Wednesday 19 April 2017

Consecrated life and the Good News

Three thoughts from three different authors, to be read together:

Agastya 'August' in Upamanyu Chatterjee, English, August: An Indian Story (Penguin Books – Faber & Faber, 1988), representing a not-hostile but quite common opinion among the Indian elite already in the late 1980's, and certainly more aggressive now in the time of the saffron family:

“The Block Panchayat office was a five-minute drive away, beyond the Dutch hospital. As the jeep skirted the hospital, he again marvelled at its incongruity. Here on this red sand, which nurtured only wizened trees, ugly Rest Houses and squalid shacks selling tea and juice of sugarcane, were these acres of green lawn and digni­fied grey stone. He wondered at motivation: what had induced the Dutch to build a hospital of charity in an obscure corner of India, or the Germans to fund an Indian curer of lepers? But he was greatly amused, a few weeks later, to learn that the Dutch missionaries at the hospital were converting tribals to Christianity. But his laughter at the news wasn't cynical, it was mildly incredulous, because it sounded so absurd, that in this age of AIDS and the atom, some missionaries were converting the heathens to the Lord's Path before healing them. God, he laughed, when will these Christians ever grow up? And even the bubble memory of his mother didn't embarrass him. From then on the hospital, by its very elegance and beauty, began to look a little ridiculous. Lakhs of rupees just to seduce a few tribals, to make the sign of the Cross over some sick, illiterate and bewildered individual called Anganagla, or something like that, and insist on a David or John before or after his name. Maybe, he sometimes thought when he passed the hospital, they had a red phone, a hot-line to the Vatican, and had to send in daily reports. Tour Highness/ (but what did they actually call him? Maybe George Ringo I) 'four more heathens captured today. Two unsuccessful cases were Muslims. They were very very angry and snatched the medicines out of our hands and left.' (245-246)

And certainly, no one ever came to say in Jompanna, except Caucasian missionaries, with Malayali nuns in their wake.” (Chatterjee 249)

F. Rossi de Gasperis, Sentieri di vita: La dinamica degli Esercizi ignaziani nell’itinerario delle Scritture. 3. Terza e Quarta Settimana. I Misteri della Pasqua del Messia Gesù (Milano: Paoline, 2010) describing the nature of the Good News, which is not quite "converting heathens to the Lord's Path":

The embrace of Mary here cannot yet be the final embrace [amplesso] that would be the consummation of the spousal and eschatological union of the Messiah with the messianic people, signified by the Woman. Here we have only a first and very affectionate meeting between the two, followed by the departure of the Woman for a mission: that of the proclamation of the good news that she will give to all the disciples, telling them “‘I have seen the Lord!” and what he had said to her.” (Jn 20,18) This Good News fills the time of the Church, from the resurrection of the Lord to his second and final coming. [3:477.]

And Marko Rupnik:

The time of functional religious life is over. Religious and their institutions either reveal the Lord or else have no meaning at all. 

Tuesday 18 April 2017


Fr John Bosco Vincent Raj, SDB, from the Holy Land, tells me that Christians there do not usually use the expression SALAM ALEKUM, which is used commonly by the Muslims. At Easter the Christians say AL MASIH QAM, HAKKAN QAM - Christ is risen, truly risen! 

In Arabic, the gospel text can be transliterated SALAMUN LAKUM, or else simply SALAM LAKUM. 

The Jews use the greeting SHALOM ALEKEM. This is also the greeting of Jesus in the gospel text in Hebrew. 

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Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary