Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Listening to God's message

This morning as I sat for Mass, remembering that it was the feast of the Holy Innocents, I wondered if God could have very well alerted this carnage, especially since it was of really the little and innocent ones. Could not God have altered or distracted the mind of Herod? Could He not have alerted all the parents of the babies ahead of time, just as He informed Joseph about it? Could not the wise men, done something to trick Herod, rather than save their skin and walk away with it? I know I do not have the answers, for I am neither God nor have I any message from Him. But I guess this:

Just like Joseph was 'informed' about the impending danger, God would certainly have tried His unique ways of getting Herod to try something less heinous. Or at the most, distracted Herod from carrying out his evil plans of the massacre. Then, what happened? The difference lay in the fact that Joseph 'listened' to God's message; Herod did not! Joseph could have very well brushed aside God's message as some fancy thinking or dream; but he chose otherwise. Herod could have 'listened' to God's message but he didn't... and that made all the difference in the lives (or death) of the little ones.

Moral of the story (not a logical one or a sensitive one, but all the same a reasonable one): Each one's got to do what one ought to do; lest someone pays the price, at times a heavy one at that!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Interesting coke ad

Here is one nice ad of coke that I came across of TV of late. Interesting concept of using an old technique (shadow play), with a modern touch (a remix of an old hindi song), of course. Old is gold, yes but the latest polish also helps, now and then!

Christmas at Sabbavaram

For this year's Christmas celebrations, I joined our Navajeevan community at Sabbavaram. It was good that I went there. Besides meeting and interacting with the boys, I got some time to make somethings happen, which otherwise would have taken ages to commence and reach their logical conclusion. Comparatively the programmes they put up on Christmas day were much better than the ones they put up during the inauguration of the new building, especially the skits. The boys are really good at acting and preparing props and costumes!

However, the funny part of the nativity enactment was that Mary was already pregnant during the annunciation itself (there wasn't much time after the annunciation for her to do the make up, so ... she was 'ready' right from the beginning... that's what one of the lady staff who helped Siva with his costume told me). And St Joseph, (enacted by Sai) was with a pair of spectacles, that too borrowed at the last minute!

Fear of others or Love for solitude?

For the Christmas midnight Mass, I joined Fr Wilson to L'kota, the substation. I preferred that to the monotonous and l...o...n....g service (read as sermon) of Kondadaba! It was good... silent, smooth and I was left to myself without having to run around and see that things are in place or singing is ready and what not. I thus stayed put in my place till the end of the Mass. Spent time remembering and thanking all the people close to me and trying to recollect and pray for those clinging on the edge of my memory.

However, once the celebrations began after Mass, I slowly sneaked out. I felt much better outside than in the humdrum of all that jing-bang. I know not if I'm growing more and more introvert for fear of facing the 'others' or is it just that I find silence and solitude more meaningful than noisy celebrations. For now, I prefer to go by the latter!

Silent Night, yes! Holy night? I doubt!

Christmas has come and gone! Great... very silent, peaceful and truly relaxing at least personally. I surely must have put on 4 to 5 kgs in the past one week alone... I'm not blaming the cakes or the getting over of the jaundice diet, but the tranquility and peace of the place has been very very soothing. I just breathe easy, pray well, spend time doing what I like without any great pressure or tension and best of all, not disturbed by a hundred and one fellows barging in and out of my office for all and any matters.

Of course, the calamity has been Jesus... He has been totally forgotten!!

About Ginger

Here are a couple of photos of Ginger, our German Shepherd of which I mentioned earlier in one of the previous postings. These days it is having a ball of a time. With no one around the house, it claims to be its master as it roams every place at its will... that too only when Rinoy is around. If he is not around, the one and only place she is found is either outside his room (if he is inside) or at the gate (if he is out of the house). This evening as Fr Rinoy and myself were in the Mass in the sacristy, it solemnly came in there too! That was perhaps the last place it was yet to explore. It had so far never entered the chapel, for Rinoy had sternly told it not to enter in. So everytime we are reciting our prayers or meditating in the chapel facing the sanctuary, it would be waiting eagerly at the door, looking at the far end of the chapel, where we are seated!

