Wednesday, 23 February 2011
It was nice being at Karunapuram this time. I had a very relaxed time. Unlike previous visits, this one was a 'green one' - optimistic and literally too (gardens and vegetables, are plenty). The atmosphere in the community too was very charged, I don't know why. Perhaps being the fag end of the exams, the Brothers were all excited and happy. Anyway, it was good.
I also got a chance to address the Salesian Brothers, eight of them, on Monday evening. I shared with them the same opinions and views I shared with the Salesians at DBRC, Bangalore two years ago. Half of them were quite open to my sharing and I could see that it meant something for them. The other half, as far as I could read from their faces, did not understand anything of what I was saying. They seemed to be already bored of conferences, by every Tom, Dick and Harry passing through Karunapuram.
I also had a relaxed chat with all the staff there, Frs KS, CJ, TV and even Br Lawrence. From all this sharing and exchange of ideas, I realise the situation (that of formation process) is no better there than it is here.
The Brothers always see no fault of theirs... their fingers are eternally pointed out to the staff (not even to their own companions). How different am I in this respect? In my zeal to emphasize the good or ideal am I always putting down the Brothers and establishing myself as the only upright figure? Am I always harping on their faults while turning a blind eye to my own mistakes?
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Will those whom I count on as friends stand by me for what I believe and have to offer them rather than out of pity or cheap solace? Will they have the courage to lead me to Jesus when I by myself am unable or am going astray?
Above all, am I that kind of friend to others?
However, here is the best answer of the day:
What were the major events that helped the Renaissance in heralding a new age?
The invention of the monitor!
No, sorry Brother, that one... (after a while of thought) the typewriter!
(It is supposed to be the printing press)!
Monday, 14 February 2011
Tess was eight years old when she heard her Mom and Dad talking about her little brother, Andrew. All she knew was that he was very sick and they were completely out of money. They were moving to an apartment complex next month because Daddy didn't have the money for both the doctor bills and for the house payment.
Only a very costly surgery could save her brother now and it was looking like there was no one to loan them the money. She heard her Dad say to her Mom, "Only a miracle can save him now."
Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. She counted it three times. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes. Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.
Tess waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too intently talking to another man to be bothered by an eight year old at this moment. She twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise.
She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!
"And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. "I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages," he said without waiting for a reply to his question.
"Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's really, really sick, and I want to buy a miracle."
"I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.
"His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So, how much does a miracle cost?"
"We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you," the pharmacist said, softening a little.
"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs."
The pharmacist's brother stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind of a miracle does you brother need?"
"I don't know," Tess replied with her eyes welling up. "I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation, but my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money.
"How much do you have?" asked the pharmacist's brother.
"One dollar and eleven cents," Tess answered barely audible. "And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to."
"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents...the exact price of a miracle for little brothers." Then he said "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the kind of miracle you need."
The pharmacist's brother was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon from Chicago who specialized in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Later, mom and dad were talking about the chain of events that had led them to this.
Her mom said, "That surgery was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?" Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost...one dollar and eleven cents.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
This evening as I spent the adoration thanking the Lord for all that He has done for me, I asked him how did He manage the vast majority of people whom He encountered during his life time here on earth? Especially those who detested the very sight of him? I 'know' that He loved them too. But surely He did not expect to change everyone with his 'love' knowing too well that He would not be around for eternity, waiting for love to change the hearts of people. He just had three years of public life ... and yet He loved!
Perhaps His primary force was love but expressed in different forms: a stern look at Peter in Gethsamene, a smile to a mob victim, silent presence with a sinner, the crack of a whip in the 'market' temple, an extended hand to a paralytic, a gentle touch to the leper... So I ask myself, have I really loved the Brothers or have I only been a task master, exacting from them their best just for the sake of it, duty for duty sake?
However, something was troubling me about this whole idea since yesterday. I felt something was missing in this whole understanding when contextualised to our situation here. This evening I realised what it was when the third course leader approached me to 'inform' me about their 'decision' to sponsor icecream and some statue(s) to the community as an act of appreciation and thanksgiving. To an outsider (or even the community members here) it may sound as a genuine act of generosity... but not to me. For me it is an insult and a sin. Their generosity was not theirs! They are offering to the community what is not theirs to offer. How can I offer to others what is not mine and claim to be generous? I know very well that most of them have hardly enough money to sustain their own personal expenses. In such a situation to pool together and spend huge amounts is in no way justified... even if it has been donated to them by some senior Priests or well wishers.
Being generous is indeed a virtue when it is joyful, whole-hearted and sincerely your own to offer. The joy in offering something to someone comes not just because the other is helped but because it is out of your sweat and blood that you are making a sacrifice for that person.
I had met him earlier in Sulurpet when I joined the Provincial council on its visit to inspect a place in an SEZ. It was a request to take charge of a school in that special zone. Fr Babu Rao had hosted us for lunch one afternoon. He came across to me as a very sincere and jovial person. Today too he was very down to earth, no airs or big demands. He went about chatting and talking to all with a simple smile and a kind word. Nice to have met him again.
During our journey from Vizag last night, he was narrating some of the incidents that took place during his student days at Kondadaba. The best was the one when Brothers, in those days, sneaked out in the afternoon to the theatre after the petrol bunk in Kothavalasa. On one such afternoon, an old parishoners, a devout Catholic woman, met the Brothers just outside the theatre. The Brothers having purchased the ticket were about to enter the hall when she recognised them and there and then she knelt before them seeking their blessings! The Brothers did not know which way to look!
