Friday, March 12, 2010

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

INCULTURATION IN INDIA

ORIENS-SHTC SEMINAR ON INCULTURATION
IN NORTH-EAST INDIA
THURSDAY 27 AUGUST, 2009
“INCULTURATION IN INDIA”
(Fr. Joseph Puthenpurakal SDB)
“ … Parthians, Medes and Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God” (Acts 2:9-11)
A Few Words of Introduction
Our coming together of ORIENS and SHTC with a view to look at the cultures of the North-East more closely, seriously and with the desire of serving the evangelizing mission of the Church more competently is indeed going to have far reaching results. Archbishop Thomas has taken this initiative and we are indeed grateful to him and to the other Bishops of the region.
The topic assigned to me is very precise and concrete: “Inculturation in India”. Let me say a few words on inculturation, and then have a brief historical overview of inculturation efforts in India.
“INCULTURATION ”: SOME REFLECTIONS

· People are familiar with the term “culture/s”. This familiarity may be limited to its classical meaning of one who has been able to develop his/her human potentialities through education, acquisition of skills and good manners. Such persons are considered “educated” “cultured”. They know how to behave well in public, able to speak well, play music, capable of dealing with people and so on.
· While not forgetting this classical meaning of culture, our focus here is its anthropological meaning, namely, culture/s understood as a way of life of a people. They may not speak English, play music or may not be able to appear in public. But they have a culture. Their life is governed by a value system, they feel at home among themselves, they have their own store of proverbs, folktales, mythologies, music and dance, their food is tasty, they know how to organize their life, and what they do is meaningful to them. They have a way of life like many thousands of cultural groups anywhere in the world.
· So what is culture? In simple words, culture is where one feels or makers oneself feel at home. It may be in the area of language, food, living conditions, fine arts, meaning systems, worldview, etc.
· And what is inculturation? To put it simply again, it is making people feel at home in the Catholic Church, because they hear their own language, see cultural expressions which they are familiar with, live their life as Catholic Christians creatively using their cultural resources to express their faith and, above all, they are able to experience the Good News from within their culture/s.
· Let me put these two simple ideas into one by saying that the concept and reality of culture and the process of inculturation become easier, when we realize that human needs –physical [food and shelter, for example], social [ the need for love, forgiveness, friendship, gratitude, communication, the need for privacy and above all the need for relationship], and spiritual [meaning in life, the way one perceives the world, himself and the Absolute] are universal. That is, all over the world people have physical, social and spiritual needs. However, the way humans answer these needs are CULTURAL.
· Putting it in theological language :
· The Church exists in order to evangelize (EN 14), namely, to make all what she does “good news” to people. Though it sounds simple, it can become complicated since the evangelizing mission of the Church is carried out not in the abstract, but in the concrete situations of time and space, in people’s socio-political, economic, and religious and cultural settings. The complexity is felt all the more, because of the confusion surrounding the rich concept of culture.
· The concept of culture includes the whole way of life of a people – the world of symbols and meanings, peoples’ history understood not in its chronological aspect only, but as the integral present-living with its roots in the past. We also know that the social, economic, political realities of a people too are very much part of their culture. And the culture of a people cannot be divorced from their religious beliefs, since religious values form the core of culture. As humans we are cultural beings. We cannot escape culture or cultures. Our life is intercultural.
· The incarnate God in Jesus Christ did not escape culture. He was born in Jewish culture just as each one of us is born in a culture. Since we are born in a culture, but not with a culture, we are free to accept and grow into it or grow in another culture.
· The mode in which we grow in our own culture or into another culture is through dialogue which is also the mode in which evangelization takes place.
· The FABC (the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences) speaks of a four-fold dialogue: dialogue of Life, Action, Theological exchange, and Religious experience.
· This fourfold dialogue is carried out with three partners: the Asian peoples [in our case, the peoples of the North-East of India], their cultures and their religions.
· Since the concept of culture is gaining importance all over the world, and since the evangelizing mission of the Church is inseparably linked to it, the future of the Church in the North-East will depend on how seriously we take the process of inculturation of the Good News in the different cultures of the region.
· In other words, how will the Church in the North-East transform cultures from within with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How will she make it “heard, seen and experienced” in people’s cultural flesh and blood, so as to reenact a new Pentecost (Acts 2:8)? How will the peoples see Jesus and his Good News in their proverbs, stories, folktales, mythologies, initiation and sacrificial rites, their history, politics and socio-cultural life?
· All this would mean how can the people be fully Indian, and authentically Catholic Christian?
· Putting all these together, how can we germinate the Good News in the good soil at the heart of each culture?
· Inculturation is always interculturation, since it is an encounter of at least three cultures –the Bible, the Catholic Christian tradition and the people to whom the Gospel is proclaimed.
· Genuine inculturation involves the whole people of God, and not just a few experts only (RM54).
· Inculturation is linked with weighty theological issues such as the salvific nature of religions other than Christianity, the universal presence of the Holy Spirit, Christ as the universal and unique Saviour, the relationship between the local churches and the Universal Church, the nature of the veneration/ worship of ancestors, and the nature and function of popular religious practices.
· Inculturation has been the Church’s way of evangelizing since her very beginning as she moved from her Jewish matrix into the Greco-Roman and Franco-Germanic, Celtic and Slav cultures. And today the Church faces a greater challenge as she moves into a multicultural digital world.
· The spirit and teachings of the Second Vatican Council are still very helpful to guide us.
· The urgent task for the Church in the North-East is not just being a Church in the North-East, but also of the North-East to enrich the Catholicity of the Church Universal. Hence, our task is not just transplanting a Church, but becoming a truly local Church so as to give birth to a new society that is transparent, a society in which the Church becomes a sign of and effective instrument for the saving presence of the reign of God. The challenge in other words, is to give birth to a truly local and indigenous church: a communion of communities, a participatory church, a witnessing church, a prophetic sign Church, in the North-East with a Mission of Love and Service to all peoples enriching the Catholic Communion of Communities.
· Some may comment saying we are still young, not yet strongly planted …
· Well, there are very few Catholic communities in India in a favourable situation for inculturation of the Good News as the ones in the North-East.
· The task before us is not only to apply the concept and reality of inculturation in some external ways as it happened in some parts of India, but to become aware of the presence of the Risen Lord and of his Good News from within the cultures of the North-East, and to acknowledge him in people’s history, their cultural heritage of proverbs, stories, folklore, mythologies, traditional religious practices, etc.
· This process will bring about not only the conversion of individuals and communities, but also the evangelization of cultures themselves, that is, the Gospel values of justice, peace, solidarity, reconciliation, forgiving love, and a sense of sharing and harmony will transform the cultural, political, social, and economic structures of the North-East.
· Then only evangelization will become evangelization of Cultures (Evangelii Nuntindi 20). Inculturation of the Good News is the way to it. There is no alternative to inculturation.
· All this is linked to the great change which the Second Vatican Council injected into the Church, namely, evangelizing mission is a personal responsibility in each baptized. This awareness should accompany the process of inculturation on the level of individuals and communities and institutions to have a sustained and lasting inculturation.
· For the local Church this would mean not just inculturation but inculturations as we have mentioned earlier, since the infinite variety of cultures in the region claims equal rights in all respects.
· Such a development can be both stimulating, enriching, and at the same time a “bewildering” experience for the Churches in the North-East.
· This indeed is my prayerful wish for our region.

