Tag Archives: love

23 May: Spreading the light.

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During the Easter Vigil every year we light our candles from the great Easter Candle, spreading that light in the darkness across the Church. This simple act reminds us that we are called to bring the light of God’s joyful love to everyone around us. The Holy Spirit himself fans into a flame a faith which may seem rather weak and fragile at times, echoing the words in the Gospel, ‘Lord I do believe, help my little faith.’

Through Confirmation, Jesus himself, through the gift of his Holy Spirit, strengthens that faith so that we can share it with others, boldly and with great courage.

‘Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News!’

+ Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia, 2003-2011.

Paschal or Easter Candles from past years, preserved at Canterbury Cathedral.
Words of Bishop Evans c/o Canon Anthony Charlton, Canterbury.

 

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17 May: Little Flowers XXIII: How Saint Francis tamed the wild turtle-doves

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I T befell on a day that a certain young man caught many turtle-doves : and as he was carrying them for sale, Saint Francis, who had ever a tender pity for gentle creatures, met him, and looking on those turtle-doves with pitying eyes, said to the youth: “I pray thee give them me, that birds so gentle, unto which the Scripture likeneth chaste and humble and faithful souls, may not fall into the hands of cruel men that would kill them.” Forthwith, inspired of God, he gave them all to Saint Francis ; and he receiving them into his bosom, began to speak tenderly unto them:

“O my sisters, simple-minded turtle-doves, innocent and chaste, why have ye let yourselves be caught ? Now would I fain deliver you from death and make you nests, that ye may be fruitful and multiply, according to the commandments of your Creator.” And Saint Francis went and made nests for them all: and they abiding therein, began to lay their eggs and hatch them before the eyes of the brothers: and so tame were they, they dwelt with Saint Francis and all the other brothers as though they had been fowls that had always fed from their hands, and never did they go away until Saint Francis with his blessing gave them leave to go.

And to the young man who had given them to him, Saint Francis said: “My little son, thou wilt yet be a brother in this Order and do precious service unto Jesu Christ. And so it came to pass; for the said youth became a brother and lived in the Order in great sanctity,

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May 14: What is Theology Saying IX: We participate in the event the Apostles interpret.

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Jesus changed radically our understanding of life in a way that will never change again. The Apostles are witnesses in a way no one else can be. Their testimony would have little or no significance today if it were simply an account of a past event. What makes it significant is the fact that we are participants in the same event the apostles interpret.

This interpretation only has meaning to the extent we share in the same happening and reflect on it and give our own prophetic interpretation, making real here and now the conversation between God and ourselves. So, what did the apostles pass on?

First and before all else – it was the happening. How do you pass on a happening? They did it through life in community, inviting others to share the way they lived, which was how they lived with Jesus, a life energised and transformed through the experience of the Resurrection. They spoke, and what they said took on meaning for their hearers.

Out of this living experience of sharing life each generation gave its own interpretation in words. Clearly, over time, the interpretation changed quite a lot. It is tempting to ask, as a consequence, where did revelation end and theology, liturgy, catechesis etc. take over? This is the Church, the struggle to live a life of love and trust – celebrating this life in the liturgy, sharing explanations through theological reflections and catechesis – this is our participation in revelation, it is revelation. Revelation is not simply a record of what was revealed before; a record playing over and over again. Revelation is the living and intensely personal reality of our communion with God, when God communicates not some factual information but his own fully alive reality – hence the relevance of a contemplative heart.

If Christian life is such a part of revelation, does this mean that every word and explanation is just as good as any other – how do we know we are not fooling ourselves, and where does the dogmatic teaching of the Church and its moral guidelines fit?

Revelation is first of all a happening – but has to be expressed in words, which is how all human understanding comes into focus. We can’t live meaningfully without such expression. Words are a community product – my words have meaning because society has agreed a common meaning for them. When the Church wishes to share its experience, it has to agree on the way it explains itself; on its common understanding of the world, history and most especially, God. It must have a statement of its prophetic interpretation of events through which God reveals in the community – the events of Jesus’ life and the original formation of the Church. It must also have an interpretation of how God self-reveals in community – through sacraments and the life of charity.

Because salvation is a community happening, it is counter-productive to promote chaos and disruptions in our search for unity through understandings of life already achieved. Our continued sharing in revelation is guaranteed in the unity of the Church – requiring continuity in teaching and authoritative judgements. This presumes that continuity is guaranteed through living dialogue and that authority is exercised as a form of serving the life. Continuity would be pointless where it an empty shell formed from the past, now withered and gone. Revelation is real when it is alive, and it is alive when people are creatively involved.

Revelation did not end when the apostles died out; because it is not a collection of factual information about happenings beyond our experience, but the self-communicating of God. Revelation is not a finished product, it does not consist of unchanging truths, but of the living reality of God-with-us. Revelation was not closed with the death of the last apostle, rather was it opened in the way of a love affair which is not completed when two people marry, but marks a real beginning.

AMcC

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12 May: What is theology saying? VII: Scripture speaks of God’s self-revealing

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There are three important aspects to the biblical understanding of Revelation. A progressive understanding of what Revelation is about – God is becoming more and more personal in the demands he makes. These demands find their concrete definition in Jesus, who speaks clear words in a human language with ordinary signs of love and trust. It is the nature of Revelation to be progressive – with signs that become clearer and demands become more specific for us individually and all of us together.

Scripture speaks mainly of God’s self-revealing – but keeps referring back to the Word already spoken in creation – and not just Genesis, but Psalms and the Wisdom literature – Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus [Ben Sira], Wisdom of Solomon – all make references to God self-revealed in Creation. The New Testament writers frequently echo this.

Prophetic interpretation – the events of history by themselves do not constitute revelation, nor does the simple narration of them – it is only by prophetic interpretation they become revealing. The prophet speaks for God, telling the meaning of events that are happening. This is why Roman or Syrian records of the Maccabean wars would not be testimony of God’s revelation to us, while the Jewish accounts do give such testimony.

This raises the question as to how people come to speak of God, how they know what to say, and how specific words and expressions become canonical – binding for the whole tradition. Revelation is a constant dialogue/conversation between God and us, and the focus is Jesus Christ. Jesus is in the world not simply to bring revelation, like a message from above. He is in the world to be Revelation. He is a happening and gives his own prophetic interpretation of himself. As a happening he is a human being totally open to all possibilities of being and love offered by God. As a prophetic interpretation he explains the nature of God as a huge welcome to all existence and becoming.

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As a happening he is fully alive among us – which makes him the first recipient of God’s self-revealing. The Gospels show him constant in prayer with the Father, growing in wisdom, admitting there were things he did not know, gradually becoming more aware of his own mission and destiny. The New Testament shows him living his life in such a way as to become more constantly aware of what being human really means, and sharing this with his followers.

Our faith confesses Jesus as Lord, uniquely Son of God, and therefore the definitive Word of God spoken in history.

AMcC

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As you were saying, Austin.

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Yesterday our walk in the woods with Abel involved hide and seek, as it always does. And then came a moment when he spoke volumes in a single word: ‘Where’s my grannie?’  I cannot begin to dissect that ‘my’.

As Austin was saying in today’s main post:

The written word can only tell us about love. Experience lets us know it ever more deeply.

 

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8 May: What is Theology saying? III: A new way of being human

The Church teaches the same doctrine, but continues to make explicit what is implicit. An example: Peter preached God raised Jesus from the dead. What is implicit is that Jesus died, which the Creed makes explicit: was crucified, died and was buried…

However, Rahner insists there has been much development of doctrine that cannot be explained only by showing what was contained in words of previous formulations. What is handed down in the Christian tradition is much more than words; it is a new way of being human. The more we live it, the more we understand and try to express in words what is involved. Doctrine helps not only when we study words already written, but in trying to reflect on further implications through reflecting on the daily experiences of living this new way.

An example: the love between man and woman, parent and child. Certainly poetry and art forms have helped us see this wonderful gift in deeper ways, as indeed has scientific research. But common sense tells us the most realistic way to know is to experience it. The written word can only tell us about it. Experience lets us know it ever more deeply. The Church has developed a theology of prayer – but this is valuable, not because of study, argument or research, but through the real presence of praying people. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray – the way they had seen him at prayer – he simply sat down within who he was, the beloved of Abba, and let this wash over and through him, and produce its own response.

Newman and Rahner, among others, tell us that from the apostolic times through till now there have been three necessary elements for the development of doctrine: all the faithful, trying to live the Gospel – theologians trying to make this understandable – Church authority intervening occasionally to select an official explanation. Notice the right ordering of these three. Doctrine develops first at the level of ordinary human experience. Each generation has its own catechesis of the faith they cherish. This stage is obviously influenced by the contemporary understanding of the universe, of humankind, social relationships within time and space as then understood.

