SD Spirituality

The basic vision of SD spirituality is to grow deeper in the Trinitarian communion through our configuration with Christ the compassionate, the destitute and the obedient, and to enjoy God-experience in mercifully leading many, especially those who experience destituteness to this Trinitarian love.

In short,

  • To be the fullness of Trinitarian mercy through Jesus.
  • To be the channel of the Father’s mercy to the destitute, being one with Jesus.
  • To taste the joy of destituteness with Jesus.
  • To find fulfilment in doing the Will of God together with Jesus.
  • To be willing and ready to be a constant holocaust, with Jesus.
  • SD Spirituality enables her to be a mother, sister and friend of mercy by growing in communion in community and move towards eternity. 
  1. To Be the Fullness of Trinitarian Mercy through Jesus


Jesus experienced the fullness of the Father’s mercy in the kenosis - destituteness – he attained through obedience unto death on the cross. It is this fullness, as the stream of mercy which bursts into the destitute and the abandoned unceasingly.

          The Triune God has filled us with his love by giving Himself to us totally through Jesus (cf Jn 14:23, 17:21; Rev 3:20). The three incessant and eternal inner operations in the Holy Trinity are love, self-gift, and joy. The Trinity who experiences Joy eternally by self-giving with love indwell as fullness in our emptiness and enjoin us into his interior mystery.

          Contemplation is participating in the Trinitarian communion by constantly seeking God who loves us in the depths of our hearts (cf Ps 42:7), silently and humbly listening and responding to him and remaining face to face in his presence. We will be filled with the Trinitarian joy when we stand before this mystery of eternal love in wonder and a sense of unworthiness.

          The contemplative attitude of our founder who used to get up early in the morning and spent time in deep prayer will ever be a motivating force for us. The spiritual vision of the founder is that it is the same divine experience which we experience while we are in the Eucharistic Presence that we must inculcate through the service to the destitute. This vision awakens an inner urge to be filled with the mercy of God and share it with the destitute. The spiritual energy imbibed by our pioneer sisters from the Eucharistic devotion of the founder, formed in them a spiritual spirit which helped them to humble themselves and lift the little ones up, to be wounded and become wounded healers.

  1. To Be the Channel of the Father’s Mercy to the Destitute

The SD sister is called to experience the fullness of mercy of the Trinity by partaking in the self-gift of Jesus. She transforms this mercy into a channel flowing into the destitute along with Jesus. She contemplates constantly Jesus the merciful of the Gospels and become a mother, a sister and friend of mercy to the destitute. Thus, she becomes able to flow from the heart her merciful destituteness as mercy to the destitute. She acquires the ability to view, think, speak, share, contact, serve and take decisions with mercy in all situations. She obliges herself to drink from the spring of the mercy of the Father in faith and love through contemplation. Thus, she puts into her life the divine exhortation. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). She also acquires the inner light to recognize the presence of Jesus hidden in the poor and the oppressed.

          As Pope Francis exhorts that ‘Mercy’ is the bridge that links God and human by opening human hearts to the hope that even if one be the greatest sinner yet he is loved by God eternally. Understanding this truth she serves as a spring of mercy of the Father to the destitute and attains the salvation of the souls and the glory of God.

2.1 Finding Jesus in the Destitute

The presence of Christ which is reflected in the Word and Holy Eucharist is also present in a very special way in each member of the community, varied experiences of life and especially in the destitute who are the little, the poor and the suffering. History has recorded that our founder after encountering and experiencing Jesus in the sacrifice on the altar and in other sacraments used to stoop down to the sick and the destitute and serve Jesus in them. Thus, the life witness of our virtuous founder became the motivating force to instill in each member the spirit of our charism ‘to serve the destitute as serving Jesus himself.

          We need the gaze of faith to recognize Jesus in the varied situations where the presence of Jesus is appeared. We acquire this gaze of faith through reading the Word of God, through sacramental life and by practicing charity. For an SD sister, acts of charity are acts of spiritual and corporal works of mercy rendered to the destitute.

