Monday, October 12, 2009

Salaam - October 2009


Salaam alei kum!

Today ‘Dialogue’ is the key factor for our life and existence. It has become the very foundation at every level of relationships – international, national and local / personal. On the one hand dialogue sounds easy, while on the other hand, it is quite challenging and demanding. It presupposes ones openness, sensitivity, familiarity, concern, love, honesty and candidness. Attitudes like arrogance, reticence, pride, superiority and condescension will take us away from the arena of dialogue. As convinced and committed persons, we cannot but be part of the process of dialogue in all our activities, attitudes, thoughts and words. It demands maturity and preparedness at all levels: Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Spiritual and Academic.

Murder and blood shed caused by the recent attacks of the Maoists against the cops and innocent people at different parts of our country, shocked all of us. Can we really enter into sincere dialogue with these people? In the North East states of India, a lot of peace efforts have been made to build bridges and win the hearts of the Bodos. Most Rev Thomas Menamparampil and his inter-religious and ecumenical teams are quite actively involved in the peace-process with them. Violence will only breed violence. We need to face such violent groups tactfully. It is here that we need inter religious collaboration. I am very much of the opinion that every town / city should form inter religious groups to enter into dialogue with such groups. We also need to listen to them and help them to put down violence and to give up hostility and brutality. So inter-religious dialogue can be a channel, to establish peace and harmony and to bring people to the main stream of the society.

Heavy rains and floods over a few days have wrecked havoc in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, marooning hundreds of villages and rendering thousands of people homeless. It is estimated that over 206 lives are lost, more than 300,000 people are displaced and more than two lakh houses have either collapsed or damaged in the 14 districts of Karnataka. Over 13 lakh people are affected following unprecedented floods in the Krishna river basin, which has claimed 50 lives so far in 7 districts of Andhra Pradesh, which left thousands of people homeless, while hundreds of them have lost their lives. Many inter religious groups have already been pressed into service bringing solace and comfort to the victims and are involved in the rehabilitation projects. The Catholic Church in India too has appealed to its members for solidarity and contribution towards these affected people irrespective of their caste and religion. It is indeed an example of dialogue of life. Similarly, Indonesia was struck by the destructive Earth-quake and Tsunami recently which left thousands orphans. Similar efforts are being made there too through local Caritas Organization and inter religious groups.

Inter religious dialogue can instill hope in the people and bring about changes in their lives. One needs to be aware and be open to the realities around. Most Rev Felix Machado in the article “Interreligious Harmony for Promotion of Civilization of Peace” brings out the fact that Interreligious dialogue can promote the civilization of peace. It is our Christian faith that motivates us to engage in the ministry of interreligious dialogue and creates in us the openness to interact with people of other faiths. The Church emphasizes in interreligious encounters, the meeting of people of different religions on a deeper level, namely, on the level of spirituality. The author concludes by saying that it is necessary to nourish our practice of interreligious encounters with solid spiritual food: God can never become a negotiable item or a marginal thought in our interreligious encounters. He is at the centre or like a foundation of all interreligious encounters.

The Jesuits are known for their academic performance and contribution. Since 1932 they have been actively involved in the education ministry in Baghdad. The article “The Jesuit Contribution to Christian Education in Iraq” by Joseph Seferta, helps us to know about the Jesuits interaction with the people of Iraq through education. The Baghdad College which the Jesuits founded later became al-Hikma (Wisdom) University. They contributed their mite to the over all growth of the students, until they were expelled from there in 1969. in order to remember their educational involvement in Iraq, in 1977 they decided to have a reunion, which was attended by 360 Iraqis and Jesuits. Since then, regular annual reunions have been taking place at various locations in the U.S., Canada and even Britain, and attended by ever increasing numbers. These reunions have proved to be very popular and joyous occasions for the Iraqi students. The Jesuits found the Iraqi students warm, humorous, imaginative, receptive, hardworking and appreciative of educational opportunities and the Iraqis found the Jesuits intelligent, generous, fun loving and dedicated. We can truly say that the mission of the Baghdad Jesuits is still continuing, not in the Jesuit fathers (most of whom have died by now) but in their grateful Iraqi alumni.

“Religious Missionary Formation – Sufi Model” by Pushpa Anbu is an article based on the model of Sufi life. Sufis are the Islamic Mystics, who by their exemplary life attract many people to the Islamic faith. The life and formation of the Sufis is found to be such that one could easily find their formation very much parallel to that of the priestly / religious formation. The author opines that today we could have the formation of our candidates to priesthood and religious life on the model of Sufi formation. In fact, their life style is so simple and appealing. ‘Reflections on Jewish-Christian Dialogue’ by Leo D. Lefebure is to help our readers to familiarize dialogue with Jews. Dialogue is a process and each of us is to be part of this dialogue process. It is enriching and inspirational to be in dialogue with our dialogue partners.

Khuda Hafiz!

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