Divine Retreat center : Day 4

Today it was supposed to be the day where everyone is supposed to receive the gift of the holy spirit. Frankly, I was just too tired and overwhelmed after having seated myself from morning till evening on the same seat for the last 4 days. It felt like I was impaled on a  javelin.

Highlight of the day was I learned 2 new Jewish words

Shalom Aleichem : Peace be upon you.
Aleikhem shalom: Upon you be peace.

Supposedly predates the popular Arab greeting of Asla Malaikum and Malaikum Salam by a 1000 years.



Divine Retreat Center : Do you believe in miracles?

Before I get to the subject matter, I have to give a nod to the individual (Fr. Mathew Elavunkal V.C) above. He literally knows the entire bible by heart. His exposition, interpretation,  contextual linking of bible verses are unexpectedly reveling. Listening to him was a breath of fresh air. I just had to give credit to the man.

About miracles, there were plenty of people who walked up on stage and claimed some kind of miracle/physical or spiritual healing.  Its hard to imagine so many people (to the tune of 500+) faking the claim to have some kind of divine experience. But I am sure some of them claimed their miracle in advance (by faith) and there must have been a few who came up on stage for their 5 seconds of fame. But It was hard to ignore the truly emotional people who come up on stage and claimed their miracle.

So any way… that was my 5 cents.

Interesting Tidbit:  It takes 13 years of training to become a catholic priest.


Divine Retreat Center : Can a priest forgive your sin?

So today was the day 2 (Tuesday) at the Divine retreat center. Today was the day of confession. So basically you recollect all your sins since your last confession and then tell the priest and you get an absolution. On the face of it, it sounds ridiculous, but I decided to take the plunge. Low and behold, I soon realized that It was easier to have a man-o-man confession with GOD. Having to tell someone what you did in secret adds a whole different dimension to the act of confession. It actually made me think through and I sort of teared up in the end. The grand prize was an honest an accurate psychological evaluation of the mental condition of my sin. I have spend 100’s and 1000’s of dollars on stupid psychologist and it never worked out for me. So on the whole it was a real good deal

Let me remind you that this is not my first time to the Divine retreat center. In fact I have come here many times before, often at the compulsion of my Mom or Dad.  But I never felt particularly  moved or influenced and always felt that it was bit of a charade.

The one thing I realize is that every attempt that you make to get to know your maker, makes you a wee bit closer to knowing him. Weather it is by attending a Pentecostal,  baptist, Jacobite or catholic church. I welcome every opportunity to  know my maker.

OK so I am getting a little ahead of myself and must have given you the feeling that I am a saint. Don’t you worry, I am the wolf in the sheep’s clothing.

Before I get off, I heard a very interesting discourse on the relationship between the Ark of the covenant and Jesus. I though the catholic explanation was a little skewed so I dug around…I think  this one gives a good explanation  http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/ark-covenant/



Divine Retreat Center in Cochin

I am currently retreating at the Divine Retreat Center in Muringoor, near Cochin. I am on a self imposed exile to help me quit smoking. Once you pay for boarding  and food and is allocated a room, you literally cant leave the campus, unless its a life and death situation. Which is why I came here in the first place. My religious beliefs don’t exactly align with the retreat because they are a hard core catholic faith center while I am a liberal non denominational christian. The great thing about the retreat center is that its dirt cheap. Rs 1000 for room and boarding for a family room (for a week) and Rs 350 for a week of food. Mind you the food is as good as it gets.  The message is generally focused on Jesus, but they have references to the Mary and the saints, about intercessory prayer by the saints etc. Typical catholic fare, but its really toned down. So over all I personally found it a very satisfying and memorable  worship experience.

I would recommend the place for anyone who is trying to ditch a habit or a great worship experience.  I really don’t focus on the specifics of any christian denomination as long as their focus is on Jesus and based strongly on the Bible ( yeah, I know what you are thinking?  What about interceding through Mary & the Saints conundrum). Like I said , I take in the good and chew out the rest.

I attended the place at a time of the year when there where minimum number of people.  There are sections for people from different states speaking different languages. I opted for the local dialect, Malayalam.

Divine Retreat Center in Muringoor (Malayalam)

Its actually a  pretty large hall, even though the picture does not do justice.