Friday, 31 July 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
- We bought the land on which the Provincial house (and BIRDY) stands for a mere 6 lakhs from the Archdiocese. The construction cost of the Provincial house was just 75 lakhs! It was all done through the help of Mr Anwar and his father.
- Call it coincidence or divine intercession: Right when the construction work was on in full swing, in walked a government official demanding to see the documents. The documents were then still with Mr Anwar and his family. So he immediately ordered all work to stop and told the Salesians to come to his office, produce the documents and clear all official matters before continuing the work. What he didn't say and all that he meant was that his palm was dry and had to be greased!!! Having barked orders he merely walked out of the gate (the compound wall and gate were already in place) and was knocked down by a four-wheeler - he broke his legs! That was the last any one saw of him!!
- The first bore that we drilled for water was a failure (between BIRDY and the compound wall along the gate-side road). The next one brought forth lots of water (near the Sisters compound, in the garden).
- Most of the electricity load was borne by the generator, which is still in perfect working condition (15 years). It was only when we got the permission to set up a transformer (paying 2 lakhs) near our gate (not private, but for public use) that the generator had some relief!
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Blessed are those who transform this fright, this challenge into inspiration and embark on a journey. 'When we let our own light shine, we unconsciously or courageously give other people permission to do the same.'
Monday, 27 July 2009
This is something very many of us admire in him: his passionate love for Don Bosco and the Salesian congregation. At times, even bordering fanatisism... but total and contagious. Being with him anyone will fall in love with Don Bosco and embark on a journey of knowing more of Don Bosco. Perhaps this is what it means 'being filled with', totally imbued!
- We bought the Don Bosco School, Sanathnagar place for merely 6 lakhs - and the cash payment was done in the United States! Today the same property (land alone) would fetch nothing less than 6 crores!
- In the days when Fr Di Fiore was the Provincial of the united Madras Province, there was an offer of 10 acres of land in Banjara or Jubilee Hills by one Mr Papaiah. We did not take it then, rejecting the land as barren and very rocky. It was said that we would have to invest more to clear the rocks and all, so... Today not an inch of land is available in those areas.
- When Fr Benjy was the vice-Provincial of Chennai, he was the one who proposed the setting up of three institutions in the then Madras Province. St Theresa's, Sanathnagar was one among them. The first Salesians to take over that diocesan run Parish were Fr John Lens, Fr KS Joseph and Sr Paula JMJ (she used to bring food for these two Salesians in those early days).
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Then there is the observation that these historians make and something similar I mentioned a couple of days ago:
... the man who by inclination and deliberate choice, was largely overshadowed (at least in the minds of most Salesians) by the towering charismatic figure of Don Bosco.
In an age that was more concerned with making Salesian history than recording it...
Well, looks like 'that' age is perpetually present.
My first impression reading a couple of Don Rua's letters to the pioneers of Salesian work in English speaking regions of the world is the emergence of his strong "Italian bias". Looks like he was more concerned about the Italians in those regions than others. I don't know if they were the most down-trodden of the population then. If that is the case, then fine. Or else it sounds too parochial!
Just another 'unrecorded' piece of history, this time of the Congregation: Don Barberis, was among the quite a few Salesians, who found themselves reluctant to accept Don Rua's leadership in place of their beloved Father and Founder! That's quite amazing. If that was the case of the first novice master of the Congregation, I wouldn't hold much against some of the present ones!
Friday, 24 July 2009
It surely takes courage and a lot of strength to break the circle of hurt-anger-revenge. And the mettle of person is tested in moments like these. Sitting now in my office and reflecting about the events of the day, I can confidently say this, but will I stand the test and be willing to stand tall and clean when I am at the centre of it all, is a question.
Lord, help me!
Even in our Project of Life and Community Plans (OPPs, EPPs, EPCs...) we make grandiose plans and discuss great ideas, at times at the risk of forgetting basics of personal, communitarian and divine dimension. Let's not forget that a divine life is built on ordinary simple life! Spirituality and Grace work on humanity and it is normally not the other way round!
