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For Fr Joe Pereira, the call to holiness applies to drug addicts, thirsty for love and God

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Gaudete et exsultate(Rejoice and Be Glad) is a “huge masterpiece of genuine spirituality in the present age,” says Fr Joe Pereira in commenting Pope Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation.

The clergyman is the founder of the Kripa Foundation, a Mumbai NGO that has been helping AIDS patients and drug addicts for the past 37 years. He believes that his foundation fully reflects the exhortation’s doctrine.

An addict,” he notes, “is born with a thirst for Love, for God, for Holiness, and this thirst is satanically frustrated by various addictions.” To overcome this, “Like Mother Teresa, the Holy Father sees the most powerful pathways to Holiness in working in the service of the poor, the rejected and the marginalised, with the joy of life, the joy of love and the joy of serving by caring.

The Kripa (grace in Sanskrit) Foundation was set up in 1981 in Bandra, a Mumbai district. Today it has 69 chapters in 12 Indian states, working with other groups in Europe, Canada and the United States.

According to Fr Pereira, the “Kripa Model of recovery works through the body, the temple of God’s spirit, and helps the addict to reclaim one’s original thirst for love and God.” His thoughts follow.

“This latest instruction on Holiness is a huge masterpiece of genuine spirituality in the present age, torn apart by seeking love and peace and God but getting deceived by false methods and modern-day fads and played out in new age attempts at pseudo-spirituality.

“Both Gnosticism and Pelagianism, in their subtle forms, have led modern-day seekers of God towards self-deception. In the attempt to seek holiness, knowledge and will have replaced God’s Grace and Mercy.

“In a world filled with violence and addiction the pope helps us to see the face of God. While cautioning us against the two heresies and their subtle forms, he emphasises the vital role of Grace.

“In the work of addiction recovery, his extensive teaching on life as gift of God – “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom: 12,1)” (56) – particularly affirm the kripa model of recovery by including the psycho-somatic dimension of healing the addict. Otherwise we end up by being an NGOs stripped of the luminous mystery of Francis of Assisi, Saint Vincent de Paul and Mother Teresa.

“This attitude can even enter the Church and prevent genuine work for the marginalised. Sometimes the Church refuses to recognise the face of Jesus in the poor, the sick and the addicted as in Mt. 25, turning organisations doing such work into “parasites’ on church premises! Within the practice of the Beatitudes, the challenge of Holiness is when those who seek pathways to holiness are humiliated and have to persevere in the likeness of Jesus.”

Fr Joe told AsiaNews that his meeting with Mother Teresa “pushed me to work for addicts. I met the Saint from Calcutta in 1971,” he said, at a time when he was experiencing a spiritual crisis. “Mother Teresa called me to assist her with the many cases of people who fallen into abject poverty as a result of addiction.”

“The most important guidelines by the Pope is that of discernment. Like Mother Teresa, the Holy Father sees the most powerful pathways to Holiness as working in the service of the poor, the rejected and the marginalised with the joy of life, the joy of love and joy of serving by caring.

“The instruction is well timed and a result of Pope Francis’ close observation that the Church needs to move away from old fossilised forms of Christianity and awaken to a more lively and joy-filled spirituality in the likeness of the Master Jesus.

“The appropriate theme of Holiness in a world torn apart by addictions reveals the original understanding of this deadly disease. An addict is born with a thirst for love, for God, for holiness, and this thirst is satanically frustrated by various addictions. This spiritual paradox of addiction is explained in my book, co-authored with Dr Ashok Bed (a Jungian analyst). This shows how deep down a human being is deceived into thinking that one is pursuing holiness while satanically getting alienated from one’s true self and from God as the Pope explicitly mentions.

“By one’s self one is helpless and the need for God’s grace to shine through our weakness is an essential component of the Kripa Model. Unlike many an attempt made to combat this disease, the Kripa Model emphasises the role of connecting with the Lord, moving out of loneliness into solitude, and offers this free gift in loving service as wounded healers to other suffering addicts. This keeps one out of the subtle efforts made by many, which the Pope refers to as modern forms of Gnosticism and Pelagianism.

“The Kripa Model of recovery works through the body, the temple of God’s spirit, and helps the addict to reclaim his original thirst for love and God. It is a model of finding one’s true self and God, in the words of Saint Augustine, “Noverim me ut noverim Te”, Lord help me to know myself so that I may know you.

“This instruction is the most timely reflection for a world seeking holiness through the pseudo methods of Gnosticism, self-effort and will, especially deceiving the addicted to believe in a concept of healing without God’s Grace. Kripa is affirmed by this clarification that is made by the Holy Father.”

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