Here it is with Lakshmi, our kitchen staff just waiting for her to drop her arms so that it can snatch the ball which she is holding it from her!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Interesting internet...

Here are a few interesting things people have done over the time using the net! What wonders people can do with just a little bit of creativity and a dose of passion!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Fidelity as an act of worship

These days after the Brothers left for holidays, we three of us here spend most of our time together with Ginger, our German Shepherd. It is basically Rinoy who is the master and the dog knows it too well. There is nothing else in the world it wants than to be with Rinoy, anywhere, anytime, all the time. In very many aspects, it is like no other dog I've ever seen: it does not gloat (it does not even eat, properly), does not wander all over the town, is perfectly obedient and well behaved. However what strikes me most of Ginger is its total fidelity to Rinoy. Nothing else matters to it more than being with Rinoy.

I was wondering this morning, what makes it so faithful to Rinoy? What difference is there between its fidelity and our fidelity to God? After much thought, I feel it is the difference of a conscious choice we get to make and live by it. Ginger makes the choice without any conditions and will live by it. Ginger perhaps did not have a big choice to make than to accept Rinoy as its master, irrespective of Rinoy's character, personality or any other moral character. Even if Rinoy were to be the worst criminal of the world, its fidelity would have been total. However, our fidelity to Christ is only verbal, we have a choice to be faithful to Christ, and we claim we have made that choice (through baptism, profession, ordination...) but in fact we really haven't! In spite of having made a 'deliberate choice' our fidelity or commitment to Christ is found wanting.

Christmas, justice and dignity

Fr Wilson has asked me to share the homily for the midnight Mass tomorrow. I really do not want to, not for lack of reflections but for want of being a mere reflective participant. Furthermore, my sermon would not be any different from a talk that I will give/share with kids or any other group, depending on their interest level.

All the same, I ask myself, what exactly does Christmas mean? I 'know' that it is the bd'ay of Jesus and all that stuff. But what does it mean for me? As I reflect about this, I feel that Christmas is perhaps the greatest feast of justice and dignity (I still 'know' that it is a feast of love, but that I only 'know' still). Why is it about justice and dignity? Because God in his greatness could not think of any other greater means of reaching out to His beloved than by being one among them. That too not just anyone among them, but being the lowliest, the least, the weakest and the most vulnerable among them... a baby, a carpenter, an ordinary person.

In this sense, the Christmas banner of the ANS website, makes sense... it has an infant in the womb of the mother... the most vulnerable and dependent creature on the face of the earth, a baby!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Jonah's life... through a small girl

One must watch this amazing rendition by a small girl about the life of Jonah... better than any lengthy sermon on repentance and God's love! Great!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Setting priorities right: Study first!

This evening we had our community Christmas celebrations... was rather sober but involving and brief. We had a long Mass, the get together thereafter and the supper that followed. Things were quite smooth and somehow we all were happy that there was neither extravagance not excitement shooting through the roof. During the get together there was sufficient confusion to keep down the tone of excitement (perhaps I now need to tap individual talent, and give this idea of 'group activity' a little rest). I was also surprised to see that all the Brothers were in bed (except for a handful of them quietly packing) by 11 pm... as instructed, gently after supper. I was quite sure that none of them would sleep tonight. But I was wrong! Either they are getting into the serious mood of the seminary or they are acting quite well to please us, the staff! Either way, I'm happy there is noticeable change, for the better, taking place.

This morning, Fr Devadas' comment that the Brothers are complaining of losing their peace of mind, due to the numerable assignments that I am giving and the constant antiphons of Fr Wilson that study is prayer, were indeed very encouraging. Truly... the Brothers are feeling the heat of study. Having tried all possible means of wriggling out of this 'study-net' they are now trying the 'spiritual-net'. But they know very well, perhaps more than us Staff, that there are no shortcuts to sincere and dedicated study, at least for this year!

What more can I, as the Dean of studies in a Philosophate, ask for!! Perhaps this is the Lord's Christmas gift to me... THANK YOU, LORD! I'm yet to think and prepare one for Him, though!

The mask of religiousity...

