ABOUT THIS WRITER: MICHAEL PRABHU
I was born, and baptised Catholic, in 1949 in Madras, now re-named Chennai, the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. I received a Catholic education in one of the city’s leading missionary-run schools and took a Bachelor’s degree in Textile Technology in 1971 from one of Madras' premier engineering colleges.
That same year I announced my decision to disassociate myself from my Catholic and Christian heritage and, having officially changed my Christian names from George Michael to a more 'Indian' Mohan, chose to be identified as a Hindu. I also changed my Christian family name (surname) to the more 'Indian' PRABHU which is known in Mangalore on the Konkan coast where my father’s parents originated from.
I left home with two little bags containing a few clothes and around Rs 50 [about a dollar today] in cash, and took up my first job in a textile mill in the textile city, Coimbatore.
My wife Angela’s ancestors are from Goa. She is Catholic. We were married in February 1973.
Our elder son Raakesh Rajeev (born 1975) is married to Patricia, the younger Vimal Ajay (born 1978) is unmarried.
We now have four grandchildren.
It had never been my intention to marry any girl but a Hindu. It is a long story about how I met and married Angela, but what is important to this story is that I did not know she was Christian until it was, you know, 'too late'. You see, God had other plans for my life.
I had resisted all attempts to christen our sons with Christian names, and the harried priests and my in-laws finally had to use the 'Indian' names that I selected, just to ensure that the babies were baptised.
Why this attitude? Bitterness, maybe. I was born in a 24-room mansion in a prime area of the city. But we had little money.
Some of our Catholic relatives cheated our family out of this property by getting us to mortgage the property to them and soon going to the courts and committing perjury while taking an oath on the Bible with the aid of other rich Mangaloreans. We had to move out of the bungalow and became rather poor since my Dad’s income could hardly meet the needs of a family of seven, of which I was the eldest sibling.
Our wealthy Catholic neighbours turned their backs on us, as did the local clergy including the Archbishop and Bishop who had otherwise been frequent visitors to our home. They were now seen with the new owners of the bungalow.
Those were the late '60s, the days of the Beatles, of the Rolling Stones. And of long hair (I went for it) and rebellion. Hooked to rock music, I found a release and expression in rebelling against all forms of authority.
There were other reasons. Those were orthodox times in the South. The standards of morality were not yet what they are today courtesy television and globalisation. There were just a few of us westernized Christians in my engineering college, and the traditional Hindus thought poorly of us for many reasons. Indian films cast Christians as loose-living people, drunkards and criminals. A majority of the Christian guys I knew were marked for lack of interest in education, and this image of irresponsibility was something I desperately wanted to steer clear of. There was also the issue of money. Most of my college-mates were sons of owners of oil and textile mills, businesses and chemical plants. I was a nobody. I had to become a somebody, somehow.
I thought that if I identified as a 'Hindu' it would be better for my career and future. I was determined to become famous. And definitely very rich!! And I would prove something to everyone; what that was, I didn’t know, but I saw myself being held in respect and awe for my achievements.
Moreover, I did not find a living testimony to Jesus in the lives of my family (though we knelt down for family rosary at night and were marched off to Confession weekly), friends and most priests, at least the Indian ones who were then beginning to replace the missionaries in schools and in the parishes.
I could not accept a God who seemed to favour the oppressors and the rich, and I didn’t want to accept the possibility of a God who would one day sit in judgement on the hedonistic lifestyle that I had opted for. What if there was no God?
Things were going my way and I moved up through a succession of companies. I had just joined a Swedish-German multinational as its representative for Northern India, when, in May of 1982, our God sovereignly revealed Himself to me through a family in which He was manifesting Himself in a manner which I have never seen again anywhere in all the years since then. It was in a private setting, during their family prayer, in a Catholic home atop a hill, 3000 kilometers from New Delhi where we now lived. We were on summer vacation with this family when I found Jesus.
It was out of curiosity that I attended one of their prayer meetings after making a silent prayer to God that if He 'alive' and 'real', He would reveal Himself to me, assuring Him that if He did, I would serve Him faithfully according to His will. I must say that I had not found fulfilment in worldly success. Now I experienced the love of my Father God and the cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus Christ Who took away all my sins. God ‘spoke’ to my heart, and after my conversion and sacramental confession, gave me a mission: to go back to Delhi, speak to the Bishops and priests, plant prayer groups and start there the 'Charismatic Renewal', a term that none of us in the family, and definitely not I, had ever heard before.
Anointed by the Holy Spirit, I did just that. It again is a very long story… and I will refrain from going into detail. Prayer groups blossomed all over the city and today we have the (Indian) Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) headquartered in Delhi. Few today know the true history of those early days, and I often regret that I did not maintain any records of our pioneering work. I helped constitute, and served on, the first and subsequent Delhi Service Teams of the CCR. Angela, with her Spanish guitar and beautiful voice provided the "praise and worship" for my talks at CCR rallies and night vigils, and for the visiting preachers who mostly came from Bombay to give us retreats, a music ministry which was certainly very different in those times from what it is now. I was given the gifts of a love for and a deep insight into the Word of God. I enjoyed nothing more than animating a prayer meeting and breaking the Word.
With a comfortable 5-day workweek, I could devote myself to part-time ministry from 1982 to 1991.
1991 saw me take charge as the regional head for another major organization, but I found little time for Renewal activity and my prayer life. I was in the process of achieving everything worldly I had ever wanted to, when God permitted circumstances to cause me to take an immediate decision to give up, without claiming any compensation, both my profession and my recently-started business ventures (I was by then the owner of a boutique in a hill-station in the Nilagiri mountains, and co-director of two small marketing companies in New Delhi), and to move in faith back to good old Madras [now Chennai]. It was January of 1993.
There’s another long story here, a rejection of my calling by the local leaders of the Charismatic Renewal, a prolonged desert experience, a "dark night of the soul", a back-sliding, a story of how I contracted an "incurable", progressive and crippling auto-immune disease that incapacitated me for almost 2 years, my eventual turning back to the Lord in repentance, faith, trust, hope and love, my physical healing, and the development of this present prophetic ministry.
I had a second marvelous encounter with the Holy Spirit at the Divine Retreat Centre in Muringoor in Kerala State (four visits in 1995), and then again with the team of the late Fr. Francis Rebello SJ and Fr. James Manjackal MSFS (1997-1998). After about 4 years of 'full-time' ministry from 1995 as an 'evangelist', during which period I equipped myself by spiritual reading and study, I was led into this particular ministry against the 'New Age' in early 1999. My call to ministry was confirmed by the above priests, and also by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC of Divine Retreat Centre during my first meeting with him in 1995, but it had been prophesied to me by Fr. A. V. deSouza of Poona (Pune) in 1985 during his retreat in Delhi when he did not have even the least idea about my identity and my spiritual life.
The same thing happened again, with this ministry against the New Age being confirmed by Fr. Jose Vettiyankal VC (at the Logos Retreat Centre, Bangalore, in February of 2001) who did not know my background when I met him for the very first time. There were other priests too who had told me that I had a special calling and a radical ministry, the saintly late Fr. Irenaeus dos Santos of Delhi, for instance, and Fr. Jim Borst MHM. I have been privileged to attend the first batches of several Catholic Bible Colleges, Schools of Evangelization and Counseling Training Programs.
My favourite areas of ministry are teaching, pro-life work, and Catholic apologetics, all of which I have engaged in at one time or another. Definitely not this crusade against the New Age. But one does not do what one likes or prefers but what one is anointed and "called" to do.
Another mighty miracle in our lives is the way that God has provided for our finances. Since I am in full-time ministry, there is no scope for me to augment our income (my last salary was in December 1992).
