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?..........