Dec. 13-14, 2006
The city of Trivandrum, situated in the southern tip of India, was not in our original program. At the time Vassula's December 2006 itinerary was being prepared by the TLIG organizers for India, Vassula had been requested to visit the city of Mangalore, north of Kerala. But our Lord had other plans and He made Vassula feel unable to accept this invitation. Jesus has often said to Vassula that He is her Spiritual Director; this is one incident that shows the manner in which Our Lord directs Vassula, and guides her as He wishes. Anyone who has given Our God his entire heart and his entire will, Our Lord will guide his soul as He does Vassula's; He will be in command of everything in his life, leading it as He thinks best: for the renewal not only of His Church but also for the renewal of our soul.
When we arrived in Kottayam, in Kerala, Prof. John and the other TLIG Organizers for this region informed Vassula that an Archbishop in Trivandrum eagerly desired to travel the four hours from Trivandrum to attend Vassula's meeting in Pala. Prof. John told us that he had offered him seven volumes of the TLIG Messages in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, and that he had read all of them, rejoicing in its contents which presented Jesus as a truly resurrected Christ. But the Archbishop had unfortunately taken ill and was in hospital for several days. It was out of the question for him, given his health, to travel so far in his fragile condition. This was later, however, understood as providential and God's move.
On arrival at our hotel, Prof. John phoned the Archbishop and talked to him, then passed on the phone to Vassula. She heard and understood the regret in the Archbishop's voice and sensed how he longed to meet her.
Prof. John asked Vassula if she would be willing to travel to Trivandrum and visit the Archbishop in the hospital; this meant of course, that the whole Program would be changed and new air tickets would need to be purchased for Trivandrum-Mumbai. To my great surprise, Vassula, without hesitation, agreed to the 4 hour train ride and all the changes, so long as there would be no hindrance to continuing her journey back to Mumbai and on to the Philippines as scheduled. Prof. John and his TLIG collaborators acted quickly and managed to make the necessary changes.
Vassula speaks at the Assisi Renewal Center, Pala
After Vassula's Program of Press interviews in Kottayam, and her big Meeting in Pala the following day where she spoke to 4,000 people, we proceeded to the Pastoral Orientation Centre in Kochi. Once there, Vassula had the opportunity to meet 36 bishops belonging to the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC), on the issue of Christian unity. The KCBC is a permanent association of the Catholic Bishops in Kerala and an association of the three rites of the Church in Kerala: the Latin, the Syro Malabar and the Syro Malankara. The oriental rites trace their origin to the preaching of St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus, and so they are often called the "St. Thomas Christians."
On the train to Trivandrum, totally oblivious of events to come
Our train left Kochi at 5:50 pm, and arrived in Trivandrum 4 hours later. To our great surprise, we were welcomed on the Trivandrum Train Station platform by what appeared to be a whole congregation of priests. They were all dressed in their traditional white cassocks and holding a wide streamer with Vassula's picture and the words: "Hearty Welcome to Mrs. Vassula Ryden, the World-renowned mystic!" At their head, bearing beautiful bouquets of flowers was their Bishop, who received Vassula majestically and with great honor and expressed his joy over our coming to their city, the capital of Kerala.
At the Archbishop's Residence, posing with the Clergy and the Welcome streamer
We were invited to stay at the Archbishop's Residence, the main headquarters of the Syro-Malankara Church. It was only then that we discovered the identity of the bed-ridden Archbishop whom we had traveled so far to visit and who was so keen to meet the bearer of the Messages. We were overcome with surprise to realize it was none other than the head of the Syro Malankara Church himself, His Beatitude, Catholicos Cyril Mar Baselios, the Major Archbishop of the Malankara Catholic Church. This Church consists of Catholics who follow the rite of Antioch, in communion with Rome since 1930.
In the Cathedral of Trivandrum
Christ had saved other surprises for Vassula. During the dinner hosted by their community, Fr. C.C. John, the Director for Laity of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, presented Vassula with a program that had been set that very day. She was asked to address the faithful attending the early morning Mass, the priests and seminarians, and all the nuns and novices as well. We were also informed of more good news: His Beatitude was suddenly feeling much better and could leave the hospital, giving him the opportunity to finally receive Vassula in his own quarters and speak to her personally.
