Thursday, 31 July 2008
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
I was reading the book of Fr VV Abraham, A labour of love and was reading this particular thought: 'Don't try to waste a lot of expensive, unproductive energy trying to be well rounded. (Don't try to do everything; do what you can do well and what you love.)' And I was saying to myself, 'How true! I'm just learning this art." To prove me wrong, in comes my helper in the communication office to announce that she has a new job and she is moving on!!! So much for letting others do things!!!
I used to often use this quotation for others whenever they were appointed to some posts or additional responsibilities were entrusted to them: The reward of work well done is the opportunity to do more! I think I need to rephrase it a bit to read: The reward for work done is more work!
Monday, 28 July 2008
Some years ago I read a line sent to me by mail (if I'm not mistaken, it is Christopher - none better than him for such matters!): If you managed to spend your whole afternoon on a perfectly boring day, doing nothing, you've learnt the art of living! Then I'd rubbished this whole idea, but now I see some wisdom in it too!
Felt nice that I gave a piece of my mind to a couple of Sisters today!! Not that I achieved anything big but just that I let off myself some pressure, some tension mounting the whole day long... and that too today is just the beginning of month long General Chapter... Good Lord!!
It is good to once in a way explicate your thoughts directly to people concerned rather than grumble about the matter to every tom-dick and harry! Today as I take up some more responsibilities I remind myself, it is ultimately I who decide about how I work and therefore, I better own up rather than moan and groan to all and sundry about the workload. If I accept, it is my responsibility and I certainly do not wish to earn the pity of others - at least that is the intention! Help from others, yes but I shall not grieve my 'responsibilities'. No way! Well, sounds a good resolution!
Sunday, 27 July 2008
There is a moment in the movie when Nikumbh says to his friend: "I saw myself in the mirror today." I think it is the turning point of the movie, the story... when the teacher sees in the child who is struggling, himself! What follows is a story of guidance, assistance, encouragement, support and friendship... but what triggered it is, I feel the realisation that the boy needs help, just as I have been helped. Having reached a stage of life where you feel you are in control, you know things, you know that you can manage, we sometimes feel so powerful and mighty that we forget where we started from. We expect everyone and everything around us to be as powerful and mighty as ourselves. I remember reading the writings of Jean Vanier while in Shillong. I'd say, every Salesian assistant - for that matter every Salesian - ought to read that. In the context of a house where mentally challenged people are taken care of, those who take care of them are most vulnerable - not the most powerful. They are those who have really touched their vulnerability and therefore are humble enough to help the other in their moments of vulnerability.
Saturday, 26 July 2008
To have a week long celebrations of togetherness, unity and sharing is indeed a nice idea. It surely has great advantages. What I question is the worth of it. Is it really worth that much of effort, energy and expenditure just for one week. Had there been a greater awareness and consciousness about the same theme and vibrancy at the local level perhaps it would have been of greater use. Rather than grand solemn occasions which come to go, I`d prefer to hear and believe in something more tangible here and now, something local, something in each Province, each Parish, each Youth Centre and that too all along the year. Let`s have more youth days, youth months, youth years rather than `a` world youth day - one week in a year! I mourn not the fact that there has been a world youth day, nor that only a handful of people made up the Indian contingent, or the Salesian contingent, I mourn rather the lack of a Salesian youth movement in INDIA. I know very well much is being done at the grassroots but can all of it be connected to have a real impact at the national or state level. Can we, as youth workers, network together to form a vibrant youth movement in our own parishes, youth centres, Provinces and country? Some may say it is easier said than done! True and I do take the blame also - after all, I too am a Salesian! But I do believe it is possible. The PALS meet held a year ago was indeed a commendable effort. So too is the launching of the www.youthindia.net but what I dream of is a movement (however small it may be) of youth at each local level which can be linked in whatever way we can with the state and national level. While there is a national face to the movement, its individual flavour too is retained. May Don Bosco guide us all!