As new things are learned and uncovered about all of these, there is the ongoing need for renewal and review, realising from time to time that there is something in the current formulation of faith that doesn’t seem to fit, in terms of their experience of life. All through the ages this has been voiced, and it is this that has provided the agenda for theological research. Take for example the way Genesis says in the beginning – speaking as if God physically shaped clay with his hands, and spoke the words. The Church was already aware that God doesn’t have hands or voice, and that this Genesis account is poetic not intended to be taken literally.

AMcC

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3 May: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XX; aflame with love of poverty.

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The city of Gap in what are now the French Alps is proud of this little bridge over the Torrent called the Bonne. Saint Francis walked across it on his way to France. And no doubt on the way back, after today’s episode.

Saint Francis and Brother Masseo drawing nigh unto a church, Saint Francis said to his companion: “ Let us go into the church to pray.” And Saint Francis gat him behind the altar and gave himself to prayer: and in that same prayer he received from the divine visitation fervour so exceeding great, the which inflamed his soul so mightily with the love of holy poverty that, by the colour of his face and the unwonted opening of his lips, it seemed as though he breathed forth flames of love.

And coming thus enkindled to his companion, he bespake him thus: “Ah! Ah! Ah! Brother Masseo, give thyself to me ”; and thus spake he three times; and at the third time Saint Francis with his breath lifted Brother Masseo up into the air, and threw him a great spear’s length in front of him; whereby exceeding great amazement took hold on Brother Masseo. Afterwards he recounted to his companions how that, when as he was uplifted and hurled along by the breath that Saint Francis breathed on him, he tasted such sweetness in his soul, and consolation of the Holy Spirit, that in all his life he ne’er had felt the like.

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28 April: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XIX: The Riches of Poverty 2.

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(Continued from Yesterday) After begging through the town, Saint Francis and Brother Masseo met together to eat in a place without the city, where was a fair fountain and, hard by, a fine, broad stone ; upon the which each set the alms that he had begged.

And Saint Francis, seeing that Brother Masseo’s pieces of bread were more and finer and larger than his own, rejoiced with great joy, and said: “ O Brother Masseo, we are not worthy of such vast treasure ”: and when he repeated many times these self-same words, Brother Masseo made answer:
« Father, how can one speak of treasure where is such poverty and lack of all things whereof there is need ? Here is nor cloth, nor knife, nor plate, nor porringer, nor house, nor table, nor man-servant, nor maid-servant.”

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Quoth Saint Francis: “And this it is that I acount vast treasure, wherein is no thing at
all prepared by human hands, but whatsoe’er we have is given by God’s own providence, as
manifestly doth appear in the bread that we have begged, in the table of stone so fine, and in the fount so clear; wherefore I will that we pray unto God that He make us to love with all our
heart the treasure of holy poverty which is so noble, that thereunto did God Himself become your servitor.”

And when he had said these words, and they had done their prayer, and for refreshment of the body had taken of those pieces and drunk of that water, they rose up to journey into France.

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The Latest News from L’Arche at Asha Vani in India.

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Here is more news from the L’Arche Community called Asha Vani in India.

Tension is Good?

Jean Vanier said, “Communities need tensions if they are to grow and deepen. …Every tension, every crisis can become a source of new life if we approach it wisely, or it can bring death and division.” At Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar we have moments of grace and moments of challenge. I n the midst of tension, it is easy to feel sad, lonely, or angry (or all three). We must learn how to recognize and be present to these feelings in a healthy way. If we do not, they will begin to take joy and love from our own lives and the lives of those around us. In communities like Asha Niketan, this can be dangerous. We must use our challenges to help us practice patience, understanding, and communication. We must remember: every challenge creates an opportunity for growth; every challenge helps us to see the truth; and every challenge invites us to lean deeper into God’s love.

Bypass Update

As many of you know, we have been attempting to change the alignment of the Nandhi-Chengottukavu Bypass Road. Thanks to many efforts, a new alignment has been released that effects our community with less drastic results. We will lose land and a few older buildings ; however, we will be able to remain functioning as a community. Still, there are many persons

protesting the bypass completely. We wait to see what comes of these protests.

Feet Washing

Every year our community holds a feet washing ceremony, an important tradition upheld by L’Arche communities all over the world. This ceremony is from theChristian tradition, and imitates the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet on Holy Thursday. It is incredibly symbolic to Asha

Niketan ’s values of justice and equality. As we wash each other ’s feet, we are reminded that God created us to be equals, and to help one another as friends.

