Monday, 30 September 2013

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me...

Timmy's Mom loved him very much and, being a worrier, she was concerned about him walking to school when he started kindergarten. She walked him to school the first couple of days, but when he came home one day, he told his mother that he did not want her walking him to school every day. He wanted to be like the "big boys." He protested loudly, so she had an idea of how to handle it.

She asked a neighbour, Mrs Goodnest, if she would surreptitiously follow her son to school, at a distance behind him that he would not likely notice, but close enough to keep a watch on him. Mrs Goodnest said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.

The next school day, Mrs Goodnest and her little girl, Marcy, set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor boy he knew. She did this for the whole week. As the boys walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, the little friend of Timmy noticed that this same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week. Finally, he said to Timmy, "Have you noticed that lady following us all week? Do you know her?"

Timmy nonchalantly replied, "Yea, I know who she is." The little friend said, "Well who is she?" "That's just Shirley Goodnest" Timmy said. "Shirley Goodnest? Who the heck is she and why is she following us?" "Well," Timmy explained, "every night my Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers cuz she worries about me so much. And in it, the psalm says, "'Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life.' So I guess I'll just have to get used to it."

Looking through God's eyes

A small boy, poor and shabbily dressed, was asked why he was so devoted to his teacher. "I like her," he said, "because she looks at me as though she doesn't see the holes in my shoes."

This is what an educator ought to do: focus on the richness within and not the external curtains.  For that one ought to have that special 'x-ray vision' to see through all that covers the interiors.  

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Perspective

Two Catholics watching the prostitute's house closely... A pastor entered and both commented, "What can we expect?" Secondly a Rabbi entered and they grinned, "What a terrible example!" and finally their Parish Priest entered and they said, "One of the girls must have been sick." 
(From The Prayer of the Frog, by Anthony De Mello)

As Teachers

My friend Rabbi is now a teacher and he had something nice to share on September 5, when we commemorated the Teacher's day:
We're prophets. Our job is to stir minds and make learning contagious.  We don't raise our voice to correct but raise our quality of words and actions.  Our mission is incomplete as long as we're alive.  If we teach as we did yesterday, we're outdated.  If not us, who? If not now, when? 

In between you have to manage!

Rabbi, my friend, send me this quote sometime ago.
You are loved when you were born. You will be loved when you die. In between you have to manage!
I always tell my Brothers, that love, more than an emotion, is a decision. It is a basically a commitment. It is a choice I have to deliberately make very consciously and carefully.  It is not something that just merely happens!  That 'happening by looks or chance' is only some wishful thinking or at the most the introduction to the introduction.  Not love itself.  

Wisdom sayings...

Thought you heard some bloomers of late?  Here are a couple, from the official statements or documents of renowned people...
If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record. [Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman]
Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you.  You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances. [Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina]
Smoking kills.  If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life. [Brooke Shields]


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Human sexuality ... gone to the dogs!

I finished correcting my Anthropology answer papers of the second year students. I'm happy, in general with their performance.  Most of them got the essential points right and they did convey it in a very synthetic and systematic manner.  However, a couple of them were all hotch-potch!  One in particular, seems to be totally way off the mark...

There was a question asking them to present a synthetic understanding of human sexuality in ten sentences.  And here's one of the points he wrote:
A man cannot live without woman. man can not control his sexual feelings but woman can control her sexual feelings. woman can recognise the person who is sexual person and who is not.  
As if that was not enough, here's the next point:
... human sexuality is making relation with everyone not only particular person but with other human being and animals. (emphasis added)
That'd be anthropology gone to the dogs! 

Mixing up charity and pity

Several people in formation line mix up charity with pity. Of late we on the staff in the Seminary have been taking a lot of flak for having asked half a dozen of our students to discontinue at the end of last year.  We had our valid and genuine reasons for doing so.  Yet very many seem to see this as unfair to them.  (Thankfully, no one is saying that we have been partial!).

I believe charity is when we have a sustained follow up of the student and help him in all possible fields to do what is right and good, and in the best manner possible; and then, after all this, if we still find that he will not be able to take on the role of a leader, of an animator, of a good shepherd, then in all honesty and goodwill we tell the person to discontinue.  That is charity... to him, to ourselves and to the Church.