2.2 Enjoining those who Go Astray from the Community

          Each SD sister is called to make visible and experiential the mercy of Jesus who went in search of those who were isolated and marginalized and encompassed them into the circle of love with mercy and meekness. The beloved people of Jesus - the poor, the imprisoned and the oppressed - (cf. Lk 4:16-18) had no access to the thickly populated cities. No one ever saw them or heard about them. They were needy beggars.  They had no rights of their own. The little ones, the sick, the women and the prostitutes (cf Lk 7:36-50) were denied of any right.

Our founder received the elderly people who were abandoned in their own homes or wayside and sheltered them in the first Home for the Aged at Chunangamvely. This compassionate approach reflects the attitude of ‘inclusiveness’ of Jesus.

2.3 Uniting Mercy and Justice

          Those who encounter the compassionate eyes of Jesus always experience the merciful touch which was fully humane, radiating the experience of total liberation. On the one hand Jesus establishes strong bonds of relationship with all. On the other hand, he breaks all the fetters and boundaries, wipes away all prejudices and tears off all the masks of injustices.

An SD sister makes the apostolic style of Jesus which is permeated with compassion and sense of justice, her own style. She attained spiritual motherhood through the vow of chastity which empowers her to love the poor and abandoned she meets with, humanly, dynamically, universally and personally. Having gained inner freedom, fervor of charity and simplicity of heart from the life of chastity she is raised to universal motherhood. Thus she keeps herself ready to enrich humanity spiritually without any discrimination of caste or religion.

 The compassionate ministry of SD is embedded with the prophetic mission of raising voice for the oppressed, the exploited and those who are denied of their rights and to lead them to liberation as well as embracing the destitute and serving them with our hearts as a mother, sister and friend. From the very beginning Msgr George Valliarumpeth insisted through the Manuscript Code that we must foster a style of ministry which enjoins mercy and justice. Our compassion must find out relevant measures to ensure social justice, getting rid of poverty and humanness rather than mere feelings of kindness and pity.

In short, the SD charism enables us to be the springs of the mercy of Jesus by owning up the prophetic courage of raising voices of Justice and the human and merciful approach of searching the lost, bringing them back to the main stream of society and to the love of God.

2.4 Serving the Destitute as Spiritual Experience

          For an SD sister, who is able to see the presence of Jesus in persons and events and reveal the mercy of the Father to the destitute, the contact with them and rendering service to them, become moments of God-experience. SD has received from the founder and the pioneer members such a mode of spiritual experience by ministering to the presence of Jesus hidden behind the rotten and pitiable condition of the sick and the oppressed.

She is trained from the very beginning in the art of looking at the destitute through the merciful eyes of Jesus and serving them with the attitude of Jesus, imbibing the lowliness and meekness of the heart of Jesus.  As a result, the recipients of their services recognize the salvific presence in them. In accordance with the life witness of the pioneer sisters, she is encouraged to accept the sacrifices, hardships, rejections and humiliations in the service of the destitute, as the chances of participating in the self-emptying of Jesus.

Our senior sisters testify the spiritual experience they attained while nursing a terminally ill, bed-ridden and rheumatic patient as follows: “It was customary that the patient used to shout and blame and throw faeces at those who entered the room. Being well aware of this embarrassing situation, Msgr George Valliarumpeth advised the sisters to approach him with peace, patience and compassion seeing the presence of Jesus in him.” This was a valuable training they received to transform the hurts, rejections and nursing in the filthy surroundings into spiritual experience.

We acquire the spiritual energy for the contact with the destitute and taking care of them with love as God-experience through daily meditation, study of the Word of God and holy sacraments. Thus, SD spiritual style empowers us to imbibe the interiority that makes our life and service a mystical experience.

  1.  To Experience the Joy of Destituteness with Jesus.

          An SD sister savours the different levels of blessedness and joy of destituteness by receiving the grace to partake in the self-emptying of Jesus.

