Tuesday, May 24, 2011

After a series of dreams about Mary, Hindu couple joins the Church

It was three years ago when Uma Krishnan says she first dreamed of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Uma and Kumar Krishnan pose on their wedding day with red, orange and yellow flowers and the statue and candles from Uma’s dreams.

It was January 2006 and she was living in Singapore with her husband, Kumar, and her son, Karthi. In her dream she saw a “very humble lady” surrounded by candles.

She and Kumar were devout Hindus and they knew the lady in Uma’s dreams was not a Hindu god. They knew little of Christianity, but they thought this lady might be the Blessed Mother. Still, because they came from a long tradition of Hinduism in India, they didn’t give the dream much thought. 

Later that year Kumar got a job that took him to San Diego. A few months later, he found a new job in McLean. Uma and Karthi joined him that December.

Uma began to have more dreams of Mary. One night she dreamed she was walking into a church she’d never seen before. Once inside, she turned right and found a little room where there were red candles and a statue of Mary. 

The second night, she was in the same room, but this time she saw a big cross made of palm leaves.

Another night, she dreamed she was in a boat. On her right was a black woman with dark hair and on her left, a lady wearing a blue scarf and holding a Bible. The woman in blue showed Uma some verses to read to make her worries disappear. In her dream, Uma read the Bible verses and both women disappeared.

Uma and Kumar talked about the dreams and, by the fourth night, they decided to visit a church to see what was happening.
Kumar typed “St. Mary Church Fairfax” into Google and entered the address from the first result into his GPS device. The address was for St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax.

When they got to the church, Uma was shocked. On the outside, it looked just like the church she had dreamed about the first night. When they went inside and turned right, there was a small chapel with red votive candles, a statue of Mary and a cross. It was just like her dreams. Uma started to cry.

“The moment was so touching,” Kumar said. “We were not even Christians and we were not even worshipping when we got such a thing. We were Hindus and we didn’t exactly know how to pray, but we just sat there and said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for all these visions and thank you for bringing us here. We don’t know what to do, you tell us, you guide us, show us what has to be done.’”

After the first visit to the church, a few days passed and Uma and Kumar didn’t return. Instead, they went to their Hindu temple.
Uma had another dream. She saw the statue of Mary on the outside wall of the church. Mary’s arms were out and there was a bright light coming from behind. In Uma’s mind, the statue seemed to be saying, “Come back to me.” 

When Uma told Kumar, they decided to go to St. Mary of Sorrows that day. It was a Wednesday, and this time, they went into the main meeting room, where the Charismatic Prayer Group gathered. They shared their story and prayed with them. After that, Uma and Kumar began to attend Mass and the Charismatic Prayer Group every week.

Uma’s dreams continued, but the couple also started experiencing strange “spiritual disturbances.” Uma would have nightmares, and during the day, alone at home, she would hear strange laughing, heavy breathing or footsteps. Sometimes she would feel a pressure on her neck and would have trouble breathing.

The disturbances were so bad that Uma was afraid to be alone. Kumar would drop her off at St. Mary of Sorrows when he went to work in the morning and she would stay at the church all day.
Frightened, Uma and Kumar talked to Father Stefan Starzynski, St. Mary of Sorrows parochial vicar.

Uma and Kumar Krishnan smile with St. Mary of Sorrows parochial vicar Father Stefan Starzynski after receiving the sacraments of baptism, Communion, confirmation and marriage at the church in September.

Starzynski told them the disturbances might be coming because they were moving away from Hinduism. He told them not to worry and that they’d be okay if they just went toward the one, true God.
“Even as Hindus they were coming to the prayer groups and the healing Masses and praying the rosary every day, so I think something was trying to stop them from entering fully in the Faith” Father Starzynski said

Kumar and Uma decided to get rid of all of their Hindu belongings and devote themselves entirely to Catholicism.
Because of their circumstances, the parish had a team of four parishioners teach the couple a condensed version of the traditional yearlong Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program. Uma and Kumar went to the program every Saturday to learn about the sacraments and to discuss the Bible.

“It sounded like Mary was calling them to us and I felt like we had a responsibility to them,” said Father Starzynski. “They told me they wanted to become Catholic and they were so excited and eager that I thought this was an opportunity to be flexible.”
By the end of August, the group decided the family was ready to become Catholic. Sept. 12, Uma, Kumar and Karthi were baptized and the couple received the sacraments of confirmation, Communion and marriage.