Our sons are now decently employed but we have never been dependent on them at any time in our lives and, as always, we continue to live by faith, dependent only on the Lord who meets all our needs. True to His Word in Malachi 3, He has never seen us in want, and I believe that two reasons are our unconditional leaving aside our security in business and employment to trust in Him and do His will, and our commitment to tithing to other Catholic laypersons in fulltime ministry.
MY LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF MADRAS-MYLAPORE GIVES SOME MORE INFORMATION:
From: Michael Prabhu To: George Antonysamy; George Antonysamy; EXTRACT
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2014 9:03 AM
Dear Archbishop George Antonysamy,
We came to Chennai from Delhi in January 1993 after living there from 1979 to 1992. As a member of St. Michael's Church, Prasad Nagar, my family and I were active in almost every sphere of parish life: the Catholic Association, the Parish Council, the Prayer Group, Marriage Encounter, the choir, the Legion of Mary, Bible camps, night vigils and prayer rallies at the archdiocesan level, organising as well as giving retreats, writing for the parish magazine The Sentinel, etc. We used to help in taking the collection at Mass, proclaiming the readings, animating the Way of the Cross, etc. Our family would participate in all the parish programmes and functions, including putting up entertainment items, plays with Christian themes, etc.
When we moved to Chennai, we had hoped that we would be an active part of the parish community wherever we were.
We lived right behind Our Lady of Guidance Church from 1993 to April 1997. Fr. M.J. Victor SJ was the parish priest in 1993.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I managed to get him to meet with me so that I could introduce myself to him and hopefully get him to use our talents and charisms in the parish community. While I talked, he kept dozing off and I had to wake him up several times. I wonder how much of my sharing he took in and how much of my zeal to serve was communicated to him.
He asked me to deliver the homily at the 9:00 a.m. English Mass one Sunday. I did not know then that it is absolutely wrong for a lay person to preach the homily and I accepted. The Gospel for that Sunday was Luke Chapter 15. There were four priests including Fr. Victor concelebrating Mass that day. I am confident that I delivered a fairly inspiring talk. I had been preaching to prayer groups, etc. since June 1981. I cannot say why Fr. Victor steered clear of me ever after that day. Unfortunately, through my ignorance of liturgical rules, I have given the homily at least four times at the invitation of priests in different cities.
My wife who incidentally has a good voice and sang in Rashtrapati Bhavan before our President in 1992 joined the church choir but quit after some time because she experienced a lack of warmth and unity.
In mid-1993 I fell seriously ill with an auto-immune disease and lost the use of both my arms. Though in full time ministry and with absolutely no income, we contributed monthly to the support of our pastors. No priest from the parish house ever visited our home which as I said was just behind the church and where we lived for over four years.
Searching for a spiritual advisor and being painfully physically handicapped and confined to walking very slowly, I got an appointment with Fr. A.J. Thamburaj SJ who was once the National Service Team chairperson of the Charismatic Renewal.
When I went to meet him at Dhyana Ashram which is a few minutes walk from where I then lived, he was going out and asked me to come at another time. He broke that appointment too. Already bitter with the rejection from the parish priests, I foolishly blurted out that I would join a Pentecostal church where I would be welcomed. His dismissive reply was "Do that. It is a good idea".
I soon came to know that Fr. Thamburaj was practising reiki and/or pranic healing, and that he was promoting Fr. Ama Samy SJ who is a Zen protagonist. When I became aware of that, I denounced the priest at every opportunity possible.
In 1995, we began to attend the weekly prayer meeting of the Living Waters charismatic prayer group held in the precincts of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre (DPC), Santhome. No priest ever came to pray with us or to supervise the proceedings. Neither was the group monitored by the Madras Service Team of the Renewal.
What I am going to say may sound preposterous but it is true, every single word of it.
We found that the group did not use the Bible at all. The "leader" JP from Sullivan Street would read from Rajneesh/Osho.
When I asked him why they did not use the Bible, he replied (exact words) that "the Old Testament contains filth and pornography".