3.1 Destituteness as Lowliness of Heart

          It is difficult for those who maintain the worldly beliefs that happiness is obtained only through power, achievements, good name and honorable positions to understand the joy in destituteness. It is mere grace of God that enables me to identify myself with the kenosis of Jesus and strip off the ‘ego’ in me. My ego is the inner power which is always active in me, controlling my being, my having and my actions. In Christian spirituality, the process of self-emptying which helps me to get rid of my ego and pride, the reflection of my ego, condensed in me is called humility.

          In short, the spirit of destituteness is lowliness of heart and mind (cf Mt 11:29). It is the humble attitude of emptying myself by surrendering even my lawful rights (cf Phil 2:5-7). Humility is always truth. Truth liberates me (cf Jn 8:32). Our founder who bore testimony through his life to the fact that the spirit of destituteness is lowliness, freedom and simplicity of heart, motivated our pioneer members to live these traits of heart faithfully. They lived the name of the congregation, ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ meaningfully and made it their life-style by foregoing their lawful rights and even their bare needs. They found fulfillment in becoming poor for the poor, in self-emptying and sharing the merciful love with others, living in the small house named ‘Sadhumandira Kanyakamadham’(convent and poor home) accepting joyfully all its limitations and lack of security.

3.2 Destituteness as Blessing

           The one who is in love rejoices in her innermost heart, when she gets chances to conform to the inner attitudes of her friend. The saints, attracted by the spirit of destituteness of Jesus, always experience joy and blessedness in conforming to His self-emptying life. From the moment St. Francis realized the fact Jesus, his Lord and Master, chose a life of sheer poverty and destituteness he worked hard to love the spirit of poverty as his bride to be conformed to him. St Charles de Faucauld mused: “Jesus, you lived poor. What will it mean if I love you but do not live like you?”

The saints succeeded in experiencing joy and fulfillment in identifying themselves with Jesus. St Alphonsa says: “The fortune of a bride is the fortune of her bridegroom. The cross which is the fortune of my Lord Jesus is my fortune as well.” An SD sister gets the enlightenment that the wealth of her Lord is destituteness and that has to be her own wealth too.

An SD sister realizes that destituteness is the most precious ideal in life that she has to make her own. She prepares herself to undertake any sacrifice and loss required to partake in the destituteness of Jesus, discovering it as the valuable and incomparable treasure in living the consecrated life in SD.

3.3 Destituteness as Dependence on God’s Mercy

          Self-dependence is nourished by fixing one’s eyes on wealth, security and capability- dependence on God is diminished. The person who grows in the spirit of destituteness has no self-dependence – dependence is solely on God! “Has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken?” (Sirach 2:10). As the Word elucidates, dependence on God is clearly manifested in the lives of the saints. They never complained while going through misunderstandings or bitter experiences of life. Instead, they experienced perfect Joy through complete dependence on God.

  • St Padre Pio was forbidden to say Holy Mass in public when he received stigmata which caused suspicion and misunderstanding.
  • St Faustina went through great suffering on account of her ill health. It was interpreted as pretension and foul playing.
  • St Maria John Vianney had no permission for doing confession for a period of time.
  • St Alphonsa was ridiculed in the refectory in the presence of the sisters.

These saints lived clinging to God when bitter experiences were lashed against them like waves because they possessed God as their only treasure. The life of the saints are models and motivation to us because even when they were misunderstood and forbidden to take part in the Holy Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation in the very depth of destituteness they fully depended on the providential love of God.

Those who keep their trust in God in the unsecure situations of daily life, destituteness become a virtue. The Word of God testifies that it is turned to be a blessing and joy in their lives (cf Lk 6:20-23; Mt 5:3-4). Destituteness is an evil and curse to those who do not find their treasure in the Word of God.