My stay and teaching experience here in the Seminary has led me to see very many discrepancies or illogical facts of life. One of them has been the very subtle and foxy way of utilising 'spirituality'. Here quite often Brothers hide behind the mask of 'religiosity' and 'piety'. They shirk from a critical introspection of their faith, convinced that such an enterprise is pride, a vain-glorious attempt to boost our ego or is a rebellion against God. That we all have certain comfort zones which we would not want to let go for fear of having nothing to hold on to, is natural. But when a senior Priest or trusted person, especially the Spiritual Director or another clergyman does this, young people (in this case, the Brothers) find justification for their lethargy ... all in the name of God, faith, religion and humility.

That driving passion...

This morning as I sat for the recollection talk and let myself be distracted to the previous day's evening Christmas celebrations with the children in the same hall, a thought crossed my mind. It occurred to me that the Brothers in the Seminary too would at one point or the other be like the children who were present with us the previous evening, the same ones who come every evening for the tuition classes. While some of the children are quite lively and zealous about things, most of them are just dull and dead to things around them. Over the years there seems to be a lull in the curiosity to know, to learn, to try new things... beginning in childhood itself. So when we grow up, there is nothing new to be tried out. Life is just let loose like that... nothing passionate that drives one in one direction or the other... any direction with the most of comforts would do.

I have my doubts if children of the present day have that eagerness, that 'itch', that passion for something? Or is it just to laze around and do nothing challenging? If that sense and thrill of adventure of something 'new' isn't tasted right in the beginning, the apparent drudgery of life unconsciously leads one to settle down for a very mediocre life, all along!

Understanding those who do not understand

Correcting the dissertation, seminar and scientific papers of the Brothers for the past few days, I realise that quite a few of them spend time in the library or study hall, reading. Unfortunately what they read they do not understand. But that's not their real problem. Their real problem is that they 'think' - or are even convinced - that they understand! So when you ask them if they have read a particular article or class notes they all agree. You ask them if they have any clarifications or doubts, there will be none. But you go a step further and ask a couple of questions, just simple, straight and easy ones, you'll only draw a blank! Now to make a person who does not understand and knows that he has not understood is possible; but how does one help one understand something when he is convinced that he already and perfectly has!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Fear as a motivation to learning and wisdom

Today is the last day of class before the Seminary closes for Christmas holidays, but frankly speaking there is hardly anything in the air that will show that. The reason: all the students are busy catching up with their written assignments and submission of papers and all written requirements.

Looking back to the time we began the academic year, we on the staff, were all up in arms that the students are not studying. Now everyone is studying... of course it does not automatically imply that they are really learning, but atleast the effort is being made. One of the chief reasons for this transformation from a very lax attitude to study and academic work to a 'surprising' seriousness about intellectual work, has been a collective stand that the staff took: consistent focus on study! Practically all the four of us on the staff have not been compromising on that at all. We really demand and pull them up for what is expected of them. The fruits are evident for everyone to see. Another very impact-filled reason has been the failing of nearly 6 of the students in various semester exams - not just the preliminary exam but in the repetitions too ... two supplementary exams! They had somehow thought that their failing would not bring about any serious consequences. Now that their very continuation in the seminary is at stake due to this, they (all the students, not just the 6 failed candidates) are on high alert!! A healthy sign of this whole endeavour has been the sincere appreciation of most of the students of the study ambiance in the Seminary. That ensures our (staff) motivation and prevents our efforts from becoming tyrannical.

Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom...
and the fear of not making it to the next year is the beginning of learning!

Salesian assistance

This morning I had a very blunt one-to-one talk with one of the Brothers who has been consistently maintaining his record of being the last in the class for all academic and intellectual purposes. As I placed before him his last options of pulling himself by his bootstrings, he plainly told me that my 'reputation' - if one may say so - preceded me much before I set foot in Kondadaba... that I was a task master! He told me how he was warned of studying well my subjects and not to unnecessarily meddle with me. I was glad he was warned... but as they say, forewarned is not always forearmed! So our friend took it lightly, and now he is feeling the heat of the furnace!! Anyway he has now just two months (Jan and Feb.) to redeem himself and prove that he is serious about his vocation to Priesthood.