In the days leading up to the ceremonies, Uma and Kumar feel they received lots of help from Mary.
Though they had a very limited budget and hardly any time to plan, Uma and Kumar wanted to have a nice wedding ceremony. They only had $400 to spend on a wedding dress for Uma, but their son found a perfect dress for $399.
Then, after deciding wedding photographers would be too expensive, a photographer from the parish offered his services for free.
Before the baptism and wedding day, Uma had another dream. This time Mary was standing outside the historic St. Mary of Sorrows Church, with a big smile on her face. She was holding two wedding rings and three rosaries — red, orange and yellow.
The couple decided to use those colors in Uma’s bouquet and on the wedding cake, all donated by fellow churchgoers.

On the actual day, the whole parish was invited to see Uma and Kumar receive the sacraments. A reception was held in the hall of the historic church, decorated with red, orange and yellow flowers.
“Even though we hadn’t planned things, God had planned for us,” Kumar said. “He planned everything so perfectly and he took care of everything, right down to the photographs. It was like he has predicted this marriage for us. We are so glad and so thankful and so lucky to be here.” 

Father Starzynski said Uma and Kumar’s conversion story shows that God works in mysterious ways. He felt honored that he could be there to help the family.
“I think it speaks to how beautifully God can work and does work,” he said. “It makes you think, are we flexible enough to understand the ways God may work that are outside the box that we have constructed?”

Since they received the sacraments, Kumar and Uma say the disturbances and nightmares have stopped. Uma feels stronger and is able to stay home by herself with no fear.
“We feel like the Holy Spirit in her has just given her this total protection,” Kumar said.
The couple says they are constantly impressed with the parish community.
“I feel like I’ve been wandering all over the place and that I’ve come home,” Kumar said. “I never heard of such good people, such good Catholic people.” 

And through it all, Uma’s dreams of Mary continue.
“Whether it’s good or bad, we want to share them with everybody so everybody knows about it,” Kumar said. “Some may take it badly, but we want to share it. We are very fortunate. I feel lucky, I feel honored and I feel blessed.”


Saturday, May 14, 2011


Fr. Matthew Naickomparambil V.C.

If our life is to be sanctified, we should listen to the Word and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Word reveals to us all spheres of life in which we need purification. Life will be purified by listening to the Word. 

 Photo - Fr James Manjackal M.S.F.S - preaching the Word of God

Although rains fall very heavily on the ground for quite a while, the water does not stay on the ground for too long. It disappears in so many ways. But the water collected in some low areas or in reservoirs might stay there for quite some time. The Word of God is very similar to this phenomenon. In the humble hearts, in the hearts that seek God, in the hearts where the Word is received with love and reverence and obeyed accordingly, it stays longer. It will also bring about abundant fruit. 

Just like the water collected in the reservoirs becomes useful to many people, those who study the Word of God with interest and industry and give it to others at appropriate times will be a great blessing to the Mother Church and also to the world at large.

Out of the believers heart shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). Let this Word be fulfilled. Proclamation of the Word, attending a retreat, a life according to the Scripture constitutes the holy water, the living water. The Word of God is capable of making significant changes in ones life. 

Here are the things the Word can do for you: 
1.You will be cleansed (Jn 15:3). 
2. You get the strength to free yourself from the state of sin. 
3. You will be born from above (Jn 3:3, 5). 
4.You get the spiritual inclination to live in the Word of God. 
5. Through good communions you will be led to the heights, as you gradually enter deeper spiritual levels. 
6. Just like material things get cleansed and purified in the powerful currents, in the flow of the Word the impurities of the heart will be washed away. 
7. Those who listen to the Word will be blessed with a number of graces. These include sincere repentance, humility, freedom from selfishness, compassionate love, fidelity and loyalty to the good God and self control. 

Divine blessings of this solemn nature can come only from Jesus, the Word made flesh. The person who recognizes this fact will have the discretion to separate the chaff from the grain to know the perverse tendencies and wrong objectives and reject them outright. It is because we were hankering after the love of worldly men and material gains, misconstruing them as our real objectives, that we conveniently and without qualms ignominiously pushed Jesus and the Ways of His Cross into the back seat. 

As an obvious result of our indiscretion, we became slaves to the fear of men's assessment and evaluation about us, with no worries about what God would think of us if we did not do his will. This way we foolishly relinquished the peace and joy that God would give us if we carried out his behest. 