Our founder became a path-finder for the sisters by his own life in finding all our security in God, loving the way of destituteness. They found happiness in accepting the challenges before them when they began to live in the new house for the poor and trusting only in the providence of God they went ahead with fortitude.

Their unwavering trust in God enabled them to experience the wealth of Father’s mercy even when they were saddened by the sudden departure of the Founder. We realize that the loving presence and consoling words of Mar Augustine Kandathil filled them with the merciful love of God. “Beloved children, do not worry, for the Holy Spirit will provide you with an appropriate person to guide you in response to your earnest prayer.” Without much delay Fr George Valliarumpeth was appointed as the director and spiritual guide of the Congregation. SD considers this as the abounding mercy and affection bestowed by God on her.

3.4 Destituteness as Redemptive Experience

Jesus is the Destitute of the destitute. His cross and crucifixion are salvific in themselves. The whole world is redeemed by the merit of the destituteness of Jesus. We too are called to make our experience of destituteness salvific along with the sufferings of Jesus. Fruits of the redemption are produced when we accept the difficulties and miseries in our lives in faith from the hands of God as well as when we pray for those around us who are broken hearted on account of their experiences of destituteness.

Thus, we attain the holiness of our life, salvation of souls and the glory of God, which are the goals of our consecrated life. It is a truth that our pain of destituteness and sufferings are redemptive before God. It is the duty of each SD sister to reveal this truth through one’s own experience and testimony to those who are the recipients of our service and those who come in contact with us.

We are aware that the intense thirst for the salvation of souls and the commitment towards this was clearly obvious during the last moments of our founder. He offered his pain of destituteness along with the agonizing Jesus even when he was pressed hard by the fatal agony of death and made it redemptive. At the same time his heart was yearning to console the patient in next bed who also was in the agony of death. Our Valliachan was convinced that even if he is a great sinner, even if he belongs to any caste, he was to be won for heaven. He prayed over him for the grace to transform his suffering to a salvific realm and bade him peacefully to eternity.

We are motivated by this spiritual heritage of our founder to make our daily struggles redemptive and lead others also into this. This inner attitude reflected in our beloved founder is the basis for the exhortation given to us in our Manuscript Code: “Every human being, who is the fruit of the precious blood of Christ - whether he is poor, sick, weak or sinful – needs to be served and brought to salvation.”

Our pioneer sisters were keen to give special care to the dying while serving in the hospitals and home for the destitute keeping in mind this aspect of salvation. This is an achievement to our patrimony that our sisters were always vigilant to give spiritual care along with the routine work of nursing and lead them to their eternal home. For an SD sister merciful service provides precious moments for constant God-experience.

4. Accomplishing the Will of God for Self-actualisation

Jesus who carried out the Will of God every moment experienced the presence of the Father constantly. “And the one who sent me is with me…” (Jn 8:29). He invites us to perform His Will in daily life and experience the joy of being in him just as Jesus remains in the love of the Father by doing always His Will (cf Jn 15: 10-11). The obedience of Jesus was his deep love for the Father and its response (cf Ps 40:8-9, Heb 10:7).

It is in the atmosphere of each one of us seeking his face and His Will that SD spiritual life grows mature. The mind of an SD sister who tries always to seek the Will of God by keeping the virtuous saying of the founder, “Whatever may come, surrender to the Will of God”  as her mantra of the heart, becomes on the path of seeking that which leads it to peace”. Our peace lies in His Will. It is this peace that supports her in the daily crisis of the journey of mercy of an SD sister. She finds fulfillment in performing merciful service uniting her will constantly to the Will of God.

4.1. Accomplishing the Will of God as Joy

Every SD sister is called to the spousal relationship with Jesus the merciful, the destitute and the obedient. For her Jesus is her sole spouse; Jesus Himself is the sole trust; Jesus will be her sole goal of life. It becomes an inner urge in her to do the Will of God every moment as she receives the grace to share with Jesus a friendship and love that is pure, a love that is eternal and undivided which is far greater than temporary human love She finds spiritual joy in seeking and doing the Will of the One who called her and made her His own and led her by hand till now. St Therese of Lisieux testifies this clearly. She recognized that the special love of God towards her each moment, and the mission to be carried out each moment were revealed to her. Hence for her, obedience became spiritual joy experiencing the love of God each moment.