Amidst all that he shared and we discussed, I was surprised how he clearly remembers all my words which I stated in the first community meeting. And when at the end of our long chat he was the one who reminded me that all that I told him now was already told by me on that day, way back in June 2010. Then he heard them, today he feels the weight of them! Good for him, good for me too, to ensure that I'm after them consistently and for the right reasons.

No wonder Don Bosco used to insist so much on accompaniment... Salesian Assistance!

Lineage and history

The idea of ancestor worship and tracing back our lineage into history, has been an integral part of Asian religions and traditions. As I listened to the reading of this morning, about the genealogy of Jesus, it struck me that God too was concerned with 'rootedness' at least when associated with human beings. A reflective look into the past will help us realise that we are part of a history greater than ourselves. Why they are we part of it? If great things have been achieved, carried out, lived out, prior to my arrival, why am I on the scene? What's our significance here and now? Perhaps to ensure that tomorrow's history will be greater than today's or at least as great as today!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas story, digital narration... literally

Here's a lovely narration of the nativity story... digitally, literally!! Great!

Communicating Don Bosco

Sometime ago, I came across the minutes or news report of the recently concluded BOSCOM - now Don Bosco Communications - meeting held at Kolkata. One of their conclusions and firm one at that, was the production of a feature film on Don Bosco. Now that's quite an idea!! Frankly speaking I don't like it! I am not for it, even. My reasons are simple: What is the whole objective of this mega project, when we have neither competence nor skill nor the necessary resources (we are not going to gain any monetary benefit from it, for sure)? Even if the answer is a simple: 'to make known Don Bosco across the country', I have a problem. What after we have made known? I somehow feel we have a tendency to create a hype and once the hype is created we do not know what to do with it. Rather I prefer that we are recognised for the works we do - besides blowing our own trumpet! People must see us as men of God with a passion for youth... through our activities, animations, interventions, institutions and most importantly through our very lives.

On the other hand, this reaction of mine could be due to my 'fear and anxiety' about 'mega-projects'. I really feel best with some minor but incisive efforts which touch lives rather than effect a mere 'wow'!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Debate and lessons from it

This morning we had the annual debate on the theme 'Technology and Religion are complementary'. It was a good exercise for the Brothers. Fr Wilson made an all out effort to ensure that the talks were prepared, practiced and delivered well. Really, he spared no effort! The Brothers too made a valiant effort, but as always got entangled in trivials than in the deeper issues at hand. Fr Puthussery, the moderator, too made a great effort at drawing their attention to the real issues... but with not much success.

However, a couple of lessons I learnt from today's experience:
  • The theme of the debate has to be a very precise and straight statement. Not a complex idea or comparative topic.
  • The talks need to be according to specific fields. This is important when the successive speakers are not very talented or capable of commenting or lashing out at the previous opponent prior to their own presentation. Moreover, this would help focus the area under consideration rather than let each one wander about wild.
  • The meaning and definition of terms being used need to be specified and clarified at the earliest.
  • The talks need to be sub-divided into the following pattern: Statement of the argument (in line with your stand), a brief explanation of the same and finally, if necessary make the point clear with an example. Bereft of this there will be many things said - many good things - but not very specific or arousing discussion.
  • The statement/argument of the opponent is to be attacked... not the person, or least of all the example!! (Our Brothers are masters of catching the wing-tip of the fly, sitting on the tip of the hair, of the tail of the bull... and certainly not the horns!).
  • The questions during the floor discussion should be very tricky and sharp. The opponent should be put in a fix: an 'yes' or a 'no' would either way land them in trouble. That's the sort of questions one has to equip oneself with.

Chris, on his b'day

Here are a couple of photos more of Chris... clicked on his first b'day (December 8, 2010)!! Poor fellow was made to wear a suit!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Adieu dear Br PM Thomas!

I was quite shocked to read about the death of Br PM Thomas from Fr Ivo's blog. He died this morning (December 12, 2010 at 3 am) while at Andheri.

Br PM was truly a self-made man. He had his convictions clear and sure. I liked best his enthusiasm for his Salesian vocation. He simply loved Don Bosco and really 'enjoyed' being a Salesian. Though experienced and smart, he never let it get to his head and always was ready to get into any debate, fun or discussion. He surely was a great inspiration, certainly for me!

Thanks to God and Br PM for being part of my life.