A woman went to a walk-in clinic, where she was seen by a young, new doctor. After about three minutes in the examination room, the doctor told her she was pregnant. She burst out, screaming as she ran down the hall. An older doctor stopped her and asked what the problem was, and she told him what had happened. After listening, he had her sit down and relax in another exam room. The doctor marched down the hallway back to where the first doctor was and demanded, "What's the matter with you? Mrs. Terry is 59 years old, has four grown children and seven grandchildren, and you told her she was PREGNANT?!" The young doctor continued to write on his clipboard, and without looking up, asked, "Does she still have the hiccups?"
At times, all that is required to solve a seemingly large problem, is a soft answer, with enough force to bring about a change - for some, it can just be a gentle tap and for others, you need a propeller!
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Just to put down a few things that came up during our discussion last night at table:
- Fr Chacko was one of the pioneers of Mariapuram, Ravulapalem (the mission started in Palivela and was later shifted to its present location at Ravulapalem, by Fr Chacko himself)... and of course, Orissa too!
- The East Godavari Mission was started by Fr Chacko and Fr Johnson Moyalan. After two years, Fr AR Jose replaced Fr Moyalan. Later that third year Fr KK joined them. The private boarding/school that Fr Chacko initiated (and was the principal of) was later moved to Ravulapalem and Fr KK was the headmaster of that school. Mind you, imagine Fr Chacko as the first headmaster, before Fr KK!! There was also a Sister of the St Ann of Providence (SAP) to help out then inthe school.
- The tussle between the Salesians and the JMJ sisters at St Theresa's, Sanathnagar dates back to Fr Lens' time. Not that he was the cause of it but most probably because of some tiff between the sisters and Fr KS. The first sign of animosity was when the Sisters stopped giving b'fast for Fr Lens after Mass! Furthermore, the opposition really started when Fr Lens proposed the erection of a gate beside the Prysbytery entrace facing the Hospital road. Sisters planted a couple of trees right there to block any further thought about it (which Fr KS uprooted in the dark one night!).
- Fr KS and Fr Selveraj are the only two confreres in the Province who served the shortest term as Rectors, only three years (at Guntur and Kadapa, respectively).
- Fr MS Michael has been the longest serving Rector of Guntur... almost 18-20 years and has practically spent two-thirds of his Salesian life in Guntur. He is the one who was appointed Rector of Guntur after Fr Benji (who was appointed Vice-Provincial of INM) in 1978.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
When our lawn mower broke and wouldn't run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed.. But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first: the truck, the car, e-mail, fishing, always something more important to me.
Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point. When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house. I was gone only a few minutes. When I came out again I handed her a toothbrush. 'When you finish cutting the grass,' I said, 'you might as well sweep the driveway.' And then the fight started...
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
In the movie, Coach Carter, the coach (Samuel L. Jackson)
repeatedly asks the players, this funny question which leaves them wondering:
"Sir, what is your deepest fear?"
None replies, till the end when the students take a decision on their own.
At a turn, when they take a stand out of their conviction,
he's what one of them (Lyle) says:Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.I remember Claudius sharing his experience during his PT in Nashik
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won't feel insecure around you.
We were all meant to shine, as children do.
It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
and then someone posing him this question: "What are you afraid of?"