A general strike had been announced a couple of days before Vassula was scheduled to speak at the Cathedral of Trivandrum. Her audience was therefore limited to only a few parishioners who managed to come; the majority that filled up the Cathedral were diocesan priests and seminarians, and the nuns and novices of different religious orders. No one in the Church had ever heard of her Message.
The Divine Liturgy in the rite of Antioch
We were received at the door of the beautiful Cathedral of Trivandrum by several priests and in procession they escorted us to the front. The Divine Liturgy in the Antiochian rite was beautiful and we felt the Holy Spirit ever present. After that, Fr. C.C. John introduced Vassula with an extended introduction from Prof. John.
The Clergy listening intently to Vassula
Vassula addressed the people for half an hour, sharing her intimate experiences with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; emphasizing that Christ wants everyone to have an intimate and personal experience with God in our daily lives. She went on to explain that prayers of the heart are needed more than ever for the conversion of the world, since prayers are the means to reach God; that their lives should become as an Unceasing Prayer, explaining to them the Unceasing Prayer that Jesus had taught her at the very beginning of her call. Then she spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual lives: that only through a truthful repentance with tears of compunction, would we then empty ourselves of sin, guilt and iniquity, and all that was not holy, giving thus space to the Holy Spirit to invade us. She made them understand it is only through repentance, dying to one's will, and total abandonment to God, that we are able to know God's Divine Will for us.
Vassula's speech was rendered with simplicity, revealing to all how to live a true life in God. It seemed that everyone wanted to know more, but time did not allow us. Prof. John had carried 50 TLIG books in Malayalam which were distributed after her talk.
His Beatitude, Moran Cyril Mar Baselios, Catholicos and Major Archbishop
We returned to the Archbishop's Residence to have a quick breakfast, after which we were escorted to His Beatitude's office. We were received graciously, while he expressed his joy to Vassula, disclosing that he had read all the Messages up to volume 7. Vassula then offered him the newly published TLIG One-Book, Cambridge edition containing all 12 volumes of the Message. He confided to her that the Indian people are mystical people who are able to easily relate to the mystical language of the Messages of True Life in God. When Vassula explained that through the Messages, people discover Jesus in their daily lives, that they find the personal experience with God and discover God's Intimacy, His Beatitude added: "The Indian people want to know and discuss the Person of God, they are interested in the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, that God meets man in Jesus Christ. The abstract speculations of who God is are insufficient. We want to convince the Hindus that Christ is the Person in whom we meet God." Vassula then shared that in Europe, many people no longer believe in anything because they have intellectualized God. To this, His Beatitude replied: "We simply insist on the original theology, the concept of God Himself speaking to man." This is exactly what Jesus has been teaching Vassula and all of us when He said: "the true theology is the contemplation to Me, your God..." (August 7, 2002)
Vassula speaks to His Beatitude of her mission
A cheerful exchange of gifts
Early that morning, Vassula had asked Jesus to give her a Message, and she opened the book she intended to give His Beatitude later in the day, to a Message on Unity. She marked it for His Beatitude to read, little did she know that Archbishop Mar Baselios was a champion of Ecumenism and Inter-Faith dialogue. A former Catholic Bishops' Conference of India President, His Beatitude was elected Chairman of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council in 1996 and served as consultant and referent for many offices and theological commissions in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India and in the Universal Church. The respected Archbishop was a great scholar in Indian culture and was proud of his Indian heritage. He worked for the unity of both Indian Christian denominations as well as unity of the various Indian religions.
A remembrance of this blessed day
A month after our visit, we were informed of the death of the ailing Archbishop; the Lord took him last January 18, at the start of Unity Week and during a very special day for True Life in God.
It was a great honor to be in Kerala to meet its Bishops and His Beatitude with his people, who welcomed God's work and rejoiced. Our Lord had planned it all, laying gifts after blessings for True Life in God, advancing His Work by leaps and bounds.