This story comes from a young priest who is completing his doctoral studies in Physics in Japan. Brilliant in the world of science, Fr Gandhi speaks of his first love and deepest attraction that moves him far more deeply than books and learning.—Editor
Born in a Hut
I was not born in the hospital. It was in a poor hut that I entered the world. Nobody else was at home when my mother delivered me. I was told by my mother that, soon after I was born, I fell into a hole which was used for grinding paddy to make rice. The first person who saw my mother and me was an elderly woman who came to get some food from us.
The life that began in this poor hut was very beautiful—with all the love around. My parents were known for their love, discipline and simplicity. Praying the Rosary at home was so normal that, if we didn’t pray the rosary, my father would not allow us to eat dinner. He was truly a good and holy man.
Life is about love
Life is all about finding and dwelling in love, the love of Christ. Nobody is born knowing the purpose of life. We realize our purpose during the course of time. I started to go back and reflect on my life and tried to connect the dots. I thus came to realize that it was Christ who was/is passionately in love with me and pulled me out from great dangers of life. Realizing this, I would shed tears, convinced that He alone is essential in life. All the rest is transient.
Love is stronger than death. I was studying in the VIII standard in a boarding school at Chetpet in Tamilnadu. During my vacation, I came home and went to a nearby forest to be alone by myself looking up the trees and enjoying the breeze. When I looked down, I was terrified to see a black snake very near to my toe. The snake saw me and ran away. Suddenly it dawned on me that I should give my life to Christ as a priest. I entered the Salesian apostolic school as a IX standard student.
During my seminary life, I was always drawn to personal prayer. The love of Christ was so strong that I was easily pulled in to the Blessed Sacrament. I loved to spend long hours in personal prayer.
Once the provincial asked us, pre-novices, at what age we wanted to die. Some said 80, 70, 60 and so on. I said I wanted to die at the age of 33.
Something happened on May 24, 2001. It was the day of our first profession. We put up a tent outside and arranged for the first profession Mass. During the Eucharistic celebration, all the novices came forward and professed in front of the provincial by kneeling down. When my turn came, I knelt down and started reciting the profession formula. Suddenly, there was a heavy wind that shook the whole tent so high that the pole supporting the tent came down and landed on my head. I felt dizzy and was moved immediately to rest a while. The Mass continued. After the Mass, my mother told the novice master that Jesus himself was crucified and that my son has received a sign from above.
One Love above all others
Religious life is not about getting used to a dry spirituality. It is an everyday affair of completely falling in love with Christ, in a simple heart-to-heart dialogue with the Beloved. God wants to be greeted by simple people whose hearts are pure, innocent and unassuming. Once a person has experienced the love of God, he or she will find that all other loves will become very trivial. The Lord will never let you down. You are surrounded by His love.
After my diaconate, the Holy Spirit put into my heart the seed of praying the breviary faithfully at different hours. The road to priesthood is not easy. The devil constantly attacks a priest. I started experiencing dryness, anxiety, worries. I increased my personal prayer. Along with the personal prayer, I found God’s love letters in the breviary and gained a lot of strength.
I was ordained a priest on December 27, 2013. A spiritual experience I had soon after was that I celebrated my first Mass at the central jail in Vellore. Twenty-five Catholic prisoners attended the Mass. This has been a memorable experience for me. I realized that love of God will always push us to the love of neighbour.
The Healing Power of Confession
Soon after ordination, I had the chance to hear onfessions in a shrine for a few hours. I felt the healing of the souls during confession. I realized the Lord had given me a special gift of hearing confession for hours without feeling tired. I felt very happy that day.
I got a great opportunity to go to Velankanni to hear confessions and celebrate Mass for about a month. I used to hear confessions for six to seven hours a day. It was a great spiritual experience. I never felt tired. The healing that occurs to the penitent in confession is beyond understanding. I started praying for those penitents. The mercy of the heavenly Father is amazing and overflowing.
Once I was saved almost miraculously during an attack on a bus I was travelling in. I realized: “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31). “Many are the trials of the just man, but the Lord rescues him from them all” (Ps. 34:19). I always felt the love of God binding me all the time.
Doctoral Studies and… Cancer
On August 19, 2015, I came to Japan to do my doctoral studies in physics. The first eight months of my research were very hard and stressful. There were many failures in my research work. I learnt to thank and praise Jesus for all the failures.
Then, on August 21, 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer. I said, “Thank you Jesus! Praise you Jesus!” I thanked Jesus for the gift of life, a gift He has the right to take away. During my personal prayer, I remembered with grateful heart all the people who came into my life and I asked pardon for the times when I hurt people. I realized very strongly that when God is involved, anything can happen. While praying the night prayer on August 21, 2016, the Lord gave me a message through Psalm 91: “With length of life, I shall content him. I shall let him see my saving power.”
I was waiting for my first treatment to begin. It was summer vacation in Japan. Meantime, I was praying to someone who I thought would surprise me with a gift. I got the appointment and went for the first treatment. It was a new treatment. It is called cancer energy annihilation therapy (CEAT). The doctor was a Catholic. After the first treatment, the doctor said; “Your cancer has been reduced 99 per cent.” My first treatment was on September 8, the birthday of Our Lady. She gave me a gift. The second treatment was on September 12, the feast of Holy name of Mary. After the second treatment, the doctor said, “Just 0.5% of cancer is remaining.” After a few days I was asked to come for the third treatment. After the third treatment, the doctor said, “Your cancer has completely disappeared and you will never be a cancer patient.” I thanked the doctor, but he pointed to the crucifix he had in his operation theatre.
My third treatment was on September 14, 2016, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. “Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away” (Song of Songs 8:7). Within one week, I was healed completely. I asked the doctor when I would have got this cancer disease. He said; “Your cancer was detected very early. It is very rare to detect it at this early stage. You may have got it one year ago, which means the year 2015. Cancer is usually is detected after 10 or 20 years.” In my case it was just one-year-old. I had contracted the disease exactly when I was 33 years old, the year I wanted to die.
Keep Falling in Love
I got good results in my research and went to California twice to present my research paper and I also gave an invited talk at Vienna. I defended my doctoral thesis on June 9, 2018.
More than all my studies, one thing I am very much convinced of is this: Keep falling in love Jesus Christ and radiate His love to all whom He sends to me. Life is all about Jesus Christ. Love of Christ overcomes everything. Fall in love with Christ—not once, but forever.
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Fr Gandhi Kallarasan SDB