I have found myself trying to answer this question every time I hesitate to take
a decision or arrive at a conclusion. It has been a great source of
guided introspection and 'peeling of masks/layers' under which I take shelter.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Most often in our service to the people, we wait for our fill, our comfort and all necessary facilities in order to begin the mission. We need a proper house, a four-wheeler, ration stocked up for a month, money in the bank (FDs) and in hand too, 'workable' confreres... the list is quite long! Instead, the Lord does not want us to be fully prepared to launch out into the mission entrusted. The moment He commissions us, He already gives us the basic necessities. Launch out with that, rather than wait for the ideal moment and perfection of resources. The danger in waiting to begin is that we may end up safe and secure in our institute and then wait for people to come to us. After all, there is so much of infrastructure available, why then waste our time going around and visiting people?! Let them come here and we shall see what we can do - is the attitude we develop. We become institutionalised. Or we end up becoming slaves of the comforts available that mission is sacrificed totally.I wait for the day, when confreres are willing to go to their new place of apostolate (especially if it is a new intiative) without any money, go by bus, rent a home, eat the ordinary food, drink the available water, go around establishing a rapport with the people, study the situation and then start the work in response to that felt need. Money and comfort, spoil the best of intentions and motivation! May be I'm exaggerating, but after seeing things 'live', this is my strong feeling!
- First time, after years I saw SPARROWS... quite a few of them.
- At Kollapur where we celebrated the Holy Eucharist in the small church along with the children it was a delight! There were some 50 small boarding children who were herded into the church. Most of them were below 11 years of age. I was all the while 'distracted' by these fellows: the smallest two of the group were lost in their own world (a world much bigger than where they presently were!), one or two managed to inch closer to the door and sneak out when the warden was 'distracted' in prayer, another couple or more were pulled up for fighting during the offertory... but the most surprising thing I noticed was that some of these boys were 'assisting' the others to sit quiet and pay attention to the Mass. They were not bossing over, just friendly help and guidance. It was very surprising to me ('cos not even in the Philosophate have I seen such brotherly assistance among the confreres, especially among peers).
- The place Kollapur, is a whole 'kingdom' given on a platter - nothing much to lose in carrying forward that school. But however, good to go slow. Study it for a year and then go ahead with full gusto.
- Kurnool is another mighty big infrastructure. Plenty of land, good buildings (with the old ones, still intact). But a waste of resources. Practically three-fourth of the mighty place is lying idle.
- The Shelter home coming up in Kurnool is a very lovely one. Though only the structure is ready (finishing to be done), the odd shape of the land has been put to maximum use and the building looks really good.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
I was reflecting with them the parable of the feeding of the five thousand and these are the points I highlighted:
- It looks funny that of the five thousand gathered there, only one boy had something to offer! None of the others brought anything? Or were they not willing to share, as generously as the boy did?
- The boy surrendered all he had and left it at that... no conditions, no asking for payment, no selfish thoughts as to say, "That's only for Jesus and me."... freely and totally given. Once given is given, no further claims and conditions about the offer.
- Jesus took it, blest it and distributed it. What was offered by one, sufficed for five thousand and more. Even the one who offered it had a good helping. Imagine if all the five thousand were to give something to Jesus!! May be the world is surviving on the generosity of only a few. If only more were willing and generous, there'd be plenty for everyone and more too!
Luckily after long I took the chance to talk in four languages (I had done in three when I was in Nashik). The boys were from UP, MP, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and AP... that too just one month since they joined there. So for most of them, English was 'greek and latin'. I was also happy when the brothers there told me to use some mixed language to make my points clear to the boys. Fr Thaddeus had given me the green signal much earlier. At first they were very serious and totally silent (very unusual for boys that age and just one month old in the seminary). I first introduced myself and told them to relax...nothing much happened. The looks on their faces were very disturbing. But the moment I made a couple of statements in the next 5 minutes in all four languages (English, Hindi, Telugu and Tamil) I could see life surging in on their faces!! I could see them all ears, waiting for the next sentence I would speak in their native language.
Later as I left the place they were all eager to have a word with me... in their own language. Nothing serious, just the joy and thrill of speaking free and clear. But I was very conscious and was prudent in my use of English as the main language. So much for liberating the mind and ... mouth! I hope my presence has also 'liberated' their thoughts on prayer and sharing.
