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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Live Streaming even while Taking over the Provincialship!

Taking over ceremony as Provincial Fr Stany and Fr Dion (L to R)

Corona is making our life really difficult especially in India with its number of infection rates scaling high reaching almost to number one of the global tally.  However, with the technology at our fingertips we can use this challenge as an opportunity. This is what happened on the 26th September 2020 in Bangalore (KAR), India when the change of Provincial took place. P. Stanislaus D'Souza who is now appointed as the Provincial of South Asia (POSA) handed over the charge of Provincial of Karnataka Jesuits to P. Dionysius Vaz. 

As a number of Jesuits of Karnataka were infected with corona and majority of them being members of younger generation, handing over the Provincialship which usually brought together a  seizable number of Jesuits at one place this time was restricted only to a few. However, we thought of uniting the whole Province and our collaborators through a live streaming of the Eucharist and the felicitation program. KAR province has 307 Jesuits with 227 of them below the age of 49. And the median age of the province members is 35 years. Jesuits watched the live streaming either on a big screen at the community level or individually who felt that best suited for them. Many expressed a great satisfaction at the program saying, "we felt as if we were at Loyola Mandir witnessing the event of handing over." Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIz2w6ihR7o&t=170s

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

29th September 2020

Update: 07th October 2020.

The above news is published in four languages, namely, French, Spanish, Italian and English on the website of the global Society of Jesus in Rome - https://www.jesuits.global/ on 07th October 2020 with a title, CREATING UNITY IN KARNATAKA IN TIMES OF COVID. Below are the snap shots.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Follow Your Heart and See with Your Eyes

 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings - Ezekiel 18:25–28; Psalm 25:4–9; Philippians 2:1–11; Matthew 21:28–32

Andrey Mironov, 'Parable of the Two Sons'  (https://creativecommons.org)

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Righteousness flowers when the heart is in the right place

These days, we have been reading from the book of Ecclesiastes. There is a very powerful line which should attract our attention straight away: "Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes" (Ecclesiastes 11:9). These words are ringing very true to us as we hear the readings of this Sunday. All the three writers, Prophet Ezekiel, St Paul and St Matthew bring home the above message very clear. All that matters in this world is to walk in the path of righteousness that God has set before us. In order to do that God has written the laws in our hearts says the Prophet. "And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh" (Ez 11:19). Further the prophet repeats again, "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).  Another prophet Jeremiah utters these words again to his people, "for this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:33 & Hebrews 8:10). And St Paul puts it beautifully once again in his letter to the Romans, "so they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts either accusing or defending them" (Romans 2:15).  Perhaps only through this Christ would be successful in His mission and would deliver the humanity from the slavery of sin and satan.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Life or Death but Health is Wealth

Photo by the author

Recently, I stumbled upon in my notebook what I wrote  while I was discerning whether I should go for a major operation or not in 2018. I was extremely uncertain then what the future was going to hold for me. After almost two years I see the relevance in what I jotted down just out of my curiosity. 

Readiness for a life of self-encouragement

"Be ready always for a good death" is a common phrase that you would hear from devout people while growing up. But I never heard how well you should be prepared when long, chronic illness sets in you at your young and prime age. More and more I try to grasp at the mystery of life and death, I’m compelled to think more about our life here on earth. Life is precious and our time on this universe is certainly short. However this shortness should never allow me to live a life unhappiness and burdensome, instead our life should be blossoming, energetic, positive, fascinating and full of passion. Even though chronic illnesses or other health issues creep into our mortal body, but we should never give up our passion for a fruitful and enjoyable life. Whether we like it or not we are living in a digital world in which individualism is going to stay and grow. Each one would be looking for self reliance, self sufficiency and self satisfaction either in good health or in bad. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Abounding God's Compassion vs Littleness of Human Thinking

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Readings: Isaiah 55:6–9Psalm 145:2–3, 8–9, 17–18Philippians 1:20–24, 27Matthew 20:1–16

Photo by the author

The scriptural readings for this Sunday invite us to look at God with fresh eyes. Undoubtedly, the readings are challenging. They encourage us to put ourselves in the shoes of God. In other words, the readings urge us to think differently than what we usually do, so that, we may submit ourselves totally to the call of God. Thus, we might be able to transcend the human boundaries which often derail us to come closer to God and encounter Him in Word and deed.   

