Marriage: A Sacrament of Christ’s Love

Marriage_ A Sacrament of Christ's Love

A Sacrament of Christ’s Love Christian marriage that is raised to the dignity of a sacrament is modeled upon Christ’s love for the Church. In marriage, therefore, spouses are called upon to give visible expression to Christ’s love for the Church by leading a life of sacrificial love. “Christ our Lord has abundantly blessed this love, which is rich in its various features, coming as it does from the spring of divine love and modeled on Christ’s own union with the Church” (GS 48). Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and ends with a vision of the ‘wedding feast of the Lamb’ (cf. Gen 1:27; Rev 19:7, 9). Sacred Scripture speaks of marriage and its ‘mystery’, its institution, and the meaning God has given to it. It also speaks of its origin and its purpose… the difficulties arising from sin, and its renewal in Jesus Christ.? The Old Testament describes God’s love for his people as similar to the love of a husband for his wife. The New Testament also compares Christ’s love for his Church to the love of a husband for his wife (cf. Eph 5:21-33). He unites himself indissolubly to his Bride, the Church.

The Catholic Church teaches that “Marriage is not a purely human institution, despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes.”8 All cultures uphold the greatness of matrimonial union. “The well-being of the individual person and both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life” (GS 47). Hence marriage is not a tangential issue in Christian life. It is right at the heart of the Christian mystery. It serves to illustrate Christian mystery by means of its striking analogy. No analogy is really adequate in its attempt to communicate Christ’s love for the Church. Yet, speaking of marriage and the family, Pope John Paul II states, “In this entire world there is not a more perfect, more complete image of God, Unity and Community. There is no other human reality which corresponds more, humanly speaking, to that divine mystery.”

God’s love for his people is central to Judeo-Christian religious tradition. “The communion of love between God and people… finds a meaningful expression in the marriage covenant which is established between a man and a woman.” This “communion between God and his people finds its definite fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the bridegroom who loves and gives himself as the savior of humanity, uniting it to himself as his body.”

We cannot understand the Christian mystery unless we keep in mind the “great mystery” involved in the creation of man as male and female and the vocation of both to conjugal love. According to the analogy, God’s eternal plan for us is to “marry”y. He wanted this eternal plan to be so present to us that he stamped an image of it in our very being by creating us male and female and calling us to marriage.

“For this reason,” St Pauls in his epistle writes, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church”

This union is both creative and transformative. The self-emptying of the spouses in “conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave himself on the cross. In a sacramental marriage, the husband lays down his life to serve her husband, as a visual reminder to the world that God the Father sent his only Son, “not to condemn the world, but to save it”, and that the Son freely laid down his life for us, and as his Bride, we choose to lay down our lives to serve him.

This excerpt is taken from the Book “Love in Crisis”.

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What does the Devil normally do to Lead Astray?

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Since the devil is called the “Seducer”, we need to pose the question: how does he lead the human person astray? St Thomas Aquinas masterfully tells us that the devil tries to persuade us to consent to sin through the power of rationalization or blandishment that is, the devil tries to get us to deceive ourselves in the art of choosing an apparent good. In Gently including people to turn their attention to a particularly attractive sin, Satan tries to catch everyone in the false belief that the sin is a question is at least not all that bad; and, that seeming good which is manifested by an appearance of a delightful outcome, is still very needful for personal fulfillment. In any case, the evil one is the expert at getting us to evade reality.

Therefore, the need to develop a prayer life so that each and all can face reality as it is and not as anyone desires it to be. It is not by accident that the greatest ends “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” but if someone chooses a sinful action, he lets that person have the freedom and the consequences of that choice, the purpose behind the difficulty of temptation:409. This drama situation of “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” makes man’s life a battle:The Whole of man’s history has been the story of dour combat with the power of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself and aided by God’s grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity.

This excerpt is taken from the Book “The Hidden Enemies of the Priesthood.”

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Spiritual Fruit

Children and grandchildren are a concrete, visible sign of fruit in the lives of parents.Obviously, it’s not only my parents or even parents in general- we all are producing fruit that can be seen.However, we rarely take the time to reflect and think about the type of fruit our lives are producing.This is unfortunate because our spiritual well-being is directly related to the type of fruit we produce.Some fruit is good and some are not but we need to be aware that our lives are producing fruit each and every day.I suppose the question we need to ask I the fruit we produce is ripe or spoiled.Is it a sweet orange or a sour lemon?

In Galatians, Saint Paul writes about the difference between good and bad fruit- a fruit of the flesh versus fruit of the Spirit.It’s significant that we give reflection to this.The fruit our lives produce can be seen, and the fruit our life produces impacts everyone from our mailman, grocery clerk, friends, children, and spouse.