However, I wanted to protest: How can anyone better their faith just because a monetary privilege is now available? After all, this means that Christians are entitled to scholarships, concessions and so on, without denying that they are followers of Christ. But I didn't say a word; I still have not really lived their life. I really have not lived their daily struggles to make that statement, while instead I am sitting at a table well laid out and assured that it will be there again, everty time I come in.
That very many say, there is no big connection between faith and economics, I agree; but religion and economics, that's another equation!
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Earth is crammed with Heaven.Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), Aurora Leigh
And every bush aflame with God.
But only those who see take off their shoes -
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
I suppose, this is exactly what we lose as years go by after our profession: that SPARK in our eyes and FIRE in our hearts and minds! It is only when we have these two do we really 'see' life and reality anew - subsequently effect and affect a change. If not, for these we'd only be walking corpses! Nothing more, nothing less!
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Monday, 13 July 2009
This being the first time I am out with Fr Noel as his helper for the Visitation, I'm just taking it slow. I wait for his signal, if he wishes me to be around or if he wants me to intervene. Nice to hear all the good being done and the efforts being made. Makes you feel part of the house and mission. Had to really resist the temptation of vocally showing my appreciation for their hardwork.
Best of the day: Spent time chatting with the boarders for nearly an hour. It was lovely talking to them in Telugu and in their own lingo! The other thing which did not strike me then, but struck me profoundly when Fr Noel mentioned it in his goodnight, was that my presence and interaction with the boys was a real attempt at vocation promotion, that too for Salesian Brotherhood.
I am glad too that the senior boys remember Mariadas who spent with them just a month, last year around this time. He has a real knack of getting around these boys. No wonder his heart is in Chandur.
Though I pull Fr PE's leg for his "zeal" for the missions, I am a big fan of his. Not that I agree with all that he has in his head and all that he speaks (frankly, I hardly agree with any of it!). But I do admire his zeal to live the Salesian life. He does not have any big and varied interests. Just one or two things (a four-wheeler being one of them and a small sip of sprite during supper, that too if and when it is available - he says that helps him get good sleep and not get up very many times in the night!)! But that's it. Few things and happy with that. The rest of his energies - which we otherwise dissipate, on making lists of what we want and what we need - he spends on writing books and plays and conjuring up ideas and talks on 'mission'.
I am sure he must have picked it up from the earlier Salesians. Great example of how simplicity of life can free us for greater dedication and service.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
I hope I have something more deep and profound to hold on to when I reach that stage of life (if at all I live that long). This blog of mine sure does have fragments I can collect and thoughts I can weave together, time permitting to look at myself and my life. More than this text, I think what is within me will sustain me, especially in my dark nights - or darkened nights!! So make hay while the sun shines.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Last time it was our gardener, Tirupathi who had to dole out one month's salary for a night in the hospital. This time it is another person known to very many of us who has to burn not just his pockets but himself... a whooping Rs 8 lakhs!! I'm told that in one of the prestigious hospitals in the city, the starting fee is Rs 50,000. That's just the initial deposit. The fees are built on it!! I'm sure, there must be hundreds of people who must have walked out of the hospital 'happily willing to die' than even dream of pouring out so much money. In such cases when medicine and cure is simply beyond the affordable limit, the patient either is happier than before or dies then and there!! It is only the dear ones who have to live with the guilt of not being able to do anything other than see him/her slowly die. Living in such conditions is maddening!
Friday, 10 July 2009
There is the famous poem 'The touch of the Master's hand'... perhaps we have to believe that this is also possible when changes take place. Rather than we effect all changes, we let Him too do something... and when He is upto something, He changes everything.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
There were moments when I said (in exasperation), "to hell with it all!" But exactly those times I remembered what I told the first year students at Karunapuram while taking 'Introduction to Philosophy': The fact that some questions elude answers, is no excuse to stop looking for one! No one stops wearing clothes or footwear just because they will get dirty or wear out. Life carries on, and what thrill if everything was clear, easy and always available. Life carries on but what makes it worth living is the amount of effort we put in to make it worth every bit of it - possible or impossible, is no reason to waste time!
