Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Choosing between goodness and pigs

This morning I was wondering what would be the reasons a whole town - mind you, not just some of them but the whole town - telling Jesus to leave them. That this 'request' comes after Jesus helps them get rid of the two troublesome demoniacs is quite strange. Perhaps, those people had only those pigs as their means of livelihood and when the whole crowd is lost they were really at a loss as to how they would survive. Or perhaps some of the richer folk or those against Jesus (for whatever reason) instigated the others in the town to not let Jesus in, for fear of causing greater damage. This is most often the case. The silent majority are driven by the few who have brains but not objective ideals. Another possibility is that they just loved the pigs more than the good done by Jesus!! Perhaps if Jesus were to have sent the demoniacs into just a couple of pigs who then ran off the cliff, the people may not have been that pissed off. However, the lesson is clear: Are we far-sighted enough to see the goodness and truth in an event or a person rather than the immediate loss or shortcoming?

Of jawans, 'maoists' and media

The 'shocking' news of another ambush and the subsequent death of a number of CRPF jawans by the maoists is not really good news. First of all there is the loss of life, secondly there is the whole misinterpretation of facts given the context. While my sympathies are with those who died - I really appreciate these CRPF men who are sent out of marching orders to any part of the country irrespective of where they come from and where their families are located. Brave indeed!!

However I also see the other side: the death of CRPF men makes front page news while the death of a poor tribal or "maoists" makes no news at all! That's surprising. Given the fact that in the final analysis it is life of a human being. Furthermore, when such 'ambush' is broadcast - even literally - the 'maoists' are portrayed as hardcore criminals and terrorists. But in the real analysis they are poor tribals and villagers pushed to the corner and out of sheer desperation they retaliate - I do not say that all 'maoists' are that, but most are! Just recollect who are all those who were caught or killed over the last three months: all shirtless, ragged, skinny people who barely are able to smile. What drives them to loot and kill is nothing but sheer will to survive with a little, just atleast a little, bit of dignity.

Here is where I feel the media needs to be a bit more sensitive. Rather than paint these poor and desperate people as murderers straightaway, a little bit of openness would go a long way in helping these people not just live with dignity but make them contributors towards the progress of the country. We really can learn much from these people.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Lightning tournament

Celebrating the Pope's Day in the Seminary, we got all the Brothers to be playing non-stop for nearly two hours. Well that's an achievement given the spirit of games here. Most of them are dead tired and quite a few moaning that their hands and legs aren't moving. But a vast majority of them loved it all. Sports is not always liked by many. So those who really love it don't enjoy because others don't give their heart and soul for games. Today was a feast for those who really love to play.

Perhaps one of my first successes in getting them give their best. I hope to replicate this, and get in the Brothers this as a habbit: striving for the best in every sphere, at every moment, in every thing they undertake or is entrusted to them.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The faithful few, sustain...

Fr KT began the Holy Mass this morning with the statement: The society is sustained by the fidelity of a few. He went on to add that it is the same in every structure... only a few faithful ones see the structure carry on for the good. This is indeed quite alarming. But I realised this has been so since the beginning. Abraham and Lot found it difficult to save Israel for want of a handful of honest men. Jesus too had the same problem. Even among those of us who pride saying that we have been 'chosen' and 'called' not all are really faithful, yet religious and Priestly life carries on. That's quite surprising and interesting to note!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Don Bosco among us


Of death and afterlife...

Here is a beautiful analogy of death and afterlife...
A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to
leave the examination room and said, 'Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the otherside.' Very quietly, the doctor said, 'I don't know.' 'You don't know? You're, a Christian man, and don't know what's on the other side?' The doctor was holding the handle of the door; On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, 'Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing... I know my Master is there and that is enough.'

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Being more than a priest... a man of God

Last night for the goodnight thought to the Brothers, I spoke to them about the difference between being a leader and a politician. A leader is someone who is upright, who stands by what is true and morally good. It is not that he is without limitations or weaknesses, but in spite of them he stands head and shoulders above the rest because his goals are eternal values and not some frivolous personal whims and fancies. A politician on the other hand, is anyone with some shrewd brain and tricks. One just needs enough money and muscle power these days to become a politician. Not every leader is a politician and not every politician is a leader. The greatest advantage of being a leader is that he is able to inspire others to greater things of life. He is able to challenge and bring out the best in those who come in contact with him.

I concluded exhorting the Brothers to not just become Priests (anyone can become a priest these days, I told them) but to become men of God. Persons ablaze with God and who are able to set others ablaze with that same divinity. Persons who make a difference in the lives of people, not just from the altar or the pulpit but at every moment of their life and interaction.