INCULTRATION IN INDIA: A BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

· Christian message has been in India for nearly twenty centuries. According to tradition, St. Thomas the Apostle preached in India. He died in the South. He is venerated as the Apostle of India, and his tomb is in Mylapore.
· In spite of this very ancient and strong tradition and not withstanding the substantial presence of Christians and Christian services in the country, Christians are still considered a foreign presence. Born in Asia, present in India, “Jesus is often perceived as foreign to Asia[ read India] ” (EA 20), and Christianity itself appears to be western than Indian for the vast majority of people in our country.
· Here are a few lines from someone who has reflected on this theme sufficiently and who has authored Beyond Inculturation: Can the Many be One? He writes, “The predicament of the Christians in India is that they are not only considered foreign by others, but that they themselves feel that they belong to two different worlds. They are not totally at home culturally in their own country. There may not be a difference between them and the followers of other religions in the street, in the school, in the market place and in political life. But when the Christians cross the threshold of the Church-compound they enter into a different world … The texts of their official worship is a translation from sources in Latin or Syriac, so that even when the language is their own, the thought patterns are foreign to them. The art that decorates their Churches and nourish their devotion is imported from Italy, Spain or elsewhere in Europe from where the original missionaries came. The official life-cycle rituals and festivals are so unsatisfactory, that, besides the ‘official’ ceremonies, people have more elaborate rituals at home, personally and socially more significant and satisfying. No wonder if they do not feel culturally integrated” (M. Amaladoss, Delhi:ISPCK, 2005, 3).
· Just a few snapshots from history may be helpful at this point.
· At the earliest stage Christian mission was Jewish in culture.
· When it spread to other cultures the converts lived the Christian message in their own cultures.
· In fact the first five centuries of the history of Christianity were a “period of great improvisation and creativity in liturgy”.
· But this creativity suffered as Christianity was becoming more and more a “finished” product in the western form. It suffered further because of theological and political Eurocentrism.
· The two sui iuris Churches in India –the Syro-Malabar and Malankara- are “reproductions” of inculturated local churches of Syrian Christianity which spread to countries like Mesopotamia, Persia, Central Asia, and China. Fr. Placid J. Podipara puts it succinctly underlining also inculturation efforts: He writes, “… The Thomas Christian have not contributed anything towards the formulation of an Indian Christian theology. They have, however, contributed very much in terms of a way of life and mode of worship” [this latter, namely, way of life and mode of worship” is cultural] (Jose Kochuparampil, “How far inculturated is the Syro-Malabar Liturgy? Further Possibilities of Inculturation” in Bosco Puthur, ed., Inculturation and The Syro-Malabar Church, Kochi: LRC Publications, 2005, 106)].
· The lack of local vocations for these Churches in Kerala for centuries may be attributed to their “foreign” face. Foreign face, imported liturgy and lack of indigenous leadership were also the reasons for their lack of missionary spirit too till the recent recent decades.
· The oft-cited description of these Churches as “Hindu in culture, Christian in religion and oriental in worship” is a misunderstanding of culture. Culture is a way of life that should touch every aspect of life including worship.
· In the measure in which the St. Thomas Christians in Kerala tried to integrate their Christian life to the socio-cultural life of Kerala, it was inculturated.
· Coming to the period of the proclamation of the Good News by missionaries of the Latin Church in the 15th and 16th centuries onward, we must admit that it was inevitable that their evangelizing efforts were influenced by their respective cultures of origin - Portuguese or of other European countries.
· In some instances the European culture was imposed on the new converts.
· It was in this context that the Jesuit pioneer Robert de Nobili (1577-1656) [like his fellow Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) in China] became a trail blazer in South India in the area of inculturation of the faith and “asserted the right of the Indians to follow their social and cultural way of life”. At one time de Nobili was accused of “favouring idolatry and diabolical practices”. Others after him who followed the example of de Nobili were Thomas Stevens (1549-1619), John de Britto (1647-1693), and Constance Beschi (1680-1746).
· But these efforts were halted by the suppression of the Malabar and the Chinese Rites in 1704 and 1707 respectively. The missionaries had to take oaths against the two rites. Even though the oaths required of the missionaries were withdrawn in 1939 [in the case of the Chinese Rites] and in 1940 [in that of the Malabar Rites] the effect of the suppression and the burden of history continued to weigh heavily in the collective conscience of the community. Among the Indian pioneers of what we would call “inculturation” today mention could be made of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861- 1907).[1]
· Reflecting on what he did, he says, “So long as the Christians of India do not practice their faith on the platform of Hindu life and living and Hindu thought and thinking, and elevate the national genius to the supernatural plane, they will never thrive.”1 People like Brahmabandhab Upadhyay and
Sadu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) attempted to live their Christian faith in tune with Indian spiritual traditions.
· Brahmabandhu Upadhyaya’s plan to found an Indian monastery was stopped. [Today we have many indigenous religious congregations. But they are for the most part structured on western models].
· The attempt to live the Christian faith in the Indian tradition of the Sannyasi was realized by Swami Dayananda (Bede Grifiths [1906-1993]) first at Kurisumala along with Francis Acharya its founder, then at Shantivanam along with Abhishiktananda ( Henri le Saux [1910-1973]). Today there are nearly 108 Chrisitan Ashrams in India.
· In the latter part of the 19th and the first part of the 20th centuries we see Hindu reformers integrating the moral teachings of Jesus into Hindu contexts (Ram Mohan Roy, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi); of missionaries seeing Christianity as the fulfillment of Hindu Religious teachings; and finally, some Indian Christians understanding their Christian faith in the Hindu context, namely, Christianity as bhakti marga (a way of love) in contrast to the ways of knowledge (jnana) and action ( karma).
· In the years leading up to the Second Vatican Council the vast majority of –Christians, however, had a negative approach to non-Christian religions and religious traditions and of non-Catholic traditions.
· The Council’s teachings changed our approach and our attitude to other religions and religious traditions.
· The anthropological concept of culture as a way of life rather than the classical definition of culture as “factors that help human development” began to change our approach to cultures. All cultures came to be respected in as much as every cultural group has its own way of organizing life.
· Every culture received its rightful autonomy. And religious values formed the core of culture providing cohesion to all other aspects of life.
· The Council’s statements that everyone has the civil freedom to practice any religion according to his/her conscience, that “the seed of the Word” and “true and holy” elements are found in the religions and religious traditions of other peoples helped to remove several suspicions and negative attitudes. The road to Gospel Culture Encounter became clearer.
· The immediate implementation of the use of indigenous languages in Catholic celebrations and the eagerness to study other religions helped to promote dialogue with religions and cultures.
· Still, we know that there is long ways to go, before indigenous cultural expressions become part of Catholic Celebrations and life: Study, Research and legitimate permissions need to be speeded up.
· The joint meeting we have today augurs great things ahead for the Church in the North-East. We can prove to be a beacon of light for the rest of India weighed down with the burden of history and distinctions of caste and colour.
· The need to link up theological and non-theological studies for the evangelizing mission of the Church [because the Church by nature is missionary] is still a far cry in many a formation house.
· The role NBCLC (National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre), Bangalore, has played over the years deserves a special mention here because of the sustained effort it made in the area of inculturation particularly under the guidance of its founder-director Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass [or Fr. Amalor, as he was affectionately known].
· The All India Seminar of 1969 to implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council gave a good start for inculturation.
· Fr. Amalor spoke, wrote and animated through various programmes like seminars and courses in NBCLC and in the different parts of the Church in India. He highlighted “important areas of inculturation such as spirituality, worship, ministry and catechesis, theological reflection, cultures and proclamation” thus underlining the all embracing role of inculturation. Fr. Amalor also pointed out the three chronological dimensions of inculturation: it is oriented towards the future, it is involved in the reality of the present and is rooted in the cultural heritage and religious traditions of the past” (The Contemporary Theologicans, Banglore:ATC, 2006, 18).
· He also affirmed that from an “anthropological perspective inculturation is an encounter and interaction between the Gospel and culture on an equal footing and in a dialectical process of reciprocity and mutual respect” (Ibid.).
· Amalor was instrumental in proposing a creative and inculturated Mass for India which finally ended up in the 12 points of adaptation (Ibid., 19) for the creation of an Indian Liturgy.
· Fr. Paul Puthanangady writes, “As Director of NBCLC, Fr. Amalor tried to translate [the] … theology [of inculturation] into action. Every sector of the Centre’s activity was permeated with this spirit and every initiative in the Centre was guided by this principle of inculturation” ( Third Millennium, April-June, 1999, 115).
· In this connection, besides the many other initiatives, the “Inter-disciplinary Research Seminar” on the use of the scriptures of other religions in Christian Liturgy in 1974 is an important landmark. [it highlighted the religious authority the scriptures provide for the respective communities, the more we are familiar with them the deeper shall be our insights into the word of God, it provides new contexts for religious dialogue, it underlines God’s speaking in various ways in the past, it shows more clearly the Mystery of God, and finally, our eagerness to study the other scriptures is a form of openness to the Holy Spirit …].
· It is everyone’s knowledge that the NBCLC initiatives for inculturation were focused very much on Brahminic and Sanskritic levels.
· It is up to us today to carry it further and with more effectiveness into Dalit and Tribal areas.
· Ecclesia in Asia speaks of “a wider inculturation of the Gospel at every level of society in Asia [read, India-North-East in particular] (EA,22). This would mean that the concept and reality of inculturation must embrace the whole of life.
· Inculturation is particularly applicable to Basic Christian Communities. The
role of the laity in inculturation process is imperative. But this will depend very much “on the appropriate formation which the local Churches succeed in giving to the laity” (EA, 22).
· Cultivating cultural sensitivity to people will fetch great dividend in all our efforts at inculturation.
· Genuine inculturation must begin with people’s struggle for justice and fight against of anti-social and oppressive situations.
· Poverty, denial of justice, corruption in high and low places; communalism and negative effects of globalization continue to disturb the cultural landscape of the poor, the tribal peoples and those lacking a voice in decision making.
· Our effort at inculturation in the North-East has its own history and results. I need to study further this area. However, allow me to mention what has been achieved here in the archdiocese of Shillong. What follows can be applicable to the other areas with due changes: The earnestness shown in the study of local languages and customs [though of late it is diminishing, I am told], a deeper understanding of the various mythologies, for example, the Lumsophetbneng myth of the Khasi-Pnar [which highlights the role of God in creation, the special relationship of God with human family, the appearance of evil, the longing for light, the deep desire for a redeemer, the presence of elements of sacraments] can throw light in understanding and experiencing more personally several aspects of the Good News.
· Here we can also mention the work of the Khasi Liturgical Inculturation Research Committee which studied the role of kmiekha (paternal aunt) in Baptism, of kni (maternal uncle) in Catholic marriage, the preparation of special Khasi prayers for funeral rites, the use of lasir (a sacred plant) for sprinkling holy water, the placing of water and food at the tomb of the departed to symbolize the journey beyond death, the expression bam kwai ha iing U blei (eat beetlenut in God’s House in the company of the ancestors) meaning “death”, the wearing of the white turban by male adults and the crown by female adults after baptism, the wide use of monoliths and the symbol of cock standing on the stump of a tree [signifying that the place of the cock has been taken by Christ the perfect victim who gave his life for the salvation of the world], and so on are a good start.
· Here let me also add the VISION and MISSION of the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures at Mawlai [which is commonly known as Don Bosco Museum]. Its vision is none other than to see a North-East where each and every culture is appreciated, studied, and promoted to reach a HARMONY of Cultures at the service of the Good News. All what DBCIC does is to realize this vision by making it a KNOWLEDGE SHARING CENTRE with the application of multi-media.
· Before I conclude, I would like to briefly mention two eminent figures among hundreds of others in our region: one is Bishop Marengo who could with certain ease speak many languages of the people of this region and who can be described as the Bishop of the people, and the other is Fr. Nama (or Fr. Mathew Narimattam) whose latest publication He made Assam His Home is a simple but forceful reminder of his dedication to and love for the various cultures of Assam. His “gentle ways” which continue to win the hearts of people is a reminder for us that the never-ending process of inculturation truly begins there. His book has many instances of real examples of inculturation. The very title of the book He made Assam His Home sounds perfect incarnation which allowed the author to inculturate the Good News he shared with his people.
· One of Nama’s close friends Sri Jiten Barthakur of Jorhat had the following to say on one occasion:
“ Friend, … you see, I have read the Gospels, and I love Jesus Christ. But I do not like the Church or Churches, for they impose too many rules and restrictions on people … As regards the Church in the North-East and Assam in particular, please allow me to tell you that we Assamese people would find ourselves like fish out of water, if we were to become Christians. We will have to sacrifice our culture and ways of living which we cherish so much. Our ways of worship are so much Indian and appealing to us emotionally. Most of you Catholics here in Assam have a culture of their own with some sort of allegiance to outside church authorities … A few years ago I happened to visit one of your churches on a Sunday. To be very frank, I should tell you that I did not feel at home with the service conducted there. And as for the North-East, Jiten continued, you will agree with me that we Assamese Hindus are much better than most of the tribal Christians. Promiscuity and drug-taking are much more prevalent in the Christian states of Nagaland and Manipur than in Assam … you tend to become very much un-Indian …[you] are first Roman and then Indian” (Mathew Narimattam, He made Assam His Home, Dimapur: Don Bosco Publications, n.y., 170-171).

· Nama’s passionate love for Assam and her cultures is expressed in the name he gave to the cassette that was released in May, 2006 Xunar Axhom, “ The Golden Assam”, and the book The Valley in Blossom he published on Assam Vaishnavism and the peoples of the Brahamaputra Valley in 1988 is yet another tribute to the cultures of Assam and an affirmation of the need of inculturation. Agradoot, an Assamese Daily sums up the inculturaton attitude of Nama when it wrote, “ Nama has fallen in love with Assamese language and culture” (Ibid., 288).
· Such a passionate love for people and their cultures is a sine qua non for any inculturation process in India.

HELPFUL INCULTURIZING ATTITUDES
Inculturation demands that the missionary has certain indispensable dispositions. A few of them are given below:

1. Anyone who wishes to work with a people must understand and keep on understanding their culture, starting with the language and slowly moving into the core of their attitudes, belief systems and world views.
2. This requires some apprenticeship in a spirit of humility, openness to learning and a lot of patience.
3. There is need of recognizing and acknowledging Jesus Christ from within a culture: its history, cultural expressions of proverbs, stories, folklore, fine arts, music, mythologies, rituals and sacrifices, etc. which sum-up both the natural and the spiritual as a continuum.
4. This calls for room for creativity and freedom… to “incarnate” Christian living in a specific people’s way of life.
5. This would also mean the way in which Christ is preached and encountered will be different for different backgrounds. That would mean not only inculturation, but inculturations.
6. The task of inculturation is the work of everyone in a given culture – the teaching authority of the Church guiding, encouraging and accompanying the entire process in prayerful listening to the Holy Spirit.
7. Since the concept and reality of culture touches every aspect of a people’s life, genuine inculturation should be seen in a transformed life.
8. The transformed life results in promotion of justice, openness to other cultures, and a richer religious experiences leading to communion of communities.
9. The desire to share faith in an attitude of dialogue leading to mutual enrichment need not be divorced from the process of inculturation.
10. The process of inculturation is never ending since it touches the soul of a people.
11. For bringing about a real encounter between people and Christ, inculturation is a must.

RECALLING ECCLESIA IN ASIA
“ The penetrating insights into peoples and their cultures, exemplified in such men as Giovanni da Montecorvino, Matteo Ricci and Roberto de Nobili, to mention only a few, needs to be emulated at the present time.” (EA 20)
“Culture is the vital space within which the human person comes face to face with the Gospel.” (EA 21)
“…the Kingdom of God comes to people who are profoundly linked to a culture, and the building of the Kingdom cannot avoid borrowing elements from human cultures.” (Ecclesia in Asia, 21)
[1]One of his great concerns was to develop an educational pattern that would incorporate what is best in Indian tradition and at the same time open to modern achievements, especially scientific….He came to realize that the Catholic Church never taught that the converts should give up their national customs and habits… later in life , he took to the style of a Hindu Sannyasi going barefoot and wearing a saffron robe… worked relentlessly to give a Hindu basis for the reception of the Gospel. “The Catholic Christianity we have is a western phenomenon and therefore alien to Hindu minds.” Upadhayay’s hymn Vande Saccidanandam indu sannyasi going barefootHindu is a marvelous expression of Catholic thought with traditional Hindu resonances. He wanted also to found a Christian monastery on Hindu lines.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Jubliee

Jubilee Homily
Prayerful Jubilee Greetings to all the Jubilarians. A jubilee celebrating one year of something is known as Paper jubilee. The fifth anniversary of something is known as wooden jubilee. Tenth is Tin. Twentieth is China, thirtieth is Pearl, fortieth is Ruby. We are not celebrating any of these today. Instead, we have 60th which is Diamond, 50th which is Golden and 25th which is Silver. So once again “Happy Jubilee” Greetings to the Diamond, Golden and Silver Jubilarians of Religious Profession or Priestly Ordination.
In the Bible, seven is a special number. Just as the seventh day of the week was set aside as a day of rest in ancient Israel, so the seventh year was set aside as a year of rest for the land. Fields were to remain uncultivated during the seventh year; whatever fruits or grain grew on their own were to be left for the poor. The seventh or the “Sabbatical year” was a reminder to the people that the land actually belonged to God, not to them. Therefore, as we celebrate the different jubilees, we are strongly reminded that we belong to God. He is our Lord and Master. Everything comes from him: our parents, our life and all the blessings that came along with it. And think of all what the Loving God has in store for us in the days to come and for all eternity.
Along with you all and especially in the name of the jubilerians, I say thank you Lord. Thank you for all your blessing all along our 60, 50, and 25 years.
Going back to the idea of Jubilee, we may say that though seven is a special number, seven times seven plus one is very exceptional. The fiftieth year –the year after seven times seven years – is a special Jubilee year, and God’s Law demanded some very special things to happen. The people were to take a year of vacation [I do not know if any Jubilarian here has asked Fr. Provincial for a year of vacation!]. But remember it is vacation from the normal routine. It is not doing nothing, but doing many things different from what one has been accustomed to. It is in Don Bosco’s words “change of occupation” to equip us to take care of the integral formation of youth.
The one year vacation of the Jubilee year for the Israelites meant no planting for a farmer, no lending for a banker, and no big sales for a merchant. It was so because God wanted the jubilee year to be a time when everyone started amew with a clean slate. It is equal to our starting afresh in Christ, starting afresh with Don Bosco. In the Israel of old, during the Jubilee, all land was to be returned to its original owners, and all Israelite slaves were to be set free. Debts were to be forgiven and justly settled.

Isn’t this a beautiful invitation to each of the Jubilarians, to forgive and forget to refresh relationships and to begin anew with greater enthusiasm filled with thanksgiving and a sense of joyful optimism? In modern terms and living in a world of digital technology this would mean to press the reset button. In Jubilee terms it would mean “returning to our original setting” of first profession or priestly ordination. A prayerful reading of Leviticus, chapter 25 can help us to undertake this process of using the reset button.

THE WORD OF GOD
The Word of God we listened to from Acts Chapter 20 and John chapter 4 can inspire us to begin afresh as we press the reset button of our lives. In Jn 4: 1-42, Jesus engages a Samaritan woman in conversation. She has no idea who Jesus is, and what living water he is referring to, but she stands and listens. She is changed as a result. She comes to believe in Jesus and goes to tell others about the Messiah. John uses her as a role model for those who believe.
As believers, as priests and religious we are asked to look inside the well of faith within us. How deep is that well? Do we thirst for a deeper relationship with Jesus? Let us take a closer look at this beautiful and significant passage of John.
“Jesus comes after a long journey. He had taken the shorter route from Judea to Galilee passing through Samaria. He climbed up the hill in a hot Sunny day. Naturally, he was tired. So, he sat down by the well, and asked for some water to drink from a Samaritan woman. It was “about noon”.
These initial lines of today’s Gospel passage certainly reflect the lives our dear Jubilarians. They too are tired due to their hard work. They too realize that evangelization costs. They too have been traveling over hills and through valleys, and villages and towns. They have been toiling in institutions, caring for the sick and poor, instructing young minds and guiding older ones, supplying the Good News in myriad forms appreciating, encouraging correcting and supporting in a thousand and one way. Like Jesus, they too are tired. For a little while, they too will be sitting at the well of a Jubilee Celebration only to continue their God-given mission of evangelization.
Jacob’s well was deep. It represents the history and the wisdom of the Old Testament. But one needs to transcend it, not by bypassing it, but by delving deeper into it so as to supersede it and to substitute it with the wisdom of someone who is greater than Jacob, namely Jesus Christ, the Son God and Saviour of the world, and share Him and His Good News with the millions of our land, of the North-East in particular. Perhaps, there is no better methodology for it than what Jesus Himself shows us in today’s passage. A methodology of a journey, a gradual discovery of Jesus as a good and kind person, as one of us. He too is thirsty. He asks for some water. On a hot day and in dry season, a cup of water can symbolize that one thing which alone can satisfy us completely, fully. Water acts as a strong symbol. Water appears in various meanings. As a spring that “bursts forth from the womb of the earth”, it reminds one of uncontaminated and immaculate freshness, of unsullied beginning, of abundant fruitfulness. As flowing water, it reminds one of new life as on the banks of a river. Jesus helps the Samaritan woman to move closer to a new life symbolized by water when he tells her, “…those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty…it will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14). Jesus thencontinues to reveal Himself with astonishing graduality. First, as an ordinary Jew like everyone else, but a Jew who can make a difference. A Jew who knows the Jewish Culture inside out, who understands the Samaritan woman more than anybody else. A Jew who shares the cultural wisdom of the past through dialogue, dialogue of “life and heart”. He makes the Woman experience that there is someone greater than the Patriarch Jacob. The language he uses is simple, related to everyday life and at the same time profound. This Jew with a difference leads the Samaritan woman to recognize in Him a Prophet, a Messiah and the Saviour of the world.
In the course of her conversation with Jesus, the woman tries to place Jesus in the traditional religious categories, but Jesus takes her forward to newness, to greater things. He opens before her a new horizon: “If you only knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘give me a drink’, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (Jn 4:10).

When the disciples returned from the market, they were astonished! They had their reasons: for, in the first century Israel, men did not talk to women, especially strangers, in public places; second, the Jews did not talk to Samaritans who were considered guilty of false worship; and finally, the woman with whom Jesus was talking was a known sinner, having married too many times. So, the Apostles had their reason to be surprised. But Jesus who could read what was in her heart and who understood her from her cultural roots succeeded to engage her in a fruitful conversation.
In its evangelizing mission, the Church in the North-East with its over 250 different cultural groups is on the right track learning languages, going deeper into the cultural heritage of the people – their proverbs, folklore, history, mythologies, fine arts and dance forms, their written and unwritten wisdom, their music and the lives of men and women who have contributed to what they are today. The Church in the North-East is on the right track with its capacity for dialogue – dialogue of life – dialogue of wisdom to learn from ancient traditions and discover that the seeds of the Good News are present in the cultures of the people in a thousand and one form. The Jubilarians whom we felicitate today are the one’s who have seen these seeds, watered them and have taken care of them through thick and thin to lead people to deeper realities of life as Jesus at Jacob’s well did with the Samaritan woman. And just as the Samaritan woman placed before Jesus some of her doubts, so too peoples everywhere have something more to learn. The woman said “Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem” – what do you say about that? Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem …the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…” (Jn 2-24). As you see, the answer looks simple. But it takes the woman to a dizzying height of truth! His reply would mean that the new way of relating to God “in spirit and truth” is much different from man seeking God through determined rituals, in determined places, within determined institutions. Worshipping God in spirit and truth would mean worshipping God in and through Jesus Christ who is the Spirit of God and the Truth of God. And that is possible anywhere in the world, in and through any cultural expression provided it is in keeping with the Good News that Jesus came to proclaim. It also means that Jesus in whom and through whom we render worship to God is much more than all the rituals, places and institutions of worship whether it be in Jerusalem or on Mt. Gerizim or for that matter, anywhere in the world. And something wonderful with this God in Jesus Christ is that He is in search of us much more than we are in search of Him. And the Spirit and the Truth of it is that the God of Jesus Christ loves us with the unconditional love of the Father, the totally self-giving love of the Son and the unifying and fructifying love of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ sums it up all when He reveals Himself to us as the Way, the Truth and the Life. To see Him is to see the Father. “He who sees me, sees the one who sent me”.
All what our Jubilarians have been doing during the past 60, or 50 or 25 years of their religious or/and priestly ministry was to offer to the people Jesus Christ and His Good News so that everyone could worship God in and through Jesus Christ who is the Spirit and the Truth of God. I am sure the Lord will congratulate them for the hard work they did all along to bring people closer to Jesus Christ and to His Good News.

We may also add that the major challenge the Church in the North-East – faces is to make individuals and communities experience that God in Jesus Christ “is greater than our hearts and that He knows everything” (1 Jn 3:20). His love is more than what our hearts put together can contain or imagine! It is in Him and through Him that we can worship God “in the spirit of truth”, and that worship goes beyond all rituals, places and institutions. “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ [who is called Christ]. When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us’. Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you’ ” (Jn 4:25-26). In this self-revelation of Jesus we are touching not only the deepest level of Jacob’s well, but we have also superceded it and transcended it.

The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman took place at about noon. Noon, as we know, is the turning point of the day. The Church in the North-East is at a turning point. It finds itself at the threshold of communication revolution. “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep” is no more an excuse for not proclaiming the Good News. If we have the same fire that burned in the heart and in every fibre of Paul, and which made him say what we have just heard in the first Reading, then we can say that the Church in the North-East is at a turning point in evangelizing mission. “You yourself know how I lived among you …I did not cease night or day proclaiming the message…enduring trials …teaching you publicly and from house to house..” (cf. Acts 20: 18-31). When Paul had finished speaking to the elders of the Church at Ephesus he knelt down with them all and prayed…They embraced him and kissed him. I am certain that the fire that burnt in the heart of Paul has been spreading ever since and that each of the Jubilarians too is a proof of that fire. The affection which they have experienced from the people among whom they have toiled day and night proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ…in all humility and boldness is, indeed, the result of the same fire.
May this solemn Eucharistic celebration help all of us to rekindle in our hearts and in every fiber of our being the desire to be missionaries after the example of Paul, for “A fire can only be lit by something that is itself on fire”. And may our evangelizing mission reflect that methodology which Jesus had in His encounter with the Samaritan woman, a methodology which includes intimate communion with the Father a deep knowledge of the Samaritans, of their cultural world, gentleness in dealing, great patience, and the capacity for dialogue and the ability to lead her step by step to experience the presence of the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. Moreover, what Jesus told her is relevant also today:
“See how the fields are ripe for harvesting…” As we celebrate our Jubilee, we shall not rest on our laurels. We still have miles to go to experience more personally the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. Let us continue to give our lives for the sake of the Gospel wherever we are placed and let us have a special love for those who are poor, especially because they have had no chance of hearing about Jesus and His Good News. It may be in a village, or a town, a village school or a well-equipped computer centre; it may be through speaking or writing, suffering or enjoying good health…the fire can burn anywhere and at all times…
May Our Blessed Mother intercede for us, and may Don Bosco inspire us.
Once again, prayerful Jubilee Greetings to all our Jubilarians as we continue with the Eucharist.
Homily by Fr. J. Puthenpurakal SDB on the occasion of the Jubilee Mass in honour of the Jubilarians of Guwahati Province, at Savio Juniorate, Mawlai, Shillong, India, on Thursday 18th June, 2009.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Construction of the Idea of Evil : Theological Criteria

Dear Friends,

Situating my few words
I consider it a privilege to address this distinguished gathering. The topic we are considering is of utmost importance, “Construction of the idea of Evil”. What is evil? Where does it originate? How does it appear in a thousand and one form? Among the many forms of evil what is social or structural evil? Can evil be explained away? Is the mystery of evil something difficult to understand, or is it something impossible to grasp fully, humanly speaking?

What exactly is going to be the goal or the purpose of our coming together? Are we going to help to diminish the power of evil to help construct a more humane society? I am aware that the concept of evil will be looked at from various angles as we see from our programme. Since I am coming from the Khasi Hills I could look at it from the point of view of the Khasi mythology of Lumsohpetbneng. We can try to understand evil in the light of the different sacred Scriptures. We can philosophize it, we may review it in the different opinions on it, etc. However, in these few introductory words of the inaugural session, let me look at evil briefly from a theological point of view.

Theological Criteria
The fact of evil is undeniable. It is enough to look into ourselves, see around us, read the daily newspapers. But why is there evil at all? Let me affirm right away that none of the greatest minds of human history has devised a compelling answer to it. Here we can only identify some of the principal options we have in response to evil, and especially to innocent suffering.

The first option before the idea and the reality of evil is to rebel, revolt and shake an angry fist, if not at the real God, then at some conventional idea of God. This is the way of Ivan Karamazov in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Albert Camus in his Rebel see it. Second, we can try to bear up evil stoically, tight lipped, avoiding the question “Why?” We simply accept what we can neither understand nor change. Third, we can stand with Job in the Bible placing our compete trust in God even in the face of an incomprehensible situation of evil, and continue to place our hope in the same God who loves us and who can indeed deliver us from all evil and from its consequent suffering. For ours is a God of love who can turn evil into good.

Again, theologically speaking, sin is the greatest evil, since it strikes man in the heart of his personality. Evil – both individual and structural – has its roots in the mind and heart of free and responsible persons. Injustice and exploitation are due to sin. For example, I may not be far from the truth, if I say that at the centre of the world-wide economic recession today is mainly the greed of a few individuals. In the measure in which justice is practiced evil and suffering can be diminished.

Reflecting on the idea of evil let me add immediately, that even Jesus did not explain suffering. He endured it, an innocent Lamb in the sight of God (1 Peter 1:19). He who fed the hungry, healed the sick, and raised the dead to life teaches us that suffering though in itself and per se has no meaning, it can have a meaning or can acquire a meaning – think of a mother at the bedside of her son who is a victim of someone else’s evil deed. She is close to him, suffers night and day, without sleep, without food, if need be! She is like God who in Jesus Christ suffers out of love, pure love. This God I am referring to is literally a sympathetic (suffering with) God. The reality of evil and suffering notwithstanding, this God is a God of mercy, of forgiveness, of compassion for all. He will “wipe every tear from our eyes. (In Him) death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more …” (Revelation 21:4). That we may experience God’s love that knows no death, we are told, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). Ghandiji, the father of our nation was theologically correct when he affirmed, “I am prepared to give my life for any cause, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill!”.

Conclusion
Let me conclude this brief reflection by saying that we can do nothing about evil in general, that is, we cannot completely eliminate it from the world, and we can do relatively little about it in the concrete (as our everyday experience attests). But what is under our control is the manner in which we respond to what is so frequently inevitable. We are free. And our freedom is, in turn, a condition which makes evil lessen or increase. All religions are one in acknowledging evil’s wretched factuality, notwithstanding the agony of interpretation of it of different kinds in the various religions. In the face of evil a truly theological vision demands that we do our best to diminish it with love and forgiveness and handle it in faith, faith in a God who took upon Himself the sins of the world and expiated it by dying on the Cross, and who brightens mankind’s vision by overcoming sin and death by rising from the dead. In other words, the God I know of challenges me to transcend evil with good and to bring good out of the inevitable suffering we have to endure with faith in His love by getting involved in the construction of a better world to live in. This vision of Hope is basic to understanding the idea and the reality of evil.

The world, as we know, is a wonderful place full of life and hope. At the same time, it is full of pain and suffering, illness and death. It can seem frightening and out of control: Wars break out, drought threatens the lives of missions, a friend dies in a senseless car accident, terrorists attack and kill innocent people; we can be left wondering why God allows such things.

The sacred writings of all religions tell us that God is in control. This same God can do the same for us too. There will come a time when the just will be rewarded and the wicked punished. And although God’s reign is not yet fully realized, as members of that reign, we are called to be people of justice, peace, and hope to a world desperately seeking these things.

I wish all of us two days of fruitful and enjoyable seminar.

Fr. (Dr.) Joseph Puthenpurakal
jputhen@gmail.com / 094361 18732 Seminar, Kohima March 31-April 1, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Relativism


Blog-1/18-2-09 (F>Kuru-Puthen>relativism)Today relativism is a widespread tendency practically in all spheres of life, be it ethics, culture, knowledge, human relationship or values. Relativism denies anything absolute or certain. In relativism the subject or the person decides what is true or false, good or bad. Thus he becomes the ultimate authority in all matters!Relativism has serious negative consequences for the individual, society at large and the world. Take, for example, someone makes a statement, " Any judgment is violence". Apparently this appears to be very true and attractive. And this itself is a judgment! In real life all of us are making judgments about things, events, persons, etc. all the time. Does it mean that one is indulging in violence? Absolutely not. For example, a teacher in a school says to a parent, "your child is not behaving well in class". Does it mean that the teacher has committed violence against the child? Not at all. Or again, a doctor makes a judgment regarding a sick person. He tells the patient, "you are not taking the medicine as prescribed". Has the doctor indulged in violence? Any right thinking person would agree that these are not instances of violence! They are only a help given to improve a given situation.You may object, "but Jesus said, 'do not judge' [Mt 7:1] !" Here we should remember, that Jesus himself on several occasions made judgments about persons and events. So what matters is not "making judgment", but "the purpose for which a judgment is made"."Every judgment is violence" is a relative statement. It is only a private opinion of someone. It could even be his/her personal conviction. But he/she has no right to impose it on others as an absolute value to be followed by all.Therefore, we need to be critical and reflective about what we hear people teach on T.V. programmes, or we read in books or hear people say.


Dr. J. Kuruvachira & Dr. J. Puthenpurakal

Thursday, November 27, 2008

In Fervour of GC26



...............................IN THE FERVOUR OF
.........................................GC26
...........................................(A Note)











.......................................J. Puthenpurakal SDB








.............................................DBCIC Publications
..............................................Shillong 2008

...........On the occasion of DBYA – South Asia Council Meeting
...................The Citadel, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
.................................November 14-16, 2008




..............Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures, Shillong [DBCIC].
...................................................2008.

..................................Published by: DBCIC
........................Sacred Heart Theological College
...............................Shillong – 793 008, India

ISBN-81-85408-00-41

mailtojputhen@gmail.com
mailtodbcicshillong@gmail.com
94361 18732


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GC26-Fervour

GC26-Fervour is summed up in the first line of the GC26 Document. We read, “Don Bosco’s passion for the salvation of youth is our most precious heritage.” The Rector Major, Fr. Pascual Chávez, in presenting the Chapter Document to the whole Congregation invites us to translate the Spirit of GC26 into our lives. “Just as the ‘spirit of the Second Vatican Council’ is alive and active, we can say that there is a ‘spirit of the GC26’ that needs to be welcomed.” It is summed up in Don Bosco’s motto, Give Me Souls, take away the rest. Don Bosco gave glory to God by working for the Salvation of Youth. His motto was his constant prayer. It helped him to be a mystic in the Church: a tireless worker for the integral and total salvation of the Young. It was his style of collaborating with Jesus, the Redeemer of the world who came to give life to the full (Jn 10:10). It was the best expression of his zeal for the Church and for the good of society. It expressed his missionary passion for God and for the well-being of peoples, especially the Young. GC26, in the words of the Rector Major was for us a New Pentecost!

Pentecost 2008

The first Pentecost (see, Acts 2) saw all the disciples gathered together in one place. We too were gathered together in GC26. It was the whole Salesian world, so to say, in one room. The first Pentecost saw the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit and with power from above. Today we too are filled with the same Spirit in the Don Bosco way with a passion for God and for His peoples – the Youth of the world in particular. At the first Pentecost the Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in “tongues”. Today the Congregation is speaking hundreds of tongues in all the five Continents. People are amazed how the brand name “Don Bosco” is easily understood everywhere. In the first Pentecost everything was focused on “Jesus of Nazareth”, a Man accredited by God [to us] by miracles, wonders and signs. Today we are sent [“missioned”] to offer Him to the world. At the first Pentecost Peter spoke of how Jesus was crucified. Today we are called to speak of how the same Jesus is tortured and killed again in His disciples in Orissa and elsewhere. In the first Pentecost Peter testified that God raised Him from the dead, for it was impossible for death to hold the Just One! We as missionaries are invited to offer this Hope to the world. Only a Hope that can overcome death will be able to build true fellowship. All the rest runs the risk of becoming politics. Our mission is to offer Jesus’ Good News to the world so that the world may have life and that too in abundance.

Two things are intimately connected with what we have said so far. They are Evangelization and Ad Gentes Mission. The latter is the centre or the heart of the former. To put it in simple words, with out a burning [not just smoking only! but really burning] desire to offer Jesus and His Good News to people, what we call “Evangelization” cannot survive long.

Evangelization

The rich meaning of “Evangelization” invariably provokes a lot of discussion. It was so in the 1971 Synod of Bishops and in the 1974 Synod of Bishops. The former arrived at the realization that “action in behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel”, and the latter resulted in the classical post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975) on the integral concept of Evangelization. John Paul II in his turn focused on what is central to the task of Evangelization, namely, bringing the Good News to those who have not heard it yet [ or even if they had once received it, but are living as if they never heard it], and gave us the magnificent encyclical Redemptoris Missio (1990).

Much ink has flowed after Vatican II and innumerable workshops, courses and seminars have been held since then to go deeper into the evangelizing mission of the Church. Even so, the understanding of Evangelization in the various contexts of the Church’s and of the Congregation’s manifold activities continues to challenge us. The challenge is greater when we are so taken up with activities and have no time to reflect.

Even as recently as in GC26 [February – April 2008] much time was spent to clarify the concept and reality of ‘Evangelization’. It was the same also in the World Consultation of Salesian Missions held in Rome in October 2008. The South Asia Salesian Youth Pastoral Council being held in Chennai from 14-16 November too will come to grips with the Evangelizing Mission of the Church, since it is what the Church is for in its innumerable contexts and activities. Whatever be the Departmental discussions [Department of Youth Pastoral, Vocation Ministry, Evangelization and Catechesis, Education and Culture, Groups and Movements, Youth at Risk, …] Evangelization will always remain the central theme, because everything should become “Good News”, not mere programmes, projects and feverish activities.

Evangelization: A Closer Look

In its most simple and in its most radical sense Evangelization consists in living one’s human existence as Jesus lived His, and in presenting, proposing, and announcing it to all peoples who are searching for fullness of life and a life of happiness and joy. Human Existence as Jesus lived, that is our daily challenge. It embraces both the life here on earth and the life hereafter. It demands an experience of the Risen Lord, being with Him, and to be sent out by Him. In Him our life here below awaits its fulfillment in the life hereafter. The Evangelizing Mission is concerned with the total vision of life, and not the “here below” or the “here after”. The two [the here-below and the here-after] are held together by the Evangelizing Mission of the Church.

It is the Word of God that sustains our total vision of life. This Word is a saving Word. It is a Word that calls for a response. It realizes what it stands for. Jesus is this Word. He is the “Sent One” [missionary] of the Father to enrich us with His Word. He is unique. He cannot be confused with any other human being. He, the Word of God, can transform all peoples and all cultures. The Church and in the Church all of us exist to continue this evangelizing and transforming mission, whatever be the Department through which we function. Just as the Church makes clear the identity of Jesus for all peoples and for all cultures, we have the grace and privilege of being part and parcel of this Church.

Living our human existence as Jesus lived gets its visibility in the Church and through our many activities. Everything the Church does should help this visibility. The Church is like a Lamp shining brightly. And the Church’s greatest power is this light and the power of ATTRACTION of Christ’s light in the Church. Those who are attracted by the Church’s light - the Light of the Risen Lord Jesus – come closer to it in full freedom. No one can force anyone to come to the Light, the light of Christ. In other words, the evangelizing mission loses its foundation when reason and freedom of choice are not respected or are denied. However, even in such circumstances the Church will continue to present, propose and announce the fullness of life in Christ to all.

In presenting, proposing and announcing the fullness of life [the Good News], the Church draws on its experience of centuries. In this task the Church is always aware that human reason is weakened by sin, nevertheless, it has the capacity to recognize the fundamental nature of truth. And the Church will continue to rescue reason when reason is endangered in different ways, as for example, by fundamentalist attitudes of people.

As it journeys through time and space presenting, proposing and announcing the Good News, the Church enriches the concept and reality of Evangelization. It even breaks into new paradigms without losing the rich heritage it gathered in the past. The best example for our times is the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar contributions that followed.

Deficit Evangelization

The concept as well as the reality of evangelization today is much different from what it was fifty years ago. If one doesn’t update himself/herself on Evangelization, he/she is heading for what we call “deficit evangelization”. To give you an example, an old typewriter in front of a Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHZ, DG 35 EC Intel Original Mother board, 4 GB DDR-2 RAM, 500 GB Seagate Hard Disk drive…computer is a “deficit” instrument for writing a book or an article today. It is not a blame on the typewriter. What we are saying is that unless we read the Church’s or the Congregation’s reflections on the Evangelizing Mission, we may forfeit our privilege of evangelizing the Youth of today. If we do not read and meditate on the documents of the Council (Vatican II), and the post –Conciliar writings both of the Church and of the Congregation, we easily come under a “deficit evangelization” situation. Here I am reminded of someone who speaks of his twenty or thirty years of experience, when all the time he was only repeating what was done in the first year and got used to it for twenty or thirty years! This is a case of deficit-pastoral ministry, and naturally of a deficit evangelization too. It is becoming more and more clear, that if we want to lead, we must read in our fast changing world. This last mentioned statement does not stand by itself. It has to be seen in the overall preparation of formation, prayer and community life.

Merely repeating the past and not seeing it in the light of changing conditions of life, Evangelization risks losing its rich heritage, for Evangelization is as rich as the human existence lived by Jesus Christ.


At the Centre of the Evangelizing Mission

If evangelization is presenting, proposing and announcing the life of Jesus Christ so that all those who believe in him may model their human existence as Jesus lived His, then our first preference would be the vast horizon of millions of our brothers and sisters – mostly the Youth - who do not yet know Jesus and His Good News. This preference goes under the name of Basic Evangelization, Ad Gentes Evangelization or Primary Evangelization or in the Don Bosco way Give Me Souls… John Paul II exhorts the Churches/every Christian “…to commit all of the Church’s energies [read Congregation’s] to a New Evangelization and to the mission Ad Gentes.” “No believer in Christ,” he continues, “no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” (RM 3).

Ad Gentes [to Peoples, Cultures, Ethnic Groups, the Etne] Evangelization
· What characterizes an Ad Gentes situation is the going out of one’s self [ one’s familiar ecclesial, cultural, social and linguistic universe, as well as one’s universe of faith ], in order to share one’s faith in Jesus Christ with those who have not received it yet. And even if they had received it earlier, it is dormant now. Ad Gentes Evangelization makes that faith in Jesus Christ more alive and relevant to people’s lives.
· This sharing of faith is made more effective by bringing the essential means of salvation to people, namely, by providing the visible presence of the Church among them.
· The presence of the Church through Ad Gentes mission is made concrete by means of dialogue with culture, religions, the poor and the marginalized in particular.
· Since Ad Gentes mission is at the heart of all the other forms of Christian mission, it calls for an on-going exploration of the various forms of mission.
· Ad Gentes mission is the definitive and preferential choice of the Church’s evangelizing mission. In other words, if the Church has several possibilities/options of mission in a place including Ad Gentes Evangelization work, by preference it will first choose the Ad Gentes form of Evangelization.
· Ad Gentes Evangelization represents the dynamic character of the Church and of each Christian in a very special way, since Ad Gentes mission will open the door to other forms of Evangelization.
· Ad Gentes Evangelization highlights the missionary thrust of the Church at its best, and shows the Christian faith at its forward movement.
· The vast horizon of Ad Gentes Evangelization described in Redemptoris Missio [RM] (Ch. IV) is at the reach of all committed Christians, and is a duty of everyone (See the New Areopagus mentioned in RM 37, 40. The Encyclical opens before the Church the immense possibilities of Ad Gentes mission in today’s world.
· Ad Gentes Evangelization constitutes the founding act of all other forms of Evangelization in the Church, and it witnesses to the indestructible power of the Risen Lord whose love wants to reach out to all peoples.
· Ad Gentes Evangelization with its freshness of missionary spirit is the best means to attract new missionary vocations in the Church.
· There is a parallel between mission Ad Gentes mission and the Young: both are directed to the future of the Church and of humanity.
· To ignore the Ad Gentes dimension of Evangelization would be to distort the very nature of the Church.
· Ad Gentes Evangelization is an invitation to every Christian to adopt – in keeping with the nature of the Church – a missionary style of life.
· The image of Jesus we possess is too often limited to the biblical and dogmatic aspects. Jesus in missionary terms (going in search of those who do not yet know Him) needs to come more into our lives. And Ad Gentes Evangelization would help us to do it.
· It has been said that at the origin of our problems there is a blockage of Evangelization, that is, a conception of “Christian / religious life” which can too easily be reduced to administration and mere secular efficiency. Ad Gentes Evangelization will help us to remove that blockage. John Paul II writes, “Only by becoming missionary will the Christian community be able to overcome its internal divisions and tensions and rediscover its unity and its strength of faith” (RM 49). The joy one experiences from Ad Gentes mission is the best guarantee for a happy community life.
· Ad Gentes mission opens the door to integral liberation of peoples. And hence it is the best contribution we can make to people’s development.
· And finally, growth is a moral necessity for the Church. It begins with Ad Gentes Evangelization. It moves to its fulfillment through inculturation of the Good News. Growth, however, should be understood in its holistic meaning : Growth not only in number (Act 1:15; 2:41; 4:4; 6:7; 9:41), but also in knowledge (1 Tim 2:4), growth as a body (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 4:16), growth in grace (2 Pt 3:18); in all ways into Christ (Eph 4:16-21); growth in faith and love (2 Thes 1:3), in Christian influence (as seen in the example of “light” and “salt”: You are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth. You are the leaven).
The idea of growth in all aspects takes us to the different Departments of our Salesian Evangelizing Mission: Youth Pastoral, Vocation Ministry, Evangelization [Ad Gentes] and Catechesis, Education and Culture, Groups and Movements, Youth at Risk, etc. All carry the loving burden of Evangelization.
Before we conclude these few lines on Ad Gentes Evangelization I am reminded of our Confreres in Vietnam. On November 7, 2008, the Provincial House at Xuan Xiep, HCM City witnessed an extraordinary gathering of 300 SDBs, novices and pre-novices, plus a further 30 members of the Salesian Family and 40 parents of current missionaries “Ad Gentes”. It was the 5th Vietnam Province Missionary Day Celebrations.
Still something more about Vietnam: For the past 9 years I have had the privilege of animating the SDB group of missionaries leaving for different parts of the Salesian world from Rome/Turin. And every year (especially during the past 6 years) there was a sizeable group of young Confreres from Vietnam. Their youthful enthusiasm was contagious. Their singing was extraordinary. This outpouring of missionary fervour among our Vietnamese Confreres will certainly fill up with a sizeable number of them the 140th Missionary Sending that will take place in 2009. The year 2009, as we know, is the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesian Congregation. To celebrate this occasion, the Rector Major has proposed an extraordinary number of “at least 100” Salesian missionaries Ad Gentes, that is, each Province offering the gift of at least one or more missionaries for the 140th Mission Sending! Will South Asia Region, especially the Indian Provinces contribute a major share –not out of their surplus, but out of their poverty? The Master of the harvest is ready to bless their generosity.

Missionary Animation: The Secret of our Vitality

If the Church by nature is missionary (see, AG 2), then missionary animation is a mater of life and death for every Christian. Here the word “missionary” is understood not only in the limited sense of Ad Gentes Evangelization, but Evangelization in its global and integral meaning seen as the very reason for the Church’s existence (see, EN 14). That is, all what the Church does should have a “Good News”- proclamation-dimension with Ad Gentes mission occupying a pride of place at the heart of every other form of Evangelization.
Therefore, all our formation programmes, and all the Departmental Animations have or should have a missionary thrust including the Ad Gentes aspect, namely, the ardent desire to bring Jesus and His Good News to people everywhere, particularly the Youth.
The Rector Major, Fr. Pascual Chávez, commenting on the dynamic spirit and farsightedness of Don Bosco in organizing the first missionary journey in 1875, says, “This missionary mentality can explain not only our worldwide diffusion but also the present configuration of the Congregation with its work spread more or less evenly over all five continents.”[1] Imagine if Don Bosco had not organized the first Mission Sending in 1875 and several others during his life time, the Congregation would have got stuck in Piedmont or may have spread only to a few more places in Europe! Thanks to the missionary heart of Don Bosco, the Missionary of the Young, today we are present in 126 countries, with a total of 16234 SDBs engaged in Youth Centres, Schools, Professional and Agricultural Schools, Universities, Boarding Houses, Vocational Training Institutes, Parishes and Mission Centres, Human Promotion, Cultural Centres, Social Communication Media, and Animation Services of various kinds.
No wonder that Don Bosco has been described as “one of the greatest servants of the Church in the field of missionary endeavor.”[2] Fr. L. Ricceri wrote on the occasion of the Week of Salesian Spirituality in January 1976, “… the renewal of Salesian life or of the Salesian Family to be effective must pass through a missionary spirituality, for there is a close relationship between Salesian vitality and missionary vitality.[3] Fr. E. Vigano’ in his turn writes, “we may safely say that Don Bosco can be listed among the great missionaries of the 19th century, even though he was never personally on the missions ‘Ad Gentes’”[4] “… without spirituality,” he writes elsewhere, “we could not pursue our course as evangelizers.”[5] Fr. J. Vecchi, referring to the presentation of the crucifixes to a young married couple among the other missionaries of the 127th missionary expedition in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco in September 1997, writes, “… [in them] the missionary vocation had been joined to and integrated, as it were, with their marriage vows.” We may add here that the future of missionary work will benefit immensely, if we can attract more young lay people for the work of first Evangelization or mission Ad Gentes. Fr. Chavez in his turn says, “Missionaries and the missionary spirit are the two essential elements of the charism that must be fostered in every Province.”[6]
The 19th General Chapter held in Rome in 1965 affirms that Don Bosco wanted that the missions should be a permanent preoccupation of the Congregation to the extent of being part of its nature and end. It clarified that the missionary vocation of the Salesian Congregation was willed by Don Bosco right from the beginning, and the 19th General Chapter resolved that it should be known as such in the Church.[7]
The 20th Special General Chapter held in Rome in 1971 following the far reaching teachings of the Council dedicated Document 7 to Salesian Missionary Action.[8] In it we read that the missionary revival is the thermometer of the pastoral vitality of the Congregation. All are called to reawaken their missionary consciousness, to rethink an appropriate methodology, to increase the number of evangelizers and to study the Salesian missionary vocation within the missionary vocation of the Church which by nature is missionary. The Chapter members marvelled at the realization that at the death of Don Bosco almost 20% of the Salesians were in the missions. Recalling what was said in the previous Chapter the Special General Chapter reaffirmed that the missionary ideal of Don Bosco is a permanent dimension / character of the Congregation. Fr. Paul Vadakumpadan, Salesian missiologist, commenting on it remarks that the missions provide the greatest scope for realizing the youth apostolate.[9] The Special Chapter exhorted the Provinces to take care of missionary vocations by presenting the Congregation as missionary and assuring willing youngsters the opportunity to realize this ideal. The Chapter also introduced the essential aspects of missionary commitment in the renewed text of the Constitutions.
The 21st General Chapter, Rome, 1977-78, had the background of Paul VI’s Encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi and the enthusiasm generated by the Salesian Mission Centenary. The Chapter was impressed by the fact that during the previous five years some 270 confreres went to work in the missions. In the joy of such dedication and commitment the Congregation was able to live through some of its difficult years. The fact that the missionary spirit was kept alive in spite of troubles and anxieties was a sign of vitality and hope. The Chapter warned that even though all countries can be considered as “mission territory” we should not lessen the proper meaning of specific Ad Gentes missionary presence. The need of permanent missionary animation was taken note of. The Chapter also emphasized that the Salesian style and service seem to fit well the demands of Ad Gentes mission. The missionary enthusiasm generated in the Chapter was crowned by the launching of the African Project.
The real Acts of the 22nd General Chapter held in Rome from January to May 1984 are the texts of the Constitutions and Regulations themselves. Missions and missionary Spirit are the essential aspects of our Constitutions.
“People still awaiting the Gospel message” we read, “were the special object of Don Bosco’s concern and apostolic effort. They continue to stimulate our zeal and keep it alive. We look upon missionary work as an essential feature of our Congregation…The work [of proclaiming the Gospel] mobilizes all the educational and pastoral means proper to our charism.”(Cons. 30) And “we proclaim the Gospel to those who have not yet received it (Cons. 6).
The 23rd General Chapter held in Rome in 1990 had as its theme “Educating Young People to the Faith.” Addressed primarily to “communities” and focused mainly on the education to the faith of young people in the context of the New Evangelization, the document has much relevance to Ad Gentes mission. We read, “It is urgently necessary to kindle in young people a lively desire for the Christian faith and, once the desire has been implanted, to accompany them step by step to the fullness of life in the Spirit.”[10] Citing Art. 34 of the Constitutions Fr. E. Vigano’ in his introduction writes, “Our highest knowledge, therefore, is to know Jesus Christ, and our greatest delight is to reveal to all people the unfathomable riches of his mystery.”[11]
The Document of the 24th General Chapter, Rome, 1996, had as its theme, “Salesians and Lay People: Communion and Sharing in the Spirit and Mission of Don Bosco.” The involvement of the laity in Don Bosco’s mission in today’s world and our sharing with them Don Bosco’s charism open up new vistas of Laity – SDB collaboration in Ad Gentes mission as well as for New Evangelization. Here I am reminded of the role the lay people have in the Church in North East India. I cannot think of any mission station that was started without the collaboration of lay people whether young or old, men or women.
General Chapter 25th, Rome, 2002 had as its centre of reflection the “Community”. Salesian Mission is entrusted to the community, and it is the community that evangelizes through its members. In the light of the Trinitarian Communion which is the source as well as the goal of mission, the new emphasis on Salesian Community should make every community a family of apostles and missionaries of the young after the heart of Christ, the missionary of the Father. Community is for mission, and mission is carried out by the community. It would be a pity, if the added emphasis on “community” should lead us to a cozy life devoid of any missionary thrust! Our communities should be like a sponge oozing out a sense of mission, mission in all its dimensions with its special accent on Ad Gentes mission.
The 26th General Chapter, with Don Bosco’s motto Give me souls, take away the rest at the centre of its reflection, was something very special indeed. It was the whole of Don Bosco looking at each of his spiritual children and asking, “What exactly are you busy about?” Our resolve to be other Don Bosco’s in today’s world has no other way than to take seriously his passionate love for the salvation of youth.
The four themes into which Don Bosco’s motto is divided for our reflection, namely, the Urgency of Evangelization, Vocation Ministry, Evangelical Poverty and New Frontiers do not, of course, exhaust the motto. They are as the Rector Major points out “elements of great relevance” today to carry forward our programme of renewal. The entire motto is present in each of these themes, and each of these themes is linked with innumerable other themes of our Salesian consecrated religious and missionary life.
We are asked to start afresh from Don Bosco. It is a risky thing. It means to place before him all what we are busy with now. It means to listen to him. It also means to realize whether what we are busy with is really serving the salvation of Youth. Wherever we are, we can give glory to God, if we have - like Don Bosco – a heart turned to the salvation of Youth. This would be the meaning of “return to Don Bosco, return to the young”: to be present among the young physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and prayerfully. Thus our specific involvement as missionaries is located at the heart of our identity. Our identity – both as individuals and as a Congregation - is a “missionary” identity. In fact, every aspect of our life as consecrated religious – the evangelical councils, community life, prayer life, formation and ascetical practices - is coloured by our apostolic mission (“apostolic” from Greek and “missionary” from Latin, both having the same meaning).
When we read in Art. 138 of the Constitutions, that the Councillor for the Missions fosters the missionary spirit and commitment throughout the whole society (italics mine), we are made to understand that all the members of Congregation are missionaries – each one in his field of work, and that the Councillor for the missions animates the whole Congregation with a missionary spirit.


