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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Joseph's Dream and Child's Cry

The Feast of Holy Innocent Martyrs - Readings: 1 John 1:5—2:2; Matthew 2:13-18
The Killing of the Innocents by Herod (detail), Leon Cogniet ca.1824.

Listen to my Audio family (Preached in Jebel Ali Parish, Dubai)


- Olvin Veigas, SJ
28th December 2019 (13th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood)

Friday, December 27, 2019

God is Born among Us

Readings: Isaiah 52:7–10; Hebrews 1:1–6;  John 1:1–18
(The Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard von Honthorst, 15th Century)



A very happy Christmas to you all!

Today, we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, Jesus. The great awaited day has come after a fruitful preparation of 'Advent'.   Saviour is born to all.  Jesus is amidst us, one among the humanity, shedding radiant light of heavenly presence here on earth. What a joy! What a peace! God's love is manifested very poignantly and permanently. 

This great feast of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity teaches us three things today.

Firstly, Christmas is a celebration of a historical but defining event in the history of the world. The darkness has gone out of our lives through the radiant light of the heavenly Son. We celebrate every year the same event but always with unique and eloquently loving fervour. By His coming, Jesus sanctified us, brought salvation to his forlorn and directionless humanity. May be the Jesus' birth was a simple event in a complex of world of his times, but the little baby in a Bethlehem created uproars  and tumult in the palace of Herod, awe among the shepherds who were keeping a close watch over their herds on the mountains and hills, brightness on the faces of magi of the East. For many still the brith of Jesus may be 'no' event at all, but in reality, this event still shakes up the powers of our rulers, riches of the haves and pride of the mighty. God shakes them up through His prophets and people.

Secondly, Christmas is the keeping the memory alive of that event of Christ's Incarnation in the world. The Son of God's entry into the messy world of human history opens up a new chapter for humanity. This calls us to keep this memory alive by meditating, reflecting and practicing what he preached. It's a call to follow him who was, who is and who will be.

Thirdly, Jesus is reborn in our hearts, homes, families, parishes and in the world today in concrete situations and particular places. Often, we are lost in the messy, complex and evil acts of this world, which threaten us to see Jesus alive and active; moreover, being born amidst us again and again.  There is too much strife, war, evil acts in the world leaving no room for God's mercy, compassion, tenderness, forgiveness, love, justice and peace. We are called to create a world of God here on earth by practicing God's mercy, tenderness, compassion, love, forgiveness, justice and peace. It is not the peace and justice that the world gives but that of God.  There is no peace without justice and no justice without love and forgiveness.  Perhaps we might be able to do our little mite as Christians, as brothers and sisters and as "friends of the Lord."

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

Christmas Day 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!

Christmas Wishes
(Art by Mark Rupnik, SJ)
With Christmas the long-awaited event has become real in the person of Jesus Christ, our saviour. He came and made his home among us. This happy news changed everything, including how we view our life and how best we can make of it. With Christmas the grandeur of God is manifested profoundly and poignantly. God’s coming into the world made a fresh start in the life of humanity. The carols and hymns that we sing during this time remind us again and again that we need not be afraid. All kinds of fear, anxiety, frustration, angst and discouragement is transformed into courage, strength and power because of Jesus’ arrival amidst us. This is a momentous time for all of us to start fresh and new in and with the Lord. 

Jesus came to sow peace. Perhaps, this peace is not the way we think about. Because His ways are not our ways. We do not think like God. However, Jesus asked his disciples to continue this project of peace, justice and truth against all odds. The Child of Bethlehem still attracts attention today by the gentleness and simplicity it embodies and bears testimony to. Probably, the vision of God for us and the entire humanity might be brightened one day wholly and completely. 

The sad and agonising part of today is that we see so much injustice, violence, and brokenness in our world, in our church, in our communities, and in our own hearts. At times, we might feel engulfed and overwhelmed by it all, unable to see, feel or react anything else, unable to envision any other reality. But God sees them all with His own eyes. God sees the possibility of transformation already present in our broken world and in our broken selves. God is present and at work here, now, inviting us to see and participate. Conversion and transformation is a response to God's call of love. This change happens when conversion and interior transformation take place. Through this process of a pilgrimage, we move closer to God. 

The story of Christmas is our story.  Christmas is the feast of God's love for us. It is a story of the celebration of life and life in abundance. So, let us celebrate life.  With Christ’s birth amidst us, we are called to celebrate life in everyday and every way. This happens by change in  our attitudes which show growth in our convictions and principles. St John Henry Newman said, "to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often."  Life of holiness and sanctification is ushered by Jesus and there is no looking back. We walk with Christ and Christ will show us the way, truth and life. This life which is unique and essential in the sight of God will give us a new meaning and moment.  

A Christmas Prayer
Jesus, the Light of the World, as we celebrate your birth, may we begin to see the world in the light of the understanding you give us. As you chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship you in meekness of heart. May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving. Amen.

Merry Christmas; Happy and grace-filled New Year 2020!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

24th December 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christian Hashtag of God is with Us

4th Sunday of Advent - Readings:Isaiah 7:10–14; Romans 1:1–7; Matthew 1:18–24
(CG Christmas Program 2019)


From our conception to resurrection and our life in God in eternity, we the Christians carry a hashtag called "God-is-with-us." All the three readings of today bring us closer to Christmas. The readings also remind us that how much God loves us. He has not left us alone but accompanies us always. The symbol of his love for us is shown through His coming into the world in the person of Jesus. This great historical and salvific event changed the whole world and we can put it as the second most important event since the creation. 

There are three things which are incredibly significant for us with this Christian hashtag of God is with us.
I
Firstly, God comes to us in a mysterious but particular way. "God is with us" communique comes to us from God's people or His angels. In today's reading it is Angel Gabriel. Joseph is awakened in a dream by the messenger of God and tells him that he cannot leave Mary, his betrothed wife because she has conceived already by the Holy Spirit. Joseph has a terrifying dream but a promising plan in that moment of great desolation, disappointment and frustration. Dreams are very important. A person without a dream and a nation without a vision is doomed to perish. God comes to us in our unexpected times. God gives strength in those trying and confusing and complex moments of Joseph, because God knows how best to help the person in such moments. God is present in his desolation, in his disappointments, and in his discouragement.