He would talk about experiencing the flow of cosmic energy in his body, something that the 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age would condemn as New Age. (A few months later I saw him at Master Choa Kok Sui's Pranic Healing Convention in Alwarpet.)
He was also attending Zen Buddhist Meditation before a statue of the Buddha in the Zen building at Dhyana Ashram.
I then discovered that there were other members of that prayer group dabbling in reiki and pranic healing. I went to all of their homes to dissuade them from doing these New Age practices. Some did.
One person very deeply involved in the practice and promotion of Pranic Healing was Mrs. JA and her family. When I visited her home, she spiritedly defended the occult practice and its Catholic promoters, the Saldanhas, who lived in Adyar.
Shocked by the knowledge that charismatics were into these esoteric practices and employing some of their language and philosophy in prayer meetings, I commenced an in-depth study of the New Age which resulted in my present ministry and which is brought out in the masthead at the top of this letter. I received the acronym METAMORPHOSE when I was receiving Holy Communion at Sunday Mass in the Cathedral and I immediately knew what it meant in its full form. Of course, it has enlarged to include errors other than New Age in the succeeding years.
The actual leader of the Living Waters prayer group is TM; he is the one whom I have never seen come in time for Sunday Mass even once in over fifteen years, as informed by me to you earlier. He has sometimes entered church twenty five minutes after Mass had started. I also recall that he walked in late for virtually every meeting of his prayer group that I attended.
When I asked him about the blasphemies and outrages that were going on in his group in the name of charismatic renewal, he defended the perpetrator, JP, as well the members who practised reiki and pranic healing. His final dismissal was, "Mike, who appointed you to be a prophet?"
Well, at that time, not really knowing what else to do, I was recording everything in a journal but was unsure if it was God's will that I do so. While praying for discernment at the Blessed Sacrament, I received the Word to check out Isaiah 30:8, 9 which reads, "Now come, write in a book... make a record that it may be in future days an eternal witness. This is a rebellious people, deceitful children, children who refuse to obey the law of the Lord." That is what I do, ever since then.
Within a few days of my arriving in Chennai, TM had turned up at my home with only one intention: that of inducting me into the charismatic leadership. His only requirement was that I attend a leadership camp that was coming up shortly in Coimbatore. The Lord inspired me to decline the offer, and TM gave up trying after maybe 90 minutes or so.
Why was I approached by TM? He had done a short stint in Delhi and had attended a few renewal programmes organised by me when I was on the Delhi Service Team. He decided that I was anointed and would be an asset to the local set up. What he did not know was my testimony of conversion from being a hater of the Church and a fully lapsed Catholic into a defender of the Church.
My mission and zeal had not been generated by any charismatic ministry. My calling is reminiscent of that of Saul.
Unfortunately the entire hierarchial Renewal, from its top leaders downwards, will recognise only one of their own products, never mind how greatly anointed a Catholic outside the Renewal might be. By refusing to be certified by them I was now on the outside.
I have to thank TM and the other leaders of the Renewal for their rejection of me, because if they hadn't or if I had to accede to their suggestion to attend their leadership camp, my prophetic voice would have been stifled as those of many others before me, and this ministry to expose error would not exist as it does today in God's plan.
Many prayer group members in India (I travel a lot) profess greater loyalty to their leaders than to the truth and to the Church.
After failing to reason with TM to consider and do something about the sorry state of his "prayer group", I approached the then Vicar General, Fr. Tony Devotta (now the Bishop of Trichy), and submitted a detailed written report as desired by him.
(Earlier, I had sought for and was granted an audience with Fr. Tony Devotta. He listened to my story for a full two hours, uninterrupted. But he never invited me to render any service in the Cathedral Basilica of which he was the parish priest.)
On the basis of my report, he asked TM to wind up the group meeting at the DPC and instead meet at the parish house in the Cathedral compound. The Living Waters group refused to do so; JP insisted that the prayer group was a private one and not coming under parish supervision. BR another "leader", called a meeting at his home to which I was invited with a couple of other supportive Catholics and verbally abused. So we started this prayer meeting at the parish house and I attended it for several months. TM and his wife were of course there, more often than not coming in late. No other member of the original occult-soaked prayer group joined the church-approved one. But there was no anointing -- how could there be with TM leading praise and worship and giving teaching -- and I eventually dropped out, realising that I was wasting my time. I believe that the two prayer groups still exist and TM attends both of them every week.
At one Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Guidance church I heard a very powerful prophetic sermon. The priest interrupted his delivery to stop someone from venerating statues during the Mass. I later met the priest who introduced himself as Fr. Solomon Raj SJ; he resided at Dhyana Ashram. After hearing my story, he agreed to be my spiritual director. He remained so until his transfer and death in Nagercoil. He at first did not understand my prophetic ministry and wanted me to do something else instead. He changed his mind after being seduced into practising pranic healing by a nun and a Jesuit brother for his spondylitis problem. He used to conduct Tamil charismatic prayer meetings in the parish church and used me to give my testimony which he translated into Tamil.
He presided over our silver wedding anniversary celebrations. Since his departure and demise, I have not found any other priest in this city to take his place and direct me spiritually.
A small English language prayer group blossomed at the parish and I used to attend it every week and give the Scripture teachings at their request but the group remained very shallow in its spirituality -- something characteristic of most charismatic prayer groups -- despite my best efforts. Its leader eventually married one of my sons.
When I approached Fr. Kanickai Raj, the parish priest of Santhome Basilica, over five years ago, we went through exactly the same cycle. With one difference; he wanted to see our home. So I picked him up and brought him over. Our home looks exactly how the office of a Catholic ministry is expected to: a large crucifix, a huge large-print Catholic Bible enthroned, a giant Rosary hanging on the wall; smaller rosaries scattered all over the house, Catholic icons in every show case and on every wall. And one of the biggest private libraries of Catholic and Christian books, including dozens of Bibles, many meant for free distribution. I also subscribe to around ten (10) Indian Catholic periodicals.
Fr. Kanickai Raj was apprised of my background and our couple ministry in Delhi, my training in several Catholic Bible Colleges and Schools of Evangelization, in Catholic Pastoral Counseling, etc. (All of this took place between the years 1997 and 2000). Fr. Kanickai Raj had only one observation to make: our home was very "dusty".
Before we dropped him back at the parish house, we asked him how we could serve the parish church. His response was that we could start by cleaning the tomb of St. Thomas chapel commencing the following Saturday.
Now we are not averse to doing that; I had done the same service under Fr. Victor D'Souza (later the V.G.) as demanded by him when he was our parish priest in Delhi. But we were then twenty-five years younger... and healthy. Now in our sixties, my wife suffers from acute asthma and I am blind in one eye and have a fused spine and hips and cannot bend over. At that time, I was working at my ministry for easily twelve hours a day. And all this good priest could do was ask us to sweep the church for him.
My anointing and calling from God has been Catholic apologetics as discerned by a number of priests (all of them except the late Fr. Solomon Raj not living in Chennai) between 1981 and the present time. Why would I agree to a request made in the flesh?
After twenty years in this city, I never found a priest excepting Fr. Solomon Raj SJ who was really interested in the spiritual concerns of a person. If the discussion with them got too "spiritual", the priests attempted to end it and avoid future meetings that might embarrass them. But conversations regarding material and secular matters could go on for any length of time. That's not what priests are meant to be there for. We had a Jesuit priest from Satya Nilayam visit our home regular. His name was Fr. Prasad. He hated to be addressed as "Father" and was humorously spoken of as "call me Prasad". He would spend hours with us, even cooking in our kitchen, but his interests were never concerned with our spiritual needs or potential.
