Monday, October 12, 2009

NBVM BEC leaders election 2009

NBVM BEC leaders election 2009

Finally the much awaited elections are here.Elections are undeniably the best way of selecting our leaders be in the church or outside.Our new parish priest,Fr.Victor Louis,must be commended for his vigor and enthusiasm to elect the various leaders of BECs and other church ministries.

The above is a list of guidelines circulated to all BEC members with the impending election of BEC leaders this week. I do not know who were responsible for drafting these guidelines but I feel they unrealistic and ridiculous. One has to be saint to qualify to be elected a BEC leader.

Let’s analyze some of these criteria listed that would qualify one for the post of BEC chairman.

No.1 : We all know is almost impossible to have all members present at any one meeting. To expect all to attend is wishful thinking.

No.2&3: An irreproachable person is one without fault and therefore impossible to criticize. I wonder who such a person is. To have a good moral life is fair but who decides whether a person is moral or otherwise as morality seem to have become so subjective these days.

No.4: To be a leader his/her children must be believers. Those of us who have children will understand how difficult it is to bring them up as Christians. We may take them to church, send them for catechism, make them participate in church activities and pray regularly at home but do all these guarantee that our children continue to be believers and good Christians? We may be able to have control over them when they are with us until the age of 18 or so. What happens after that God only knows. Can a parent be penalized for the failures of his children after they leave homes?

No.5&6 : Arrogance and hot temper are bad and we must discourage these characters but to be totally devoid of them is almost humanly impossible. We must be humble and obedient not only to those above us but also to those under our care whom we are supposed to protect. However blind obedience to authority and power is morally wrong. As Christians we are taught to always bear witness to the truth at all times and all places. That is what Christ did and what we must do to be his followers.

No.7: There is no doubt that a BEC leader must be able to work closely with the parish priest. This close working must be a two-way process where there is mutual respect for each other’s ideas and opinions. The BEC leader must be given some freedom to carry out his duties within accepted norms. He represents the people’s voices which is paramount.

Limiting the duration of service and getting the parish priest’s consent before undertaking major decisions are all acceptable. The priest is the main adviser and guide who should ensure the proper running of the BECs. By his right attitude he should be the catalyst to build the BECs not demoralize and destroy them.

Distributing these ridiculous criteria is an insult to the intelligence of the people. I don’t think anybody will ever qualify to be a BEC leader based on those criteria. One has to be a saint to be eligible to be a leader.

Changes are necessary but they should not be made just for the sake of doing so. They must be well planned and implemented gradually so as not to upset the long-serving parishioners who have devoted many years of their lives in serving the Church. These parishioners should be duly appreciated for their services and not sidelined unceremoniously and without respect as that would amount to punishing them for what they have contributed.

Parishioners of NBVM have reached a state of maturity and wisdom. All major changes must be preceded by dialogue and even debate as each and every member in the BEC/church is of equal importance in keeping with the slogan “We are the Church”

God bless NBVM

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rate of failed marriages alarming

Our spouse a gift of God

When we were young we were made to believe that marriages are made in heaven. After all these years of witnessing and experiencing the problems of marriage, we are not sure whether marriages are really made in heaven but we do know for certain that whether they succeed or not is very much determined by us here on earth.

With the casual attitude to sex and marriage today the sanctity of matrimony that was held in high esteem is under threat of total destruction. The resulting escalating divorce rate is alarming and is a sign of the failure of marriages today. It is seriously threatening to undermine the basic family unit which was the source of all success and happiness of man throughout history.

Lately I had the opportunity to attend a church wedding of a friend’s son. I was impressed by the sermon delivered at the service, which was simple, clear and very practical. It made reflect on what marriage is all about and why it is failing today.
The pastor said “The fact that Christ has sanctioned your marriage means that he has chosen the spouse for you. It implies that your partner selected by Him is the best for you and you can never find someone better however hard you try”.

Turning to the bridegroom he reiterated “This woman is the best wife for you as she is chosen by Christ himself. It will therefore be futile and even foolish of you to leave her for someone better in the course of your life as you will never find such a one”. He then turned to the bride and gave similar advice regarding her husband.

With my own experiences over 25 years of married life, I can safely vouch for the truth of what was stated by the pastor; that our spouse is chosen by God and as such must be the best for us. We need to acknowledge that fact and adjust our lives accordingly to accommodate the person specially chosen by God. If we do not have that faith and trust in Christ regarding this simple fact, then it would be meaningless to call ourselves His followers.

Jesus was very clear in His Sermon on the Mount regarding divorce “I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.(Mathew 5:32).

Today weddings have become a show of prestige and glamour. The church ceremony is just another fashionable ritual. We seem to be more concerned about the physical aspects of the ceremony; what clothes and make-up to wear, type of photographs and video recording to take, type of church service to have, number of priests who solemnise the marriage, the type of banquet to hold, the number and status of guests to invite and the list is endless. We just want to make our wedding a memorable one not just for us but for all who attend it.