In our Christian living, we become part of God's life through our baptism. This mark of our baptismal sacrament unites us with God with a very special bond. We accept Jesus as our saviour and Lord. Through the fount of baptism, we begin to receive other sacraments in our life as a symbol that God is with us. This allows us to move, live and have our being in God.

II
Secondly, Mary's openness to God is total and complete. Mary is a woman of the present; a woman of the moment. She is not bothered about the past or the future. Past is gone, future is uncertain but what is available now is present. But she is ready now. God comes to her in her readiness. "Let thy will be done." Mary takes up the challenge. In her openness, in her readiness, God comes to her. Thus  the sense of "God is with us" becomes totally true in her life. She is blessed with the child of God, Immanuel, God-is-with-us. In other words, God comes to us in our readiness, in our present moment. In whatever work we do let our mantra be like Mary, the Theotokosfiat voluntas tua, - "let Thy will be done".

III
Thirdly, call to holiness. St Paul, in his letter to the Romans tells us that our God is holy. Through our life of holiness we encounter God. We see that God is with us. Through his power of the Holy Spirit, he is proclaimed in holiness. All of us receive that grace of faith and holiness because we carry with us Jesus, the name of Immanuel each and every moment of our life. However, we need to live that life of holiness everyday and each and every moment of our life in faith and practice. Only then, God becomes truly present, i.e. God-is-with-us.

Happy Advent!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

22nd December 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Historicity and Immanence in the Coming of Jesus Christ

Nativity, by Brian Kershisnik, modern.

The historicity surrounding the coming of Jesus Christ into this world is immense and fascinating. The Bible speaks about coming of Jesus into the human world through the writings of Prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, from Daniel to John the Baptist and Gospels. Interestingly, the mystery surrounding God coming in the human form is foretold through visions, dreams, prophesies, imaginary explanations with artistic descriptions, and colourful explanations.
I
Firstly, what makes Christ and his coming into the world as a human person is that once the fulfilment of these prophesies did historically take place in the person of Jesus Christ all the prophesies cease in Israel. No more prophets after John the Baptist speak about the harbinger of the Good News from above. Everything ends with Christ. All the prophesies of the Old Testament end in and with Christ.

II
Secondly, what makes the Jesus' entry into the world strikingly noticeable and unique is that it is a historical fact. Even the secular history and literature took note of this event. In other words, non-Jewish literature made mention of it. How is it possible? For a human mind many things are possible!

Tacitus speaking for the ancient Romans, says, "People were generally persuaded in the faith of the ancient prophecies, that the East was to prevail, and that from Judea was to come the Master and Ruler of the world."

Suetonius in his account of the life of Vespasian, recounts the Roman tradition thus, "It was an old and constant belief throughout the East, that by indubitably certain prophecies, the Jews were to attain the highest power."

China, then called as the Celestial Empire in its Annals described that the great Wise Man would be born in the West. "In the 24th year of Tchao-Wang of the dynasty of the Tcheou, on the 8th day of the 4th moon, a light appeared in the South-west which illumined the king's palace. The monarch, struck by its splendour, interrogated the sages. They showed him books in which this prodigy signified the appearance of the great Saint of the West whose religion was to be introduced into their country." 

The Greek Aeschylus in his Prometheus six centuries before Christ's coming wrote: "Look not for any end, moreover, to this curse until God appears, to accept upon His Head the pangs of thy own sins vicarious."

Probably, the prophesies of Daniel must have made a good publicity during those times. Because of their fascinating imaginations and illuminating insights and wisdom. Often oracles and visions kept afloat the hopes of people in trying times especially in times of wars, diseases and natural disasters. 

The well-known Roman literary figure Cicero citing Sibyls and other ancient oracles and sayings notes that of a "King whom we must recognise to be saved," asks with expectation, "To what man and to what period of time do these predications point?"

The Fourth Eclogue of Virgil prefigures above tradition and speaks about a "chaste woman, smiling on her infant boy, with whom the iron age would pass away." 

There were rumours at that time and Romans were deeply fearful and worried about the possible coming of a king who would rule the world. And Suetonius quotes a contemporary author to this effect. Therefore, the Romans ordered all children born that year to be killed - an order that was not fulfilled, except by Herod.

If Jews were expecting birth of a Messiah, Great King like David, a Wise man and a Saviour, the Greek philosophers, Socrates and Plato spoke of the Logos and of the Universal Wise Man "yet to come." Confucius spoke of "the Saint"; the Sibyls, of a "Universal King"; the Greek dramatist, of a saviour and redeemer to unloose man from the "primal eldest curse." Even the Gentiles,  the non-Jews had a longing for a deliverer and redeemer. This very fact distinguishes Jesus from all other religious leaders and founders.

III
Thirdly, once Jesus makes an entry into the world the secular history is split into two; dividing it into two periods: one, before His coming - BC, the other, after it - AD (Anno Domini - "In the year of our Lord").  No other world religious leader or founder did not do this.

IV
Fourthly, Christ's life and death set a new meaning and understanding. The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the Person of Christ, however, it was His death that was first and His life that was last. Christ's death spoke stronger than life. Every other religious leader or founder came into this world came into it to live but Christ came into it to die. Death interrupted teachings of Socrates. But in Jesus, all his actions, teachings are intelligible only with reference to his death. Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity has its fulfilment and meaning only in His Resurrection which happens only after death - death on the cross. (Source: Fulton J Sheen, Life of Christ, 17-21)

The synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Luke give us the genealogy of Jesus, which is full of flesh and blood, power and glory. Luke recounts very vividly the times of Jesus with historical figures who ruled his territory. Perhaps, the historicity surrounding the birth of Jesus is not only astoundingly meaningful but also powerful because Jesus lives in history, in the history of humanity, in the lives of men and women of this world, now and forever inasmuch as he is Emmanuel: God-is-with-us.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

19th December 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Jesus: God's Self-Communication to the Humanity

02nd Sunday of Advent - Readings: Isaiah 11:1–10; Romans 15:4–9; Matthew 3:1–12
(St. John the Baptist Preaching, Mattia Preti, c. 1665)


The readings of the second Sunday of Advent admonish us that repentance is an essential dimension in encountering God. Only through repentance, we will receive the grace to meet the Lord.

The whole season of Advent or Christmas could be summarised in one word, i.e, "Communication." It is God's communication with the humanity. In the words of Jesuit theologian Fr Karl Rahner (1904-1984), God becoming human is God's utter self-communication with the humanity. In German, Selbstmitteilung Gottes in Jesus Christ.

