SATYAGIRI – Mount of Truth!
By Ladislaus Louis D’Souza
The one thing that strikes you when entering the Chapel of the Satyagiri Dominican Retreat Centre at Igatpuri is the word VERITAS! Positioned directly above the wooden Crucifix on the Sanctuary wall, the Latin word translates as TRUTH. That single word, Veritas, is what puts the name and the purpose of the amazingly inviting facility titled “Satyagiri” into perspective: Satya (in the vernacular) means TRUTH and Giri stands for MOUNTAIN. And voila! In one sweep, in the sacred precincts of this Sanctuary, the twain between Calvary and Igatpuri gloriously doth meet!
Satyagiri, a Mountain of Truth like no other, is run by the Indian Province of Saint Dominic’s Order of Preachers. As part of the group of 38 that included Eucharistic Ministers and Women’s Cell members from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Orlem, Malad, I was fortunate to have participated in a 3-day Retreat [04-06 July 2022], and what an experience it truly was – one that made for an unforgettable tryst with the ultimate truth that was crucified some two millennia ago! If truth be told, it was the unstinted efforts of EMHC Lay Coordinators Gregory Pereira and Ralph D’Souza that made it possible for us to be so deeply enamored of the way the entire exercise unfolded, Father Avil Lobo's expertise at the keyboard setting the tone for our experience from the very first keynote played!
The life of a Dominican friar is said to be geared towards preaching the Gospel. Any wonder then that the dissertations covering topics such as the Eucharist and its Spirituality, Scripture, the Holy Spirit in our lives, personal relationship with God—especially Jesus, repentance, sin, prayer, inner healing and a lot else, were all entirely Gospel centered! Delightfully, the Praise & Worship that helped prepare the group for each session was so unlike the frustratingly raucous type witnessed in our parishes. There was much singing accompanied by actions including dancing, clapping etc, though of course, doing the hokey-pokey in praise of the Lord did appear stretching things a bit too far!
The genial Father KC Joseph's homiletic ministrations on the Liturgy included pointed references to the Church’s documents and to the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal). As for Father Bineesh John Masias, a gentler soul and a more convincing preacher one has yet to come by! How can we thank you all adequately dear friars except by returning for a follow-up someday—entirely at our own individual expense of course!—and, in the meanwhile, talking freely about the place and the experience ad nauseam!
Frankly, I was zapped by the element of perfection in evidence— in the structure on the one hand and, on the other, the way our stay developed, progressed and concluded! I was awestruck by the artistic representation of Saint Dominic under the Orange tree in the lobby – so very significant! According to legend, Dominic once planted an Orange tree at the Dominican Headquarters in Rome. Whether it was in reminiscence of the numerous orange trees he was accustomed to seeing in his native Spain or because he liked oranges has never been ascertained! But there are said to be numerous descendants/descendents of that tree the world over, the Garden Square in the interior quadrangle of Satyagiri being no exception! The layout of the entire place, the finish of each paved step along the corridors of every floor including the lobby, the Chapel, the garden, the drain covers et al can leave a first-time visitor gaping in awe! Whoever designed and executed the very modern and functional building project had his heart in its right place and the brains of a genius and deserves to be complimented. And lest one forget - even the food left us all delighted and satiated!
The Dominicans are said to be custodians of the Holy Rosary. And so it was a privilege to be led by them in its recitation walking along the corridors after Supper, the Fatima prayer supplemented with the Ave of Lourdes, the Lourdes Grotto being the spot where the Superior of the House, friar Bineesh, would make his closing announcements.
The threefold highlight of our Retreat was Eucharistic Adoration, Sacrament of Reconciliation and Infilling of the Holy Spirit, each of is best be experienced firsthand!
The two Eucharistic Adoration sessions (despite the absence of INCENSE) were uplifting in that the reflections, input and music (both instrumental and vocal) enabled us to virtually step out of ourselves into the divine realm and there sense something of the closeness with Jesus that such a devotion offers. The Sacrament of Reconciliation came as an offer to simply be ourselves before our Eucharistic Lord, without in any way being bothered about who our Confessor is or whether he knows us or of what he will think of us! Finally, the Infilling of the Holy Spirit gave us an experience that was surreal, what with the kind of peace and calm coursing through our very being, empowering us to go back to our homes and our parish with renewed vigour to be true witnesses of God’s love in and through our respective ministries!
It may be emphasized here that what made the entire experience so unforgettable was that we cherished all this with our mobiles/smartphones locked away in Satyagiri’s custody, whereby most of us didn’t even want to switch on our respective handsets until it neared time for our departure! As for ‘sightseeing’, the rain that kept us indoors and all that we thus experienced left us with sufficient interior sights no physical sightseeing would ever compensate.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.