Experiences at the Juvenile home

This afternoon I drove the Pratyasa team Brothers to the Juvenile home for an anticipated celebration of Christmas with the Children. More than anything about Christmas, it was an opportunity for the Brothers to interact with the children and bring a smile on their faces. I should say, a couple of them did well... Christu, Dileep, Devaraj, Naresh. Initially they were reluctant. I was too tired to get involved. Furthermore, I knew, that if I were to get active, they would only watch from the sidelines without getting involved.

At one point, I was wondering as to who was entertaining whom? The boys, having seen and being entertained by many a group along the time of their stay there, we not new to our 'animation'. So the Brothers were at a bit of loss as to what 'new' and entertaining to offer them. However, Christu did a commendable job, at least trying. But there seems to be some sort of a disease among the Brothers. When they see a group of people, they just stand in a huddle by themselves, watching the confusion... all the while knowing the fact that they are there as 'animators'. I guess it is basically due to a lack of knowledge of what is to be done and more so, how is it to be done.

Another surprising revelation was the knowledge that of the 95 boys therein, there are only a handful of those who are supposed to be there. The rest are absolutely out of place, in as much as they have either of their parents, a home, or have run away from home and were found loitering on the railway station platforms. I always thought that the Juvenile home was meant for those in need of care and protection and those at risk. This place is more like a boarding, where the child lands up because his parents feel that this is the best place for him!! How can they just shirk their responsibility?

At last, with the boys!

At last I took time out to spend at least half a day with the boys at Sabbavaram... this time it was not for some work to be done or some inauguration to be prepared. Just plain 'waste of time'! It was good! I just learnt a few more names of the boys, chatted with them for quite sometime, shared with them some news and information about the Salesian world, offered some tips for study and learning (all off hand and totally informal), watched their games and coaching sessions...

It was good!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Mission day auction

We just concluded our Mission Sunday auction... though the middle name does not fit in for the day, it was held today, for constraints of time and mood earlier. I'm glad it went on well. The Brothers too were well behaved and responsive. No one played the fool or tried to act smart. All were sincere and open in their bidding. It was good.

However, I desisted from any bidding except twice. Somehow I did not have the heart to throw away money for something as cheap as a t-shirt or a Bible cover! I felt I had better means of reaching out and helping the missions. But I did bid twice more to encourage participation and raise the spirit of competition. Of course, the Brothers too were keen on dumping something on to me - they did it at the first opportunity! But on the whole, it was good.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Why link service and finances?

There are two ways of becoming rich: Getting more than what you have and being contented with what you already have. I would prefer the latter to the former anytime, everytime. Whenever there is this talk of money (or lack of it), I always wish there was never this whole money at all. The world surely would have been a much better place if there was not this whole field of economics (if understood in the limited sense of monetary transactions only) at all.

Every sphere of life, revolves around money and is ruled by its power. Religious life too is not spared by it. How often all our decisions and decision making processes are guided by finances. I know money is needed for survival and basic needs, but why more than that? Why should charity or service for that matter, be always associated with monetary links? Don't our families at home earn and live on what they have? Why then have we in the religious life be so perturbed by availability or lack of availability of finances? Why can't we just serve... reach out with what we have... even if it is little or nothing at all.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Inviting those on the periphery

Christmas is an inclusive festival. No wonder the first Christmas, the invitation was for all on the periphery: the shepherds, the pagan kings... But in our eagerness we celebrate Christmas with only the ones we know, only the Catholics. I tell the Brothers when they go out for their weekend ministry: Go, reach out to all, irrespective of which religion they belong to. You are being sent to the village and not to the Catholics alone of that village.

Nice to celebrate Christmas by including all those who are normally not invited, those forgotten. As for me, I'd like to send a note to all whom I've not been in touch with since I left Hyderabad - and that's a really long list!! One of them was Fr Tom and surprisingly he called me this morning!

Gleanings from the Formation meet-5

Perhaps the last of this series... (on a lighter side).
As we were concluding the meeting someone quoted the one who fumbled with words at a meeting and said: I thank you all from the heart of my bottom! Thathi added an experience of his while in Rome. For a special Mass, the Salesians from Africa led the entrance procession with a dance. Thathi and a friend of his (who happened to be missionary in Africa) could not but notice the heavy hip and butt movement. As the procession reached the altar, Thathi's friend leaned into Thathi and whispered: "That's where they find God!"

