Tuesday 30 August 2011

The Salesian Biblical Association at Ratisbonne

The Salesian Biblical Association has been meeting at Ratisbonne in the last week. Today the members returned from a short trip, and I was surprised to meet so many old friends from Testaccio: Mario Fiandri, now bishop in Guatemala, Felipe Plascencia, Jean-Sylvain Jeannot, Pedro.... There were also Morand Wirth, Cesare Bissoli and Mario Cimosa from the UPS.

Mario was appointed about 3 years ago, to a small and remote diocese in Guatemala, he was telling me, 9 hours by road from the capital. He has about 25 priests, and is very happy that the Rector Major has offered him 3 salesians to begin a youth work in his diocese.

Jeannot has been novice master, then rector of the pre-novitiate - quite an ideal thing, I was telling him, and he agreed. I did not know he had studied in Cremisan.  

Jerusalem

Arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, with an hour's delay, but everything else went very well: immigration, baggage claim, etc. Francis Preston and Biju Michael were waiting patiently for me outside. We drove the 40 kms up to Jerusalem. Things have changed since I was last here some 15 years ago: the city looks spanking new.

The Ratisbonne Institute looks beautiful. It is a very old building, the oldest in Jerusalem outside the Old City. When it was first built, there was absolutely nothing around. Now it is in the centre of the new City.

The salesians took it over - most of it - at the request of the Vatican some 6 years ago, and have put in a fair amount of work, doing up the rooms, etc. One wing is still used by the Fathers of Sion, founded by Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne. A new basketball court has been put up. And the Old City is just some 20 mins away on foot.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Alms, giving, and charity

A wonderful article on almsgiving which I want to record here:

Naomi Kritzer, "On Giving to the Poor: Variations on a Biblical Theme," Commonweal 133/22 (15 Dec 2006) 8-11.

Monday 1 August 2011

Zindagi na milegi dobara

We watched Zindagi na Milegi Dobara the other day. Extraordinary movie. Three heroes, more than well-matching up to one another - Hrithik, Farhan and Abhay. Two heroines, but clearly with Katrina overshadowing the new Koechlin. The camera lovingly caressing the extraordinary beauty of the faces (Hrithik, Katrina) but also the faces of Spain.

But the movie goes deeper than merely physical beauty. It dares to depart from the beaten track as far as Hindi movies are concerned (though there was a Dil Chahta Hai not long ago), to enter into the intricacies of relationships, friendships, with life, money, and elementary competitiveness interfering to cause the pain and the beauty that is life in the concrete. There are exaggerations, no doubt: for how many of us will have the luxury of living out challenges like deep-sea diving and parachuting and running the bulls as our three friends do, ordinary though at least one of them seems? There is also the witness of the sea change in Indian morals: bedding down so casually, for example. And, what struck me the other day as quite strange: Zindagi na milegi dobara, in an India that has believed in the samsara of millions of lives.... quite extraordinary, and I don't quite know what to make of it. But, perhaps, quite true, even given millions of lives: this life, this now, this moment is not going to come my way again; let me live it to the full. "Look at the birds of the air," said a rabbi years and years ago, in one of the most extraordinary of his sermons. Live now. Live free. Like God.  

Fed up with manna

The first reading of this morning: powerful icon of what Francis de Sales calls 'attachment to sin.' The children of Israel, fed with manna in the desert, manna that looked like coriander seed and had the appearance of bdellium - fed with manna and fed up with manna, longing for the onions and the fleshpots of Egypt. They dream of the fish that they caught free, the leeks, garlic, vegetables...

And so it is ever: the boredom of liberty makes us recall with nostalgia the little pleasures of slavery. Attachment to sin: the sick man forbidden to eat a certain fruit, but longing to get well so that he can eat it again.  

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“EVANGELIZATION – DOES IT CALL FOR SOMETHING NEW FROM CONSECRATED LIFE?” MARKO RUPNIK, SJ “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novit...