My Name is MAHA!

Since I’m four posts old now, you would’ve probably figured out that I come up with whacky titles for my posts πŸ™‚ Yes, they come with a twist, in order to prove a point!

Contemplating for a while, there are certain things in life which we didn’t ask for, but like it or not we’ve got them. For instance,

  • My mother country
  • My family
  • aaaand MY NAME!!

Okay, you guys are probably wondering what I’m trying to say by emphasizing a name??Β  Well it kept me thinking all my life and a recent argument made me write this post. Well before I speak about the Theological aspect, let me narrate my own story.

My name is M. Antoinette Jerom. And the “M” stands for “Maha“. And before you go on laughing at that, I find it very offending if someone laughs at my name πŸ˜‰ (Just to make sure we’re on safe grounds). Those who are from Asia and specifically from India and Sri Lanka will have an idea of the meaning of Maha which is reasonably amusing. It refers to Huge or Great. But this is not the reason why I got the name Maha!

Okay, so what ticked me off recently??Β  It was my cousin! (Typical!) I have a technical blog which I named along with my First Name, http://technomaha.wordpress.com. When he saw the name, he found the sound of Maha to be quite amusing and preferred Ann or Antoinette instead.The reason I named this blog after my name is because I recently discovered the true meaning of my name which I have been hating all my life and never revealed to anyone. And trust me, it took a lot of courage to go public with this.

I was named by my Grand Mother for having big blue eyes when I was born. And it also reminded her of a little girl in Bahrain whom she loved, called Maha. Nevertheless, what Maha really means is,

Arabic name meaning beautiful eyes. Every maha has gorgeous big round eyes, especially when they’re babies.

You’ve got gorgeous blue mahas.“” (Urban Dictionary, n.d.)
The other meaning which also describes my personality is also absolutely correct,
beautiful, kind, great fashion sense, and in love with all the wrong guys. keeps her relationships private. arabic for full moon . has beautiful, large eyes. loyal to her friends and true at heart. serious and mature when first met, hyper and life of party. referred to someone with a strong spirit. known to have a powerful connection with the supernatural and nature. can be weird but lovable. makes plenty of mistakes even though careful. forgives easily and can’t hold grudges. A maha usually has a kind heart and a smile that lights up the world, but if you piss one off, she will kill you.has uncanny love of music. brave and bold and takes a lot to bring down. a maha is smart but has her blonde moments. means young deer in persian, and full/ cresent moon in latin” (Urban Dictionary, n.d.)
I’ve always thought that it was unfair for only God to have the opportunity to decide to name Himself and His Son.
God’s name is revealed in Exodus 3, 14 as “I AM” and the angel of the LORD revealed the Son of Man’s name as “Emmanuel – God with us” in Matthew 1, 23. So why don’t we have the choice of picking our own names??
Just like God chose our motherland, our families so I don’t think that God went wrong with this one either, our Name, which is the Prime identity of a person. My name defines who I am or what I am.
You created my inmost self,
knit me together in my mother’s womb...
Your eyes could see my embryo.
In your book all my days are were inscribed…” (Psalm 139, 13. 16)
I believe in a God described in these verses. If so, can He go wrong in inspiring my Grand mother to choose the name MAHA for me?? I don’t think so!! God sees things beyond human eyes. He knows what we turn out to be at the end. So if you’re a John, Zanta, Hud, Gogula or even a Maha, just CELEBRATE YOURSELF! Be happy for having a unique and beautiful name! God won’t be amused with your name, unless you turn out to be sarcastic with having a name called “Jesus” and turn out to be a “Lucifer” πŸ˜€
After almost 21 years, I discovered that I’ve not only got the perfect name, but also turned out to be what it really means πŸ˜€ So I’m proud to be known as Maha and I do not care what the world thinks of it, because God chose the best for me! πŸ˜€
I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as Maha Antoinette Jerom!

Teilhard de Chardin Colloquium 2011 in Sri Lanka

(For those who find the title of this post absolutely bizarre, please refer the following to know, who/ what is Teilhard de Chardin πŸ˜‰ )

Last Saturday, 10th December 2011 on the Human Rights Day, the Teilhard de Chardin Colloquium 2011 was held at the Subodhi Institute in Sri Lanka. The event was organized by Rev. Fr. Mervyn Fernando and there were also some distinguished guests present at the event. The colloquium commenced with the message of theΒ  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Spiteri and the key note address was delivered by Judge C. G. Weeramantry delivered his speech on “The Legal and Religio – Ethical Order as the Indispensable Foundation of Human Development, Global and Local“. Responses for the keynote were given by Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala (from the global persepctive) and Fr. Mervyn ( Local Perspective). The second session was interesting because it dealt with the question “Have the Religions Failed?“. Four speakers representing the four main religions of the country were invited to express their thoughts, but simultaneously many from the audience were also invited to share their views.

Now what’s the connection with these topics to Chardin?? Actually, even I was trying to connect the dots during the session. I assumed that it was all gonna be a great chant on Chardin. But… Oh lΓ  lΓ , the session turned out to be a gold mine for me πŸ˜€ Since tis the season for Thesis’ at the Theologate, I’m doing mine on Active Non – Violence. Some of the valuable pearls which fell off from the Judge’s pockets were,

  • Knowledge

Where he explained the Muslim initiative of, “Ink of the Scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr” to seek knowledge.

  • Justice

No odor of corruption should enter Justice. From the king to the farmer, all are equal! Judge is there to extract the dart of inequity from the wound of the wounded. He also spoke of the “Absurdity of the International Law“. Where everyone joined hands in rejecting the idea of the Dumdum Bullets but at present the powerful countries are given the permission to experiment on Nuclear Power. The statement made by the judge was quite thought provoking, because the decision of the IL was for me, jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. (oooh something rhymes… “dum dum”)

  • Decision Making

This was quite interesting, because he took the example of the Native Americans who made decisions taking into consideration the next 7 generations. But today, be it the next 7 generations, do our leaders or even we go beyond the frame of I, Me and Myself when we make decisions??

Dr. Jayantha who took over next, mentioned the name of the industry that has the highest expenditure. (No points for guessing that!!) Hands down, the award goes to the Military Industry. The 3 main conflicts the world is facing are,

  • Nationalism

The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth“. ~ Chardin

  • Consumerism

The “Equitable Distribution of Income along with growth“. A world where there are no slums and malls standing together. Either all slums or all malls.

  • Terrorism

Another interesting area of venture for me. Dr. Jayantha explained that mere erasing of terrorism from a country or world is not victory over terrorism. One should analyze the root cause which led to terrorism and make sure it’s being solved. It’s like giving pain killers without finding what is causing the pain and treating it. Looking back at the past, back home in Sri Lanka, yes we won the war against the LTTE, but have we analyzed and addressed the issues they raised?

Next the stage was taken over by a hot topic, RELIGIONS! Sri Lanka is a multi religious country which has 4 main religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Being such a holy country, has Sri Lanka escaped violence? Are the people walking around freely without any fear? Have we escaped terrorism? NO! Most definitely, despite having the giants of religions, Sri Lanka has failed in Peace and won in violence. So the question was, why have religions failed?

For Sri Lankans,our religion is a vital part of our identity. It is almost like another qualification. But most of us have limited the tag of being a Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu to our identity and not assimilated it to our thoughts, words and actions. Either we are extremists in our religions or we are moderates. So the problem is the vast gap between “Precepts and Practices” as Fr. Mervyn mentioned. We limit ourselves to the Sunday worships and don’t want to goΒ  beyond the ceremonies and rituals of our religion to the actual practicing of religion or rather act what you preach.

Dr. Asanga Tillekeratne (Professor of University of Colombo) gave the Buddhist approach to this question.

Do a Self Criticism

  • IDENTIFY your mistakes.
  • ADMIT your mistakes.

Instead of holding on to the traditional views, religions have to reinterpret their doctrines to suit the current context. People have to be taught to THINK, REFLECT!

Taking upon the Muslim viewpoint, Dr. M. Saleem along with his son Mr. Amjad Saleem explained that Islam is a religion that speaks of Peace and Safety as the name implies. With regard to Terrorism, Islam considers that killing a life is equal to killing the entire humanity. What is being preached has to be put into practice.

