Thursday, June 21, 2018


Our sermon today was based on the reading from Sirach – a eulogy to Elijah and Elisha, stalwarts of their time and comparable to none.  Their conduct was blameless and their exploits legendary.  And they did what they did for God alone. Who could hope to match them? 

The priest reminded us of the eulogies we hear at funerals – all good and sometimes even better than the person we remember.  He asked us if we would be able to live up to our eulogies and then set us an exercise.  He told us to write our own – everything we would want said about us – and then check and see if we were living up to our better selves!!

So, how do I want to be remembered? First as having a sense of humour – definitely that!  To be able to laugh (with a little bit of the ribald thrown in) and make others laugh with you is to me priceless.  Second, as being punctual because punctuality is a mark of respect and time is precious. An inbuilt military upbringing has taken care of that.  Third, a caring heart – that’s a toughie.  Because it means sharing yourself even when you don’t want to share.  Genuine caring is never selective. And fourth – making a difference for the better.  What other reason do we have for being here? That’s a tough ask too.

If I were to be honest – as eulogies are sometimes not – I would need to put a curb on a critical tongue, impatience and ‘justified’ anger.  I grew up being measured against the better achievers and have inherited the attitude.  Some legacies are best surrendered.

I love being my own person, so I won’t change that – who cares what other people will say! If I choose to serenade on a full moon night, I will. I once joined in a midnight barking contest with the street dogs – it puzzled them no end (I was dead sober)!! Oh yes – eccentricity is one more thing that I would love to be remembered for.

Now that that’s off my chest, I can rest in peace.  By the way, I love coloured flowers. Ditch the white.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

From as far back as I can remember, I have loved St Peter.  He was a big, burly fisherman with foot in mouth disease who loved Jesus at first imperfectly and then so wholeheartedly that he died for Him.  Peter was totally human and he is the rock on which my church is built - the stuff of legend.

My fascination with Peter grew through reading and movies: The Big Fisherman, The Shoes of the Fisherman (this was more about a Pope in the mould of Peter than Peter himself).  Both books and movies were epic; they fuelled imagination already coloured by Biblical accounts.  How could I resist one more narrative linked to Peter, linked to my faith and one that promised a really good read?  I bought the book by John O’Neill, settled into a comfortable chair and blocked all distractions.

The book is really well written in clear and readable prose, and adheres to the best journalistic principles of providing, upfront, the ‘Who, What, Why, When, Where and How’.  The pace is easy – neither fast nor slow.  One does not have to move back to go forward and it is totally factual (annotated as well); there is no room for doubt about veracity.  If there is one problem that I had it is that there is too much repetition – identical statements and phrases – sometimes even in consecutive paragraphs, much like a favourite family elder repeating stories, forgetting that they have been told before.  Once is forgivable, more is not. A proofing oversight?

It is historical in that it traces back to 1939 but could only be told now because Pope Francis provides the end note.  It also gives an inside view to the functioning of the Vatican – both happy and appalling: humanity at its very best and clericalism at its very worst.  Strangely – or, perhaps typically – it is the individual personality that typifies both. There are those who spent their lives in exemplary faith and those who arrogated power to themselves in the worst possible way.  And, at the same time, it is the story of the foundation and amazing growth of our faith, built upon the ‘Rock’.

Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) who have published the book, have also provided an online interview with the author.  His concluding remark is worth attention:
…it (the book) gives you the ability to see physical relics from the first and second centuries. With the wave of secularism that is overwhelming the world, people want to treat people like Peter as though they never existed, as though it’s all a fairy tale or Santa Claus story. Just go look under the Vatican. It’s not a Santa Claus story. They really did exist. Peter really was killed in Rome, and there were a lot of really brave people who prayed to him, who sacrificed their lives to transmit this great faith down to us in the 21st century.”

Friday, May 18, 2018


Boosted as the ultra slim watch from Titan – truly world class, unmistakably Titan – it did not come cheap.  But it did come from a brand that had served me well for the best part of twenty years. Unfortunately, this time the brand did NOT live up to its name.

To know the whole story, we have to go back to the beginning.

As a Tata employee, I received Preference Shares when Titan was floated.  Those Preference Shares got me a discount to purchase products from Titan, which I dutifully did.  Result? Some really good wristwatches and Time Pieces for hubby, home and me.  The Time Pieces were phased out and so were the spare parts and when they stopped working, they made the trip to the junkyard where worn out timepieces go. 

The wristwatches have done duty for many a year, without a glitch and only the mandatory battery change.

Now comes the ‘edge’.  This model was a little out of budget but I succumbed – after all it was a Titan and over the years it would be paisa vasool.  Unfortunately, just two years on – and just outside the guarantee period – it stopped working.  Time for a battery change, or so I thought.  While waiting in line, the previous customer, who also came in for a battery change, was told that her watch needed a new motherboard!  I commiserated with her.  It was expensive.  Then I was told the same thing!!  My watch which I had used so carefully and caringly also needed a new motherboard.

A very expensive watch is now costing me money instead of living up to its price.

Shame on you Titan.  You sold me a lie!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I keep getting messages, through various digital media, about Amoris Laetitia and the dissenters are pretty raucous.  They quote the purists, the righteous and the traditionalists. This got me thinking.

The ‘regular’ Catholic (and even most of the irregular ones) should be familiar with the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus saved from stoning.

Let’s go back to that moment for a bit. Jesus was, at that time, a young Jewish man familiar with Jewish law and all its nuances.  He would know very well that the penalty for adultery was stoning to death.  Here were elders and Jews, steeped in their faith, who brought this woman before him.  Did she deny the charge? No. Was it a questionable charge? Again, no.  Apparently, the woman’s transgressions were well known. Were the elders well within their rights to stone her? Technically, yes. Because it was the law and they observed the law very rigidly.

