Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Social responsibility is individual...

Here's a lovely social awareness ad by the Times group...

Tele-serials and decadence

While at home, I was watching the tele-serials that all in the family are eager to watch. Well, my frank opinion... the makers/producers/script writers seem to have exhausted all sensible themes and are now raking issues that are totally scrap!!! They are really sick!! The one that I saw yesterday was about child marriages...!!

I may be biased but I believe you do not need to waste a year or half only to tell that child marriages are bad and mad!!! And in the process send out such wrong and crazy messages - all in the name of carrying on a serial and increasing TRPs!

There are others which I remember watching during my early years of formation... at least 4-5 years ago. (May be the actors are the same but the serial is new). However, one thing remains the same: the upper elite. All the serials are practically laden with jewellery, post houses, heavy make-up and designer clothes! Only shows who has time to watch and waste time with these serials. Or maybe even the middle class and lower middle class people watch it as an unfulfilled dream!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

At home...

Am at home with my Papa, Mummy, Willy and Roshni... it's good to be home!! Had a relaxed day yesterday. Many new things at home too... Seen Papa eating a hearty b'fast after years. Never before seen him take more than a cup of tea. Now with all the medicines he is taking he himself keeps asking for more chapatis!! I can also clearly see that he is happy when all of us are together!

One thing remains the same... Mummy slogging it out!! She still is the same, restless and always perfect. She has cut her finger badly but that does not in anyway prevent her from going about doing the household chores as though nothing is wrong!!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Torn between the heart, mind and emotions

Last night I was watching The Rock and did not know that on another channel there was the movie Dead man Walking running. Oh boy, how I missed it!! Since I missed out most of the beginning, I decided not to watch it (I really wouldn't grasp it in its entirety). But the theme of the movie is very touching: a nun (Susan Sarandon, truly she is one of the best actresses) who is caught between a culprit on death row (Sean Penn), her sympathy for him and her anger and frustration at his actions which earned him the death sentence.
It is one of those cases wherein any stand you take is not justified by oneself. Lost in the arguments of the heart, mind and emotions one is painfully torn between these. At one time I thought, that Michael Pincolet ought to die. He deserved it, as felt by the parents of the teenagers whom he brutally murdered. But watching him, spending time talking to him, you feel otherwise. That he needs a second chance. But again, you yourself are not willing to forgive him for his heinous crime. How then to talk about God forgiving him?

I ought to watch the whole movie!

Terrorism and partriotism

Last night I watched The Rock. The movie has Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery and Ed Harris... all three great actors. Ed Harris plays the role of a disgruntled General in the US Army demanding compensation for the soldiers who lost their lives in covert operations round the world under his command - he does so holding 81 people hostage on the Alcatraz and threatening to annihilate major US towns with some poisonous gases. Though it is truly an act of terrorism and blackmail, Ed Harris is never a terrorist. He does not intend any benefit for himself, rather it is for those who truly deserve merit and honour. Furthermore, during the course of the movie, he deeply regrets the death of the marines sent in to regain the Alcatraz. The best part is when he changes his plans and decides to leave the island without any of his demands being met, for he realises that he cannot kill innocent people to gain what he thinks is right. Connery too adds this line: He will not launch the rockets, he is not a terrorist, I've seen it in his eyes.

That draws me to ponder as when does not really become a terrorist. It is not when one aspires to do good, even if it means the loss of a few innocent. It is not when one passionately is ready to live and die for a noble cause. It is not when one is willing to risk everything for the sake of others benefit. But if one is willing to hold at stake the life of innocent people, people who have no idea of what his intentions are or what reason they are dying, then he is a terrorist.... however good and noble the cause maybe!

Take for instance, the Sri Lankan-LTTE crisis... whoever be the hero and whoever be the villian, for me, the one who plays with the life of the innocent is the terrorist. (Surprising, The Hindu often has the last page fully dedicated to this crisis, while DC rarely mentions anything about this whole issue - I realise, The Hindu is basically a Chennai based paper and surely the tempers there run very high these days!).

Friday, 24 April 2009

Don Bosco and the beginnings

It is interesting to note that of the 19 young men who opted to attend the first meeting with Don Bosco to start the congregation, each one was of a different temperament. There was Rua for whom the invitation of Don Bosco was no surprise. So much so, it is said that he went the following day the invitation was given (Dec. 8, 1859), he went made his retreat and on the previous day of the final meeting was ordained a Deacon!! There was not an iota of doubt for him as to what he wanted to be!

We have Cagliero, who was indeed plagued by doubts and anxieties. But once decided, he was firm. There were others who clearly did not want to be 'monks'... Buzzetti being one of them. But he joined the congregation later. Some never did. Then there were defectors, those who promised to be with Don Bosco but sooner or later jumped the fence and moved away. Surely it must have been very disappointing for Don Bosco but he carried on. I really appreciate his sense of balance: carrying on the work, inspiring others to carry on his work and expanding his work at the same time.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Praying all day long

The Salesian custom of reciting night prayers (short or long) is indeed a nice way of summing up the day. Here in the Provincial house we normally say the short night prayers, with a decent amount of time for the various happening and events of the day.

No wonder why Don Bosco asked us to be unified with the Lord by offering our work to him right in the morning. Caught up with hundred and one things, the Lord is easily forgotten amidst the pile of papers and mails that we have to rummage through day in and day out. So in the morning with the prayers, meditation and Mass we offer all that we are upto to the Lord. In the evening wrap it up recollecting the day and once again offering it up to the Lord.

Of course, the efficacy of the short ejaculatory prayers is great!

He is alive, I've seen Him!

The episode of Mary Magdalene meeting the Risen Christ is an inspiring one. It is normally the ones who love most and dearly are the ones who truly feel the absence of a deceased member in the family. It is they who try to keep alive the memory of the dear departed. The very fact that Mary Magdalene was the first at the tomb clearly shows her tender love for Jesus. The fact that it was Jesus who first touched her and granted her a new life has much to do with this filial love for Jesus goes without saying. But for that matter there were several others whom Jesus healed, some even in worse conditions (I wonder where was Lazarus and his family when Jesus died). But none of them seem to be around during his last days on earth or thereafter. I guess most of them may have done their bit to keep alive Jesus - just like some uncanonized saints of the world.
Mary Magdalene, in spite of being a woman, finds a special mention in the Gospels is worth taking note of. That only shows that she was madly in love with Jesus. Therefore she was around doing all she could to make sure that what Jesus said and did reaches far and wide.

Lastly the ever fresh and exuberant face of that Sister who enacted the role of Mary Magdalene at Karunapuram for a gospel enactment way back in 2002 is unforgettable. Her spirited words, "He is alive. I have seen him," still ring in my ears, every time I hear or read this gospel passage. God knows where she is now and what she is doing. Somehow, that enactment didn't appear like enactment!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Formation blues

Today I had the opportunity to address the would-be-practical trainees at Karunapuram. It was a good occasion to relive some of those special and memorable moments at Karunapuram. I also took the chance to acknowledge that there were several times that I was wrong! I understand that it took me 5 years to acknowledge that while when those events and things occurred I was as adamant as an ass!

However, discussing at length with Fr Maliekal about the formation procedure in the Province, I too find myself agreeing with him that in the name of some frivolous things which act only as decorations, we are somehow compromising on essentials. In the process, we send out wrong signals to our formees and given the fact that motivation and commitment is already hardly forthcoming, it is only a matter of time when these young Confreres get lost.

I have no problem in them losing their way but when they are adamant to stay behind and still take pride in being 'lost' is something that I can only describe as a characteristic of 'parasites'. If I am in the Congregation, I'm in 100%. If not I'm out! No half way here.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Being touched!

The famous comic episode about the passion play has its own lessons to teach. The way of the cross was one of the journeys for the one fulfilling the role of Jesus, till he was lashed. Being 'touched', Jesus ended up chasing the one wielding the whip.

Most of us, me included, pass through so many feasts and celebrations, hardly touched by anything at all. Surely if 40 days of Lent have not touched me, neither will Good Friday nor Easter! To be truly touched implies the courage to expose our vulnerabilities... That is a very risky affair for who knows who would touch them or heal them! Mary Magdalene was touched by the Lord because she did not hesitate to hide from Him - or anyone, for that matter - her weak side. Zaccheus was touched because he was open to offering to Jesus his limitations and drawbacks.

It is only when we feel strong, powerful and in control that we tend to hide our vulnerabilities and thus refuse to be 'touched'.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Lost!