Amidst all these external preparations we forget the real essence of marriage. We forget that we are taking our marriage oath in front of Jesus himself. We forget that Jesus has sanctioned and blessed our marriage. We forget that we are promising to Jesus that we will be true each other in times of good and bad. We forget that we are promising to Jesus that what come may we will stay together till death does us apart.

Looking back, to many of us who are experiencing severe marital problems, our wedding including the church ceremony was just a fashion show and nothing more. We have forgotten and breached all the promises we made to Jesus but we still say we love Him and follow him.

Today even among Catholics, divorce is slowly being accepted as a norm. What is frightening is that it occurs not only soon after marriage but even after many years of marriage. If only the couples, who took their matrimonial wows, in the presence of Christ, understood that they were chosen for each other by God himself and that they are the best for each other, they would have never considered divorce as the solution to whatever problems that they encounter.

Very often we see only the defects in our spouses. In fact it is much easier to see the bad than the good in them. It is easy for us to say “Lord, I love you”, and we do say that many times a day, but very difficult to say the same to our spouses even once. If only we realize that Christ reveals himself daily in our spouses, in their strength and more so in their weaknesses, then saying the phrase to our spouses will be become a joy. We continue to look for Christ all over but fail to see Him in the one whom we see every day and with whom we share our life.

Once when we are convinced that Christ would give us the best in everything, including our spouses, only then will we see the good in them and overlook their shortcomings. This would be the beginning of a lasting and unshakably strong relationship with them that will withstand the stress and strain which are common in the process of bringing up the family.

We preach so much about faith and trust in God and we often presume we have that faith in us at all times. It may be so in good times but the real test of faith is at times when tragedy strikes and our lives are thrown into disarray. That is the time we must recall our matrimonial wows we made to the person handpicked by God to be our partner in life, in the presence of Christ, “I’ll be true to you in good and bad times,in sickness and in health ….. .till death does us apart”.

For those among us contemplating separation for whatever reason, let us stop to ponder on the consequences of our actions. If we are true followers of Christ, as we claim, we must gain the strength and courage to accept our spouse as a special gift from God to enrich our lives. Our spouse may be imperfect as we are and it will only be fair to accept him or her as a whole as presented to us by God.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Gandhi ,Jesus and Christianity

Gandhi like Jesus remains a conscience in the hearts of men

Come October 2nd 2009 will be the 140th birthday of one of the greatest personalities of recent times; Mahatma Ghandi.It is only proper for us to pay tribute this great man who is undeniably a saint of non-violence. He lived and sacrificed his life in defending that virtuous policy of non-violence. He died in the hands of his own people for trying to protect the minority in his own country, a fine example for our own ruling majority.

This is what he had to say about Jesus:

“Jesus was the most active resister known perhaps to history. His was nonviolence par excellence.”

As Christians, who claim to be the followers of Jesus, very often we do not emulate Christ in real life. It may be timely for us to reflect on our lives to see how Christ-like we are in our daily living.

This is what Gandhi had to say about Christians:

“It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace; show little of that belief in actual practice.” He continues “I like your Christ but I can’t say of Christians”

Though Gandhi’s views were influenced by his bitter experiences with the racist policies and hegemony of the powerful Christian British Empire at that time, his observations are nevertheless true to this day. He continued,

“Do not flatter yourselves with the belief that a mere recital of that celebrated verse in St. John makes a man a Christian. If I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, ‘O yes, I am a Christian.”

Today many of us have the misguided notion that to be a good Christians we must have a thorough knowledge of the bible. What about those who cannot read and write? What about those who are physically or mentally handicapped? Can’t they be good followers of Christ? Is reading and mastering the holy book is what Christianity all about? Jesus’ teachings are so simple and down to earth and I don’t think we need geniuses to decipher them. It is not how much we know the bible but rather how much we want to live the way Jesus wants us to.

Gandhi, a devout Hindu, appeared to have understood Jesus much more than many of us. He lived a life more like Christ than may of us Christians. Lord Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India had this to say “Gandhi would go down in history as 'on par with Buddha and Jesus Christ', I cannot agree less with that statement and I even go a step further to say that the Mahatma was a modern version of the man,Jesus.

Gandhi believed in the universality of God, “The Allah of Islam is the same as the God of Christians and the Ishwar of Hindus.” he said.

This concept of the universality of God is something which is badly needed in today’s world where violence in the name of the Almighty is so rampant and is threatening to destroy the human race. We have come to a ridiculous stage where we even fight over the name to address Him. The universality of God is something we as Christians can learn from Gandhi; despite belonging to different faiths we are in fact all children of one God. God is God by whatever name we choose to call him.

