Tag Archives: Asia

A meek Brown Man From Goa – Cry, Bathe and Smile

Cry

Cry

Few months before the release of the book, there was a buzz around regarding the investigation of a non-Catholic, about Blessed Joseph Vaz. For me personally, it sounded like another trumpet blowing, “We’re trying to make Bl. Joseph Vaz a Saint!“. That’s a phrase I’ve heard since the beginning of the last year. For some weird reason, unlike other Sri Lankan Catholics, who were bragging about his work, I was simply not interested. Everyone is a Saint, so if he has done something good, he’ll be rewarded in Heaven, why run behind a “Saint” prefix for his name? To add to my disinterested spirit, last year we had a module at the Theologate regarding Bl. Joseph Vaz and his contribution to the Faith and country. Nope, neither did that get my spirits high about the guy.

I got this book last week and first thing I usually do when I get a book is to read the Cover. The back of the book mentioned about the author Kusum Waidyaratne and his research areas, Para Human Archaeology, Ethnoarchaeology, Rheology, Architectonic, DNA. Those words sounded music to my ears, because I fancy all the high tech science and geeky stuff (NOT fiction, but Realizing fiction with Reality).

Bathe

BatheRead the first page, turned to the next… kept on doing it for minutes, hours and before I even knew I had read the first 10 chapters of the book and wanted to keep on going. It was addictive, the more I read, the more I wanted to dig in and dig deeper. I also did some research on my own with regard to the scientific areas touched in the book to see if, what I was reading was reality or the author was trying to fool me into something.

I don’t want to spoil the fun, but I’ll give a sneak peak into the book. It’s primarily about Bl. Joseph Vaz. And if you don’t know who that is, let me help you out. Ask a priest, catechism teacher or the final resort Mr. Google. If you’re a Sri Lankan and you don’t know him, high time you relearned history. And if you’re Sri Lankan plus a Catholic and don’t know about him, then shame on you!

As you go on reading, it will unravel the reality of this great personality, Bl. Joseph Vaz and his immense contribution to a foreign soil. Done only with one intention in his mind, that is to do his Father’s will. Every word of the book is a prayer, a step towards a strengthening journey of Faith. You can take my word on this, because though I’m a Theology student, I’m not a hard core prayer person. The word “Prayer” gives me jitters. But today, I’ve come to realize that Prayers are a constant chitter chatter with God. Speaking to Him, Crying with Him, Laughing with Him and even fighting and insulting Him and asking for forgiveness. Giving the truth of your Heart, that is the only Mantra.

The best example of such an intimate relationship is the one that Bl. Joseph Vaz had with God the Father. This book made me realize that we all are Bl. Joseph Vazs inside. The difference is, some have discovered themselves and people like you and I keep orbiting our day to day painstaking lives, looking for help outside. Our help is right here, within our grip, but we don’t see it. We ignore it and go venturing into other modes to find solutions. And if we do know it’s there and reach it, there’s always that thorn of doubt pricking constantly.

The story of the book flows on two rivers and they meet at a confluence. One stream carries the tales of BJV (Bl. Joseph Vaz) and the other speaks about a married gentleman named Wishwa, who is a father of two and is struggling with his own life’s journey. The two stories run parallel. Whatever happened to BJV few centuries ago, happens to Wishwa today. Similarly you can also see a comparison of human effort vs God’s guidance.

Few Examples from the Book:

  • Persecution by the Dutch soldiers // Imprisonment or Wishwa being attacked by some goons.
  • BJV praises God during crisis // Wishwa cursing the divine

The book also uses the Word Of God, Sacred Scripture quotations to form the foundation of Faith. It comes handy as a literary technique to give light to the readers, a glimpse of hope towards a better fulfillment of the story.

…if you believe you will see the glory of God

~John 11, 40

The initial chapters, speak of the Journey of BJV and only in Chapter 20 you get to know about the beginning years of BJV. The essence of these chapters is, the author portrays a heart of a mother. A 3D view is given with 3 mothers playing the roles. BJV’s mother, Wishwa’s mother and the crest, Mother Mary – The Mother of everyone.

The book also touches areas which provide clear cut evidence that Catholicism existed in our land before the arrival of the European invaders. It also shows that the era where Buddhism was in a declining phase, it was not because of the Catholics.

The book portrays the miracles of BJV, his intercessions, crucial journeys, prayerful life and most importantly, how loud his silence was and is.

I found three interesting themes run across the story.

  • Cry

Starting with a sob it progresses towards a loud cry. It is revealing one’s true self, confession, helplessness.

  • Bathe

With the act of taking a bath, where the characters felt refreshed, cleansed. In Christianity, this is a sign of purification or sanctification.

