The two dimensions that make a 'Vocation'

by Castilino  

Initiating a course on Youth Ministry for a group of students of Theology of a particular congregation, I spoke of the need to build the person of the animator. Somewhere during the second or third session, we were discussing about the theme of the 'Vocation'. It was at this moment that I felt the group not in sync with the ideas I was presenting. A little questioning and clarifying session made the lacuna clear: they all (including the 4 deacons present) considered vocation as merely God's call. Nothing more. Their idea was that God calls and that's how one becomes a priest! My inquiry about the role of human response to that call, drew blank responses! This is perhaps one of the basic reasons our ministry does not become meaningful: we leave the whole 'burden' to God, after all, it is He who called me!! I do not have a great responsibility because I really do not have an active role to play!

I believe, God's call and our response to it, collectively makes what we call a vocation. And what is it that makes a vocation deeper or meaningful to a particular context? It is my response, more than merely God's call (His Grace is always there). The more involved and committed response I give to God's call, the more meaningful and relevant will my vocation be. I think it is right that God too gets his due rest and we start taking responsibility for our choices.

When good is not enough…

by Castilino  

I heard many a sermon conclude that the rich young man mentioned in the gospels, lived a very sad life. I have my own doubts. Somehow I have a feeling that he lived a happy life, may not be a very fulfilled one but surely not a sad one. The reason is simple: he asks the Lord for what more he could do, besides the charity he was already doing. This very request implies that he had the good will and the guts to reach out to others. But the fact that Jesus recognized in him the capacity to do more, and therefore the challenge to take a step further, does not discount the truth that he continued the good deeds he was already used to. This is a perfect example of the proverb: Good is the enemy of the best!

In a way I am glad that the Ratio clearly states that young men willing to join the Salesian Congregation ought to be more than just good. They need to show an abundance of positive characteristics in order to be promoted as novices and professed Salesians. Now that’s a very bright signpost we cannot afford to ignore, lest we end up living and sharing a challenging mission with mediocre confreres. I always tell the aspirants and younger Salesians, that being good is not enough. To be worthy sons of Don Bosco means to be the best of who and what I can be… nothing but the best!

Time, pressure and motivation

by Castilino  

Much water has flown under the bridge since I last blogged - not more than the recent floods which ravaged my state here, though! There was the Social Communication Meeting, with its own experiences, reflections and fond memories. The latest was the Preparatory Session for PC7 and the council which concluded last night. The best part of the prep session was the group discussion we had (mostly confreres from the Formation houses, except for two of us). Discussing one of the points, it struck me that in communities, due to paucity of personnel, how we get stretched out far beyond our capacities, even without our awareness. Looking at myself, I still wonder how I survived the previous year given all the responsibilities I held. While it is true that lost in all these things we cannot really concentrate on any one responsibility and do full justice to it; I also have a feeling that the best out of us is 'extracted' only when we are pushed to our limits by our own choice (or when we set deadlines/clear goals for ourselves). The other alternative is that we should be so motivated that time or place (or anything for that matter) should make no big difference in giving of our best - but isn't that what we really profess when we join the congregation?

Being passionate about somone!

by Castilino  

This day's session during the Social Communication meeting concluded with me ending up more confused than with any clear ideas about the "Centres of Communication". As I still battle it out, I tried to find out what exactly was our focus on, in debating the whole issue about the identity and mission of the Communication Centres. Perhaps each centre has its own identity and mission; at times quite different from the one the Congregation expects such a centre to have. Whatever be the case, there is much good being done. If only we are a little more open and serious about the real purpose of communication, much more could be achieved.

The three days (so far) meeting has taught me one thing: people are different and they think differently. But even among those who are like-minded, concerns differ. There are those who have grand ideas but no practical knowledge of how to go about materialising those ideas. There are others who have all the money in the world but no brains to put it to the best use possible (neither the sense to invest it rightly)! Then there are some who have neither money nor ideas, but tons of enthusiasm and are willing to pour out every ounce of themselves for any opportunity to do good (These guys do not have a vision themselves but goodwill). Very few though have a vision, a foresight by which they pick and choose their individual deeds; so as to arrive at that final goal they envision all along. There are a few others who have a few ideas, no money, no big support but good will and the eagerness to do what they can, to the best of their ability; money or no money, they do what they can, in the best way possible to them.

Of the many things Fr Fili said in the past two days, I liked his insistence on setting our sight clearly on the poor young; being communicators does not grant us an exception to that. What, how, where we do, ought to be guided by the 'Why?' of our Profession/commitment - or is it 'WHO'? I would think it is the latter. The passion to do something will have a greater meaning and relevance when it is for someone (young people/Don Bosco/God...).