Thursday, 24 July 2008
What struck me during the funeral service today were the words of Fr Maliekal - he really has a way of putting words which trigger reflection and have a great depth! He thanked Br Gabriel for 'consecrating the world, if not the host and wine, through dedicated work, especially in and through the printing press'.
Well, that's something I never thought I'm doing - consecrating my office work?! Is it really very different from consecrating the bread and wine? Well thinking of it, I feel what is important is not who consecrates and what, but is that which is consecrated, truly Christ. Is the work that I do as a Salesian Brother truly spelling Christ and being Christ - if so then I'm also a Priest! ... and a proud one to do it that way too! No point in me consecrating bread and wine if the final product is not Christ - not worth it at all! May be the very grace of Priesthood has it that the Priest at the pronunciation of the words of consecration, irrespective of his own personal state of affairs, effects the transubstantiation... may be! But I'd prefer it to be a truly manual, sincere and living consecration rather than a theologically sound and perfect doctrine.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
As I was clearing the tons of paper lying about in the drawers and boxes and other places in the hall with the help of Shekar, I came across this short prayer that I remember typing in December for the Deacons. Then, caught up with the work, I never bothered to really read and understand it... today I did ... at least to some extent!
Lord God, I stand before you as a microcosm of the earth itself, to give it voice. See in my openness - the world's opennes, in my infidelity, the world's infidelity, in my sincerity - the world's sincerity ... in my self-preoccupation - the world's forgetfullness of you.
For I am of the earth, a piece of the earth, and the earth opens or closes to you through my body, my soul and my voice. I am your priest on earth. (Ron Rolheiser)
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Monday, 21 July 2008
Interesting to note how subtle nuances of the same virtues lead to different consequences. Moreover what amused me was that the author - Gurdjeff - clearly attempts to define faith and hope with 'is' but resists from doing the same when it comes to love. Clever move!!
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Read this quote of St Basil the Great on a calendar today: The bread you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold that you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor.
Now that's something of what Saints are made of ... nothing material to be concerned of, in order to have their whole heart and mind lost in the Divine. Anyone living this sort of radical poverty today will certainly be termed mad! God alone knows!
And She conceived by the Holy Spirit
Behold the handmaid of the Lord
Be it done to me according to your WORTH. ...
I never thought beyond the words of the Angelus... until I heard the above version at Karunapuram during my visit there yesterday. I first laughed at the recitation of someone in the crowd but then gave it a thought before the final prayer. Was replacing the 'word' with 'worth' such a bad thing? Maybe the word 'worth' too has a particular significance in this context. 'Be it done to me according to your worth!' ... not what I deserve but what you have to offer in your magnanimity.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Looking back on the day that went by - or rather yesterday... it is well past midnight - feel nice to have accomplished all that I managed to complete. Knowing that I'd have a hectic day, I'd decided that I would not 'grumble' about anything but do everything with a bit of extra zeal. The latter I managed, not the former! Among the many things that I prepared today was the schedule and rough lesson plan for the Media seminar at Karunapuram. Drawing up the list of means of communication, in the light of the day that was, I thought grumbling too is a form of communication - good or bad, is not the question here. But I feel, just like most communication, what is truly communicated (what the other really grasps) is not what you said but that what you did not say! So am trying to figure out what would it be that I communicated to others when I grumbled. Well, this hour may be too late to figure that out, but it was nice sharing and interacting with Fr Joji!
Monday, 14 July 2008
How true... hope to remember that as I scurry around the place today!
Was glancing through Don Bosco and his Salesians by Morand Wirth (given to me by Fr Mahesh, Yercaud) before passing it on to someone who asked for it and I came upon this interesting piece of history, attested by Don Lemoyne in 1838 at Valdocco: Don Bosco lined up and challenged 500 to a race in the Oratory playground and although already then 53 years old, he won!