Pity, on the other hand, is when someone who has not done any bit of help all along, but then comes up and says that the person should be given another chance. Has he done anything all along the year to help the individual?  No!  Pity, in this sense, is born of an illusory sense of well being of oneself in comparison to another, who happens to be in tears for all the choices he has made all along, in which I took no part,  not even took notice of.

Mixing these two is a very dangerous and foolish gamble!

French Revolution in Japan!

The day before yesterday we began our semester exams for the Brothers. Fr Wilson was taking his exam for Contemporary Western Philosophy and here's his interaction with one of the students:

Where did the French Revolution take place? 
In Japan. 
Are you sure? 
Eh... in India? 
French Revolution, in India? 
No, no... in France! 

Now you know why French revolution took so long! 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A lonely and tiring journey...

Today was yet another reminder that none can really ruffle some feathers - even if they are your own - and not raise some dust.  The only encouraging factor of what has transpired today is that at least we staff stand by one another.

What does one do when one knows that what one is doing as a team is good and truthful and yet is frowned upon and battered by everyone?  The dilemma is very nauseating given the fact that all those casting stones also know very well that what is being done by us is good and worthy - not necessarily the conventional but still the right thing.  Just because some unruly idiots will create some confusion somewhere, sometime, does that mean we stop saying the truth? ... stop being committed to the task entrusted, in all sincerity? ... stop doing what is good and what needs to be done, even if it is unpleasant to everyone (the ones doing it and the ones for whom it is being done) at this present moment?

What does one do when the very persons who are to lead you in truth, tell you to hush up the truth and look the other way?  What if the ones to stand by you, take up cudgels against you? What if your very own join hands with those baying for your blood, just because what you say and do is inconvenient, but good and true?

Walking by principles and convictions, is indeed a lonely journey! 

When leadership crumbles...

The past ten hours have been a terrific experience for me personally. Nothing really new but something I never expected, not after all that happened yesterday.  The only imagery that comes to my mind is that of a crumbling wall, but something that has not yet fallen completely, something that still claims to be a wall, a pillar of support, something that is looked upon as a source of strength... yet is anything but it!

What does one do when the leadership crumbles but does not completely fall?  It still retains or claims to be in authority and acts like one!  It is neither a source of support to scale greater heights nor is it something that one can break ones head against!  What the hell is such a leadership worth?  

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Salesian Society

I have a feeling that I'm getting obsessed with the idea that Don Bosco started the Salesian Congregation for the work at hand, than merely to found a congregation for religious piety and devotion.  His one and only dream was to make sure young people feel worthy, that they are nurtured and taken care of, especially the one's who had no one to do so.

Furthermore, it is said that in the process of reaching out to such youngsters I save my soul.  Certainly he did not mean the other way round. I am also willing to believe that it may be both may happen simultaneously, but surely not the other way round.

I found another interesting line in the introductory words of The Annals of the Salesian Society... a text containing the history of the founding of the Salesian congregation.
We say 'Annals of the Salesian Society' - not the 'Pious' Salesian Society.  It is true that Don Bosco himself at times spoke of a 'Pious' Society, but the Superior Chapter in 1926 kept the adjective 'Pious' only for the 'Pious Union of Cooperators', not for the Salesian Society. [Eugene Ceria, The Annals of the Salesian Society Vol. 1 (1941) I only have the manuscript and not the original print.] 
There you see, piety and the religious aspect was certainly not the goal of the Salesian society... surely the essential ingredient but not the reason! 

The shrewd manager

The sermon this morning during Mass was very refreshing and insightful.  After speaking of our human tendency to crave for darkness, for the shady business deals over the light and sincere transactions (something which the Prophet Amos decries in the first reading), the Parish Priest spoke of the Gospel in continuation.  When asked if the shrewd servant in Luke 16, incurred loss for his master before his laying down office, everyone in the Church replied, 'yes'. He then went on to show how, the servant/manager did not incur any loss to his master.  Rather the only one to suffer the monetary loss was himself!
What the manager cancels for all the debtors is not what was due to the Master, but to himself.  In the absence of the master, the manager lent out provisions or money.  The interest rates were not levied by the master.  To the master's account what needed to be shown was the product and if at all any thing was lent, the basic interest accrued by it.  The manager was in fact, gathering more interest for himself.  So when on the verge of losing his job, he realises that now needs to build relationships, build trust and bonds with people rather than money.  To this end, he does all that 're-calculation'.  For this Jesus praises him.