Multiplication of 'holidays'!

by Castilino  

Jesus saw a great multitude and felt pity for them. When it became late, his disciples came to him and said: Lord, dismiss the people, it is already late and they have no time. Jesus said: Give them your own time. They said: We ourselves have no time, and the little we have, what is that for such an immense crowd? Jesus said: Let us see how much time you have. One said that he had an afternoon free, another could spare ten minutes, another looked in his diary and found 3 half hours unoccupied. Jesus said: Give all that time to me. And he looked up to heaven and thanked his Father and blessed all the time they had given him and told them to distribute all that time among the people. And they did so. And everybody received a portion of time, and the little they received was enough for everybody, and at the end they still had 12 days extra, enough for a nice holiday.
[This one is from Fr John Lens sdb, a senior Salesian from the Province of Hyderabad]

The yeast of Social Communication

by Castilino  

I write this sitting in a hall where an intense debate rages on about the restructuring and animation of the Department of the Mission (Youth Ministry, Mission and Social Communication). At this moment we find ourselves talking about the need of a Youth Pastoral team/leader who would coordinate the activities of the various commissions. He would pool together the resources of independent, charismatic and dynamic individuals (who may not even be part of any commission) and carry them forward using his 'official clout'. Fr Julian kept asking where does the one in charge of Social Communications fit in, in this whole process. For me, 'he is there' with his team, at the service of all the commissions. He (Communication) is like the yeast mixed in the flour and baked. After the bread is ready, if one were to ask where did the yeast go, none would be able to singularly identify it. But if not for the yeast, the baked product would be anything but bread. The yeast is the Communication department and the bread is the mission. And for whom is the 'bread'? For the poor young!

Energising a movement (Strenna 2010)

by Castilino  

Fr Anchukandam Thomas, the Salesian Provincial of Bangalore (INK) and the SPCSA representative, in his goodnight to the participants of the South Asia Communication Meeting, shed new light on the Strenna 2010 of the Rector Major (of making the Salesian Family a movement). He said that, in order to make this envisaged movement an efficient reality five essential features need to be strengthened: the centrality of the person, the intended/proposed programme, the effective and vibrant communication of them both, the consistency (between the person and the programme proposed) and the necessity of getting significant people, related to realizing this goal, on board.

I found this synthetic procedure quite precise and appealing may be because it primarily challenges each confrere to take responsibility for the movement.

Interchanging Bartemeus and Jesus

by Castilino  

Even today, of all days, I was distracted during the Holy Mass - the reading of the Gospel, to be specific. The Gospel was about Bartemeus calling on Jesus to grant him his sight. While Fr KJ Louis beautifully shared that it was more about insight than mere sight, I had another "insight": Then, it was Bartemeus who was calling on the Lord - and the Lord heard him (in spite of all the noise around!). Then all that happened is recorded in the Gospel of Mark.

My distraction began the moment I playfully interchanged Jesus and Bartemeus... Imagine Jesus sitting down along the road and asking us, passing by, to reach out to him. What would Bartemeus do? Would he, in all his 'well being', hear the plea of Jesus, the 'lesser being'? Even if he did hear the cry, would Bartemeus reach out?

Today I think it is the Lord himself who is calling out, asking us to reach out to him - in the poor, the marginalised, the down-trodden and those stripped of their basic human dignity. Reminds me of Abraham Joshua Heschel and his idea of 'God in search of man'!

The thrill of being a human

by Castilino  

It has been long since that I'm trying to learn the art of bi-location; however am yet to master it. I guess till then I'll have to work it out 'alone'. There are times I envy the angels: no body, no time, no space, no boundaries... anytime, anywhere, anyhow! But there are times also when I pity them. I don't think they ever get to feel the thrill of chasing a train from the entrance of the railway station to the last platform or making it to an urgent meeting in the nick of time. The grace of getting stuck in traffic for four hours is exclusively of Hyderabadi people. I guess all this is possible precisely because we are human beings... mortal, limited, imperfect and finite.

I remember reading long ago in the book titled When bad things happen to good people (by Harold Kushner) the statement he makes referring to Homer's Odyssey: Calypso (the immortal sea nymph) envies Ulysses because he is a mortal. His life becomes meaningful, every decision significant, and life filled with real choices, precisely because his time is bound. So why rue over the fact that we are not capable and limited and small. It is precisely that we are so, that makes us special - that in spite of all these we do quite well. I guess it is a great and thrilling challenge to be a human; as angels I guess life will be quite boring with no worthy challenges at all!

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