4.2. Accomplishing the Will of God as Meekness of Heart

We see that Jesus who found fulfillment in carrying out the Will of the Father every moment, maintained meekness of heart all through his life, in all his words, actions and relationships. He forgave unconditionally, the ignorance, evil behavior and immaturity of his disciples. He corrected them occasionally and taught them many things. He revealed himself as meek and humble and wanted them to learn of Him (cf Mt.11:29). He provides clear guidelines through the Sermon on the Mount, as how to be meek in daily undertakings. The deep peace he maintained in his innermost being at the time of intense suffering he underwent physically, mentally and spiritually on the cross is revealed through the seven words he uttered on the cross.

Those who tread with Jesus in the path of obedience will be able to face the sufferings and tensions of daily life with peace and equanimity. The spirit of obedience will lead them to peace of mind. The prayer of Pope St John XXIII is an example for this: “I would like to say only one thing to you, Lord. Here I am. I accept all sorrows, insults and pain, without reacting to the least….”

The Spirit of God is the spirit of meekness. Those who are led by the Spirit will always and everywhere be at peace. They receive the grace to move down and deal with peace to the sick, the poor, the rejected and the orphans. According to St Francis Sales, known as the Guru and model of meekness, they get the experiential knowledge that meekness with humility is the virtue of all virtues.

Our founder also lived this meekness with humility and has given us many good examples. He could face all the criticisms, rejections and misunderstandings with peace, patience and meekness. His witness of life in stooping down to the opponents in peace and meekness without any complaint or grievance will ever motivate us in life.

4.3. Union with the Will of God through Interior Suffering.

While we try to unite our will with the Will of God certain situations may occur in our daily life, which bring about great interior suffering. She finds fulfillment in accepting the experience of destituteness incurred in it as the Will of God. Sometimes the superior may ask a sister to give up personal projects or ideas. Or she may be compelled to let go of her comforts for the sake of others. On some other occasions she might feel reluctant to submit herself to the directions of the superior. We receive grace to partake in the self-sacrifice of Jesus and experience spiritual fulfillment through obedience in the light of faith even when such situations may appear pretty difficult.

Our founder underwent serious interior struggle in the climax of his fatal sickness. They were occasions of offering sacrifices of obedience and self-emptying. Even in the midst of great destituteness what echoes in his inner most heart was a Magnificent of unwavering surrender. It was the parting words from the founder to his SD daughters: “Beloved children, surrender to the Will of God….”

5. Be a Constant Holocaust, One with Jesus

 An SD sister in her formula of profession offers her whole life as a holocaust to be an act of perfect love for God, and his people especially for the destitute. She understands that through her sacrificial vowed life she is transformed continuously into a sacrificial victim in the presence of God.

The sisters and novices received the fundamental principle from Valliarumpeth Valliachan that religious life is essentially a life of sacrifice.

5.1.  As Sacrificial Offeror and Offering

The lectures regularly given by Msgr. George Valliarumpeth extolled  the challenge to become a constant sacrificial offering which can be deeply imbibed in the heart of the sisters. He based his teachings on the sacrificial aspect, which is the essence of religious life, on the book Spirit of Sacrifice. Even now the same classes are given to the novices.

- An SD sister who takes up the sacrifices in the vowed life with fidelity is transformed into a perpetual offer or and offering with Jesus.

- It is only through becoming self-offering with Jesus in daily life that she is deepened in the spousal relationship with Jesus who is her Lord and spouse.

- She becomes a transformed offering for service by being totally burnt on the altar of sacrifice along with Jesus, the Lord of her soul, daily. Thus, she is enabled to experience a pure and holy intimate spousal relationship with Jesus her Lord.

