Sunday 23 November 2008

Puppy love

Two of the latest inmates of Divyadaan - on their last day in Divyadaan. Tonight they travel to a new home, leaving many broken hearts. Their mother died a couple of days after they were born, and so they have been practically nursed by the brothers...

Amazing how attached we are able to get to little creatures like these. What is their place in the great plan of God's creation? I remembered how I once said to a group of Roman youngsters that dogs have no souls. I was roundly berated by Silvia, an animal lover in the group...

Cricket and friendship

The Inter-Oratory Cricket Tournament has just concluded... Wonderful day, clear cloudless skies, not too hot - ideal cricket weather. I must say that our boys are skilled. It was a pleasure seeing them play. The final was what you might call a nail-biting finish, though the players were not at their best.

But, as the young cricketing chief guest said, it is rare to see a cricket tournament without the usual bhandan. It looks like years of contact between the boys and our brothers is bearing its own silent fruit. The boys, we were saying, are even beginning to look like our brothers. There is good leadership among them too: in every oratory there seem to be two or three boys who act as liasons between our brothers and the other boys. It is a good arrangement, especially seeing that many of the brothers who frequent the Nashik oratories do not know the local languages. It is quite possible that many of the boys belong to the Bajrang Dal or the Shiv Sena, but friendship cuts across boundaries, thank God for that.

Friendship: that might be defined as the chief goal of our Sunday oratories. And it is not a mean thing.

New developments at Divyadaan

A new road cuts through the property now, dividing Divyadaan from STI... Here are the new gates coming up, for those who want to have a look.

Begum Sumru and the Salesians

Begum Sumru is a rather well-known name for anyone who knows anything about the history of Delhi. The Begum, it seems, began life as a Kashmiri dancing-girl. She married two European mercenaries in succession, and from one of them inherited the principality of Sardhana, not far from Delhi. In the meantime, she had converted to Catholicism, and had petitioned the Pope to send her a chaplain. The Pope sent an Italian Franciscan, I believe, and it was this gentleman who supervised the construction of the cathedral of Sardhana at the Begum's request.

What I did not know was that Begum Sumru had property in Delhi, and that the property was known as Masihgarh. Our Salesian provincial house stands in Masihgarh, as also the CRI House and a parish and some institutions belonging to the Archdiocese of Delhi, including the Holy Family Hospital. Somehow the Begum's property passed on to the Church, but most of the land was lost in the transfer from the British to the Indian government. The land on which Don Bosco Okhla stands, for example, had to be bought back by the diocese from the government. The price quoted was originally half a lakh, and then it became 1 lakh per acre. The Salesians found the money somehow, but the land seems to be still in the name of the Delhi Archdiocese. Much of the land has been grabbed by various parties, some time during the construction boom after the Asiad Games: Escorts, Amity University, are all standing on church land.

History lurks under the surface in Delhi. Fascinating to discover that we Salesians also have some connection with the past, and with Begum Sumru of all people.

Homiletic approaches

Today is the feast of Christ the King. Vinod gave a wonderful homily, narrating a story of an American on a bus in Sweden, boasting about the wonderful American democracy where people could just walk into the White House and chat with the President. His Swedish neighbour listened to him patiently, and then said: We in Sweden are not as good as the Americans, but in our country, we do have a King who travels in the same bus as everyone else. When the gentleman got off, the others in the bus told the American that he was the King. That was King Gustav Adolph of Sweden travelling in a bus like everyone else.

Wonderful image of God travelling in our bus, pitching his tent among us...