St John the Baptist was a real leader: he stood by values (even to the extent of getting his head chopped off), showed and led others to follow the 'truth', was courageous to take a stand (even if that meant he would have to stand alone), was one driven with passion to do what was right.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Ministry and planning

Today I finalised - well, almost - the weekend ministry list of the Brothers. It's been 15 days since I've been trying to do this. And just this morning when I thought I had it all set, then someone reminded me of something that we had decided in the staff meeting held last month end and I had to rework the list once again. But one thing I realised through this process, I atleast get to know the Brothers and their qualities a bit better each time I rework the list. Well so far so good. I'm trying to devise ways in which their weekend ministry will be someway beneficial both to the people and to the Brothers themselves. Working on my own experience of oratory work in Nashik and Yercaud, I wish to help them draw up objectives and corresponding strategies to achieve the set objectives. I know it is easier said than done, but it's worth the attempt. The formation and effectiveness of the Evangelisation team is another thing I'm looking at.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Thanks to technology

Before arriving in Kondadaba I was a bit worried about how I would keep in touch with all those whom I'd established contact with over the last few years, especially that I did not intend to have a cell phone and the possibility of having a broadband connection seemed remote. However, thanks to the efforts of Wilson and KT, there is already one internet connection in the house.

The greatest consolation of the same was when today Papa and Mummy could 'see' me through a web chat Willy arranged from that end. I'm sure they are feeling much relieved to see that I'm quite 'normal' and not as desperate and ill as they imagined me to be. Well, thanks to technology!!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Food and sickness

Five days ago when the Doctor told me that eating the bland food and that too just the same food at every meal can be irritating, I thought I understood it all. Well, almost and to a great extent. However, today watching everyone eat chicken, my mouth was watering. I hope no one complains of a stomachache tomorrow. But I suppose no use ogling at their plates or mourning the absence of a piece in mine... I'll just have to live with it for atleast a month. And since my determination to get back on my feet as early and as strong as possible is stronger than the attraction to food, I am confident of making it in and out of the refectory, come what may on the table, without falling for anything!!

Fr Simon as Provincial of Hungary

One of the brightest news since I landed in Kondadaba was something that I came across today... and from where did I get this news? From Fr Lens!!!

That's about the announcement of Fr Simon as the Provincial of Hungary. I've heard of him as a hard working man and have had several occasions when I've met him, though for a short while only, when he was in the Province. It feels good to hear that his work with the gypsies has been recognised and an opportunity has been awarded to him in this form. But I also know, that it will not be easy for him. Having heard of the context and the situation there, from several perspectives, taking decisions and implementing them will not be an easy task for anyone. But I suppose, if God has given him this chance, He will also equip him with the necessary means to accomplish all that He has in mind for Salesian Hungary.

God bless Fr Simon and all the Salesians there!
Here is the official news announcement on ANS.

Motivation from within

Working with the Brothers in the Seminary has its highs and lows... but worth every bit of effort. The greatest input necessary is motivation and greatest help that they need is to dream big and work towards it. Somehow, they seem to be settled for something minimal and therefore the corresponding effort to do the minimal. That's the greatest challenge. I'm still out of action and am watching the proceedings from the sidelines (infirmary!) - thanks to the jaundice - but I'm quite optimistic. I know most of them are good-willed and eager to grow. But I've to be careful not to pressurize them and force them to their limits right from the beginning. The ideal would be to get them crave for it rather than me forcing it down their throat. For me personally, that is the challenge: to help them see and grow from within.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Politics, hatred and children

I was moved by a photo The Hindu published on its front page today (June 16, 2010)...

The caption reads thus: Violence erupted over the weekend in south Kyrgyztan targeting the minority Uzbeks. Reports said on Tuesday 170 people were killed. This woman from Osh city, which saw the worst of ethnic bloodshed, is among over 2.7 lakh who are fleeing their homes. Unable to cope with the refugee influx, Uzbekistan is said to have closed its border.

It is very disturbing to see innocent victims caught in the crossfire of hatred and politics. Just imagine what that small baby would grow up to? Displaced and running around for dear life ever since it has opened its eyes to the world, what foundation and roots will the baby be able to establish for its growth and future?

