28 December 2015

GOD’S MERCY in merciless times

25th December; 2015

GOD’S MERCY in merciless times


This year, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8th Dec., Pope Francis opened the Holy Doors of the Church and ushered us into the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.

Tonight, as we stand on the threshold of Christmas 2015, let us open the doors of our lives to our wonderful God who draws us into his  merciful embrace with  the tender inviting arms and the innocent warm smile of a child;  Tonight, the Holy Spirit moves us in turn to spontaneously embrace  the Babe of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world.

Christmas! What  a singular strategy of Divine Mercy which only a loving  and forgiving God could design for us.

Let us begin our Christmas Eucharist with contrite hearts, acknowledging our unworthiness and humbly imploring God’s mercy fo transform us into Merciful Christians. (pause)
I confess ……May Almighty God have mercy on us ……. 


Notwithstanding the growing commercialization of Christmas with sinister efforts to reduce it to a secular holiday or to replace it with Good Governance Day; and despite the increasing hostility towards Christ and Christians, in several countries, you and I are here tonight to confirm our Faith and proclaim with joy to the world that mankind will live for evermore because of that First Christmas, in Bethlehem.

The  First Christmas was not a ‘bedtime story’ that lulls us to sleep in the silence of a holy night and wakes us up with Jingle bells and  Santa’s stockings;
-       the First Christmas was not an expensive birthday party with colorful dresses and delicious dishes, celebrated under star-studded skies;
-       the First Christmas was not even a musical extravaganza of ‘red-nosed reindeer songs’ and dancing melodies.

Lest we get trapped in such distorted festivities, and abandon the sacred mystery of Salvation and the deeper message of Forgiveness, let us tonight revise our Bible history and renew our Christian faith in the greatest story ever told – Christmas,

Far from being a philosophical myth or  theological dogma, the First Christmas, as the Holy Bible states,  marks  the History of a Lifetime Mystery – God with us – Emmanuel!

Since the last 2015 years, Christmas commemorates the greatness and the dignity of the human person, created by God to his own image.

At this time, we are celebrating God who loved the world so much that in the fullness of time, He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born of a woman, to redeem His sacred image, distorted by Original Sin. It is because of this redeemed image of God imprinted in every human person that any offence against the human person is an offence against God and every denial of God ends up being a denial of the greatness and the dignity of the human person. In order to teach us what it means to be truly human, and to save us from further abuse of  humanity, God became man in Jesus the Christ, fully human and always divine. Christmas must impress upon us, the sacred worth and sublime dignity of every human life from the first instant until natural death.

Christmas, as the angels sang, is a feast of Joy to the world. giving glory to God in the highest and bringing peace to people of good will. Christmas is a family feast of Christ the  Light who enlightens our homes  and brightens our universe as proclaimed by the Prophet Isaiah: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as people rejoice at harvest time. For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Word, Promoter-of-Peace

However, while we celebrate  Christmas 2015, we are sadly aware  that Life, particularly, Human life is murdered and destroyed by the merciless culture of death. Today, our faith in Christmas as a celebration of pardon and peace is challenged.

We witness Human Life not as a dignified triumph, but a degrading tragedy marred by beastly Terrorism and Bomb blasts; Communal Violence and mini wars;  Abortion and Euthanasia; murders and Suicides; Caste conflicts and  Honor Killings. Called by God to be stewards  of his creation, we are recklessly destroying our “Common Home” by exploiting Nature and poisoning the environment. Global warming and “climate change” are sharp warnings that our world is hurtling down to Doom’s Day. What we are seeing today is the entrenching  of the ‘Culture of Death and Darkness’ in the world at large and even infiltrating into the hearts and minds of our non-violent and peace-loving people of India..

In this scenario, we disciples of  Jesus Chris must not be prophets of doom and disaster. Not at Christmas time! Rather, inspired by the encouraging assurance of Jesus, “Do not be afraid, I am with you till the end of times” and guided by the Holy Spirit through the upfront prophetic and pastoral leadership of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we Christians must firmly believe and proclaim that God still loves the world; We await in Hope and believe that Mankind  will live for ever more, because Christmas celebrates the fact that God full of mercy in Jesus Christ  will come again in  power and glory to establish a counter culture of Peace over Violence, Light over Darkness, and Life over Death.

By the solemn opening of Cathedral doors, the world over,  and announcing The Extraordinary Holy Year, Pope Francis urges us, the Church to boldly confront the merciless and meaningless destructive forces of Evil by upholding the banner of God’s Mercy. 

