Saturday, October 8, 2022

Gratitude to the Lord


I am grateful to my Parents, though poor gave me education, brought me up in my Catholic faith, taught morals at home. They guided 5 of us in every way to be good human and Christian. They taught us to be respectful towards elders, teachers and any strangers whom we met either on way to school, church or play and never insult or offend them by words and deeds. They were our greatest teachers though unlettered but hearts and souls were educated in the School of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for their support and guidance when i decided to Join the Capuchin Order, they did not know about the Capuchins but had heard that they are strict and very poor. I remember my mother saying that we too are poor so it will be easy to live with the poor Capuchins. 

The Journey of being grateful to God, parents, teachers, brothers and relatives began well at the age when everyone seems to be learning the art of living. It was so amazing to have good people around to show the way and path to walk and to hold when fell or fumbled on. The journey of gratitude begins from within the heart and mind, how can i forget the sacrifices of my parents, toiling day in and out for 5 sons to provide food, clothing, education, medicines etc. They were living saints guiding our destiny of future. I have seen my mother eating less but serving us more and sufficient, in winter covering us with sufficient warm clothes than herself. My Father would provide whatever he could afford so that we have minimum required. They were days when he could not provide food for us because he could not sell vegetables or flower plants in market but never grumbled or blamed God....accept the plight and came back home as cheerful as always. 

I am grateful to the Lord for granting me such a good parents who are now enjoying the blessedness and glory of the Lord in His abode. They were ably supported by my eldest brother who discontinued his schooling in order to financially support my parents in providing the minimum necessary. I am grateful for his great sacrifices for the family in providing everything that we needed in order grow matured human beings.

Monday, October 3, 2022

New Possibilities of healing the wounds with St. Francis of Assisi

In every nook and corner of the universe there are many troubles, war, killings in the name of Religion, caste and color and the earth is crying for peace and inviting to put an end to all these unnecessary sufferings caused by us. There is a need to share in the anguish, pain, suffering and poverty of so many men and women everywhere in the world. The Church is inviting us to keep the positive and optimistic flame of Christian hope alive in this turmoil, brokenness, and darkness. The Franciscan Order is gearing up to celebrate 800 years of the rule 1223 -2023 and the Order would like to find out new possibilities with Francis of Assisi for this world which is crying for a spirituality which is focused and centered on the Human Being as an Image of God. Amidst the miseries of the world of his times in Assisi, Francis never gave up blessing the Lord, “Who alone is good, merciful, gentle, delightful, and sweet, who alone is holy, just, true, holy, and upright, who alone is kind, innocent, clean, from Whom, through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory” (Earlier Rule 23, 9).

            In his brokenness, his poverty, Francis came in search of new possibilities for rediscovering the liberating power of the Gospel.  But Francis knew that this liberation does not come freely; it comes with a cost. What is that cost? We heard it proclaimed in the Gospel: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he or she must deny self and take up his or her cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his or her life will lose it but whoever loses his or her life for my sake will save it” (Lk. 9:23-4). We are invited to undergo a spiritual death: death to those thoughts and attitudes within us that lead us towards death and despair instead of life and hope; death to those wounds we harbor in our hearts inflicted by those who pretend to love us – our husbands, wives, children, parents, brothers or sisters in our religious communities, friends – and wounds accumulated in the daily struggles of life; death to our quick tempers and rush to judgment of others; death to those fears and prejudices that prevent us from recognizing the face of God in all people, especially the poor, marginalized, the ‘strangers in our midst’, and that keep us from recognizing one another as brother or sister in the one family of God; and death to our unwillingness to let God love and forgive us, turning our stone cold hearts into hearts of flesh (Ezek 36,26) capable of receiving and sharing love.


St. Francis teaches us to hope in the cross and resurrection of Jesus and the Lord would once heal us all of our brokenness, transform us into that ‘new creation’ announced by St. Paul in to the Christians in Corinth. Francis touched the wounds of the crucified Jesus in order that by touching these wounds, his heart and spirit might be healed. The need of every human being is to touch the deep wounds of Jesus Christ to heal the deepest wounds, divide and gaps that we have created in the world, families and in our personal lives. To do this as Christians we are invited by the Lord and the Church as Francis, to enter deeply into the mystery of Christ. We, like Francis, are invited to enter into the mystery of Christ to be spiritually consoled and to be transformed into agents of the ‘new creation’, messengers of love, universal fraternity, and restoration. Like Francis, we need to approach our brothers and sisters to be healed and re-energized. Like Francis, we the disciples of Jesus need to have the courage to take up the cross in our daily lives, a cross that bears the sufferings of all of our brothers and sisters everywhere in the world. The Gospel and the Church offers us new possibilities to heal the wounds and the brokenness of humanity. St. Francis undertook a difficult journey into the darkness and pain confronting humanity and the natural environment of his time and experienced the guiding hand of the Creator and His fullness of grace to heal humanity and the environment .


As we celebrate the feast of St. Francis, let us, as sons and daughters, followers and admirers make use of this opportunity to take stock of the problems, sufferings, injustices and the wars knocking at our doors and propose to the world new possibilities of Living out our vocations as Christians according to the Gospel as St. Francis lived and proposed. The events, situations and concerns that Francis faced are the same and have the specific message for us to offer hope to the suffering humanity as Francis did, by becoming one with the humanity and the creation. He did all this by being open and transparent to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, he discovered his mission of healing the wounds, building and restoring relationships and welcoming all to experience the forgiving love of Jesus Christ. We are all called to rediscover the victorious power of the Resurrection of Christ, engaging in a process of conversion and restore the broken relationships in society and families.


Today we are restless and searching ways and means to do away with the politics of hatred and exclusion.  800 years ago Francis too was restless and searched for God’s ways and possibilities to implant the word of God in a broken society and it worked and gave birth to a new society and church. We have to seek new paths, ways to face the challenges of our times like Francis did 800 years ago with a purified human heart filled with God’s forgiving love. St. Francis received advice, admonitions, corrections, and inspiration from his brothers and sisters to see new possibilities, to heal the wounds and brokenness. Today the need for the church is to create and develop the ability to listen to the questioning in order to interpret agonizing realities in the light of the Word of God. But St. Francis warns us that, it is not sufficient to “wish only to know [the Scriptures] and to interpret them for others” (Adm 7) — we must also be committed to a life witness that is consistent and eloquent. Francis of Assisi was not a theoretician of the spiritual life; he spoke of God in terms of his experience. We too are called to make of our lives a true Gospel, as an expression of our fidelity to our vocation as Christians. Our witness, our personal commitment, our way of life, and how we face various situations are all ways through which we discover various means by which the signs of the times can be reinterpreted.

            As committed Christians and followers of St. Francis, we should not be afraid of the challenges that are bold and radical, let us live our Christian commitment like Francis with enthusiasm and passion. This will only help us to find and provide new possibilities and answers that are current and relevant. Today we live in a secularized society and in a culture of Cancelling each other because we don’t accept and appreciate what the others express and write. In a society which is increasingly excluding God as regards how life is lived and how choices are made, in a world where values are relativized, where everything is provisional and fleeting, our permanent life choice based on Gospel values and principles has real appeal. Together we can propose new possibilities with the Life and Rule of St. Francis to dispel the darkness and heal the wounds of the society: The possibility of embracing the Lord Jesus as our source of happiness and healing, the possibility of living our faith in a creative way, the possibility of making the Gospel as our way of life is open to every believer. Let us live a life guided by the Spirit of God, rooted in human experience and open to the amazing love and closeness that God offers to those who are willing to let Him be at the center of all life.