S/HE has done it again: the betrayal of Jesus who identifies Himself with His followers (Acts 9:3-6).The time as of old is well-chosen. Once again, it’s the time of prayer and fasting (Lent). However, the betrayal this time has a stretch of unusual scene. Judas is clad in a woman’s attire. He holds a book in his hand and places a ‘bookish- kiss’ on the holy cheek of Jesus-his Lord and Master! “Amen”, he whispers with a malicious intent. The countenance of the coward swells with the promise of a huge political perk that would pale his 30 silver pieces of old into mere peanuts.Hi Jesmi the great writer, I am Sr. TJ, a small writer, greeting you with the Peace of Christ this Lent! You and I have much in common: You are a woman, so am I. You have been a religious sister for 30 years, so am I an Ursuline of Mary Immaculate Sister for 43 years and going on. You’ve been in the Teaching Profession, so have I been an educator for 35 years. You seem to have been interested in reading books like that of the ‘Last Temptation’ of Nikos Kazantzakis, so have I been after that book. But our similarities end with what we both did ever after. While I made the book my ‘last’ temptation really, you seemed to have been playing with the temptation all along until you gave it the shape of a book Amen: “Autobiography of a Nun”!
If the alleged denial of permission from a priest to read Kazantzakis’ book and the long persecution thereafter was the reason that triggered you to write your Amen, in the first place it smacks of ‘revenge’. Your skewed sketch of ‘lurid affairs of sexual repressions, intimidations and harassment in the Church and Convents reportedly, do not wash. There are thousands of consecrated women like me of various Religious Congregations, who albeit much longer years of convent-life than yours, never have had such unholy experiences, stand refuting your abominable allegations on Consecrated life in Convents. Neither am I unfamiliar with the CMC-Congregation which has produced heroic women of high sanctity like Blessed Euphrasiamma and the beautiful girl Mary John Thottam who preferred Jesus her Divine Lover to a human lover, immortalized herself with her ‘Kavitaramam’ and later became Sr. Beningna, CMC of holy memory.Remember that when you point an accusing finger at priests and nuns for lesbian, homo-sexual or hetero-sexual behaviour, the other four fingers of yours point at you in condemnation of the same sin with a greater certainty. By painting yourself as a sex-object or an easy prey to men and women of passion all through your religious life even outside (Bangalore at a UGC- course), you in fact are laying yourself bare before your listeners who are no fools but soon notice the obvious in you! One of the biblical texts tells it all: “Wherever the body is, there will the vultures gather” (Mt 24:28).Judas parted his ways with Jesus after living with Him for three years and you after 33 years! You claim to be on a ‘cleansing-mission”. What and whom are you going to cleanse if not yourself? That your book ‘Amen’ is meant to malign the image of the Church and its related Institutions is there for all to see. But know that your ‘maligning mission’ is nothing but a ‘madness that lacks method’. You have yielded to the lure of the Judas in you!
Your avowal that you have only ‘opened just a window’ on the wall of the convent to bring to light the dust therein and that someone else may dust it out’ has a trace of honesty. Why didn’t you first remove the ‘plank’ from your own eyes before venturing into a cleansing mission of removing the splinter’ from the eyes of others (Mt 7:1-3)? You should have opened the ‘door’ of your own heart to God’s Holy Spirit to sweep the dust out of your own life before hurrying to open a ‘window’ for others’ chastisement!
Be sure that no amount of mudslinging can mar the beauty of consecrated life. It is a state of life built and blessed by the Supreme Beauty- Jesus Christ Himself. Rooted in Christ, committed to Him, lived in His Spirit, shared in His holiness and engaged in His Mission, religious life can never be shaken by the forces of evil or withered away in the poisonous wind of calumny. He Who Calls is Faithful (1 The 5:24). It is He Who chooses, not we the frail humans who chose ourselves (John 15:16, I Cor 1:27). This is not to say that consecrated people are all angels. We are as vulnerable as any human being can be. Nuns and priests are not celestial beings dropped from heavens. We are the same flesh and blood of all of you out there. Bishops, priests and nuns too have feet of clay. Therefore there can be exceptions among us. But then, exceptions are there in every group whether religious or secular. As long as human nature is the same in every one even the holiest of person is not totally free from weakness.Let’s not forget the fact that ‘picking out the weakness of others and magnifying it before the world as to scandalize the uninformed and the innocent is the worst sin that the Lord Himself has condemned in strong terms: “…But any one who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone around the neck” (Mt 18:6). Crappy books like yours are bound to boomerang on their own makers since all readers are no fools to take such a shit. People with even a cursory knowledge of the purity, nobility and sanctity of consecrated life will certainly rubbish your great Amen. Once the curiosity of the man in the street over your book is over, it will be thrown in the trashcan re-titled, “Aha, men: An aided biography of a None! And there some coolie writers can grab it and reproduce a ‘sorry story, a tete-a-tete shrieker.No honest writer can club you with those revolutionary women writers of Kerala like Kamala Surayya, Sara Joseph or Jameela who took up cudgels to defend the basic rights of women and the exploited poor in an unjust society. While vast is their world vision, your outlook is narrow and nasty towards a particular section of the society. While they bring ‘grace’ to the life of the marginalized, you bring ‘disgrace’ to the whole Church, religious life in particular. You stand as an abomination to the whole womanhood that stands to receive the customary international honour in the month of March. Every true religious sister in India today hangs her head in shame on account of your accursed book. You can be rest assured of the dubious fame of a traitor who went about hand-in-gloves with the enemies of Christ in Kerala.Well, Jesme my friend, it is that time of the liturgical year when we are exhorted to repent. “Rent your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God” (Jl 2:13) is the call of Lenten Season that opens to us opportunities of renewal and self-purification. The betrayal-kiss of Judas and ‘bookish-kisses like yours that betray the Church of Christ can all be turned into “Divine Kisses” from Jesus who in the person of His anointed priest awaits at the ‘confessional’ the return of His erred children.Let us as one family of Jesus follow His Way of the Cross to Calvary to be “Cleansed” and “Healed” of all our impurities and inner wounds with His “Crimson Divine Kisses” from the Cross.Let us look at of each other with love and feel the rush of the same Christian- Blood running through our veins, bask in the glow of that spotless robe we were clothed with at our baptism in Christ, realize the great Prize of His Precious Blood He paid to buy us back from the clutches of Satan and make us worthy of Him and His Kingdom of everlasting happiness. There at the foot of the Cross together let us say:
Amen: “Yes Lord: In Your Sacred Heart lies my destiny”