We are so intent in fighting one another to claim superiority over our adversaries, man against man, race against race, religion against religion and nation against nation. We resort to all the resources at our disposal; powerful arms, violence and war, to achieve victory over our enemies. We justify the use of violence to protect our perceived rights. Is destroying our enemies in self-defense Christ-like?

To the great man of non-violence “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

That philosophy he proved right when he single-handedly defeated the all powerful British Empire, not by power and might but peace and love. Doesn’t his action resemble those of Jesus, whose love, humility, non-retaliation and forgiveness, brought him victory over the powerful Roman Empire?

Many of us today find it difficult to believe how a small, timid and frail looking man like Gandhi could dare to challenge the mighty British Empire. Just after sixty years we are finding it difficult to believe how Gandhi could have brought down the British Empire. In fact with the passage of time, as Albert Einstein,said 'Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.

Mahatma Gandhi may have left this world but his memories remain very much with us, alive and relevant .Like Jesus he did not possess power, position or wealth. His simplicity, integrity and a heart for fellow men, including the enemies, had touched many and he will and must remain a conscience in the hearts of men for generations to come.

Dr.Chris Anthony

A husband’s 25th anniversary message to his wife

Some people make the world a better place by just being in it

These days it has become fashionable to celebrate various occasions on a very grand scale. Birthdays, graduations, wedding anniversaries, all sorts of jubilees and so on. I have attended many such functions but the following message by a husband to his wife of 25 years touched me and I would like to share his sentiments as expressed in his letter below:

“It has been 25 long years since we took our matrimonial wows to be together come what may. On this silver jubilee anniversary it may be relevant for us to recall some of the memorable times we had together as husband and wife. Some may be bitter but by enlarge the vast were sweet and memorable that will remain vivid in our minds till our last days.

We might have detested the bitter incidences in our lives together but it were those experiences that helped to bring out the best in us that enhanced our relationship. It is a wonder that despite coming together as strangers from totally different backgrounds we seemed to have clicked to become an ideal couple to the envy of many. You were indeed a wonderful gift of God not just to me but to our children, to my family and those who cross your path. It is a pity that there are those you don’t realize your goodness, it is their loss not yours. Some people make the world a better place by just being in it and undeniably you are one of them.

Our life is a success story so far and it is more due to the various virtuous qualities you brought with you into my life. From the time you came into my life you helped me to greater success. You shared my struggles in achieving my goals as though they were your own.

You took care of me and our children when we were sick and depressed. You never failed to be there when we needed you most. You sacrificed your sleep and energy so as to make our lives comfortable. Despite your physical fatigue you did not fail to wake up so early every morning to ensure sure we had our meals in time. You go the extra mile to learn new recipes to provide a variety in our menu which we enjoy so much.

Your forthrightness in criticizing me when I was wrong might have hurt me initially but on the long run that helped to make me a better person. I was impressed the way you uphold truth even when it hurts. I appreciated you for the way you keep your promise made to someone even if it costs you money and energy. I like your attitude to your work and responsibilities. You have never failed me, our children and anyone in need even the stray dogs that come for food.

Your discipline in carrying your duties towards the family was responsible for many of our achievements. We have been taught that procrastination is the thief of time but we did not appreciate its significance until we witnessed your in action as a wife and mother.

Initially I used see more of the defects rather than the virtues in you but over the years I began to realize that there are less and less defects but more and more virtues in you. These virtues in you were were the cause of our lasting and unshakably strong relationship that withstood the stress and strain in the process of bringing up the family and I am certain they will continue to do so in the subsequent phases of our lives.

If only the people in the world are half as good as you the world will be a much better place. God only creates a few like you as He knows if all the people are good like you, mankind will even forget God’s very existence. There can only be few like you to be the catalyst and conscience in the hearts on men, to remind people of God. You are God’s marvelous creation through whom He works his miracles to cure the numerous people, including me, who have crossed your path.

Twenty five years together in thick and thin is a great achievement for us. Our love for each other had been growing and we should continue to cultivate it further to meet the more trying times that may be ahead. We may be confronted with greater challenges especially with regards to deteriorating health, deaths and problems brought about by our children. Only with true love and trust in each other and for those we encounter can we conquer the new challenges that come our way.

It is in these trials and tribulations that we must recall our matrimonial wows we made to the person handpicked by God to be our partner in life, in His presence “I’ll be true to you in good and bad times, in sickness and in health …till death do us apart”

The secret to our success and lasting happiness so far is simple “to see God in every single human, friend and foe alike, we meet along the way in our journey on earth”. Let us continue with this secret recipe to meet the new challenges as we step into the next 25 years of our journey together”.

I submit the above letter for your reflection.I agree with the writer that some people make the world a better place by just being in it, why can’t that people be you and me.

Dr.Chris Anthony