Orient, Bulletin of the Piarist Fathers in ASIA
2005 DECEMBER, n. 33
Do you dream?
Fr Thomas Pallithazhathu
We encounter a fantastic dreamer in the Old Testament, Joseph. It was on the strength of this legacy he fought the adversities of life to such an extent that he became the protector of a Nation and eventually of his own brothers who had despised him and delivered him to the debris of fate. Jesus too was a dreamer. He dreamt that all would become one fold under one shepherd. He dreamt that all would sit at one table prepared by his loving Father. He dreamt that the lost harmony of paradise would be restored to its original state.
St. Joseph Calasanz was a dreamer in every sense of the word. It was one dream that had hanged the course of his life. It was a dream that brought him to Rome. It was a dream that made him open to the realities outside. Finally this dream made him to construct a magnificent edifice in Rome, which would be as glorious as any other monument in Rome. But this monument, which Calasanz erected, was not on stone and mortar but on persons who would willingly and voluntarily work for the education of the poor little children. This edifice stands tall even today bearing the motto PIETY AND LETTERS, and this monument is none other than the Pious Schools.
The dream of one person can usher in a lot of good in the world, which is groping in the darkness. Gandhi was such a dreamer and his dream had delivered a nation from the bondage of foreign imperialism.
I am not talking about the psychological phenomenon of dream where by the repressed emotions find their release in sleep or in such stupor state. I am talking about a dream, which is much higher and superior than this one. The dream that I mean is something that would stir a person to a higher goal, a dream that would make a person restless for something greater and deeper. You may perhaps call it a vision. But for me it is still a dream because it is something very human and all of us are acquainted so well with it. And we would be quite dry and arid without the presence of dreams in our lives.
Perhaps the lack of dreams in our lives is the lack of charisma in our lives. We have just become too ordinary and too dull people. Our ministry has become too boring and a matter of routine just because we are afraid to dream or there are no meaningful dreams in our lives. If we can transfer the hue of our dreams to our Apostolate, no doubt, our apostolate will become meaningful too.
As Piarists it is our legacy and patrimony to dream. I wish each of us would have this capacity to dream and take its deeper implications to our ministry so as to make it life-giving and endurable. But remember: what we think, we dream; and what we dream, we live. May the presence of challenging dreams enrich our ordinary lives and transform our ministry.
PARADOXES IN LIFE
Bro. Jeejo Vazhappilly
Paradox is a situation, fact, statement which seems impossible and/or difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics.
Parting is a sweet sorrow? is an oxymoron, one of the figures of speech employed by great dramatist William Shakespeare in his famous Hamlet. The occasion is when Juliet says good night to Romeo as she departs from him. It is a sorrow because she has to leave him for a night and it is sweet because she hopes to meet him the following day and she consoles herself thinking that the departure is only for a short time. Here two opposites are put together to produce a greater effect.
We have a land phone which was not functioning for a long time. Even if it worked, there was no guarantee at all. After two or three days it would be in the similar situation. All were disappointed with this situation and the telephone in-charges took much pain and attention to settle the matter as early as possible. They went on complaining to the officials but it was like trying to fill the pot with water keeping it topsy-turvy. We were completely cut off from the world of communications; telephone is out of order; not able to use internet facilities; therefore neither we nor others were able to enter into communication. What is the use of having connected wires, telephones, mobiles, internets, fax, e-mail if they don?t do their function well or imagine a situation wherein one has all these facilities but no people to contact or ignorant of how to use it?
When there is doctor, there is no sickness; when there is no doctor, there are patients. When there is food, one is not hungry; when one is hungry, there is no food. We may find well-set and established institutions but they may be ineffective in their functioning. On the other hand, we may find poorly set up offices or institutions and they may be effective and productive in their functioning. A person may live in a room where things are scattered or strewn here and there yet he can be a prolific writer.
A person in appearance may look ugly or hot-tempered but he may be a very loving and generous person actually. A person may be very good-looking and handsome outwardly, but not a very loving and amiable person to talk to. Even the rich people who live in luxurious houses or palaces may not get a good sleep; they may be worried about their own safety and wealth whereas the nomads or the beggars or the rag-pickers get a comfortable sleep on the road side without basic facilities or even in the midst of great noises. Even if you have televisions, radios and other systems which function only by electric power and if there is no power, nothing would work.
A "preface" comes at the beginning of any book but it is written only after completion of the book. Persons having doctoral degrees in Methodology or in Communications are not necessarily so efficient and effective as others who have no degrees in the same subjects. Only when there is a hero can be a villain. Naturally when there is dishonesty we can understand the great value of honesty in life. Only a person who has undergone through "disturbance of mind" will look for "peace of mind."
As a matter of fact opposites do exist and they are not contradictory but complementary to each other. Whether one likes it or not, there are there and one enriches and enhances the value of the other.
HISTORIES OF NOVICES
27 Getting Out of the Water
One Sunday afternoon, I had a good time having my inhale-exhale exercise while looking down at the dry Guadalupe River. Looking at the sight, I couldn?t help but be reminded of home. I was reminded of my hometown which also has a river where I enjoyed swimming when I was a child. At the same time I was reminded of my family.
I remember my first encounter with a Piarist seminarian. The encounter was very short but lasting. It was in the last week of December, 2002. I was in the city at that time processing the required documents for my new job. I was just hired. Before going back home, I dropped by the adoration chapel in the cathedral. After I spent time with the Lord, a man who introduced himself as a Piarist seminarian approached me. He gave me a pamphlet and invited me to a search-in. The schedule of the search-in was on the same day of my first day at work. ?Am I going to apply the first come, first serve basis?? I pondered.
At that time, I was like enjoying myself in the river letting its gentle current carry me downstream but suddenly there was an invitation to oppose the current and reach the other bank. I was already glad of having a new job but suddenly I was attracted to follow another way. The attraction to priesthood could be traced to my elementary years. Before I became an altar boy at the age of ten, I already made it a habit to attend Masses especially on Wednesdays and Sundays. Being an altar boy I suppressed my desire of enjoying the weekend swimming with friends in the river. I dedicated my time to something I was attracted to. I saw in our priest the real image of a good servant. He was able to reach out to the remote areas of our town. I accompanied him even in places that could only be reached on foot. These experiences were enriched more when I was in high school. I stayed in the parish convent during those years. We climbed mountains and rode boats to reach places rarely visited by a priest. Those were marvelous experiences. I enjoyed their almost every detail.
When I was almost to finish high school, I found myself caught in the middle of a crossroad. I started to entertain the possibility of becoming a priest. But I was afraid that I only felt that way because of how I grew up. It was also at this time that for the first time I attended a search-in of a religious Order in Cebu. At that time I wasn?t confident enough to join the seminary. I decided to pursue college. While studying, I stayed in a boarding house. In college I encountered many problems, especially financial problems, but they didn?t hinder me from enjoying my youth. I explored my world. I found out that most of my friends didn?t give religious vocation a second thought. They were sure that religious life was not for them even though they came from Catholic schools and were active in their parish youth activities. I just let myself be carried by the flow until my last year in college. I also happened to have some classmates who shared almost the same experience. Then I started to ponder about religious vocation all over again.
A month after graduation, I was already desperate to find a job. I landed a job in a beach resort. Applying there was not difficult. I tried to fit into that world. At the same time, I believed that being exposed to the different lifestyles at work I would not think anymore of becoming a priest. But I was totally wrong. Very soon I realized that I was always facing God through the beauty of His creation. The breathtaking sunrise, the wide white beach, the crystal clear water, the colorful underwater creatures and the sparkling sky during starry nights inspired me and enriched my prayer life.
I couldn?t forget the time when I almost drowned while snorkeling. The underwater world was so tempting that unconsciously while enjoying the sight of the colorful corals and fish I was led farther and farther to the deeper part of the sea where the current was strong. Alarmed by the danger, I was frightened and little by little I found it difficult to breath through snorkel. I thought that I would not be able to make it. During that moment I promised God that if it is His will that I become a priest, let it be. I asked Him to save me. Using all my swimming skill and mustering all my courage, I was able to swim against the current until I made it to a secure area. Through this incident, and my meeting a fellow worker who had experienced life under religious formation, I started to give religious vocation a serious consideration again.
