Sunday, 28 April 2013

Saying without saying!

Two days ago a guest at our home was sharing with us an amusing incident where a Priest was asked to speak about a group of Sisters, with whom the ties were very strained.  He started (and concluded!) thus:
One should always speak well of all.  When one wants to speak ill of someone, one should not talk at all.  About the ___________ Sisters, I wish not to speak!

Unholy holiness

Unholy holiness was the sensitive theme of our discussion this afternoon.  Fr Maliekal uses this phrase to mean how good things become the enemy of the real good.  How at times in our zeal to do good we exaggerate or become so obsessed that we miss out on the other essential elements that make life whole and nourishing.  While I always contend that most of us religious merely float in our life of spirituality and piety, the few who mean 'business' can easily get trapped in emphasizing some good aspect of life and spirituality to such an extent that it pushes out other important elements of life.

Spirituality or holiness is about wholeness, integrity; not some perfection in one aspect alone, even if it is charity or prayer alone! 

Saturday, 27 April 2013


Our second and final list of transfers was out this evening.  There are two confreres moving out of the community and none coming in.
Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth;
keep watch, O Lord, at the door of my lips! (Ps 140)
That says it all.  

Education: Confirming or ???

Education is said to be a matter of the heart.  Well this is what we have heard our Rector Major, Pascual Chavez, repeat Don Bosco many times over.  Sometime ago I read some old script about education, which speaks of a different ideology.  The text stated that education is all but confirmation of the mind to a set and accepted pattern of behaviour and life style.  Now I do not claim that this was the official understanding or the written 'definition' of education. However, there have been many who have criticized this latter understanding.  However, I do see some point in education being a process of 'conformation'.

I believe, education is all about bringing out the best in the child; but does it not place on the educators the responsibility of at least showing the 'right direction'?  Now the question is which direction is right? Is that not a direction, standard set by someone?  Is that not conforming?

Whatever be the definition or explanation of education, one thing I'm sure of is that education is not just about books and classrooms... and that if there is something that can bring about a collective reformation, education certainly acts as a catalyst.  

Friday, 26 April 2013

Pulling at one another

Yesterday we, the staff of the Seminary, went out for a day ... just a trip round Vizianagaram and beyond.  During one of our halts at one of the several convents we stepped in, we had a lively conversation with them.  As we talked and joked, the youngest of us pulled the leg of our Rector and one of the Srs, whose own brothers are senior Salesians, said, "You Salesians are good at pulling at one another!" 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


I was watching the concluding scene of the movie Men of Honor, truly an inspirational movie about a black American making his way up the ladder in the American navy... all driven by a dream, a passion, to live with honour.  In spite of all hardships and adversities, he seems to reach where he once dreamt of reaching.  However, tragedy strikes and he is on the verge of being expelled from the navy.  He does not give up and once again beats all odds to prove his determination and capability of serving in the navy, as a deep-sea diver.  

His (Carl Brashear) fight was not against those who opposed him, rather his goal was to attain his dreams.  He was his own challenge.  He had no spite for those who put obstacles on his path.  Even later after being reinstated, he served with joy and valour; he did not go about blowing his trumpet or criticising the authorities.  He was passionate about what he wanted to be and nothing else mattered. He did not have to prove anything to anyone but himself. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Want fair treatment?

Quote, I found, quite inspirational for the day...
Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the lion not to attack you because you are a vegetarian. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

One for you and one for me

My three year old nephew is getting mischievous by the day. Yesterday, I'm told, he was taken to the supermarket by my brother and sister-in-law. Miraculously he found himself in the toy-section (something miracles occur very often!). His eyes fell on a car and he wanted it by all means.  My brother in the meantime found another car, at an affordable price.  Then there was another of the similar kind.  So my brother asked him to choose only one between the two.  My nephew examined both carefully and then handed one back to my brother and told him, "This is for me and that is for you!" 

Eighteen, sharp!

After wishing one of the young Brothers on his birthday, Fr T.V. Jose asked him his age.  
"Eighteen... sharp," he replied! 

For a child...

Once again in Church today I was distracted - or attracted, whichever is apt, you decide - by a child or rather by the way it was handled by its father.  No sooner than the Mass began I realised there was a man holding a small baby girl sleeping in his arms, beside me.  Nothing new about that I suppose, but the way he was holding that baby was so odd.  Once or twice I almost extended my hand to prevent the baby from falling off his arms, so precariously was he holding the baby.  I realised he must not be the father or he has never held his child, ever before!  As the Mass proceeded I realised there was another relative of this man standing right behind him, once in away peeping above his shoulder to look at the baby, but saying nothing about the weird way he was handling that sleeping child.  During the Gospel reading, it was too much for me and I turned to the man and asked him where the mother of the child is, clearly intending that he hand the child to its mother for safety! He showed his hand somewhere among the women and smiled!  By now I had realised that the child was not fully normal.  But it still was a child. The worst was yet to come!

