Kullu is the capital town of the Kullu District in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located on the banks of the Beas River in the Kullu Valley. Nestled in the lap of the majestic Himalayas, Kullu is a veritable jewel in the crown of Himachal Pradesh. Blessed with salubrious weather throughout the year, the district is known for the internationally renowned towns of Kullu and Manali, the pristine beauty of the Parvati valley, the quaint temple architecture of the hills and several enjoyable trekking routes across its breadth and width. Our renewal programme was in such a beautiful part of India thanks to the goodness and generosity of our dear Mother Provincial Sr.Magnificat Soosai who made this possible for us.
Life is filled with pleasant surprises. We, the Jubiliarians, had a wonderful opportunity to encounter and experience the Lord, admiring the beauty of God’s creation in our own Mother land with the above mentioned awesome place. We experienced the Salesian family spirit in the Salesian Houses at Delhi – SPCSA House and at Our Lady of Snow, Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. The programme was organized by Rev. Fr. Noel Maddhichetty Sdb, Rector, Secretary of SPCSA and South-Asian Delegate for Salesian Family, New Delhi.
Rev. Fr. Benny Sdb, secretary of Hyderabad Province led us into reflection on “The Beatitudes’. He stared with the word “Renewal” and further explained the significance of the same. Renewal means going back to the original love – to Christ and fall in love with Christ. Going back to original self and make ourselves new every morning. Our own self must be renewed constantly. The reason for renewal after 25 years is that there is middle age transition physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Change is a part of nature. It becomes good or bad the way we accept the changes. He said through a story that there are four important things in Religious Life: Union with God – big stones; Community life – small stones; Vows – sand; Apostolate – water. Transformation must take place from within. A wood cutter sharpens the axe every time. So it is a time of transition. Accept and adapt oneself for a change as water never fights but just flow.
God’s Call and our Response: God choose me since He had special love for me. I responded to God to be with the young. Pope Francis said that we are called to be prophetic witness and proclaim the Word of God. To become prophet of this time, today. Consecration is not once for all, but it is a continuous process. Speak to the people of today’s youth, knowing the language of the youth. Speak the language of love; language of joy. Joy is born of surety that you are born out of love says Pope Francis. We need to become Happy Religious among the young. As Religious we fail to do something. We get lost in small things, we loose big pictures of life. The following are the most important things in Religious life: Prayer life – Union with God. For us Religious prayer life is more important, we give primacy to God; Community Life – the way we live in a community; Apostolate.
The Beatitudes are the rules of happiness:
- Blessed are poor in spirit: In Hebrew translation it means – “Happy are you when you understand that your breath is the first and last and only possession.” Breath is a free gift given by God, nothing belongs to us; nothing we own for ourselves. We have to cultivate in ourselves let go attitude and never to hold on to the present or past sins, good or bad. What are the things I still hold on to myself?
- Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted: In Hebrew translation – “Happy are you when you accept that you are imperfect” – to be human means to be imperfect. Judas didn’t accept his imperfections, instead Peter accepted his imperfection. When we accept our imperfections we find solution for it. Our saintly Mother Mazzarello accepted the troublesome girls ignoring their imperfections, realizing that every child is created in God’s own image. Pope Francis asked us to become the door of “Mercy” accepting the imperfection of one’s own and that of others.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. In Hebrew translation – “Happy are you when you are meek”. ‘Meek’ does not mean ‘weak’, but humility and gentleness, someone who acknowledges their need. We need to be patient with our selves and with others; when we are humble we can be happy.
- Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied: In Hebrew translation – “Happy are you when you are fair and just in your relationship.” Just in giving each one his/her due. That is what St. Joseph did in the Gospel when Mary conceived Jesus by the grace of God. We have to be fair and just in dealings with the Community members. Each one is created in the image of God, each one is a temple of God. Each action has a reason behind, never to judge. Do not gossip, but trust others, respect the feelings of others. We are always inclined to give more important to the things and work rather than valuing relationship.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy: In Hebrew translation – “Happy are the compassionate, to suffer with others”. In Greek, suffering means being compassionate with others. In other translation “Happy are you when you share with others – sharing life means our time spent together in community. Because of our apostolate we burn ourselves so we don’t give time for our community members. Spend time with community members and share life in the community then we don’t find difficult the apostolate. Community is a family, support, treat others as sisters and give life for Community. Concentrate on essentials – our communion with Christ and our relationship with the community members. Then our apostolate automatically flourishes. Don’t become canal which makes water flow through but become reservoir which stores and then from its abundance water flows out. Be the change that you want. We are supposed to be a storehouse of God’s love and relationship, when we are full then we flow towards others and mission.
- Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God: In Hebrew translation – Happy are you when you are like still water, you can see clearly. Knowing God is becoming still. We are the living images of God to others. Just as the Rupee 1000 note value remains the same even if it is crushed or put in the dustbin or torn – the value does not change. Allow God take first place, as our Founder Don Bosco, and Co-Foundress Maria Domenic Mazzarello gave first place to God alone. Each one of us is an image of God, value others as image of God. In Old Testament God commanded Moses to remove his foot ware since God was present there. So too, the burning bush is ‘me’, Respect oneself, the community members as images of God. Empty yourself of your pride, selfishness and respect your sisters. Concentrate on what is essential.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God: In Hebrew translation – “Happy are you when you become rays of the sunlight.” We have to become Rays of God’s love to the young. Let the young see Christ in us. The fruitfulness of our apostolate is measured from the vocations that come from our apostolate. Every person who meets us must experience God’s presence, divine touch and the experience of Divine love.
- Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: In Hebrew translation – “Happy are you when you are lost, feel lonely, move towards greater Unity”. There will be misunderstanding, confusion when we are among the young. When we really live the Salesian spirit we may be criticized. Feel Lonely, these can lead us to greater union with God. The secrets of joy in Religious life is: “Eat well, Sleep well, Be happy”
At the end, on the last day Fr.Benny concluded His session on “FREEDOM”. What is Freedom? Freedom is to make ‘Choice.’ Our choices are bound by people, fixed ideas, rules and regulations. But Religious choice is greater expression of ‘Freedom’ – St. Thomas Aquinas. We make this choice freely. Two kinds of choices there are: Primary and Secondary. Primary choice means ‘I obey’ or say ‘Yes’ to what Superiors say. There will be a chance to react. Only animals can react but people ‘Respond’ to the choices rather than react. Reaction is impulsive; response is human and it is thought of. Jesus died on the Cross to set us “Free.” Freedom is to respond and not to react. When we respond we do not allow others to control us. When we react others control us. If that Precious Blood of Christ is my freedom why should I lose it? May Jesus lead us into that freedom which He bought with His blood!.
Sr. Chinnanayagam Mary Sheela
Fr. Noel Maddhichetty, sdb
Rector, Secretary – SPCSA
South Asian Delegate for Salesian Family, New Delhi
25 – 26 June 2016
We reached New Delhi on 25th Morning after enjoying the cool weather, encountering and enriching each other’s company. We owe our gratitude to God for having such wonderful and amazing experiences in Kullu – Himalaya. In the evening, Fr. Noel Maddhichetty sdb, Rector, Secretary SPCSA and South Asian Delegate for Salesian Family, New Delhi enlightened us with his conference on “Choices”. He asked us to choose a stone with different shapes (The stones were collected by Sr. Kabilai Rose Mary from Rohtang Pass – Himalayan Hills to display in the Science Lab), having in mind whether this stone tells something about me, about my qualities, identifying myself with that and choose and he asked us to explain why we chose a particular stone. Then he began with his explanation: We come with some expectations and choose religious life or we choose religious life and mould ourselves according to God’s expectations. I have no other choice, with the stone that I chose then I identify myself with it or identifying ourselves to the choice we have made. Religious life is a gift. What I make of my life is a gift to the Lord; Aligning our will to the will of God. This is what we are to do.
Exodus Experience: Exodus experience which touched the people of Israel and it changed their history, their life. In what way God has touched me? Identify the first basic experience and how you have built on that experience and to celebrate that experience. God has chosen us and has given us an important mission. In spite of all the difficulties and trials I must find meaning and joy in religious Life which is God’s greatest gift to me. From the life of Martha and Mary we learn that it is not important to do more, but to be with the Lord. Not to be discouraged if we have not achieved great things. Find joy in simple things. What is it that makes me happy after 25 years? It is not the achievements but to be contented and find joy in everything.
A blind man from Austria climbing the Everest after reaching the peak of the Everest could express that I feel deep within the presence of God, feeling himself very close to God. After 25 years of my religious life – do I feel the closeness of God? There are so many persons who stood by me giving me courage to go ahead and now I have reached 25 years. 25 years is a real transcendence, surpassing, going beyond the limit of ordinary experience. Fr.Noel M. presented few key points on Discipleship: Jesus’ mission we are called to carry on, Disciples go and proclaim; the urgency of the kingdom. We have to do it here and now. I write the script of my life along with God. We are precious and unique and we have a unique mission which has to be accomplished only by me. It was a moment of reflecting on: My inner journey; my mission; My Congregation. Re-live the memories and events of the past and God was there in everything. Thank Him for everything. Recall – Relive – Recommit!
FAMILY SPIRIT VIBRANT IN OUR SDB COMMUNITIES!
Rev. Fr. Davis Maniparamben is the Rector of the community at Kullu. They have a Matriculation school of the diocese till X std. with more than thousand children. There are about 50 Catholics of the parish who are taken care by the Silesians. Fr. Davis is the principal of the Matriculation School. Fr. Martin (INT) vice principal of the school has just joined this community this year. Fr. Godwin is the parish priest, Bro. Sanjith doing his practical training.
Two Congregations belonging to the Salesian Family – MSMHC -Missionary sisters of Mary Help of Christians – 3 sisters and Disciples – 2 sisters are working along with the Salesians in the Matriculation school. They live in Apartments. They have the Mass and prayers together with the Salesians. Their spiritual life is taken care by the Salesians. We could see and experience the Salesian family spirit in this community. Everyone is given their due respect. There is freedom, respect, openness, joy and communion. All those who enter this community feel at home.
They surprised us with love as they celebrated our Jubilee with solemn Eucharist and a family gathering thereafter with grand dinner and sweet singing of Jubilation.
At the SPCSA house too, though the SDBs were so busy with the tenour of their responsibilities which they hold at south Asia level, and national level yet they were so loving and simple to join us in thanking the Lord. Fr.Noel celebrated a solemn Eucharist thanking God for 25 years, after which he managed to gather the community, sang a beautiful song of congratulations and Jubilations and honoured each of us with the traditional north Indian shawl and gladdened our hearts with a grand dinner. We felt elated amidst them, felt their warmth and love, encouragement and appreciation during the days of our stay there.
We are especially grateful to Fr.Noel Maddichetty, who took a lot of trouble to plan meticulously for our entire Renewal programme, with his caring fraternal love, in spite of his great responsibilities. The hurdles did not diminish his great love for the Salesian Family, for which he holds the responsibility as the South Asian Delegate! He was a blessing to us!
We thank the Almighty God for having given us this opportunity to Recall, Relive and Recommit ourselves during this our Jubilee Year.
We are immensely grateful to our Mother Provincial, Sr.Magnificat Soosai, who granted us the permission to have this enriching experience. Her magnanimity knows no bounds! We also express our sincere thanks to all the Provincial Councillors, and in a special way to all the Community members who shared our responsibilities during our absence. May God bless you all copiously! May we live together in greater communion working together for the young like our saintly Father Don Bosco and Saintly Mother Mazzarello.
Sr. Lourdu Mary K.