But my mind was swirling around the dynamics of homilies. What came to mind was an observation from Lonergan about the difference between the Augustinian and the Thomist approach to the world:
As the sciences and philosophy for the Augustinian had no value except insifar as they refer to God, it followed that the sciences and philosophy did not bring to Christian wisdom any knowledge of the nature of things in themselves, but merely examples and illustrations. All our knowledge of the created world had only one function. It was not to know something more, it was not to know further truth about them, but to provide illustrations, examples, that would further one's knowledge of God. It had a symbolic value, to aid one to an understanding of the true revelation, and that true revelation came from above and was in a purely spiritual order. This enables one to grasp in what sense the Augustinians spoke of philosophy as the ancilla theologiae. Sciences exist only to serve, and one does not ask them more than to serve. They have no function of contributing any truth of their own, and that is the meaning of the expression ancilla theologiae in the letters of Gregory IX and Alexander IV to the University of Paris. (Y. Congar, Theologie," Dictionnaire de theologie catholique 15, col. 388, cited in Lonergan, Regis College Institute 'On the Method of Theology,' 9-20 July 1962, lecture 2, section 4.2)
So for the Augustinian, everything in the world was merely a symbol of God. For the Thomist, the world possessed a meaning in its own right.

We could push this insight in a slightly different direction. It gives us, for example, different approaches for our homilies. The Augustinian approach would pick up examples from life, and they would be just that, examples, illustrations about God and Christ and the gospel. A Thomist approach would not negate this, but would add that the examples are themselves part of the ongoing action of Christ in the world. So Gustav Adolph would not be just an illustration of Christ's type of kingship, but would be part of the action of Christ in the world. Gustav Adolph would be part of the Risen Body of Christ, effect and fruit of the Resurrection. And we would be led not only to admiration for him and for Christ, but also to gratitude to God for the ongoing work of redemption... A move from exhortation to praise and worship.

Monday 10 November 2008

Football again in Divyadaan

Yesterday the Nashik Inter-Parish Football and Throwball Tournament was held on the Divyadaan grounds. Good to see all those youngsters from Devlali, St Ann's, Holy Cross, Igatpuri and Don Bosco here... Some of them, I was thinking, were just little altar boys a few years ago.

Several parents sat right through the day. Wonderful sign of support for their kids, and surely appreciated.

Eric Almeida and Anthony Conceicao were very much part of the Don Bosco team, which romped to victory with a 4-0 score in the finals.

The Divyadaan brothers did a good job with the refereeing and just being around. The organization was in the hands of the St Patrick's Youth of Devlali.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Serve only the best wine

Many people never remove the plastic covers from their sofas. We find some of our communities doing that: the plastic never comes off from the jeep seats. Why? Because they don’t want to dirty the jeep.
Jesus did not keep himself in reserve. His first miracle was changing water into very good wine. He gave the best of his affection freely to all who he met.
This is an important skill to learn, because we tend to measure out our affection in droplets.
The secretary who welcomed Jones. “She had already decided to love me, even before I walked in the door.”
A friend of mine who could make black white. He had this capacity to make you feel good, and you felt good!
Perhaps Jesus knew he would not live up to forty, so he did not store up his wine: he served it!
Live! Give all your affection, rather than measuring it out in droplets!
Be generous with your affection, your appreciation, your praise!
Don’t wait till someone has earned your appreciation!
The difference between being objective and being creative! Advaita in relationships.

(Laurie Beth Jones)

No one can ruin your plans

Let nothing set you back.
No one can keep you down unless you decide not to rise again.
See the story of Jesus. Leaders do not quit when they suffer a loss. They press on. Jesus was convinced that no one could upset his plans.

You are kept back from ministries or orders.
You have two possible attitudes: to play a game, or to really work at whatever needs working at.
Your request has been questioned. You have two possible attitudes: you give up, or you answer the questions.
It is in your hands, either to put on a mask, or to grow.
Failure in itself is not the problem. How you take the failure indicates what sort of man you are. (Examinations are a sort of game, and failures have to be taken in a sporting spirit. And often life is also a game.)

Question: what recent loss or betrayal have you suffered that might be causing you to want to give up?
If you give up, who will be really the reason for your defeat?

(From Laurie Beth Jones)

Call the question

This is an important skill for us who spend so much time on meetings. At a certain point, we have to call the question. We have to stop talking, and make a decision.

A woman dreamed she was being chased by a bear. When the bear finally cornered her, the woman asked in terror, Are you going to kill me? The bear calmly replied, I don’t know, lady. You tell me. This is your dream.

Probably some of us love to whine. Jones tells the story of her training as a telephone prayer counselor. They were told to allow 3 minutes to people to tell their story, and to then say, Okay, that brings us to the question: What do you want to have happen now? Jones says: it is amazing how people suddenly fall silent when confronted with their own point of power. It is much easier to whine than to decide.

Jesus empowered people because he was willing to call the question. Who do you think I am? What do you want? Do you want that I heal you?

If the Emperor is naked, say it. We spend so much energy safeguarding our illusions. Sooner or later things will come to a head; better that you do it sooner, when you can call the shots, when you can time yourself, and when you have not yet made too many mistakes.

Let the discussions come to an end; decide, and do. On the plains of hesitation, as Bulchand used to say, the war was lost.

(From Laurie Beth Jones)

The Lion is God

One of my beloved stories, something that brought home to me in a most dramatic way what we mean when we say that faith is a 'theological' virtue. This is Vincent Donovan in Christianity Rediscovered:

Months later when all this had passed, I was sitting talking with a Masai elder about the agony of belief and unbelief. He used two languages to respond to me - his own and Kiswahili. He pointed out that the word my Masai catechist, Paul, and I had used to convey faith was not a very satisfactory word in their language. It meant literally "to agree to." I, myself, knew the word had that shortcoming. He said "to believe" like that was similar to a white hunter shooting an animal with his gun from a great distance. Only his eyes and his fingers took part in the act. We should find another word. He said for a man to really believe is like a lion going after its prey. His nose and eyes and ears pick up the prey. His legs give him the speed to catch it. All the power of his body is involved in the terrible death leap and single blow to the neck with the front paw, the blow that actually kills. And as the animal goes down, the lion envelopes it in his arms (the Masai refer to the front legs of an animal as its arms), pulls it to himself, and makes it part of himself. This is the way a lion kills. This is the way a man believes. This is what faith is.”

I looked at the elder in silence and amazement. Faith understood like that would explain why, when my own faith was gone, I ached in every fibre of my being. But my wise old teacher was not finished yet.

“We did not search you out, Padri,” he said to me. “We did not even want you to come to us. You searched us out. You followed us away from your house into the bush, into the plains, into the steppes where our cattle are, into the hills where we take our cattle for water, into our villages, into our homes. You told us of the High God, how we must search for him, even leave our land and our people to find him. But we have not done this. We have not left our land. We have not searched for him. He has searched for us. He has searched us out and found us. All the time we think we are the lion. In the end the lion is God.”

Friday 7 November 2008

Mother Yvonne Reungoat

There's been a sort of local controversy over the correct pronunciation of the name of the new Superior General of the FMA, Mother Yvonne Reungoat. So I thought of consulting Julian Fox. Here is Julian's reply:
If you want the real French pronunciation it is [reungo'a] if you'll pardon an approximised IPA, but note that the 'r' is the French guttural 'r', the accent is on the 'a' and 't' is not pronounced. The 'eu' is kind of slid across quickly rather than two distinct vowel sounds.
Hope it helps. What the Italians do with the word is another thing!

Creativity and chaos

I mopped my room yesterday after weeks and weeks, and I love the sight of the clean room. I just caught myself thinking of how much I love order and cleanliness; but almost simultaneously there arose the thought that I will not go out of my way to invest in order and cleanliness above everything else. And I love also this kind of balance. It is just right for creativity. One of Lonergan's most wonderful insights is how order emerges from chaos in world process, and how a certain amount of chaos - 'merely coincidental aggregates' - is needed if a species is to evolve. Ants and bees evolved into perfection millions of years ago; they became so perfect that there was no room for improvement, and evolution comes to a dead end in them. The right combination for emergence of novelty is large numbers and long intervals of time...

It thrills me no end that Don Bosco exemplies this kind of counterpoise between creativity and chaos. Stella's section (in his Don Bosco: Life and Work, 1985, esp. 159-72) on the kind of creative chaos that reigned in Don Bosco's Valdocco is something all Salesians must read.

The (evangelical?) virtues of shrewdness, enterprise and professionalism

"For the children of this world are more astute in their generation than the children of light." (Lk 16,8)

What a damning statement from the lips of Jesus! And as true today as it must have been in his time. So many of us clergy, religious, Christians, content to drift through life, do some good, but not really harness all our energies and time and talents and gifts for the sake of the kingdom, for the sake of God... for the sake of the young! This too is part of "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself." That lovely and ringing declaration must receive its full exegesis in the light of sayings like the one above, otherwise it degenerates into soppy sentimentality, for which I have absolutely no patience! (Is that lack of loving?)

The type of professional training programs that have been worked out, the way companies like Wipro follow up their employees, the great strides made by management, and simply the energy and the care that go into making money in all ways and all colours.... This is something the children of light of our days could learn much from. To learn from all these is part of the great synthesis between faith and reason that has always been upheld by the Church. It is also very much part of Don Bosco's temperament and practice, Don Bosco who refused the second prize for his printing press in the International Industrial Exhibition in Turin, because he was convinced that he deserved first prize. And besides, Benedict XVI has recently lent his own authoritative voice to the chorus, when he urged seminaries and formation personnel to make full and abundant if discerning use of the contributions of the human sciences....

Preparing a retreat

I am busy preparing the talks for the retreat I am due to preach in New Delhi very soon... Not something I usually do, not something I have chosen as a ministry. Not easy therefore, in the sense that what you do often becomes easy, pleasant, graceful... But enriching just the same. I realize I have a whole lot of things to say, a whole lot of things stacked away, a huge amount of reading that has gone into the black box, or at least things that I have been hoping to read. Going through my highly disorganized set of collections, is like going through a diary: a record of my readings, my tastes, my mindsets, my opinions, the gradual changes....

And the books that have influenced me deeply: Joseph Ratzinger, Daughter Sion; Rosemary Haughton, Our Passionate God; Keith Clark, Being Sexual... Being Celibate; Lonergan, Insight and Method in Theology, of course; Vincent Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered; Pietro Stella, Don Bosco: Life and Work; Teresio Bosco, Storia di un Prete; John Paul II, Theology of the Body; Anthony De Mello, Song of the Bird, at one time... not to speak of our backdoor neighbour, Bhagawan Shree Rajneesh, and Krishnamurti...

I thought I would be spending days in quiet contemplation and meditative reading... But no! Habits die hard. Frenzied work. So many things to do. The De Smet book. The journal. The talk for Yercaud. Classes on hermeneutics. The retreat. The new course on Aesthetics. And all the while, hoping to start some new research on Lonergan, perhaps on his great struggle to work out for himself the transition from scripture to dogma and theology....

Thursday 6 November 2008

A Hail Mary

Una poesia di Trilussa che ho felicemente trovato nelle mie cartelle:

Quann'ero regazzino, mamma mia
me diceva: "Ricordate fijolo,
quanno te senti veramente solo,
tu prova a recita n'Ave Maria.
L'anima tua da sola spicca er volo
e se solleva, come pe' maggia".

Ormai so' vecchio, er tempo m'e' volato;
da un pezzo s'e' addormita la vecchietta,
ma quer consiglio nun l'ho mai scordato.
Come me sento veramente solo,
io prego la Madonna benedetta,
e l'anima da sola pija er volo.
There is also the story, told, I think, by St Alphonsus of Liguori, about a good Neapolitan woman with great devotion to our Lady. Well, this good woman one day discovered that her husband had been two-timing her with a well-known floozy of the quartiere, and she marched with rage to the Madonna demanding justice. "Giustizia!" she shouted to the Madonna, "I want giustizia!" It seems the Madonna heard her till she could hear no more, and then finally, at the end of her patience, said: "About giustizia I don't know anything. My son, he deals only with misericordia. And anyway, I can't do a thing, because that floozy says her Three Hail Marys everyday, so."