  • Smile

A sign of hospitality, love, care.

The book also reveals details about BJV’s tomb and what is disappointing is that, intense details about him are not found in Kandy. One would get to know the real reason behind this. But if there were records, I’m sure it would speak volumes about BJV.

Smile

smileIf the Bible is a book that contains mystery, comedy, romance, thriller, action, tragedy, history, science, etc; Then ගෝවෙන් අමුත්තෙක් ඇවිත් – A meek Brown Man From Goa will similarly fit into most of the literary genres. Unlike fiction it wouldn’t provide you with a temporary mental satisfaction. These pages would help you face your biggest fear, LIFE! It is a live manifestation of Divine Providence. For sure it will show you at least a ray of Hope.

Instead of learning about saints who are foreign to our land, it is important that we as Sri Lankan Christians, give credit to the valuable service and sacrifices of BJV. If it was not for him I would’ve not been able to address my God in my mother tongue. If it was not for him I would’ve not been a Catholic, the Church would’ve died decades ago. As Sri Lankan Christians it is our duty to recognize this great servant of God and cherish his work.

I tried this interpersonal formula that I learned from my new friend BJV. It was yesterday, when Asia was hit with an 8.9 magnitude earthquake. The moment I got the news, only thing that ran across my mind was, “What would Blessed Joseph Vaz do?” Without delay, I went to my room and started “Praying“. I think this was after many months or years, that I prayed so intensely. I called Mother Mary and BJV to come for our mediation. Within few hours, the news said that the earthquake was horizontal, hence it was less likely that a Tsunami will occur. I believe that this happened because of the intercession of Mother Mary and BJV. I’m sure millions of us prayed for a miracle and we got it.

Eucharist : Communion or Discrimination??

Eucharist has been a controversial topic, specially in a multicultural and multi-religious continent like Asia. I wanted to bring out this topic because of a question raised by my non-catholic cousin and something that I learned from the theologate. This post is basically an anthropological view of the Eucharist.

The word “Eucharist” is derived from Greek, Eucharistia which means Thanksgiving. According to the explanation of the Church it is,

Following are some of the biblical quotations where Jesus refers to His Body and Blood and invites everyone to participate in the mystery of Eucharist to attain eternal salvation.

  • Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mtt 26, 26 – 28)
  • I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”” (Jn 6, 51)

The FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference) gives a vision of a Renewed Church (FABC Papers No. 106) of 8 movements within the context of Asia, where we can help people encounter Christ. Like I said Asia is coloured with many religions and cultures. Therefore, Is preaching the Gospel and living a good Christian Life (being a self example) alone are enough for Evangelization?? In the Eucharist, we become one with Christ when we receive Him into our inner being. Christ invited everyone to partake of this great banquet. Did He specify that ONLY Catholics/ Christians are allowed??

I go to the Hindu and Buddhist temples in my country. In the Hindu temple they offer the devotees Prasad a food offering made to a god and then shared among the people, to both Hindus and non-Hindus. I’m not saying that the Eucharist is similar to the Prasad!

EucharistThe Eucharist IS the very Body of Christ, it IS Christ Himself! My cousin who’s a Hindu but is more inclined towards Christianity participates in the Sunday Mass. One day, out of the blue he asked me, “Why can’t I receive Communion?” So I told him that he doesn’t know the full mystery behind the Eucharist, it is the Body of Christ and you have to be baptized  and also should be in a worthy state to receive Christ. And I’m sure that it sounded like some kind of a Criminal offense for him. But realistically speaking, we preach of a Universal Salvation and when it comes to the Eucharist where we symbolize Fellowship, we limit it to the privileged baptized!

I’m not going against the Church’s view of the Sacramentality and preserving the sacredness of the Eucharist from profanity. But there are people of simple faith like my cousin who understand the meaning of the Eucharist and would like to experience the same oneness with Christ that we experience. At the end of the day we’re all human beings, no matter how much we know that God is with us all the time, we prefer to Touch Him, See Him and Taste Him. Imagine what would happen if the Church decided suddenly to stop giving Communion?? Or God rejected you for being dark or differently abled or even highly judgmental about everything??

On a personal anthropological level, I think we can Evangelize better if we understood the real concept of the Eucharist that Christ explained to us. This is something that has to be considered instead of arguing whether we should receive communion directly on hand or tongue. It would be more meaningful if we call everyone for a fellowship, a real communion without discriminating others with the sentence announced during the mass “Non-Christians are not allowed to receive Communion!” And I hope that they will dawn someday 🙂 Till then, Eucharist is only for the Baptized Christians!….

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 🙂 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??  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 😉 (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??  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” 😀
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 😀 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! 😀
I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as Maha Antoinette Jerom!