to Paul’s Trinitarian faith-experience. The Jewish tradition played a vital part in this perspective because the Messiah or the Son of God was expected by the Jews and Paul experienced its fulfilment through his Christ experience. On the other hand the person of Jesus Christ could not be divested from his background and Jewish history. 

The historical Jesus who necessarily belonged to a culture, which was divinely chosen to be Jewish, was called the Christ after his resurrection. So any experience of this Christ in the early Christian community was necessarily linked to his Jewish historical background. Therefore Paul, due to his Jewish background, and without any training from the apostles was able to have a Trinitarian outlook through his Christ experience. It was as though the Trinitarian experience was deeply embedded in the very Christ experience that he had within the Jewish mileu. Jesus experienced as Son of God, and sender of the Spirit, for Paul, necessarily entailed a Trinitarian experience.

There is a basic controversy in theological circles about Paul’s Trinitarian grasp, which is considered as pre-dogmatic, meaning to say, that the dogmatic understanding of the Trinity (as we have mentioned earlier), did not form part of Paul’s understanding of the Trinity.  This need not deter us from affirming the Trinitarian experience of Paul because Paul is not trying to solve the philosophical problems connected with the One God in three persons; he is, rather, proclaiming the three spiritual subjects that he has experienced in the one human-divine subject, Jesus Christ. It is this proclamation of his experience  that is here called “Trinitarian”.
After the formulation of the Dogma, Trinitarian theology slowly got so abstract and philosophical that the Trinity appeared to be more of a puzzle to be solved than a mystery of salvation. Such talk about the Trinity, more than leading to a Trinitarian experience and proclamation, led to the relegation of the Trinity to the background. So it is that today the Trinity, which in Catholic faith is one of the most important mysteries of salvation, does not, in most cases, touch the lives of the common Christian.  If we need to know how to experience and proclaim the Trinity, in its character as a mystery of salvation, then we must look at Paul.

Experiencing and proclaiming the Trinity as the mystery of salvation

For Paul the salvific significance of the Trinity was evident in his experience of Christ in and through whom the Father saves humankind and sends the Spirit to continue this experience.  If salvation is primarily the consequence of justifying grace, which is the gift of God himself and not some kind of invisible material,  then that salvation is rendered true with the Christ event. The presence of Jesus Christ contains ipso facto the presence of the Father and the Spirit. It is the presence of the triune God with us that is salvific. 

No wonder then that the Pauline blessing strongly bears witness to this fact when it is given as, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”(2 Cor 13: 13). This blessing, as Fee rightly observes, “while making a fundamental distinction between God, Christ and the Spirit, also expresses in shorthand form what is found everywhere throughout his letters, namely that ‘salvation in Christ’ is the cooperative work of God, Christ, and the Spirit”.  This salvific intent is vigorously expressed in a triadic form by Paul when he says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry , “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Rom 8: 14-17).

The Christ experience (anubhava) brings about a transformation within us that effects the presence of the triune God. It is in this that the transformation is given a salvific orientation. We are liberated and set free, just as Paul was liberated after the Christ experience of Damascus. In this spirit of liberation (holy Spirit) we can go ahead, talking of the wonder that God (the Father) has wrought in us and in human history through his loving Son Jesus Christ. It is this experience of freedom, and of salvation, that serves as the valid foundation of the Trinitarian proclamation.

Proclamation of the Trinity, after all the Trinitarian heresies, was done with great caution not to go against the logic and philosophical presuppositions of the people encountered in various regions. Could one God and three persons be possible? Does it not amount to three Gods? Was it just a fiction of the imagination of the early community? If the Son is generated from the Father, then the Son has a beginning, so then the Father and the Son cannot be one God (Arian heretics). Such kind of questions and responses made the proclamation of the Trinity lose its kerygmatic flavour. From all the answers given by theologians down the centuries about the Tri-unity and the Tri-personality of God one thing becomes evident, that each one gives his own perspective on the matter. No one can really say how it is possible that there can be three in one God. Examples and analogies are given, but no one can truly fathom or comprehend the Trinitarian mystery. 

We therefore need to ask ourselves why we should ever try to find answers to this mystery when, in the final analysis, a comprehensive answer is not possible? 

Why should the Trinitarian mystery be looked at as a problem to be solved, so that human beings can in their pride say that they have understood and grasped the Trinity?

Why should ‘one’ be considered in a uniform way and not in a unified way? Why cannot threeness be constitutive of oneness? 

Why should the Trinity be placed within the parameters of our mathematical logic? 

Could it not be the other way around, that we be placed within the parameters of the Trinitarian logic to go against our very individualism, isolation and alienation? 

If my own life partner who lives with me for years can still remain a mystery for me, why cannot God still remain a mystery in his ever abiding presence before and within me? 
The only way to enter into this mystery is to surrender to it in self-giving love and worship just as Paul did. Paul never bothered to search for convincing philosophical arguments to proclaim the Trinity even to an Athenian audience that was steeped in Greek philosophy. For Paul the Trinity was more an experience to be surrendered to, and a mystery of salvation to be proclaimed to the world. The liturgy becomes the ‘source and summit’ of such a surrender and proclamation, where the Trinity comes alive effecting salvation. Today we need more “Pauls” to preach the Trinity than great experts and theologians to unravel the mystery of the Trinity.


Paul’s experience of Christ is intrinsically linked to his experience of the Trinity. It is an experience that is foundationally salvific because the Trinity is primarily the mystery of salvation where grace is effected by the presence of God among us. Paul’s immediate response to this experience was his total surrender to it in mind and heart, just to rise up and proclaim the mystery fearlessly.


This phrase is translated as ‘From Christ experience to Trinitarian experience’.  In the title of this article I have on purpose used the word ‘anubhava’ for experience to maintain the profound richness of meaning that this word carries with it. I do so as well to inject an Indian flavour into the whole article. Gispert Sauch says that anubhava is “an experience that ‘gets through’ (anu-bhu) and transforms one’s whole being, a new form of consciousness that reveals itself as true, self-validated, and therefore in no need of proof,” in Gems from India (Delhi: ISPCK/VIEWS, 2006), p. 97. In the article proper we shall use the word ‘experience’ for greater facility in reading, but its connotation would carry the depth meaning of anubhava.

While talking about the triadic experience of God as saviour, Gordon Fee says, “At the heart of Paul’s theology is his gospel, and his gospel is essentially about salvation – God’s saving a people for his name through the redeeming work of Christ and the appropriation work of the Spirit.” In “Paul and Trinity”, The Trinity, eds., Davis, Kendall & O’Collins (Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 52.

Here we need to distinguish between experiential knowledge and verbal knowledge. To give an example, I can have all the verbal knowledge through my parents of what happened on Independence day in 1947 in their place, but I have never been in that situation myself. My knowledge of that day is verbal. My parents on the other hand who were alive during that time also know what happened during that day in their place. Their knowledge is experiential. Note that I am not using intellectual knowledge for verbal knowledge, as is commonly done because the intellect plays an important role both in experience and verbal knowledge. The Trinitarian dogma does not, of itself, guarantee an experiential knowledge of the Trinity but a verbal knowledge. Only if one starts and continues to contemplate the Trinitarian mystery which the dogma refers to, can an experiential knowledge begin and be deepened.

Karl Rahner, Trinity (London: Burns & Oates, 1975), p. 10. Rahner says, “…despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere “monotheists”.”

 There are theologians who would not accept a Trinitarian substructure in Paul’s theology. See Fee, “Paul and the Trinity…”, p. 49, ft.nt. 3.

Today Trinitarian theology is seen as intrinsically connected to the theology of incarnation and grace. This was not the case in the medieval ages.

Rahner says, that the foundation of grace is the free and forgiving self-communication of God to us. For this idea see Rahner’s, Foundations of Christian Faith, trans. William Dych. (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 1978), pp. 116-137. Here Rahner categorically states, 
“What is communicated is really God in his own being, …”, p. 117.

Fee, “Paul and the Trinity…”, p. 54. To read more on “the triadic experience of God as Saviour” see pp. 52-57.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Muslim Salma Ali converts to Christianity

Salma Ali finds her saviour in Jesus Christ

Highly educated and well-placed upper-caste Hindus and Muslims have also risked censure from their immediate family and community to take the crucial plunge. 
They all have their own reasons for giving up one religion for another. 

As Jesuit sociologist Rudolf C. Heredia puts it in his book, 

Changing Gods, Rethinking Conversion in India: 

"Conversion is a question of personal choice, it involves a rejection, a change or an adaptation of one's identity. A complex set of motivations are involved. The change is the result of a personal quest, which may be more than a religious or spiritual one. Positively, this is experienced as a liberation; negatively, it could be an escape." 

So what is it like to switch from one god to another?


"My mother was a Catholic who converted to Islam when she married my father. We performed namaaz regularly. But my faith was shattered when I came across a verse in the Quran that prescribed corporal punishment for stubborn women. I was shocked. I asked my father, who told me that it was like chiding a child for not listening to elders.

"After my parents separated, I moved in with my mother, who had become extremely short-tempered and abusive. At the same time, she started attending church. I used to attend the congregations she went to, at which people danced and sang, something unheard of in Islam. It was then that I started reading the Bible. I found Christianity a far more liberating religion. My life became stable, and I started doing well in my studies. I have been praying every day ever since."

Hindu Brahmin converts to Christianity

Personal Testimony of Anant Mahadevan, editor of Outlook Business, India

"The world would call it a conversion; I call it a change of heart"  - Anant Mahadevan

Hindu Brahmin Background
I was born a Brahmin and am the grandson of a priest whom I dearly loved. I am educated and my current professional standing indicates that I am reasonably intelligent. I am also affluent and my income would put me distinctly in the upper middle class bracket. I guess that would make me high-caste, rich and smart. In other words, I am not a tribal, or poor or dim-witted. And yet, I chose to become a follower of Jesus Christ.

The world would call me a convert to Christianity. I have no problems with that, though I see my faith more as a relationship with God through Jesus Christ than as a religion. And for the record, I can truthfully claim that no one financially induced or threatened or deceived me into converting to Christianity.

I am fiercely proud of my national identity as an Indian and I am completely at peace with my cultural identity as a Hindu. I retain the name my parents gave me. My wife, who also shares my faith, continues to go by her Hindu name. We have two children and we have given both distinctly Hindu names. In fact, many of my colleagues and acquaintances who may happen to read this column are likely to be surprised. They have no inkling about my faith, for I generally don't go about announcing it. But if someone does ask me the reason behind the joy and hope that is ever present in my life, I am always delighted to share it with them.

Change of Heart not a change of religion
I write this piece to make one point—that my conversion was not a change of religion but a change of heart. To explain this, I need to go back to my childhood in Chennai, similar to that of so many other Tamil Brahmin boys like me. My grandfather, every bit the virtuous priest, had enormous influence over me. I absolutely adored him and as a toddler, always clung to him. He too loved me to a fault. There was no wish of mine that he would not rush to fulfil. But even in my early, formative years I was unable to relate to the religion he fervently practiced. Later, in my school days, I once spent my summer holidays with him in Trichy. Memories of dawn walks with him, for the ritualistic dip in the Cauvery river, cow in tow, are still fresh in my memory. I learnt many shlokas, some of which I still remember. But I never understood any of it and none of it helped me connect with God.

My Introduction to Christianity
When I was 19, a Christian friend with whom I used to play cricket invited me to his house for prayer. If he had invited me to a pub, or party, I would have gone too. At his home, he and his sister prayed for me. It was a simple yet delightful conversation with God that lasted all of five minutes. I don't remember it verbatim, but they articulated a prayer of blessing on my life, future, career and family. It was a simple affair—no miracles, no angels visiting. All they did was utter a deep human cry out to the creator God and His only son Jesus Christ. When they said Amen, I felt in my heart a desire to follow Jesus.

It was a faith encounter with God that I shall not even attempt to understand, rationalise or explain. I simply accept it. It is my faith. It is what I choose to believe. That evening I did not change my religion, for in reality I had none. Hinduism was my identity, not my religion. It still is.

The Christianity I acquired that evening is not a religion. On the contrary, it is an intensely intimate relationship with Jesus. Over the past fifteen years, I have come to know this Jesus even closer. I know Him as the pure and sinless Son of a Holy God. And I know Him as a dear friend to whom I pray and talk to every day—about my career, my dreams, successes, failures, finances and even my sexuality.

How can I not tell all my friends about Him?
If I read a good book, watch a good movie (Rock On is terrific, mate), or eat a good meal at a new restaurant, I would naturally tell my friends about it. In Jesus, I have discovered a truly amazing friend, guide, leader, saviour and God. How can I not tell all my friends about Him? And if anyone does listen and he too comes to believe in Jesus, I am delighted. The world would call it a conversion; I call it a change of heart, like mine.

A constitutional right to practice my faith and to preach it
But I would never force anyone to listen to me, leave alone financially induce, coerce or con him into believing. That to me is pointless and against the very grain of my faith. But I do have a constitutional right to practice my faith and to preach it without deception, force or bribery. It pains to see such basic rights of mankind being cruelly violated every day in this great Hindu nation.

God bless India.

(Anand Mahadevan is the editor of Outlook Business.)


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