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Evangelical poverty

"Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple... Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Lk 14,27, 33)

But why must we renounce all possessions in order to follow Christ? Why evangelical poverty at all?

"If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." (Lk 14,26)

Hating father and mother, and possessions, and life itself...

Whatever be the reasons and the meaning of this kind of poverty, the demand is clear, and the price extremely high. When it comes to the rub, one has to choose God before father and mother, husband and wife and children; above possessions; even over life itself. That is the meaning of the Shema Israel: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." The Jewish and the Christian religions have a very healthy appreciation for the good things of life. They are earthy religions. But deep down there is a radical relativization of earthly realities. The Lord is to be loved with all one's heart and soul and might, and above all things.

There is a hidden violence in every page of the gospel. Death is never far from the words of Jesus. Only, the violence is what one suffers or is ready to suffer, not the violence that one inflicts on others. In that sense, Jesus carries out a complete reversal of the type of attitude we find in the Office of Readings of these days - the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers, who were mighty men of war, who burned with zeal for the Law, and who wreaked havoc on the enemies of the Law...

The will and the work

Paul in Phil 2,12-13: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

Great text in the reflection on grace. Augustine pointing out that not only the 'work' but also the 'will', the desire to do good or to do God's will, comes from God. His great fight with the Pelagians and the Semi-Pelagians on this point. Even our desire to do the good is a gift of God, is grace.

And of course desiring to do the good is not the same as doing the good. Why then does God give us the desire and not the performance? So that, Augustine says, we might fall on our knees and beg for the performance. So prayer intervenes between the will and the work. And so prayer is the highest expression of our freedom, the intermediate step in the tango of love between God and us...

Desire without performance: St Peter proclaiming, we are ready to die with you, and a few hours later denying Jesus three times. Desire without performance: Augustine praying for chastity, 'but not yet' - here even the desire is still so weak and muddy, that it points to the need to even pray that we might desire the good with all our hearts... Francis de Sales who says we must not only avoid the occasions of sin, but also pray to overcome all attachment to sin...

Monday 3 November 2008

Dharma, religion, faith

I think many often fail to understand that the Christian faith is not tied up with any particular culture or any particular social and political arrangement. To be Christian is not therefore to be tied to any particular culture or nationality. People like Narayan Waman Tilak and Brahmobandhab Upadhyaya understood this well.

Ratzinger says that there is no particular political and social order underlying Jesus' teaching. The concrete political and social order is therefore released from the directly sacred realm, from theocratic legislation, and is transferred to the freedom of man, whom Jesus has established in God's will and taught thereby to see the right and the good. (Jesus of Nazareth 118)

This was also more or less the upshot of the exchange of correspondence between Swami Shilananda and Chowgule: that the word dharma does not really translate religion, and vice versa, leading to all sorts of misunderstandings.


"An important part of the Sermon on the Mount is devoted to prayer - indeed, how could it be otherwise?" (Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth 70)

This is striking. Of the 3 elements which Ratzinger finds in the Sermon on the Mount, one is prayer. What does this say to me? What does it say to us Salesians, for whom, unfortunately, prayer does not seem very high on our list of priorities?

Prayer: life lived before the face of God, as Ratzinger so beautifully puts it.

If philosophy sheds light or reflects on our concrete solutions to the problem of living, then faith as sublating philosophy will shed a new light... Faith as life lived before the face of God. Prayer as that relationship to God.

Feeling at home in the midst of the young

"Here in your midst I feel completely at home." (Don Bosco)

Once again, home. Feeling completely at home in the midst of the young. Do I? Or do I need to find relaxation away from them?

St Paul to his Thessalonians: I miss you, I long for you with all the affection of Christ Jesus, you are my crown, my joy. I thank God for you every time I think of you, and when I pray for you, I pray for you with joy.