May be that the manager learnt the hard way that what is important is relationship and trust not money or wealth.  Perhaps this change of attitude is what Jesus praises him for.  Seen from this angle, the parable and all the didactic messages that follow makes sense.  

Focus on love; not on preventing sin

Recently Pope Francis, stated that the Church should not be obsessed with gays, abortion and... In fact, what he left unsaid was that is should rather be obsessed with God's love and an intimate relationship with Him.

In my moments of clarity I do realize that when my focus is on His love, I barely have the time or the thought of straying away from it.  However when my focus is to be away from sin, I am wasting my whole effort and energy. In my effort, I may succeed too, that I remain spotless but I remain so 'dead'.  I am sinless is not the same as I am happy!

My experience with the Brothers too has been very formative for me in this perspective.  From the time I shifted my emphasis from telling them not to waste time during the evening study to giving them enough to do during study; from repeatedly telling them not to talk in the study hall or library, to helping them savour the joy of reading, of knowing, of learning more, the results have been great. In the process of achieving the latter the former is automatically done.  But as long as I was focussed on the latter alone, I realised that I wasn't giving them anything positive.  I only wanted them to be away from the negative.

Similarly the focus is not on reducing evil, but on being good.  The focus is not on preventing sin, but on cherishing love!  

Why didn't he?

Jesus, as we all know very well, broke many conventional and traditional laws of the Jewish culture. Of course, he did so to prove a point or to get back to the spirit of the law.  However why didn't He break the male hierarchy or domination?  Though he did make a few dents... speaking with the Samaritan woman, forgiving the woman caught in adultery, making Mary Magdalene His first emissary... he never really 'effectively' made the point.  Perhaps, if He were to have chosen among his apostles even one woman, it would have made a world of difference to the whole understanding of the gender balance.

Well one could always list a hundred and one things Jesus could have done or done differently, but on my short personal list, this one counts. 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Preaching the preaching!

Early this morning I received this quote from a good friend of mine...
Jesus preached about Kingdom of God. The Church preached about Jesus Christ. The preacher is preached.
It is from one of the books of Leonardo Boff, the famous Eco-Theologian.

I know not in what context Boff makes this statement; or in what mood.  However, the truth of it cannot be denied.  To drive home the point, I'd like to add another sentence to the same quote... Jesus preached about Kingdom of God. The Church preached about Jesus Christ. And the Priests today preach about the Church!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Spiritual adultery

Beautiful words from the people's Pope: 
We shepherds are not men with the psychology of princes – ambitious men, who espouse this Church while awaiting another, more beautiful and richer. But this is a scandal! Imagine that a man confesses, saying, 'I am married and I live with my wife, but I continually look at a woman who is more beautiful than her; is this a sin, Father?' The Gospel tells us that this is the sin of adultery. Is there such thing as 'spiritual adultery'? I don't know, think about it yourselves. Do not await another more beautiful, more important, richer Church. Do not fall into the trap of careerism! It is a form of cancer! (emphasis added)
This guy knows what he is talking because he lives that simple austere and straight life! Thanks for inspiring us, dear Francis.  

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Joy of Reading

Here's a saying from a wise-crack friend of mine...
If these two alphabet TV can bring so much of joy to young people, just imagine how much joy 26 alphabet can bring.  Introduce the joy of reading books. 
... and I certainly am one who'd totally agree with this one! The addiction to reading is really thrilling!  I began to blog to force myself to read something everyday.  However I do have to admit that now my reading is slowly limited to small tit-bits I glance through on the net or on my computer. Need to dig into more substantial stuff.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Being a formator 2

To be appointed in a formation setting would not default make one a formator.  If that were the criterion then perhaps, our staff members who are serving the community for nearly 22 years are better formators than anyone else!

To be a formator one ought to be able to help the young grow in their vocation.  Now that word 'vocation' could be understood narrowly in the sense that of the consecrated life or religious life or in a broader and better sense to mean, vocation to life.

It struck me yesterday evening that to be a formator of religious or consecrated life, would demand of me that I am first able to form young people in their vocation to life.  How can I form vocation to consecrated life, if I have no idea or clue or interest in helping young people appreciate life... life in its basic form, in its human form?

Human life, Christian life, Consecrated life are concentric circles and not merely intersecting circles.  To reach the inner, more challenging aspect of Consecrated life, I ought to go through human and Christian life.  