A non-Hindu, Professor De Silva (Moratuwa University) quoted the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and said,

  1. Do your duty, don’t expect anything
  2. Tell the Truth and tell it with Love

The world needs an awakening. The more we are silent, the more we are responsible of putting the world in trouble.

Taking upon the Christian Role, Fr. Mervyn mentioned 3 steps,

  1. Experience
  2. Constructive Critical Analysis
  3. Mediation

Like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus says, “Go and do likewise“, Religion means Action. Doing and experiencing is what matters. The love in doing should be experienced.

So at the end of the day, what is the picture that I got from connecting the dots?? Before this day, I’ve only heard of Chardin, but was never pushed to read or know about him. But on that day, even without speaking about Chardin all the speakers spoke of Chardin. Like Chardin says “Science, philosophy and religion are bound toΒ converge as they draw nearer to the whole“, one should not box themselves. I shouldn’t see Theology, Science, Geography, etc; as different boxes but one round globe; a blend of all colours πŸ™‚

I think we hit the REPLAY button…. :O

Yesterday I participated in the weekly Praise and Worship of the Community of the Risen Lord and the lay minister was preaching about the readings scheduled for the Second Sunday of Advent. Well as he went on about the biblical interpretations and linking the first reading with the Gospel, something interesting caught my ear…

Sunday Gospel is taken from Mk 1, 1 – 8. It quotes Isiah’s prophecy about a messenger and shows how John the Baptist is preparing the way for the Messiah. So what’s so special about this?? Try and read between the lines of the Gospel and if you really Read and Listen, you might not need to read the rest of this post πŸ˜‰

Well, if you still cannot figure it out, let me explain. Mark says, John the Baptist was inviting everyone for a baptism of Repentance. Many had Faith in what he said and followed him, because John practiced what he was preaching. It was both words accompanied with deeds. Getting back to my point, these are the words which Mark uses,

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins“. (Mk 1, 4)

Now getting down to business, Note well… These are the words which John the Baptist used before the arrival of Jesus Christ. The very call for Repentance, Change of Heart, Forgiveness. So people repented and the Messiah redeemed them from their sins. And once the persecutions began, people came forward to sacrifice their lives to keep the faith alive. Hence, Tertullian says,

the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church“.

Okay, leaping from past to present, now what are we doing?

RECYCLING! REPLAYING History!

The irony is, the very same words uttered by John are mentioned umpteen times in Liturgy, prayer services and everywhere we turn… So instead of moving forward, I think we are going back to the Pre-Messianic times, where there are many Johns preaching the same thing. True, that we await the second coming of Jesus (Parousia) but that doesn’t give us the edge to go back in time and repeat the same mistakes right?

I’m sure if Jesus was given the chance to ask the question, He asked from Peter “Do you Love me?“, He’ll probably rephrase it and ask us,

Do YOU KNOW that I’m ALREADY HERE?

Every Sunday and in Daily Liturgy we receive Christ, in the form of His Body and Blood. How much of an impact should it create when we receive Him into our Body. He becomes one with our Flesh and Blood. But are we limiting the Eucharist to a mere ritual, where we extend our tongues or hands and receive the Body and Blood… Oh yes, we believe that Jesus is in it! But then how come, when we return back we fall in the same pit. Same mistakes… True, we’re human and we have the inclination to sin, but come on… Today we have Jesus who brought us redemption, an added advantage which the Old Covenant People did not have.

But still, we’re engulfed in the quicksand :|. High time we pulled ourselves up!

Redemption

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I am a “Catholic Christian”! :S

I’m sure many of us had to face questions like,

So what’s the point in transforming such a simple question into a Blog Post?? Well let me explain the beauty of this question and answer, then you’ll see how important it is to pay attention to the slightest details.

Generally when anyone used to ask me this question, I used to say, “I’m a Catholic, Roman Catholic“. (And if you think that it’s the James Bond tone, then you’re absolutely right :D) But then recently when a colleague in office asked me if I was a Catholic or a Christian, then I told her that I’m a Catholic….but then later on, it kept ticking in my mind. What’s the difference??