Six months later, I left my job and worked for another company. For six months I worked and kept myself busy. Then, I stopped and decided to give myself a break. I didn?t understand myself. I found myself always searching for something but couldn?t find it. There was a constant restlessness deep inside me. I wanted to settle it down but I didn?t know how. I believed that it was through God?s grace that an Italian nun, who happened to know me when I was still working in the beach resort, invited me to visit their place in Manila. They were working for the vocation of their male counterpart. At that time they had no on-going formation in the country since all their seminarians were sent abroad for theological studies. After all the years of exploration, I found myself starting to settle down. I started to put the pieces of my scattered self together.
It was followed by six months of staying at home. At first I wasn?t able to understand the need of experiencing it. I just stayed at home. Sometimes my sisters dropped their little kids at home and made me watch them. For the first time in my life, I took care of toddlers. Then little by little I realized the purpose of that experience. I never had the opportunity to stay at home for a long time with my family since I left home at an early age to pursue high school. It was good to be home. From time to time I went to the city to visit my friends at the office where I used to work. Some time in the last week of December, 2002 they invited me to return to the company and they promised to help me get a slot in the office of their newly acquired farm. I didn?t give it a second thought. I accepted it right away. Then I worked on updating my records in the company. Before going back home I dropped by the adoration chapel. And there I met the Piarist seminarian?
After thinking it over and over again, I finally decided to attend the search-in and risked my first day of work. However, everything worked well. I had discovered a little about the Piarist Fathers. Less than four months after the search-in, I was invited to a one-week get-together of aspirants in Cebu. I abandoned my work for one week and stayed with the Piarists. During my stay I had known more about their way of life. My restlessness seemed to settle down little by little but it didn?t give me enough courage to dare to say ?yes? until I heard a straightforward question from the superior during our private talk. He asked me ?how will you know unless you?ll try??.
Six months after the week-long get-together, I decided to get myself out of the water and to step on hard ground. I reached the decision after thorough examination while continuing my work in the farm. The silence at work helped me a lot in the process. I found out that to settle down I must have a strong foundation to stand on. Staying in the water and letting myself be carried by the pleasure that this world could offer couldn?t help me in putting the pieces of myself together. While floating I wasn?t able to have a better view of myself. While standing on the hard ground I examined my life and at the same time I tried to recognize what I was looking for and what God wanted me to be.
So I started my journey on the other bank of the river and with confidence I stepped forward on the hard ground.
DISCOVERING CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN
Br. Nelson Cabasisi Click here to read for more on nelcabz insights
St. Francis Xavier once said ?We shall never find among heathens another race equal to the Japanese people.? These words of the first Missionary in Japan has something to ponder upon, especially for a better understanding of the missionary works which they have done. And at the same time, it is a better way to look upon how the Japanese responded toward the proclamation of the gospel.
In my humble opinion, I would rather think that these enigmatic words pronounced by St. Francis Xavier himself, as I have quoted above, were his short and simple way of describing how hard and complex it was to proclaim the gospel to the Japanese people. It is noted; however, that the first meeting between Christianity and Japan took place due to the ?religious zeal? of St. Francis Xavier. In other words, the introduction of Christianity in Japan was ?not due to the pressure of the sword?, as what history would tell us to the fate of Mexico and the Philippines - to mention a few, but rather due to the enormous labour and struggle of the Missionaries themselves.
Talking about struggle and labour of the Missionaries in Japan, it has been a great question among them on how to translate and express the Metaphysical concepts of the Christian religion like "substance" and "God in Three Persons or The doctrine on the Holy Trinity." These might be a good metaphysical subject of debate but it is meaningless to the Japanese ears. For the Japanese, Christianity seems sundered by words; Japanese endures without them.
Then, there was also a struggle on the proper attitude on the natural environment because Christianity seemed no fundamental stand on this subject. And the Japanese people hold nature to be divine. Great stones, majestic trees and towering mountains are "kami" or gods - beings and presences that inspire and engender reverence. Probably this was the reason why St. Francis Xavier answering on these problems wrote a catechism, intended exclusively, for the Japanese in order to fit the need of his audience. On the other hand, he tried to use Japanese terminologies as a way of "inculturation" so that the faith would be better understood.
Furthermore, I believe that struggles of cultural differences are also among the great burdens that the Missionaries have to face to, as a usual case, whenever the gospel is been introduced anywhere in the world.
Certainly, centuries have past since Christianity was introduced in Japan but still the same questions and the same struggles among the Missionaries are still visible in the modern Japanese society; although some new problems are also emerging. Christianity still seems to be struggling for acceptance. Statistically, after Christianity was tolerated once again, from banned with thorough and ruthless ferocity, not much more than a century ago, the number of believers is remaining always less than 1 percent of the population; although, Christianity received the recognition as one of the three of the modern Japanese religions next to Shintoism and Buddhism.
To be a Missionary in Japan, one needs to have a wide horizon with an open mind to meet the challenges of the society. There is something in Japanese mentality that is unique among all the races. I agree with St. Francis Xavier that We cannot find another race equal to the Japanese because each culture is unique and has to offer, if one is ready to respect without compromising the gospel though.
From the Philippines
Br. Ariel Lopez
There are moments in life that give new experience that somehow makes life richer. I like to share about a personal experience in class that enriched my Christian faith.
Lenten season is quite far ahead to be observed. Yet, in class we are talking about some of its elements, like the death of Jesus on the Cross. Here there is a twist from what I have learned from catechism to my theology class. Since the beginning of my Christian education, I always believed that, first, Christ died on the cross because of my sins and for the atonement for the sins of all. For this reason in the station of the cross, I heartily say, ?because of your holy cross you have redeemed the world?.
There was a long discussion in class on how we understand the death of Jesus on the cross basing on the Gospels. At the end, many were surprised (I was one of those) because we found out that Jesus did not die for the sins of all in the first place. Instead of that, Jesus died because he was killed. His death on the cross is the consequence of his fidelity to his mission, the Kingdom of God, which many of his contemporaries didn?t accept.
It took me weeks before I could accept this new idea that I never knew before. Should I accept the new idea and abandon the old, or should I accept both? Should I blame my catechist for this? I don?t think this may help.
So one day, I asked my professor to have some clarification regarding the matter after the class. He told me that the teaching I have learned from catechism is only one of the interpretations by the early Christians after the resurrection. Our concern in class is to go back to the life and ministry of Jesus that is before death and resurrection because many Christians throughout centuries have overlooked these aspects. We thought that only the death and the resurrection of Jesus are salvific but that is not the case. Jesus? life, his ministry, the miracles, his dealing with the women, his company with the sinners and so on? are also salvific. It is not only his death and resurrection. We forget that!
I was getting stunned while listening to my professor because that was my case. I listened to him intently when he continued saying that our understanding of salvation might affect on how we live our Christian life. If we believe that salvation comes only after death then there is no way to live now. It is better to die soon. Then there is no way for the Church to reach out to the poor. It is absurd. But salvation is one with the Kingdom of Heaven, which Jesus has proclaimed and compacted in the Beatitudes. Salvation therefore has something to do in this present life that continues until the end of time. At present, we have to work so that the Kingdom of heaven may come because the kingdom of heaven and salvation are one. We have to work in solidarity with the poor. We have to find ways in order to get out from this abject suffering in which many people are experiencing. We have to do something about the widespread of injustices that cause hatred among others in many levels. Salvation begins now!
What about the cross? The cross has no salvific value in itself but as a symbol of Christ's fidelity and love to his mission given to him by the Abba. It is love that saves us, not the cross itself. Could I say instead, because of your holy cross you have redeemed the world but rather because of the love you have shown on the cross you have redeemed the world. This may sound strange but this is how I see it. The life, the ministry, and the death of Jesus are all salvific. Of course, the resurrection too.
It is my challenge now how to relate these things to the people in my apostolate. I don?t think it will be easy. I went home after my talk with the professor. It was liberation for me. By the way, he did not ask me for extra pay for that time.
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Fr. Fernando Guillen
I arrived at the Calasanz Formation House in Quezon City the past 5th of October. Coming from Cameroon (Africa), and being for the first time in an Asian country, everything is really new for me.
Father Baltazar Sanchez (from Mexico, where I was before assigned) and Bro. Rexbert Garces (he has the same name of my sister in law) were at the airport. Lufthansa Company was very punctual. So, I arrived at night in the 144, 9th street of New Manila, and all the Juniors were there waiting for my arrival. I have to thank everybody for the songs, pictures, gifts and room preparation. I really felt the welcome of a Piarist family. Some days later Fr. Mario Conti arrived , a nice surprise for me. Finally Fr. Jose P. Burgues arrived also, with many Piarist news from Rome.
Nice encounters for me: Fr. Jan Swyngedouw CICM, my colleague in Yaounde (Cameroon), professor at MST, and Mgr. Gabriel Reyes, bishop of Antipolo. I was very happy to meet this ancient classmate in Gregorian University 40 years ago. Cesario, our Deacon had a vocational meeting in Antipolo, and I went with him for a very nice week-end. I could realize the famous kindness of Pilipino people. We visited the shrine of Our Lady of Antipolo,. We also saw the concern for priestly and religious vocations.
I am also so impressed by the high number of Theological Institutes in Manila. I have begun to visit them: Loyola School of Theology during a dinner with Fr. Baltazar; IFRS and ICLA for Religious, MST (CICM), SVTS (Vincentians), ICTC (OFM and others Religious Orders), UST (Dominicans). I am amazed. That means also an abundance of Formation Houses.
Nice impression also in the solemn Mass for the birthday of our Bishop (diocese of Cubao), Mgr. Honesto Ongtioco, with a dinner-show so amusing.
Since my arrival I have visited the apostolate places of the Juniors: Damayang Lagi, Lag May and Ermitano: very popular catechesis. On October 22 with Fr. Mario I participated in an outing for all these children in a park of Quezon City, Wildlife. Games, songs, food? everything was nice and new for me.
Another nice communitarian experience was the relax week in the beach of Batangas. Nice trip towards the South of Manila, trough Calamba and Lipa. In the shore of the sea, very simple houses, nice children, nice plunges in the ocean, nice games, and nice prayers.
Little by little, I am becoming accustomed to railways, jeepneys, tricycles, in this enormous city of Manila. The same with the menus: vegetables, sauces, soups, rice, fruits, and I think that my stomach also gets more and more adapted.
I like history very much. I cannot forget a whole afternoon with Bro. Arnel Bajo visiting ?Intramuros?: the cathedral, the walls, saint Augustine, the famous Casa Manila, a very good exemplar of the Spanish presence in Manila. I could recognize the colonial way of living. Finally we visited Fort Santiago with the magnificent Rizal shrine. I am really impressed by this Filipino writer and hero. His ?Ultimo adios? is written in a very good Spanish and his death was a true sacrifice for the country independence.
Other surprise has been the ?postering?. During the Sunday October 23rd, with Bro. Alexis and Bong, an aspirant, I have visited 13 parishes and chapels to put there our Piarist poster and the invitation for the 20th of November vocational meeting. What an immersion in the local Church! Our area was the centre of Manila. In many churches it was the moment of the Mass. All were full. All in tagalog, except the last, Saint Andrew in Makati. Kindness everywhere. In the Holy Family we were offered a coffee by Mgr. Roberto Espenilla. In Saint Sebastian, visit of the motherhouse of the Augustinian recollects sisters. In Saint Maria Goretti, a nice bookstore
So, I feel more and more a great admiration for this nation, for his Catholic Church and for this Piarist foundation, which I think has been really providential.
? The best news, no doubt, is the coming Priestly Ordination of our Brother Varghese John Kizhakkemattummel, on the 19th of December in Aripalam (Trissur district, Kerala). Mgr. Francis Kallarackal, bishop of Kottapuram (the native diocese of Varghese) will be the one to ordain him.
? Another very good news, this time from Bangalore. At last, after some delays, the Juniorate Community has moved into the new building. The works are not completely finished, but a part of it already is. The official blessing is scheduled for December the 16th. The Archbishop of Bangalore, Mgr. Bernard Moras, will bless it.
? With occasion of Varghese?s ordination and the blessing of the new Juniorate, Fr. Ernesto Herrmann, Provincial of Argentina, will arrive in Bangalore on the 15th of December. He will remain in India around 20 days, and he will visit all our communities and works.
? Fr. Pedro Recuenco, faithful to his commitment to the Piarist mission in India, will arrive from Zaragoza on the 25th of November, to cooperate with the same enthusiasm as always in the formation activities in Bangalore and Mantharamputhoor.
? During the month of September Fr. Fernando Negro was renewing his visa in Spain, and enjoying some days of holidays with his parents.
? Fr. Antonio Marco attended as a guest to the Major Superiors Council, kept in Rome during the last days of October.
? Bros. Varghese and Jeejo were admitted in the B.Ed. Course. They are living in our house in Aryanad and from there they attend daily to class in a neighboring town. In this way our presence in Asha Nikethan Boys?Home is becoming a reality.
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? On September 2 and 3 we had the Perpetual Profession and Diaconal Ordination of our Bro. Tony Matias in Yokkaichi. Most of the Piarists in Japan were present, and also Fr. Vice-provincial came for the ceremonies. The parishioners accompanied us when Mgr. Paul Otsuka, Bishop of Kyoto, ordained Deacon the first Piarist in Japan.
? Fr. Adam, after finishing his schooling to study Japanese, has gone to Poland to enjoy his well deserved holidays. He will be now more and more involved in the different activities of the mission.
? Bro. Bryan had his spiritual retreat in Hokkaido. Bro. Nelson had his in Nasu. The juniors in Komaba participated in the Ecumenical Mass organized by the Filipino Community and in the Vocation Mass with other Congregations organized in Tokyo, with the Archbishop as main celebrant.
? We will celebrate on November 26th the 60th anniversary of the creation of our Kaisei School in Yokkaichi. Fr. Pedro Aguado, Provincial of Vasconia, is planning to attend to the celebration. Fr. Jesus Lacarra, former teacher in Kaisei, will represent the Piarists in the Philippines.
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From the Philippines
? After six months among us, Fr. Mario Conti has gone back to Italy. He has done a lot of musical work for us here, in Cebu and Manila, and we are very grateful to him. Maybe this is not the last time you stay with us, is it?
? We had at the end of August the usual Calasanzian celebrations in Manila and Cebu? but this year it was special in Cebu, because we had the joy to attend during those days to the Perpetual Profession and Diaconal Ordination of our brothers Dodong and Lily. Cebu Cathedral was enlightened again with the colours and the songs of the Piarists when Bishop Emilio Bataclan ordained them as servers of the Church of God.
? Fr. Juanjo returned to Spain at the beginning of September, and during a year he is assigned to the community of Riezu. Fr. Fernando Guillen arrived in Manila at the beginning of October, and he has already assumed his task as dean of studies in our juniorate.
? Fr. Jose went to Spain for his holidays. He attended to the Council of Major Superiors in Rome. He was able also to visit our juniors in Rome (Andres and Domie are doing well in the Gregoriana; Aljun will return to the Philippines at the end of December) and in Madrid (Francis and Mark are studying their last Semester of Theology, while they live and work inour House of Aluche). He visited also the house of Manila before returning to Cebu.
? During the semester break, Manila community went for several days to a resort in Batangas. The postulants in Cebu went to Mantalungong with Dodong, their master. The novices had gone before with Fr. Mirek to Surigao for a Family Visit experience.
? We learnt that Mr. Eladio Mosende, father of our brother Francis, died in Ormoc this past November 14. We offer our condoleances to the family, and we commend him to the Lord in our prayers.
? We continue our struggle for vocations, in Manila and in Cebu and many other places we visit. The traditional Encounter for Lay Vocational Cooperators and Cayl members took place this year at the end of October in Davao, with the presence of Fr. Lacarra and Bros. Lily and Marlon.
? Our cars in Cebu and Manila had to visit the repair shop. Fortunately the drivers had no other harm than the psychological shock? We are always learning how to improve our driving, and mastery sometimes is expensive to acquire.
CALASANZ FORMATION HOUSE - Piarist Fathers - Escolapios
1401 Andres Abellana Extension. Guadalupe, 6000 Cebu City,
PHILIPPINES Tel. - Fax (32)2542085
Email firstname.lastname@example.org ; URL: http://www.cvis.net.ph/escolapios/