Thursday, 31 July 2008

Jesus and my salvation ministry

This morning a thought struck me as I received the Holy Communion... it had struck me the same time around a couple of days ago. Today it was a prayer: Lord you did Your part for the world, help me do my little part for the Province and Provincial house! In fact a couple of days ago when this thought first struck me it was like 'Did Jesus have any tension during his whole salvation ministry?' I do not question the amount of work he had... quite a bit, I know, but did He have a 'headache' going about doing His work. Reflecting further, it dawned on me, perhaps not! May be he really did not have any such 'migraines' or 'anxieties' because He was not doing His work but that of His Father! Reflecting on my own life and the tasks I perform, I suffer from 'useless anxieties' - that's Fr Ronnie's phrase - and tensions because, I feel it is all my work.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The cyber world as today's Oratory

Fr Julian Fox's austraLasia #2211 that I received today has this news bit on the 'Creative models of Evangelisation in Asia'... some important points arrived at during the Consultation on Evangelisation held at Hua Hin, Thailand. Some interesting phrases which I remember reading somewhere else also appeared in the same article: 'stories to inspire', 'crossing boundaries', challenging situations', 'boundless opportunities', 'small Christian communities and new movements'... The one that caught my attention was the phrase 'creative mission'. It had something to do with the cybermedia. I remember someone giving a positive stroke to me when I began to blog... congratulating me for evangelising through my writings. Well, why not? After all, given the facility that I have and the firm resolution that I'm still keeping up (in spite of and through my hectic schedule to spend these 8 min to blog) I feel good. The cyber media and the net is the new age Salesian oratory ... the GC 26 talks of new frontiers. Here's one!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Work, work, work...

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

The utility of doing nothing!

Earlier I used to hate going to the saloon for a hair cut. The barber's chair was the one that I dreaded most and therefore avoided as long as possible! Not for fear of being cut or bruised .... just that seated on that chair, one can do nothing but sit! To sit that way for half an hour was a real pain. And now.... how I long for the same!! Truly, what a change of perspective! Now I really wait for the time to go and sit on the barber's chair... just to sit!
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!

Owning up for myself

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

Gazing at stars ... on earth

This afternoon fulfilled a long-standing desire: watched Taare Zameen par directed by Aamir Khan. A very touching tale of a dyslexic boy who is helped to realise his full potential through an understanding teacher who realises the situation of the boy .... all because he sees himself in him! There are very touching scenes in this movie: when the mother go through the flip book, when Ishan receives the best prize for his drawing, the short conversation that the art teacher Ram Nikumbh has with the father of Ishan, his silent telephonic conversation with his mother and brother, the frustration of Nikumbh when he sees Ishan being driven to the wall...

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

The (f)utility of a World Youth Day...

Much has been spoken and broadcasted about the World Youth Day that was held in Sydney a while ago. I wonder if much has been DONE - or will be done - as an offshoot of the World Youth Day. I agree I`ve not really followed it up day by day or have been involved in events leading up to this international event... however, I have my own reservations about the whole fanfare!
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

Consecrating the world as a Brother

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.

Funeral of Br Gabriel

Funerals are never easy, neither for the one for whom they are conducted nor for the participants. Am just back from the funeral of Br Gabriel! Sentiments of sorrow and pain keep welling up every time I see someone crying over the body. Even when I touched him for the last time before lifting him for the procession towards the cemetery, I could not control myself. It is not that I loved Br Gabriel very much or that he was very dear to me... no! Yet, I believe it is hard to accept the fact that one with whom you have lived for some time of your life is no more. Perhaps the loss is felt all the more when, I know that a part of me - something that I have picked up from him, something inspired by him, some moment made unforgettable because of him, some way he has become part of me - is no more going to be with me, in flesh and blood. I wonder if I will ever remember and shed tears later for Br Gabriel? I haven't done it for Fr Varricatt who passed away six years ago. May be good to spend a few moments with this feeling of loss, now than never! After all, he is my confrere, my family, part of me!
Having penned a few lines about Br Gaby - by way of news for the web - I feel nice to be able to do this bit for or on behalf of him for those who might have been really touched by him - much more than I have been.

Thank you dear Brother!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Prayer of a Priest...

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)

What a miscall!