Down the centuries, God communicated with the humanity through various people. With Noah with a covenant, to the Patriarchs Abraham, Issac and Jacob through promises and later God communicated through his judges and prophets.  God communicated with the humanity through promises and covenants saying that He is with them, loves them, cares for them and wants them. Finally, God spoke to the humanity though his own person, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. 

In this context Prophet Isaiah speaks of a new beginning which would happen with the coming of the Lord, a reconciliation between the two opposing parties, among the enemies, in other words, a total surrender in front of the Messiah, the Saviour. God's self-communication would be strong and powerful, divine and undestroyable, unthinkable and never thought of. 

God's self-communication happens in three ways: Historical, simple and direct. 

Firstly, God comes in our midst in a historical setting. Thus our history becomes His history. He comes in a particular moment of history. As a result, our life sanctified. Our life in this historical juncture has a place in God; has a meaning. 

Secondly, God's self-communication in Jesus Christ happens in a very simple way. A simple virgin from Nazareth is chosen for this task. She is Anawim, the servant of God. She accepts God's plan by promising to Angel Gabriel with the words, Fiat voluntas tua, "May Thy will be done." Even birth of Jesus happens in a very simple circumstances, on a manger. There is no preparation, no solemnity here.

Thirdly, God's self-communication happens in a direct way. It is God's initiative. God allows himself to come into the world directly. Thus Second Person of the Trinity takes charge upon himself and comes in our midst, in our form.  God's direct intervention with the humanity tells us that how much God loves us, how much God thinks about us.

In the Gospel reading of today, God's great communicator to the humanity is John the Baptist. A voice in the wilderness, he is a man of God, a fearless voice of God. Living a very austere, ascetic life, he ascends into God's mind in bringing His message of repentance, forgiveness, healing and encounter with the living God. John the Baptist's life tells us many things especially how well we can accept God's self-communication in our lives. Through the greatest prophets of all time, according to Jesus, John the Baptist as a percursor, helps us to understand that we are called to be simple, straightforward in our dealings, humble and meek in front of the Eternal Truth and always be ready to speak for God and His humanity when values of God's Kingdom are threatened or not followed. 

The humility of John, the last and greatest of the prophets of the old dispensation tells us that he is not worthy to untie even the Lord’s sandals. John's devotion to the Lord is immense and huge. John, through his humility prepares the way of the Lord. 

There might be times when God seems to be according to St Augustine Deus absocondibus, absence of God. Perhaps we have experienced or felt a hidden God, absconding God; a God, who is not bothered about us. However, that is not our God. He is there and we have missed him. We have messed up with our God. He is ready to embrace as his beloved sons and daughters. John the Baptist today, points out at that just and loving God. 

Therefore, let us look at our Saviour; let us trust in God’s mercy. This means being humble, open to God’s Word like St. John the Baptist. It means loving our neighbour, and working to create, with the help of God’s grace, the new creation of love, integrity and peace. It means valuing the marginalised, rejecting false ideologies, and seeking the Truth.

Prayer:
Merciful God,
You sent John the Baptist to preach repentance.
Forgive us for the times when we have done wrong,
when we have hurt other people
and damaged our earth.
Lead us to make a change, to live differently,
preparing a way and making your paths straight.
Amen.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

08 December 2019

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

St Francis Xavier: An Incredible Man between Universality and Particularity

(Peter Paul Rubens 1577-1644 The Miracles of St. Francis Xavier)
Today, the 03rd of December the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St Francis Xavier (1506-1552). He is the patron of Catholic Church in India and its Missions.  The Jesuits in India have named their institutions in larger number with Xavier than Loyola who is their founder. Xavier’s popularity is immense and adorable because of the person he was and his significant work in making Jesus Christ known in the continent of Asia. 

St Francis Xavier is incredibly a fascinating figure among the saints the reformation period ever produced.  He had a short life of 46 years, that too only 10 years as a missionary.  He was such a successful missionary because of one reason; he had only one experience that is a deeper encounter with God. He came to know Christ very profoundly when he did the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. The repeated words of Ignatius of Loyola who was Xavier’s roommate while studying in Sorbonne University in Paris made a difference infinitely: “For what shall profit a man, if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mathew 16:26.)

Perhaps, we could learn at least three significant things from the life of St Francis Xavier.
I
Firstly, Xavier’s incredible fascination for the person of Jesus and his Church. Often it is cited that after St Paul, Francis Xavier should be considered as the most successful missionary among the non-Jews. Barely 43 years after the arrival of Vasco de Gama - the founder of sea route to India from Europe - Xavier found himself on the shores of India at the young and vibrate age of 36 years. Coming from a formidable rich and noble family of Xaviers’ in Navarre (His family home and castle is still intact even today in Spain), he was ready to eat the spicy food, live and work in tropical climate of Asia without any difficulty. His labour of evangelization brought to Christ hundreds and thousands of souls. Often, it is quoted that at the end of the day he had absolute no energy to raise even his shoulders as he had exhausted his strength in baptizing people both young and old.  

Today, we religious nuns and priests go though a long modern spiritual and human formation with a wide variety experiences like village experience, hospital experience, earn and live experience, slum experience, and in recent years regional juniorate, regional theologates, etc. Thus hoping that our formation will be holistic and wholesome and we would be able to speak the language of the people. In fact, the formatters believe that these experiences would make the formees who would be future torchbearers of Christ more effective and efficacious. Probably, we should think very critically whether such a formation has helped in anyway better to walk the talk of Jesus our Lord and master, without a deeper encounter with our Lord. 
II
Secondly, Xavier was a man with a great mind. Coming from a highly educated culture of his time, Xavier should have landed in the jobs of Catholic hierarchy like bishop or cardinal. That is what people did in his time as carrier in the church after studying in prestigious universities. In fact there were very few such universities in Europe like Bologna, Sorbonne, Oxford, Heidelberg and Padua. (You may read the kind of education Xavier went through here) Instead of getting stuck in Europe and in its priestly aristocracy, Xavier found his karma bhumi in a far away country India, later on the shores of Indonesia, Japan and China. Interestingly, the teachers in Sorbonne had groomed Xavier as heir to the faculty of Divinity. Young student Xavier was so good in his studies, he gave tuition to Ignatius of Loyola who had practical difficulties in mastering erudite Latin as he was already in his late 30’s. 

Today, in our world in general and in our church in particular, careerism seems to be the encouraging factor in the life of clerics and religious beginning with their religious orders or congregations and dioceses. Longing for power and prestige overtly or covertly could be noticed very vividly. Unfortunately many tainted guys seem to be taking the places of positions and authority in our church. The recent scandals involving many bishops, priests, nuns and even consecrated lay people support already burglary attitude in our church.  Only a good and sound mind would produce good and holy ideas and actions.
III
Thirdly, Francis Xavier put people first in his ministry as a priest and religious. Writing to Ignatius of Loyola, who was Xavier’s superior, Francis famously noted, “it often comes into my mind to go round all the Universities of Europe, and especially that of Paris, crying out everywhere like a madman, and saying to all the learned men there whose learning is so much greater than their charity, "Ah! what a multitude of souls is through your fault shut out of heaven and falling into hell!" Would to God that these men who labor so much in gaining knowledge would give as much thought to the account they must one day give to God of the use they have made of their learning and of the talents entrusted to them! . . .” (Letter from India, to the Society of Jesus at Rome, 1543) 

As the first provincial of Jesuits in India, Francis Xavier spent hardly any time in Goa, instead he was out in the field. Out of his 10 years in Asia (1542-1552), he must have spent a large part of his life probably 7 years in the seas, travelling from one place to another.  He never bothered about his position, either as scholar or intellectual, or provincial or papal delegate. Xavier was one among the people with a bell in one hand and Crucifix in another giving out the message of Jesus. He had no protocols, no garlanding, no reading of honourary letters in the missions or churches. Every minute that he had was spent for the people. He didn’t even have time to write letters to Ignaitus his boss in Rome. Often Ignatius admonished his brother to write to him about what was going on in the mission field. 

Today, we are stuck with protocols here in India especially in our churches, orders and congregations. Everything has to be moved according to the protocols beginning with the bishop to a sacristan in our parish. As Pope Francis said in his Chrism homily in 2013, often we have become managers or functionaries, perhaps managers of our schools, colleges and hospitals. Odour of the sheep has remained just out there in sheep sheds. How many of our bishops visit the families, sick people’s homes during the pastoral visit to the parishes? Could we stop garlanding, shawling our bishops, provincials and reading long honorary letters instead they could spend their time listening to our parishners, the problems that they are going through? 

One of the beautiful things that our four Catholic bishops in Russia do is not to follow any protocols. There is no garlanding, shawling, or reading letters of honour. Life is tough there. We should think about Xavier in us. So that, we move beyond those protocols. Unnecessarily we have complicated our lives in a complicated world. Perhaps we have to blame our lay people too in this regard as we have made the bishops and clergy habituated to this redundant middle age practices. Jesus’ life was simple. Let the simplicity and sobriety of Xavier be ours too. Thus we could be effective instruments in the vineyard of our Lord.    

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

03 December 2019
Feast of St Francis Xavier

Monday, December 2, 2019

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

(Photo courtesy: Jean-Mark Arkalian)
“You too must stand ready because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  Matthew 24:37-44

This year, on 01st of December we begin our countdown to Christmas, and we are reminded that this season is not just time to prepare for celebrating Christ’s birth.  Instead, we are pointed to wait in hope and expectation for Christ who is to come.  Gladly, God does not stop surprising us through his Son. 

As Advent starts on Sunday and a new liturgical year, we hasten to begin a fresh new year by waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ, who will manifest himself to us just like us taking the form of a human person. 

Even though we do not know the day or the hour, we are told we must stand ready and waiting, so that we are not caught unprepared.  

With this beginning of the Season of Advent – a beautiful season when we prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas, our hearts should be full of positive expectations.  But we also need to prepare ourselves, really question ourselves, about whether we’re ready for the coming of Christ in Judgement at the end of the world.  

Over the next few weeks, our readings will focus on the longings of the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah through our readings from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel readings surrounding the birth of Jesus. A number of readings, like this weekend’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, are the stories which Jesus tells about the end of the world.

The liturgy of Advent is a school in which we learn to listen and to wait with expectation and with hope.

§ We learn that God encounters human history and sanctifies it by His life, death and resurrection.  So time, history has a meaning and our life is significant in God's plan.

§ God does not abandon us or our world but continues to live in it with patience with great simplicity and sobriety. Thus calling us to a new life of the Kingdom where joy of peace, truth and justice are possible.

§ Advent allows us to enter into the deeper meaning of the reality of life, suffering, despair, pain, loneliness, powerlessness and so on and so forth. All these find their fullest expression when we realise that our Saviour is with us "Emmanuel". God never lets us down.

§ With its incredible power of hope, Advent opens ourselves to greater and newer possibilities. By renewing our life in the Holy Spirit, the Lord remains in our time and for all time, thus assisting us in carrying the message of our Saviour to our brothers, sisters and creation.  In other words, God comes to us in our misery and need, in truth and love, thus the second person of the Trinity should become man to the humanity.

§ Among the graces of Advent is openness and humility. These give us the freedom to learn how we can best serve, "our Lord who has become man, for me." (Sp. Ex. §104)  

A few things might help us in this Advent Season:
± We can show this readiness to welcome Christ in how we welcome others.  
± By reaching out to our sisters and brothers when they are in need. 
± By standing alongside them and working with them to build a better future.  
± By supporting those who are vulnerable because of their age, illness or poverty. 
± And by ensuring that all people feel valued, respected, safe and loved.

Eternal God,
you will come when we do not expect you.  
Help us to welcome you now in one another,  
to reach out to our sisters and brothers,
who are in need of care and support.
And in this way may we be found ready,
when you come again in glory.  

O Wisdom, Lord and Ruler, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Rising Sun, King of the Nations, Emmanuel, Come, Lord Jesus.
Amen.

A happy Advent to you!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

01 December 2019

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Advent: Waiting with Joyful Hope

01st Sunday of Advent - Readings: Isaiah 2:1–5; Romans 13:11–14: Matthew 24:37–44



The readings for the first Sunday of Advent are very enriching. They are full of joyful hope, waiting for a future which is certain only in God. 

Prophet Isaiah is a good example of the kind of hope that flows when our vision has been touched by God. Isaiah preaches to his people who are forlorn, tiered of waiting for liberation. Despair and desolation was in abundance among his flock. Century after century of subjugation had lead the people to disown their God of ancestors. Instead, Isaiah is full of hope. Isaiah trusted in the Lord so strongly no words of discouragement would lead him to abandon his God. He sees the fingerprints of God and the subtle movements of God’s Spirit. Isaiah recognised that his nation’s sufferings were not meaningless but a key part in God’s plan for the salvation of the world. However, the present might be distressing and painful, he could see a bigger picture. Isaiah had hope.

