Blessed are those who do not hate!

by Castilino  

It was nearly a month ago that I decided to stick to matters that are relevant while speaking rather than enter is loose talk that often begins by an innocent grumbling session. Though I've been successful to a large extent, as I review my own resolution, I realise I can do much better. So I decided to stick by it for some more time, till I have to make a valiant effort to think or speak otherwise!!

Confirming my belief that the more we grow and the higher we go up the ladder of responsibility the more guarded and defensive we become. We tend to always "protect" ourselves... from God knows what! Children, on the other hand, are least bothered. They like to explore, see things anew, they are not intimidated or too self-conscious. There is the interesting conversation in famous novel The Jungle book, wherein Mowgli is "taught to be civilized" and at one of his 'classes' he hears the word 'enemy' and he asks, "What's that?" He gets the reply, "the one you hate." And the immediate query from Mowgli, "What's hate?"

Who knows Jesus must have spoken of other beatitudes too, which were somehow not recorded and this one would surely be one of those: Blessed are those who do not hate, for they shall always be child-like!

Called to be disciples, not workers

by Castilino  

Fr Maria Arokiam, the Regional of South-Asia gave a very relevant and inspiring sermon yesterday during the Provincial Installation ceremony. He basically called our attention to the fact that we need to take time out to realise our true identity: disciples. The need to get lost in the abundance of work that is at hand always. Yet that is not what we are basically here for. We need to realise the higher purpose for what we made our Profession. He therefore, called for a healthy tension between work and discipleship.

In other words, the need to balance being and doing.

Values ... more than deeds alone

by Castilino  

I see a great deal of energy and effort spent on doing deeds, especially with children and in our educational institutions. Of course, the argument is that children learn by doing. But I also believe that they need to be told WHY they are doing what they are told to do! It is only in this manner that we can inculcate values - which outlast any deed or time - rather than have a long list of deeds and activities.

The recent floods in Andhra and now the earthquake in Haiti are all examples of opportunities when we involve young people in our solidarity efforts with the victims. Rather than just ask them to contribute or collect funds, this should be a moment to rationalise and help them see 'why we do what we do'. Thus later in life when called upon for a social act, these young people get involved for the right reasons and with the best of their creative minds!

Of formees and street children

by Castilino  

It is perhaps the same challenge when working in a formation house or in a street childrens' home. As far as I see, there is a great lacuna of motivation in both the places: among the street kids, they have seen life and therefore would not be easily convinced of 'working hard' to make it something different; so is the case with most of our formees. 'Why struggle, when this much is enough!?' seems to be an unsaid refrain in the formation set up.

Secondly, both the groups are least interested in personal study, reflection and synthesis. This really is a grave danger, especially for those in formation.

I already have all I need

by Castilino  

Fr Koshy send me a 'forward' with a list of '20 powerful beliefs that will push you towards success'. Not anything new but quite good insights for one to reflect on. I would say it is quite a comprehensive list. Of the many things that caught my attention, I would like to single out the last belief listed, which I firmly approve of, basically from my little experience in life and as a Salesian: I already have all I need. Much of efforts seem to be lost in the acquisition of things. The belief that I already have all I really need does work wonders. You feel so full that you cannot but start sharing all you have. You no more 'work' and 'struggle' but every act becomes an act of charity and every moment such a joy!

The curse of institutionalisation

by Castilino  

Sitting this morning for meditation, a thought flashed across my mind. Try as hard as I may, I found my mind wandering in and out of my office, my computer, my daily plans, list of 'to-do' and what not! So rather than try to 'empty my mind' I brought Jesus into this hectic drama! I asked myself, 'What would Jesus have done had he been staying in the Provincial house here?' The first and the most immediate visual that popped up in my mind was that of Jesus calmly strolling out of the Provincial house, into the midst of people. The images were all of Jesus waving to people, giving 'hi-fi's to youngsters, walking into the houses of unknown people to have a word with them... just like that! Then late in the evening come back to the Provincial house ... only to sleep.

I don't think he would have worried about his computer, his office, the diary and daily programme of 'to-do', the courier guy asking if he has to take any couriers, him directing the gardener to weed that section or pluck those tomatoes and sell them, discuss with the cook what to cook for supper and for how many, worry about when to pay the next internet, phone and electricity bill, whom to send to pick up the calendars which arrived at the road transport ... Jesus surely would live and do His work with the people and not get lost in running the Provincial house!

That's the curse of institutionalisation!

To be led by the light... by faith

by Castilino  

It is surprising to notice that only three kings (or four of them, as the legend goes) "see" the star! Equally astonishing or even more, is the fact that they decide to follow it, to God knows where and for what! But they did follow! That's faith. That's what really counts in the long run. To be able to take the first step, not sure if I'd be able to move ahead or whether I'll even be able to find ground beneath my first step. It is true that the wise men followed the star, but they were really wandering in darkness, led not by the light above but their faith within. Most often we fail in our journey of life or keep going round in circles because we rely more on the light outside than the faith within!

Allow your children to hate you

by Castilino  

A truly personal love of child for parent (or for 'what is right') must develop like any other love, and suffer the same frustrations and reversals. To imagine that it can be imposed or demanded, or to believe that it can be fully achieved by the age of two, or five, or fifteen, is nothing but self-delusion. It is a paradox, but at some stages of his development the child will best 'honor his parents' by hating them. By his rage against their superior strength he gives them evidence that they have sired a human being with a healthy sense of his innate dignity, not merely a vegetable or a puppet.

Stanley Kutz, "The Demands of the Present," The New Morality, ed. Dunphy, 150.

A lesson we Salesians need to learn, again and again! We need to take development, time, into account, rather than demanding perfection at every moment. Heidegger wrote Being and Time, bringing our attention to the fact that being is shot through with time, that time / history is a dimension of being. Some Salesian has to write a book called and Time, or Formation and Time, for similar reasons. The quote above is quite wonderful.

This reflection is a contribution of Fr Ivo Coelho sdb, from Mumbai Province-INB.

Education and lettting go

by Castilino  

Selfhood begins with a walking away
And love is proved in the letting go

C. Day Lewis, reflecting on his son.

Another good lesson for Salesians. The asceticism of being fathers, Fathers, and educators.

This is also, it strikes me, the asceticism of God himself: God who has infinite patience with us, with me; God who refuses shortcut solutions to his messy world. God who is willing to undergo time and history and pain and suffering, and to place the resurrection only on the other side of the cross. "Though he was in the form of God... he emptied himself... upto death on the cross."

(This reflection is a contribution of Fr Ivo Coelho, sdb from the Mumbai Province-INB.)

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