I remember a Bible (competition) quiz that was held in the Cathedral parish in the mid '90s. It was on the Gospel of St. Luke if I remember correctly; a paper containing 100 questions was widely distributed. Several people consulted me for the correct answers and I helped them. 5 or 6 of the questions were ambiguous and so I provided alternative answers for each possibility. When the results were posted in the parish, I checked that I had won the first prize with 99 marks. When I met the assistant priests and asked why I received 99 and not 100 marks when all my answers were correct, I was curtly informed that one mark was deducted because I had found fault(s) with the paper. They did not congratulate me, enquire who I was or have a kind word to say to me.
A year or two later I attended an open oral Bible quiz at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, Perambur. When I began to correctly answer every question in succession from the rear, they enquired who I was, and on finding out that I was not known to anyone there, I was asked to remain quiet and "give others a chance".
At Our Lady of Guidance Church, I discussed with Fr. M.J. Victor the incidents of the Santhome Living Waters prayer group members' involvement in pranic healing and reiki, expecting his concurrence that they are New Age. Instead he said that he endorsed those occult and esoteric practices and he gave me copies of a monthly called "Health Action" published by the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), Secunderabad, which promoted them. It was this incident that catalysed me into studying alternative medicine and New Age, which has resulted in this ministry's becoming the leading one in India and known worldwide for its crusade against New Age error. My visits and several letters to our then auxiliary bishop Most Rev. Lawrence Pius Dorairaj did not result in anything being done either. In February 2002, CHAI and the Sisters Doctors Forum of India propagated these alternative therapies at the World Day of the Sick in Vailankanni. I attended the conference and distributed thousands of pamphlets to the assembled cardinals and bishops documenting the spiritual danger of these practices and condemning their promotion at the Shrine Basilica. I also took the microphone while a particular session was in progress and condemned the organizers' complicity in this matter. I later received a letter from the Executive Director of CHAI threatening legal action against me for libel and defamation.
But the CBCI came down heavily on CHAI on the basis of my report and they were asked to stop advertising for and printing and selling all the occult material as well as the books of the Theosophical Society of India.
Fr. Anthonysamy was the previous parish priest of Our Lady of Guidance church. A little over ten years ago, he conducted a yoga camp for the parishioners during summer. Even the prayer group youth were in it. Aware of the cautions against the spiritual dangers of yoga in the October 15, 1989 Vatican Document On Christian Meditation, I approached him and asked him to give me time to discuss the matter with him. He brushed me off saying he was not a man of theory but of practice and categorically refused despite my repeated entreaties, to sit and discuss the matter with me. Finally, I told him that I would have to resort to public protest and he said that I could write on the church walls if I wanted to.
Instead, I printed pamphlets in Tamil and in English explaining the Church's position on Eastern meditations, and distributed them outside the Church gates after every Mass on a particular Sunday. I heard Fr. Anthonysamy condemning me from the pulpit during one of the Masses and advising the people to ignore me because I was incorrect and ignorant.
I would like to say here that my writings have been published in a number of eminent Catholic magazines including The Examiner, The New Leader, Renewal Voice, Shalom Tidings, Streams of Living Water (serialised for three years), etc., and my work continues to be cited on Catholic radio and television (including EWTN) in America and Canada. I am in personal contact with a large number of leading Catholic apologists, authors and crusaders against the New Age in the West.
My wife and I were privileged to receive two long appointments with Bishop Lawrence Pius during which we apprised him of all our concerns and submitted a whole lot of documentation to him. He made a file to study and then informed me that it was missing. I replaced all the papers that I had given him earlier. The Bishop was very nice to us, but no action was ever taken in the matters. God willing, I will soon be posting all those letters, etc. on my web site at www.ephesians-511.net.
For more testimony, see
LETTER FROM THE SECRETARY GENERAL, CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF INDIA, AND MY RESPONSE http://ephesians-511.net/docs/LETTER_FROM_THE_SECRETARY_GENERAL_CATHOLIC_BISHOPS_CONFERENCE_OF_INDIA_AND_MY_RESPONSE.doc
OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOPS 01 http://ephesians-511.net/docs/OPEN_LETTER_TO_THE_BISHOPS_01.doc