C O T Transfiguration

 It was with deep confidence that I  decided to make a week-long retreat and  take it as my annual one. I have no doubt that my friend Anita also had a good retreat. And I can confidently say that for most people. It is not the first time that I made a retreat with the Divine Retreat Centre in Kerala, India.  My very first one was way back in 1997 when about 80 of us went with a priest and a deacon. It was truly an eye-opening experience for all of us. If you have to make it to Kerala, India, then to miss the world’s largest retreat centre for the Catholic Church is really to miss something truly precious. On top of that, we have with us in the new and beautifully decorated Church of the Transfiguration three anointed and prominent priests who served with deep conviction and powerfully preached to us the Word of God. Please look at the poster which  gives the names and photos of the three special priests. 

Dance, Ladies, Dance!

Bolly Dazz is the name for the dance you see here in these photos and the instructress is a young and lovely lady by the name of Nandini. I was invited by my friend Cara to join them as I was looking for a group to exercise with and when told that there was a group I might be able to join, I finally found the time to join them on a Sunday evening at six.

I wanted to observe to see if I could do the exercises and then to join the group. The group is made up of different age groups with those in the 20s to the 60s I believe. I found the ones I talked to very encouraging and they were truly hospitable to me. One of them even offered me a bottle of water which I desired much but did not have. You can imagine how grateful I was!

Well, I confess that I am not cut out for this dance which is really zumba but the moves and music are Bollywood inspired and so  it is called Bolly Dazz. It combines all of the benefits of a high-intensity workout with the energy, fun and excitement of Bollyword dancing. Apparently the dance has been put together by world-class choreographers and made easy to follow by people of all fitness levels. It is very attractive and there is a need for many to take it up!

Suffering is a vocation

Suffering is a vocation and all of us will be called to it. . . I certainly agree with Gladys and her friends Brendan and Carol Pereira! The stories come from the two of her friends, Brendan and Carol.

Truly one can say that suffering is a vocation. . .

The danger of death 

The death of loved ones

Loneliness

The lack of children

Dryness of faith

The difficulty of seeing the wicked prosper 

The consequence of wrong choices

 At some stage of our life, we will taste suffering.

But as Monsignor Ambrose Vaz said at a funeral I (Brendan) attended in Singapore on Friday, while we can’t avoid suffering,  we can choose to avoid misery.‎‎

He‎ recalled that Nicholas Jayaram was visited by suffering, especially in the later years of his life when illness seemed to be a permanent companion. Yet, the 85-year-old soldiered on, happy to be alive to enjoy his family with whatever time he had left.‎

Nicholas Jayaram chose not to be miserable when his body was giving way.‎‎

I am blessed because I know quite a number of people like this man.

 I know Karen. I can’t remember when she was diagnosed with cancer and I have lost count of the tests and scans she has been subjected to. I just know that she has endured far too much pain and suffering in the last few years but she counts her blessings. She thinks of the Passion of Christ and puts her life in perspective. 

I know ‎an Irishman called Felix Donohue. He is skin and bones these days, a shadow of a man who had such a commanding presence in school. A good day these days is spent in a normal ward and a bad day in the high dependency unit. But don’t expect any moaning from him. If anything, the wicked humour is too alive. When a former classmate introduced his teenage son to Bro Felix, the Irishman looked at him and quipped: ‘Are you sure he is your son?’

 My former school principal knows that he is not in good shape but ‎when you have had 86 years, every day is a blessing.

I know Jaclay. Two years ago, the airline lost his bag just before we started a nine-day walking pilgrimage in Spain. He completed the 220km trek in Crocs and borrowed clothes. And he was the most joyful person on the pilgrimage. People gravitate to him because he is a half glass full kind of person. ‎

‎Nicholas, Karen, Bro Felix, Jaclay have all experienced difficulties, storms and suffering in their lives but their reaction to adversity has been measured. 

‎How come?

I guess they were given the grace of God to understand that nothing changes for a Christian. 

The God who is with us when things are going well is the same God who is with us after the tests results have come back or a loved one has passed on.

‎The Jesus who slept while the boat full of apostles rocked in the storm was the same Jesus who calmed the seas. In both situations, He had their back.

In both situations, He was their peace.

The people who choose not to be miserable even during the worst of times remind me that the essence of faith is truly believing that GOD IS WITH US.

God bless!

 

A gift worth lots

It was a night to remember

the fellowship that followed the Mass

the gift of giving as shown by the RCIA team    

 and those who were in it

the testimonies that followed

from each one in the core group

the testimonies generously given

by the sponsors and the neophytes

what more is evident?

the love  shown

the friendship expressed

to be long cherished

and to thank God for

we learn to obey

to love God above all

to love one another too