 In his papal letter, entitled ‘Misericordiae vultus’, the Face of Mercy, Pope Francis chalks out a a very practical Peace plan of action for us to follow. He reminds us that Mercy is not an abstract concept but rather, a face to recognize, a truth to contemplate and a recipe to serve through corporal and spiritual works of Mercy.  Jesus  by His own example  has given us a Gospel of Mercy, so full of simple parables, compassionate images and forgiving episodes.

This Holy Year is  Mercy time, and Christmas heralds an extraordinary campaign which states that the only answer to satanic evil and cruel violence, is not destructive retaliation but rather, better Communication and patient Dialogue to obtain Peaceful justice  and genuine Communion in our lives, in our families, among nations and throughout the universe.

To us Christians, Christmas is Divine Mercy Incarnate urging us to welcome the God of forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession and reconciliation  and nourished by the Holy Eucharist, to be forgiving and merciful ourselves. Yes, Christmas is a Gospel Imperative to love and protect all forms of life , but especially to defend Human Rights against abortion, euthanasia, female infanticide, caste and honor killings.

Christmas is infact, a missionary mandate. Jesus Christ, sent by our merciful Father, has chosen us and sends us to share in his mission of Forgiveness. As partners with Jesus, the Prince of Peace, let us make Christmas 2015 a season of reconciliation , love and joyful peace, within  our own families and communities; our neighborhood and work places.

May Mary of Nazareth, whom we devoutly address: Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy strengthen our Faith in Jesus, the Divine Mercy and  sustain our Hope as we journey through this vale of trials and tears.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the transforming Bread of Life at this Holy Eucharist let us go out  to celebrate not only a merciful Christmas Day -2015, but a Holy Year, 2016 of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.

8 December 2015


These days of December 2015, at the Paris Summit, our concern is focussed on the need to arrest the global warming leading to a "Climate Change" that threatens Human Life and consequently Nature itself. We hope the conclusions emerging from the PS will awaken our  joint responsibility to respond to the challenge and implement certain strategic action to save our universe. 

Pope Francis in his encyclical, "Laudato Si" , has alerted not only the Church but the entire world to address this major concern for our "common home" and invited prayers for an effective resolution at the Paris Summit. A resolution that admits our common admission of guilt and a greater solidarity of involvement in  the global campaign to arrest Climate Change. 

But now, on 8th. December 2015, with his letter, "Vultus Misericordiae", Pope Francis has pointed to an even major concern than Climate Change. We may term it "Clemency Change". In recent times, the world over,  dehumanising and destructive wars are tearing into the prosperous and peaceful fabric of our human society our society. As never before, as Pope Francis observes, we are already trapped in a "Third World War", piecemeal. 

The need for "Clemency Change" is urgent, both at national and international levels. The strategy that Pope Francis has indicated, is a sincere belief in the "God of mercy" who chose to reveal His merciful heart in the mystery of the "incarnation of Divine Mercy".
Created to the image of God, the merciful, and guided by the incarnate manifestation of Divine Mercy, Jesus Christ, are called to be in turn merciful brothers and sisters to each other. The concrete and personal experience of God's mercy, Pope Francis believes, will transform our generation into a merciful society,
"Be merciful for I am merciful".

Personal and Community Faith and Miracles.

Jesus makes it very clear that miracles do not lead to faith but faith that is manifest in miracles. In most cases of healing, it is the faith of the sick person that Jesus ascertains and the miracle follows. "Your faith has made you whole", says Jesus. It is not only personal faith in Jesus that benefits individuals like the blind Barthimaeus, or the woman with the issue of blood but also a community faith that cures the ten lepers.

But personal faith in Jesus is not only for personal benefits. In the Gospel of Luke 5, 17-26 we have an example of an "altruistic faith" of some in Jesus, that works miracles to benefit others. Jesus lauds the absolute faith of the friends of the sick man who is lowered through the roof and who benefits from their faith.

Faith in Jesus, therefore, is not only for personal benefits. In fact, for us who are Priests, the quality of our faith in Jesus must be altruistic and benefit the people we minister too.  Like the faith of the friends of the paralytic, our faith in Jesus must find us proactive  in bringing the physically or morally sick people into His presence full of confidence in the Divine Physician.

The Extraordinary Holy Year must find us more attentive to the altruistic dimension of our faith for the benefit of those we serve. 

7 October 2015

Marriage - basis of natural society.

Marriage, monogamous or polygamous, in most cultures and countries, is a bond of love between man and woman. It has always been celebrated as a public social event and not just a private contract between men and women. Marriage is not mere religious rituals but responsible rights engaging not only the marriage partners but society itself which sees itself charged with the task of providing support with appropriate means and sanctions, all intended to protect the institution of marriage and the common good of society. 

The Catholic Church, since its inception has upheld the teachings of Christ on marriage and family, as ordained by God Himself. So, " What God has put together, let no one pull asunder". However, Social needs, cultural pressures and the "hardness of hearts" have led Marriage through a history of polygamy, polyandry and monogamy to build an "extended family" and in more recent times to form a "nuclear family". Children were always considered a blessing of God.

Catholic Church doctrine, based on Sacred Scripture defines marriage as a sacramental communion, by mutual consent between one man and one woman and ordained towards building up a home and family of children. It is a bond essentially of mutual  love and safeguarded by a legal contract recognised by the secular state and upheld by the Church as a sacred, indissoluble sacrament, "till death do us part

Today, the mis-understanding of Marriage is calling to question not only the very composition of a one man one woman  in a permanent bond but proposing "same sex" unions and easy "Divorce". The concept of home and family blessed with children, the fruit of the marriage communion is reduced to an "orphanage" of adopted children and aborted embryos. 

Marriage is not in crisis. It has been a success story. It has for centuries been the matrimonial joint-pillar that has been the basis of domestic, national and international families the world over. What is in crisis is the understanding today of Marriage, Family and Home.

Rightly concerned about the situation of humanity torn apart by unbridled liberal thinking and feeling responsible to conserve God's Creation and Creatures in submission to His Will, The Catholic Church, through a prayerful Synodal discernment is entering into dialogue within the Church, to address the pains and problems that obviously underlie the distorted thinking.
Will the ongoing Synod of Bishops meet the challenge?  


5 October 2015

Don Bosco - Mystic, Prophet and Friend.

We have for too long contemplated Don Bosco in his spirituality of Work. Statements reported to be uttered by our Founder have become slogans for us, Salesians: Work, work work, bread and heaven; We shall rest in heaven; the day a salesian dies working is a triumph for the congregation. Over the years, Salesian Spirituality has been steeped in a commitment to work without Temperance and eating into our prayer moments.

We need to return to Don Bosco the Mystic. Mama Margaret nurtured the spiritual life of her children and planted in them a deep realistic conviction  that life is 'union with God'. Infact, already from the age of nine, John Bosco was blessed with mystical experiences which he described as dreams. He followed his dreams in a spirit of obedience to the Guide offered to him.  

3 October 2015

Salesian Mysticism

For quite some time, before and after the GC27, We Salesians have been frankly admitting our spiritual superficiality and are convinced of the need to emulate our Founder, Don Bosco who lived in "union with God". However, the spiritual transformation we aspire to, has yet to take place in our personal and community life. Why is it so?

Observing the rhythm in our formation houses, I believe the problem lies at the initial phase. The daily schedule and monthly program, let's say in Divyadaan, is packed with regular activities in the chapel, the classroom, the playground. Non-academic activities like  pastoral services in the Oratories, Schools and parishes engage our energies and occupy our time, 24/7. This makes of us chronic and hyperactive  'workaholics' who have lost the experience of calm relaxation and peace of mind and body. There is no space for 'mysticism' in our lives unless we reshape the rhythm of our life by balancing between 'work and temperance.

Becoming 'mystics of the Spirit' is wishful thinking unless we are willing to slow down on our activities by prioritising or even eliminating some of them. Too many of us, steeped in active work need to differentiate between productive work and wasteful labour. Temperance and moderation alone will help us appreciate the moments of quiet silence so essential to let God enter the daily routine of our lives. 

29 September 2015

Incarnating GC27

The Preparation for the 27th General Chapter focussed on the theme: "Witnesses to the radical  approach of the Gospel". It redefined the call of every Salesian to be a witness as a 'Mystic of the Spirit', a 'Prophet of Fraternity', and a 'Servant of the Young'. Conferences, meditations and reflections were devoted to the deeper understanding of the three terms: Mystic, Prophet and Servant. The GC27 emphasized these keywords and added 'Work and Tempernce' in summing up the Salesian Identity. Perhaps there was need to return not only to Don Bosco, the Founder but to refresh our commitment to the Salesian charism in the context of the Bi-centenary celebrations. However, personally, I still remain disappointed with the deliberations of the GC27 which focussed through exhortations more on spiritual renewal of our identity and less on bold ventures of living out in the mission our identity as Mystics, Prophets and Servants. To be more explicit, I observed that GC27 did not opt for more challenging presences in a youth world so trapped in individualism, consumerism, violence and corruption in society. I see particularly the need to reach out with our Salesian Charism to the youth in the Islamic world, by offering them education through formal school and college institutions; technical non formal structures. 
Now that the Provincial Chapters are preparing for assessing the implementation of GC27, will it consist again of more conferences and talks about the meaning of Mystics, Prophets and Servants or will we .......... 

Lessons from a FIVE HUNDRED Rupees note

*Management Lessons from a 500 rupee note*

*Prakash Iyer, MD, Kimberly-Clark Lever and Executive Coach shares
two important management lessons he learnt from a 500-rupee note. Read on.*

1. It happened some years ago but I can recall the evening like it happened
just last week.
I was in an audience listening to a motivational guru.
The speaker whipped out his wallet and pulled out a five hundred-rupee
Holding it up, he asked, "Who wants this five hundred rupee note?"
Lots of hands went up. Including mine.
A slow chorus began to build as people began to shout "Me!" "Me!"
I began to wonder who the lucky one would be who the speaker would choose.
And I also secretly wondered -- and I am sure others did too -- why he
would simply give away five hundred rupees.
Even as the shouts of "I want it" grew louder, I noticed a young woman
running down the aisle.
She ran up onto the stage, went up to the speaker, and grabbed the five
hundred-rupee note from his hand. "Well done, young lady," said the speaker
into the microphone.
"Most of us just wait for good things to happen. That's of no use. You've
got to make things happen."
The speaker's words have stayed with me ever since.

*'Simply thinking about doing something is of no use'*

Our lives are like that. We all see opportunities around us. We all want
the good things.
But the problem is we don't take action.
We all want the five hundred rupee notes on offer. But we don't make the
move. We look at it longingly
Get up, and do something about it. Don't worry about what other people
might think. Take action.

*2. Several years later, it was another day, another time. *
And another motivational guru.
As I watched him pull out a five hundred rupee note and hold it up for all
to see, I thought I knew what he was going to do next. But he just asked a
simple question. "How much is this worth?"
"Five Hundred rupees!" the crowd yelled in unison.
"Right," said the speaker. He then took the note and crumpled it into a
ball and asked "How much is it worth now?"
"Five Hundred rupees!" screamed the audience.
He then threw the note on the ground, stamped all over it and picked up the
note and asked one more time: "And how much is it worth now?"
"Five Hundred rupees!" was the response.
"I want you to remember this," said the speaker.
"Just because someone crumples it, or stamps on it, the value of the note
does not diminish.
We should all be like the five hundred rupee note.
In our lives, there will be times when we feel crushed, stamped over,
beaten. But never let your self-worth diminish. Just because someone
chooses to crush you -- that doesn't change your worth one bit!
Don't allow your self-worth to diminish because someone says something
nasty -- or does something dirty -- to you."

*'Never let your self-worth diminish'*

Attitude matters.


There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror,
and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today?'
So she did

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'H-M-M,' she said,
'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today?'
So she did

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said,
'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.'
So she did

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

'YEA!' she exclaimed,
'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

Attitude is everything.

Why Mission or How Mission

CHURCH MISSION   - why & how

The Church of Christ is based on a missionary Mandate: Go, Teach, Baptise.
Hence, the ‘why’ of mission has never been questioned but accepted as the “mission” of the Church of Christ, from its very inception. The Church is missionary ny nature. Bonum est diffusivum sui. (Good is self-diffusive).
If so, why is Christianity opposed down the centuries and particularly, today?
In India, a land of spiritual awakening, why is Christians hardly 2.1% of the population? In the world, ISIS has vowed to “kill” Christianity and Christians? WHY?

Are the issues Doctrinal, Moral, Political? Are the claims of Christianity to be One, Holy, Universal, Apostolic Church false? Why is the Church not only growing in numbers but being persecuted to decimation? Why?

Perhaps, we need to seek an answer not in the ‘Why Mission’ but rather the ‘How Mission’ Let us then review the historical development of the missionary activity of the Church.
A.             The early Christian Community saw itself as “Peter’s barque” on a mission of salvation, not only committed to the missionary mandate  but also firmly convinced that there is no salvation outside the Church of Christ.(Extra Ecclesiam, nulla salus). The Community on Peter’s barque lived in an hierarchical structure with Peter (Popes) at the summit with levels of various ranks. There were the Rulers, the “Clergy” and Subjects, the “Laity”.
In this model of Church that was maintained through centuries, the ‘Missionary’ was a person whose love for Christ and obedience to His Mandate made of him a ‘Rescuer’ of the Masses wallowing in the darkness of ignorance and idolatry.

The religious tenets and rituals in earlier State Religions (Roman Emperor worship), Household Gods,  Judaism and other  doctrines and forms of worship in the Oriental world (Hindu Scriptures, Buddhism) was reduced to the ignorance and idolatry category.

The attitude of the Christian missionary was one who stood on a platform of wealth, knowledge and holiness, entrusted with the compulsive task of “saving souls” with a sense of sympathy and condescension towards the ignorant masses.  Proselytism and conversion were missionary slogans and the period of the Crusades and later, Colonialism, the missionary activity of the Church could be described as aggressive spiritual membership and territorial aggrandisement, through conquests or incentives.
Thus, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania would say: When the Missionaries came to us, we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to join our hands and close our eyes in prayer. When we opened our eyes, they had our land  and we had their Bible; Since years missionaries have been accused of recruiting ‘rice christians’ in India or building ‘ container churches’ in Africa. Add to this the many complaints of missionaries being arrogant and domineering and often looking down on the local or natives. ( cfr. Missions on trial, by W.Buhlman; accounts from the Sudan)

B.             Vatican II (1960ff) changes the missionary model and begins with the definition of the Church, no more as Peter’s Barque but very simply as the “People of God” (LG, AG). The Church is no more an  hierarchical structure but a community of love and unity as Jesus wanted it to be.(“That they may be One, as the Father and I are..) Church Vocabulary talks now of Religious Freedom and inclusive openness to other Religions. The anxiety is not about Conversion, but Dialogue to promote inter-religious harmony.
C.             Partnership in Mission is the new approach and missionary activity is a two-way process of giving and receiving (sharing). In this context, a new missionary model emerges with the presence now of “Third World Missionaries, hailing from the former mission lands whose attitude is not of a Rescuer but a Partner in Mission.
D.            New Evangelization shifts focus from the Church, the ‘exclusive’ Saving Barque of Peter to the the ‘all inclusive’ Kingdom of God.
E.               Did Christ intend the Church to be the Kingdom of God?  He wanted His Disciples to be the “Salt, Light and Yeast” to build the Kingdom. The “One Shepherd, One Flock” refers to Jesus Christ the One Shepherd and the Kingdom a united Flock of all religions with the Church as the Salt, Light and Yeast bonding the Kingdom.
F.              The task of New Evangelization is to plant the conviction in all Religions, that a purposeful Dialogue is the only path to building the Kingdom of God.

“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.

“The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with him. As John Paul II once said to the Bishops of Oceania: ‘All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion’… (Pope Francis)


We need to be needed

really beautiful story!!  MAGNOLIAS
I was getting ready for my daughter June's wedding which was taking place in a church about forty miles away, and felt loaded with responsibilities asI watched my budget dwindle.....
So many details, so many bills, and so little time.

My son Jack said he would walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died a few years before.
He teased Patsy, saying he'd wanted to give her away since she was about three years old!

To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who had large magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green leaves would make beautiful arrangements against the rich dark wood inside the church.

The big day arrived - the busiest day of my life - and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her fiance Tim walked with me to the sanctuary to do a final check.
When we opened the door and felt a rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then I saw them - all the beautiful white flowers were black. Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died.

I panicked, knowing I didn't have time to drive back to our hometown, gather more flowers, and return in time for the wedding and I certainly didn't have extra money to buy a new set from the florist in town.

Tim turned to me. 'Edna, can you get more flowers? I'll throw away these dead ones and put fresh flowers in these arrangements.'
I mumbled, 'Sure,' as he be-bopped down the hall to put on his cuff links.

Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark wooden beams in the arched ceiling. 'Lord,' I prayed, 'please help me. I don't know anyone in this town. Help me find someone willing to give me flowers - in a hurry!'

I scurried out praying for the blessing of white magnolias.

As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. I approached a house.... no dog in sight..... knocked on the door and an older man answered.
So far so good. No shotgun. When I stated my plea the man beamed....'I'd be happy to!'

He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my car trunk, I said, 'Sir, you've made the mother of a bride happy today.'

No, Ma'am,' he said. 'You don't understand what's happening here.'

'What?' I asked.

'You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday. On Tuesday I
received friends at the funeral home, and on Wednesday..... He paused. I saw tears welling up in his eyes. 'On Wednesday I buried her.' He looked away. 'On Thursday most of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on Friday - yesterday - my children left.'

I nodded.

'This morning,' he continued, 'I was sitting in my den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I cried, 'Who needs an eighty-six-year-old worn-out man?
Nobody!' I began to cry louder. 'Nobody needs me!'

About that time, you knocked, and said, 'Sir, I need you.'

I stood with my mouth open. He asked, 'Are you an angel? I assured him I was no angel.

He smiled. 'Do you know what I was thinking when I handed you those magnolias?'


'I decided I'm needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I might have a flower ministry! I could give them to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have no flowers.. People need flowers at times like that and I have lots of them. They're all over the backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches, all sorts of places.

You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to serve the Lord until the day He calls me home!'

I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On Patsy's wedding day, if anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have said, 'Forget it! It's my only daughter's wedding, for goodness' sake! There is no way I can minister to anyone today.'

But God found a way. Through dead flowers. 'Life is not the way it's
supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.'

If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing.
If you have missed some of my emails, you may have missed a laugh.

But, if you have missed knowing God you have missed everything in the world!!
He can be your everything. May God's blessings be upon you.


Inspirational Tots

1. Prayer is not a "spare wheel" that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a "steering wheel" that directs the right path throughout life

2. Why is a car's windshield so large & the rear view mirror so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. So, look ahead and move on.

3. Friendship is like a BOOK. It takes a few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.

4. All things in life are temporary. If they are going well, enjoy them, they will not last forever. If they are going wrong, don't worry, they can't last long either.

5. Old friends are gold! New friends are diamond! If you get a diamond, don't forget the gold! To hold a diamond, you always need a base of gold!

6. Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, "Relax, sweetheart; it's just a bend, not the end!

7. When God solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when God doesn't solve your problems, He has faith in YOUR abilities.

8. A blind person asked God: "Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?" He replied: "Yes, losing your vision!

9. When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them, and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.

10. Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles; it takes away today's PEACE.

19 September 2015

Suffering in the Christian context

Does Jesus Christ canonize 'Pain and suffering'?
Jesus says: "If you wish to be my disciples, go, sell what you have, give it to the poor and come, take up your cross and follow me". Discipleship of Christ seems to be always linked to the cross, the most painful symbol of suffering. Jesus seems to say: The only identity mark of Christ's Discipleship is the capacity to embrace and endure Pain and Suffering?.......... 

20 August 2015

CHAMPIONS have a mission and vision.

Cassius Clay, the world renowned Boxing Champion who later converted to Islam with the name Mohammed Ali made a valid point when he said: Champions are not made in the Gym(gymnasium). Champions have deep inside them a desire, a dream and a vision that makes them so.

Similarly, we may also say: Salesians are not made in the Formations house; rather, Salesians have deep inside them a desire, a dream and  a vision that makes them successful educators of the young, just like Don Bosco.

Bye, Bye Bi-centenary, welcome TRi-centenary!

Without doubt, the Bi-centenary celebrations ( 1815-2015 )marking the birth of Don Bosco was a huge tribute to the "friend of Youth", Though organised mainly by the Salesian Family, the world of youth and society in general appreciated and commended the work of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The Salesians themselves, celebrated the event not only in civic  and social functions but in religious renewal programmes aimed at building a modern image of the Salesian Identity, striving to be like Don Bosco, , "Mystics of the Spirit, Prophets of fraternal communion and Servants of the young".  The Bi-centineray Year concluded on 16th. August 2015. 

What's next? Is it a Bye-bye to Bi-centenary, to be now shelved in the annals of history? It would be a sad conclusion, after all the energy expended and enthusiasm generated to let the Bi-centenary rest in oblivion while we return to the routine of the past, however worthwhile it may be to walk on beaten tracks. 

In fact, the  Bi-centenary experience should propel us immediately into the Tri-centenary of the birth of Don Bosco. It should urge us, Salesians to contribute now on, our own dreams to the global vision of Don Bosco and oblige us to take on tougher and demanding challenges of our times. Don Bosco, a product of his times, identified in a dream the problems of contemporary youth and devoted his energies with daring hope, to meet them. A vision was set before him, in a spiritual experience and a reliable guide was assigned to him. He initially restricted his youth services to benefit the christians. But very soon and in his life time, he reached out to youth in the distant mission lands. 

Though the Salesians today, faithful to the vision of Don Bosco, have spread considerably over the Continents, chiefly focused on the education of the poor belonging to all cultures and religious affiliations,  there is a fanatical challenge looming on the horizon and threatening the moral fibre  of youth especially in the Islamic countries that needs urgently to be addressed. Just as Don Bosco, undaunted, bravely confronted the forces of evil, to "save" his youngsters from the "devil", our salesian task  today is to boldly accompany the youth of our times in the war against poverty, injustice and religious fanaticism.

More pointedly, the recent threat of the Islamic State which is kidnapping and brainwashing the young generation to a vicious and brutal life of terrorism must awaken in us Don Bosco's a genuine concern and determination to arrest the exodus of violence and destruction of life. As Educators to love, justice and peace, we need to enter the Islamic countries with a powerful drive for sound education  to a holistic life. I know or better, I am convinced that Don Bosco's the Preventive system has proved very successful  as an education for transformation of the young into honest and Godfearing citizens. The testimony of countless Alumni staunchly supports this opinion. The three elements of "Reason, Religion and Loving kindness" even today, continue to empower the young and transform their lives. 