Well I don’t wanna get into the Hierarchical differences of the Catholic Church and the other Christian Churches. Well if you go down that lane, there’s clearly a difference, but that’s not my arena for this post. I’m trying to deal with the normal usage of the terms, based on the path of the literal meanings of the word.

The term Catholic, refers to Universal right? Okay, now that’s fine! Moving on to the next option given within the question, Christian, now that in simple terms, Follower of Christ. So now tell me, am I a Catholic or a Christian? Interesting eh? Unless we give some thought to the silliest questions of this sort, you don’t realize how meaningful and important the question could be. Or what impact you could create with your answer to the one who’s asking you.

Now let’s analyze the answer… If you’re a Catholic should you be a Christian? Not necessarily… (Please read above paragraph) Duh!! Of course you have to!

Okay, now the second part of the analysis… If you’re a Christian should you also be a Catholic? Hmm… now that’s a tricky one… Let me think..Naaah, you don’t HAVE to be Catholic as such if you’re willing to remain in the same well and not willing to reach out to check out the other stuff outside the well. But if you want to leap from Local to Universal, then you better think of being a Catholic. (Once again, I’m NOT talking of the Churches. I’m ONLY talking of the Terms!)

Now let me rephrase myself.

You : “Are you a Catholic or a Christian?


Me : “I’m a Catholic Christian!” πŸ™‚


Oh boy, I hope I said it first! Oh and if you think you’re a Catholic Christian too… What are you waiting for?? Spread the word around…

Marriages ARE made in Heaven!!??

This is my last year at the Theologate and we have to work on our Final Year Thesis! So all my batch mates are venturing into various areas of interest to figure out what they want to do.

The Code of Canon LawSo one of my friends dropped me an e-mail with her Thesis proposal yesterday. She wanted my opinion on what I thought as a spectator/ audience. Her subject area was “Canon Law” and she wanted to find answers to the questions,

  • Are marriages really made in heaven??
  • By granting divorce is the Church unbinding what IS ALREADY bound in Heaven??
  • Or by NOTgranting divorce is the Church binding what is NOT bound in Heaven??

Clearly, this is hard meat for my first post on the blog! But facing reality, this is seriously a question that some of the canonists take into account as well as all of us keep on questioning.

I checked out her documentation and the tone of the documentation seemed very “Accusatory”. It picked on how the Church was forcibly binding people in marriage and a divorce was granted only based on Canon 1095 and any other reason had to find its way through this canon. She sounded more like she was heading for another Council :D. So this is how I basically analyzed the situation.

  1. Church’s View on Divorce
  2. My Friend’s View on Divorce

Church’s View on Divorce

We are a FamilyAs I see, the view of a family from the Church’s point is a team comprising of different players. Each player has their own strengths as well as weaknesses. One player’s strength is used to complement another player’s weakness. No Coach is obviously looking for a player who’s Jack of all trades. Likewise, in marriage, husband and wife complement each other. Divorce seems to be a rigorous process because the Church does not want a family to break so easily. It’s a fragile institution, not something that can be built in a day and then when certain cracks occur, you demolish the entire construction. Marriage is something sacred, hence it’s a sacrament. And you don’t go breaking sacraments just like that. And if the Church was to grant permission for divorce even for the slightest reason, what would be the end result of it?? It would be the visa for all individuals to flee from their responsibilities and not get into the world of “commitment” – where no matter what, you are bound to the person YOU chose to be bound.

My Friend’s View on Divorce

DivorceGetting back into the shoes of my friend, yes, I do agree with her that the Canon has certain loop holes as well as tight knots in it. As the Pope has also mentioned in two instances that the Canon has to be revised, it certainly should be implemented. So with regard to her Thesis outcome, what I suggested that she could do is, either proposes a new canon (though I’m not sure if it’s actually possible) or provide refinements for the existing canon.

At the end of the day, you question the Church means you question yourself, caz YOU are the Church. So help yourself in finding a solution to your problem. We are not the enemies of the Church nor is the Church the enemies of Her own body. Sometimes when we question the Church we tend to act like frogs in the well without even having a sneak peak into the greater reality out there. So when we are questioning or trying to find answers, we should make it a point to Think like the POPE!!Β 

Being the light of the world and salt of the earth

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