"In the days to come the mountain of the Temple of the Lord shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills. All the nations will stream to it. …………He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war. O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord."

St Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome encourages them to live their life fully according to their new covanent of love. Through their baptism they have become children of light. Therefore, St. Paul summoned them to rise from their slumber:

"You must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were first converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon."

And in our Gospel reading Jesus commands us: "Stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming." The persecutions, sufferings have meaning only when we put our trust in our Lord. Every Christian is called to dream, to dream about God. 

Keeping our sight on God we must move on that road that leads us to light out of darkness. We are invited as we begin this new liturgical year to leave behind the works of darkness, and all that stops us from reaching to God. We shall strive to be part of that new world order founded on the principles and dynamism of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the Holy Spirit bestows on us with his plentiful gifts and graces. May we be truly children of hope. 

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

1st December 2019


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Align with God and You will Shine Brightly

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time C - Readings: Malachi 3:19-20A; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19
(The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Francesco Hayez, 1867)

The readings of today call us to align with God our Creator, thus we may shine brightly. We are invited not to be distracted even by beautiful parts of our life. Instead, we are called to know the reality of life. What remains with us is true reality and that true reality is God. In other words, we are invited to enter fully into God's reality.   

Gospel reading of today reminds us that not to too attached to the present state of the world - even the beautiful parts, even our life here. Because everything pales in comparison to the life God has in mind. 

The God of the scriptures is the God of righteousness. Such a God of justice lifts up the poor, holds servants in highest esteem, forgives the unforgiveable, loves those who disown Him.  We can see the God's justice from different perspectives. Justice is sun: it destroys with a blazing heat and heals with rays of light. Justice is a witness to God: it leads to martyrdom and eternal life. 

Therefore, I am called to align with God. Thus I may be healed than destroyed by God's justice. Then my identity will be perfect when I align with God's justice which comprises when I practice mercy, forgive others and myself, practice love, do good, practice service, show compassion and mercy, be nice to others and see the good in people. Thus others joy becomes my joy, others healing becomes my healing. As a consequence, I might shine brightly.

C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, gives allegory of the afterlife in which he tells us when people arrive in heaven, even the softest grass in heaven feels like knives to their feet. Giving witness to the Gospel is to critique of our contemporary ways of living despite the reaction they might provoke. "To live here is to change often is to become more perfect"(Newman)

St John Henry Newman wrote beautifully this poem which tells us the nature of God: "Lead, kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom, lead thou me on." In this connection, we could ask for a grace to discern our life in the Spirit, so that we authentically align with God to shine brightly on this universe. 

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

17th October 2019

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Being Radically Different for the Kingdom of God

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time C - Readings: 2 Maccabees 7:1–2, 9–14; 2 Thessalonians 2:16–3:5; Luke 20:27–38
(Icon of Christ Pantocrator from Macedonia, 14th C)


"Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive." (Luke 28:38)

We are God's making. He created us in his image and likeness. God did not fashion death, he didn’t make it.  Could we go further, then, and see in death some kind of advantage?  The horizon is a helpful boundary to our vision. The frame of a painting can highlight the beauty and value of what is contained within.  St Ambrose recalls that ‘death was not of God’s fashioning’ (Wis 1:13) but goes on to argue that God gave us death as a 'remedy’ for our sinful and pitiful condition: ‘Deathlessness is no blessing but only a weariness if grace does not transfigure it.’ 

"God didn’t make death. God takes no delight in the ruin of anything that lives.  God created everything so that it might exist.  The creative forces at work in the cosmos are life-giving.  There is no destructive poison in them.  The underworld[a] doesn’t rule on earth." [Wisdom 1:13-15 Common English Bible (CEB)] Further the book of Wisdom says, "God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.  But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them." [Wisdom 2: 23] 

We can start to become reconciled to our mortality when we learn to see death as a new beginning, not merely an end.  God is our future and He is our end.  This is the faith of the saints.  St Thomas More, the day before his martyrdom, wrote to his daughter Margaret Roper, praying that ‘we maie merily meete in heaven’. 

We will not see our end instead we will see our end in God.  If God brings forth life in us, will he not give us life even if our bodies get old, die and decomposed.  Our life after this earthly pilgrimage would be absolutely different from what we have now with all its culture, tradition, system, norms, values, patterns of seasons, etc.  Certainly, it would be another new beginning in God.

Therefore, Jesus calls us to be radically different form others but for the sake of the Kingdom. Our existential questions will have meaning only in God. Only God can give meaning to our lives.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

10 November 2019

Saturday, November 2, 2019

God Comes to Us Where We are

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time C - Readings: Wisdom 11:22-12:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10
(Zacchaeus and Jesus)

"God is lover of life" says the book of Wisdom. He has fashioned us in such a way that His dream for us is fulfilled in our life.  Therefore, God implanted in us a deep desire for him (Desiderium Dei).  Zacchaeus too had a deep desire to see Jesus and save his soul.  This aspiration of him is fulfilled when Jesus himself recognises Zacchaeus on a sycamore tree. Moreover, Jesus goes to the house of the so called "sinner" and touches the conscious of the rich man which is so beautifully gets transformed.  When we desire for God, He comes to us where we are. When we desire salvation, it comes to us where we are.   

Olvin Veigas, SJ

02 November 2019




Thursday, October 31, 2019

One Year since the Operation

(Photo courtesy: Jean-Mark Arkalian)
It’s unbelievable! I am a year old since I went under the knife.  On 31st October 2018, I went though eight hours long operation, thus the agonizing Ulcerative Colitis disease was laid to rest once and for all along with my larger intestine and appendix. 

As I look back the day that I lived with so much uncertainty, fear, and anguish but also full of hope that finally I had decided to say yes to the doctor’s suggestion, certainly, since then things have brightened up.  The amount of time that I took to discern and decide on this important aspect of my life is unforgettable one.  Often, it is very difficult to take decisions that involve very much your life and its future, in spite, of ones stringent intellectual capacities or human feelings.  Often it so happens to us that the more knowledgeable you are less likely you are to take a decision for yourself.  It’s easier to suggest to someone else or decide for others. But not for you…!

