Thursday, 31 March 2016

One drives, the other gets tired!

This evening we had a long drive to the PIME study house for the Mass and dinner.  They are winding shop in the archdiocese and they had invited for their annual seminary day celebrations. I was more keen to know the location of the seminary as I am to take a three day animation programme for the students from Monday.

While sitting beside the priest who was driving the vehicle I was reminded of something I heard many years ago.  It was a comment made by someone who was tired of sitting beside a rash driver:
He was driving and my leg is aching!
This passenger was all the time pressing the 'imaginary' brake... something which the driver was comfortably ignoring when he should!

Selfies in burqua!

This afternoon while riding through the city for some purchases, Prabhakar was sharing an interesting incident which he experienced just a couple of days ago while at the airport where he went to see someone off.  As those of them were clicking some photos and selfies in the airport lounge, they witnessed a muslim lady in the complete burqua, with only a slit for her eyes, clicking selfies!!

Perhaps we too at times, do the same unconsciously: take thrill in doing something which we are not involved in or passionately committed to.  Except for ourselves, no one else sees the work we do, no one else understands what we do, and worse, none benefits from what we do.  

Meaning and Ritual

Last week during the Holy Week, I had to make a very difficult decision: attending the Easter vigil service in the local parish!  I normally resist, desist and assist in 'guarding the house' rather than attend the midnight vigil services.  I see no thrill in sitting and listening to a long sermon well past midnight, with no indication as to when it would conclude.  Then there are all those ceremonies, which honestly speaking, make not much sense to me. 

But I also know some or rather very many who love, really love to attend these services. While I prefer to attend a short and meaningful celebration of the Holy Mass or Service in the community itself, there are many who prefer to attend a long and boring service in the Parish.  If asked what did the Priest speak about during the sermon or what the Gospel was all about, they have no clue - just like the one giving the sermon!!

Something which was very meaningful and relevant for one age, soon becomes a ritual.  As time goes by the ritual overrides the meaning and there is none of the latter left  - or perceived.  But the ritual has now reached such a "popular" celebrity status that it is what matters.  Ask any of those attending the Easter vigil what the candle procession means, what it means when the priest dips the easter candle into the baptismal water, what it means when the Priest concludes with a double 'Alleluia!'... But they'd all be there in their finest linen and jewellery.  

Food cooked in hair oil

Some years ago Brothers from Kondadaba went on an excursion cum pilgrimage to Kerala, sponsored by the newly consecrated Bishop of Kurnool.  They certainly enjoyed the trip and on return had only one complaint: all the food was cooked in hair oil! 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

All in the name...

Mary Magdelene recognises the Risen Jesus when He utters her name. When she hears her name, that too from someone so beloved, the whole attitude of sorrow, anxiety and confusion gives way to a certain awe - or perhaps a great joy.  Some would even go to the extent to say, a confirmation of what she had in mind - that He would rise!
Interesting also to note is how, in spite of this remarkable message of resurrection first being delivered to a 'woman', the female gender is so segregated and ostracised in the Church, not to speak of the society at large. Perhaps it is much to do also with the Bible itself, especially the OT wherein the woman is portrayed as a cause of sin and something to be looked down upon. In that sense, we barely live upto understand Jesus and His true message. Very many times we only pick and choose to follow and live by the Gospel values, not as per their true meaning but as per our convenience.

PS: As I was glancing through the pictures to go with this post, I only found paintings or representations expressing more Jesus' exhortation of "do not cling to me" rather than that genuine "rabboni" expression! 

A year off...

Unfortunately Dennis was not as fortunate as me in this regard...

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Friday, 18 March 2016

Lens: At home... always!

Here's another liner from the autobiography of Fr Lens':
My first visit to Belgium was in 1959, after 10 years in India, six years after my ordination.
I wonder how many of us would dare live with that detachment and commitment today.  Some may say that it was the spirituality of those times... being totally away from home.  But those of us who had the fortune of knowing Fr Lens, know all too well that he was AT home, always, wherever he was! 

Priesthood as means; not as privilege

Reading (or at this stage, editing) the autobiography of Fr Lens, something that struck me very much was this: Fr Lens never made much of his ordination!  In fact in his writing of 25 chapters, he speaks much of his childhood and days in the concentration camps, but there is no chapter dedicated to his ordination.  There is years as a practical trainee, a student of theology and then ministry.  Ordination is merely a small mention.  Nothing is made much of it.

Some may say that perhaps the fact that none of his people were here and hence there was not much of an excitement.  However, knowing Fr Lens, I believe it is because of the fact that he did not really give great (undue) importance to the ceremony of ordination or for that matter, to Priesthood as a privilege.  For him it was a means of service - one involving great sacrifice and commitment, but a service nonetheless.  Certainly not a privilege!  I am almost sure, he never ever used his "priesthood" as a leverage for himself! If at he did, it was for the mission and that too he would have done it grudgingly or as a matter of fact rather than a special privilege.  

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Excellence, a habit

... connected to perseverance, priorities and finally values. 

The 'mission'

Fr Palli during the course of our SSF meeting today made an interesting observation:
A practical trainee in any of our parish cum school cum boarding centre is meant only for boys within the house.  He is not expected to take up any responsibilities outside the house - meaning boarding.  He is told not to get involved with any other activity of the community other than looking after boys.  But why not ALSO (but not only) expose him to the mission, the social action initiatives, the school, the neighbourhood...  So that he does not get the impression that the most important (or worse, the only) Salesian mission is taking care of boys in the institution.

Comical is the scenario when the same Brother comes back after a couple of years, as a deacon, to the very same house for 'pastoral experience'.  This time round, he does not get close to the children. Why? Because he is here now for the 'mission'!!  

Growing in reality... genuinely

Had a long sitting for the Salesian Social Forum the whole day.  Honestly it was not what I really expected it to be.  Today's whole day was dedicated to discussion on the statutes and code of ethical practices.  We hardly discussed anything else.

I joined the SSF last year, when Fr TD John had briefed me about the same during one of his visits to Karunapuram. At that point I already had a strong feeling that the formation process I was involved in was far removed from reality and honestly needed an overhaul.  For that I personally needed an overhaul!!  Therefore I volunteered to widen my own horizons, grow more grounded and genuine before I assist others in their formation process. I was honestly exploring.

However, there was one thing that Fr George Kollashany stated sometime in the beginning of the discussions, right in the morning which kept ringing in my ears all day long.  He was trying to "define" our spontaneous group of SSF.  He basically asked if I was afraid to venture out, take initiatives on my own for something I deeply feel is truthful, but lack support? He cited this group as the support bank that one could fall back upon. But basically it was a personal challenge:  Am I questioning myself with regard to the radicality of the gospel?  Am I willing to have my whole inner world topple?  In turn am I ready to shake the existing structures, more out of my conviction, than my convenience, and that too for a truly noble cause?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

To stand by what is right...

...a beautiful example of how and why to stand for what is right and true, rather than fear for personal reputation or gain. 
...the day I'm afraid to do that (risk my political future and leadership) is the day I am no more fit to lead. 

Fear what?

Read an interesting post yesterday as I was glancing through some content on the net.  Felt like it is addressing me and challenging me to something.  Surely didn't need this in the situation I presently find myself in.  Very disturbing!
When most of us fear failure, we walk away from our boldest ideas. Instead of being original, we play it safe, selling conventional products and familiar services. But great entrepreneurs have a different response to the fear of failure. Yes, they’re afraid of failing, but they’re even more afraid of failing to try.
Read the whole post here.

It is said in the context of entrepreneurs and business people who struck gold - of course, after hitting dust and rock bottom too!  However, the idea of 'playing it safe' resonates with the notion of 'comfort zones'.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Like a potato...

Mummy began her conversation with me today with a direct statement:
You seem to be like a potato which can be put in any dish! People take you here or there and seem to insert you in to any job, ask you to take up anything, none of which is really related to your initial training.  
Being a Salesian I consider that a compliment!  Truly, I believe a Salesian is one who is able to insert himself into any situation, any context and make the most of what he is/has for the best of those around him.  I suppose it is something that is within that matters and not merely some limited acquired skills.  If one is genuinely interested in the children or young people, I suppose one will do one's best.  If one is already prepared or equipped with skills related to that context, good. If not, then one will acquire the related skills.  As simple as that!

Merely having skills and qualifications which do not get translated into empowering young people, is like having a transport vehicle and using it only as a show piece... one might as well have a coconut!  Bereft of zeal for those whom we work for, no amount of qualification will be enough.  The best and ideal is zeal + skill.  

Adventure with Kids

Totally absent!

Reminds me of Mummy's complaint with regard to Willy and especially Papa too!  

Kids in a mall

The other day I took a walk to the nearby DMart store to purchase something.  It was the first time I stepped in the mart.  I was surprised to see the crowd (it was a Sunday).  While waiting for my turn in the queue to bill, I couldn't help notice the small children who were accompanying their parents.  Oh boy, what a hard time parents had to juggle the groceries they were purchasing and the unending things children were demanding.  I stayed on a little longer to enjoy the live dramas unfolding:

One particular child, must be 5 years old, did pick a basket for herself.  And while she was gathering practically everything that she saw, the parents were slowing putting back on the rack things from the basket without her knowledge.  If not for that 'theft' by the parents, the child would have picked up the whole mart!! But when the child reached the counter with the parents, it was still picking up things, from others baskets... naturally because her basket was practically empty!

Another small kid, would not even part with a particular toy it wanted.  The man at the counter had a hard time scanning the bar code!

One would not leave the mart, even when the parents paid their bill!  That aisle containing chocolates was too tempting! Only when the parents 'threatened' to leave saying 'bye' and turned to leave, did the boy make the ultimate sacrifice - of staying put!!  He was ultimately 'kidnapped'!

A couple was surprised to see things in their basket which they hadn't gathered. I knew the source.  While they were busy picking up things as per their list, their little daughter was collecting things of her.  After a short while her hands were full, and she dumped them in her Mummy's basket - Daddy was busy attending some call. At the bill counter, there was then a 'battle'!

Some 'Daddys' only job was to manoeuvre the aisles, without letting any product being grabbed off the shelves and into the mouths of their toddlers! A real art and a task  (art of the kids, and task of the parent!).
A personal suggestion: Every shopping mall should either have a play room for kids or a prison!

Education as a means

I returned from Delhi yesterday having attended a national consultation on zero discrimination in school education.  It was a good exposure for me.

A significant point I thought which needed to be focussed but somehow got carried away by the flow of discussion:
Not just strive for an education which is free of all discrimination, but education itself should be a means of eradicating discrimination. 
Somehow the tendency was to "do it for 'them'" rather than let it be an attitude among all involved, especially children. There was somewhere a feeling that 'we have been denied education, and now we need to have it as our right' ... I somehow felt that was too narrow a goal to strive for, given the extent, the personnel, the resources involved.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Dog days!

I have on my laptop desktop screen the plan for the month of January and February, mostly for personal growth - some courses and reading.  Both the months have come and gone, but nothing of what I intended to carry out has been accomplished.  In fact, life has been more hectic than before in these two months.

Honestly, one cannot think - leave alone, think straight - while being tossed about in a torrent.  All that one is keen to do is to get to the shore, to safety. But if one intends to really reflect, chalk out a course, plan where to and how to, one needs to take a safe distance from the torrent!

The most disheartening fact of the hectic life, at most times, is that there aren't too many big things to do, but plenty of petty things that never get accomplished satisfactorily or totally.  So at the end of the day, I still am left with the list I prepared during the day - all intact, with not one ticked off as completed.  Nothing to say of the other list that was prepared the previous night!  

Tents for what?

A few days ago, during the Holy Mass, the Priest preaching the homily was talking of Peter asking Jesus if he could build tents - the transfiguration scene.  In order to waken one of the boys who was dozing, the Priest asked him, "Why did Peter want to build the tents?" The boy replied, "So that they can come back and sleep."

And only poor Peter is blamed (in the Bible) for not knowing the answer!

Templates are low!

A couple of days ago the Superior of a Congregation received an urgent call at 3 in the morning. "Fr _______ of my community, is very sick and admitted in the hospital.  He has dengue fever and his TEMPLATES are very low!"

The dazed Superior asked, "Templates?"


(The confrere involved is reputed for his massacre of English! No wonder platelets got converted to templates!)

The 20-60 formula

A couple of days ago, a person was sharing his experience about one of his friends.  At the end of that sharing he added, someone driven by a passionate desire to learn something new and different, even though aged 60 will behave like a 20 year old - fresh, energetic and dynamic.  Bereft of any desire to learn something, even a 20 year old will behave as a 60 year old - dehydrated and constipated!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Power play in water!

An example of power politics and promises (quoted by Fr T.D. John):
A politician makes the following promise as part of his manifesto just before the elections, "I'll make sure that every household has a tap!"
After five years just before the elections, the same politician's manifesto includes, "Water in every tap of every household!"
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