India: A joyful yes to God’s love

For those with faith, life is a love story. For faith is the “wonderful way of realising love in life through the vocation to follow Christ”, according to Pope Saint John Paul II.

This is above all true of the loving dedication of the priest, day by day and throughout life, as that great Doctor of the Church Saint Thomas Aquinas put it in the last known words we have from him: “For love of Thee I have watched, studied and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee … but if I have written aught erroneous …, I submit all to the judgement and correction ofthe Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life.”

It is for a life such as this, in love of God and obedience to the Church, that all the seminarians are now preparing. They already felt this in their hearts when they said yes to the call of God, and they know that as priests they will “continue the work of redemption on Earth” as the holy Curé of Ars once put it. This is the core of their vocation, the seed that is nurtured and tended with such loving care in the seminary. For “ultimately, it is not administrators and managers we are training, but brothers and fathers, who will accompany the people on their journey through life”, as Pope Francis puts it. In the Carmelite seminary in Calcutta (Kolkata), in India’s West Bengal, 18 young men are currently training for this life.

In the garden: tending God’s creation.
In the garden: tending God’s creation.

A life dedicated to God and the others

They come from all over India to the central seminary of the order, which is dedicated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the Patroness of the Missions. Here they grow as brothers, in unity of spirit, regardless of which corner of India they come from. In this unity they draw strength for their future life. For now though, their life is filled with study, garden work, and above all prayer. It is a training that equips them to accompany others through life, for later it will be their task to “comfort the fearful, embrace the weak, refute enemies, guard against the importunate, instruct the ignorant, rouse the slothful, admonish the proud, encourage the failing, pacify the quarrelsome, help the poor, free the oppressed, acknowledge the good, suffer the bad and, oh – love them all!”, to quote Saint Augustine’s description of his daily life.

But even this training in love still costs money. The seminary can cover almost 80% of its annual costs. They have asked us for the remaining €5,400, so they can make ends meet. Surely, their joyful yes to God’s love must be worth that much to us?

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