Monday, 30 November 2009

Don Bosco and 'Temperance'?

This morning when Fr Jose Mathew began his talk stating that he is basing himself on the GC26, I almost put myself off. However, knowing him to be a man of substance I was all ears. He basically elaborated the first theme: to know, love, make known and pray to Don Bosco. I was struck at two points during his sharing. The first was when he was talking about the aspect of 'Work and temperance' in the context of 'knowing' Don Bosco. What 'work' meant for Don Bosco and the Salesians, I was more or less sure. But I was quite startled when I realised for myself that I had absolutely no idea of what 'temperance' meant!! So much for our 'ignorant claim' of knowing Don Bosco!

The second thing that struck me was the aspect of praying to Don Bosco. Frankly speaking I myself have never prayed to Don Bosco. Fr Jose Mathew hit the nail on the head when he attributed this attitude of excluding Don Bosco from the list of saints we pray to, to our enthusiasm about Don Bosco. We get stuck there. It is all about love and loyalty; to move from there to devotion and reverence, is something we find it odd. Perhaps Don Bosco is more for us a friend than someone up above! Whatever be the case, it strikes me that this idea of praying to Don Bosco is not odd at all. I've heard this from Fr Louis before, and was quite amused he could come up with a thought like that.

Whatever be the case, it is a good beginning (at least personally) for a Chapter.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Doing charity vs being socially responsible

Recently there was this suggestion to raise funds through a unique scheme: collect just Re 1 from donors in a month, not more not less. Frankly speaking the first time I heard this, I said to myself, that is as good as begging! For what use will just a meagre collection of 1 Re coins be. But then it slowly dawned on me that there is a very big value in executing this idea ... much more than collecting huge amounts at one go.

I state this because the scheme is more about involving people, CONSISTENTLY rather than be happy with a one-time act of charity. It is aimed at helping people grow in social awareness and responsibility rather than doling out amounts once in a way and patting our back saying, 'we are doing charity'. This contribution of Re 1 every month ensures that I remember I have a share and duty for the cause I am contributing. That 'nagging feeling' that I have to do this every month (just Re 1 and not more!) is itself a good lesson than paying some Rs 100 at one go and forgetting about what we gave that money for the very next moment!

There's a huge difference being charitable and doing charity. But becoming socially responsible and involved citizens is a higher calling.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Communicating and having a good day!

I took time out this morning (just an extension yesterday's self-proclaimed holiday) to revamp my iGoogle homepage! It looks good now... added a few features here and there and then some crazy things too.

This morning I was wondering on the message of the Rector Major about the 100 ways of communicating and being 'in the new playground' where young people are more and more present these days: the ICT! In a way it was a sort of consolation for me, that I've not really been 'wasting my time' on the net! Am glad that I can at least navigate through the net world without getting lost absolutely. What more, I was pleasantly surprised when I overheard one of the Parish youngster telling another one that I'm good at computers and the internet! For once I did not want to correct the exaggeration!! Anyway, so far so good.

Surprisingly I am relaxed, knowing very well that an avalanche of work will soon be cascading on me. But fine, so far so good. I have kept things well sorted out and it should not be a problem at all. Have a good day, Castilino!!!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Of quotes and life...

Here are some reflective quotes which have been pouring into my mobile since the past two weeks, of course, sent by friends and well-wishers:
For the world you may just be a person; but for someone you may be the world.

A bird that sits on a branch never fears that the branch might break, because it trusts not the branch but its wings. (Zen)

Living on earth is expensive, but it includes a free trip around the sun.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Straddling many boats and yet afloat!

Am back at home after a full week of being on the move and on my feet, literally!! First there was the Communication Meeting in Chennai, then the Youth animation course in Eluru and yesterday, I was in Gunadala for the seminar on Salesian Brotherhood. The previous week was another long trip to Kondadaba for teaching the second years Immanuel Kant. And all along, I was also keeping up with my office work, as Secretary (thanks to the laptop and internet connectivity!). It has been a whole round of activities I've been involved in and interested in: Philosophy, communication, youth animation, Brotherhood and my responsibility of now, Secretaryship too! It was all quite a bit of juggling to balance and prepare and do my best for each place, group and theme I was handling. At times had a thought if I needed to shed this multi-tasking mode and get settled and concentrate on one field only. But which one??? However, I'd prefer to keep things as now. I really cannot say that I'll be better off in one field without meddling in the other fields simultaneously primarily because each of them enriches and widens my horizon. Each field, in its own way, forces me to think and go beyond myself and keep myself 'useful to others and meaningful to oneself'!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Goal in life

The concluding session of the Youth Ministry course forced me to reflect on one serious point: What exactly is my final goal/motto in life? It surely cannot be 'becoming a Salesian Brother', because that I already am. What then could it be that would last my whole lifetime? What is it that would direct my every thought, word and deed till they put me in my grave?

Reflecting this from the perspective of the students, I wondered, because if Priesthood is the goal, then what after ordination? Then they'd start looking for another goal? It then dawned on me that the 'ultimate dream' or the final goal ought to be something larger than just one moment of my life. My Priesthood or being a Brother can be the most meaningful and relevant path to that goal, but not the goal itself.