Being a formator

Yesterday we had our monthly recollection and the preacher, Fr S. Prathap from Vizianagaram, spoke about the crazy shepherd from the Gospel (within the Gospel) of Luke who abandons the 99 in search of the one lost and gone astray. Naturally the question, what about the 99 who are left behind to fend for themselves? What if they get lost, by the time the shepherd finds the one lost and returns to the spot?  

However, I had something else ringing in my mind.  What if the 99 - that may sound too much, but, what if most - had got lost; not just one, but many?  How on earth would the shepherd go after them?  Which direction would he first decide to go in?

Perhaps the theme of the parable is something else altogether. It may mean that it is to be read from God's perspective and not from the sheep's... may be!  Perhaps God means to say that no is written off.

It is said that people who care, do not write off others, rather they focus greater on them.  Now in a formation setting like ours, we claim that we are a family. Then why is it that we sometimes write off some Brothers?  From the other perspective, perhaps not all are called to be Brothers at all!  May be that they are not meant to be leaders or pastors, may be anything else but leaders!

So then the question, how to help such youngsters, who find themselves or pitch their tent in the Seminary, realize that they are out of place, without breaking them?  How to break his bubble of illusion or fantasy of Priesthood and Leadership, and not his whole life?

That's the challenge of being a formator!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

God as attitude

A reflection that was overdue (part of the symposium on God and Evil, held last week here in our Philosophate):
We treat God as a remedy or an elixir of life. He is rather the air that sustains us every moment; that which ensures my health everytime I breathe.  Until God becomes our attitude, not even God can help us in the face of extreme or senseless evil. Only crutch, only aid is the attitude that we live by ...
and right attitudes are formed by consistent choice of the good. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Consecration Camps?

Just before I started for Shillong, we had the Philosophical Symposium on God and Evil.  During one of the presentations there was a discussion about the Nazi concentration camps.  At one moment I heard - or misheard - the word 'concentration camp' as 'consecration camps'.

These few days of discussion on formation and related matters, triggers in me a similar feeling: Are we running 'consecration camps' or playgrounds where young people learn and enjoy being transformed?  Is our formation paradigm facilitating a personal zeal for growth because I have a goal for myself or because I am keen to discern and follow the promptings of Jesus?  How much of our formation is a process of inner change and growth?

If not get the answers to all of these questions, I hope to answer some of them at least for myself. 

SAFC Meet, Shillong

Here's the photo of the South Asia Formation Commission team comprising of the formation delegate of each Province of South Asia (12), two chosen representatives from the SPCSA (2) and the Regional Formation Coordinator. Of course, Fr Chrys Saldanha is a common figure at such Regional level meetings given his intermediary role between the Region and the Generalate.

The building in the background is that of Mathias Institute, Shillong, the same place where I did my Diploma Course in Theology for two years (2005-2007). Indeed two very memorable and enriching years of my Salesian life. 

Affecting policies

I had this nagging feeling that my presence in the National Formation Commission was more of a quota or reservation seat filling than a real necessity. However, I guess that leaves me with the option of moaning it or making use of this opportunity. I now realise that I'm in a good platform which can influence policies and decision making bodies. That truly is a great potential.

Today I did make a significant contribution towards one such policy or decision that was almost made but the whole mood and mode changed after I intervened.  And what's more, it was concerning the Salesian Brothers. Not that I intervened because it is about Salesian Brothers but that it happened to be so.  We did have a very fruitful and open discussion about the specific formation of the Brothers and I began by assuming responsibility on behalf of the Brothers that we often are not serious or sure about the formation structures offered for our own growth.  I began by questioning the 'for what' of the several decisions or actions or lack of them by a group of Brothers in formation which led to the whole debate!  And I concluded saying that if the Brothers did not have a valid 'for what' then they were wrong... as simple as that. That they acted immature!

The discussion that we had this evening did not really end up with we arriving at a policy, but the very fact that we had greater clarity, at least among ourselves, what ought to be given priority and what is it that really matters, is itself a great achievement. More than before it now challenges me personally to more involved and committed to the opportunities that lay before me, the powers that I now possess, though not purposely acquired or which I pride upon.  Possibilities that I can now make real, to some extent atleast. 