Gleanings from the Formation meet-4

One disturbing revelation of yesterday's meeting was the fact that while Don Bosco began his apostolate with a wandering oratory, along the way he made an explicit choice to settle down with the boarding school set up... a shift from an evolving and growing channel to a structured formula... from festive oratories to boarding schools.

I know that Don Bosco found no other means of helping the boys than through opening up institutions which would cater to their every need. But how then did he not sacrifice or atleast begin the process of compromising the strategies and ideals of the initial festive oratory? The 'curse of institutionalisation' was initiated by Don Bosco himself... or did he? Can one continue the spirit of Don Bosco without subscribing to his final 'boarding school' method?

From my little experience in the Salesian congregation I wonder if this sort of 'liberty' is still present and encouraged. Down the centuries we have built up this 'institutional' model of Don Bosco's apostolate with great fervour, commitment and zeal... but what if someone wants to adopt the festive oratory model? Does our formation process envisage and promote this possibility at all or is it nipped in the bud itself?

One such apostolate at a tangent was/is the Street children work. (It too has been very much institutionalised... but that's another issue). But anything more or different than that? For the rest, we are all stuck to Parishes, schools, colleges (barely), technical institutes and of course, boardings. To say that the spirit of the festive oratory (as it was) is vibrant and very much alive in all these would be a slight exaggeration.

Will someone with the initial mind of Don Bosco find a place in the Salesian congregation anymore? Will a Salesian atleast with such a mind, find space and support?

Gleanings from the Formation meet-3

Thathi's question when translated into the formation contest would be thus: what if a youngster does not really fit in our 'regular' formation plan? Will he go on to become a Salesian or will he be shown the door sooner or later? This has many implications. We first need to be sure what is our formation process meant for? Uniform, thinking alike, ready to use Salesians or men attuned to the voice of God and willing to do anything for young people? A similar question would be: Is our formation meant to churn out 'administrators' for our institutions or 'visionaries' for our apostolate? Whatever be our answer, one thing is certain: it ought to be in sync with our formative process.

I would certainly prefer the latter 'breed'. But I am still not sure how can a uniform, singular formation process help individual charisms to mushroom and bloom in varied contexts while remaining faithful to the 'Salesian charism'. How exactly to make it flexible enough to encourage and enthuse creativity while retain the identity so as to be still called SDBs? As Fr Maliekal asked, "How do we distinguish the picnicker from the seeker?" Where and how does one draw the line between a freak and a saint?

Gleanings from the formation meet-2

While presenting an article by Fr Jose Parapully, Fr Sebastian pointed out that our rigouristic and perfectionist model of religious life is largely due to the times in which the major congregations were founded... 1600-1950. These were the modern times characterised by dualism-mechanism (Descartes), Scientific and mathematical certainty (Newtonian physics). This era in history was challenged by the major developments in science and maths: theory of relativity, quantum theory, process philosophy, systems theory... This affected every branch of life and study. A shift was observed in every sphere:
theology (image of God): Immovable mover to Emoting being
psychology: instinctual theory to relational and inter-subjective theories
ethics: good and bad to situational ethics
economics: competition to collaboration
medicine: corporeal medicine to body-mind-spirit healing
sociology: hierarchy to networking
spirituality: mechanistic-dualistic to holistic-ecological

I was wondering what if there was a religious congregation founded today... in the so-called 'postmodern' times. Would it really have a 'footing' in the Church? I fear it might be scorned as some new heresy or some new age thinking. I also feel that such congregations will not spring up any more.

What next then? Those existing ought to change according to the times or perish with the times!

Gleanings from the Formation meet-1

The formation commission meeting of yesterday was quite something. Though not very intense or hectic, there were certainly some new insights which emerged in the course of our discussions. The discussions were primarily focussed on engineering a paradigm shift in the whole formation procedure not so much for a theoretical outcome but for a faithful and effective apostolate. However we were unable to come up with practical skills that would facilitate this shift. But that we need to start facilitating this transformation was strongly felt.