Wanting to do more for Christ

Let's begin with St Paul's letter to the Philippians where he speaks about life and death, spirit and flesh, joy and happiness. St Paul writes this beautiful epistle which is called "Paul's joy letter" from a prison in Rome. Naturally, the topic seems to be very dear to the Apostle of the Gentiles that is "life in Christ". In a life dedicated totally to serving Christ, Paul had faced everything from good to worst. The burning flame to serve Christ our Lord does not diminish even a minute of life. His words are astounding, "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body" (Phil 1: 23-24). Paul still wants to strengthen his people in faith, wants to get back to the Philippians. He feels that there is still more he can do for his dear people of Philippi, a Macedonian city. For Paul, being alive in physical body is very important in preaching the Good News of our Lord. The Apostle does not feel that he is old, imprisoned, chastised, and without hope. However, he trusted Christ to work it out for his deliverance. There is an incredible, inextinguishable  hope in him that he would be back to his dear people. The close affinity that he has does not allow him to say goodbye to his people in spite of being certain that his death is imminent and which is going to be bloody in Rome. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Listening to Your Body - A Way of Mindfulness

Photo by the author
Listening is an art. Have you ever tried to listen to yourself? Have you listened to your body? Perhaps we do a number of times. That is why we feel the need for rest, medicine and food. Very often we don't listen to our bodies. Our physical body is not that which is out of us. I am also what my physical body is. Our body and soul are one part of a whole. They are very much part of our lives.

Our creator has blessed us with a human body which makes us to exist and have our being. Through our body we do our work, earn our living, showcase the beauty and pray with it. Our mind cannot say to the body I do not want you, get away from me. You are not beautiful, I hate it, etc. What we have as a body we must live with it. 

Prayer exercise of thanking for the body parts
There is a beautiful exercise which helps to pray to God. You sit for prayer and meditatively begin to recall each part of the body beginning from the toe to the head. You name each part of the day including internal organs which you don't see and thank God for giving that particular part of your body. Recall the things that body part can do for you. What it would have been if you did not have that body part. While thanking God feel blessed now because you are able to do such and such a thing. This prayer exercise makes us to thank God for the preciousness and irreplaceability of each part of the body.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Fr Vijay Kumar Prabhu - A Jesuit with a Large Heart and Deep Human Spirit

Fr Vijay Prabhu, SJ in a recent photo at FRH
There are many people who come into your life but very few leave behind indelible mark. This is because they have been exceptionally kind, gentle and generous towards you. You do not want such people to go away from this life so early. Because they are simply good. This is the case with Fr Vijay Prabhu (1940-2020) who left us today for eternity on this day of the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (15th September).
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A gentle and generous leader
Fr Vijay was blessed with a tremendous capacity to be gentle and generous leader. He was exceptionally gifted with a unique capacity to be gentle with the Jesuits and others under his care. He touched many people with warmth and affection. Wit, humour, and wisdom would flow naturally in his conversations. Perhaps that must be the reason why everybody wanted him to be the superior or rector of their communities. Since his return to the province after serving as professor of philosophy and principal of our Jesuit Philosophate Satyanilayam in Chennai he took up responsibilities of greater importance of governance in the Society of Jesus. He never looked for positions in the Society instead they came in search of him. He was the Superior of Vidyaniketan, Dharwad, rector of Mount Saint Joseph, Bangalore, St Aloysius College, Mangalore, St Joseph's College Bangalore, Karnataka Jesuit Province Coordinator of Formation (PCF), Provincial of Jesuits of Karnataka and so forth. This shows the amiability and warm-heartedness of Fr Vijay. I believe that no Jesuit either young or senior felt inhibition or unease to speak to him when Fr Vijay held the position of governance in the institution. As a young Jesuit in 1990's I had a great hesitation either to visit or stay in some of our major houses with attached institutions as it contained persons who should be called pezzo grosso (big shots) who gave an impression that these houses are meant only for professed Fathers. Once Fr Vijay became the PCF and rector of Mount St Joseph things began to change rapidly. All the young Jesuits in formation found an abode in Mount St Joseph because of Fr Vijay's hospitality and kind welcome. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