40 Year Celebration

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who supported and attended our 40th Anniversary Celebration on January 27th! Important messages, dance performances, musical performances, and an intentional drama made for a celebratory event. Thank you to everyone in the community for their the hard work and commitment. We recognize that the

event was not perfect, of course, but we would like to express our apologies for areas that were not considered well. Yet, the celebration aside, we are thankful to have lived a vibrant forty years of community life. Much has changed over the years, and more change is surely to come, yet our mission will remain the same : to be a sign of hope in the world that peace is possible. We will continue to be “home of hope” where people with and without intellectual disabilities can realize and practice theirgifts. And with this, we look forward to the next full and fantastic forty years to come.

Thikkodi Sports Day

On December 3rd, the community made its way to Thikkodi Beach for some friendly competition to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It was a long day full of sun, sweat, sand, and fun! Community members participated in events such as races, jumping competitions, and musical chairs. Each competition brought laughter and joy, leaving everyone feeling like a winner. Check out a short video on our YouTube channel!

Christmas and New Years

The community celebrated vibrant and cheerful Christmas and New Years celebrations.

With Christmas day came a full program which included family, friends, songs, prayer, a drama, dancing, gifts, and, of course, food. It was quite the day! New Years was a bit more relaxed with a smaller celebration between residential members on the evening of December 31st.

On Januar y 19 th we lost one of our beloved community members, Pajeesh. He shared life with us for over 18 years, and he will remain present in our hearts for years to come. His passing left us all fondly reflecting on moments, gifts, and lessons shared from his friendship. Prajeesh’s presence is deeply missed, but we know he has been welcomed into an infinitely joyful and loving community above.

Rest In Peace, Prajeesh

Happy Welcome

Over the past few months, we have said both, “Farewell” and “Welcome” to a number of community members. To those who have left the community, we wish you peace and success in the next step of your journey.

As for our newcomers, we wish you a warm and happy welcome! Aswanth, Ragesh, and Muhammad Salmin have been welcomed as core members in our day programmes. It has been exciting to see them begin to find their place, and offer their gifts. Vishnu has been welcomed as a residential core member in Deepalayam house, where he has brought a lively and playful spirit. Additionally, we have embraced two new assistants and one volunteer. Baskar has become an assistant in Prabalayam house, where he has shown a strong work ethic, as well as aptitude for fun and friendship. Felna has become an assistant in Anandalayam house, where she has brought a positive, youthful, and patient presence to the quiet home. And lastly, we have welcomed P raveena for a short term volunteer position, and she has been a joyful, confident, and helpful presence.

It is a joy to grow alongside these newcomers, and witness their gifts being discovered and shared with our community.

Community Founder Visit

In December we were graced with a visit from Chris Sadler the community’s founder! Her presence was inspiring and eye-opening. She has a beautiful connection with many community members, and, having been involved from the community’s beginning, she offers a unique perspective on our way of life. Thanks to her visit, we were able to share in some special moments and fun activities, and also open our eyes to areas where we are in need of adjustment and growth. We are so thankful for her inspiring storytelling, constructive suggestions, gentle encouragements, and, of course, her lovely laughter!

It was so hard to say goodbye. We wish her nothing but peace, joy, and presence for all her days.

(Note : Listen to her message to the community on our YouTube page, or read the transcription below)

Cinema Outing

I n February we took a group of over 60 community members out for lunch, a small program, and a movie. Needless to say, it was quite the outing! A ll were happy to share some time together outside the community grounds, and we even managed to grab the attention of the local news! How could we not with such a vibrant group ?

National Assembly 2017-2018

In January, representatives from Asha Niketan communitiesall over India came together for a week of formation and meetings at the annual National Assembly held this year in Calicut. L’Arche International Co-Leader, Stephan Posner, his wife, Yaël Posner, and L’Arche Asia Delegate, Tim Kearney, were also present. Yaël and our own international volunteer, Parker, headed the formation for the Core Member group throughout the week. Parker said, “This was a very special opportunity. We were from all over the world, and, despite our differences, we were able to foster legitimate relationships through creating art, taking walks, singing, dancing, eating, praying, and simply sitting together. I think we all learned a lot. ” There certainly was a lot of relationship building , learning, and sitting together for everyone throughout the week. Thank you to our leaders and the staff at SRC Christ Hall who worked hard to make it a success !

L’Arche International Co-Leader Visit

With the National Assembly being held so close to home, this means we were lucky enough to receive a visit from one of the L’Arche International Leaders, Stephan, and his wife, Yaël. They stayed with us for two nights and shared some special moments with our community. One evening, Stephan gave us some words of encouragement. He looked at Lancy, our eldest community member, and said, “This man is changing the world.” He was reminding us that we change the world one person at a time by building real mutual relationships with one another. Within these relationships we experience a personal change that opens our hearts and minds to greater understanding — hopefully one of greater gentleness, justice, and love. This change then spreads out into the world as we live out our lives with this new vision and energy. Needless to say, their visit was a very memorable experience for each

one of us !

National Leader Visit

We were happy to welcome Rajeevan at the beginning of March for his annual ivsit to our community. He held meetings with all the members of the community over the course of a few days. P rasannan, a core member from Prahbalayam House, talked with excitement for many days leading up to his meeting with Rajeevan. And although not many of us can match Prasannan’s excitement for meetings, meetings with Rajeevan are never dreaded because of the sincere concern, wise encouragement, and genuine conversation he always shares. We are thankful to have had him visit, and we are thankful to have him as our National Leader.

Tour Programmes

In March we went on two tours. One group went to Bangalore for three days, where they enjoyed a stay with the Asha Niketan Bangalore community. During their stay, they visited Lalbagh Park , the local zoo and safari, the local markets, and Infant Jesus Shrine. We cannot thank those at AN Bangalore enough for their very generous welcome and hospitality. Later, an additional group enjoyed a single day tour relaxing on a local houseboat. It was a full day of time shared togetherwith scenic views and a cool breeze off the water. Thank you to all who organized these successful and joyful tours!

A Message From Our Founder, Chr is Sadler

Greetings to you all.

Some people are kind enough to honor me with the name of Founder of Asha Niketan in Nandi Bazar, but this is not quite true. God is the foundation of all our lives. And there are many people behind me whom I would like to remember: Mr. Premanand who gave us the land, Gabriel who really helped to develop Asha Niketan in India, and Mr. Jayaprekash who was very helpful to me when I arrived in Calicut. And also Jean Vanier who founded L’Arche, and was a great inspiration to all of us.

Beside me are Subbaiyan, Gnanam, and Kanaran, and Haneefa and Unni, and also Mithran, Viswanthan, Lancy Ettan, and Remesh. I would like to say a few things, especially in honor of these four people with whom I have shared so many years.Viswanthan, who was the first of our founders to leave us from this earth, came from the mental hospital, came from a place of great degradation, and he amazingly brought to me and to many a spirit of resilience, cou rage, and joy. And Mithran, who came to us from Payyoli, and who has among many other things taught me to face my own fears. And Remesh, who struggled with inner voices and a whole history of bullying and rejection, but who taught me a lot about the funny side of life. And also how to keep dreaming and hoping . And I also want to remember Lancy Ettan whose gentleness has transformed many of us, and changed us into people who learn to listen to one another and care in the most gentle way, and then begin to treat ourselves and others with the same gentleness.

So these are the people I remember beside me as we started this community.

And now I want to remember and give thanks for all those who are in front of us. That is you. Each one of you is important. Each one of you matters. Each one of you has something unique to bring to our world. More than ever our world needs respect and healing . We need peace and joy, and the welcome of our differences. Our world needs us to be the best that we

can be.

Once Viswanthan was asked by a visitor, “To which God do you pray here?” And Viswanthan, in his inimitable capacity to be profound, said, “I do not know which God, all I know is that we pray in the light.” And a nother time he sang with h is whole heart, “Oh God, Oh God, I am here because of your love.” May our hope, our “asha,” be always

in light and in love. That’s it.

+91 49626 91620

ashacltnandi@gmail.com

Community Leader Noelia : noegrifell@hotmail.com

Chairman Dr. Sreedharan : drsridar@yahoo.co. in

ashaniketancalicutnandhibazar.org

@ashaniketannandibazar

Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar

Thank you for reading!

Want to Help?

Our community is always open to donations. At the moment we are looking for someone to donate some wooden furniture in both of our male residential homes. We have a number of

plastic chairs that are unable to withstand the daily use from community members. If you have furniture you would like to donate, or would like to sponsor new furniture, please contact our office by phone or email !

Additionally, all are excited for the coming Vishu holiday. If you arefeeling generous and would like to donate a Vishu gift to community members, we would be very excited to

accept! Core members are always in need of items such as clothing, soap, and other daily amenities. That said, all at Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar wish you a very joyful V ishu !

 

 

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21 April: Feast of Saint Anselm of Canterbury.

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Today is the feast of Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury. You can read about him at Anglican Resources.  There, too, you can find this prayer.

My God,
I pray that I may so know you and love you
that I may rejoice in you.
And if I may not do so fully in this life
let me go steadily on
to the day when I come to that fullness …
Let me receive
That which you promised through your truth,
that my joy may be full

Some of the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral is from Anselm’s time (1093-1109).

MMB.

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