Thus, because of our recalcitrance, we and our dear ones lost the life in the Holy Spirit and we unwittingly treaded the worldly paths. As we abandoned the life in the Holy Spirit, we could hardly make any gains in the fields of transformation of the sinners and the salvation of the gentiles. But by throwing yesterdays iniquities and their consequent impurities to the wind, the Word of God is raising us to a new life. 

Behold, the time has arrived. Let us listen to the Word, seek the advice of Jesus, and live according to the will of God. Let us make our life an appropriate one for the servants of God, filled with the graces of the Holy Spirit, guided by God himself. Let our life be Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, (for the Greater Glory of God). 

Jesus, fill me with thy Word. 
Remove the darkness in me through your Word. 
Cleanse all my impurities. 
Let your Word be my guiding light in my path. 
Holy Spirit, enlighten my wisdom so that I can grasp the meaning of the Word and live in accordance with it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pope John Paul II - a man of prayer

Let us Pray

O Jesus, we offer the whole Church to You
That all the leaders of the Church will be anointed in the Holy Spirit at all times.
O Jesus, help us to be people of prayer.

On 2 April 2005, when it was announced in Vatican that our Holy Father, John Paul II had passed away, tens of thousands of people were gathered in St. Peter's Square, tears flowing down from their eyes. They said, "We're orphaned." The pain of being orphaned was written on the face of the Church throughout the world during this period of mourning. After having ruled the Church as Shepherd, Pope John Paul II, had gone home into the arms of the Heavenly Father.

"Be A Praying Priest"

When I think of the Holy Father, what comes into my mind is the beautiful memory of meeting him in Rome a number of years back. I was studying in Rome. I had completed my doctorate in the Gregorian University and I went for a private audience with the Pope to present to him my doctorate thesis. I explained to him the theme of my thesis and he listened to everything. And then he asked me, "How is your Dad and Mum?" I told him, "My Dad is sick in hospital" and pressing my hands together, he said, "Tell your Dad the Pope is praying for them." Tears filled my eyes. I knew I was standing in the presence of a great Pontiff…a great Shepherd who cares for the sheep. I remembered what Jesus said (John 10:14), "I know my own. My own knows me." Here is the Holy Father, the great Shepherd, concerned about every individual - obviously he cannot know every one but his heart went out of him in concern and love to know and to care for everyone. He was not a shepherd looking after a crowd but he was concerned about every individual - leaving the 99 in the desert and going after 1 sheep. At the end of this meeting, the Holy Father told me, "Be a praying priest" - a message of love that I keep in my heart with a lot of joy and affection. When one stands in the presence of the Holy Father, one feels an aura of holiness filling everywhere. It is like one was in touch with the holiness of God.

Every Decision Taken in Prayer

Everyone who knows the inner circle of the life of the Holy Father knew this - that he was a great man of prayer. He spent hours in prayer everyday. Recently I heard a real incident that happened inside Vatican. The Holy Father was in prayer in his private chapel and the Cardinal in-charge of International Affairs in the Vatican came to the chapel wanting to speak to the Pope. His Secretary told the Cardinal that the Holy Father was in prayer. 

The Cardinal said, "The matter is very urgent and very important and I need to know the comment of the Holy Father immediately and urgently." So the Secretary went to the Pope and told him the 'the Cardinal is waiting for you. He says he has a very important and urgent message to discuss with you." The Holy Father smiled and asked his Secretary, "Did the Cardinal say the matter is very urgent and important?" And the Secretary replied, "Yes, that is what the Cardinal says." Then the Holy Father said, "Tell the Cardinal if the matter is so urgent and so important, I need to pray a bit more." A man of prayer - he always wanted to pray a bit more! He always wanted to be united with God. Every decision was taken in prayer. The Holy Father used to say, "All my teachings are evolved in the moments of my prayer." He taught great things - but not always pleasing to the men and women of the world. This is a Holy Father who did not please the world and yet the world admired him because he was different. He wanted to be different.

Committed To Please Jesus

There are many leaders today who want to please the people and remain in authority. The Holy Father knew his authority came from God - and he was committed to please Jesus. 

Here, I remember the scene described in the Gospel (John 21:15 onwards) - Jesus asking Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than everything else?" Jesus asked this question THREE times. The third time, Simon Peter was grieved. But whether Simon Peter was grieved or not, Jesus wanted an answer from him. And only when Simon Peter answered him in the affirmative, "I love you, Lord, more than everything else." Only then did Jesus say, "Feed my sheep." 
Everyone in authority in the church should be a person committed to please Jesus - to love Jesus. To love Him more than everything else and be committed to lead the sheep to Him. Not as the people want, not according to the whims and fancies of the times, but as Jesus wants them to be led. And the Pope was particularly aware of this - his commitment was to Jesus, the Shepherd.