Love, fidelity and growth

The passage from the book of Jeremaiah for meditation this morning was quite inspiring: eternal love, faithfulness and building up... three essential qualities of a religious, especially today (as in those times). How often we religious fail to really tangibly feel the love that God has for us and in so missing it out, fail to love those whom we come in contact with. Then there is the fidelity to our commitment, something we are called to, something we decided to take up, but somewhere down the line get distracted from. There comes a time when our personal agendas and goals overtake the common mission... fidelity, fidelity, fidelity!! And the last call, to build up, to grow. I realise how easily we stop growing personally and in every aspect after our perpetual profession or ordination. It's just that we have achieved all that is to be attained, all knowledge, all wisdom, all skills, all levels of growth... therefore 'we know it all'.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Mass at Kondadaba Parish

I'm still recovering from a fever that touched 108! Lucky to be alive and still sane. Though very much weak, I'm well on my way to recovery... perhaps another couple of days and I should be totally back to my normal self. The last one week has been very agonizing. Just couldn't get one thought to stick in my head. It was all blazing, literally. Thanks to the prayers of many, the climate has indeed cooled down much in the past three days. It's a blessing I cannot but be grateful for.

This morning I joined the Brothers for the Mass in the Parish... am attending Mass here after 10 years. It was held in the open, since the Church is under renovation. Fr Anithotam, the Parish Priest was kind enough to introduce me to the Parishoners and even invite me to felicitate the new Priest who presided over the Mass.

However, what amused me most was that in spite of all the rains that kept lashing us from all sides and water flowing from all possible directions, people were not too distracted by it. They stayed focussed and did not try to organise big "rescue" operations! All were keen to attend Mass and make the most of it... even our Brothers!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Bravery not cowardice

Every day the newspaper of the Vizag edition has news about a suicide death related to dowry or harassment. Today was one of a 23 year old lady who set herself ablaze with her 11-day old baby girl. Sheer cowardice!! I would say, she should have set fire to her husband. That would have been an act of bravery. At least there would be another scoundrel less on this earth, rather than two innocent lives.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Pope John Paul II


I received an email today about the late John Paul II... somehow that man had a certain aura about himself and that added to his charming personality. I know not how much of it to believe about the story behind this photo but it is said that this was taken immediately after he was shot at on May 13, 1981. It is now believed that a mysterious 'woman' who appeared at the side the popemobile embraced the late Pontiff just as he fell after the gunshot.

Whatever be the truth, the fact remains, Pope John Paul II will long be remembered for his loving personality and his sensitivity to humanity ... above all for his deep spirituality.

Life inside and outside Kondadaba

One of the few things that I find it hard to believe and accept is that I am so close and involved in the lives of people who still are going about with life as though it is still the pre-independence era. The worst example is that of the 3 dowry cases that I've come across in just 6 days of my stay here... and that too of people I've known as children during my first stint here (10 years ago). One is a girl who helps out in the kitchen, she is getting ready to dish out 1.5 lakhs besides a bike, a TV, and a heavy load of gold!! Another is girl whom I remember used to help her father in the shop nearest to the seminary. She is already working on her own and yet is now looking out for ways to secure 2.5 lakhs as dowry!!! Every time I hear this talk at table or with these persons (or their family members), I feel like stringing up the bridegrooms upside down and extracting their last ounce of blood to sell and procure that dowry demanded by them!! Truly outrageous to demand for such an amount of money.

Another instance was the marriage of our own cook's son... he got married to a girl who is just in her 9th standard! When asked how did every allow this marriage, including the Parish Priest who conducted this marriage, I was told that all documents to prove that she was 16 or above have been procured and submitted... but still, the fact remains!!

Furthermore getting to know the Brothers and their mind set from the confreres and other staff members, I know I will not be able to effect a change very easily since most of them (perhaps all of them) come from similar settings where in their own families dowry, child marriages and such practices are 'normal'. Yet I hope to trigger some reflection in their heads!

Life at Kondadaba

So here I am... my first blog from Kondadaba...
It was an interesting day!! After lunch Fr Wilson and I struggled for two hours to get the net working in the staff room and just when we did get it to work, the UPS failed!! We had no power since 6 in the morning. But at last we have the net up and about, though not sure for how long!! But as they say, make hay while the sun shines... I said let me put down some things before I get used to things and they become stale...

I reached here on May 26, exactly a week ago. Climatically it is nothing different than being under the sea - I am always swimming in my own perspiration... it just flows and flows!! The brothers are yet to arrive, though a dozen of them are already here for their MA exams. They are quite shocked at knowing that Fr Tom has been replaced. Well, they have no choice, I believe!!

These days I busy trying to grasp things, understand traditions and study the working style of confreres. I also started to put down in black and white my plans and goals, my aspirations for the Brothers and the strategies I intend to put into practice to achieve those objectives.

I'll do my best, assured that God is with me! I only need to take care to be on His side!
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