In Forgiveness there is no Maths

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Readings: Sirach 27:30–28:7; Psalm 103:1–4, 9–12; Romans 14:7–9; Matthew 18:21–35
Enmity bothers us. Hatred destroys us. Forgiveness liberates us. As many of us would be spending this Sunday in our homes and communities, our liberator Jesus invites us to be free, free from hatred, enmity, anger, hostility, animosity, revenge, resentment, jealousy, repugnance, arrogance, scorn and so forth and become persons of forgiveness, meekness and kindness.  As we get stuck in our houses and communities continuously without having much recourse to other activities with the outside world due to this never ending pandemic, many of us must be feeling of boredom, resentment and frustration. During this time we would be feeling psychologically the tension building within us. The inability to go for confessions, spiritual direction, Holy Mass or just have friendly chat with a person whom we know and love must be giving way to mental strain thus increasing within us rueful tension. We may not be noticing such elements but certainly others must be watching over you.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Health Remedies: Aloe Vera and Gastrointestinal Problems

Aloe vera plants
The book of Sirach of the Old Testament writes, "God makes the earth yield healing herbs which the prudent man should not neglect" (Sirach 38:4).  God created everything for our good. Even though His Divine Majesty made us "little less than God" and yet He has "crowned man and woman with glory and honor" says very beautifully Psalm №. 8. Therefore, God has provided us life tools to stay healthy, vibrant and realise our full human potential. You become what you eat! When food is consumed according to our personal physiological needs acts like a medicine balancing our metabolism and promoting vitality. Unfortunately, our bodies grow weaker and vulnerable as years are added to our age or age is added to our years! Our human machine gets old without much to our notice. Therefore time to time we need to do the servicing. In this context, I would like to share something I have been experimenting with myself.

In my previous post, I wrote on Kashaya in Times of Corona. One idea leads the other. Readiness to the new horizon opens up to fresh possibilities and brings us vital knowledge. Many suggested to me that the juice of Aloe vera is beneficial to fix the gastro-intestinal problems and helps in treating cancer. Many thought that I am suffering from cancer even though I was not. Often people don't ask the patient what s/he is suffering from. The genuine concern and interest of people should be appreciated but not always. People visit the patient with presumptions and advice a number of medicines or names of doctors and hospitals without ever having taken those medicines or seen that doctor or hospital. I have a blogpost that I wrote quite a while ago on A Few Titbits While Dealing With a UC or Cancer Patient.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Take the Initiative and You will Win

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20
As I sit down to write these few thoughts, I am very much aware of the significance of this day i.e., 05th of September. Firstly, today, India marks the Teacher's Day - a day to recognise and appreciate the work our teachers do. Before we could become teachers to others we have been schooled or groomed under teachers. The trade of teaching is learnt from others. Secondly, the Catholic Church remembers in its liturgy today Mother Theresa of Kolkotta, now a Saint. Mother Theresa an energetic and active Albanian lady made India her home and travelled length and breath of India and the world in teaching us what it means to love the last, lost and the least; and what it means to spread the fragrance of Good News that Jesus taught 2000 years ago.

Pursuit of Truth will push you to the Corner
On this opportune day, the readings that we have for the Sunday liturgy are apt and appropriate for our meditation and reflections. Prophet Ezekiel, Apostle Paul and Jesus the Son of God invite us to listen to what they are saying. We live in the endless games of ridicule, exclusion and mockery, because of our views or opinions. In our pursuit of truth we can be people of outside, as a consequence of our opinions on matters of faith, morals, values, etc, because they differ from others.  In this context, we might like to read the Prophet Ezekiel, or Paul or Jesus.