One of the interesting directions which the meeting took was after Fr Sebastian's intervention about our modality and rigid mentality in sticking to 'rubrics' at the cost of life and reality. Thathi too posed the question of Fr Fabio Attard concerning our youth apostolate: Are we trying to get our new generation of young Salesians to fit in the youth module that we have or have worked out? Are not they more atune to the stirrings of young people than the previous generation? Why then do we not let them have a say or let them formulate a new youth apostolate model, while being faithful to the basics?

The difficulty here was where to draw the line between what is and what should be. Furthermore, who decides what and how. Fr Maliekal pointed out a good signpost: a shift, when made, should be geared towards an integrated growth... not just in one or two aspects of our apostolate. If it is only partial then the whole system breaks down.

A lesson in friendship and fidelity

In the Gospel this morning, the paralytic man lowered from the roof by his friends was saved more because of the faith of his friends, than perhaps his own (When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven"). Jesus recognises this man's ability to have such friends... the courage to pick and choose those who would be with him in thick and thin... then live righteously enough to win the respect and love of those friends who would go to any extent to see him well.

Who are my friends? Whom do I associate most with? Will they, when I am unable to approach Jesus by myself or am moving away from Him, lead me to Him?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Information Warfare...

The whole debate and drama about the WikiLeaks (here is an interesting posting about the whole episode) is an interesting replay for me about a James Bond movie which I saw sometime ago (I forget the title now). The theme in both the instances is the same: information warfare. The movie was all about the villian trying to gain control over the media space all across the globe and thus control information and news. His theory was clear: master the communication network and you own the power. The ongoing cat-and-mouse game too is something similar. Hidden information is now out in the open. So what now?

Of labourers ... and labourers

The harvest is ready and plenty but the labourers are few... and those who really labour are fewer! We always mourn that there are not sufficient personnel to carry forward the great and noble deeds of visionaries and religious founders. There is no denying that fact but we cannot also overlook the other fact that not all those who volunteer to carry forward the work, are really interested. If only those really passionate about this service step forward, there would be miracles performed everywhere, all the time. The cycle of mediocrity continues as we get non-motivated 'labourers' who are 'inspired by' non-working 'labourers'.

The feast of St Francis Xavier is a good occasion to review the life and passion of this man who managed to evangelise the East in an age when there were neither transport nor communication facilities... all that he had was his indomitable zeal to reach out to the people and share with them the Treasure he had found. The existence or non-existence of the rest did not matter.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Of funerals and cemeteries

Funerals are strange occasions... the dead one does not know who is come or who has not. But all the same the living feel obliged to go and attend the final journey. I always avoid funerals. They make me sad... not the loss of the dead but the sorrow of the living, especially the dear ones of the departed. It is heart-rending to see them wail and mourn. I really cannot stand that sort of pain. I've not really reflected as to why am I so affected (perhaps more as a means of escapism than real ignorance).

After the funeral there is always the talk (can also read it as gossip): How many people were there? Frankly speaking a very idiotic and nonsensical question. The reason is cited above! Also because it is used as a measuring tool to chart the popularity rating of the one no more. But maybe true. Not all may feel like me. Hence they may choose to express their affection and love for the departed by joining him/her in the last lap of the moral race.

Anyway, I thought of this for I remembered a statement about the cemetery compound wall, something I used when in Yercaud:
The wall around a cemetery is useless as those inside cannot come out and those outside do not want to get in.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Planning the future...

The most exciting month of the year has commenced. With Christmas, holidays and all that associated with it, the month is anything but thrilling. However, in my goodnight to the Brothers I reminded them to be grounded and focused ... to be clear as to what they are doing and FOR WHAT.

As for me, after long today was a rather relaxed day. I managed to correct a whole large chunk of papers that have been occupying my desk since long. Now with only the Christmas celebrations (anticipated) to prepare for, I can focus on some things that I've been postponing.

One among this is to prepare a 'Bucket list'... just started watching the movie, The Bucket List. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson... the latter being simply great!! More about that later. For now, just want to finish up some of the left overs of the Seminary day reports, videos and photos. Then plan to move on to some new project for myself ... shall be more out of the office, or shall keep off the computer during the day, to be precise... to begin with!!
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