What did Jesus do?

He did not harangue the woman. He did not conduct a court of inquiry.  He made a simple statement,’Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’!

While the elders were ‘rooting out’ sin, here was one who sought mercy for a sinner and offered a second chance.

Jesus was radical for his time. So radical that they crucified him.

History repeats itself.

Because mercy is beyond the comprehension of those who cannot love.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Collect Prayer and a loving message for the day….

 “O God, who through the folly of the Cross wondrously taught Saint Justin the Martyr the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ…”

Attending Mass, whether daily or for fulfilling the Sunday obligation, unwittingly becomes routine.  The common prayers – I Confess, Gloria, Creed, Holy Holy, Our Father – are so familiar that we can just rattle them off when they turn up at their appointed place in the Liturgy.  Even the readings, after time, become good friends and, on hearing the first few words, we know what comes next. 

On the other hand, how often do we actually ‘hear’ the other prayers recited during the Liturgy? They are unfamiliar (unless you have your own personal copy of the Mass missal), privy only to the priest at the altar and, if you are not particularly attentive, you could miss the words altogether.  Today, our celebrant intoned the Collect Prayer with unusual clarity and my ears picked up the words, ‘….folly of the Cross…’ and I was intrigued. Yes, I checked the Book after Mass and I had heard correctly. 

This set me thinking about how much we are loved.  If you have ever cared for another so intensely that you forget self for the other, when no sacrifice is too hard and no expense too great, you throw logic to the winds, there is irrationality in the face of danger and there is even less thought to the consequences. How foolish we are when we love deeply! 

Imagine, then, how deep and how immense was Christ’s love for us; all we need to do is to look to the ‘foolishness of the Cross’ to know this reality.

Hold fast to this thought – it will get you through the day.  It will also get you through life.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


It’s a word; it’s a noun. It’s also the serendipitous choice for the title of the investigative journalism segment of a provincial newspaper – the Boston Globe. You couldn’t get a better title than this except maybe ‘Five Find-outers and Dog’ (once an Enid Blyton fan, always an Enid Blyton fan)!!

But this is serious, responsible and accountable find-outing. They smell a story that should be in the public domain and follow their noses to put the facts out there, to set the record straight, to right a wrong, despite seemingly insurmountable barricades. They are a small team but a dedicated one, working in tight-knit coordination to uncover the information that starts with a small niggle and ends with a burst of incredulity. Could this be true?

The lives and work of the journalists by themselves makes a good story but not an exceptional one – most investigative teams work this way, taking in the highs and lows, the sleepless nights and fractured personal relationships, the door to door trudge, the meticulous sifting of information and the courtroom attendances. What does make this particular film news is the scandal that it is linked to – the scandal that rocked that unshakeable behemoth, the Catholic Church.  A Church that in Boston, in particular, was an institution that underpinned all of public, social and political life. Incidentally, it still does today but perhaps not with the same self-assurance.

The Boston Globe was where the story broke, leading to the coming out of thousands of victims not just in America but in other parts of the world too, an indication of systemic failure to address a problem that was real and that had traumatic consequences for its victims and ultimately for the Church. Lawsuits and settlements have drained finances, parish churches have shut down, priests at the ground level have had to rebuild on the debris left behind. Thanks to the digital medium, the news had global ramifications in real time. And the biggest victim was, so very regrettably, ‘trust’.

That men betrayed the cloth was not new. That the betrayal was covered up was not new.  In earlier times, the victim would be considered the one accountable and the Church was considered above scandal. A few whispers here and there perhaps. A collective clerical shrug for an unfortunate lapse, but nothing in the public domain.  But times change and truth will out – the longer it is suppressed, the more explosive it proves to be.

Time has passed, there has been compensation, there has been healing and there is now a watchful gaze with a hair-trigger response.  Never again.

So how is ‘Spotlight’ the fantastic experience that critics cite it to be? Because it resurrects a scandal from the past?  Because it holds the audience in rapt attention from frame to frame? Or, because it confronts us with the uncomfortable truth that but for one man’s dogged conviction, the facts may never have been told? 

For Catholics everywhere and for priests in particular, the upheaval was real.  Trust is difficult to earn and for those who remain with the Church, this film will resurrect doubts that were buried.  We can only hope and pray that ‘never again’ is the reality for the rest of time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


The New Year is given to us as a blank slate – 366 days (it’s a leap year!) to ‘write’ on and imprint our actions and interactions. But, what of our thoughts, feelings and memories? Where do these go?

Since way back when, I have kept diaries.  Not just memories but scrapbooks of stuff that has caught my eye and, not surprisingly, most of my collection is ‘words’ – bits and pieces from books and articles that I have read.  The odd illustration finds a place too and clippings from here and there.  I treasure my collection; in moments when I need to ‘get away’ but can’t, I tuck myself into a chair and go back in time through the pages, lingering over the memories that they evoke and delighting once again in the connection felt at the first encounter. The vibrancy remains undiminished with the passage of time.

The electronic blog and Facebook provide tempting alternatives and I do succumb from time to time to the ease of the digital medium, but this year, thanks to a young lady who finds colour in words (and whose words add colour to the day!), I have the blank pages of a diary/album to accompany the unfolding year.  And I will take her happy advice to imprint the pages with memories, experiences, new encounters and the ‘mud of places’ that I will visit.  A concrete legacy for the future!

For now, the immediate present, I will savour the texture of the handmade paper, reveling in its pristine newness. I have one more reason to be eager for what is to come!