I thank God today for everything that has happened to me since I made a decision to break this cycle of hospitalization, discharge, steroids, tablets, anaemia, diet, room bound life, etc, etc.  Today I am full of life and vigour, joyful and enthusiastic, hopeful and looking for the future that only God will lead.  Even though, I was not afraid of death and knowing that this disease would kill me little by little with all its pain and agony, I was afraid to be in that state of continuous pain for long. Because you can take it only to a certain extent. 

In any discernment, listening is very important.  By the time, I arrived at the decision of operation, I had stopped listening to doctors any longer.  Every doctor had given me hope that I would be healed through medication.  I have experimented with allopathic, ayurveda, siddha, naturopathy and homeopathy. In addition to cortisones, I had taken infliximab and then adalimumab biological medications, even tried with FMT therapy.  Only thing that my disease did was to help the pharma companies to become richer and have the side effects on various parts of my body deeper.   First, I received the medical treatment in Russia (Moscow) then in Italy (Rome) and finally in India.  I should say that everyone tried to give me the best medical care wherever I went.  People have been very kind to me within their limited space and time, energies and capacities.  I suppose, ultimately, we are all limited realities or unfinished realities.

When people asked me what I am doing during this sickness, being stuck to my bed and room, unhesitatingly I used to answer that I am waiting for death.  Today, I do not say that any longer.  Death might come anytime but I am sure that Ulcerative Colitis will not lead me to death.
(With my friends on the eve of my operation, 30th Oct. 2018)
On the eve of my operation in St. Philomena’s Hospital in Bangalore I was not sure what I would be expecting the next day. I had hardly slept for two hours in the night.  But, I was looking for liberation from Ulcerative Colitis from deep within.  Sr Regini of the hospital was extremely helpful since the day, I told her over the phone that I’m getting ready for an operation and needed her help very badly.  Being new to the Bangalore environment, it was a challenge in every way.  I know much better Rome, Moscow, San Francisco or London than our own Namma Bengaluru.   But I knew I was in the better hands, the Surgeon Dr Kenneth D’Cruz.  One of the well known surgeons in Bangalore had told me that he would give to Dr Kenneth eight out of ten for his professionalism.  I had met Dr Kenneth nine months ago and he had suggested me of the surgery but I had shrugged it off then. 

On the 30th of October, I received my doctor friends from Narayana Health just to give me some sort of encouragement and accompaniment.  Because I had spent large part of my working life outside the country, so I had very few local friends.  I had developed a notion over the years that it is better to have good friends than your own relatives.  For a priest this matters a lot!  My recently acquired friends helped me in this decision-making and were there in my most agonizing moments.  For me very thought of losing my larger intestine was itself a bad dream, a nightmare; moreover, not at my age.  I hadn’t met anyone with such conditions.  Dr Paul C Salins helped me in every way to discern on this important phase of my life.  I am more certain than ever that God sends always angels of good times at very important moments of life if we still hang on to Him.  Moreover, Dr Salins and Dr Samarth were there early in the morning of 31st of October just to encourage me.

One of the things that helped to calm down myself the moments before I go through the anaesthesia is what the Ayurvedic doctor MN Sudha had told me. She had said to me that when you go into the operation theatre a great fear comes into your conscious however you are strong.  Therefore imagine something that is divine, a picture of God, angel, etc.  So I had already chosen the icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which happens to be my favourite religious image.

In 2017, I went through 15 times colonoscopy with anaesthesia.  Each time out of curiosity, I made an futile attempt to know the last thought before I fell unconscious or what was going on in mind during that period of the effect of anaesthesia.  So too,  I cannot recall how the doctors took out my five feet long larger intestine and stitched the end part of the smaller intestine (ilium/ileal stoma) outside my stomach.  Perhaps I should not think too much about this because what is lost is gone forever and what remains here is quality life.  Now just enjoy the rest of your life!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

31st October 2019

Sunday, October 27, 2019

No Favourites but God is Open to You

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time  C - Readings:  Sirach 35:12–14, 16–18; 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18; Luke 18:9–14

Who are these Pharisee and the tax collector and why are they in the synagogue?
Why is that Jesus appreciates the tax collector over the Pharisee?
What is that we can carry home from the readings of today?

There is so much hypocrisy in our society and in people. As a result we cannot be real. Often we project what we are not. 

A humble heart serves in every way: “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance” (St. Augustine).

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

27 October 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Don't Give up But Preach

World Mission Sunday: Readings - Isaiah 60:1-6; Romans 10:9-18; Matthew 28:16-20


The Mission Sunday's readings remind us that each one of us, the baptised Christian is called to proclaim the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.  The commandment of Jesus before his ascension into heaven in Mathew's Gospel 28: 16-20, is a solid reminder that we would be continuing his work of mercy and justice, peace and truth to everyone and everywhere. 

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

20th October 2019

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Your Faith has Saved You

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time C - Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19
(Healing of the ten lepers - Photo: A. Pospelov/ www.pravoslavie.ru)

Readings of today put us deeply into a christian perspective of faith, gratitude and missionaries of love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Olvin Veigas, SJ

 13.10.2019

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Faithfulness to God’s Covenantal Love

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time C. Readings:  Habakuk 1:2-3;2:2-4, 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14 and Luke 17:5-10
(Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jan Luyken)

I

The Word of God of today calls us for self-critique and self-examination.  We can see holy outrage, holy anger in the words of prophet Habakukuk. The prophet seeing what is happening around him, asks, why is there so much injustice and tyranny and oppression everywhere? Why so much outrage and violence? The world seems to be full of malice and hatred.  There is evil everywhere. Why people are fighting among themselves? There seems to be no peace, justice and truth, instead there is only anger, jealousy and violence. In this context, prophet Habakukuk expresses his groanings to God. Why is that when we live in a world which can appreciate art, music, intelligence and wisdom keeps quiet when we see violence, hatred, oppression, lynching and so on? Prophet sees a vision in which God asks him to write down and gives him the assurance that the upright man will live by his faithfulness. God does not let us down. In times of frustrations, God gives us consolations. Psalm 113 verse 7 says “ God raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap.” Psalm 146, verse 2 asks “not to put our trust in princes, in mortals,” but “in the Lord”, the God of Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Because, God made a covenant of love through them with the humanity. Therefore faithfulness to the covenant is essential and expected of us. 