If you are known by your fruit, then what do people know about you?
Also, our fruit can be a type of measure for our spiritual growth.
Often people come to me feeling stuck in their faith life and don’t feel like they are making any progress. I often ask them how one measures spiritual growth and progress.
“Is there an app for that?”
“Is there something that allows you to take yo
spiritual temperature or measure your growth?”
“A divine dipstick?”
One of the ways we can determine if we a growing in the spiritual life is by the fruit. I begin asking them about the type of fruit their spiritual is producing.
If you want to see how you are growing in spiritual life or determine “how you are doing” take a  look at the fruit of your life. Is your life produce more fruit of the flesh or of the Spirit? The two radically opposed to each other and only that of Spirit leads us closer to God.

Saint Paul writes that the desires of the flesh opposed to those of the Spirit (Gal 5:18). Anyone who has ever tried to diet, exercise, or go to a movie without consuming a trough of popcorn knows to be true. “Why do I do the things I don’t want to do and don’t do the things that I want?”

We all live with this tension. The flesh, the body, has desires; some of them are good and necessary such as the desire for nourishment or food. When Saint Paul is addressing the desires of the flesh this isn’t the type of which he speaks. Rather, the desires of the flesh are destructive, disordered, and ultimately lead us away from Christ. Paul says very clearly that the desires of the flesh are against those of the Spirit and the ability to recognize this conflict is God’s grace.

For some people, just realizing that there is this tension, or this battle between the flesh and the Spirit, is transformative. This tension that exists between the Spirit and the flesh is just that, a tension. I’ve met people who think that if they were holy enough they would not have to deal with this tension or any temptation. The truth is that the tension one experiences does not mean that a person is bad or not Necking God. Simply because we have desires that tWell1 to be at odds with God’s will does not make us kid. It only brings into light the struggle in which We find ourselves. How we respond to these desires: now, that’s the issue!

This excerpt is taken from the Book “Breath of God”

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EASTER ENCAPSULATES THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST By Ladislaus L D’Souza

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Easter is a feast that celebrates the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation for His human creation. With His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ paving the way on Good Friday, Paradise Lost [because of the sin of disobedience of our First Parents, Adam and Eve] became Paradise Regained [effect of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus]! The Resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate at Easter comes through as concrete history.

 

Origins of Easter — The word Easter ostensibly comes from a pagan figure called ‘Eastre’ (or Eostre) who was revered as the goddess of Spring or goddess of the East (from where the sun rises) by the Saxons of Northern Europe and honored with a festival called Easter during the spring equinox. Her insignia was the hare (a symbol of fertility), hence the Easter Bunny! The Lily, a flower generally in glorious bloom during Spring, and mentioned frequently throughout the Bible, is poignantly significant of Easter, its magnificent whiteness symbolizing the purity of new birth.

 

Social implications — The new birth Easter is associated with is the Resurrection of Jesus to life on the third day of his death. Seen in the context of India, the Resurrection implies the certainty of an entry for the common man into Eternal bliss assured by the Saviour—hope that keeps one from giving in to despair when faced with painful life situations—an incurable illness, lack of employment, loss of life-partner, etc.

 

The Peace of Paradise — Factually, for peace to prevail truth, justice and peace must be given their due. “Foolish” as we all are, we tend to miss the tree for the wood. “So slow to believe the full message of the prophets” (Luke 24:25), we tend to overlook the fact that we “enter into his glory” (Luke 24:26) not merely by suffering with him but by upholding the right to truth, ‘truth’ itself being the Son of God whom Pilate mindlessly put to death. Significantly, with the fostering of justice comes the right to celebrate Easter.

Physical Aspects of Prayer

Prayer aspects

My comments do not imply that you should quit contemplation if you suddenly feel a desire to pray with words ess the devotion of your spirit openly. It is completely acceptable for phrases such as, “Good Jesus, lovely Jesus, Jesus,” and similar comments to be expressed. May forbid that you misunderstand me.
God wants us to serve him properly with both body and together. Both physical and spiritual rewards accrue. Sometimes God will stir the bodily senses of his devout ts. The sweet consolations of God do not arrive h the windows of our senses, but inwardly, rising and springing up out of the abundance of spiritual joy and out of true I devotion. The person experiencing them need not be suspicious of these good and natural pleasures.

The consolations worthy of our suspicion come suddenly outside ourselves, with an uncertain origin. Be cautious ding such external pleasures because they may be good evil. If you follow my instruction by avoiding physical and psychological stress, the consolations that come to you will neither evil nor harmful. Why? Because this comfort, this out wakening of love in a pure spirit, comes from God done, rather than an illusion or a mistaken notion.

I will not attempt now to tell you how to distinguish between good or evil comforts, sounds, and pleasures. You can find this topic discussed in another book a thousand times better than I could express it. For that matter, that other book contains everything I say here, but I will not let that discourage me from preparing this guide for you.

Constantly practise this simple, devout stirring of love that I have described.This love will inform you whether the sensual pleasure you experience is good or evil.Even if the pleasures confuse simple love, in the beginning, you will not be able to pay much attention to them until you reach certainty about them, either inwardly by the Spirit of God, or outwardly by the guidance of your spiritual director.

The Above excerpt is taken from the Book “The Cloud of Unknowing.” 

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Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Baptism in the Holy Spirit? What is it? Even though I was an active Catholic, I had never heard the term.Heck, in seventh grade I won the local catechism bee but never had that question.I asked one of the other Netters who a[ppeared to be pretty normal but also seemed to know what was going with the whole baptism in the Holy Spirit thing.She had that it was really just being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” She told me that I could read more about in the scriptures.that, to me, sounded like a pretty good place to start.

I began reading the scriptures and found that being baptized in the Holy Spirit (or words similar) is mentioned in each of the $ gospels as well as the Acts of the Apostles. (See Mt 3:11; MK 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33; Acts 1:5.) John the Baptist made it clear that he baptized in water but that Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit. It became apparent to me that what I experienced as a baby might be different than baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In his gospel, Luke said that we would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and in fire. Again in the Acts of Apostles, Luke has Jesus instructing the apostles — go back to Jerusalem and wait for the “promise of Father” and the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1. When I read the various accounts of the baptism in the Holy Spirit I didn’t necessarily have a be understanding of exactly what baptism in the H Spirit was, but I was able to see that it was important. F It seemed to be something that Jesus intended for and it changed people.

Scripture states clearly that Jesus came to bap us in the Holy Spirit. It seemed to me that if this is of the reasons Christ came, then perhaps I was missing something. As I made my way through scripture, I was also able to see the effects of the baptism with Holy Spirit. From my reading the Acts of the Ap it appeared to me that the disciples experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is clear that the baptism of the Holy Spirit enabled apostles to do something that they were unable to do before. Before Pentecost, they were locked room paralyzed by fear and after experiencing Holy Spirit they boldly proclaimed Jesus. Som changed in them.

Slowly, I was beginning to see more clearly what the baptism in the Holy Spirit might be about.It seemed to be about power.the disciples’ experience of the Holy Spirit gave them the power to escape the confines of a locked room where they were bound by fear.It gave them the power to witness to Jesus’ resurrection and the ability to faithfully live the Christian life.

A few days passed with me asking lots of questions and staying away from Steve who still had the “Laying of hands on me” as his goal-an idea that was still bugging me!

The Above excerpt is taken from the Book “Breath Of God”. Order Now!!!

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Joy and Sadness

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The wise man said: “cast sadness far from thee, because it has killed many, and is good for nothing.”There is hardly anything as apt to bring our hearts to a state of irksome disgust as sadness.Those who have made a psychological study of sadness tell us that one of its principal effects is to disturb our judgments, making us take a darker view of life than the facts justify.Thus, sadness leads to pessimism and the reverse effects is also true- all pessimists re necessarily sad: disaster, for them, is  just around the corner.A second effect of sadness is to make us rude to others and evere towards them, suspicious and ready to put the worst interpretation on the actions of everyone around us.

There are different ways of trying to overcome the sense of sadness.Some people take to overcome the sense of sadness.Some people take recourse to alcohol to make them forget.Others fling themselves into carnal pleasures hoping that the intensity of a momentary thrill will compensate them for want of a goal and a purpose in life.But all sad [people scarcely conscious that they are saying it- “I do not love myself.”This is not an “inferiority complex”.It is rather the higher part of the self-looking down on the lower part and reprimanding it for its pitiable condition.Animals cannot reflect on themselves as a human being do; hence they cannot feel the same kind of disgust.

There is a remedy for sadness- the one suggested by the Scriptures.To some minds, it may seem farfetched when it says:”If you are suffering, pray!”.Actually, these words touch on a profound psychological truth, for they imply that we must be reconciled to ourselves in order to be happy. So long as we are merely the battleground of a war between the lower self and self within us, there can be no relaxation and to resolve the conflict, to bring the battle to an end, we must see ourselves as we really are. It does a blame the golf club if our game is at fault, er because we spill the milk, the fault must our own in little mishaps of this kind, and states of mind as well. The discovery that we e for being the way we are is greater than the discovery made by any explorer — such a discovery fault is impossible unless there be a higher outside ourselves, from whose love we know have fallen.
When our own responsibility for our sadness has once been faced, prayer next leads us on to hope, because it shows us the real basis for our discontent: the knowledge could be quite different from the way we are. As er put it: “I was told that I was the offspring of and a mother. I had thought that I was more.” – a is more. The Saviour said that each one of us =:-e worth than the whole visible universe (cf. Mt .37 and Lk 12:6)

We begin to act differently when we recognize the immensity of our possibilities. Our whole life changes Ike that of a farmer when he discovers oil on what previously believed to be just a poor farm. Prayer overcomes sadness by putting us in relation with the Eternal,  and then the change occurs. Before, we had thought ourselves unloved by anyone; now, we know that d Mire loved by God.

Unless we put God between ourselves and our us life, we cannot hope to make real spiritual progress. But God does not give Himself to us until we have begun to feel our own nothingness. By assenting to the poverty of our personality we open the floodgates of Divine riches. It has been said that no one is a hero to his valet. It would be truer to say that no one is a hero to himself. Plutarch may tell us that Cato was a great human being; but to Cato, Cato was weak.

It is one thing to discover one’s nothingness, and to rest there — that is sadness. It is quite another thing to discover that one is nothing, and from there to make use of the Divine Energies — that is joy. Mediocrity is a sin against ourselves, a kind of sacrilege. The ennui some hearts feel is nothing but the instinctive reaction of their great and undeveloped possibilities in the fa of the triviality and mediocrity of their lives. All around us, birds are flying. musical in song, eager to enter into our souls. But until we are reconciled with the goal life, they have to be content to perch on the top of our roof for a moment, and then fly away.

To pass from sadness to joy requires a birth_ moment of travail and labour, for no one ever mounts a higher level of life without death to the lower. Before such an ascent, conscience, for a moment, has a hard, stern work to do. Pearls come from the bottom of the water, gold from the depths of the earth, and the g joys of life are to be found in the recesses of a con broken heart.
Joy is the happiness of love — love aware of its inner happiness. Pleasure comes from without but comes from within, and it is, therefore, within the r of everyone in the world. For if there is sadness in hearts it is because there is not enough love. But to loved, we must be lovable; to be lovable, we must good, to be good, we must know Goodness, and to Goodness is to love God, and neighbour, and everybody in the world.

The above Article is taken from the Book ‘Way to Inner Peace”. Order Now!!!

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The Apostle, Saint Paul

The Apostle,Saint Paul.1

On 29 June the universal Church celebrates the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Doesn’t it seem strange that Saint Paul is accorded equal status with the first Pope, Saint Peter? Paul was definitely not one of the 12 apostles. He was not even a disciple of Jesus during his public ministry and did not know him personally. In fact, after the death of Jesus Paul hated and persecuted the Christians. Scripture says, “Cursed be the man who hangs upon a tree” (Deut 21:23). Jesus was crucified — he hung upon a tree, so he was cursed by God. How could people be disciples of a man cursed by God? For Paul such a movement/religion referred to as “the Way”, had to be eradicated. Conversion came when Paul experienced the risen Christ (Acts 9:3-6). Paul inferred that if God raised Jesus from the dead, he was blessed and not cursed by God. Now the Indefatigable zeal of Paul in persecuting “the people of the Way” turned in equal measure to preaching that same ‘Way’, the Christians! The whole of the rest of his life thus came to be concentrated on Christ. “For me to live is Christ” (Phil I :21), he went on to claim. “I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have :hrist and be given a place in him” (Phil 3:8).

The Acts of the Apostles, the second writing of Saint Luke after his Gospel, is actually the Acts of the Holy Sp through the apostles of Christ. In the first half of the Ac Peter occupies centre stage. The second half concentrates on Paul while Peter fades away.

The Jesuit writer, Luis M. Bermejo states, “It is largely due to Luke that Peter and Paul are inseparably linked together in the Christian mind after Luke devoted half of Acts to Peter and the second half to Paul”.1 His next sentence quoting Sandmel is very significant and can shock many: “Next to Jesus Paul was the most significant person in early Christianity”.

Paul’s influence is not confined to early Christianity but is seen as extending to the very end of the world. He preached in cities (Corinth, Philippi, Damascus etc.), but, as a wandering preacher, he covered around 15,000 kms., by land and sea, often walking from place to place. He continues to preach after his death through the letters written by him or written by a disciple of his (Hebrews) which comprise 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. All the four Gospels were written after Paul’s letters.
The year 2008 dedicated to Saint Paul was not meant to keep us busy with just his teaching but to help us know the man, his temperament, his passion, his sufferings, his joys, and sorrows. He was a man like us with strengths and weaknesses but totally dedicated to Christ and to the mission Christ entrusted to him. He challenges us to live totally for Christ.

This excerpt is taken from the Book “Life and It’s Values.” Order Now

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Christian Education

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On 2006 the Catholic Bishops of India in their General Body Meeting deliberated on the theme “Catholic Education and the Church’s concern for the marginalized”. It was decided that a policy document on Catholic Education in India should be made available to the entire Catholic Community of the country.

After much dialogue, discussion and collaboration at various levels of the Church the ‘All India Catholic Education Policy 2007″ was promulgated on 1 June 2007 by Cardinal Felesphore Placidus Toppo, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
“Education is the key to development and progress. With so much investment in personnel and money by the Church In the field of education, let the implementation of this policy usher in a new era in the life and mission of the Catholic Church in India”, said the Cardinal. In a fast-changing world, we cannot remain in the “Maintenance” mode but have to shift gears. Our educational institutions cannot be judged Icy academic results alone. We also need to pay attention to the poorer sections of society, even as we simultaneously evaluate our contribution to society.

“We ensure that our institutions do not pursue the narrow 00,11 of academic prestige, with a strong focus on marks and medals, but instead aim to foster human values and spiritual maturity among the staff and the students.In fact, if a Catholic institution, excellent as an academic institution, does not find it possible to implement the essential characteristics of our Christian values and is not committed to our Mission, we would consider it a radical failure on our part. Our educational endeavor is meant to lead us to the transformation of self, others, communities, and societies.Christianity is called to contribute to the building of a new society based on love, justice, and peace.

The policy statement needs to be widely discussed and put into action- otherwise, it will remain just a beautiful document with no bearing on our lives whatsoever.

This excerpt is written Taken from the Book “Life and it’s Values”

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Where Was God?

Where Was God_

Looking at the scale of the tragedy of the tsunami one wonders: Is there is God? Is he a Loving God? Then where was He and why did he not prevent this tragedy?

When God the father created man and woman He endowed them with a free will.He will never take back this gift because He is Love and awaits our response of love.Love without freedom is not love but manipulation.

The Father could have created us as robots and at the press of a button or at a command we would proclaim, “We love you father.We praise you.We worship you.We glorify you.”

In giving us a free will the Father took a very grave risk.We can not only use but also abuse the free will we possess.Just look at the state of the world.Can we blame God for the exploitation, the denial of human rights, violence, corruption, abuse of women and youngsters we see in the world?

Creation was entrusted to human beings.We are called to be stewards looking after what has been placed in our care.Have we been good stewards? Speaking in 2004 to ambassadors of different countries working in the Vatican Pope John Paul II enumerated the many challenges human society faces today.One challenge is “the protection and the prevention of natural disasters.”

“Man, especially in our time, has without hesitation devasted wooded plains and valleys, polluted waters, disfigured the earth’s habitat, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydrogeological and atmospheric systems, turned luxuriant areas into desert, and undertaken forms of unrestricted industrialization, degrading that ‘flowerbed’ – to use an image from Dante Alighieri- which is the earth, our dwelling place.”

People, the pope insisted, must “encourage and support the ‘ecological conversion’ which in recent decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophe to which it has been heading.”

The underground testing of nuclear arms has had its repercussions on Mother earth.

So also in the Nicobar Islands- so many people lost their lives, but not the aborigines.Their God-given natural instincts saved them.Civilized men and women have lost their natural gifts and now depend on scientific warning systems.Is God at fault?

We will never understand the cause of the tsunami and earth disaster with the huge loss of lives mostly of poor and innocent people.But it is worth reflecting on the following fact.In the wildlife sanctuary in Kodaikanal, Tamilnadu, there were 1800 black bucks, 250 spotted deer, 40 feral horses, wild boar, and jackals -over 2300 animals.Suddenly all of them dashed to higher ground.8-10 minutes later the tsunami struck and flooded the sanctuary.All except a wild boar that was old or sick scaped.Their God-given instinct saved them.

There are many stories of how people were saved by clinging for days to an uprooted tree or some wooden planks.Our faith in God and His goodness has to be a plank for us.We do not know how or why but we cling to our faith.

Ultimately it is not how a person died that matters but how he lived.We are called to pray, respect life and do what we can to restore normalcy of life for the survivors.That is what God expects of us-the right use of our free will.

The Excerpt is taken from the Book “Life and it’s Values.” by Bishop Valerian D’Souza

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