31 July 2015


The Jewish Wisdom - Gems all.!

All full of meaning - conveyed in a few words!!

If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.   Yiddish Proverb
The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks.   Yiddish Proverb

 What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your mouth.   Yiddish proverb

 A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he is right.   Yiddish Proverb

 One old friend is better than two new ones.   Yiddish Proverb

 One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the  smartest grandchild in the world.  

 A wise man hears one word and understands two. 

   "Don't be so humble - you are not that great."     Golda Meir (1898-1978) to a visiting diplomat

Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.   Golda Meir

 Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.     Albert Einstein

 Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.    Albert Einstein

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.   Albert Einstein

You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.   Yiddish proverb

 I don't want to become immortal through my work. I want to become immortal through not dying.  Woody Allen

 Imagination is more important than knowledge
 -  Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton.

 We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

The POPE FRANCIS phenomenon!

The Francis effect on Salesians

Ever since Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped into the Vatican balcony and was presented "Urbi et Orbi" as Pope Francis, the spotlight has been focussed on the "servus servorum Dei". Like Jesus the "Verbum Caro factum est", the utterances of Pope Francis, literally exemplified in his personal life, have been making an impressive impact and not only within the Catholic Church. He is what he preaches and like the "voice in the desert" his message, couched in catchy phrases that alert the mind and touch the heart, communicates even with the secular world. We may call,it the "Francis effect".

But satan never sleeps, nor do the forces of evil.
The media reports on the recent Family Synod highlighted the discordant efforts of some, individuals, who attempt to malign the image and intent of Pope Francis. They have, in fact, failed to make a dent in the "Francis effect". The Pope's sincerity of purpose and transparent integrity shine forth even brighter against this background of controversial gossip.

Far from being a confused leader of a rudderless barque, Pope Francis distinctly stands out as an enlightened Prophet of and for our times.

Let's recall some of the Pope's prophetic words and gestures: the move from the aristocratic papal apartments to dwell as a commoner, "with the poor and for the poor"; his constant refrain urging his flock to move to the periphery of society and reach out to the poor; his brave and indefatigable witness to the compassion of Jesus for the sick, the oppressed, the persecuted and the ostracised sinners; and best of all, his deep Faith convictions about God and courageous consistency as a witness to Jesus Christ. Pope Francis, by word and example reveals the quality of true Gospel Leadership which guides the Catholic Church. Far from being today a "rudderless" barque, the Church inspired by his upfront tireless pastoral ministry is striving to be what Jesus wanted it to be: a community that is the Light of the world, the Salt of the earth and the Yeast that builds the Kingdom of God.

The beginnings of Pope Francis' pontificate echoed with jubilant admiration and abundant acclamhations of praise for his holy life, personal charm, pastoral teachings and edifying ministry.
Keeping the Pope on this pedestal of adulation is bound to make him a victim of jealous hearts and evil plans, as is already happening. It is important that Catholics, particularly Religious respond by stepping in line with the Pope through integrity of their own Gospel witness.

As for the "Francis effect" on our Salesian Society, may we say it has its roots in the "Don Bosco effect" on the young Salesian Pastpupil, as early as 1949! Without discounting in the least, the Jesuit links and leanings of Pope Francis, and his clear emulation of the 'Poverello of Assisi', doesn't his choice vocabulary and ministry focussed on the "periphery" to the "marginalised and poor," reflect Don Bosco's fundamental option and missionary concern for poor people? Values learnt in school, perhaps?

Addressing the members of the XXVII General Chapter Pope Francis said: " ... The Holy Spirit would assist the religious institute to understand the expectations and challenges of our time, especially those of the young whose formation is the basis of the congregation's main apostolate".
He also told us Salesians that evangelization of young people is closely connected with education . He encouraged us in our efforts to respond to the current educational crisis, and the exclusion many young people face, while always remembering the "Preventive System" of St. John Bosco which is based on kindness and friendship with the pupils.

The Bi-Centenary of the Birth of Don Bosco, in the first place, invites us to live more loyally our Founder's devotion to the Holy Father and the Church, in these very conflicting times. Our devotion to the Pope can best be expressed by our docile acceptance of the Magisterium and the lively imitation of Pope Francis' exemplary Christian values, which he convincingly preaches and faithfully practices: a Passionate love for Jesus, the Son of God; a Compassionate outreach towards the young, the weak and marginalised; and, a zealous Missionary enthusiasm for the coming of the Kingdom of Peace, Love and Justice among all Nations and Peoples.