Saturday, 12 February 2011
The climax of the marriage was the interesting fight that almost erupted and imagine who was in the thick of it? The pujari (priest) conducting the marriage himself!! Oh boy, it was a sight to see him boiling with anger and flexing his muscles at a comment someone made. Luckily they drew away the 'other contender'. Anyway, the marriage ceremony went on well. Hope her life too will sail smooth and happy for her.
Friday, 11 February 2011
Thursday, 10 February 2011
However, the Parish Priest has long since been making a very vehement protest. That Catholics who receive the help are the first ones to turn back and spit on the Church. Most of them hardly come to Church and what's more, take up activities against the Church, all this while claiming to be 'Catholics'. Now whether these Catholics need to abide by their faith in order to avail of this sponsorship is the question.
According to me those who are serious about education and are willing to 'pay it forward' should be helped. The rest need to be prayed for, not paid for! As for the question of Catholics (or lapsed Catholics), the same principle applies. And as far as I see, one who is serious about education, in these areas, where education is provided chiefly by Catholic institutions, one will not turn his/her back on the Church.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Karl Marx while going to the Parish (supposed to be Paris) with his wife, met Fredreich Angel (Engels) and then together they decided to write the Communist Manifesto.God save Philosophy, the Church and of course, Marx... from the likes of Manikyam!
but now, lead Thou me on.
Words, deeds and attitudes may run parallel but the grandeur of the 'show' makes up for everything and anything missing.
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
I do not have parents. All I know is Fr (pointing at Fr KT Jose, the Rector) as my father and Annapoornamma (another senior cook) as my mother. These two friends (pointing and Kasi and Yedulamma) of mine looked after me as their own younger sister. You all (referring to the Brothers) are my brothers. I am eternally indebted to you all!She could not continue any more. Neither did we want to embarrass her further. We concluded with a prayer.
For an orphan, uneducated and typically rural girl to stand up before a group of 90 young men and speak with such meaning and depth, there has to be a driving force. It was surely her sincere commitment to her job and her confidence that this was her family.
God bless her!
Monday, 7 February 2011
To sieve faith and devotion amidst all this confusion is really an act of faith. It may be true that it is faith that leads them here, but there is hardly anything that strengthens faith on the day... besides the thousands and thousands of people. (It may be the strengthening of the community dimension of faith but isn't it also a show of number?)
Nevertheless, I suppose God and Mother Mary have their way of seeing things!
It was supposed to be the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, by the way!
Saturday, 5 February 2011
Here is a nice image of the camp that toppled the President!
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
A sense of their own superiority, rising educational standards in their home countries, an increasing emphasis on doctrinal purity and fear of syncretism, and even the prospect of losing their own sense of purpose led most missions and missionaries to keep indigenous churches in a state of dependence. Missions within colonial empires had become colonial missions within ecclesial empires.
[Hunt, Robert A. The Gospel Among the Nations: A Documentary History of Inculturation (New York: Orbis Books, 2010) 22.]
Initially unable to participate directly in the looting of South and Central America, and controlling lands in North America with no obvious treasure hordes, the English and Dutch engage in piracy, which is the logical complement of imperialism in that it consists of simply looting another person's goods for the sake of wealth, power, and prestige. Similar patterns occured in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Asia. Where Europeans were able they conquered territory and removed whatever was of value for use in Europe. When they couldn't they stole from one another.[Hunt, Robert A. The Gospel Among the Nations: A Documentary History of Inculturation (New York: Orbis Books, 2010) 21-22.]
Missionaries were not unaware of the moral and practical implications of being so closely related to the colonial enterprise, ... but believed that the benefits of reaching non-Christians with the gospel outweighed the risks. ... Many missionaries, like the pioneer David Livingstone, embraced colonialism believing that "Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization" constituted a package that would "lift up" lives trapped in supposed darkness. ... they accepted the proposition that Western civilization and Christian faith represented what humankind needed. They rarely questioned whether the civilization they brought was a fitting expression of Christ's message, or colonialism a fit means of enacting it.
I always kept wondering what could have been the root of this whole administration bit of it in the Church. This book offers a possible and quite convincing answer: When Europeans, convinced of sharing their personal faith through an individual witness, landed on the Asian soil, they found that personal faith made no sense to the people here. In most cultures, the European-style individualism simply did not exist. Hence early missionaries were pioneers in education, agriculture, development and creating small industries because these were both necessary to create an environment in which converts could survive, and because they helped fund the mission. This created tension as missionaries found themselves distracted from what they regarded as their primary evangelistic task in order to care for infrastructure development.
I guess that's how this whole process of 'administration' is today in indispensable element of religious life.
So I ask myself: What is the point of keeping the Brothers 'locked up' or 'safe and secure' within the confines of the Seminary, when their whole mind and heart is outside? So I would not mind having the Seminary too like a school. One stays at one's own place and comes to the Seminary everyday to pick up the skills and the necessary requirements of a consecrated vocation. This way only those really ... really keen on living a consecrated life would come forward. Now we have young people who want to straddle two boats at the same time.
Here's a nice poetic depiction of the feast of the day ... Presentation of the Lord in the temple:
Hail to the Lord who comes,
Comes to his temple gate,
Not with angel hosts,
Not in his kingly state;
But borne upon the throne
Of Mary's gentle breast;
Thus to his Father's house
He comes, a humble guest.