Love, sentimentality and the cross

The revelation to Moses was frightening. The revelation to Elijah was mild: a cool, still breeze. That transformation, says Ratzinger in Jesus of Nazareth, is completed on the Hill of the Beatitudes: God is revealed in his mildness, simplicity, gentleness... (67)

But, goes on Ratzinger, that goodness is no sugarplum. God's love and goodness is not sick soppy sentimentality. It is washed by the cross. "This is a hard saying. Who can bear it?" (67) There is steel in the mild gentle Jesus. "The scandal of the cross is harder for many to bear than the thunder of Sinai had been for the Israelites." (67-68)

An Afro-American saint

Today is the memorial of Martin de Porres, an Afro-American saint... That is about all I know about him, that he was black, that he loved the poor, that he was from some South American country, and that he is a saint of the Catholic Church.

Very significant this feast, coming as it does on the eve of the US elections, with Obama as candidate. Our papers are saying that McCain would probably be better for India (because he is more 'deregulated' perhaps). And still Obama's candidature is significant.

Will he win? Not at all sure, I think. During the General Chapter earlier this year, the American salesians were very clear: if Obama wins the Democratic nomination, McCain will win the Presidential elections.

Race and colour are still very potent issues, I guess. No one and no group gives up its top perch willingly and easily...

The Jesus of the gospels: breaking boundaries in eating and drinking with just about everyone... rich and poor, the just and sinners, Pharisees and publicans and tax-collectors and prostitutes. Table fellowship as part of Jesus' revelation of God: God who is Father and Mother, and we therefore, all of us, brothers and sisters.

The explosive potential of the Eucharist. Who was it that was complaining about the Eucharist being boring and meaningless?

Sunday 2 November 2008

Vineyards and grapes

For those who want to have a look at a vineyard... This is the Mountain View vineyard belonging to the Phadtares.

What you see on the vines are the flower buds; they will open some time next week, and then 'the berries will set,' as the professionals say. The weather is glorious, cool and dry: just perfect for grapes.

Dominic Veliath on non-negotiables of the Christian Faith

Dominic Veliath, SDB, is one of the leading Christian theologians in India, and has been a member of the International Theological Commission, theological adviser to various commissions of Bishops in India and in Asia, and so on. Dominic, for those who know him, is what you might describe as a gentle soul, understanding and dialogue personified, much loved by all his theology students who can often be a rough lot...

Dominic is not known to making absolute, dogmatic statements. That is why it was significant to see him asserting so clearly at the Yercaud Seminar that there are two non-negotiables in the Christian faith: one, that the faith must be shared (which is part of evangelization); the other, that we cannot hate.

One shares, one is led spontaneously to share, what is closest to one's heart. That must be done in all respect, in the context of mutual agreement, in an atmosphere preferably of friendship and peace. Not to share what is valuable is simply selfishness...

And one loves. There is simply no excuse for hating. So one is called to love ... the bin Ladens, the Thackerays, the Advanis, the Modis, those who hate and kill and maim, whoever they are, whatever religion they belong to.

Love does not obstruct the law. The law must take its course, simply because the law is our codified arrangement for living together. Without the law there would be chaos. But one does not stop loving. One cares for the one against whom the law is to be used. One does not have to hate.

Fr Joseph Neuner, SJ at the age of 97...

Yesterday I watched a ten-minute video, lent to me by Godfrey D'Sa, containing and interview with Fr Joseph Neuner, SJ.

The video was taken when Neuner was 97. He is now a 100 years old, and going strong. What is wonderful is to see the clarity of his mind, the breadth of his vision, the passion that animates him at this great age... Neuner is one of the leading theologians in India, and in the world. He is a friend and companion of Karl Rahner, he was an expert at the Second Vatican Council, he is co-editor with Jacques Dupuis of the well-known compendium of Christian doctrinal statements, The Christian Faith, the English equivalent of Denzinger-Schoenmetzer.