Thank God, we're different

Listening to different confreres about their experiences with other confreres in their respective communities and other interactions in the Province at different levels and for different reasons, it is clear that not all of us are the same. Each of us thinks differently, perceives differently and certainly behaves differently. That does not necessarily make us better or worse than the others.  However it does show that though we are Salesians, trained almost in the same charism and for the same mission, yet differences remain.  That's a rather good thing. Imagine if all were to think and be the same!!

One confrere in his excited mood while sharing of his experiences in the Province shared this:
Instincts are magnificent as a driving force, but dangerous as guide. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Spiritual direction and openness

We had a long discussion on spiritual direction and counselling and manifestation and related stuff this whole morning.  I intervened only before lunch. My only intervention was this: 
If young people joining us are given a taste of freedom that an attitude of openness offers right on early in life, then they are sure to get so 'addicted' to it that none need to 'tell' them to go for manifestation to the Rector, or meet the spiritual director.  They will naturally take to spiritual direction like fish to water.  However, this attitude of openness is essential for a religious.  If not, he is bound to carry with him a burden, which at time will surely become too heavy to bear.  However, there could be some issues that need counselling which could be addressed to by a psychologist or a trained counsellor.  But this is only an additional help.  If the person has not learnt the art of opening up, no counsellor or spiritual guide can help.  Furthermore, if a person is always carrying such a heavy baggage that he always needs support and counselling, when on earth will he help others with their baggage?  

We all are broken and wounded in some way or the other.  Yet we learn to extend a healing touch to others in and through our brokenness.  But if we are so broken that it is we who seek healing all the time and every time, then I would question the very vocation of such an individual to religious or consecrated life.  The best would be to ask him to discontinue and help him with or through a psychologist.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Mother Teresa

I know not how much of this is true, but this is what I heard someone say today, the feast day of Bl. Mother Teresa.  Everyone knows that she was a Loretto nun before she received the 'call' to leave it all and begin a new mission in the slums of Kolkatta.  It is said that while she was in Kolkata teaching children in the posh girls school, one of the girls suddenly fainted in class one day. Later as she walked the lanes and bylanes of the Kolkata slums she saw for herself the abject poverty and miserable living conditions of people.

Now most think that it was the 'call' that propelled her to her mission of serving the poor and destitute in Kolkata... but did not this experience of hers, prompt her divine call?  In other words, it is hard to accept that these two experiences of her life had nothing to do with one another... that there was absolutely no connection between the two.

Whatever be the truth of matters, what truly matters is the exemplary life she lived and the courage with which she expressed her own inner turmoils.  Some people say that her spiritual directors, who were told by her to burn her letters, but did not and then made them public, did something wrong. I would really like to thank them for making known that Mother Tereasa was a normal human being.  Not an angel who fell from heaven but one who toiled hard, square and fair, in every aspect of life to live a life of communion with Jesus.  Her human weaknesses and doubts, rather than act as impediments, are indeed signs of transcendence.

Biography to Autobiography

The morning's Gospel passage from Luke 5, of Peter falling at the feet of Jesus after witnessing to the great catch of fish, is a good example of how Jesus re-scripts lives of individuals.  Fr Maliekal in his sermon, this morning used the phrase, 'Biography to Autobiography'. So far Peter is sure and confident of his skill as a fisherman. Now here comes Jesus, a carpenter, with practically no knowledge or skill about fishing, to predict something of which Peter has absolutely no clue.  And then what?  Jesus is right in his prediction of the location of fish.  That's the moment of re-scripting!  Peter lived his life in a routine manner is now challenged to take a sharp turn, that too in a direction which he must have never ever dreamt in his life.  But the best is yet to come...
Jesus then permits him to re-script his own life.  He invites him to join him catch men. Now that's something that Jesus offers time and again.  Biography to autobiography... This constant rewriting of one's own life journey is what Jesus offers to all who are with Him. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A story from Don Bosco's collection

Two loonies, wrapped up in cloaks and trembling from the cold, entered a certain inn and asked the innkeeper to light a fire to warm them up. The innkeeper went over and lit a huge fire, then went off. Meanwhile one of the men got so close to the fire that had he been made of straw he would immediately have been incinerated. The other stood at the entrance to the room, pulled his hands out of his cloak and held them out to the fire to warm himself.
Meanwhile the one who was standing right up close to the fire shouted: "Curse the fire! It’s burning me!" The one who was standing right back said: "Oh! I’m just as cold as I was before," and they called the innkeeper.