II

In our second reading today, St Paul writing to Timothy whom he has consecrated as Bishop by laying his hands on him says that “you have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They have come upon when I laid my hands upon you.” Paul writes “God’s gift is not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control.” By our baptism we are called to priest, prophet and king. We are people of joy, enthusiasm and vibrancy. Thus we are asked to be faithful to him who has called us out of darkness. Moreover, Lord gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous. So we can transmit through our words and actions His power, love and self-control to be the worthy servants of the covenant of the Word.

III

In the Gospel reading of today, Jesus calls us to be servants who are always ready. In fact, Jesus has called us as his friends, but today he demands of us servant like attitude in our faithfulness to our God.  The catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that we are created to praise, reverence and serve God and thus finally to be with him forever. In other words, ultimately, we have to be faithful to the call that God has given to us, which we made through our baptism.  We are faithful servants of the word of God.

IV

We are in the month of October, the month of the Rosary. This is a special month for us, in addition to celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Rosary, Pope Francis has declared this month as the Extraordinary Missionary Month.  The reason is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation “Maximum Illud” means “That Momentous” of Pope Benedict XV written in 1919. This Exhortation is very important in the event of the rising missionary zeal since the end of the First World War in 1918. Then Pope Benedict XV called the Church to be a local church, an indigenous church, where the local clergy, local people take up the leadership role in their communities. Pope called to be missionaries in their own churches in building up and strengthening the Church of God. Thus Pope Francis wishes to celebrate this very important mile stone of history of our Church and has asked to devote this whole month of October with special celebrations.   

Pope Francis has also given us the theme, “Baptised and Sent”. It calls us to reflect on 4 following points. 
1. A personal Encounter with Jesus Christ living in His Church: In the Eucharist, In the Word of God, and in personal and communal prayer
2. Testimony: Missionary Saints, Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith
3. Missionary Formation: Biblical, Catechetical, Spiritual and Theological Formation
4. Missionary Charity

This October month is very unusual to the Universal Church to which we belong. Today, the “Synod on Amazon” begins in the Vatican. Just yesterday, 13 new Cardinals were created in a special consistory. Three of them happened to be Jesuits. One of them is Fr Michael Czerny, who during my illness in Rome took care of me and helped me to keep the hope of life and faith in everyway. He is a man prayer. 

But I would like to mention the 80-year-old Lithuanian Jesuit Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, who became a Cardinal yesterday. Tamkevicius, who’s over 80 and therefore among the “honorary” cardinals who can’t vote in the next conclave. It’s his personal story that’s most inspiring. He spent almost a decade in Soviet forced labour camps, not only because he was a Catholic priest but because of his unyielding defense of human rights. 

The archbishop had been imprisoned from 1983 to 1988 for “anti-Soviet propaganda.” As a Jesuit priest, in 1972 he began publishing the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, an underground newsletter documenting communist repression of the Church. Despite repeated questioning by the KGB, he managed to publish and distribute the chronicle for more than 10 years and, once he was arrested, others continued his work. He was exiled to Siberia where he had to dig and had various jobs at one time or another - cook, iron worker, dishwasher, and several others.  I can say with my own little experience in Siberia as a missionary, life is tough there when temperature goes down to minus 40 degree celsius and when winter prolongs to more than 6 months. 

Tamkevicius said Friday that what sustained him during those years in prison was prayer, especially saying Mass, which he had to do in secret because religious expressions were officially prohibited. He told a reporter as to how Tamkevicius managed to find wine for the liturgy. He explained that in the camps they would give prisoners a meal ticket, and generally in their food he’d find both bread and dried grapes. He’d pocket some of both, using the grapes to make a crude wine.  According to him “If a believer isn’t ready to suffer for his faith,” he said simply, “then he’s not much of a believer.” 

V

Another person who was faithful servant of the Lord and is recently declared the Servant of God, Pujya Rajendra Swamy. An Italian born this Jesuit priest worked not far away from this place, Kalena Agrahara. His grave has turned into a pilgrimage center in Maddur, just two hours ride from here. Born in 1672, Antonio Maria Plattei in Venice, was ordained in 1700 and immediately came to India. He spent his next 19 years serving in the then Kingdom of Mysore establishing parishes and missions taking the name Rajendra, dressing and eating like that of an Indian Sanyasi. He worked around Srirangapattana and later exiled. He did everything to keep the faith of the people alive. It is said that there were 30,000 Catholics under his care. Even though he lived only for 47 years, he achieved much for the Lord. This year, the Church is commemorating his 300th death anniversary and a shrine has been erected on his tomb with his name.  People have been witnessing a number of miracles happening by praying at his tomb. God’s faithful servant is still calling to be faithful to His covenant even today through various signs. 

I believe that the testimonies of these people are a sure sign that God never let’s us down. He is always faithful to us and gives His Spirit’s gifts to be faithful always and all ways.

Olvin Veigas, SJ

06.10.2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Holy Dishonesty: A Kingdom for the Shrewd

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings: Amos 8:4-7; 1Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13
(Parable of the Unjust Steward, Jan Luyken)


Perhaps, you are puzzled, confused, disturbed, or shocked after listening to this Gospel reading; and especially the praise of this bad steward.  How can an employee cheat his employer, manager cheat his master and still get appreciation for his cunning dealings. 

Luke 16:10 “Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”

Jesus is speaking about practical things, things that happen in our everyday life.  Each one of us deal with money, make financial transactions, either big or small.  We own things of others and make our life.

What is the mind of Jesus while he gives us this parable: The parable of the dishonest manager?

Amendments and corrections in one’s life are very important.  Even if they come towards the end of one’s life still they are very significant. 

Just like that thief who at the last minutes of his life on the cross realised his mistake and asks Jesus in saving his life (Luke 23:43).

The master praises not the way his steward managed his things, not his earlier dealings but in order to save himself at the last moment at his job, he makes amendments, becomes gentler to his debtors. Begins to build relationships.   That is what catches the eye of the master. 

What must have felt early Christians reading this parable?
Dismay!  The path early Christians have chosen is important, now is the time to be part of the new Creation.

What is the meaning for us today the Christians of 21st Century?
We are not masters of ourselves, interdependency is the hall mark of our Christian life.  Relationships matter in our everyday life.  We make best use of the things for the greater good.  We should ensure our future, our future in God

Jesus also tells us how to utilize of our material goods for the greater glory of God.

Christ talks of two realms in the Gospel: the realm of the “children of this world” and that of the “children of light”.  The parable, while using what is an extraordinary image in the setting of the realm of the children of this world, is really about how God acts for his purposes in us, who are “children of light” and how we should act for his purposes in that realm.  If the wicked of the children of this world can use the resources at their disposal for their selfish ends, how much more should the children of light should be able to use the resources at their disposal for the purposes of the God whose resources they are.

Children of light are those who are spiritually enlightened contrasted with children of darkness. 
The New Testament speaks of light and darkness. 

Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel (5:14) “You are the light of the world.”  Again, Matthew 8:12 “but the children of the kingdom will be thrown out into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” 

In John 12:36, Jesus says “while you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

These week days we have been reading Epistle to the Ephesians.  St Paul writes to Ephesians 5:8 “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; behave as children of light,”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:4–5, St Pauls says, “but you, brothers, do not live in the dark, that the Day should take you unawares like a thief.  No, you are all children of light and children of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness,

There is so much criminality in business and corruption is rampant.  In spite of social welfare, the poor and the needy continue to be exploited and trampled on. It’s reminder that there is a judgment. The very existence of social welfare is the result of social imbalances in the distribution of a community’s wealth.

Prophet Amos who lived in the 8th Century BC speaks about justice and justice of God in the first reading that we heard.

And yet some are even critical of the existence of social welfare.  “Let them work hard like the rest of us!”  One is reminded of the late Bishop Helder Camara of Recife in Brazil.  He was an outspoken critic of injustice in his society.  He used to say: “When I give money to the poor, they call me a saint; when I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist.”

Any diminution of human dignity (which demands a certain minimum material standard of living) cannot be tolerated by the conscientious and loving Christian.  Some have been given more talents than others (and the Gospel clearly recognises this) but these gifts are to be used not to get more for oneself but to offer more for the building up of the Kingdom community.  The greater our gifts, the greater our responsibility to share them with those who have less.

We need to be constantly reminded that we are the stewards and never the owners of what we possess.  We have no absolute right to anything we have.  “I can do what I like with my money and property because it’s mine” is not a statement any committed Christian can make.

But what is that message here?  We are stewards of God’s creation. Everything we have, be it material wealth, or the gifts and talents that God has given us, or even our life itself, everything belongs ultimately to God.  Just as we count money, God too counts, but he counts us how much good we do, how sincere, honest we are.  He will, one day, call each of us to himself and require from us an account of our stewardship, and so we must be astute stewards.

God wants everyone to be saved and at the judgment what counts is our sincerity, honesty and goodness (see Luke 16:14).  We have to count on our Lord, be the imitators of Him.  Only then God will also count us and allow us to be part of His life, part of eternity (see John 14:2).

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

22-09-2019



Sunday, September 15, 2019

Keeping Face with Life

(Photo courtesy: Jean-Mark Arkalian)
We would like to keep face with life.  Hurdles and difficulties are part and parcel of this destiny of keeping face with life.  We would like to move things the way we would like to, but rarely it happens the way we think.  There are short moments in our life which come as a calm breeze.  They are very essential because they give new impetus to our life in moments of darkness.   

In the last week, I spent quite a good number of hours and days in a hospital.  Having myself made part of hospital life during my illness, interestingly, I feel at home being in the hospital.  I have been given the charge of looking after the old and infirm of our community.  This has made me to make my way to the hospital as often as possible. 

One thought that struck me very strong when I was in the ICU recently is this: People who serve in this precious and sacred place should have incredible generosity.  You need to have a lot patience and resilience to be part of the ICU staff.  With noise of machines tottering every moment without a stop, groaning of those undergoing treatment - a good number of them make their way  UP - the mood in the ICU is not very encouraging.  Since the ICU's are specially arranged, organized and constructed, spending 8-12 hours a day is certainly a tough job.  Moreover, the nursing staff has to be ready to accompany the last moments of those ill and those painful moments, who are lying in a state of "let me go" or let me at least get back to the Ward.

This week, I have to be in the hospital in one way or the other accompanying three of my brother Jesuits, who have to go though the loneliness of hospital life; if one had to go through an operation, other had his kidneys failing and the third found hospital is a better place than a home as old age creeping very powerfully on him.  Being in the hospital, I did a number of things, including encouraging the lay attenders that I have to make adjustments in seeing two patients at once, meeting the doctors who make to the hospital in their own particular time allotted to them, meeting the staff nurses who take care of our patients, who, in fact, give a bitter picture of the person who is under their care than the doctors, consulting the hospital administrative staff to see that insurance and other financial details are settled in good time.
  
One thing has become clearer to me.  Once you go to the hospital, you are not sure when you will return home.  But there is always joy in being with one's patients.  There is ample time and opportunity to instil hope and positivity in them.  Say a word of appreciation to those nurses, security guards and supporting staff for their incredible and life saving work.  As well as instilling some faith and patience with those other patients, who some times feel left out from this healing grace.  

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

15 September 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fr Pedro Arrupe, SJ: Life and Legacy

As part of the Diamond Jubilee of Mount St Joseph, 22 August 2019, an exhibition on the life and legacy of Fr Pedro Arrupe, SJ was held in the house Aula.  In the following short video we have tried to communicate on this great man of the Church and the Society of Jesus, Fr Pedro Arrupe, whose cause for sainthood is opened recently by declaring him the Servant of God. 

Personally, I am very much inspired by Fr Arrupe a Basque Jesuit.  I came to know him through his writings during my Novitiate training between 1993-95 in Bangalore.  I read a number of articles, talks etc, which were published in book forms.   His life fascinated me passionately because of his experiences in Japan as a missionary and his incredible passion for Christ and the Eucharist.  

During my Roman studies at the Gregorian University between 2003-06, I was living at Collegio Internazionle del Gesù, adjacent to Gesù Church. His remains are buried in this Gesù Church, Rome.  Often, I used to spend a few moments, where a small red electric bulb would ignite a devotion to him.

Interestingly, many Jesuits prayed for my speedy recovering through the intercession of Fr Pedro Arrupe, while I was recovering from severe ulcerative colitis at the Canisio Jesuit Infirmary, Rome in 2015.  I felt that because I was working in Russia, probably Arrupe would be kind enough to intercede for me since I too in some way followed in his footsteps, leaving my home country.

I tried to put together this following video.

Have a nice viewing!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

10 September 2019