A couple of extraordinary events that call for holiness of life are at our doorstep: one is the Conclusion of the Diocesan Phase of the Inquiry of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas and another is the Annual Retreat of the Second Batch. If the first one points at the life of holiness of one of our diocesan

priests, the other provides the opportunity given for our own sanctification. The first one holds before our eyes the example of one of our brethren and the second one helps us to strive for holiness at all times and in all circumstances. The first is the first of its kind in the history of the Diocese of Mangalore, the second one is also unique, though a regular event. In the closing of the process of Inquiry, one stage of arduous work comes to an end, only to begin the Roman phase where the Postulator with the guidance of the Relator has to work hard to put together the data in order to show that the Servant of God lived heroically the theological and cardinal virtues in great humility. The theologians and cardinals will then scrutinize the whole work and recommend to the Pope for his approval.

What is the hallmark of holiness? In his Apostolic Letter on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis speaks of holiness as happiness. Indeed, the holy people are happy people: “The
word ‘happy’ or ‘blessed’... becomes a synonym for ‘holy’. It expresses the fact that those faithful to God and his word, by their self-giving, gain true happiness” (GE 64). Prayer is the instrument that makes us truly happy as it connects us with the source of joy and with the reality around us. Prayer enlarges our heart to contain God himself. In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict citing Augustine says about God’s way of delaying to concur with our requests; it is to create in us greater desire. “Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched. “By delaying [his gift], God strengthens our desire; through desire he enlarges our soul and by expanding it he increases its capacity [for receiving him]” (SS 33).

The Russian pilgrim who prayed constantly reminds us how the unceasing prayer brings along with it the waves of joy. Such prayer did not separate him from what was happening all around him. He says: “Everybody was kind to me; it was as though everyone loved me... Not only did I feel [happiness and consolation] in my own soul, but the whole outside world also seemed to me full of charm and delight” (GE 152). The spirit within us rejoices when it is connected with the Eternal life￾giving Spirit. Prayerful people, who recognize God in others or rather, consider the God of their adoration as also the God of their neighbour, love unconditionally and experience the love of God and others.

We are reminded that holiness could be acquired by each one of us as all have the same call. In holiness there isn’t a hierarchy, as if to say some are called to greater holiness than others. No. Pope Francis insists that silent conversation with God is required for all to be holy and “this is true not only for a privileged few, but for all of us, for ‘we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is adored’. Trust￾filled prayer is a response of a heart open to encountering God face to face, where all is peaceful and the quiet voice of the Lord can be heard in the midst of silence” (GE 149).

The Lord calls each one in his or her own way to be holy and many times such holiness may not be recognized at all. For God’s life is communicated “to some in one way and to others in another” (GE 11), and each one is called to reflect one ray of light coming from the Eternal Sun. It is paying attention to the little details of love with utmost care as Jesus and Mary did. Saint John of the Cross exhorts us: “Endeavour to remain always in the presence of God, either real, imaginative, or unitive, insofar as is permitted by your works” (GE 148).

Those of us who have not done the annual retreat will be having an occasion for experiencing holiness through prayer and contemplation from 21 to 26 July, at the Pastoral Institute. Every priest is obliged to do the annual retreat and seek holiness. Rev. Fr Juventius Andrade, a Redemptorist priest who preached to the December batch would be coming again. As I thank him for his service, I encourage all the priests who have not done their annual retreat in the last batch to enrol their names unfailingly.

In this month, July 16 is unique for many reasons: that day we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; that day Mother Mary appeared for the last time to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in 1854; and the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany was founded in the year 1921 on 16 July by the Servant of God trusting in the providence of God
and intercession of Mother Mary. May this day also be for us a day charged with the love of God for each one us.

On July 17, as we will be concluding the whole process of identifying the virtues lived by the Servant of God, both the Diocese of Mangalore and the Bethany Congregation are grateful to him for his great contribution towards the holiness of the people of God in this part of the world. He had to swim against the current to provide good education to girls and come to aid of the poorer classes. He is an inspiration for priests, religious and the laity. Let us pray that the Lord grant us a saint from our own brethren to inspire and intercede for us.

A warm welcome to all the priests in our diocese to participate in this event.

+Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore