Pot Shot at Salesians

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – On Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011 at 11:48 PM, Mr. Allwyn Fernandes wrote the following in “A Communicating Indian Church,” e-group which he manages (I am also part of the group).  In this particular dispatch Mr. Fernandes raised several issues on the current pilgrimage of Don Bosco’s Relic across India. Here is the entire text of the Times of India journalist from Mumbai:

“Has any Salesian raised his voice against this weird spectacle that the Salesian order is promoting in India?

Because only a Salesian is best placed to do it — any other religious doing it will only result in a war of religious orders.

Are we a medieval Church to have a dead saint’s right hand (whenever and for whatever reason it was cut off or removed has never been explained anywhere), embed it in a wax replica of his body and take it round the world to mark his 200th birth anniversary to come in 2015?

To me, this is the ultimate disrespect to a saint – to severe part of his/her body and then take it round for “veneration”. I can understand they had to do that 200 years ago to prove to theVaticanthat St Francis Xavier’s body was not corrupted. Even that repels me. But to take part of the body round embedded in a wax cast of the body in 2011???

Couldn’t the Salesians have thought of a more constructive and long-lasting way of celebrating the bi-centenary of Don Bosco’s birth? He was a man who responded in a unique way to the needs of his time in the city where he lived. What would he have felt the need to do were he to arrive in theIndiaof today?

As I write this, we need a Don Bosco in the streets ofLondonto get those young men off their destructive course of action, whatever be the reasons for it. Come on Salesians, put your heads together and choose a tough new way of responding to the needs of the time to commemorate the birth of your great founder. This way of doing it does not enlighten us about who Don Bosco was and how he responded to the needs of his time. It is promoting idolatory in another form. That is evident from the write-up below with its patronising headline.”

The above piece by Mr Fernandes received just one comment from a group member:
“There is nothing so enticing to an Indian than the miraculous tinged with the sacred. Consider the huge expense, the organisation, time, effort  and devotion . Of course these are needed elsewhere but it is easier to arouse interest and endorse a once in a life time event that will soon be forgotten. The dividends from it cannot be seen nor counted.” (Therese Almeida Date: 11 August 2011 12:03).

Here is the piece that tickled Mr Fernandes

John Bosco brought ‘alive’ to Indians
Posted by: “Bombay Catholic Sabha, Kalina” MangaloreanCatholics@gmail.com
Wed Aug 3, 2011 2:48 am (PDT)
John Bosco brought ‘alive’ to Indians

Published Date: July 29, 2011

John Bosco brought ‘alive’ to Indians thumbnail

Millions thronged to venerate Saint John Bosco’s relic as it was taken to different parts of the national capital.

On July 30, a sea of humanity assembled at the Sacred Heart Cathedral as the relic was brought there.

A pontifical concelebrated Mass led by Archbishop Vincent M Concessao and assisted by scores of priests was held on the occasion.

The prelate urged the faithful to emulate the saint in “our daily life”.

Lauding John Bosco’s contribution to the youth, he said the saint taught that laziness was the root cause of all evil.

He was all praise for the “good work” done by the Salesians in the field of education and that of empowering the poor.

After Mass huge queues were witnessed, as people pushed and shoved to kiss the casket and receive the saint’s blessings.

“I am very much excited to be able to get so close to a saint’s relic,” said Arush Michael, a class VII student.

“I prayed for good results as the saint was a friend of children,” he said.

The relic, the right hand of the Italian saint placed inside a metal box and embedded in a wax replica of his body, arrived in the national capital on July 28.

While waiting in the heat to see the relic, Amit Alfred Kujur, a college student, said he came to seek Don Bosco’s special blessings. He said it is a “rare chance, blessing and inspiration.”

Agnes Michael, a teacher, said ”she felt privileged to get a chance to see the replica of the much-loved saint.”

Rosy David, a housewife, said “we have come as a family for it was only after praying to the saint that my husband, a lawyer, achieved success in his profession. With this relic arrival, Don Bosco has been brought alive to Indians,” she said.

Father Jose Mathew,SalesianProvincesaid, “This is the first time in history that any catholic saint’s remains are being taken all across the world.”

From the Cathedral, the relic was taken to Najafgarh for a night-long vigil service. The relic was taken to most of the Salesian institutes in the national capital. It will also visitChandigarhand other areas before leaving for Mumbai.

The pilgrimage is part of the preparations for the 2015 bi-centenary celebrations of Don Bosco’s birth. It also marked the 150th year of the foundation of the Salesian congregation.

The casket began its journey in 2009 fromItaly’s Valdocco and is set to travel five continents where Salesian members are serving the youth.

It came toIndiain the last week of April and has already visited the north-east states.

Founder of the Salesian Society, John Bosco was born atPiedmont,Italy, August 16, 1815 and died January 31, 1888. He was canonized in 1934.

http://www.cathnewsindia.com/2011/07/29/don-bosco-relic-arrives-in-delhi/

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28 Comments

Filed under Don Bosco casket, Don Bosco relics Tour, Don Bosco Relics Tour India

28 responses to “Pot Shot at Salesians

  1. C.M. Paul

    For the first question raised by Mr Fernandes pls chk the link to see 22 comments to my piece dated 12 March 2011.
    https://cmpaul.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/db-relics-arrive-india-in-50-days/#comments

  2. Dr Roy Chowdhury

    Superstition, idolatory or waste of monies, I do not know.
    Don Bosco Relic visit to Auxilium Parish – Kolkata’s number one slum parish, will benefit 200 poorest families as we have launched a campaign to raise funds to build homes… fitting birth day gift for Don Bosco and lasting reminder of his visit to our parish…

    • Das Gupta

      Fantastic! I would put it, that way. The expense incurred in this exercise could have built,2000 homes for the deserving poor. Something is better than nothing. We always need spectacular events to motivate us to do good, these days.Well! The show must go on.

  3. Dictus Correya

    The article written by Alwynn could be re-headed “The great Salesian tamasha”…As he has pointed out THIS way of celebrating the bicentenary of agreat saint and visionary, is nothing but paying discredit to DB on the one hand and promoting superstition and idoltry on the other.Ofcourse the big heads will say “these are popular practices and devotions meant for the simple leity”.!
    Let us ask ourselves. Would DB have approved of this- that one of his hands should be cut off and taken around the world in triumph, like the conquering Roman Generals would do?
    In this context allow me to point out another matter.In most Catechism books and most catechism classes the first commandment is taught only half way..Deut 5:6-7. Actually the full text with verses 8-10 are conveniently left out.”You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them.;for I the Lord your God am a jealous God……”
    Popular practices such as these create a hysteria and helps to promote sales of so called “religious articles” for the consumption of the ignorant leity.If at all such practices only help to keep them ignorant in real faith.’like giving crumbs to the poor.
    NB.I had voiced similar concerns when the relic started performing miracles in Assam,in this blog,when such incidents were reported by dear CMP,he is doing a mighty service by such reports.
    Dictus,

    • Das Gupta

      Very few people, think the way you think, Mr.Dictus these days.The show must go on.Right or wrong that is not the issue. if you stop these products for the common consumption of the ordinary leity(I would not go to the extent of calling them ignorant) you can imagine what would be the plight of the Clergy? They may will have really role up their sleeves and start working for their daily bread.So continue to preach on empty stomach and these days on empty brain too.The minimum work with the maximum benefit. i think multinational companies should take a few lessons in marketing strategy! Ha,ha,ha,ha…………….

      • Dictus Correya

        Good to know we tow the same line.It would be worth making a survey to find out if the catholic leity are” ordinary”, or “ignorant ” as I put it.My research tells me very few Catholics have anything worth to share of their faith not to speak of defending it. As you read in Hosea “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. The blame ? On Church leaders who keep the best part of this knowledge especially of the Word of God( Bible) to themselves.What if this energy, time, money and effort spent on the relic were to have been spent on spreading the knowledge and love of the Word of God (Bible)..there would have been a great revival ..to know Jesus more, to experience the Father’s love. Surely. Placed against a copy of the Bible, this relic is nothing but superstition and idoltry.

  4. Mary Sarkar

    Our school spent Rs. 10,000 (ten thousand) for orchid flowers to decorate the hall to receive Don Bosco Relic… SO WHAT?
    Our slum children were delighted at the beauty and proud of the scene. They did their pranams (homage) to Don Bosco and prayed to the saint who had to struggle to go to school. (Of course, they were all briefed about the event through a video).
    All this effort and expense just for a fleeting moment for that slum kid who comes for evening classes to Don Bosco Tengra meant a lot. It will linger a life time…

    • Augustine T

      In Don Bosco School Park Circus Kolkata too, at the public function organised by DB Alumni to honour Don Bosco, it was again the children of the DBPC Night School (750 boys and girls up to class VIII) and Muslim ladies (over 200) of the Adult Literacy programme who were lucky to mingle with VIPs and pay their homage to Don Bosco Relic.
      The Day scholars got their chance only the following day after the assembly.

    • Das Gupta

      I am sure the organizers did not forget to give these poor children a Rosagula each, before they left for their homes,after the function.

    • K.P. Paulson

      You are right Mary… I am reminded of what happened in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary… The Anointing at Bethany (Mathew 26:3-8) This is an incident all four Gospels mention in detail.
      “3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7″Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

  5. Das Gupta

    I personally feel it is a waste of time and energy,speculating on issues of this sort.Don’t tell me that ,enough HOMEWORK was not done, before initiating something of this sort, which involves,such an enormous amount of money. The Congregation must have had enough reasons to take upon a mammoth exercise of this sort at this particular ,phase of their mission for the Youth.Who knows, may be seeing the replica of Don Bosco,in a casket, might inspire some of the Salesians to be authentic to their founder.

    Everything, said and done,these days, who can open the eyes of Congregations, to practical wisdom, especially when millions of Euros/Dollars are at their disposal, the hard earned money of the Poor.

    May be Jesus has to make his reentry once again, with his whip,the whip He used in the temple at Jerusalem.

  6. Dictus Correya

    As an after thought. What if Missionaries of Charity opened the grave of Mother Theres, cut off one of her hands and send it to Albania her home country, in a casket with a look alike replica- the hand alone being genuine?
    Will her native folks accept such ludicrous notion? Will the poor sisters think of doing that?

    • James Samuel

      Actually DB’s hand was not severed or dismembered. The body was decomposed and bones were already in pieces when it was dug up for his beatification (some 30 years after burial), and identified and certified!
      As for the Missionaries of Charity or any body else for that matter setting out on a similar venture… will back away when they have to draw up the logistics and count the cost…

  7. My sympathies lie with Mr Allwyn Fernandes.. former Jesuit turned TOI Journalist (Mumbai)…
    I shall pray that Don Bosco work a miracle in his life… and may this article inspire Salesians to reinvent themselves… as we begin the KNOW DON BOSCO…. in preapration for the bi-centenary…
    and let us not embark on a crusade…. May Don Bosco & Ignatius Loyola help us discern what is better in the larger public interest…..

  8. Fr Joy Sebastian sdb

    thanks for the thought provoking comments! for and against ! Not everyone can get the emotional and sentimental “kick” of fervour and rejuvenation by visiting the places of memory and origin related to this ( or any other) saint. 200 years from the beginning of the man and his inspired apostolates, the Salesians and their authorities felt the need to be called back to the roots and revived in the fervour and dedication experienced and lived by the founder in his own time. And this was just one of the ways of making the founder’s spirit roused in the hearts and minds of the many Salesians and others related to the Salesians in and through their apostolate! not a journey of triumph and idolatry, but the hand that invisibly moves to chide / to pat / to encourage and revive ! (even while he was alive his hand alone was felt by a couple of those who went on a misbehaviour !! the slap!)
    Here where I now live and work, it is reprehensible even to hear of opening or moving a body out of its final resting place, let alone mutilations, and venerations! But the pratices and culture, the world over is not always the same. and the vast majority of people do have a way of keeping the memory alive and showing veneration, which is a loving and respectful homage out of love and gratitude — not a worship / idolatry! our memorials also invariably turn into celebrations in all cultures, whether in the family or a larger society or community! so this is no different!
    As we differ in views, opinions and practices, may we also respect the differences! Joy Sebastian sdb

  9. Dr. A.C. Jose

    Paul, it is not worth replying to such people. We know what we are doing and what results we are getting – a great revival and even new vocations. So we have nothing to worry. God Bless! Fr. AC Jose

  10. Dictus Correya

    Is anyone talking like a Christian? Poor Jesus ! He is nowhere in picture here in all these discussions (except for the Mary Martha story.)Who will stand for Him ?

  11. Fr.Jose Chunkapura

    It is quite understandable that an event like the one related to the relic of Don Bosco will stimulate varied reactions, some favourable, others unfavourable. When I heard about the casket with the relic coming to India I too was very skeptical and quite critical. But then after having witnessed several extraordinary experiences of Christian and religious renewal of faith and commitment to God and to lay, religious and priestly ministry as a result of this event, I am persoanlly quite convinced that this was not a wasted effort and of course not of all things idolatry. Believe me, just as you are intelligent, spiritual, faithful and discerning in your ways we who believe in these devotions also have our intellignece, our sense of Christian and religious responsibility and the thousands and thousand of priests, religious and laity who paid their respect and devotion are not to be categorized as idolators.
    If anyone feels convinced that this is medieval superstition or idolatry that person has surely the freedom of conscience not to have anything to do with such practices. But please have the human and Christian goodness not to belittle and ridicule the whole event as superstition or idolatry.
    I agree that there could be exaggerations in promoting such events, danger of misunderstandings and even deviations if not guided properly, and that danger is ever present in any of the devotional practices or even sacramental celebrations that we have. We need to be constantly attentive to such possible dangers and deviations and you are very right in pointing that out and inviting Salesians and others to imitate Don Bosco in his life and mission rather than in giving greater importance to such exteranl events as that of the relic travelling the world over. But because I participate in or encourage or even organize such an event, that I should be judged or dubbed an idolator or a religiously irresponsible person, I would not consider it a great expression of faith or love for Christ on the part of those who do so.
    Just as we need to be cautious about such devotions that could degenerate into deviations from true faith and love, we should all be cautious about outrightly condemning the whole event and all those who organized it or participated in it as if they were faithless, irresponsible and blind leaders leading unthinking people astray. Once again I would like to respect you and your right to express what you sincerely felt, but I would also request you to kindly respect other points of view and other ways of living and witnessing to the same faith and devotion that we all want to uphold and bear witness to. God bless all of us.
    Fr. Jose Chunkapura

  12. Mike Mendl

    Well, of course you/we can pray for the bloke. But we can all respond publicly.
    One might point to the response of “the Church from below” or the people in the pews. Across the world these “simple faithful” have responded by the hundreds of thousands to the relic. Evidently this pilgrimage is touching a spiritual chord. Maybe the Salesians are more in touch with real people than this Mr. Fernandes.
    Across the world there have been spiritual benefits, as well: people coming to the sacraments, people reconnecting with the faith of their youth, people renewing acquaintances with their former teachers and classmates, non-Christians and non-Catholics being exposed to a little bit of the Gospel or of Catholic tradition/doctrine/piety (evangelization, ecumenical education), members of the Salesian Family being spurred to deepen their commitment to our Founder’s charism, people being reminded that saints were mortals like us and we too can become saints.
    The pilgrimage idea, as well as some of the above, is touched on in my blog posting about the DB at St. Patrick’s Cathedral NY: http://sdbnews.blogspot.com/2010/10/don-bosco-takes-new-york-after-tropical.html#links
    That post also links to Dennis Donovan’s remarks on the same subject.
    A 2d article that you quote states that this is the first time a saint’s relics have made a worldwide tour. Not entirely true: about a decade ago a relic of St. Therese of Lisieux did the same, and in the last year (perhaps still going on) a relic of St. Mary Magdalene has been making the rounds.
    Fraternally,
    Mike Mendl

  13. Dictus Correya

    When the euphoria sorrounding the relic of DB dies down and the relic is returned to Italy what are the people left with? There wil be relics upon relics..The venerators who came to pay homage to DB’s relic perhaps must have got their handkerchieves and the the like “touched” on the relic and this in turn would become another relic?For some it may be a bottle of water which they hope to consume in times of fear and sickness..superstition spreads Think of this.Christians venerate the relic of the “true” cross.They say if all these”true”relics were to be put together,they would make twelve or more crosses.Your chance of venerating relic of the “true cross” is 1:12. If this is the ratio, should one take chance.?Still the practice goes on..90% certainly practising what borders on idoltry. If this relic”tamasha” is kept up,it will be that many wellmeaning faithful would be falling into such unwelcome practices. ..
    Whatever be anyone’s belief, it must be seen in the light of the Word of God.If there is clear evidence to prove that one particular belief is right in the light of God’s word it cannot be that the other, opposite stand also is true!Let him who has ears,hear….

