Friday, November 7, 2014

Girish Santiago Phd c/o BBN

Congratulations dear Fr. Girish Santiago, SJ for your PhD completion in Sociology under Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University, Patan. Glad to know your Research Topic: “The Role of    Christian organizations in Gujarat in promoting and implementing inclusion of disabled children in educational centres”. All the best for your continuous noble service to humanity. Thanks sincerely for being our BBN mission supporter!

ફાધર ગિરીશ સંત્યાગોને પી. એચ. ડી. થયા એ નીમીત્તે  હાર્દિક શુભકામનાઓ 
 'ઊંટેશ્વરી સંમિલિતાલયમ' સંસ્થા, ઇરાણા રોડ-કડીના નિયામક ફાધર ગિરીશને હેમચંદ્રાચાર્ય ઉત્તર ગુજરાત યુનિ. પાટણ દ્વારા, સમાજ શાસ્ત્ર વિષયમાં પી. એચ. ડી.ની ડીગ્રી એનાયત કરવામાં આવી જેમના મહાનિબંધનો વિષય હતો : "વિકલાંગ બાળકોના સંમિલિત શિક્ષણમાં પ્રોત્સાહન અને અમલીકરણ માટે ગુજરાતની ખ્રિસ્તીધર્મની શૈક્ષણીક સંસ્થાઓની ભૂમિકા".
 તેઓના માર્ગદર્શક હેમચંદ્રાચાર્ય ઉત્તર ગુજરાત યુનીવર્સીટી પાટણના ભુતપૂર્વ ડિન તથા  ઈ. સી. મેમ્બર પ્રિન્સિપાલ  ડૉ. જયેશ બારોટ હતા.
 કેથોલિક સમાજના ઉત્તર ગુજરાત મિશન દ્વારા ઇસુસંઘી ફાધર ગિરીશે ખ્રિસ્તી તથા બિનસાંપ્રદાયિક જનતાની નિ:સ્વાર્થ સેવાઓ સર્વ પ્રકારના વિકલાંગની ઉન્નતી માટે ગુજરાત ખાતે સ્પેશ્યલ ઓલમ્પિકસ ભારત- ગુજરાતના ટ્રસ્ટી તથા સલાહકાર તરીકે સેવાઓ આપે છે. વળી, તેઓ રાષ્ટ્રીય અને આંતર રાષ્ટ્રીય ઇસુપંથ વિકલાંગ સસ્થાઓના કોર કમિટી મેમ્બર તથા સલાહકાર તરીકે પસંદગી પામી સેવાના કાર્યમાં પરોયેલા છે.
તેમની જન્મભુમી તમિલનાડુ પણ તેમણે  છેલ્લા 31 વર્ષથી ગુજરાતને પ્રભુ સેવા માટે કર્મભુમી બનાવી છે. ગુજરાતના અંતરિયાળ ગામડાંઓની લોકબોલી શીખીને તેઓની સાથે આત્મીયતાથી સેવક બનીને કાર્ય કરી રહ્યા છે.  મહાનીબંધમાં સમાજને સીધી સ્પર્શતી એવી વિકલાંગોના વિકાસની વાત કરેલ છે.
From Left to Right: Dr. Jayesh Barot (Guide); Dr. Gaurang Jani (Examiner from GU, Ahmedabad); 
Fr. Girish, SJ (Student); Dr. R.L. Godara (VC, HNGU - Patan)
 રેવ. ફાધર  ગિરીશ તેમના લેખો દ્વારા બી. બી. એન.માં પણ  યોગદાન આપતા રહ્યા છે.  તેઓ અવિરત સાથ સહકાર આપી સલાહકાર બની રહેલ છે.  આ શુભ ઘડીએ બી. બી. એન. તેમને હાર્દિક શુભેચ્છાઓ પાઠવે છે

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Greetings from Fr Nagin Macwan (Anand)

For last three years we have been helping out the students to fill the online forms in order to get the minority scholarship given by Indian Government. 
This year too we have opened an office to fill the forms on line at Anand.
Please, encourage the christian students to obtain this scholarship. It is meant for 11th std to Ph.d students Post Metric and Merit Cum Means Scholarships. Anand - Kheda students have got lacs of rupees in the past three years from our efforts. I hope you will pass this information to all our students. For all the conditions and requirements you can find in the web.
Thank you from Fr Nagin.

For Details log in



FROM 12.30 PM to 5.00 PM (Monday to Saturday)

1. Fr Nagin Macwan, SJ    9429927016
2. Mr Suresh Macwan       9408789549
3. Mr Makan Khristy         9376604803

Thursday, June 5, 2014


(1st June 2014) 
                                                                                   -Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
“Today we are living in a world which is growing ever “smaller” and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours.  Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent.  Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family.  On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor.  Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows.  We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us.  Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.”

A powerful opening paragraph indeed from our Holy Father Pope Francis for the 48th World Communications Day which the Universal Church observes on Sunday 1st June, 2014! The theme this year is ‘Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter’. 

The message of the Pope is not merely inspiring but also challenging “the walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another”.  “A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give but also to receive.   It is very symbolic that a new Government in India takes charge in the very week that World Communications Sunday is being observed. The run-up to the elections, the campaigning, the advertisements, the media onslaught for several months were truly on a high. The paid media in the country became “cheer leaders” and “flag bearers” for a particular school of thought. The big corporates of the country justified this with terminology like ‘market savvy’, ‘branding’, ‘hard-sell’, etc. They did triumph in their aggressiveness and a fairly large portion of the credit has surely to go to the print, electronic and to social media!

It is in this context that Pope Francis minces no words when he says “whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road”. 

Pope Francis poses challenges to the Christians: to be a bruised Church which goes out to the streets “where people live and where they can be reached both effectively and affectively”. “The digital highway” he says “is one of them,  a street teeming with people, who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope.”  He questions whether the Church is capable of communicating that it is the ‘home of all’.  “We need a Church”, he emphasizes “capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts”. “We are challenged”, he continues, “to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert.”

In the context of the increasing divide that is taking place all over the world, Pope Francis hopes and prays that “our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine that gladdens hearts”. He encourages all Christians “not to be mere passer-bys on the digital highways” but to ensure that our authentic encounters help in every possible way to create a more loving, just and truthful world. “Therevolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represent a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God”.

As we in India observe ‘Communications Day’, let us truly commit ourselves to ensure that our communication too is at the service of an authentic culture of encounter.

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace and the Secretary for Social Communications of the Western Region Catholic Bishops Council)

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad – 380052 Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333    Fax:  79 27489018

Ecology and Jesuit Spirituality

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered the findings of their research into the impact of climate change on 31 March. The report speaks of the urgent need to tackle the causes and adapt to the effects of global warming. There is a particularly Ignatian dimension to the care for the natural world that is required of us, says José Antonio García SJ: ‘God shows himself in the world and wishes to be met there’.

The project of caring for the earth is so crucial to the future of humankind that all traditions – humanistic, scientific or spiritual – ought to make a contribution. From this conviction, there arises the question of whether Ignatian spirituality has some distinctive inspiration to bring to the service of the environmental movement. I believe it has: the aim of this note is to explain this belief.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fr Alexis Premkumar sj abducted in Afganistan

New Delhi: 
The director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Afghanistan was abducted on Monday afternoon by a group of unidentified men from Sohadat village outside Herat, according to Jesuit Provincial of South Asia Fr Edward Mudavassery.

Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, 47, was visiting a school for refugee Afghan children recently returned from Iran and Pakistan at the time of the abduction.

“There was no violence. The kidnappers just came and took the priest with them,” Fr Mudavassery told

“The Indian consulate in Herat and the Afghan security forces have been informed and a search has begun to find the priest,” he said.

Security officials in Afghanistan have interviewed a group of teachers who were with Fr Kumar at the time of his abduction, Fr Mudavassery said.

Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the federal External Affairs Ministry, said via a Twitter post that Indian officials in Herat were pursuing the matter with local authorities.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the abduction, Fr Mudavassery said.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed and very much concerned about the well being of [Fr Kumar].”

The kidnapping follows thwarted attack last month on the Indian consulate in Herat by four armed gunmen who were killed by consulate guards.

Jesuits work in several areas of Afghanistan and generally keep a low profile, but in Herat “we are the only Indian NGO, so we might be more visible,” Fr Mudavassery said.

“Our people have not been out much after the attack [on May 23] because there was talk of possible attacks on Indians in the region,” he added.

Fr. Kumar is a member of the Madurai Jesuit province in Tamil Nadu in southern India. He has served in Afghanistan for the last three years and has worked with JRS for more than a decade.

Fr Alexis Premkumar sj

Indian Jesuit kidnapped in Afghanistan

Indian Jesuit kidnapped in Afghanistan 

Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, SJ
New Delhi: A Jesuit from India working among refugees has been kidnapped by unknown persons from a village in Afghanistan, a note from the Provincial of South Asia on Monday said.
“Alexis Prem Kumar SJ had gone to visit a school for the returnees in Sohadat village 25 km from Herat with the teachers. He was kidnapped from the school as he was about to return to Herat,” said the note from Father Edward Mudavassery, Jesuit Provincial of South Asia.
The 47-year-old priest belongs to Madurai Jesuit province. The incident occurred on Monday morning, Fr Mudavassery said.
Quoting their coworker, the New Delhi-based Jesuit official said the Jesuits working in Afghanistan have informed the Governor of Herat, the National Security Office and the Indian Consulate in Herat about the kidnap. “They seem to be searching for the victim.”
One Jesuit priest Fr Orville is currently at the Indian Consulate to speed up the matter, the note says.
JRS regional director Fr Stanislaus Fernandes has cancelled his trip to Europe and is returning from Mumbai late this evening to follow up the case.
“May I request your prayers for the safe return of Prem Kumar SJ,” Fr Mudavassery requested.
Fr Kumar has been working with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) for more than a decade.

Fr Kumar joined the Society of Jesus in 1988. He had worked with Sri Lanka refugees in Tamil Nadu for six years. He has been working in Afghanistan for the past four years. He is now the JRS Country Director for Afghanistan.

Monday, June 2, 2014

World Communications day 2014

Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter
[Sunday, 1 June 2014]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we are living in a world which is growing ever “smaller” and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours.  Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent.  Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family.  On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor.  Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows.  We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us.  Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.
In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all.  Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity.  The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another.  We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect.  A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive.  Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances.  The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.  This is something truly good, a gift from God.
This is not to say that certain problems do not exist.  The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression.  The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.  The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings.  The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us.  We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.
While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement.  What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding?  We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm.  This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen.  We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us.  People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted.  If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions.  We will also learn to appreciate more fully the important values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and the family, the proper distinction between the religious and political spheres, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, and many others.
How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter?  What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel?  In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another?  These questions are summed up in what a scribe – a communicator – once asked Jesus: “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29).  This question can help us to see communication in terms of “neighbourliness”.  We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be “neighbourly” in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology?  I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication.  Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours.  The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him.  Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other.  Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God.  I like seeing this power of communication as “neighbourliness”.
Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road.  The Levite and the priest do not regard him as a neighbour, but as a stranger to be kept at a distance.  In those days, it was rules of ritual purity which conditioned their response.  Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbour.
It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters.  We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves.  We need to love and to be loved.  We need tenderness.  Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication.  The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness.  The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people.  The impartiality of media is merely an appearance; only those who go out of themselves in their communication can become a true point of reference for others.  Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator.  Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence.
As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first.  Those “streets” are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively.  The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope.  By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone.  We are called to show that the Church is the home of all.  Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church?  Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ.  In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts. 
Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others “by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence” (BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 47th World Communications Day, 2013).  We need but recall the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.  We have to be able to dialogue with the men and women of today, to understand their expectations, doubts and hopes, and to bring them the Gospel, Jesus Christ himself, God incarnate, who died and rose to free us from sin and death.  We are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert.  To dialogue means to believe that the “other” has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective.  Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.
May the image of the Good Samaritan who tended to the wounds of the injured man by pouring oil and wine over them be our inspiration.  Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts.  May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful “neighbours” to those wounded and left on the side of the road.  Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world.  The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ.  She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way.  The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.
From the Vatican, 24 January 2014, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales.



This story is about a beautiful, expensively dressed lady who complained to her psychiatrist that she felt that her whole life was empty, it had no meaning.
seeking happinessSo, the lady went to visit a counselor to seek out happiness. The counselor called over the old lady who cleaned the office floors.
The counselor then said to the rich lady
“I’m going to ask Mary here to tell you how she found happiness.
All I want you to do is listen to her.”
Sad LadySo the old lady put down her broom and sat on a chair and told her story:
“Well, my husband died of malaria and three months later my only son was killed by a car.
I had nobody… I had nothing left.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat,
I never smiled at anyone, I even thought of taking my own life.
Then one evening A LITTLE KITTEN FOLLOWED me home from work.
Somehow I felt sorry for that kitten.
kittenIt was cold outside, so I decided to let the kitten in.  I got it some milk, and the kitten licked the plate clean. 
Then it purred and rubbed against my leg and for the first time in months, I smiled.
Then I stopped to think, if helping a little kitten could make me smile, maybe doing something for people could make me happy.
So the next day I baked some biscuits and took them to a neighbor who was sick in bed. ” Every day I tried to do something nice for someone. 
It made me so happy to see them happy.
Today, I don’t know of anybody who sleeps and eats better than I do. 
I’ve found happiness, by giving it to others “.
” When she heard that the rich lady cried.
She had everything that money could buy, but she had lost the things which money cannot buy.
making others happy“The beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are;
Rather it depends on how happy others can be because of you…”
Happiness keeps u Sweet,
Trials keep u Strong, Sorrow keeps u Human, Only Jesus keeps u Going “.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

કવિ શ્રી યોસેફ મેકવાનને "કુમાર સુવર્ણ ચંદ્રક" એનાયત c/o BBN

Friday, May 2, 2014

કવિ શ્રી યોસેફ મેકવાનને "કુમાર સુવર્ણ ચંદ્રક" એનાયત

 જાણીતા ગુજરાતી સામાયિક "કુમાર" દ્વારા દર વર્ષે કાવ્યો, ચરિત્ર, સાહિત્યિક લેખો વગેરેને ધ્યાનમાં રાખીને કોઈક વિશિષ્ટ સર્જક માટે"કુમાર સુવર્ણ ચંદ્રક" આપવામાં આવે છે. આ સંદર્ભમાં ઈ.સ. 2013નો "કુમાર સુવર્ણ ચંદ્રક" ગુજરાતી સાહિત્યના પ્રસિધ્ધ કવિશ્રી યોસેફ મેકવાનને એનાયત કરવામાં આવ્યો છે.આ અંગેના નિર્ણાયકો તરીકે  ડો. શ્રી ચિમનલાલ  ત્રિવેદી, શ્રી વિનોદ ભટ્ટ અને ડો. શ્રી ચંદ્રકાંત શેઠ હતા. 

 2012માં કવિ શ્રી યોસેફ મેકવાનને દિલ્લી સાહિત્ય અકાદમીનો બાળ સાહિત્ય અંગેનો રાષ્ટ્રીય કક્ષાનો એવોર્ડ "આવ હયા, વાર્તા કહું"  બાળ વાર્તા સંગ્રહ માટે એનાયત થયો હતો. 

 છઠ્ઠા દાયકાના ગુજરાતી સાહિત્યના આધુનિક પ્રવાહના શ્રી યોસેફ મેકવાન નોંધપત્ર સર્જક છે તેમના જાણીતા ગ્રંથોમાં 'સ્વગત' (1969), 'સુરજનો હાથ'(1983), 'અલખનો અવસર'(1994), 'અવાજના એક્ષ રે' (2000) વગેરે નોંધપાત્ર છે.

 'સબંધ વિનાના સેતુ' એ લઘુ નવલ અને વાર્તાઓ છે. 'હળવે હાથે' (વ્યંગ નિબંધો) 'કાન હોઈ તે સંભાળે'(લઘુ નિબંધ) જેવા ગધ ગ્રંથો છે 

 'પ્રાણી બાગની સેર', 'પમરાટ', 'કલરવ', 'વાહ રે વાર્તા વાહ', 'રુમ ઝૂમ પતંગીયું', 'જાદુઈ પીછું', ઢીચકું 'તોફાન', 'ડીંગ ડોંગ, ડીંગ ડોંગ' આ સંચયોને પણ ગુજરાત સરકારના ઇનામો મળ્યા છે.

 આપણી ગુજરાતની ધર્મ સભા માટે એમનું જાણીતું અનમોલ પ્રદાન તે 'સંપૂર્ણ બાઈબલ'માં આવતા સ્તોત્રો ને છંદોબધ્ધ ગુજરાતીમાં કર્યા છે.

કવિ શ્રી યોસેફ મેકવાનને "કુમાર સુવર્ણ ચંદ્રક" માટે BBN અને આપણા સૌ તરફથી હાર્દિક અભિનંદન.

- ડો. થોમસ પરમાર

2012માં જયારે તેમને દિલ્લી સાહિત્ય અકાદમીનો બાળ સાહિત્ય અંગેનો રાષ્ટ્રીય કક્ષાનો એવોર્ડ "આવ હયા, વાર્તા કહું"  બાળ વાર્તા સંગ્રહ માટે એનાયત થયો હતો ત્યારે તેમની BBN  સાથેની મુલાકાત માટે નીચે આપેલ વીડિઓ નિહાળશો 

Making Of The Poet Shree Yoseph Macwan

Third Sunday after Easter (A) 4 May 2014

Third Sunday after Easter (A) 4 May 2014

Luke 24: 13-35

José Antonio Pagola

Welcome  and use the power of the gospel

Two disciples of Jesus are leaving Jerusalem far behind them. They  are sad and desolate travelers. In their hearts the  hope they had placed in Jesus died when they saw him die on the cross. However, they continue to think of him. They cannot forget him. Was it all an illusion?

   While they were talking about and discussing all they had lived through, Jesus catches up and begins to travel along with them. However, the disciples do not  recognize him. The Jesus in whom they had placed so much trust and had  loved perhaps passionately, now seems to them a strange fellow traveler.

   Jesus joins their conversation. The travelers listen to him surprised, but slowly a new feeling grows in their hearts. They don’t know exactly what. Later on they will remark: “Were not our hearts on fire while he spoke to us on  the way?”

   The travelers felt attracted by the words of Jesus. A time comes when they need his company. They don’t want to let him go: “Stay with us”. During the supper their eyes will be opened, and they will recognize him. This is the  first message of the story: when we welcome Jesus as a fellow traveler, his words can awaken in us lost hope.

   In the course of these years, many people have lost their faith in Jesus. Slowly he has become a strange and incompatible person to them. All they know of him is what they can put together in bits and pieces starting with what they have heard of him from preachers and catechists.

   Undoubtedly, the Sunday homily plays an indispensable role, but it is clearly insufficient for people today to come into direct and living contact with the Gospel. The way it is done today, before a congregation that has to remain silent, without  spelling out their anxieties, questions and problems, it is difficult to regenerate the vacillating faith of so many people who seek, sometimes without knowing it, to meet Jesus.

   Has not the time arrived to launch a new and different forum, outside the context of the Sunday liturgy, to listen to the Gospel of Jesus? Why do we not, lay men and women, priests, convinced Christians and people who are interested in the faith, gather to listen, share, dialogue, and welcome the Gospel of Jesus?

We have to give the Gospel the opportunity to enter with all its transforming power into direct and immediate contact with the problems, crises, fears and hopes of the people of today. Soon it will be too late for us to recover among us the original freshness of the Gospel.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Resurrection of Jesus

Resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of Christian faith; although it is a future reality it has serious implications for the present

For us Christians Easter is a feast of joy when the defeat of the Good Friday is converted into victory. Jesus Christ overcame death and entered into a new life, a new existence, signifying that death is not the end of life, but only an entry into a new existence. Resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee of the resurrection of all those who believe in him. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus gives his followers the strength and courage to face any crisis in life, including death.