I'm still wondering if it could be of my decision to be meaningful to myself and useful to others?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The two dimensions that make a 'Vocation'

Initiating a course on Youth Ministry for a group of students of Theology of a particular congregation, I spoke of the need to build the person of the animator. Somewhere during the second or third session, we were discussing about the theme of the 'Vocation'. It was at this moment that I felt the group not in sync with the ideas I was presenting. A little questioning and clarifying session made the lacuna clear: they all (including the 4 deacons present) considered vocation as merely God's call. Nothing more. Their idea was that God calls and that's how one becomes a priest! My inquiry about the role of human response to that call, drew blank responses! This is perhaps one of the basic reasons our ministry does not become meaningful: we leave the whole 'burden' to God, after all, it is He who called me!! I do not have a great responsibility because I really do not have an active role to play!

I believe, God's call and our response to it, collectively makes what we call a vocation. And what is it that makes a vocation deeper or meaningful to a particular context? It is my response, more than merely God's call (His Grace is always there). The more involved and committed response I give to God's call, the more meaningful and relevant will my vocation be. I think it is right that God too gets his due rest and we start taking responsibility for our choices.

Being serious about what you are upto!

Till this evening I only thought that these young theologians are only interested in this course and want to know more about it, basically for the heck of it. But before I concluded the sessions for the day, I had this bright idea to get their questions and queries, if any, in writing. I was really surprised that they were serious about this whole course, not just interested. What's more, when one of them came to me asking if I could help him formulate the 'constitutions' of his youth group which he intends to register!! I myself never got that idea at all. So when he asked me for help, I was totally dumbfounded. All the same, I frankly told him that I really did not have any experience in that line, but I surely would give it a thought and help him with what I could. This is turning out to be more that what I bargained for!! No wonder I'm beginning to ask myself if, mere qualities are sufficient without the support of qualifications?

Looking at the Salesian 'me'

I reached this morning to the theologate and philosophate of the Missionaries of Compassion, a break-away group of the Heralds of the Good News, in Eluru. I was invited by the dean of the theology faculty for a course in youth ministry for the 30 students of theology. At first I was a bit frightened if I could really live up to the job. I'd earlier dealt with children and may be an occasional talk to youngsters (may be for an hour or so, not more). But not for three full days and that too to students of theology. My biggest apprehension was how motivated were the students to attend this course. However, this morning as I entered the classroom I was very relieved to see the enthusiasm writ all over their faces. The first 15 mins. proved to me their keen interest in the topic as I presume this was not something so easily available to them. It then struck me that what I almost took for granted and in a sense become so part of me, is mainly because of me being and living a Salesian life. Therefore I just am cherishing the part of getting out of myself and looking at the Salesian 'me' basically from the eyes of these theology students. And believe me it is very amusing.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

When good is not enough…

I heard many a sermon conclude that the rich young man mentioned in the gospels, lived a very sad life. I have my own doubts. Somehow I have a feeling that he lived a happy life, may not be a very fulfilled one but surely not a sad one. The reason is simple: he asks the Lord for what more he could do, besides the charity he was already doing. This very request implies that he had the good will and the guts to reach out to others. But the fact that Jesus recognized in him the capacity to do more, and therefore the challenge to take a step further, does not discount the truth that he continued the good deeds he was already used to. This is a perfect example of the proverb: Good is the enemy of the best!

In a way I am glad that the Ratio clearly states that young men willing to join the Salesian Congregation ought to be more than just good. They need to show an abundance of positive characteristics in order to be promoted as novices and professed Salesians. Now that’s a very bright signpost we cannot afford to ignore, lest we end up living and sharing a challenging mission with mediocre confreres. I always tell the aspirants and younger Salesians, that being good is not enough. To be worthy sons of Don Bosco means to be the best of who and what I can be… nothing but the best!

Friday, 6 November 2009

In the Valley of ...

This evening I watched a very gripping movie In the Valley of Elah (directed by Paul Haggis). I thought it was a detective movie all along, till the last minute. Towards the end I realised it was a very powerful protest against war (especially the Iraq war). However, the last shot of the movie made me realise another very strong dimension of the message: parental pressure, something which does not permit children from being themselves.

The film tells the story of a war veteran Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones) and his search for his son Mike, a soldier who recently returned from Iraq but has mysteriously gone missing from his military base. Later his disemberred and charred body parts are found near the military base. The movie later reveals how war dehumanises. Half way down the movie, Hank narrates the story of David and Goliath to a small boy. Apparently, seems to convey a very different message then (need to overcome the first enemy: fear). But the movie concludes, with the same small boy asking his mother this simple question: "Why did the king let David fight Goliath? After all he was just a kid!"

A free trip...

Here's a lovely quote sent to me by sms (from an unknown no.):
Living on earth is expensive, but it includes a free trip around the sun.

Time, pressure and motivation

Much water has flown under the bridge since I last blogged - not more than the recent floods though! There was the Social Communication Meeting, with its own experiences, reflections and fond memories. The latest was the Preparatory Session for PC7 and the council which concluded last night. The best part of the prep session was the group discussion we had (mostly confreres from the Formation houses, except Fr Johny and myself). It struck me that due to paucity of personnel how we get stretched out far beyond our capacities, even without our awareness. Looking at myself, I still wonder how I survived the previous year (Secretary, DB DIGITS, Administration, classes... not to mention the other responsibilities that come along). While it is true that lost in all these things we cannot really concentrate on any one responsibility and do full justice to it; I also have a feeling that the best out of us is 'extracted' only when we are pushed to our limits by our own choice (or we set deadlines for ourselves). The other alternative is that we should be so motivated that time or place should make no big difference in giving of our best - but isn't that what we really profess when we join the congregation?
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