Conclusion
It is a matter of pride for our Congregation that from the distant 1875 when Don Bosco organized with great enthusiasm the First Missionary Sending to 2008, the Congregation has organized and sent a total of 139 Missionary Sendings. The number of years between the two dates (1875-2008) is only 133, whereas the Congregation has sent 139 Mission Sendings with a total of 10268 SDB missionaries. The most numerous one was in 1929 with 364 missionaries, and the smallest group was in 1880 with only 3 missionaries. On an average the Congregation has sent 77 missionaries a year as can be seen from the tables given below.

Sl. No. ..................................Year ...............No. of Missionaries
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
1 ..................................1875 ................................... 10
2 ..................................1876 ................................... 21
3 ..................................1887 ................................... 18
4 ..................................1878 ................................... 9
5 ..................................1880 ................................... 3
6 ..................................1881 ................................... 6
7 ..................................1881 ................................... 10
8 ..................................1883 ................................... 13
9 ..................................1885 ................................... 19
10 ..................................1886 ................................... 6
11 ..................................1886 ................................... 22
12 ..................................1887 ................................... 8
13 ..................................1888 ................................... 7
14 ..................................1888 ................................... 11
15 ..................................1889 ................................... 31
16 ..................................1889 ................................... 29
17 ..................................1891 ................................... 26
18 ..................................1891 ................................... 20
19 ..................................1891 ................................... 9
20 ..................................1891 ................................... 17
21 ..................................1892 ................................... 9
22 ..................................1892 ................................... 5
23 ..................................1892 ................................... 32
24 ..................................1893 ................................... 12
25 ..................................1893 ................................... 37
26 ..................................1894 ................................... 12
27 ..................................1894 ................................... 39
28 ..................................1895 ................................... 5
29 ..................................1895 ................................... 87
30 ..................................1896 ................................... 62
31 ..................................1897 ................................... 58
32 ..................................1898 ................................... 126
33 ..................................1899 ................................... 36
34 ..................................1900 ................................... 52
35 .................................. 1901 ................................... 84
36 ..................................1902 ................................... 54
37 ..................................1903 ................................... 66
38 ..................................1904 ................................... 194
39 ..................................1905 ................................... 90
40 ..................................1906 ................................... 87
41 ..................................1907 ................................... 88
42 ..................................1908 ................................... 99
43 .................................. 1909 ................................... 44
44 ..................................1910 ................................... 122
45 ..................................1911 ................................... 54
46 ..................................1912 ................................... 53
47 ..................................1913 ................................... 72
48 ..................................1914 ................................... 44
49 ..................................1917 ................................... 8
50 ..................................1918 ................................... 9
51 ..................................1919 ................................... 31
52 ..................................1919.2 ................................... 16
53 ..................................1921 ................................... 92
54 .................................. 1922 ................................... 192
55 ..................................1923 ................................... 134
56 ..................................1924 ................................... 195
57 ..................................1925 ................................... 189
58 ..................................1926 ................................... 171
59 ..................................1927 ................................... 198
60 ..................................1928 ................................... 106
61 ..................................1929 ................................... 374
62 ..................................1930 ................................... 212
63 ..................................1931 ................................... 213
64 ..................................1932 ................................... 269
65 ..................................1933 ................................... 221
66 ..................................1934 ................................... 260
67 ..................................1935 ................................... 212
68 ..................................1936 ................................... 235
69 ..................................1937 ................................... 227
70 ..................................1938 ................................... 250
71 ..................................1939 ................................... 219
72 .................................. 1940 ................................... 48
73 ..................................1941 ................................... 41
74 ..................................1942 ................................... 24
75 ..................................1943 ................................... 15
76 ..................................1946 ................................... 31
77 ..................................1947 ................................... 129
78 ..................................1948 ................................... 191
79 ..................................1949 ................................... 119
80 ..................................1950 ................................... 109
81 ..................................1951 ................................... 65
82 ..................................1952 ................................... 125
83 ..................................1953 ................................... 80
84 ..................................1954 ................................... 98
85 ..................................1955 ................................... 125
86 ..................................1956 ................................... 121
87 ..................................1957 ................................... 160
88 ..................................1958 ................................... 126
89 ..................................1959 ................................... 100
90 ..................................1960 ................................... 101
91 ..................................1961 ................................... 113
92 ..................................1962 ................................... 115
93 ..................................1963 ................................... 96
94 ..................................1964 ................................... 95
95 ..................................1965 ................................... 98
96 ..................................1966 ................................... 81
97 ..................................1967 ................................... 61
98 ..................................1968 ................................... 72
99 ..................................1969 ................................... 56
100 ..................................1970 ................................... 57
101 ..................................1971 ................................... 39
102 ..................................1972 ................................... 35
103 ..................................1973 ................................... 48
104 ..................................1974 ................................... 60
105 ..................................1975 ................................... 83
106 ..................................1976 ................................... 50
107 ..................................1977 ................................... 38
108 ..................................1978 ................................... 45
109 ..................................1979 ................................... 33
110 ..................................1980 ................................... 80
111 ..................................1981 ................................... 68
112 ..................................1982 ................................... 98
113 ..................................1983 ................................... 47
114 ..................................1984 ................................... 67
115 ..................................1985 ................................... 80
116 ..................................1986 ................................... 48
117 ..................................1987 ................................... 33
118 ..................................1988 ................................... 70
119 .................................. 1989 ................................... 52
120 ..................................1990 ................................... 20
121 ..................................1991 ................................... 22
122 ..................................1992 ................................... 19
123 ..................................1993 ................................... 19
124 ..................................1994 ................................... 19
125 ..................................1995 ................................... 17
126 ..................................1996 ................................... 33
127 ..................................1997 ................................... 20
128 ..................................1998 ................................... 24
129 ..................................1999 ................................... 23
130 ..................................2000 ................................... 84
131 .................................. 2001 ................................... 22
132 ..................................2002 ................................... 14
133 ..................................2003 ................................... 20
134 ..................................2004 ................................... 14
135 .................................. 2005 ................................... 24
136 ..................................2006.2 ................................... 24
137 ..................................2006.9 ................................... 23
138 .................................. 2007 ................................... 23
139 ..................................2008 ................................... 27
140
141
14
143
144
145
146
147


Total :
10268
Sdb missionaries
upto September 2008


To the question given to the SDBs of the 139th Missionary Group in Rome this year (2008) “Why is Give me souls, take away the rest an attractive programme of life?” several interesting answers were recorded. A few of them are: Because, it reflects the life of Jesus Himself; it takes care of our Eternal Salvation; it is based on unselfish love; we become a sacrament of God’s love to others; it expresses our total self-emptying; it helps us to share the love of God with the Young; it stands for a life of total dedication in service of others; it is the best way to cooperate with the plan of God; it sums up the Salesian ideal as expressed in the Dream of the Ten Diamonds; it shows the way to holiness; it helps to continue God’s mission in the world; it emphasizes the importance of spiritual life; it emphasizes the value of freedom; in it we become free to come closer to Don Bosco; it liberates us to meet everyone; it helps us to focus on who we are and what we are doing; it expresses the unconditional love we ought to have in the service of the young; it engages one’s whole person; it puts in a nutshell our love for Don Bosco and for the young; it sums up the Paschal Mystery of Jesus; it is our radical following of Jesus; it is a great challenge, and young people like to take up challenges; it shows that our life does not end here; it means that by saving others, we save ourselves and finally, it expresses Ad Gentes Evangelization at its best, namely, free to go anywhere one is sent, and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the Young.
Evangelization, Ad Gentes Evangelization and all the other forms of Evangelization can be very challenging in a fast changing world that is so attractive, and even fascinating. However, for the Don Boscos of today Da mihi animas, cetera tolle is more fascinating.


For Further Reading

· General Chapter XXVI Salesians of Don Bosco, Da mihi animas, cetera tolle, Rome: Editrice S.D.B., 2008.
· Department for the Salesian Missions, Manual of the Provincial Delegate for Missionary Animation, Roma: Editrice S.D.B., 1998.
· Missions Department, Uniqueness of Salvation in Jesus Christ and Need of Primary Evangelization, Rome: Editrice S.D.B., 1998.








[1] AGC 381, 18.
[2] Joseph Aubry, ed., and Joseph Caselli, transl., The Spiritual Writings of Saint John Bosco, New Rochelle, New York: Don Bosco Publications, 1984 [Henceforth, The Spiritual Writings], 1.
[3] Antonio A. Garcia., ed., La Famiglia Salesiana Famiglia Missionaria, Torino: Elle Di Ci, 1977, 3-4 ; 7-15 [Henceforth, La Famiglia].
[4] Acts of the General Council, No. 336, April-June 1991, 5.
[5] Letter of August 15, 1990, “Salesian Spirituality for the New Evangelization”.
[6] Letter of the Rector Major, “Whether I am near you or far away, I am always thinking of you”, in AGC, No. 381, 6 [Henceforth, AGC 381].
[7] See, XIX General Chapter Document, Rome: 1965, 178-179.
[8] See, XX Special General Chapter Document, Rome: 1971, 315-330.

[9] P. Vadakumpadan, mimeographed class notes on “The missionary dimension of Salesian charism”, Shillong: Sacred Heart Theological College.
[10] XXIII General Chapter Document, Rome, 1990, 13.
[11] Ibid., 17.