Baby aunty (my Mummy's younger sister) in Mangalore has devised a simple but novel way of staying in touch with all of us her dear ones... everyone, everyday and without incurring any expenditure too! She gives us all a miscall early in the morning just to mean, 'We are fine... have a nice day!'. We give back the miscall to reciprocate the same. In the beginning I found it very funny, but now when i have found out that she never misses a day and if by chance, I fail to reply her miscall by noon, she'd call up to enquire about my health. Now I know, it is not a child's play but a genuine effort of a loved one to be in touch, to express one's solidarity and affection - all of it, through a miscall!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

I, me and myself!?

Today became conscious of my own blessings... especially by way of health. While Br Gabriel went down fighting sugar and bp, I've neither. No physical ailments or pains or obstacles that keeps me from doing all that I wish to. Nothing mental that distracts me from the work at hand - other than other work, on the 'other hand'!! Loving family that is always there to understand and support me rather than be a constant worry as to 'now what?'. Compared to so many around me who struggle with these basic things, I'm truly and very much blessed - in abundance! Thank you Lord! But I also see another side of the same 'blessedness': I really don't understand their pain and anxiety. Do I? When a good friend of mine shares with me his family woes, I listen but then what? I really don't understand his situation because I haven't gone through that hell. When someone comes to me complaining of a constant migrane or backache, I wonder why doesn't he get on with his work rather than all the while talk of aches and pains! Am I really able to see beyond myself, my gifts and comfort zones to be able to really sympathize and empathize with others? Lord please help me grow with your blessings rather than be self-content with myself. .... and thank you for myself too!

Br Gabriel and Don Bosco...

Br Gabriel Fernandez sdb ... no more!! Well that brings to close another life in the Salesian Congregation but this time of someone much closer home and someone with whom I shared two years of life while at Karunapuram. That Br Gabriel had given upon life was evident to those who met him, especially in the last couple of years. But that he survived so long in spite of all that turmoil and emptiness only shows what strength and vigour he had in his younger days. What I liked in him was his attachment to Don Bosco. Whatever one may say regarding his habits or behaviour, he never missed an occasion to speak of Don Bosco. No goodnight talk of his ended without reference to Don Bosco and Mother Mary. Having grown up in that earlier Salesian tradition where Don Bosco and Mother Mary were anywhere and everywhere, his reference to them does not come as a surprise. (That is something lacking in today's Salesians - we think twice before speaking about them! At times we feel proud to have spoken about a very grand idea but nothing in it about God or Don Bosco!) Anyway, now Br Gabriel will not have any more problems!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Love, hope and faith... redefined

Yesterday I came across this corner written by Paulo Coelho in the Deccan Chronicle (p. 11). The title was all the more gripping ('Love, hope and faith') and I read on! Paulo Coelho refers to an old book written by some Gurdjeff and quotes the following: Conscious faith is freedom. Instinctive faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is madness. Conscious hope is strength. Emotional hope is cowardice. Mechanical hope is sickness. Conscious love arouses love. Emotional love arouses the unexpected. Mechanical love arouses hate.
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

Radical poverty

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!

Charity of/through Music

I always thought that those who blasted music from their mobile phones in public means of transport or at gatherings as someone who wanted to show off his piece. But of late I realised that with every Tom Dick and Harry having a mobile there is practically no one left to flaunt the mobile piece to! Besides these guys who play their music melodies loud on buses merely want to keep the spirit high of not just themselves alone but of those around too. Travelling this evening from Uppal to the Provincial house (clean 2 hours from one end of the city to another!) I heard the groans of my co-passengers as we struggled to get a foothold in the crowded bus. Each of us reeking of our prespiration and the fatigue of the whole days' labour. To make matters more irksome were some ladies squabbling over a seat in front. Just when all this was about to blow off the head of the conductor (poor guys, having to put up with this all day long - they should be given the Padmashree!!), there echoed a lively song from one of the mobiles. What a break. And just to confirm my musings regarding this musical charity, came a voice from behind the bus, "Volume please!"

The Angelus... a different version

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary

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

Building 'mansions of the heart'...

