Speaking from the heart

by Castilino  

The other day while at the Jubilee celebrations of two MSFS Priests and a Brother at Vizag, the one preaching the sermon narrated an anecdote about an actor and an old Priest. I had heard it before but this time it struck me for one particular reason: the futility of verbosity in preaching and the power of genuine witnessing.

The anecdote: A famous entertainer was once asked to recite the 23rd Psalm in a performance. A large audience filled the large auditorium. After he finished everyone gave him a generous round of applause. After this an old man was asked to present the same Psalm. When he finished there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Everyone was touched by his devotion to the Shepherd. The entertainer came back to continue the program. Before starting the program he said, I know the Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd!

I wish all the Priests, Preachers and especially my Seminarians realise this: that every word counts when uttered from the heart. If something has not touched us, how on earth will it change or affect those who listen to us preaching about it?

A snake for Bread

by Castilino  

Most often when we ask God for something we expect it to be delivered as a a 'ready-to-use' package. We ask God to give us bread and we expect it good, fresh, sliced and tasty. But God is not so cheap a baker. He is God!! He gives us, each according to what He has already blessed us with, the necessary things in order to get bread. For some He may give a lump of dough, others wheat, some He may give the required money. I won't be shocked if God gives someone a snake (just as in the readings of today, Mt 7: 7-12). Perhaps God has already blessed him with the skill of being a snake-charmer and he uses his skill and the snake to earn money, so that he gets his bread!

God promises 'good things' to all humanity; not ready-made or ready-to-use things!

A lesson in friendship and fidelity

by Castilino  

In the Gospel this morning (Lk 5: 17-22), the paralytic man lowered from the roof by his friends was saved more because of the faith of his friends, than perhaps his own (When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven"). Jesus recognises this man's ability to have such friends... the courage to pick and choose those who would be with him in thick and thin... then live righteously enough to win the respect and love of those friends who would go to any extent to see him well.

Who are my friends? Whom do I associate most with? Will they, when I am unable to approach Jesus by myself or am moving away from Him, lead me to Him?

Vocation and Vocation Promotion

by Castilino  

I put down here a very striking reflection shared by Fr Joe Mannath about vocation and vocation promotion. It is very much in line with the GC 26 documents which we were discussing during our PC7. ... and which we failed to understand (as is the case mostly)!

Just because someone joins the seminary or the novitiate, that does not mean that he/she is called to that form of life. Vocation (in contrast to the use a number of priests and religious make of the word) is something everyone has. My father and mother have a vocation - and a holy one at that - just as I have. Vocation promotion, if genuine, consists in helping a person to choose before God that path in life where he/she will do God's will best. Or, in simple words, that path is my vocation, where I will be more loving and happier, more true to the spirit and example of Jesus. For most people the right setting is marriage; it can help me to become a true disciple of Christ. What matters is to do God's will and live a holy life, not which group I belong to.

If I forget this, or if I am more interested in the size or the survival of my group (religious order or diocese) than in what a young person is called to, then I will try to keep people in the seminary or religious life, without bothering about whether he/she seems to be really suited to this walk of life. ... A higher number of candidates need not mean more vocations. People may be getting in (and staying in) for the wrong reasons - side by side with those who are joining and staying for very genuine reasons. We must not forget that there are many 'vocations' in the Church - not just priesthood or celibate religious life.

Prayer

by Castilino  

Today's liturgical readings (Ex 17: 8-13; II Tim 3:14--4:2; Lk 18: 1-8), call us to focus our attention on prayer. It is something all of us 'think' we know until we are really caught up with something and no word escapes our lips or our mind is too busy to think of anything but a prayer. Fr KT in his sermon, said a beautiful thing: one of the basic and primary requirement of prayer is the ability to listen in humility. This is followed by an adequate and appropriate response to that listening. With most of us the difficulty is basically the first part: to listen with humility. We'd prefer to do the talking and others - even God - to listen. Perhaps then what we say or do, (or do not say or do not do) is a 'blackmail' or a 'demand'... not a prayer.

So what's the purpose of a prayer? Not that God or the other changes, but that I have a better capacity to understand what is going on and have the courage to do it or fight it. Prayer then, is not for something merely I want, but for grace enough to do what is rightful and just. It is an occasion to acknowledge that I can always ask for help (irrespective of whether the help arrives or not, or in the way or time, I want it or not)... a reminder that there is someone other than me who is there and also willing to help.

God and His bountiful gifts

by Castilino  

Perhaps the reason, besides the many offered by Theologians and Bible commentaries, Job chose to 'bless' God in spite of the many trials and tribulations that came his way, is that every time he received something from God, his focus was not on the thing in itself. He saw that merely as a by product of God's continued assurance that He was on his side. So rather than take pride in the 'by product' Job's eyes were set on God, the real gift. Hence when all these so-called 'gifts' were taken away from him, he was never really perturbed. His assurance was firm: God was with him (perhaps more than him being with God). Suppose God Himself were to have questioned his fidelity and love, that would have been the end of Job... but that was not to be.

Most of us, on the other hand, want more. We ask for something and when God assures us that what we already have is plenty, we do not listen. When out of His generosity, He grants us something, we say a casual 'thanks' and before long, ask for more. Like the camel and the Sheikh who were travelling in the desert. At night when it started raining, the Sheikh was in the tent and the camel outside. The camel asked the Sheikh to let it just put its head inside. The tent was a small one, but the Sheikh agreed. Soon the camel asked permission to put in its neck too. The Sheikh consented. Then it was the hump and a while later, the camel was in the tent and the Sheikh outside in the rain!!

We are so full of God's bounty but without God; not because He wants to be away, but because we put Him aside (or outside) and keep His gifts near at hand... who knows which of the gifts we need at what time!

Digital Resurrection

by Castilino  

Today in my reading of some text, I came across this phrase 'born digital'... it is about young people today who are born and grow up playing with the latest of media technology and gadgets. By the time they start speaking and reasoning, they are experts in the use of these media, much much better than some elders who may still be stuggling to know or find out the very idea of them. This has special significance for us Salesians since the younger generations that are coming up are only progressive - though not all - and if we are to make an impact in their lives, we too need to be familiar with their world. Therefore, if not born digital, we need to at least have a digital resurrection!!

Faith as inevitable

by Castilino  

Everyone believes in someone or something. Everyone has faith... the only question is in whom or in what! Faith is indeed inevitable. The atheist too believes in something; so does an agnostic. Even the most hardcore terrorist has faith. There would be hardly anyone in this world without an iota of faith, at least or in the last analysis, in himself. So the question is not whether we have faith or not; it is rather, what is it that we have faith in or whom do we believe?

A living gift from a living God

by Castilino  

During the Philosophical Symposium on Ecology and Religion, Fr Devadas made a very interesting and practical suggestion. Speaking during an ongoing debate about the role of the Church in the ongoing ecological crisis, he suggested that during major feasts and celebrations, the faithful could be given a sapling - blessed by the Priest - to take home and take care of. It would be a 'living gift from a living God'. That is great idea!! Rather than give medals and statues and so on, a plant is a living gift. People would naturally begin to see nature as God's gift and not something merely to be used for personal benefits.

Good suggestion too to link the Church, God, Christianity and nature... of course with human beings!

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