May the "Francis effect" on us Salesians urge us to be "mystics, prophets and servants" in the service of the mission of Jesus Christ.


SPIRITUALITY OF WORK  is WORSHIP.                                    never secular, always sacred.

WORK is a component of our Humanity which is Body and Soul.
PRAYER  is the Soul of our Apostolate.
SDB constitutions:.18, 41, 42, 78, 95

Four Dimensions of Work Spirituality:

*Theological – GOD is The Eternal WORKER./Creator.
A spirituality of work is based on a heightened sense of sacramentality, of the idea that everything that is, is holy and that our hands consecrate it to the service of God and in partnership with Him as co-worker with the Eternal Worker. “When we grow radishes in a small container in a city apartment, we participate in creation. When we sweep the street in front of our house, we bring new order to the Universe. When we repair what has been broken or paint what is old or give away what we have earned that is above and beyond our own sustenance, we stoop down and scoop up the earth and breathe into it new life again. When we compost garbage and recycle cans, when we clean a room and put coasters under glasses, when we care for everything we touch and touch it reverently, we become the creators of a new universe. We sanctify our work and our work sanctifies us”.(Sr.Joan Chittister OSB).

*Christological – JESUS, The Carpenter’s Son – Incarnate Worker. like the Father. “,,,, I work”(Jn 5,17)
Jesus redeems Work. Not punishment for sins but pardon through love. "Work," the Persian poet Khalil Gibran writes, "is love made visible."

*Ecclesiological – Work builds Community.  A spirituality of work immerses me in the search for human community. I begin to see that everything I do, everything, has some effect on someone somewhere. I begin to see my life tied up in theirs. I begin to see that the starving starve because someone is not working hard enough to feed them. And so I do. It becomes obvious, then, that the poor are poor because someone is not intent on the just distribution of goods of the earth.  
A spirituality of work draws us out of ourselves and, at the same time, makes us more of what we are meant to be. Good work -- work done with good intentions and good effects, work that builds up the human race rather than reduces it to the monstrous or risks its destruction. Work develops qualities of compassion and character in us. A spirituality of work puts us in touch with our own creativity. Work enables us to put our personal stamp of approval, our own watermark, the autograph of our souls on the development of the world. In fact, to do less is to do nothing at all. Work makes us accountable to God and Society.

*Eschatological – Finally, Work draws man into The eternal Kingdom of God. Work also develops everything around it and has an eschatological finality and purpose.. There is nothing we do that does not affect the world in which we live. In developing a spirituality of work, I learn to trust beyond reason that good work will gain good things for the world, even when I don't expect them and I can't see them. In that way, I benefit myself. Literally. I come into possession of a 'me' that is worthwhile, whose life has not been in vain, who has been a valuable member of the human race.
And so I am. I begin to realize that work is the lifelong process of personal sanctification. I finally come to know that my work is God's work, unfinished by God because God meant it to be finished by me.

Types of  WORK : The Latins distinguished between OPUS -  Work that is productive and effective, a realization of God’s Will; and LABOR - work that is non-productive, squirrel-like activity. 

Models of OPUS were Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Don Bosco, every saint…… ourselves, when open and committed to God's Will.
Only WORK,  the fruit of prayer, humility and obedience can lead to the OPUS (God’s Will)

Salesians Spirituality was action-orientated, Salesians took pride in being branded a 'workaholics' giving Don Bosco himself a bad name, with quotations such as these:
DB: “Work, work, work ….. bread and heaven.
         “Tell the devil to stop working first”
         “When a Salesian dies working, a gain for the Congregation”.
         “Dream of the ten Diamonds” focussed on the Diamons of Work and Temperance position strategically on the shoulders of the personage.
         “Do not admit Poltroni, easychair (lazy) , Mangioni hoggers    (greedy) and  Testoni, hardheaded  (stubborn) ” persons.

The ideal Salesian model: Is a Salesian who is young, thin and always on the run.

Since Vat. II and SGC: The Salesians are experiencing a called to a a paradigm shift from Action to Contemplation spirituality.
A call to RETURN TO Don Bosco’s “spiritual depth and solid faith. Don Bosco was a mystic in his own times.

We have strayed on to the paths of efficiency, professionalism, secularism and individualism and given Evangelization a bad name.

Looking closely into the life of DB, we note that the success of his mission came not from hectic activity but a deeper relation and UNION WITH GOD.


Vision - Salesians 2115!