  14. Prof John Martin

    Mr Fernandes’ negative comment on the tour of the relic of St. John Bosco in India deserves a response.
    First of all Mr Fernandes would have done well to describe the tour of the relic in a more polite and gentlemanly way than call it a “weird spectacle” and “promotion of idolatry”. It can hurt the religious sentiments of many people.
    Relic veneration is not a “weird practice” or “idolatry” but a meaningful expression of popular religiosity, and it is found practically in all the major world religions (including some groups of Muslims). While rationalization is useful, Mr Fernandes should know that we cannot rationalize everything, especially things related to religion.
    Mr. Fernandes calls the tour of the relic a “medieval practice”. If he is a well-informed person he should know that veneration of the relics is not a medieval practice. It is as old as humanity and will continue as long as humanity exits.
    Mr. Fernandes asks the Salesian order: “Couldn’t have thought of a more constructive and long-lasting way of celebrating the bi-centenary of Don Bosco’s birth?” He is right in asking this question. But probably he may not know that the tour of the relics is one of the many initiatives the order has initiated to celebrate the centenary of his birth of the saint. Mr.Fernandes would do well to inform himself from the order, which are the other initiatives, so that he can be more objective in his judgment.
    Mr. Fernandes concludes by asking the Salesians (referring to the current riots by youth in London) “to get those young men off their destructive course of action”. It is indeed a good advice and Salesian order should take it seriously. But it is to be remembered that the Salesian order alone cannot solve all the problems of youth in London or elsewhere in the world. It is the duty of every well-meaning citizen of the world to contribute his or her share to help the youth to be good and responsible citizens. Mr Fernandes would also do well to get into action rather than dictating to the Salesian order from his armchair as to what they should be doing.
    The tour of the relics of St. John Bosco has done immense good to the Church and the people in India irrespective of religious affiliations. The good far outweighs the negative aspects. So let the tour of the relic go on in spite of persons like Mr. Fernandes who has not seen or cannot see anything good in it.
    Prof John Martin

  15. Thomas Mathew

    Ignore Mr Fernandes… he is looking for publicity through a controversy…. good publicity stunt… he is jealous and vicious!

  16. Flavian Antony

    I suggest prayers for Mr. Fernandes. If you find it hard to pray for him, see if you can do your best and ignore him.
    Just joking, up to a point. We have been used to this type of reaction from every continent. Now its India’s turn to meet these friends of ours.
    They seem to have a problem distinguishing between an opinion, on a certain type of popular religiosity, and dogma. They always believe to be on the side of dogma when they open their mouth. We have a choice – just put the shutters of our ears down!
    One last thing, in case you think I am not taking things seriously. Why not email the whole thing to the RM (Rector Major) and see how he feels about it?!

  17. Dictus Correya

    Apart from the discussion for and against…the matter above, honestly I am interested 1. to know if anyone has done a serious RESEARCH about the effectiveness of some of this kind of ” practices” especially in the mainstream Church of Kerala, Mumbai,Goa..2.If anyone is intersted in doing this study. If so Pls get in touch with me : em id dacorreya@yahoo.co.uk; dacorreya@gmail.com. I am willing even to finance this research atleast partly..
    Meanwhile Congrats to all who contributed and evoked responses..

