Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Jail Fail

The past week has been a week of scare and care for the people of Guyana. It was scare, when the horrendous fire at the Camp Street Prison that engulfed both the physical vicinity of the prison and its psychological effects on people. It was care, because everyone cared for each other’s safety inclusive of the safety of the prisoners. In all this, I was specifically moved by two nerve-wrenching testimonies of cry of the mother of the slain prison warden, and testimony of the abducted taxi driver. In the former, a mother lost her promising and dedicated child and in the later, the taxi driver who was abducted by the fugitive prisoners would come home safe for the sake of the little child. According to the taxi driver, the fugitive prisoners let him go for he begged for the sake of his child. This suggests that the fugitive prisoners do have some humanity left in them but as we know, it is not properly harnessed hence; they have taken a path of gloom and doom.

Why does someone chooses a path of violence that eventually leads them to prison where there will be grinding of teeth and wailing within the walls? No one has clear answers, but we have theories such as, parents needs to nip in the bud, teachers need to ‘don’t spare the rod’, religious leaders need to talk about morality and government need to be responsible for the bad behaviour of the its citizens. Fyodor Dostoevsky expressed, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” We live in a complicated society, which has myriad problems and mysteries, and those problems remain long to explode into something worse as it happened in the Camp Street Prison fire. “Keep in mind those who are in prion, as though you were in prions with them; and those who are being badly treated, since you too are in the one body” Hebrews 13:3. Every one of us must take responsibility for the failure of the society and not begin blame game, which are naturally the first and the foremost disposition. In other words, we tend to judge someone else for the failure. For instance, if a light has to be fixed in my house, do I blame my neighbour, someone right at my house, GPL or just get the light fixed? How do take responsibility for someone who has taken a wrong path? In order to answer that question, we need to delve deep into our own families, education system, job opportunities, church as a moral watchdog, and so on. Among all the above, family is crucial because what you sow, you reap. Most families work hard for an integrated growth of a person and most families succeed and many families also fail. In either case, families will have the satisfaction of doing their duty well.

Let me inscribe the poem written from the cell in Germany by pastor, theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
 Stretched out on my cot,
I stare at the grey wall,
Outside, a summer evening 
That does not know me
Goes singing into the countryside.
Slowly and softly 
The tides of the day ebb
On the eternal shore...

We the poor, the rich,
Alike in misfortune,
The good, the bad,
Whatever we have been 
We men of many scars,
We the witnesses of those who died,
We the defiant, we the despondent,
The innocent, and the much accused,
Deeply tormented by long isolation,
Brother, we are searching, we are calling you!
Brother, do you hear me? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A mothers bond of fond

Mother, an inexhaustible word
Ourselves and across the board
Eyes sparkling with love
Everyone in adoration bow

Naked was I formed in thy womb
A form of my being until the tomb
Myself emanate thy noble fragrance
Every fibre of my being show radiance

Thou strengthened my feet
Then I walked my way to greet
My eyes sparkled with courage
This could be a arrearage

You whispered into God’s ears
That help myself bears
Taught how to talk to God
Thence, my being a laud

Sweetest lady of my first love
I shall abide in you like a dove
My heart gushes to ponder
Despite with it yonder

You are the morning dew
I have none gifts but few
Thou art a jewel precious
I will cherish thou gracious

My being propels a mighty kiss
For thou art today I miss
An intertwined noble bond

I greet thou my dear mother with fond

I have waited too long

Lord, how lovely to dwell in you
You’re the Lord of the living
Thou liveth in every being  
Stay with us Lord
Thou art close to the broken
Meet your weakest
Don’t abandon the righteous
Shine your merciful eyes
Your presence is better than life
I am broken and bruised
Loneliness killing me.

Where can go for your love
If I look for you in my home
I find only evil
If I look for you among leaders
I find only Pharisees
If I look for you in the temple
I find only curious eyes
Where do I find you?
Lord, you gave your body
You shed your precious blood
Am I worthy of your Being?
Drink from the same cup
A feeling ‘do this in memory of me’
My whole self pines for your clutch
A tender touch of your presence
Ever cooling breath of spirit
Many push me to the fringe
Lord, am I not worthy of YOU

Lord, you’re the master of me
A companion for broken journey
I am walking towards You
When will I reach You?
Many obstruct my way
Told, you’re not worthy of God
You want to abandon me
Do you hear my cry for your help
Wash me with thy Body and Blood
Come into me Sacred Species

I have waited too long!

Am I leaf, branch or Root person?

Now that Lent has drawn to a close and the season of Easter has unfolded the mother of all events, the resurrection of Jesus, we are invited to enjoy and savour the fruits of Easter during this season. We are invited to continue our reflection on our own lives, in order to cement our relationship with God and each other. It is a favourable time for us to introspect to gaze at our relationships with our brothers and sisters. In our modern times, social communication has helped to large extent to converse and build relationship from far and near. This has made our world truly a global village. But, the question always remains, has our modern world brought people together only virtually or in reality?
I thought the analogy of a tree given by Mr Taylor Perry would be helpful to unfold our relationships. Perry through the analogy of a tree explains the people who visit our life, be it friends, family, acquaintances, employees, co-workers, and so on.
Leaf People: Some people come into our life and they are like leaves on a tree. They are only there for a season. We can’t depend on them or count on them, because they are weak and are there only to give us shade. Like leaves, they are there to take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows in our life they are gone. We can’t be angry at them, that is just what they are.
Branch People: There are some people who come into our life and they are like branches on a tree. They are stronger than leaves, but we have to be careful with them. They will stick around through most seasons, but if we go through storm or two in our life, it is possible that we lose them. Most of the times they break away when it is tough. Although they are stronger than leaves, we have to test them out before we run out there and put all our weight on them. In most cases they can’t handle too much weight. But again, we can’t be angry at them, it is just who they are.
Root People: If we can find some people in our life who are like the roots of a tree, then we have found something special. Like the roots of a tree, they are hard to find because they are not trying to be seen. Their only job is to hold us up and help us live a strong and healthy life. If we thrive, they are happy. They stay low key and don’t let the world know that they are there. And if we go through an awful storm they will hold us up. Their job is to hold us up, come what may and to nourish us, feed us and water us.

While a tree has many limbs and many leaves, it has only a few roots. Look at our own life. How many leaves, branches and roots do we have? What are you in other people’s lives? While thanking God for the gift of roots let us also make efforts to be roots in other’s lives. That was what Jesus was and we are called to be like Jesus our root.

What kind of person am I?

There is an Amerindian legend in Guyana called “The Caiman’s Fire”. According to this legend, Caiman held the ball of fire in his mouth and never shared with people and other animals. Caiman enjoyed cooked food every day. People and animals also wanted to try the cooked food and they came to like the enticing taste of cooked meat and fish. Hence, they had a deal with Caiman to cook the food for them with the fire that he possessed for which they had to give him some share from their hunt. This deal was good for Caiman but gradually Caiman became selfish and take big share from others hunted. Eventually people and animals wanted to have fire for themselves but they failed all the attempts to get it from the mouth of the Caiman. Hummingbird had a trick to open Caiman’s mouth so that they can get the fire out of him. Caiman was invited to a banquet where there was food and drink. During this banquet every animals would do some acts to make Caiman laugh and open its mouth but Caiman was very cautious not to open its mouth lest fire fall out of his mouth. Everyone took turns to crack jokes and funny antics; everyone roaring with laughter except Caiman. Animals showed off their skills, and while everyone laughed and was having fun, the Caiman did not even break a smile. The birds did magnificent swoops in the air and brought expression of “oohs” and “aahs” from the guests but the Caiman remained as glum as ever.
Finally, green-tailed Jacamar began a very funny dance. As the Caiman looked on, he suddenly gave out a loud chuckle and burst out in loud laughter. Immediately, flames spurted form his mouth. All of a sudden, the hummingbird – as swift as every – flew into the caiman’s mouth, grabbed the ball of fire in his beak, flew away with it, and dropped in on a pile of dry wood. In no time, a great fire sprang up, and there was a mad rush to collect pieces of burning wood.

There are three kinds of people that cross our lives:
Closed fisted Person: These are like Caiman who refused to share the ball of fire with others rather kept it tightly closed in its mouth and also grabbed share from the innocent hunters. These persons come into our lives but create a negative impact. In turn, they have the power to control us. We try to dance according to their tune so that we might one day get what we lack.
Pope Francis says, "Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly."
Open fisted Person: These are like other animals that showed off their skills in order to get the ball of fire from the mouth of the Caiman. They could be our parents, family, friends, teachers, and colleagues etc. who share their knowledge and wisdom so that we may be able to spurt out our best. These are people who will do their bit to contribute to our growth. They open their fist of knowledge and wisdom to share with us.
Pope Francis says: “Teachers, you have to teach not just the subject, but also life’s values and habits.”
Open arms person: These are like the Jacamar did the final dance to convince the Caiman to open its mouth and it did. Parents at times become Jacamar to get the best out of their children. They make their ultimate sacrifice to get the ball of fire from their children. They go to any extent to convince their children that they can do it. They never give up and never tire or retire but keep pushing. Their arms are always open to embrace and release when needed. They embrace with open arms when we fall and release us with open arms when we are successful.

What kind of person am I? 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holy Orders

“…the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands" 2 Tim 1:6

Holy Orders is the Sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: Episcopate, Presbyterate, and Deaconate in other words, Bishop, Priest and Deacon.

Points to remember
·       Only Bishop can administer this sacrament through ordination and laying of hands.
·       Jesus Christ instituted the priesthood on Holy Thursday, the same time when He instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
·       Only Baptised man can receive the Sacrament of Orders.
·       This sacrament is directed towards the salvation and service of others. Thus priests are the servants of the community.
·       Their mission is to build up the people of God through teaching, preaching, good works, and the administration of the sacraments.
·       Priests are set apart (consecrated).
·       Priesthood is ministerial priesthood which is different from the common priests of the faithful.
·       This sacrament confers an indelible spiritual character and cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily.
·       Celibacy is a discipline of the Church that has been effect since 306ADE and made mandatory in 1074. Mat 19:12, 1 Cor. 7:8, 7:27-38.
·       Priesthood to male only does not imply that women are inferior to men in anyway.
·       The priest acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) as another Christ.
·       All priest share in the one priesthood of Christ.

Priesthood for the Church

Priest is a man of the Eucharist: The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and the celebration of the Eucharist is central for the Church. Priest celebrates the Eucharist in persona Christi. There is an unbreakable bond between the Eucharist and the priest. Priesthood becomes fulfilled when he celebrates the Eucharist.

Priest is a man of prayer: ‘I nourish you with what I myself live on,’ St. Anselm said. The proclaimed truths must be discovered and adopted in the intimacy of prayer and meditation. Our ministry of the word consists in expressing what was first prepared in prayer. Priest is the mediator between God and men; many turn to him asking for prayers. Thus prayer, in a certain sense, ‘creates’ the priest, especially as Pastor.

Identity as priest: Many priests wondered whether priest is necessary in the face of secularisation and the abandonment of religious practices. Therefore, priest wondered about the identity. From the start, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, the priest was ‘taken from among men and made their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.’ This is the best definition of the priest’s identity. Every priest, according to the gifts bestowed upon him by the Creator, can serve God in various ways and with his priestly ministry, can reach various sectors of human life, bring them closer to God.

Fidelity to Christ and the people of God: Priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Priests fulfil their vocation by trusting in God’s support and constantly striving for holiness. Through the deep friendship with Christ, a priest becomes a bridge between God and His people. Therefore, a priest seeks the flock of God with love and mercy by cultivating the tranquil conviction that the One who began the work will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

The priest has a specific role in the parish community as pastor and leader. His primary role would be to pastor the people of God through the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments. Thence, the priest pastors the community on behalf of the Local Bishop, who appoints him as the parish priest. The Second Vatican Council recommends, "Parish priests ensure that the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the center and culmination of the entire life of the Christian community" (Decr. Christus Dominus, n. 30). Without Eucharistic worship as its beating heart, the parish dries up.

Fr. Jerri Dias SJ

Sacred Heart RCIA