This evening had the fortune of listening to Fr Tom Kunnangal sj, (left) the founder of the NIOS. He is here as a resource person for the ongoing workshop on the All India Catholic Education Policy 2007. The 40-odd group took time to felicitate him, this being his golden jubilee year of priestly ordination. After much cajoling he spoke just a few words ... and the one that caught my attention was the phrase he used: to build 'mansions of the heart'. I thought that was a nice picturesque word... and that too coming from a man who has practically spent his whole life time in the education field. Not knowing him - I never even heard of him - I expected him to speak something of being disciplinarians and education and all that 'textbook' stuff. But to hear him speak of the 'mansions of the heart' was a pleasant surprise for me. I also see that he is a man who has perhaps really understood the true meaning and goal of education: the formation of the heart - not just the mind! (I wonder if it is the same being discussed all day in the hall!) I believe it is the same message being driven home by our Rector Major, Fr Pascual Chavez, through his Strenna for this year: Let us educate with the heart of Don Bosco.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

(G)rumblings...

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

One night at the airport

Brought home Govindu from the airport just now! Since he is suffering from jetlag, I'm made to stay awake!! Anyway, I'm sure he's going to be snoring away the whole of tomorrow. Was interesting to go to the airport and see the progress made over the few months. Better still was the chance to watch people come in and be received by their families with varying emotions. Aged parents unable to control their emotions, colleagues creating such a rucus as though they just found and killed a cobra, kids not knowing when the bags will open up to spill their hidden treasures and young spouses longing for each others embrace and companionship. Then there were also those who came looking for big flash signs of the 'Saudi flight' ... poor, simple people coming in to receive 'God-knows-who'. Thinking that all is like their village railway station waiting for the announcement to take place. However, far we go or whatever we do, whenever there is a foreigner - I mean, a European, white-skinned - everyone's eyes will follow him or her till he or she is out of sight! So much for our obsession with fair skin! Then there are those passengers who walk out of the lounge as though they've just returned from conquering the world looking around for someone to shed their baggage upon. And a most common sight at all arrival terminals, the long queue of cab drivers with their placards... all in various modes and shapes. Their hearts waiting, silently praying for a generous customer who'd tip them well.

Work ... and for whom to work

During the monring prayer today, I came across this interesting intercession: Be with us Lord, as we take up our daily tasks and help us to remember that it is in your world that we live and work.
How true... hope to remember that as I scurry around the place today!

Don Bosco wins a race at 53!

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

Some quotes

Before I jettison all that i feel is not relevant .... all on those bits and pieces of paper that I keep in my pocket and scibble upon...
"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

Loving and doing what you love...well!

"Truly there is a certain love which comes from doing a job well." I remember that line from the book The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall. He had said it in the context of a young man taking up a job that he never thought - even in the wildest of his dreams - he would have to. He leaves the corporate world and seek solace and his feet in the natural setting of his ancestral farm. "When you can step back at the end of a long, hard day and watch the sun set over a straight and stong fence that you built yourself, you get the feeling that everything is right with the world."
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)!

Parable of the sower and the seed... or soil?

My good friend, Joy Fernandes from Mumbai Province gave a very stirring sermon one day in the Shrine of the Madonna, Matunga when I was there for my studies a couple of years ago. Rather than the concentrate on the sower he called drew our attention to the other part of the title. Listening to this morning's sermon reminded me of that reflection of Joy. Is the parable really about the Sower and the seed or the soil? Anyhow, whatever the title, I'm more interested in understanding the meaning of the narration in my life. I think there is a major difference when the soil in the parable is compared to myself. While the soil cannot change itself, I can! No matter what the circumstances may be, what the conditions may be, wherever I may be... I still can decide to be and do what I ought to do. It is now up to me for I believe God has done His part by planting the seed. Nurturing the seed to its full potential is my duty... after all I am the soil.
But can I really do away with the Sower? Has he no more role to play?

The incomplete parable of the Good Samaritan

While reflecting on the Parable of the Sower and the seed last night, remembered the goodnight that I gave to the students of Philosophy at Kondadaba in the year 2000. Distinctly remember sharing with them my mixed feelings about the perhaps the greatest of all parables: the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Somehow, I feel that it is an incomplete parable. Jesus merely spoke of the good Samaritan as a 'do-good' guy but I thought what use is that one act of charity. Surely it would mean a lot to the one Jew whom he attended to but did the Samaritan do anything worthwhile to ensure that another traveller does not meet with the same fate? Or would he be there for all those hapless victims? The more I think of it the more muddled it gets. May be he ought to have done something about the bandits. But what? Would he then still be called the 'good Samaritan'? Or perhaps he ought to convert the bandits - after all they are the cause of the whole mess down the valley. So you tackle the cause and you no more have innocent people falling prey to their looting. Perhaps good to think of this parable at different tangents!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Belief - dare - belief!

Read a nice quote of Patrick Overton in the mortuary letter of Fr Michael Mundanthanath (IND)... 'When we walk to the edge of all thte light that we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of the two things will happen. There is something solid for us to stand on or, we will be taught how to fly'. Nice!
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

The least in the The Last Supper


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

Nothing specific!

Tough day today too... marathon meeting! Wondering how the world still goes on, how life goes on.... so many complexities, so many problems, so many things to bear in mind and aspects to look into. God must be something really dynamic to be able to coordinate so many things of life! I'm struggling with my little office and petty works. I leave the office to pick up some paper in the next room and end up in another area of the building doing something else altogether - not anything irrelevant but equally important, if not more important that the one that I set out to do! But I guess it is all a matter of coordination and organising oneself. The world existed before me and will continue to do so even after me! Only hope to make myself a little different - perhaps, 'better' is a more fitting word - than yesterday.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Workstyle: goal and process

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)!

Sr Eusebia Palomino and serenity...


This morning as I moved towards the Chapel for Mass I remembered that yesterday was the feastday of Sr Maria Romero, a Salesian Sister. Anyway, my mind drifted and I joyfully spent my meditation on another Salesian Sister on the road to Canonisation: Sr Palomino. Well I read her life and am truly fascinated by it.

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

Called to be fishermen... or the bait?

After bath this evening my eyes fell on the calendar in my room... which has a nice painting of Joey Velasco, a Filipino painter who has a knack at painting scenes with a real depth of meaning and purpose. The month has a short reflection on being called to be fishermen for God. I was wondering if Jesus called His disciples to be 'fishers of men' then there must be something special about it. Toying with the idea I found myself imagining what would be the bait used by the 'fishermen'. I realised the best and only bait could be my life, my words, my relationships.... in short, my whole self! Anything other than that is not good enough for the catch intended! So perhaps when Jesus is calling us to be 'fishers of men' what He truly means is that we be the bait of The Fisherman.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Doctrine or relationship...?

This evening - my last one here in KJC, Bangalore - I was reading a book about rediscovering spirituality wherein there was a story narrated about a young man named Ian, who is in search of answers. Though a non-practicing Christian, he had a deep and sincere love for nature and in the process of pursuing his environmental studies begins to be plagued with questions to which he seeks answers. Some of his Hindu friends help him with what they believe in. He hunts a Sikh - seeing his turban! Till a day when questions about his own faith - one may call it so, the Christian faith - surface. His parents unable to answer him direct him to a minister in the Church. In all sincerity and innocence he meets the minister in the Church and pours out his heart to him. Just as he is about to pose the haunting questions, the minister in an indignant tone asks him, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" Ian, totally ignorant and perplexed about the question and finding no link between his love for nature and Jesus suddenly finds his meeting with the minister very uncomfortable. With formal goodbyes and thank yous they leave their places... the minister content that he has avoided a debate on Christianity and Ian distraught and scarred at this betrayal.

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

Witnessing...

It was exactly three years ago on this very day (Feastday of St Thomas) that I reached Shillong. Being a Sunday went to participate in the Holy Mass in the Parish ... Khasi Mass. Remember with great amusement the fact that in spite of carefully paying attention all through the Mass, I managed to understand just three words during the whole service: India, Madras, St Thomas!!! Anyway, speaking of life and stay in Shillong always floods my mind with beautiful memories... maybe sometime later!

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

Judgement and experience...

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

Prejudices and Impressions...

Heard this morning about the tragic death of Fr Johnson Moyalan... and immediately my mind went to some other people connected with him in his life! How humanly we often think - if not mostly! During the meditation this morning I was wondering if everything now seemed OK... whether now things would settle down. But somehow could not make sense of things! Thought it best to leave it in the hands of God.

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!!!
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