Our  Salesian educative presence is urgently needed in the Arab world. The Tri-centenary Mission dares us to take up this challenge by investing personnel and resources for the establishment of many educational institutions. The challenge is not at all to convert Muslim youth but rather to evangelise them to be better Muslims, true to their identity as a community of God and a people of peace. 

6 August 2015


JOY. - Discovering Joy in our Spirituality.

Christian Identity: We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song.
We are CHRISTIANS not crosstians.
Prov. 17,22: A merry heart does like good medicine. But a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
 Our spirituality is Holistic - mind and body connected.

The Bible: mentions Joy, 750 times,;
Sorrow  40;  sadness 300 times
Love - 650 times
Grace, mercy – 350 times.

Psalm: 118, 24: This is the day that The Lord has made,let us rejoice and be glad.
Some quotes:
 Martin Luther: If there is no laughter in heaven, I do not want to go there.
 Jewish proverb: what soap is to the body, Laughter is to the soul.
 St. August. Learn to dance, otherwise, the angels will not know what to do with you.

Jesus: spoke of Life as Beatitudes To experience joy in sacrifice
Mary: The Magnificat manifests her gratitude which generated joy.
Don Bosco: Here we make sanctity consist in being Cheerful

Sal. Spirituality marked by joy of The Lord based on
- Trust in God _  at all times; no anxiety and worries;
- Hope against hope attitude of Don Bosco;
- Optimism of Francis de sales.

Preventive system - not oppression but expression of happiness.
Serve the Lord in gladness!

4 August 2015

Never be a Dream Stealer! Be Don Bosco.the visionary.

Never let anyone take your dreams from you...check out this story.

I have a friend named Monty Roberts who owns a horse ranch in San Ysidro. He has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs.

The last time I was there he introduced me by saying, "I want to tell you why I let Jack use my horse. It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, the boy's high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.

"That night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. Then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch.

"He put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note that read, `See me after class.'
"The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, `Why did I receive an F?'
"The teacher said, `This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. You have no money. You come from an itinerant family. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you'll have to pay large stud fees. There's no way you could ever do it.' Then the teacher added, `If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade.'

"The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do. His father said, `Look, son, you have to make up your own mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.' "Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all.

He stated, "You can keep the F and I'll keep my dream."

Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, "I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace." He added, "The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week." When the teacher was leaving, he said, "Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids' dreams. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours."

Listen to Don Bosco say to you: "Don't let anyone steal your dreams. Follow your heart, no matter what."


I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization. --Roger Ebert

The Age of Outrospection
--by Jonny Miller, syndicated from blog.maptia.com, Jul 21, 2014

Imagine for a moment that you are reading or listening to a story so intensely that you forget yourself and step into the shoes of the storyteller. You see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt. These moments are rare, yet when they happen it is as if we have been transported into their world and we are able to see through their eyes. It is a powerful, almost magical feeling. One that is a privilege.

More than any other time in history, there is a vast and remarkable potential to spread vivid, thoughtful, and imaginative stories via the unfathomably dense communication network known as the Internet.

Many of the seven billion people on the planet now have the potential to share their own ‘eyes on the world’ and share their own unique perspectives and experiences with those who have not perhaps had the same opportunities. The ability to do this is a privilege and we should treat it as such - we must do our best to craft each story we share with as much care, wisdom and thought as we can muster.
Just as importantly, each of us also has the opportunity to cultivate our own global sense of adventurous empathy by taking the time to read, understand and appreciate other people’s stories from all over the world. Philosopher Roman Krznaric refers to this as ‘Outrospection’.
What exactly is ‘Outrospection’?
In his talk, Roman asserts that the process of ‘experiential outrospection’ requires that we ditch the self-centred ‘self-help’ guides and manuals on how to become rich and successful and that instead we seek to understand life through the eyes of others, fostering an adventurous curiosity for other lives and places beyond our own experience.
When travelling for example, instead of asking the usual question ‘where should I go next?’, Roman suggests that we might instead ask ‘whose shoes can I stand in next?’ - embarking on journeys into the lives of strangers. Roman also mentions the difference between empathy and pity:
“If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising.”
Roman Krznaric
Roman says that the ‘empathetic gap’ that exists in the world today is two-fold:
Firstly, we are not empathising with people across countries. For instance, those in India who are already suffering from floods most likely caused by global warming.
Secondly, that we are failing to empathise through time to future generations.
Roman has some radical suggestions for how we might overcome this gap. Our favourite is his idea of building ‘Empathy Museums’ in every city - experiential and conversational public spaces, full of human libraries where you might be able to borrow people for in-depth conversations. For instance, you could walk into a room with former Vietnamese sweatshop worker who would teach you how to make a T-shirt similar to the one you are likely wearing and talk to you about their life. And for many thousands of years, stories have been the way humans have shared empathy, fostered understanding of the world around us, and taught common values.
“ I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization. ”
Roger Ebert
The Evolution of Our Concentric Circles of Empathy
Stepping back in time to the 18th century, Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote about his concept for ‘concentric circles of empathy’ - a wonderfully visual metaphor for understanding how empathy functions.