Well that's quite a distant Vision to envisage. Besides, at 72, I am getting shortsighted. However, I venture to 'prophesy' that within the next century, the Salesians will certainly grow in many aspects of their life and mission. The fervour and fidelity stirred to higher levels in the Bicentenary Year will hopefully yield such results. However, I see the growth of the Salesian Family with a much greater presence of the Laity (Salesian Cooperators, Friends of Don Bosco, others) involved in the Salesian Mission. If the present trend continues, numbers may drop or increase only fractionally among the religious congregations Don Bosco himself founded ( SDB & FMA). Their presence, in the Salesian Mission though numerically small, will be seen in an even more important role of genuine guides and as "Spiritual Animators" of the many and varied activities, effectively administered and managed by the laity of the Salesian Family.

Thus, through the years ahead, in my estimate, the Mission of Don Bosco and the Salesian Charism as willed by God will be successfully carried forward and continue to respond to even greater challenges of a highly technological and young Generation. This will require a selection and adequate qualification and preparation of the laity in the Salesian Family for future missionary ministry and apostolic youth services.

Sounds more like an 'illusion' than a 'vision'!
Does it? But then, 200 hundred years ago, Don Bosco's Vision was seen by not a few even in church circles, more as an illusion of a dreamer.
Call me a false prophetic, if you wish.

But, if this "prophecy" is plausible, what it would imply is firstly, that the carefully selected lay members of the Salesian Family will have to be suitably trained, qualified and well-formed in Salesian Spirituality and Principles of education. Secondly, that these lay members are entrusted with increasing responsibility in the various levels of administration and management of all Salesian activities, be they educational, socio-cultural or spiritual.

There is a definite need for a paradigm shift in the living out of our SDB Identity in the Salesian Family and in the Salesian mission itself.
The SDB Congregation particularly is challenged to shift from direct involvement in various fields of Salesian activity, and to play a more important role of empowering the various apostolic activity groups. To do this, the SDBs are called to be competent Spiritual Animators and have a deeper personal experience of God which transforms them into "Mystics in the Spirit"; as "Prophets" witnessing to fraternal life in the wider community of the Salesian Family, and responsible for formation and animation of the Salesian Family to the "Servant" ministry of the Salesian Mission in the Church.

Infact, in the last few years the call for this shift has been growing loud in the exhortations of the Rectors Major, inviting the SDBs and the entire Salesian Family to follow Don Bosco's spirituality and be men and women in " Union with God". The most recent General Chapter, GC27 has ushered us into the Birth Bicentenary Year which is not at all a terminal point of arrival but rather a celebration of the journey of the Salesian Family moving forward towards 2115 as Mystics, Prophets, and Servants.

A sermon starter on Catholic Marriage

·       Catholic Marriage is – Sacrament ie.  A vocation ordained by God.
·       Therefore a Sacred Calling – You have not chosen me,  but I have chosen you, says God.
·       The  Nuptial pledge is not a mutual consent, between the couple only, but a promise to God.
·       Therefore a Sacred Vow, a  Public Promise seriously made in God’s presence and witnessed to by His Priest and community and then registered and recognised  in civil society.
·       Catholic  Marriage therefore  is first blessed and sanctioned here on God’s altar and later may be also  celebrated in a social reception with the cutting of the cake, the dance & dinner, etc.
·       Marriages in Church are sacred and it is important for us Catholics to attend the Nuptials in the Church and not limit our participation to the social reception in the hall.
·       This is precisely why  Ruel & Noella, their parents, relatives  and friends are gathered here, to witness to the Sacredness of the Marriage of this happy Couple.
·       Again, Catholic Marriage as a Sacrament is an external SIGN of internal GRACE   –  and that Sign is a manifest  LOVE  for each other  which God has planted in the hearts of every husband and wife. While the Marriage formula always concluded “till death do us part”, the recent easy break up of couples seems to have changed the formula to: Till marriage do us part.
·       Love in married life is sacred and has to be genuine and self sacrificing, like the love of Jesus who lay down his life for us.  The Marriage pledge says: “In good times and in bad times , in sickness and it health”  Yes, unless husband and wife are determined to live and lay down their life for each other, it will remain selfish and vanish.
·       The sacredness of Marriage demands Fidelity from the start in order to build trust and confidence between husband and wife and avoid the rocks of doubt and suspicion on which many a marriage which started well, have  crashed.
·       The Family of Nazareth which is so much in focus in this Christmas  season, is a lesson on a Happy and  Holy Married Life. For the saintly couple, Joseph and Mary,  the Joy of Christmas was Jesus and Jesus only. Hence the stable and inconvenience of Bethlehem did not matter.
·       Catholic Marriages  built on good housing and fat financial  incomes but lacking the presence of Christ in the home are bound to crack and crumble. And hence the place of prayer and worship of God in the lives of husbands and wives who meet Him together.
·       A  final important aspect of marriages is well expressed by the poet Khalil Gibran who advised lovers:                                                                 “Let there be spaces in your togetherness;
And let the winds of heaven dance between you”.
Too many marriages today suffer from a congestion of space that makes a slave of the partners.
·       Jesus put it even better when He said : Love one another as I have loved you. In His Love for his disciples he provided them much space to be free and independent to follow him. He respected, trusted understood and even forgave them.  If  True Marriage  is to grow, there must be enough  space to grow for each partner – spaces of respect, trust, compassion and forgiveness in married life.
·       Dear Ruel and Noella, as you embark on the sacred path of matrimonial life, we surround you with our prayer  and share your hope that your Marriage will truly be what God intended  and Jesus and Mary blessed by their presence at the Cana marriage.  As at Cana, may JESUS be the Miracle of your Marriage, making it a Sacrament of of sacrificial love,  lasting peace, and fidelity unto death and then beyond to eternal bliss.

WORDS are all we have......


I have always had a special love for words. Words have such power in them.
The right words can uplift, inspire, heal, and create endless joy and love
in our lives. The wrong words can depress, discourage, hurt, and bring us
endless misery and pain. It is so very important then to try and choose the
right words in our lives. By choosing the right words I don't just mean
saying the right words or writing the right words either. I also mean
thinking the right words. It is amazing the garbage that so many of us allow
ourselves to think each and every day of our lives.

In order to live a truly blessed life we must haul away the garbage and
start to plant words that will grow into a garden of joy and light in our
minds. Start today then to make the words in your life work for you and not
against you. Do away with "can't" and "no". Try "can" and "yes" instead.
Say, " I can be happy, I can choose joy, and I can share love." Say, "Yes"
to life, to learning, and to growth. Begin to use words like: Wonderful,
Beautiful, and Delightful when you speak to others. Find a word of praise
for everyone you know and then share it with them. Look the people you love
straight in the eye and tell them, "I love you." Seek our every fantastic,
fabulous, and glorious word that you can and start to use them in your life.

Words are such simple things and yet they have the power to change our lives
forever if we use them right. Make the choice everyday of your life to use
all of the good, positive, and loving words you can every second that you
can. If you do this you will find that your life will become a paradise of
love and joy, that other people will become your brothers and sisters in
happiness, and that God's goodness will shine through every word you use....

-- Author Unknown

29 July 2015

Interesting FACTS.


It takes glass one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times!

Gold is the only metal that doesn't rust,
even if it is buried in the ground for thousands of years .

Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end .

If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.

Each year 2,000,000 smokers either quit smoking or die of tobacco-related diseases.

Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals.

Kites were used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers.

The song, Auld Lang Syne, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year.

Drinking water after eating reduces the acid in your mouth by 61 percent.

Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines
because it doesn't smoke unless it's heated above 450F.

The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.

Nine out of every 10 living things live in the ocean.

The banana cannot reproduce itself. It can be propagated only by the hand of man.

Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density.

The University of Alaska spans four time zones.

The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself.

In ancient Greece , tossing an apple to a girl was a
traditional proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.

Warner Communications paid $28 million for the copyright to the song Happy Birthday.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

A comet's tail always points away from the sun.

The Swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused more death and illness than the disease it was intended to prevent.

Caffeine increases the power of aspirin and other painkillers, that is why it is found in some medicines.

The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.

If you get into the bottom of a well or a tall chimney and look up, you can see stars, even in the middle of the day.

When a person dies, hearing is the last sense to go. The first sense lost is sight.

In ancient times strangers shook hands to show that they were unarmed.

Strawberries are the only fruits whose seeds grow on the outside.

Avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams.

The moon moves about two inches away from the Earth each year.

The Earth gets 100 tons heavier every day due to falling space dust.

Due to earth's gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 15,000 meters.

Mickey Mouse is known as "Topolino" in Italy.

Soldiers do not march in step when going across bridges because they could set up a vibration which could be sufficient to knock the bridge down.

Everything weighs one percent less at the equator.

For every extra kilogram carried on a space
flight, 530 kg of excess fuel are needed at lift-off.

28 July 2015

A Mahatma for our times.

What an exit, sudden but significant! So sudden, bereft of a formal farewell. But significantly, a departure of a great Teacher in the midst of his students. However, teachers we know never die. They live on in the lives of the students they have mentored. Mr. Abdul Kalam will live on in our memories and hopefully inspire every Indian to tread the path of intellectual excellence, moral integrity and social harmony.

The Nation promptly reacted to the shocking news with immense, spontaneous grief over the demise of India's most brilliant Nuclear Scientist,  an unmatched People's President and a loyal citizen, human to the core. Government News channels, private news agencies and socialnetworks, have since, opened the floodgates of 
profuse praise and admiration for Mr. Abdul Kalam. May it not remain mere lipservice which will fade as fast as it appeared.

Professor Kalam was an Indian, head and shoulders above the rest, be it in the field of Science, Public life and Social dealings. We may rightly consider him the Mahatma for our times and tainted India's solitary boast.  

26 July 2015

Coping with 'old age'.

We spoke a lot about formation of the young when I myself was young. I thought the Youth phase of life was the challenging. Judging now from my own difficulties of coping with the problems of a 70 plus, I realize "old age'  brings us to an even more difficult phase of life and calls for formation of the whole self in order to arrive at a mature and graceful life of peace and contentment. Formation or no formation, I have certainly encountered and admired quite a few men and women, priests and religious in their advanced years who live the 'old age phase' so gracefully. But I have also come across cranky and bitter elders who are very difficult to please and live with. 
Now that I am already in this phase of 'old age', I realise the need for some spiritual and mental formation to understand that there is something new to learn in this phase which is far beyond the experiences of youth and middle age. I mean, I need to attend a course of "formation to Old age". Any such course being offered?

Servants or Friends.

The GC27 has offered us a theme or better an identity card of every Salesian called to be 'mystic, prophet and servant'. Serious efforts to delve into the "union with God" relation of Don Bosco, leads to a conviction that there is a mystical dimension to our Salesian Family spirituality which needs to be cultivated in our communities and in our personal lives, as a priority value, given the pressure of secularism and its worldly values. GC27's  choice of the term 'prophet' to witness to a fraternal life of communion is also relevant and apt, to offset the growing individualism and egoism that is creeping into our personal and community dealings.

While I subscribe enthusiastically to the call to be mystics and prophets, I wonder whether the salesian identity should include  the icon or paradigm of a 'servant of the young''. The word servant brings to mind a menial position, a mostly hired not voluntary service remunerated by a salary. To me, the term servant smacks more of a colonial or outdated image, perhaps not palatable to the younger generation of Salesians. We are certainly not 'hired shepherd' of the young. Besides, in actual life, as educators, we need to have an ascendency over our students, for the 'disciple is not greater than the Master. How then may we describe our relationship with the young? I suggest 'friend'.

Talking to the community of Apostles, Jesus says, I will not call you servants any longer, I will call you friends, because I have revealed to you all that the Father has told me. We note here, that the relationship of Jesus with his first community evolved from servanthood to friendship. Jesus gave a new meaning to the servant ministry. Even when He washes the feet of his apostles at the last supper, Jesus does so spontaneously as a gesture of love and concern rather than as an act of ritual purification performed by dutybound servants. Service for Jesus is not hired or paid servant ministry but a ministry of spontaneous, selfless and sacrificial love,

The choice of the term 'servant of the young' is new in salesian vocabulary. Don Bosoc was always considered the 'friend of the young'. We are familiar with some other terms, too, like 'shepherd of the young' or 'missionary of the young'. Since we talk today so much about the educator's role as 'accompaniment', a friend and not a servant describes better the quality of the relationship, Salesians ought to have with the young. Let's be friends with the young!

25 July 2015

Formation to Transformation

The current concern in the Formation of priests and religious is about the very understanding of Formation and the actual role of Formators.
Formation is no more a set period of time, a package of courses or a terminal destination or point of arrival. Formation rather, is a 'process' that begins at birth and grows with the individual. More than talk about 'initial and ongoing formation, as distinct compartments, we speak today of lifelong formation process. Hence, even in the case of Religious formation, the process does not start at the phases of Prenovitiate and Novitiate but rather continues as a maturing process, accompanied by professional guidance of Formators. Today, insistence on personal responsibility obliges every Formee to be responsible for his/her religious formation, advisedly with the assistance of competent guides.  

God's Will versus Human expectations!

The tensions we face in life ultimately are the struggle between trustingly submitting to the Will of God and stubbornly striving to realise our human expectations.  The more we grow in our faith that God's Will is always wishing us peace and happiness, the less we will enforce our expectations that stir up ambition and anxiety in our lives. Let God happen in our lives for His Will is always more blessed than our expectations.