I barely have any memory of the final shows, but of the rehearsals, practices and all that went in before the musical was actually staged, I can hardly forget anything. There was John Mwangi, with his curled up beard, as the fellow prisoner of Joseph! There were the parish kids, acting as piglets, eating away royally with their hands when they were actually supposed to eat 'through their pig masks'! Then there was Cletus, acting as Pharoah's wife, trying to seduce Joseph (Branco). Chris, the only one to do a double role - acting as Pharoah and Jacob. Claudius helping out with the choreography and his 'near nude' dance (shadow play). Shankar Bhai Jaganbhai helping out with the lights and all the confusion. Emma as the narrator. Wyman at the sound controls, with that 'zone B' of the amplifier going dead once a while!
Best was Fr Blany, the director, calling out Noby when he was angry: "Joby, come here!" Noby would not move! I gently reminded Fr Blany, "His name is Noby, not Joby." "Whatever," retorted Blany. "Toby, come here!"
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Give us this day a life worth blogging,
The access to words and images that express our journey with passion and integrity,
And a secure connection to publish your daily mercies.
Your Kingdom come into new spaces today,
As we make known your mysteries,
Posting by posting,
Blog by blog.
Give this day,
The same ability to those less privileged,
Whose lives speak louder than ours,
Whose sacrifice is greater,
Whose stories will last longer.
Forgive us our sins,
For blog-rolling strangers and pretending they are friends,
For counting unique visitors but not noticing unique people,
For delighting in the thousands of hits but ignoring the ONE who returns,
For luring viewers but sending them away empty handed,
For updating daily but repenting weekly.
As we forgive those who trespass on our sites to appropriate our thoughts without reference,
Our images without approval,
Our ideas without linking back to us.
Lead us not into the temptation to sell out our congregation,
To see people as links and not as lives,
To make our blogs look better than our actual story.
But deliver us from the evil of pimping ourselves instead of pointing to you,
From turning our guests into consumers of someone else's products,
From infatuation over the toys of technology,
From idolatry over technology
From fame before our time has come.
For Yours is the power to guide the destinies behind the web logs,
To bring hurting people into the sanctuaries of our sites,
To give us the stickiness to follow you, no matter who is watching or reading.
Yours is the glory that makes people second look our sites and our lives,
Yours is the heavy ambience,
For ever and ever,
from Our Catholic Prayers
[Thanks to Melo for leading me to it!]
... that to be a journalist is to bear witness. The rest is no more than ornamentation. To bear witness means to be there - and that's not free.He speaks of his stint in Iran and has this to say:
I confess that, out of Iran, I am bereft. I have been thinking about the responsibility of bearing witness. It can be singular, still. Interconnection is not presence. A chunk of me is back in Tehran, between Enquelab (Revolution) and Azadi (Freedom)...Yesterday as Fr Palli left the Provincial house after the meeting of the pre-cap commission, we got into a conversation regarding Hungary and David's murder, in the light of the new animation material from Rome (on the Salesian work with the Gypsies). Palli was not happy... "they are happy doing 'welfare' works, not really touching the lives of people and empowering them... standing by them in their pain and anguish... we are only applying balm..."
Being truly involved cannot leave us the same. I just cannot claim to be involved in any apostolate unless, I cannot live without it. The other day I came across the summary of the movie Goodbye Bafana:
...the true story of a white South African racist whose life was profoundly altered by the black prisoner he guarded for twenty years. The prisoner's name was Nelson Mandela.Now that's what I call involvement... commitment... 'profoundly altered' beginning with oneself!
