5 November 2017

Blessed Rani Maria, martyr

Blessed Rani Maria was beatified on 4th Nov. 2017 in Indore, India. 
The man who served a prison term for the 1995 murder of a Franciscan Clarist nun in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state said that the forgiveness shown to him by the slain nun's family has given him "new life."  Samandhar Singh told Catholic News Service that he experienced a "rebirth" during a 2002 visit by Sister Selmy, the younger sister of slain Sister Rani Maria Vattalil, while he was in prison.  Sister Selmy, also a member of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, offered words of forgiveness and tied a rakhi, or sacred thread, on his hand signifying that she accepted Singh as her brother, he recalled in an interview in his native Semlia village, near Indore.  Rakhi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the brotherly bond between a woman and a man, and includes a ritual tying of a sacred thread by a sister on the brother's wrist, whether they are related or not.  "It gave me a new life," recalled the 46-year-old Singh with beaming eyes sitting at his farm. Singh said that even his wife deserted him after his conviction.
Police said Singh stabbed Sister Rani Maria 54 times in front of more than 50 bus passengers in a jungle area near Udainagar allegedly at the behest of money lenders affected by the nun's social work among village women who were organizing self-help groups. He was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison.  "I had visited him in the jail on Aug. 22, the day of Rakhi and the feast of Queen Mary," Sister Selmy said, explaining that she had decided to forgive Singh soon after her sister's death. Sister Rani Maria's name means Queen of Mary, she said.  Sister Rani Maria was given the title "servant of God" in 2007. 
As we rejoice in the 'Beatification"  of the heroic Sr. Rani Maria and look forward to her "Canonization" as  Saint Rani Maria, we also recognise the exemplary  gesture of Christian forgiveness of the murderer by her  family.


22 June 2017

Parents as educators of adolescent children

POPE FRANCIS GIVES 6 KEY TIPS:
1, Be Concrete
2. Be Connected not uprooted
3. Be Dynamic (updated)
4. Be Integrated & holistic
5. Be Supportive not Competitive
6. Be Austere to overcome consumerism

17 June 2017

Fragilty or Frailty

VOCATIONAL FRAGILITY OR FRAILTY.
Fragility and Frailty have two distinct meanings. While Fragility refers to strengths or weakness that are constitutive elements of an object, Frailty describes a strength or weakness that is not in the nature of the object. Thus a glass tumbler is fragile by nature. A tree  may be Frail for lack of proper fertiliser. Fragility is something permanent and linked to the nature of an object. Frailty is a temporary condition subject to change.
Is the talk about Vocation crisis today a problem of Fragility or Frailty?

9 June 2017

Rev. Fr. George Williams RIP at 101

At a ripe good age, 101, Fr. George Williams SDB returned to the Lord in early June, 2017. He will be remembered by many in India as our Regional Superior for the English speaking Salesian region, in the late seventies. I personally have several memories of pleasant and not so pleasant interactions with him when I was  Provincial in the period 1976 to 1982. The young Province of Mumbai, barely three years old, experienced quite a few problems that required some difficult decisions to be taken. Fr. Williams on an extraordinary visit to the Province had the task of setting things right and dealing with confreres. Though he may have hurt or upset some Salesians among the young and old, he showed great loyalty to Don Bosco and sincerity to the Salesians. In hindsight, I may observe that the province benefitted from his tough decisions.
May he rest in peace! 

8 June 2017

UNITY ----- DIVERSITY

Pope Francis invoked the Holy Spirit's guidance in making a clear choice of "both Unity and Diversity" over "either Unity or Diversity" in our Christian life.  Is it a call to realism or compromise?

4 June 2017

Dissent essential to Democracy

In a healthy Democracy, good governance implies an honest commitment to the wellbeing of all the citizens and an openness to dissent as its necessary component. India's Democracy today is very unhealthy and dangerously poised to deteriorate into fundamentalism and communal wars slyly instigated by a false patriotism called 'Hindutva'.

The BJP stood shrudely on the platform of  "Dissent", during the last National Elections by waging a relentless campaign of dissent in parliament and in the media against the alledged rampant corruption and scandalous scams for which it held th ruling party, the INC, mainly responsible. There was much more of a malignant 'Dissent' and very little of the "Developement' on the National agenda of both parties or more precisely, of all political parties. 
The dissent strategy obviously won the elections as the results emphatically showed.  While the INC was trapped in a struggled to clear its damaged reputation, the BJP  through dissent, mesmerised the citizens into believing that the demolition of the corrupt INC was the key to 'Development' of the Nation.

Three years into governance, and the voices of dissent are rising from the Opposition parties and inceasingly from the poor farmers, the Dalits and minority communities. Will the strategy of Dissent which is building up at different levels, political, social, economic topple the present government of the BJP?

Recently, I read a comment on the erosion of Democracy in India  with too many instances of intolerance towards the voices of the People that differ or criticize the ruling political party policies. What was trumpeted as a just strategy of Dissent by the BJP is today condemned as Anti-nationalism. From Dissent, BJP has perhaps unknowingly gravitated towards Dictatorship while mouthing toothless slogans of Development promises. How Deceitful!

5 February 2017

WHY DID JESUS SUFFER?

After the Original Sin of our first Parents described in the Sacred Scripture, HUMAN LIFE ceased to be a state of eternal bliss in God's Kingdom but became an arduous journey back to Original Blessing. Human Life became a 'return journey" from brokenness to wholeness, from powerlessness to powerfulness, from pain and suffering to  health and healing.

The Yahweh of mercy, however did not abandon his people but promised and provided leaders who were Prophets, Judges and Kings to lead them through a long journey across the deserts to the "promised land" as recorded in  the Holy Bible. While Yahweh remains always faithful to his Covenants the people stumble into broken covenants. Finally the patient and forgiving Yahweh sends His own Son as Messiah to redeem Human Life. Thus Jesus Christ entered our world, born of a Woman and his entire life from the crib of his birth to the cross of his death becomes a model for imitation. "I am the way, the life and the truth," He says, and again: "Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart". 

Suffering is part and parcel of the Human Life and we all have to make the journey from brokenness, powerlessness and suffering like Jesus did.  Jesus sets an example for us to accept and not deny  our brokenness; to  surrender and not control our powerlessness; and, to respond to suffering, not with curses but compassion. Seen in this light, the life of Jesus teaches us how to live the brokenness, powerlessness and suffering in our own lives. We may even say that Jesus did not experience brokenness, powerlessness and suffering in order to redeem us but rather to guide our own human life to God's Kingdom. Hence, though Jesus has set us a convincing example, we are only redeemed when we accept Jesus Christ in faith and faithfully follow Him who is "our Way, our Life and Our Truth."