Virtues
Fr Canisius was convinced that his vocation was to be a saint and his only desire was to fulfill “God’s will… that alone … that in full”. CMI religious life was his chosen path for the realization of this vocation. He had steadfast confidence in the loving providence of God. He testifies in his Will, thus: “God is faithful to His promises. It’s my heart’s desire to keep proclaiming the supreme truth always and everywhere in the world that in accordance with the covenant, God true Father in His characteristic paternal loving care, has made all arrangements in place so as to facilitate the growth of each of His children quite proper to His plan and perfection.”
Ardent Seeker of God’s Will
Holiness, as we all know, is manifested through a life of prayer and apostolate. Fr.Canisius, a man of prayer, did everything guided by and in conformity and compliance with God’s will. He always suggested to people, especially to the priests and religious who sought his advice, the following means to discern the Will of God: Prayer, Meditation on the Word of God found in the Bible, the Constitutional rules and directives and decisions of the Congregational authorities. Often he would tell them that he would give his advice after praying over it. What he wanted to make sure and insisted upon was that the decision should be in accordance with the “God’s will… that alone … that in full”. Once Fr Joseph Elias insistently inquired whether Fr Canisius had any special vision or revelation, the holy man answered with his natural humility and honesty: “I never had any such vision or revelation. I believe… I believe in the Word of God… I live in the Word of God … and I pray trusting in the Word of God.” In one of his letters Fr.Canisius confessed, thus: “By the eternal mercy of God I had used every charism to its utmost. Now at this moment (77years) He tells me, ‘It is enough!’ Yes, yes. The fiat of our Mother.”
Humility
Humility and simplicity were the hallmark of the personality of Fr. Canisius. He considered the high offices he held as forums for service. He qualified the various posts of authority in the Congregation as ‘apostolate of administration.’ Many testify that, in case he had made an involuntary mistake even while holding various titles of power and authority, he was on his knees to ask for pardon from the fellow members including the seminarians. He never thought it belittled his self or status.
Love for the Poor
Fr. Canisius is known for his consideration and care for the poor and the marginalized of the society. He wrote: “It engenders in me sympathy and concern beyond measure to see brethren put to various sufferings. What l would immediately do then is to offer them to the divine Lord and persistently pray to Him to give a hand with their problems. But I must confess that I do not possess the necessary knack, ingenuity and the divine charism to make me rush to their help by giving them solace and counseling… It is not my presence that is essential to them, but the presence of the divine Master. Therefore I will compel him to bless them by his helping presence… I am convinced that it is my vocation to engender in them the needed insight, hope and courage by prayer and penance, of which nobody may be aware.” During his tenure of office as Prior General and Provincial he led the way in chalking out special plans and programmes for the uplift of the marginalized and the lowly placed groups in society. He prayed for the poor and the needy and inspired others to get actively involved in the social apostolate.

As a member of the Congregation and a major religious superior, Father Canisius did his best to live out the biblical ideal of “option for the poor”. While in office as Prior General at Ernakulam he encouraged the members of the Congregation to work for the welfare of the marginalized people and the unemployed women. As Provincial at Thrissur he led the way in reaching out to the poor and starting the get-together of family units towards finding solution to their problems. For the social uplift of the poor Fr Canisius began Kuriakose Elias Service Society (KESS) with its multifarious activities. It was thanks to his inspiration and initiative that the idea of empowerment of laity became a reality. He could bring together prominent people to work for the betterment of the marginalized in the society.
An Exemplary Priest and Committed CMI Religious
A well disciplined life with strict observance of devotions, strict adherence to performance of duties taken up - but blended with kindness when it concerned others, a keen sense of justice and impartiality, submissiveness to the Superiors, a knack for getting things done not by resorting to bribe or other crooked and worldly ways, discharging of authority with necessary corrections and encouragement – all these made him an exemplarary religious priest and servant of God endowed with an extraordinary personality. One who knew this man of God testifies, thus: “he was a model religious who had tried to put into practice not only the decisions of the superiors but also their desires, which he could guess and understand.”