He came and asked both of them what kind of fire, what sort of wood it was if one said he was just about on fire while the other said he felt no warmth at all. And then, noticing that they weren’t quite right in the head, he said to them: 

The problem is not the fire, it’s you. If you back there would just take four steps further forward, you would be able to warm yourself, and if you here would just take two steps back you would not be so hot for sure. 
They did as he said, then after warming themselves for a while they left, praising the fire, the wood, and the innkeeper’s advice.

The two loonies are an image of people who don’t know how to use things properly, thinking they are bad while instead they are excellent, and complain about them. It doesn’t matter how good something is if you don’t know how to use it. Riches are good: but they are bad in the hands of someone who is either extravagant, squanders them in vice and gluttony, or is greedy and keeps them locked up in a steel box.

[For more stories from the collection made by Don Bosco himself for his boys, click here.]

When means become an end...(2)

For Don Bosco his priorities were clear and sure.  But I'm not so sure if we, individually and collectively can claim that same clarity and stand guarantee for ourselves.  Unlike Don Bosco, for whom means and ends were clear and distinct, we tend to mix them up...

  • Getting the boys to the Church is more important than being holy.
  • Attending Catechism classes is more important than learning the meaning and depth of prayer.
  • Obedience is more important than the person for whom I am willing to obey.
  • Poverty is more important than attachment to Christ.
  • Chastity is more important than love. 
  • Attending Mass becomes more important than communion with God and others. 
  • Talking or preaching of His Kingdom becomes more important than loving and living the Kingdom. 

The former actions are all good, but only as good means, not as an end in themselves. 

When means become an end...(1)

I've been doing some soul searching and reflection in view of the Brothers' Congress.  But it is all in bits and pieces.  Several other things keep cluttering my mind before I reach anywhere close to having a comprehensive idea about any particular thing. Anyway, the latest to hit me was this: What if means become an end?

Don Bosco wanted to save souls of the boys.  Only souls?  Certainly no!  The whole person, the whole boy.  For this he was willing to go to any extent, to do anything... ANYTHING!

His goal and motive were far beyond getting the boys to Church, to Communion, to confession ... these were only the means, not the end!


As and when these didn't work, he employed some other means: he gambled, he danced, told stories, played music, performed tricks and even stole or fought.  His motive was divine, not his approach (by any standards then, not by any standards today)!  His mind was pious, not the Salesian society (check the introductory note of Fr Lens to the abridged Annals of the Salesian Soceity).  In short, he was a reckless founder for whom the means didn't matter, as long as He was with his boys and for the good of his boys. 

Gurantee for the Price... not the product

Yesterday Satyam, our driver, bought me a mobile phone charger.  He was told in the shop that if he would pay Rs 100/- there would be a guarantee of 6 months. Or else he could pay Rs 80/- with no guarantee!  ... and I always thought the guarantee is for the product and not the price! 

Suggestions to a Bishop...

A particular Bishop from whose diocese students study at my place, has been insisting that students should not be dismissed by the end of their first year of study.  I presume he means that they should be given another chance (second year) and perhaps another chance (third year)!  The same Bishop would later argue, if the candidate were to be promoted to the second year, and found unfit still, that if he could make it till the second year then why ask him to discontinue now!  To this Bishop, I wish to ask...
Does he know the candidate at all?  Anything at all? His name, his background, his strengths and weaknesses? reasons for dismissal?  Would he know anything of the same candidate if he were to be promoted?  Or for that matter, others of his batch who were promoted?

Secondly, what was he doing when the candidates dismal performance was brought to his notice through the scrutiny and observation procedures sent to him at the end of the first semester (mid-year)?   That the Bishop read those reports itself is a big doubt.  Even if he did, what positive steps did he take to help the concerned candidate to improve himself?

My experience proves that he does not even know the concerned persons' name!! For the "reverend" Bishop, he is just another member in his diocese not a person, not one with an individuality, but another number in his "gang" of priests.

Luckily for him he has not appeared in person or made a written appeal - for I have a proposal ready for him:
Spare the student the agony of study (be it either B.A. or Philosophy or Theology) and post him as the regent in the Bishop's house itself. After a year or two, ordain him there itself and appoint him as your secretary.  That way, the candidate is happy, so is his Bishop!  
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