Wow! Know not if this is totally truly or another of the 'conscious joyful biographical errors'. Anyhow Don Bosco truly had that stamina - no wonder he managed to survive till 1888 in spite of all the strenuous work he put in all his life.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
"Nothing here below is worth buying at the price of human blood." Rousseau
"One must be just before being generous as one must have bread before having cake." Chamfort
To fight against death amounts to claiming that life has meaning, to fighting for order and for unity.
"There is not enough love in the world to be able to squander it on anything else but the human race." Scheler
"If we fail to find grandeur in God, we find it nowhere; it must be denied or created." Nietzsche
I too share the same feeling as I sit and type these lines... though feeling sticky (did not take bath still)! Looking at the files I arranged - or rather, re-arranged in my office today, I somehow feel 'everything is well with the world'. Some say we should not squander our time in doing what others can do and stick on to that which others (those employed) cannot do. Well, I like to do things my way - even if it means, I end up doing it myself (not everything, but...mostly)!
But can I really do away with the Sower? Has he no more role to play?
Friday, 11 July 2008
Perhaps this is the reason most of us just stand still... because we do not believe! We stand still for fear of the next step, we fail because the thought of some 'solid ground' or 'the art of flying' is not an option we think about. We fear the dark, we dare not see beyond and through the darkness. Hence most of us stay put where we are! Silent pillars in the dark!
Thursday, 10 July 2008
A few days ago I was reminded of Joey Velasco, the Filipino painter. I came across this - perhaps his most famous to date - painting when on my trip to the Philippines in October last: The Last Supper with the Street Children. I couldn't take my eyes off the painting and the image of that painting is very very "haunting", truly! I was told that there is a book too about the whole painting with a description of each character etched out in such lively manner in the painting. I'm yet to find the book. But the painting itself is nothing short of a novel!! The most gripping character is the one on the left bottom eating while seated on the floor. I had received just that shot a couple of years ago, along with an e-mail message requesting people not to waste food. I still have it with me. In fact whenever I see that image in my collection, I feel a strong tug in my heart.
I know not if I can spell in exact terms what my heart feels when I see this painting especially the part which I just spoke about...! Perhaps I dare not for then it would stop inspiring me in different ways and at different modes of my life. Surely God has his own ways of making His presence felt! I only pray that I have eyes good enough to see Him and a heart wide enough to invite Him.
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
A hectic day ... meetings are always exhausting! Anyway, surprising was the amout of paper work we put in! Just imagine 4-pages x 12 themes! I also am aware that the whole package of last year is still intact with me in the office! And each page drafted, revised, edited, checked, discussed and redone (still to be polished)!!! I suppose it is like the Tabor experience - from the ground reality to the paper and from the paper to the ground reality.
Also sitting in the hall as an observer has its own advantages. One gets to see the whole process/discussion from a distance. (I remember Fr Ivo speaking of 'maintaining a historical distance' as a criteria for reaching the truth.) Not that I claim to have attained the 'truth' watching the whole process, but it is an experience by itself. Some respond for every intervention, others lost at the whole process only to be dragged in all of a sudden when their name crops up or their sector is mentioned. Then there are those who just want to get over with the whole schedule or their presentation. Of course, some keep hopping from the sleep-zone to the waking-zone to the vigourous-intervention-mode. There are some who intervene only when specifically asked to do so. Those who intervene without knowing what exactly is being discussed provide the best 'entertainment'.
Now to what is my contribution (not shared in the group, though): Most of the difference of opinion is because each one sees only a part of the whole. Perhaps the need is to see the whole - at least, a glimpse of it. Now again wondering: can I see the whole without seeing the parts? Well, I believe, it is better to have variety of opinion than everyone thinking alike. (When everyone thinks alike, one one thinks much!) But sticking on adamantly to one's opinion as the only possible way out or the best possible thought gives rise to unnecessary discussion and at times even leads to misunderstandings.
Anyhow, whether I see the whole picture? Not at all! Look forward to others to enlighten! But I'm happy this way. Perhaps if everything was clear, I'd be god! I'd prefer to be the rat lost in a maze than the one caught in a race (- escapism? maybe)!
She came from a very poor family, so poor that she had to go begging for food and basic necessities of life with her father when she was just a small kid. But she learnt very many things during those 'expeditions'. She never got to go to a school for studies and spent her whole life in the houses of rich people doing menial jobs. She later got to go to the Salesian Sisters convent and joined there as a maid. She slowly realised her vocation to become a Sister and with great difficulty became one. However, she continued to work in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, washing and gardening. What amazed me is that even there she continued to 'touch people's lives'. Children, attending the school, would rush to the convent to meet 'their kitchen-Sister'.
Even when the end came (she was very young) she refused to leave her homeland for fear of llife due to insurgency and political unrest. She was killed! Yet all her life one cannot but avoid noticing the serenity and depth of life. Surely she had her roots deep inside somewhere strong and secure. Nothing that happened around her could lead her to desperation and fatigue!
Lord, grant me that strength...
Monday, 7 July 2008
Friday, 4 July 2008
I know not what is more important: doctrine or relationship? But this I vouch for, doubt-discussed is more faith'ful' than doubt-avoided! Perhaps in our dealings with young people, we fear loosing the argument and hence shut them up saying 'This is it, we do not question everything' or 'There are things we do not doubt'. Why should one be worried about winning or losing the argument? (May be the ego is too inflated!) I feel it is better to talk it out than supress views, opinions, beliefs and arguments.
What ultimately the young look forward to is a listening ear and an understanding heart... answers are the least they expect from me. Listen to them, understand their views, offer a piece of advice - or better still share a personal experience - and most important of all, assure them of your assistance... let them know that they have a friend in you, no matter what! As for the answers, they will arrive in due time!
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Listening to Fr Anchu this morning give the sermon on his feastday, I was wondering why did St Thomas find it hard to believe his own companions... those with whom he shared three years of his life in close collaboration! And as if Fr Anchu read my mind, he proposed this idea which struck me as something quite possible: Perhaps the witness of those apostles who saw the Risen Lord was not convincing enough for Thomas! Thomas therefore, instead of relying on some second hand information - that too unconvincing! - or ride piggyback on somebody else's experience, decided to make his own experience before anything. And we all know the rest of the story... 'My Lord and my God!'
In the light of what I shared also when I heard of the death of Fr Moyalan, I now feel all the more convinced of the need to be convinced through our own experience and life. Not possible always, but that does not and should not exempt us from attempting to seek a personal experience. This idea will surely help us in viewing the 'doubting Thomas' in a new and different light. ... May his tribe increase!
God make me strong enough to be a witness and that too a credible witness of Yourself... not some dead monument to an ideology.
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Remembered this morning about something that I discussed with my students in a class of Epistemology sometime ago. The whole point about judgement and experience... what comes first and how and why? Somehow, I remember sharing with them the following that I read in a college magazine:
A note was stuck on the science lab which read 'Good judgement comes from experience' and someone then asked, 'What about experience?'. "Ah, experience, that comes from bad judgement!"
Well then, rather than initiate the chicken or egg debate, I left it at that.
Perhaps good to leave a few questions unanswered rather than provide solutions for everything in life! They say our human brains function like parachutes: useful only when open!
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Later during the day when people enquired about the deceased I was quite enthusiastic and convincingly shared news and views - that too with an air of authority. Only later to be humbled - and ashamed - by the realisation that I never lived with this person, not even met him!! How then could I speak of him with such conviction? I realised I was speaking from here say... what others said I made it my own... but can I do so? Perhaps most of our knowledge and information is from others but unless I'm convinced of it or have verified it, I doubt if I can authoritatively speak about it - all the more if it concerns the life of people.
The more I thought about the death and him, the more my mind wandered off in several other directions, till I decided to simply pray - but again, not sure what for!!!