5.2. Compassionate Life through Self-Sacrifice

An SD sister realizes through the renewal retreat that her life of consecration is a loving sacrificial journey along with Jesus. He invites us to be broken as the Eucharist by lovingly participating in his life of sacrificial journey from Incarnation to the holocaust offering at Calvary.

At the moment of Incarnation, Jesus humbled himself giving us all heavenly glory he possessed, not considering it as his right (cf Phil 2: 5-7). He surrendered himself totally to the Will of the Father (cf Heb 10:7). The Holy Spirit strengthens us constantly to participate in the sacrificial journey of Jesus daily and be the springs of compassion of the Father to many.

In the Holy Family at Nazareth, Jesus led a quiet, humble and merciful life. He revealed the dignity of human labor by performing the humble but hard work with humility of heart. The sacrificial experience at the hidden life of Nazareth consisted of poverty, silence, self-annihilating occasions, mutual submission and pure love shared by gift of self.

An SD sister enjoins herself in the sacrificial journey of Jesus by accepting the Nazareth experience which God provides for us in our daily life as his loving invitation to be the living sacrifice, one with Him.

She continues her sacrificial journey with Jesus who annihilates the natural tendencies by discerning the gentle movements of the Holy Spirit in the public life at Capernaum

This sacrificial journey strengthened the SD sister to become a sacrificial offering as she overcomes the fear and anxiety caused by suffering, ridicule, loneliness, misunderstanding and rejection in the fields of her ministry, by depending on the Holy Spirit. She makes herself ready to bring back the people of God especially the destitute and forlorn to the Trinitarian love and become an embodiment of mercy for them.

On the Cross in Calvary, Jesus forgave his enemies who stood around him before offering his life on the Cross. Thus, Jesus the Holy Offering offered himself as a Sacrifice.

SD sister also realizes that she is approaching the altar of sacrifice along with her community. She purifies her heart by offering forgiving love to each other before she offers her own sacrifice.

The Holy Spirit fills her with the joy of becoming one with the self-sacrifice of Jesus and contemplating the love of the Father one with him who is the eternal sacrificial victim and sacrificial offeror. An SD sister grows in the Trinitarian intimacy by offering herself as a holocaust constantly to the Father, along with Jesus. She becomes capable of being broken for others by experiencing the fullness of Trinitarian Mercy. God who is present in us reveals Himself as Love and as Trinity. This living presence of the Trinity fills us with the power to live in union with him and with the brethren.

6. As a Compassionate Mother and Sister to Grow in Communion

              Our pioneers have handed over a kind of community life which shares the experience of fellowship - a beautiful merging of mercy, submission and humility of Christ - first in the community and then with the poor. SD charism urges us to maintain and handover a community fellowship which receives, carries, contains and contributes the Trinitarian mercy.

SD sister constantly meditates on the exhortation given by St Paul about the attitude of mercy, obedience and spirit of destituteness which are to be maintained at any cost (essentially) in community life.

  • “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy... be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil 2:1-2).
  • “Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus Christ ... emptied himself taking the form of a slave... humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross...” (Phil 2: 5-8).
  • “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. (Col 3:12).

As these words elucidate, each SD sister becomes aware that her community is the place where they share the sacrificial experiences of mercy, obedience and self-emptying and grow. It is a place for her to grow in littleness, in self-giving, in surrendering herself to the Will of God which reveals to her a place where she can share the joys and anxieties, comforts and struggles of daily life… a place where she is urged to accept the individual differences with inner freedom and motivated to bear each other’s burden.

Thus, an SD sister realizes that each local community is a ‘house and school’ where we are constantly trained to participate in the Trinitarian love by becoming a holocaust through our configuration with Christ the compassionate and destitute and leading many especially the destitute to this communion of love. She is convinced that it is through the community where she is assigned at present by God that she has to grow in SD Spirituality, bloom and bear fruits.