Fr Canisius proved to be the life and soul of CMI Congregation during his life time. Being a member of the CMI Congregation was for him a matter of joy and pride. In his notes Ente Jeevithanubhavangal he wrote: “The legacy our Congregation has passed on to us is a beautiful one. The kind of formation it has imparted to us is also priceless. It does not mean we are devoid of limitations. We have to make self-criticism and then dare modernization taking into account the new challenges we face.”
A Man of Prayer
Fr. Canisius used to be called ‘a praying priest’ and even the ‘personification of prayer.’ He really took great delight in prayer. Besides saying the community prayers without fail, Fr Canisius would spend long hours in prayer before the tabernacle, especially on days when he was to officially take major and serous decisions. One could even say that he ‘found joy in praying.’ Prayer was for him delight, rest and duty. It was also his mission all through his life, especially during his retired life at CSR. Fr.Canisius had prepared and delivered a detailed paper on the Governing Ministry and Prayer Life, in which he stressed the need for the superiors to become guides and models of prayer life for the community. He summarizes the main elements of prayer life: Spousal Prayer, Professional Prayer, and Occupational Prayer. In prayer life the superiors have to give emphasis to mission orientation, intercession orientation and Carmel orientation.

He was hundred percent a spiritual guide and teacher, who guided people to God rather than to himself. Regarding his prayer life he has testified: “What I am capable of and what is delightful for me is a life of prayer…I spend daily five hours before the Blessed Sacrament in the name of our brethren, on behalf of them and interiorly, in the company of them… Many, especially Sisters come over here in order to pray together and grow in prayer by sharing their prayer experiences.”

The following was his daily programme which he faithfully followed for 15 years.

06.30-07.30 Learning prayer
08.30-09.30 Intercessory prayer for missionaries
11.30-12.30 Intercessory prayer for religious and lay apostles
18.30-19.30 Listening prayer alone with Jesus
19.45-20.10 Family prayer
21.00-21.30 Night prayer

Even after the night prayers he would continue to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. He used to pray long hours in company of those who were there in prayer. If anyone suggested to him, taking note of his physical exhaustion and sickness, ‘Father, why not go and have rest for a while’ he would say in reply, ‘Prayer is my rest.’
Eucharistic Worship
The Holy Masses he said were specially noted for their spiritual fervor and celestial decorum. What was particularly special about them was that the participants in the Mass felt drawn to the spiritual appeal and animation they (Holy Masses) evoked in them. The way in which Father Canisius said Holy Mass during his days of research in Sacred Scripture at Rome came to the special notice of Fr.Prefect, the then Superior of Father Canisius, and he wrote to the Prior General in Latin; “Quod autem attinet ad patrem Canisius……….ubicumque egerit et etiam missam celebrarierit omnes aedificiet.” During his stay at Pariyaram the faithful in the locality would make it a point to attend Fr. Canisius’ Holy Mass and listen to his homily. Even now the people over there do testify that those Masses and his spiritual fervor and zeal would take them to heights of new spiritual experience.

For fear of inappropriateness in saying Holy Mass being seated on a chair, during the days of ailment he would opt for a stool to sit on for celebration of Mass. In consequence of this option, while saying Mass from beginning to end, he had to be physically supported by the attendant. It is said that this situation was enough to evoke in the non-Christian helper reverence for Holy Mass and respect for the personality of Canisius.
Devotions
Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Therese of Lisieux and BI.Chavara were the heavenly patrons specially chosen and prayed to by Fr.Canisius. He has written two devotional books written in Malayalam entitled Thrimukha Japamala (three–faced rosary) and Panchaghatta Japamala (Five-phased rosary). He describes human life as a pilgrimage toward God, our Lord and Mary as our precursor and model: “we would like to spiritually follow you through the different periods of your pilgrimage…” Fr.Canisius concludes by invoking the Mother to pray for these sinners, now and at the time of our death, in order to attain victory in the pilgrimage. He calls the Rosary as pilgrimage.

His reverence and devotion to BI.Chavara, the founder of the CMI Congregation, knew no bounds. Besides writing and publishing booklets on BI. Chavara, he put his heart and soul to propagating and perpetuating his memory among the people.
Salvific Suffering
God provided Fr. Canisius an in–depth experience and sense of the mystery of suffering. Hence he wholeheartedly welcomed the sufferings as his beloved friend. The son of St.Teresa of Avila seemed to make his own her motto, aut pati aut mori (either suffer or die). He used to tell his spiritual daughters who came to him with their problems, thus: “Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it.” One may find in him a living and loving portrait of the suffering ebed of Is.52:13-53:1-12. [Kalluveettil, Maran Atta, pp. 79-93.]

During his last years he had a lot of physical sufferings which he bore willingly. Besides ailments typical of age, he suffered from rheumatic arthritis, a chronic disease, characterized by stiffness and inflammation of the joints, loss of mobility, weakness and deformity and tremendous pain. He could not stretch out his hands and legs as well as bend them. This saintly soul suffered all the pains without any trace of impatience and murmur, and told the bystanders with a smile, “Let the divine will be fulfilled.” The magnetic treatment reduced his pain a little, but the disease did not disappear. Later he also had spondylitis, hepatitis, herpes zoster and urinary problems which needed surgical intervention twice. He wrote in a letter dated 18-4-1984: “Almost all my bodily organs are slowly getting unfit. They show the signs of fatigue according to the climatic changes. By the special grace of God I feel contentment and pride at it. Every organ has done its work at its full capacity. Now they are exhausted and fade away. What a great joy! When we are fully poured out as an offering, the objective of our life is accomplished. Praise be to Him!”

The logic of suffering for this suffering servant of the Lord is clear: “The one who suffers may feel that everything is lost. In fact the person is actually harvesting a lot of blessings. There is only apparent loss; even if there is loss, it is merely temporal… it is a loss only here in this world. The gain is hundred times.” According to him each moment of suffering earns for us eightfold eternal wealth:
  1. Reparation of my sins and increasing purity of heart (Ps.51:2; Mt.5:8).
  2. Reparation merit which I earn for my brethren in order to lighten their weight (Gal.6:2).
  3. More likeness to the suffering Jesus (Rom.8; Gal.6:17).
  4. Fill my part in Christ’s suffering at this moment (Col.1:24).
  5. My contribution for the eternal wealth of every member of the mystical body (Col.1:24)
  6. One step forward through the highway of glory (Lk.24:25-27; Rom.8:17).
  7. Storing up of energy for a better resurrection for me (1Cor.15:35-42; Heb.11:35).
  8. A better possibility of mediation (only those who have suffered can feel compassion for the suffering people; only they will hasten to the help of the suffering ones), Heb.5-8.
Once some Sisters from the F.C.C Convent, Karuvannoor went to visit him; they were very much grieved to see the pain and discomfort he was put to, and so to console him they said, “Father, let us pray for you”. Then he is reported to have given them this reply, “Yes, you must, but not for recovery, but for the strength to suffer”. Likewise being very much convinced of the salvific value of suffering, he told Rev.Fr.Kochumathu and his team from the well known retreat centre, Potta, “No, no longer do I need prayer for my recovery.” At the insistence of Fr.Joseph Elias, he gave his reasons: “It is the will of God that I should suffer. You are going to pray that God should take away the chalice of suffering from me. I cannot agree with it. If you pray, God may though unwillingly relent. However, it is not the divine plan concerning my sanctification. I want the divine will to be fully accomplished.”

Fr. Canisius loved to wear the religious habit, and that of the Carmelite tradition - brown cassock, scapular and hood. But because of Rheumatoid Arthritis, he could not raise his arms and wear the cassock, or even a shirt. Thus he was forced to be clothed in loin cloth of saffron colour. He had to cover his chest with a shawl. This caused him great inner suffering. As he could not take bath by himself, his superior asked the servant to bathe him. This affected his delicate sense concerning nakedness. A whole day he spent in prayer. He offered himself to the Lord who was deprived of clothes during crucifixion and earned strength to face that suffering. This ascetic person did not want to enjoy the cooling effect of fan.

Like St. Paul the Apostle, he also rejoiced in what he was suffering. On 18-4-1984 he wrote: “Let us with patience and joy accept the suffering and thank God for it.” He did not want to be fully healed of his infirmities (letter dated 9-5-1992). Concerning his ills he said: “Whatever God the Father gives, is the gift of his paternal love” (letter dated 30-10-1991).