  18. “The tour of the relics of St. John Bosco has done immense good to the Church and the people in India irrespective of religious affiliations. The good far outweighs the negative aspects. So let the tour of the relic go on in spite of persons like Mr. Fernandes who has not seen or cannot see anything good in it.” (Prof John Martin). I agree fully with what Prof. J. Martin has written and with what others like him have commented positively on the “pilgrimage” which the Relics of St. John Bosco is making around the world.
    1. For me the whole thing is a Pilgrimage. A double pilgrimage. First, Don Bosco is making a pilgrimage to young people everywhere in the world. When Don Bosco was alive he went in search of young people, especially the poorer ones. He used to invite them to the place where they could learn something and become useful citizens, earning an honourable livelihood. The pilgrimage the Relics of Don Bosco is making is something like Don Bosco himself going and meeting thousands of young people EVERYWHERE. And just as Don Bosco inspired the young in his days, his spiritual Sons and Daughters are doing now with the presence of the Relics.
    Second, Thousands of young people – and even older ones – are getting a chance to make a pilgrimage to Don Bosco and be animated by Don Bosco himself. Here in the North East wherever the Relics reached there were excellent programmes of animation for the young. And as some of you may have heard, many people including non-Christians witnessed the miracles happening in their encounter with the Relics of Don Bosco.
    We also need to rememebr that “Don Bosco” is St. John Bosco whose only passion was to bring young people closer to Jesus Christ.
    Today 16th of August 2011, as I am writing these few lines, some 22 persons came closer to Jesus Christ by accepting the Catholic Christian Faith in one of the places nearby. They were touched by a miraculous cure that took place when the Relics of Don Bosco reached their place some weeks earlier [names are purposely withheld here].
    2. I am writing this note from a Cultural Centre. “Culture” reminds me that human life is organized with the help of symbols.A dance is a symbol of joy. A multicoloured shawl is a symbol of innumerable values which a particular tribe treasures as precious. Relationship with God, for example, is expressed through a variety of symbols known as prayers, rites, songs.
    Don Bosco’s Relics making a tour of the world in preparation for the bicentenary of his birthday in 2015 is a symbol of many things.
    3.Those who have thought of this pilgrimage, and those who are organizing it in different countries understand the value of symbols. Symbols speak to the heart of man, to the heart of young people, especially. Those who have no heart cannot understand the value of symbols, pilgrimages, popular devotions, etc. Symbols are born in the heart, not in the head. Ideas may be born in the mind, but symbols are of the heart. The Eucharist is the greatest Symbol of God’s LOVE for us born in the HEART of Jesus Christ.
    4. May the pilgrimage Don Bosco’s Relics is making be beneficial to thousands and thousands of young people and others all over the world.
    5. May negative criticism of some not hinder it.
    Long live Don Bosco and his love for the young.
    May he lead many more to Jesus Christ as he did when he was alive during his life here on earth.
    Joseph PUTHENPURAKAL, DBCIC, SHILLONG, MEGHALAYA, INDIA

  19. Prof. P.J. Joseph

    My own reactions are of amusement and fun. A story is told about Alexander the Great. While marching towards the conquest of Hindusthan, his generals complained to Alexander about some tribals throwing stones at his troops hiding in nearby bushes and tree-tops. The great Conqueror told them not to waste their arrows on them but to throw over to them whatever food they had left over !
    I guess this advice would be the best in the case of Mr Fernandes and his gang of petty so-called journalists.Their only intention is to be heard and recognised. There is no other greater punishment than denying them this. You should not lower yourself even with an acknowledgement let alone a response !

  20. Dominic Jala

    A certain man did ask a similar question as asked by a number of our good friends here: “why was not this money…..” Even Don Bosco undertook so many “foolish” ventures: He spent huge sums to build the expensive churches in Turin and in Rome. .. Apart from all this, I am always amazed at the many “intellectuals” who pride themselves on critically analyzing everything in the Church, trying to tear them down at every step, and do not come down to the level of the “ignorant” lay person to see how people feel about the religious world in which they live. I am following up the impact on hundreds of lives of people made by the healing of one simple 11 year old girl who lives in a simple poor hut in Cherrapunjee, who knows – even at her age -the true value of things in life. Whether you like it or not, for her Don Bosco about whom she really thought only in June, has done what no one else could have done. No amount of money would explain the transformation I have seen in the people I have met in that rain-soaked town. … Another paradox also strikes me: whenever some “intellectual” comes up with some critique about some element in the Church, they appeal to the what people at the grass-root levels feel and say. When these grass-root people rally around an icon or experience great and uplifting moments, they tend to brand them as “ignorant”, “uninstructed”… “This rabble knows nothing about the law – they are damned!” (Jn 7:49). As I move with the simple, sincere people I learn more and more the great wisdom of Jesus’ words, “Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:3).

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