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
I am keenly following the whole procedure for I intend to contribute my best and learn the ropes of it along the way. Working with Fr Varicka in Shillong for the ING PC was a good experience. While from our PC 6 I learnt how NOT to do things, with Fr Varicka it was a riot of exploration and adventure. Unfortunately that was my first PC and it was totally new. Hope to reinforce my experience and learning with this one that is just taking off.
Whatever be the case, there is work at hand!!
Sunday, 5 July 2009
I lost my mind after a couple of minutes and went up to him and asked him, "What's wrong with you? Why are you crying? Just shut up and get out of the place!" I asked Raju (our receptionist) to take him out of the room altogether. Even later when I met the doctor and spoke with him about the extent of injury and other precautions, this guy was always trying to sneak in and cry! At one moment I sternly commanded him to sit quiet and not make another sound!
I know that love is a very strong emotion. It makes people do all sort of crazy and weird things. But I also very firmly believe that love is very strengthening and supportive. Especially in moments like these, we need to stand by and support one and another, not act like sissies! I hope both these young people learn from this experience and not rush into marriage now. I fear she would end up looking after him and she'd have no one to support her truly!
Perhaps, this is what Paul meant this morning... when I am weak then I am strong. I am strengthened because the One who loves me is my support. But if the one whom I love is so weak that seeing my weakness, he/she collapses, then God save me!!
Saturday, 4 July 2009
May be for Isaac, food was a means of achieving something that someone God wanted him to have (that I find it difficult to understand and accept, is another point for discussion!). Jesus too was 'justifying' his apostles about eating is only to say that in the context of what they were to do (or called to do), food was not the primary focus, only a means.
Friday, 3 July 2009
RED: Heywood, enough. Ain't nothing wrong with Brooksie. He's just institutionalized, that's all.
HEYWOOD: Institutionalized, my ass.
RED: Man's been here fifty years. This place is all he knows. In here, he's an important man, an educated man. A librarian. Out there, he's nothing but a used-up old con with arthritis in both hands. Couldn't even get a library card if he applied. You see what I'm saying?
FLOYD: Red, I do believe you're talking out of your ass.
RED: Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. After long enough, you get so you depend on 'em. That's "institutionalized."
JIGGER: Shit. I could never get that way.
ERNIE: Say that when you been inside as long as Brooks has.
RED: Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that's just what they take. Part that counts, anyway.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
- Andy telling Red: Outside (the prison) I was as straight as an arrow, honest! I had to come in here to become a crook!
- Andy to Red and co.: There's something not made of stone but something within. That no one can touch. No one can take it from you. It is hope.
- Andy to Tommy, the new prisoner: Perhaps you should try some new profession. After all you're not a good thief. Then why not try something new?
- Andy to Red: Get busy living or get busy dying!
- Andy's letter to Red: Hope is a good thing, and good things never die.
Red, when told by his boss (after he's freed from prison) not to ask him permission every time to go for a break: Forty years I asked for permission to piss. Can't squeeze a drop without saying so!Oh, it's a beautiful movie of hope, patience and friendship. Great! Tim Robbins is excellent: cool, reserved and precise! Morgan Freeman... oh, boy! No words to describe him. It was a great idea to get him to narrate the whole movie. Not another soul would have done better!
The best thing of the movie is the style and message: simple, clear and always loyal!
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Each Friday night after work, Santa Singh would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a tandoori chicken and some meat kebabs. But, all of his neighbours were strict Catholics ... and since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating chicken and meat on a Friday. The delicious aroma from the grilled meats was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked
to their Priest. The Priest came to visit Santa, and suggested that he become a Catholic. After several classes and much study, Santa attended Mass ... and as the priest sprinkled holy water over him, he said, You were born a Sikh, and raised a Sikh, but now, you are a Catholic."
by the neighbors and, as he rushed into Santa's backyard, clutching a rosary and prepared to scold him, he stopped and watched in amazement.
"I've been married for 30 years now… In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this.. They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"
When you are DOWN to nothing.... God is UP to something!
Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!