The Indian Church, says Neuner, must have an Indian theology and must be truly an Indian Church, and not merely an imitation of the European Church. It must understand the core of the teaching and the life of Jesus, which was to proclaim and promote and bring about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God must not be understood in the narrow sense of 'enlarging the Church', but in the large and broad and original sense of engaging with all religions, and all countries, and all cultures, and all groups of people, to discover together our unity, our fellowship, our belonging to one another under God.

It struck me that this kind of thinking is quite unknown to the vast majority of our Indian public. For years now Indian Christian theologians have been reflecting and praying and writing and researching on the question of How to be Christian in India today. Their production has taken all shapes and colours and hues; but it is important, I think, that the general Indian public be let on to this well-kept secret: the ongoing effort of a group of Indians to discover how to be faithful to country, to humanity, to God. This is no threat to anyone. To allow thinking and loving free play is to allow the springs of authenticity within us to flow free; and authenticity is what all of us want, authenticity is what will most benefit any country and culture and people in the long run.

Praise God for people like Neuner!

The Eucharist comes alive...

Archbishop Chinappa of Chennai had come for the inauguration of the Golden Jubilee Philosophical Seminar in Yercaud.

The Archbishop is well-known for his espousal of the Dalit cause. He makes it no secret that he himself is of Dalit origin. I think he is found inconvenient, abrasive, irritating and annoying by many. But I admire him for certain things. Like the way he opened up the Archbishop's House in Chennai to everyone - not only the clergy and religious, but also lay people, including the drivers and employees of the clergy and religious who are usually relegated to some corner of the kitchen for meals.

I love this gesture. It is a prophetic gesture. It reveals a deep understanding of Eucharist equality. It makes the Eucharist real, alive, present. It is something that must be of inspiration to us in all our houses and works.

I loved also the sensitivity of the Archbishop in Yercaud. He was presiding at the inaugural Eucharist, the whole liturgy was in English, but he realized that there was a group of girls who could not follow English. He asked for the Tamil missal and did the last part of the mass in Tamil, from the Our Father on...

God, home and love

I prepared one homily and delivered another one at the Nirmala Home for the Aged this morning, on All Souls Day.

All Saints, All Souls, the whole end-of-the-year cycle, and also Advent and Christmas: I find all these reminding us of HOME.

Home has always been a fascinating word for me. Home is where ... you are just at home. You can relax, you can put up your feet, you can dress as you like, you can, more or less, do as you like and no one will say anything, at least most of the time... And not feeling at home is also so familiar to all of us...

I was fascinated to discover that the gospels talk about Jesus being at home - not so much in Nazareth as in Capernaum, Kafr-Nahum today: And Jesus went and dwelt in Capernaum, he made his home in Kafr-Nahum...

Elsewhere also he talks about home: If anyone loves me and obeys my words, the Father and I will come and make our home with him...

And St Paul talks about 'being at home in the word'...

God is our true home. We come from him and go back to him. And that home is not something after, later, or a place. It is now. God is now. God's love is now. So home is now. And if it is not, then it is always due to the fact that somehow our hearts are not large enough to receive that love, and so to feel completely at home.

Our hearts being made larger, large enough to contain the infinite ocean of God's love: that, I guess, is Purgatory.

Kahlil Gibran talks about pain as the burning of the wooden cup so as to make it large enough to contain the wine, or larger to contain more wine...

So God is now, love is now, home is now... And the mission of Jesus is making God now, love now, home now. And we need to understand that this mission is not always so pretty, so neat, so soothing. It can, it does, involve a great deal of VIOLENCE. I am amazed to see the great undertone of violence in the New Testament. Violence and death are never far from any page of the New Testament. But not the violence that is wreaked on others. Rather, the violence that one has to accept and suffer if one is to follow God's will, God's love... The violence that led Jesus to the cross, the violence that led millions of early Christians to the following of Jesus to the very end...

So purgatory meshes with issues of love and justice and the cross.

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Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary