Mangalore witnessed participation in great numbers when servants from all over the country, came together to attend this year’s National Servant’s Conference held at Pastoral Institute, Bajjodi from 1 June to 2 June 2019. Since the past few years, we felt we were being called towards an intimate relationship with the Father, through Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This year we felt we are being called to ‘Abide in Him’, which is from the verse John 15:5. This theme verse was shared at various times during the four sessions.
The first session was conducted by Levin Gomes (CFCI Goa) who gave an introduction to this year’s theme. The kind of relationship we are all called towards the Father is that of a branch remaining in the vine to bear good fruits. As long as we, His people, remain with Jesus, we will continue to bear good fruits. When we choose to abide in Him, we recognize our identity as His Beloved. We don’t need to work for this identity but simply receive it. We can abide in the Lord as long as we are led by the Holy Spirit, live by His Word and glorify God at all times.
After this session, there was a group discussion and then lunch. The next session was conducted by Prajwal Pinto (CFCI Bangalore) on the ‘Grace to Abide’ where we discovered that we simply cannot abide on our own strength but only through the strength of His Grace. Grace is a free gift given to us by God and it helps us in our weaknesses. Grace helps to build an even more intimate relationship with God. We receive it through God’s Word, prayer and Sacraments. Not much heed is given to the importance of receiving the graces through Sacraments but Jesus is very much alive and working through the power of His Word and Holy Spirit via the Sacraments. Every time we receive a Sacrament, the Lord makes available to us fresh graces to continue living in accordance with His Will. Sacraments are channels of grace for us to be sanctified and to be saved. Through the various Sacraments available to us, the Holy Spirit is forming us into the image of Christ.
The third session was given by Jimmy Xavier, CFCI Bangalore on ‘Praying the Eucharist‘ where he shared that the celebration of the Eucharist is the core of our Faith. The way we attend the Eucharist needs to be revisited – we quietly follow what everyone else is doing, pay attention, and many other things except that Eucharist takes precedence and mostly we become the focus rather than Jesus.
The central point of the Eucharistic celebration is the breaking of the Word, to learn, understand and apply it to our lives. And also to offer the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father for He alone is the unblemished Lamb who died once and for all for our sins. The eucharistic celebration involves in giving the perfect sacrifice i.e. Jesus who died on Calvary which is being re-lived every time the priest raises the Host. We are called to worship which is a form of honoring God. It is more to ‘give’ rather than to ‘get’. We celebrate the Eucharist to worship the Lord and desire for Him to transform our lives. The Eucharistic celebration goes beyond that hour because we become His instruments to the world. We too are called to offer ourselves in the Eucharistic liturgy to surrender our minds, hearts and lives to Jesus who is both the High Priest and the Sacrifice. We can truly abide, when the Eucharist is our source.
With that, the first day of the conference came to an end along with some activities and hymns. On the second day, the Eucharist was celebrated by Fr. Anil D’Souza, Spiritual Director of CFCI Mangalore after which there was breakfast and then Praise and Worship. The last session was conducted by Rev. Fr. Milton Gabriel Gonsalves, Executive Secretary, CCBI Commission for Family, post which there was a time of sharing among the groups. The concluding speech was given by Elvis Coutinho, interim Country Servant and with this, the two-day conference came to an end.