Jesus – A Man of Prayer
Jesus was different. He did not flow with the tide of the people; with the current thinking of the times. He had his own thinking to give to the people - that's why Jesus was different. He got all those insights from the Father. 

The gospels present to us Jesus as a man in prayer. In Luke Chapter 11, Jesus was in prayer and the disciples were waiting outside. After Jesus had finished his prayer, they asked Him, "Master, teach us to pray." St. Augustine becomes eloquent when he interprets this passage and he says the only thing the disciples wanted to do as the Master did was prayer. Jesus was doing great things in the presence of the disciples. He calmed the sea; he fed 7000 people with just 7 loaves of bread; he healed lepers. But not once did the disciples want to do anything as Jesus did. The only thing they wanted to learn was to pray as Jesus did! 


For the disciples, Jesus was first and foremost a man of prayer - His life and his teachings flowed out of prayer.
It is written in the gospel of Mark Chapter 2 -"the whole night Jesus prayed and when he came down from the mountain, he chose the Twelve Apostles." In the gospel of Luke Chapter 5, Jesus healed a leper and the leper went about all over the place shouting, "I 'm healed and Jesus healed me!" The name and fame of Jesus increased - his popularity spread everywhere. Yet in the next sentence- "Jesus retired to a lonely place to pray." In Luke Chapter 12, Jesus healed a man with a withered arm on the Sabbath and the Pharisees found fault with him. "How can Jesus heal on the Sabbath?" and they were plotting against him, planning to kill him. Jesus knew this - and the next sentence - "He retired to a lonely place to pray." The pain of misunderstanding - he went to the Father to share everything with Him.

In moments of decisions, in the moments of popularity, in the moments of sadness and misunderstanding, at all moments in his life, what Jesus did was to retire to a lonely place to pray. The one picture of Jesus that loomed large in the mind of the Holy Father was - of Jesus in prayer. He was a great man of prayer. We have seen beautiful pictures of the Holy Father with the rosary in hand praying, concentrated in prayer. In prayer, he got everything from God and he decided everything in the light of prayer.

Pope For the Youth

Pope John Paul II was the Pope of the Youth. He understood the wavelength of the heart of the youth. It is the Youth that came to see him at the end of his life. Most of the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square were youth who came to be with him in his last hours. In fact, the Pope did not try to please them. No, He did not! He did not try to win affection from them by giving them what they wanted instead he gave them Jesus. He knew Jesus should be the model for the Youth and the young picked up that wavelength very beautifully and powerfully. They understood the Pope was giving them what was necessary for their growth and for their future. And they loved him for that.

Be A Saint

The Holy Father challenged the Youth to stand up for the ideals of the Gospel. He told them that they needed to be the saints of the times. A saint is person who is different. In the world, the corruption of sin is prevalent. Injustice and greed reign everywhere. He told them to fight for justice for every individual and for every nation in the world. 

Sexual licentiousness is rampant all over. prevalent everywhere. He challenged them - "You need to be pure as Jesus was pure." Consumerism is the rule of the day. He challenged them, "Be simple in your living that you may be able to help everyone in need." Be saints of this century! -this was the message he gave to the Youth.

India Remembers

We in India are particularly grateful to the Holy Father. He visited us twice - once to declare two Indians as Blessed - Blessed Alphonsa and Blessed Cyriac Elias Chavara. And then Mother Teresa was declared Blessed in St. Peter's Square.

The Holy Father had great admiration for this country. I remember he told me in that meeting, "Your country is a land of spirituality, of sages and saints." When he came to India for the second time, he said to us, "The Church in India has a special mission to proclaim Jesus the Saviour to this land of spirituality" - and that is our mission.

My dear brothers and sisters, the day before the death of the Holy Father, he called the Reverend Sisters and those who were serving him close to his bed and he told them, "I'm happy. You also must be happy. I don't want any tears." So we have no right to shed tears. What we need to do is to raise our hearts up to God, the Eternal Shepherd, to thank Him for giving us such a great, such a holy, such a wonderful Shepherd to lead the Church.

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C.


Official Website of Pope John Paul II - http://www.karol-wojtyla.org/

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