Hume argued that our sense of empathy towards others tends to diminish as we go further from the centre of this circle. As we move away from our immediate family all the way to someone on the other side of the world, to whom you have no ties.
More recently, however, neuroscientists have demonstrated that all humans, along with a few mammals such as chimps, elephants and dolphins, possess something called ‘mirror neurons’. This means we are all ‘soft-wired’ in such a way that when we look at another person who is experiencing a strong emotion, like anger or joy, the same neuron being stimulated in their brain, will also be stimulated in yours.
Writer and economist Jeremy Rifkin expands on this research in his talk ‘The Empathetic Civilisation’. Rifkin argues that the following holds true:
Firstly, that in our ancestral forager/hunter tribes, empathy was extended only to local tribes and blood ties.
Secondly, that in later years as the medium of writing evolved, empathy was no longer constrained by time and space, especially as tribes and communities came to believe in a common God.
Thirdly, that as modern nation states were eventually created, we began to view our fellow countrymen as extended family.
Rifkin points out that if we accept that the empathic boundaries we have constructed between our nations and our religions are purely man-made fictions, then what reason is there to believe that the process should end here? For example, just a few weeks ago, the idea for an 'interspecies Internet' was announced at TED.
“ We ought to rethink the human narrative and prepare the groundwork for an empathic civilisation. ”
Jeremy Rifkin
Thoughtful Storytelling = Adventurous Empathy
Few would disagree with Einstein’s powerful sentiments about widening our compassion to extend to the whole planet, yet where does the modern pragmatic idealist begin? How can bridges be built to cross Roman’s empathy gap or fuel the creation of Rifkin’s empathic civilisation? We believe that the answer lies in storytelling. Specifically in emotionally charged, cross-cultural narratives that can be shared almost instantaneously throughout the world via the Internet.

Roman uses the example of how storytelling was a powerful factor in the human rights movement and also in bringing about the abolition of the slave trade. We would like to highlight a more recent example of the power of storytelling to effect change - the Charity Water movement that was started by Scott Harrison, a former nightclub promoter. When Scott first visited Africa he was working as a photographer for Mercy Ships. He felt an overwhelming sense of empathy for the people he met and returned home determined to tell their story. Scott used his storytelling superpowers to extend the empathy he felt to millions of others.
“ ...these stories are a kind of beacon. By making stories full of empathy and amusement and the sheer pleasure of discovering the world, these writers reassert the fact that we live in a world where joy and empathy and pleasure are all around us, there for the noticing. ”
Ira Glass
It doesn't matter if the medium is long-form narrative, videography, photography or even art, whether it involves reminiscing about events of the past, telling narratives of the here and now, or spinning tales of the future and what could be. We imagine (and hope) that one day we will be full of stories of outrospection and that people will think of maps as beautiful and creative tools for spreading adventurous empathy.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important in some respect,

whether he chooses to be so or not.

1 August 2015


The sorry state of the world points to a sad situation of an  absolute lack of quality in leadership and governance in many countries, including India. Though we may be disappointed with this modern brand of civic leadership, Politicians in the past too have generally been blamed or ridiculed in our democratic era. Here are a few statements that reflect this notion:  

“A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country” – Andrew Cornegie

“Politics is the gentle art  of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising each to protect him from the other” – Mark Twain.

“Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel” – John Quinton, RAF pilot.

“When those who are smart do not engage in politics, they are punished by government by those who are dumb” – Pluto

Politics is important for good governance especially in our democratic world. What makes poor politics is not so much the limitations of the system, but the dishonesty among politicians. The new political sin is labelled "Corruption". The BJP made it the platform for the downfall of the Congress and interestingly, is now drowning in the same sin.
Good governance, positive Development and Peace are broken promises. Communalism and Corruption are reigning supreme as sins of politicians. We live in a country of bad politicians. God save India!