On Maundy Thursday, the Holy hour animated by the Sisters, was a nice moment to introspect. When the Sisters began with the introduction and all those prayers - sooooo swweeeet, sugar coated, over and over again - it was nauseating!! I was feeling so irritated by the words they kept using. Then it struck me that perhaps the Sisters really mean what they were saying. It's only me who have been of late so brain-washed about 'human rights' that I was feeling irritated. From then on, I spend the rest of the time, in seeing where I really stood. Totally with Lord (perhaps like the Sisters) or with His people (just like all the social activists). At one moment I was beaming saying to myself that I was striking the middle way! But then I was filled with such uncertainty and a sense of dilemma. Slowly it dawned on me that perhaps I have neither Christ nor true love for humanity and therefore am struggling to place myself anywhere between them! The rest of the adoration was a fervent prayer: Let me be close to you, Lord and dear people!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Who defines a terrorist?

The editorial page of The Hindu contains an interesting article (of course, against congress party men) and rightly so exposing those who now being glorified after having done heinous crimes in the past! Titled 'Immunity for mobs in the war on terror', the article by Siddharth Varadarajan, makes a point when he states: Bearing silent witness to injustice, as Bhishma and Dronacharya did, makes one morally culpable. Modern jurisprudence tells us that allowing the commission of a heinous crime that one was in a position to prevent makes one as guilty of the offense as actual perpetrator. Throwing a stone at a gurudwara or emptying a Jerry can of petrol on a helpless man or inciting others to do these terrible things are not the only way of committing a crime. Walking away when all of this is happening or about to happen makes a leader or police officer just as guilty.

He goes on to rightly say that we are in a way lob sided in our view of terror and violence. Terrorists blowing up people with bombs and splashing bullets are indeed great criminals (some one for whom no lawyer is even permitted to defend). But individuals guilty of inciting and orchestrating mass murders in the shadow of religion and caste, enjoy effective impunity.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Jesus and the donkey

Another sub-theme of the gospel of the Palm Sunday that caught my attention was Jesus' request for a donkey to ride on, during his entry into the city of Jerusalem. I'm not sure of the Biblical significance of this strange request, but I wonder about the owner of the donkey. What would have been his state of mind when he heard the disciples say, "The master has asked for the donkey?" Did he get back the donkey? Did he join in the procession with Jesus and the Israelites?
During the procession, if at all he joined it, whom was he looking out for? Jesus or his donkey? Then it struck me that perhaps at times, we miss out Jesus because we have been concerned all the while about the 'donkey'. No malice or lack of motivation; just lack of clarity regarding priorities. This time round the year, everyone awaits the transfer list. We often get lost in the who, how, where and what. We miss out the basic and real why of our very profession (our commitment to God and His people).

Celebrations and poverty

Listening to the Gospel of yesterday, one of the two things that caught my attention and thankfully kept me distracted during the otherwise long and boring Mass (liturgical organisation) was the story of the poor woman who anoints Jesus' feet with the costly ointment and Jesus approves it whole-heartedly.

In the light of our own expenditures, in such events as the visit of the Rector Major and other dignitaries from the West, I wonder what would Jesus say then. Would he say the same? I believe he would not! My reasoning leads me to say that Jesus would never approve of any extravagance when it comes to spending money, especially by us Salesians! First and foremost, the woman who purchased the costly perfume and anointed Jesus with it, did so with what she herself earned. She did not gather it from others. She earned it. What about us Salesians? What right have we to dispose off things and resources available to us from someone else's (our benefactors) sweat and blood. They save and starve and send us money and how can we have the conscience to just spend it for mere celebrations.

Secondly, what about our witness value to those whom we serve... the young people. Most of our houses, we have separate rice for the confreres and boys; the monthly expenditure of a couple of confreres equals that of 30 to 40 boarding boys. Suppose we look after them well all through and have this extravagance then it is justified. But how justified are we in indulging in such celebrations when we deny these boys the very best. Furthermore, there is the general public too (our working staff included). We have a responsibility towards the society too.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Working on oneself

Every time we talk of going to a missionland somewhere far away, the first thing we think about is language! That we ought to learn the language, know the culture, adapt oneself to the whole new context and what not. But I think that's the wrong starting point. The whole motivation ought to be something greater and higher if one is to get "transplanted". I liked the observation of Fr Vaclav to one aspiring missionary: ... it's not so much important to learn at home any other language, but if you have any personal issue (prayer/ personal weak point/ personal or vocational history to be reviewed...), you should work on this.

I've also seen the euphoria before ordination of the deacons. It is the same - not very different from small children about to go for a shopping trip with their parents to purchase new clothes. The joy and excitement one ought to feel is about the ordination and its significance, not the day of ordination!

The effort at working on oneself is something so alien to most of us. When there is something to be done, we always think or plan for what work to do. Nowhere in that 'to-do' list does our own selves appear.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Silence!

Yesterday I posted a comment on the news article about the BJP granting a ticket to one of the key accused in the Kandhamal violence! It was not anything negative or offensive... just a call to plain soul-searching. It is yet to appear online!

I'm quite surprised at this delay (or censor?). Anyway I was only calling for an introspection as to whom we support and propose as our leaders. Given the fact that we need to be clear what our motives are, where do we stand and in which direction do we expect our leaders to lead us in. Perhaps it was too much of introspection for TOI!

Liturgy, pulpit and sound

Yesterday was the first time I attended the Chrism mass in the Diocese, that too in St Mary's (the first time I'm entering the campus - though I was born and brought up in Hyderabad itself!!). Anyhow, the Mass itself was very beautifully organised. The liturgy was very well prepared and conducted. No confusion, delays, running about.... the sound system was clear, sufficient lights and well-behaved crowds (of course, those youth group members were there walking up and down doing nothing and when there was work, there were only some small girls to guide and direct the crowds - those with the badges were not seen at all!). Attending the Mass, confirmed by belief as to how important and meaningful it is when the liturgy is well prepared and smoothly conducted. It really creates a spiritual ambiance.

The real drawback was the sermon - real blunt saw. I wonder why don't people understand that you just cannot keep talking because you are on the pulpit. That is a real moment to touch the hearts of people, so many of them, eager and willing. And there comes one with such crap that it either goes above the head or is so stupid that it makes no sense! The preacher certainly has all the ingredients of becoming a Bishop!

Then there is the sound... not of the traffic but of the speakers. Such huge speakers blasting the volume so that not just those in the campus but even those in the railway station - 5 kms away - were forced to attend the Mass! This one craze I really don't understand. I thought it was a disease only of those in Andhra. But last year for Willy's marriage in Mangalore, things were the same! So I guess, I'm the odd man. All the same, I don't think it is sensible to blast the volume more than what is required. It makes us look uncivilized and goes against sensitivity to the general public.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Fundamentalism and courage

That Ms Anjali Waghmare's house was attacked and she threatened if she would take up the defence counsel of Kasab is indeed a shameful situation. It only shows that we are no better than Kasab who, guided by fundamentalistic ideals went about doing what he did in Mumbai. By attacking those who are taking up the legal fight on his behalf, we are sending a totally wrong signal to the world outside: we are equally fundamentalisitc!

The straightforward and balanced article of Ms Antara Dev Sen in Deccan Chronicle (Disrespect for truth is the real insult April 2, 2009) denouncing the growing culture of disrespect towards the 'other' is very refreshing. Whether it be the support BJP extends to Pradhan in Orissa, or Modi in Gujarat and worse of all, the much-tainted Advani as the Prime ministerial candidate, they all smack of fundamentalism where we play ostriches to truth. While being ignorant of truth is excusable, hiding or openly challenging truth and replacing it with self-proclaimed truths is a real crime. Hats off to DC for publishing such balanced articles too. The Hindu seems to be too much under pressure to speak the truth openly. So it ends up saying lot of good things but not all the true things!

We cannot afford to let the whole nation be bullied or brain-washed into believing this crap. The silent majority ought to make their minds clear and take a stand - lest the noisy few rule the roost!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A chat

After long I spoke to some one very openly this evening. It was refreshing. I guess I miss going regularly for spiritual direction. And I'm sure it is for this sort of venting out that confreres spend hours on the cell phone or make long distances seem short by frequent visits. For once there was no psychological analysis or weighing the pros and cons. Just a casual friendly chat with no fears, strings or loose ends attached.

As I type this I wonder if I need to plan for the next year? Knowing very well what are my areas of strength and those areas where I have miserably failed - either because I was not involved or because I was ignorant - should I prepare for what may be in store for me? One thing is sure, I just cannot be repeating the antiphon 'Administration is not my cup of tea' over and over again. It just does not help anyone (certainly not me). So what can I do? Or better still, what am I to do? I think now that I have the time and thought, I get down to this. It is a fact that I do not like administration but when you do not get what you like, you learn to like what you get.
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