Resurrection of Jesus is so foundational to the Christian faith that there are 213 references to the death and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament according to a biblical author, Ryan Turner. St. Paul’s letters alone have 81 references to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

There is a story about of an archaeologist who after doing research for many years in the holy land came to a strange and devastating conclusion that he found the body of Jesus Christ in the grave and he announced his discovery to the world. This news sent shockwaves throughout the Christian world.  Churches became empty; convents and religious houses were closed down and priests left their priesthood.  The whole Christian world faced the threat of its very existence. Seeing the gravity of the crisis the researcher declared that he had said a lie; he did not find the body of Jesus. The story brings to light the crucial significance of faith in the resurrection of Jesus for the followers of Jesus. That is why St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God.... If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Cor. 15:14-17).

On the day of Easter we, the followers of Jesus, declare to the world, “An amazing man, Jesus who is the epitome of God lived an incredible life and was cruelly put to death. Afterwards - something amazing happened- he rose from the dead and lives among us”. The celebration of Easter should reaffirm our faith in Jesus in such a way that we will be able to say along with St. Paul, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?(Rom 8:35)

According to the description of the resurrection of Jesus by St. Mathew, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are the first to receive the news of the risen Lord and to encounter him. They had been there at the foot of the Cross; they had been there when Jesus was laid in the tomb; and now they were receiving love's reward; they were the first to know the joy of the Resurrection. According to William Barclay, a renowned Gospel commentator, they were given three tasks.

 (i) They are urged to believe what Jesus had already predicted about his death and resurrection. (ii) They are urged to share the news with others. "Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead” is the command that came from the angel.  (iii) They are urged to “rejoice”. The word with which the Risen Christ met them is “Chairete” and its literal meaning is "Rejoice!" The implication is that the person who has met the Risen Lord must live forever in the joy of his presence from which nothing can part him anymore.

We, the followers of Jesus, also have the three responsibilities: to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, to share with others the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and lead a life of joy whatever may be the circumstance in which we are placed. We can see that the members of the early Christian communities fulfilled these responsibilities and as a result they could attract many people to their fold.

The resurrection of Jesus has serious implications for our life on earth too. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus calls upon us for a radical transformation, a transformation from exclusiveness to inclusiveness, from narrow mindedness to a broad vision, from an old way life to a new way of life. Before the resurrection, Jesus was mainly limited to a small geographical area, but after the resurrection Jesus became universal, as savior and liberator he became available to the whole world irrespective of caste, class, creed, religion, language, culture etc. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus invites us to transcend our narrow identities like language, religion and culture and embrace the broader and higher identities of humanity and the fatherhood or motherhood of God.

Faith in the resurrection of Jesus invites us for a transition from the old way of life to a new way of life as depicted by St. Paul in his letter to Ephesians (4:22-24). “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts….. and put on the new  nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” St. Paul again describes the characteristics of the old man and the new man in his letter to the Galatians (4:19-23).  The characteristics of the “old man” are immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness and the like. The Characteristics of the “new man” are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control and they are the fruits of the spirit. It will be a great contradiction if we confess our faith in the resurrected Jesus and at the same time live a life of the “old man”. Both can never go together. 

Let the celebration of Easter deepen our faith in the resurrected Jesus who is always with us, calling us and inspiring us to lead a life of resurrection, characterized by joy, peace and compassion.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Vincente Canas - Jesuit Brother

A Martyr in the Amazon
For the month of April the Jesuit 2014 calendar, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus, focuses on Vicente Cañas, a Spanish Jesuit brother who lived among the indigenous tribes of the Amazon for nearly twenty years.  Paul Martin SJ thinks about the life of a man who, ‘through the Spiritual Exercises, found the interior freedom to offer his very self to Christ’.
When I was asked to write these words on Vicente Cañas, the guidelines given were, ‘don’t concentrate on dates, places and events – people can get all of that from Wikipedia. Make it more a personal reflection.’  
Well, naturally, before writing I thought I myself had better first checkWikipedia! Following a link from there led me to the Aragon Jesuit Provincewebsite where an article (thanks to the wonders of Google Translate) gives even a non-Spanish-speaker a good sense of the ‘dates, places and events’.  
Along with this article there are a number of striking photographs. So, before knowing even a single date, place or event you are caught up into something of the spirituality and mysticism that weave those ‘dates, places and events’ into the unity that was the life of Vicente Cañas –offered with total generosity to God and laid down in love for his friends.
In the first photograph at the beginning of the article, a group of indigenous Amazonian children stand laughing in the company of an adult man. At first glance the adult appears to be another Amerindian – the father of some of the children perhaps? The beads he wears over his bare chest, the large wooden earrings, the hair cut in a clear line high over his ears, the cord tied around his upper arm... each feature in every way identical to the children he is with.
But for those who know indigenous people, one thing is strange and out of place. It is the man’s thick beard – a thing unheard of among the native peoples of the Amazon whose facial hair runs at most to a few wispy strands under the chin. It is the beard that gives this man away as a European.
So who is this European and what is he doing there? The smiles and laughter that he shares with the children are the clue. Here, there is mutual recognition; here, there is understanding; here, there is respect; here, there is encounter.
The children belong to the ‘Ena­wene-Nawe’, one of over 200 different tribes of indigenous people that live in the Amazon forest.  In 1974 they were considered an ‘uncontacted tribe’, their lives untouched by the ‘outside world’.  For them, the bearded man is their ‘contact’. He is the face of the ‘other’. How beautiful, therefore, is the smile on this man’s face and the answering laughter from the children? He does not threaten, he does not impose, he neither ridicules nor rejects. He understands, he accepts, he identifies with, he recognises that mysterious bond of shared humanity that unites as equals the forest-dwellers of the Amazon and the sophisticated twentieth-century European.
Sadly, in the 500 years since Columbus set foot in the ‘New World’, contact between Europeans and the indigenous people of the Americas has rarely taken this form. Violence, invasion, domination and death have been, by far, the more usual characteristics of contact. First come the miners looking for gold and diamonds, then the loggers ripping out the lungs of the world for the money to be made from the sale of timber, and behind them, the ranchers who put more value on the price of beef than on the human beings that once occupied the land their cattle now roam. The violence is blatant – even in our twenty-first century, indigenous people are killed and their villages burned to clear them from the lands they occupy. For this reason it is naive to argue that the uncontacted tribes should be ‘left in peace’. Contact is bound to happen. The only question is whether that contact will be made by those driven by greed for profit, or by men and women, like Vicente, who desire that the indigenous people might be recognised and respected as human beings with rights.
Vicente’s  first ‘encounter’ with the indigenous world came in 1969 when, as a young Jesuit brother newly arrived in Brazil from Spain, he was called on to form part of a medical team needed to respond to a disaster among a people known as the ‘Beiço de Pau’. A few months before Vicente came to work with these Amerindians they numbered 600; by the time he arrived their numbers had been reduced to a mere 40. In their case, death had come not through violence but through disease, a disease no more mysterious than the common cold; but for a people with no natural resistance, the flu caught from contact with a European proved more deadly than the ‘Black Death’. Vicente was asked to assist the Brazilian government agency FUNI in a campaign to immunise the remnant of survivors and then help them move to a new location.
This experience marked Vicente deeply. It sensitised him to the precarious nature of existence for the indigenous people of the Amazon. Yet, at the same time, it opened his eyes to the strength and wisdom of the indigenous culture. They had a way of life that was perfectly adapted to their environment. They did not need anything from the outside in order to find what was necessary for existence, and indeed to find fulfilment and joy in their lives.
Vicente spent the next five years working with a number of different indigenous groups in the Amazon before beginning the delicate process in 1974 of making first contact with the Enawene-Nawe, and then identifying with them and living among them for over 10 years.
I will depart from my instructions just briefly and highlight one date and event in Vicente’s life. The date is the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, 15 August 1975 and the event is Vicente’s profession of final vows in the Society of Jesus. Most tellers of Vicente’s story might pass over this date and event as unremarkable but in many ways I think it holds the key for a true understanding of what made it possible for Vicente, as a European, to enter so fully into the way of life of the indigenous people of the Amazon, and what gave that identification its meaning and value.
For priests and brothers alike it is the experience of making the Spiritual Exercises that lies at the heart of Jesuit formation. Before final vows each Jesuit will have made the full ‘thirty day retreat’ twice, once as a novice and again in a final year of formation called ‘tertianship’. Each year, throughout his life, every Jesuit renews this key experience in a shorter, eight-day retreat.
The Exercises are an experience of personal encounter – the direct encounter between the one making the Exercises and the Creator of all that exists, made possible through the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, ‘who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped. But rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.’ (Phil 2:6 ff)
A pivotal moment in the Exercises comes in the meditation on the ‘Two Standards’. Here, the one who is making the Exercises is invited to recognise the ways in which he or she is being tricked into building a false sense of identity out of the riches and honours that he or she has come to possess. We equate our success in life with our possession of ‘status symbols’. These need not be the crass material objects – the large house, the fancy car, the diamond ring, the Rolex watch – that seem so important to ‘worldly’ people. The academic who thirsts for recognition of his work or even the philanthropist who prides herself on the number of hospitals she has founded are still being driven by a false spirit. Our true identity comes from recognising ourselves to be children of God and that everything we have comes to us as gift. Paradoxically it is in letting go of the things the world tells us are indispensible that we come to know who we truly are.
Because Vicente found his sense of identity in his encounter with Christ in the Exercises, he was able to let go of all that would normally define a European man and so enter fully into the culture and way of life of an Amerindian tribe. He did not observe them from outside, recording and analysing their culture for anthropological research. He became one with them, taking part in their daily chores of farming and fishing but also in the religious rituals that gave a sense of meaning and purpose to these activities. He did not come to ‘convert’ them, to impose his Western world view. Vicente desired to learn to see the world as the Ena­wene-Nawe saw it.
Seeing the world from the perspective of the indigenous people, he became an outspoken advocate for their land rights. In this way he incurred the hatred of those outsiders who wished to take the Amerindian lands for themselves.
At the centre of the Christian gospel stands the mystery of the Cross. ‘A man can have no greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ (Jn 15:13) In the crucifixion of Jesus, God’s unconditional offer of love is revealed. Yet at the same time the crucifixion reveals the human refusal of that offer. The Cross is an invitation to conversion. On which side do we stand: with Christ or with those who crucify him?
Vicente Cañas, through the Spiritual Exercises, found the interior freedom to offer his very self to Christ and to be led to divest himself of his European culture in order to enter fully into the culture of the Ena­wene-Nawe: ‘and being found in Amerindian form he became humbler yet, even to accepting death... death at the hands of those who would rob the Amerindians of their lands.’
Vicente, the man of peace, the man with whom the children of the forest felt so at home, met his death at the hands of violent men.  On 5 April 1987, Vicente sent a radio message to colleagues to let them know he was setting out from the small hut in the forest that he used as a base to go and spend time in the Ena­wene-Nawe village. This was a journey he was never to make.  On 16 May some of his colleagues happened to be visiting his hut. They saw the boat in which he should have travelled to the village, loaded as if for a journey but half submerged. On entering the hut they found clear signs of a struggle and Vicente’s dead body with stab wounds to the stomach. Probably he had been killed on 6 April.
It is the gap of over one month from his death to the discovery of his body that is perhaps the most moving part of Vicente’s story. His colleagues found nothing strange in the fact that he had not made any radio contact. Their visit to his base was not motivated by anxiety to know where he was. It was the nature of his life with the indigenous people that he could go for months without having contact with the ‘outside’ world. In the eyes of that world, he lived an ‘insignificant life’ and he died unnoticed. Yet, to the eyes of faith, Vicente’s life and death take on the profound significance of participation in the mystery of Christ. They become a proclamation of the gospel with an eloquence unequalled by the finest theologians, since, as St Ignatius states, ‘love expresses itself more clearly in deeds than in words’.  
Our world has become saturated by words. Perhaps it is good, therefore, to finish this reflection with another image: the photograph of Vicente and the Amerindian boy on the calendar. Vicente’s death is an invitation for us all to concern ourselves with how the child might find ‘life – and life in all its fullness.’