St Alphonsa – Canonization Address

Address at the Public Meeting at the Canonization of Sr Alphonsa at Bharanaganam, Kottayam

Kottayam, Nov 8 2008

St Alphonsa of India

St Alphonsa of India

In giving, receive happiness “Oh humanity, I have glad tidings for you” I am delighted to participate in the Public Meeting celebrating the canonization of Sr Alphonsa, which is a unique event for India particularly for Kerala. I greet all the participants in this noble event which will enable each one of us to think about this great memorable event in the life of Sister Alphonsa. I was asking myself, what spiritual life inspired Sister Alphonsa. Here I would like to remember a great biblical event, where Jesus Christ was crucified, on the day of resurrection Jesus says, “Oh humanity, I have glad tidings for you”. This is a great message of forgiveness and love. In Sister Alphonsa we see such a spiritual awakening. Teacher’s message I am very happy to be at Bharananganam where Sr Alphonsa spent major part of her life and has now been transformed as Saint Alphonsa. Yesterday, I contacted my teacher Rev Father Chinnathurai who is staying in BESKI ILLAM at Dindigul, Tamilnadu, I asked Father Chinnathurai, “Please tell me something unique about Saint Alphonsa”. My teacher gladly said Saint Alphonsa is the first Women Saint in India. Sister Alphonsa became a Saint because she accepted “all the sufferings as God?s Gift”. The value of suffering as reparation for sin and for the change of heart is emphatically reasserted in the life of Blessed Alphonsa. While declaring Sister Alphonsa as a Saint, Pope Benedict XVI said “she suffered herself to heal the suffering of others”. What a great tribute to this loving soul.

Torch bearers of Saint Alphonsa . She was clothed in the religious habit on the 19th of May 1930, during the first pastoral visit made to Bharananganam by the Bishop, Msgr. James Kalacherry. We are proud to be in Bhara-nan-ga-nam, and celebrate the Canonization of Sister Alphonsa into Saint Alphonsa today. The people of this great village have now become the torch bearers of the great soul Saint Alphonsa. One of her thoughts which Saint Alphonsa wrote in her spiritual diary, greatly impressed me which I would like to share with you. “I do not wish to act or speak according to my inclinations. Every time I fail, I will do penance… I want to be careful never to reject anyone. I will only speak sweet words to others. I want to control my eyes with rigour. I will ask pardon of the Lord for every little failure and I will atone for it through penance. No matter what my sufferings may be, I will never complain and if I have to undergo any humiliation, I will seek refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus“. What a powerful message Saint Alphonsa has given to humanity. If only all of us can follow this trait, the world will be a very happy place to live for everyone. Suffering is a gift of God When we study deeper into the life of Saint Alphonsa, we find that she renounced the world. She renounced the desires, she renounced her own preferences. When the others belittled her and taunted her, she accepted all those sufferings with a smile. Never reacting, but always pro-acting, she kept her cool, won the hearts of many, then and even now and forever in future. The married people wear a ring. The nuns wear no ring. But this nun wore a ring, as she said is suffeRING. She suffered and silently she suffered. She knew, silence is the best ornament to wear during the celebrations of suffering

When I am in the land of Saint Alphonsa, where I walk, where I see all around, I hear the song of Saint Alphonsa?s, where she accepted all the sufferings with a smile. Yes the song, song is “What can I give?” in giving “I see Christ”. Here I am reminded

Message of giving When I am in the land of Saint Alphonsa, where I walk, where I see all around, I hear the song of Saint Alphonsa?s, where she accepted all the sufferings with a smile. Yes the song, song is “What can I give?” in giving “I see Christ”. Here I am reminded of a poem on giving: “Radiating message on Giving” “O my fellow citizens, In giving, you receive happiness, In Body and Soul. You have everything to give. If you have knowledge, share it. If you have resources, share it with the needy. Use your mind and heart, to remove the pain of the suffering, and, cheer the sad hearts. In giving, you receive happiness. Almighty will bless all your actions.” We are happy that Pope Benedict XVI accepted Sister Alphonsa’s name for canonization on June 1, 2007, a process that was started 55 years ago. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in Kottayam, 40 years after her death, in recognition of the numerous miracles associated with her. On 12 Oct 2008, Sister Alphonsa was canonized as a Saint Alphonsa by the Pope. Today we are celebrating the canonization of Sister Alphonsa at Bharanan-ganam, Kottayam. Scaling great height through silent suffering God loves children, because they do not consider themselves as great. Pride does not rule them. They are humble. Sr. Alphonsa was humble like a child, accepting all that happened as the will of God. And so God loved her immensely. So He blessed her immensely. “I will bless you and you will become a blessing for all”. St. Alphonsa has become a blessing for all.

She is a blessing for all, because of the fragrance of her holiness. Miracles will not happen, just because you have money to spend. People will not get mental and spiritual solace, just because there is somebody with money and power. People knew of the fragrance of her holiness on those days when she was living. Immediately after her death there had been a flow of people seeking her blessing. This continued till today and will continue till the end of times. Here I am reminded of a famous verses of Al-Quran: O Lord grant to me the love of you. Grant that I love those that love you. Grant that I may do the deeds that win your love. Make your love dearer to me than self, family or wealth. Conclusion Let us all take pledge to emulate Saint Alphonsa?s qualities such as being a noble human being, working towards harmony in the home, order in the nation and peace in the world. I am reminded of a hymn which I would like to share with you. “Righteousness” Where there is righteousness in the heart There is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, There is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home. There is an order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, There is peace in the world. Dear friends, let the spiritual light of Saint Alphonsa radiate from this great land of Kerala to our nation and many many nations. Let us pray all of us, on the day of remembrance of Saint Alphonsa that prosperity, happiness and peace engulfs the people of the world. My greetings and best wishes to all of you. May God Bless you.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam



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