During consecration, he was making the sleeping child squat on the ground - the child is still sleeping, it has not yet learnt to sit and is dropping, head first, like a pole with a round bottom!  I turned to him, picked up the child, made the father sit properly and put the child reclining on his lap.  It was right during the consecration time, I didn't at all feel the need to say 'sorry' to Jesus.  I just had to do this!  

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Choices and consequences

My last goodnight thought of the year to the Brothers...
Life is all about choices.  Every and any moment of our life, we are surrounded by choices.  Even in the most trying of situation, we have options, to choose from. However, every choice has consequences.  To choose something and not accept the ensuing consequences is foolishness, is a sure sign of immaturity.  Another aspect of choice that I stress on is the fact that not making a choice of the available options too is still a choice... and like every choice that too has consequences.  One may argue that he or she did not make a selection, but 'abstained' from making a choice hence not responsible for the consequences of that.  Wrong!

The Church, as an institution, and individual, is an expert in this aspect of not making an direct option, knowing, willingly and joyfully FOR...  I cited the example of the holocaust where the Church as a whole was a silent spectator to the most gruesome evil by man.  The same is repeated most often, unless of course, any Christian or a Church is touched!

Blessed is he who makes a deliberate choice for something,  that too with great joy and enthusiasm, knowing well the possible consequences of it, and is ready to pay the price of that (however high it may be) for he knows that what he chooses is true and good. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sermons and medicine

During the Holy Mass this morning, the sermon time, to be particular, I had an insight - or rather an analogy. It was again about the length and purpose of a sermon or homily.  A sermon ought to be like medicine shot.  Medicine is never administered in large dosages.  They are given in less quantity and are supposed to effect a change for the better.  If one understands practice of medicine as promotion of good health and not merely prevention of sickness, then certainly medicine is of great value.

One might suggest that instead of medicine a sermon ought to be like water, after all the Word of God is living waters!  Well, I do not disagree with the latter part of that. But water is something we take of our own, without which life itself is impossible.  It is not something administered to us.  So if we compare a sermon to drinking water for health, then we ought to take it ourselves - we need not have a professional (qualified, prepared, 'formed') doctor - minister? - tell us that.  We need the 'minister' to help us with guidelines, not lectures!

(I think I'm obsessed with this ideas of short meaningful sermons!) 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Rats Fest!

We cleared the firewood shed today to stack up fresh firewood for next year.  The place had been a safe haven for rats and we killed nearly 29 rats, of good size within an hour of starting to clean the place.  At least half a dozen managed to get away in spite of the best efforts of the Brothers.  We buried them under the coconut tree and the rain tree flowers provided a floral tribute to them! Good hunting! 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Me? Really?

A couple of Salesian Sisters (FMAs) from Warangal visited us today on a two-day trip to Vizag.  I had never met them earlier but coming from Karunapuram they had heard a lot about me.  This evening after their return from Borra caves, one of them could not stop laughing when she met me in person.  Only a while later, when she could calm herself she apologised and was quite sincere to tell me that from all that she had heard about me, she had a particular image about me and when she actually saw me first time in the morning as they entered the house, she could not believe that I was 'Castilino'.

It was fun listening to her as she kept repeating how totally different I was from what she had imagined me to be!  

A good sermon

The Gospel of the day is about the disciples on the road to Emmaus... a very interesting and always insight-filled text.  "He began with Moses and the prophets, and explained to them everything that was written in the Scriptures, about himself..." As I spent my meditation time reflecting on this point, it struck me that Luke, the author, rightly uses the word 'explained' while referring to the conversation between Jesus and the disciples.  Therefore,
I suppose Jesus interpreted the Scriptures, shed new light on the text, made the same Scriptural passages come alive, the same words mean more than the already understood...

And the result of this 'explanation'? "... were not our hearts ablaze..." and "... they ran back all the way to Jerusalem..."

Is not this what a sermon is all about?  Illumining the heart and mind and leading one to a concrete action (basically sharing that rich experience to others not so fortunate)...????

The skill of the one delivering a sermon is not in repeating the text or rattling off Scriptural quotes (with references)  and speaking a thousand and one things (most of which are not even remotely associated with the core message of the readings). Jesus shows what a good sermon ought to be: empowering the hearers with the key to understand the same text anew, in the present context for a concrete action. 
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