Editorial

Editorial

HOW ARE WE DOING?

editorial

This issue has two cover stories—on a much-needed form of care that any of us may need one day. Read them and be moved by what good people are doing for sick people beyond cure. So many, including some rejected by their families, have a peaceful and pain-free end in a loving setting because of palliative care.

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When teaching English to young Salesians, and later training M.Phil. and Ph.D. students in research methodology, I would explain to them the qualities of good writing.

Good writing is marked by seven C’s. It is correct, clear, concrete, creative, competent, critical and comprehensive.

CORRECT: Good writing should not contain mistakes in spelling, grammar, syntax, content or punctuation. It should be, as far as competent judgement can tell, error-free.

CLEAR: I believe in what a famous professor of economics in Chennai once told his students, “If you know economics, you should be able to explain it to the autorickshaw driver.” What we say or write should be clear, not confusing. And it should be intelligible to the least educated members of our audience.

CONCRETE: “She forgave and hugged the police officer who had killed her son and burnt alive her husband” is a more gripping piece of writing than “Many people forgive those who have done them harm.” Jesus’ parables are concrete and graphic. No wonder they are much better remembered than St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans—or most sermons.

CREATIVE: We can be creative in any human activity—in cooking, cracking jokes, arranging flowers, designing a dress, or in writing. Even the most creative musicians use the same seven notes. The best writers use the same words found in the dictionary—and create masterpieces. Don’t repeat or imitate; be an original!

COMPETENT: Know what you are talking about. If not, consult those who know.

CRITICAL: It means to look at both sides of a controversial issue. Don’t simply repeat an opinion, nor hide behind clichés. Think for yourself.

COMPREHENSIVE: As far as you can do in the time and space available, give a complete picture.

We, at MAGNET, are trying to produce a magazine of quality. We choose competent experts for our columns. Every article, even when written by specialists, is checked by three of us—for content, style, grammar, spelling, punctuation. We avoid technical jargon and use simple language. We look for touching true stories and concrete experiences to illustrate ideas (as in this month’s two cover stories). How creative we are, is for knowledgeable people to judge. For critical assessment, we have a team of International Consultants on every continent who give us expert feedback. We try to be comprehensive within the limits of a forty-page magazine.

For producing a much-appreciated monthly, I have many people to be grateful to, especially our regular columnists, who do this service free, as a loving ministry.

Our hope is that you, readers, find MAGNET attractive, useful and inspiring. Apart from its psycho-social-spiritual contents, communities can hopefully use it to teach younger members creative writing in error-free and idiomatic English, meticulous editing and elegant design. This is what qualified people tell us. We await your feedback—both appreciative and critical. Together, let us make MAGNET something all religious look forward to, and can be proud of. What is worth doing, is worth doing well.


Fr Joe Mannath SDB
Editor

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Editorial

Migrants, Refugees, and Victims of Trafficking

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By the time you finished reading this sentence, one more person will have become a refugee.

A refugee is someone who has been forcibly displaced because of war, persecution, ethnic violence or human rights violations.

There are 66 million displaced persons in the world. They belong to three categories: Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Asylum Seekers.

Refugees are persons who have been forced to flee their country because of war, persecution or other types of violence. They number 23 million today. Small countries of West Asia, like Lebanon or Jordan, have millions of refugees from Syria. The Rohingyas are another sad example.

Internally Displaced Persons are persons who run away from their homes because of war, persecution, natural disasters or state policies. They are not protected by international law, since they are supposed to be protected by their own government. People lose their homes and land, for instance, to make way for grandiose projects. They number around 40 million around the globe.

Asylum seekers are persons who flee their own country and seek protection, stay or citizenship in another country. They are about 3 million.

These three groups of human beings undergo tremendous suffering, and need our help. They have neither political power, nor powerful supporters, nor financial clout. They are at the mercy of inhuman government policies, agents who exploit them for money, sex predators who take advantages of their vulnerable situation and traffickers who dupe them and sell them for money, sex and sale of organs.

Pope Francis has given a lead in this matter, as he has done in so many other areas of human need. He speaks up for refugees; he has washed their feet. He pleads with governments to take in more refugees.

One group whom we can and must help are domestic workers. Many of them, often semi-literate and poor, work in homes or religious houses in other parts of India. It is our duty to treat them well, defend their rights, make sure they are paid a proper salary, and helped to save money and get married.

May we be grateful for the safety, freedom, financial security and opportunities that we enjoy, and have a heart for the millions of children, women and men who have the same rights as we do, but are deprived by poverty, war and violence, state policies and prejudice, natural disasters or loss of land and home.

We launch two new features this month—WWW and MOVING TO THE MARGINS.

WWW is not the Worldwide Web, but “We Women Will.” It will highlight the achievements of women. The columnist is known to our readers: Sr Marie Gabrielle Riople SCSM.

“Moving to the Margins (Peripheries)” is a call Pope Francis has been repeatedly giving to religious. May we, religious, truly be where we are meant to be—pioneers in new and difficult areas of ministry, where others dare not go because of fear, hardships or lack of financial gain. May we truly be good news to those in the margins of society, whom others forget, or shun, or exploit.


Fr Joe Mannath SDB
Editor

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Editorial

A POTPOURRI FOR THE NEW YEAR

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A few months ago, Vidyajyothi College, Delhi, asked me to address the Jesuit theology students on the use of the Internet and Social Media. After mentioning the fact that the world’s wealthiest corporations today deal in knowledge, or knowledge-related products (Alphabet or Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon), I shared with them my conviction that, while technology is easily available and is cheap or even free, and makes gigantic strides, our challenge is not to be afraid or defensive, but to create positive content. We need to learn to crowd out evil by making the good attractive. The means at our disposal today are powerful and easily accessible. How creative are we?

This month’s cover stories are about one pervasive aspect of the Information revolution: Social Media.

A wake-up call comes to all of us from a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl called Greta, who challenged a world body discussing climate change. In strong and direct language, she asked the group to assure today’s children a healthy world to survive in. Meet Greta here. Do we have this teenager’s awareness and concern for our planet?

Technology is a tool. It does not make us good or bad. What makes us who we are and what energizes us to transform the world is our inner experience. Mysticism is a “passive” (received) experience, but mystics are among the most active life-changers. The world needs more than clever theories and shrewdly couched political ideologies.  People look for credible witnesses whose lives have been transformed and lit up. To change the world for the better, we need persons whose inner core has been touched and transformed by the Divine. Check out the true stories about this in another article.

I want to thank Sr Ranjana UMI, who was a member of our editorial board until last month, and who has asked to be relieved of this responsibility. Thank you, Ranjana! All the best in your current ministry!

In her place, we welcome Sr Esme da Cunha FDCC, who is known to our readers through her column, “Special Days.” Sr Esme was a member of their General Council, and is now superior of her community and in charge of much editing work. Welcome, Esme! Thank you for sharing your rich experience and your notable writing skills with us.

Enjoy MAGNET.

Thanks to those of you who write and tell us what you think of this magazine. I am honoured to report that we hardly get any negative feedback. Most comments are heart-warming and so very positive. Many read it from cover to cover and miss it if it arrives late. Thank you for your full-blooded support!

I am committed to keeping MAGNET as good as the best magazines of its kind anywhere in the world. May I ask you to make it known, especially about religious, clergy and educated lay persons.


Fr Joe Mannath SDB
Editor

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Editorial

DAY OF THE POOR. NEEDS OF THE POOR?

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“India is trying to be the first country to become an industrial giant with an illiterate and unhealthy labour force. I don’t think it can be done. To me, it’s one of the biggest problems.”

That is the opinion of one of the world’s greatest economists—Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen.

The Day of the Poor launched by Pope Francis is more relevant here than in many other parts of the world. How should we observe it? This issue has several inputs on it—a cover story by an Indian who is an international expert, interview with a woman religious who chose to move to the poorest, a gist of the Pope’s words on this theme, a committed layman who always finds time for service, a British missionary Brother who made his home among the poorest of India’s villages, a finance article on how to place the poor at the centre of our economic activities, a spirituality article on economic justice, an American couple’s self-examination on sharing.

MAGNET is just one activity of National CRI. Side by side with that, other concerns keep us busy.  One is to offer relevant seminars for various groups, with sessions by experienced experts. We had two such programmes last month in Hyderabad—one for 63 Local Superiors, the other for 45 Formators. Every seminar is not only meticulously planned and carefully executed; each is also evaluated anonymously, in writing, letting us really know how the participants found the experience. Both programmes received warm and touching appreciation. Let me attach the photo of the Local Superiors’ Group.

As I write these lines, we are into two other seminars on the same themes: a one-week seminar for formators (October 20-26) and another one-week programme for local superiors (November 1-7), both to be hosted at CRI House, New Delhi. Apart from making sure the contents are relevant, we are also keen that CRI House should really be a warm and welcoming home, especially for religious. This is our common home. Every member of every religious order is welcome here. Tomorrow, some of you will take the place of the three of us who are in charge here now. May it always be a loving home, a dynamic powerhouse of initiative, a vibrant centre listening to the peripheries, encouraging initiative, supporting the week, and  providing creative leadership.

Your ideas and participation are more than welcome.


Fr Joe Mannath SDB

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Editorial

EDITORIAL

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UNUSUAL SYNOD. A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

A Synod—an extraordinary meeting of Catholic bishops—will take place in Rome this month. MAGNET spoke of it in the cover story of July 2017.

The theme is: YOUTH, FAITH AND DISCERNMENT.

There is something new about this Synod. The newness is not the topic, but the way this Synod has been prepared and the way it is going to be run.

Pope Francis has insisted that it is not enough to speak TO youth, or ABOUT youth, as we often do in the church. We need to LISTEN—HEAR FROM THE YOUNG.

Hence a questionnaire was sent around, a year ago. Many thousands of replies came in.

In March 2018, Church representatives met with young people from different continents—to really listen.

For the first time, there will be young persons attending the Synod.

Most of us will not attend the Synod, of course. But we are as much a part of the Church as those who will be there.

In the Church that we form and live—whether it be a parish, a school or college, a religious community or a family—do we really listen to the young? Do we treat the young simply as “objects of our attention” or as subjects like ourselves, with ideas, feelings, creative contributions to make and valid but different ways of looking at things? Are we ready to face the discomfort of being challenged, to be invited to look at things differently, to face a generation growing up under different influences?

Thanks to the IT revolution and the prevalence of the social media, the present generation of young people (often called “millennials” elsewhere) are better informed, smarter and less dependent on traditional structures than earlier generations. They are also more confused and more insecure.

They need our understanding and support.

We need their dynamism, out-of-the-box thinking, generosity and daring.

Together, with deep mutual respect and much patient listening, we can truly construct something beautiful—a more humane and humanizing world. In doing so, we can also learn to be church in new ways, more in line with what that unconventional young man from Nazareth showed us so many years ago.

 

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Editorial

TWO THINGS TO DO

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“Have a heart, India: With few donors, organ transplants at an abysmal 1 per cent,” was the frontline headline in The Sunday Standard on its front page on July 1st, 2018.

It went on to explain how the donation of organs in India is far below the need.

According to this article, 50,000 people needed a heart transplant; 339 were available. 200,000 needed a kidney; 1690 were available. 80,000 needed a liver; 709 were available.

The situation is indeed pathetic.

Reading such statistics will not solve the problems. Nor is it enough to pray for the sick.

What are we ready to DO?

Fr Jerry Rosario SJ, who has written this month’s cover story, has donated blood 194 times! And he has very practical suggestions on what we can do.

Why don’t we spearhead a movement in this direction?

Or at least support actively those who are giving the lead.

When two of us attended a programme organized by the central government three years ago, they appealed to religious leaders and others who have contact with many people to do more in this line…

 

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Editorial

Love as the Answer

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On page 28, you will find the moving words of a loving man who knew he might face a violent death. He sees his life as “given,” not as “taken,” and prays for the “brother” through whom his death might come. His true story is also the backbone of a movie reviewed this month. It left viewers in tears.
Unless we find loving answers to hatred and indifference, there is no hope for the world. Jesus taught this. He lived this truth. It may look foolish and powerless, but it is the most transforming attitude in human life.
What we call “religious” or “consecrated” life is meant to be a FORM OF RADICAL LOVE. It is not simply a way of herding some youngsters into a controlling structure, providing everything they need and want, and asking them to do jobs which most people can do without these structures. If it were reduced to that, this form of life would be a monument to mediocrity.
Instead, it is a call of love—God’s heart reaching out to the suffering of His children (most of it of human making) and inviting earnest lovers to join hands with Him to heal the world. Once this vision is caught, it is a passionate adventure. We throw calculation to the wind, trust God’s wisdom and love, and rush where the worldly-wise dare not go. Then you get a Paul, an Augustine, a Francis, a Teresa, an Ignatius, a Damien, a Don Bosco, a Mother Teresa, a Charles de Foucauld—and their followers who caught the same “contagion” of goodness.
“Religious” or “Consecrated” Life—there is a Conference in Rome on it on May 2-6—makes sense if its innards are in order and it makes a difference to the least and the lost. If not, it can degenerate into an effeminate enterprise in mediocrity, or a set of power-games played by self-seeking little men and women.
What is it for you? Read our cover story and see.

Since a number of us will make RETREATS this month, we have three articles on that—the transforming power of retreats that a married woman experienced, the meaning of a retreat explained under Life Skills, and the touching, honest story of a wounded priest who found deep healing through dreams.

You will notice SOMETHING NEW in this issue: a number of ads by religious orders. This is not only a way of supporting MAGNET. It is an invitation to get more familiar with other religious orders, their vision, and the fantastic services they offer. There is so much we can learn from one another. We invite more of you to share your story with the rest of us.

The TRIENNIAL ASSEMBLY OF MAJOR SUPERIORS will take place in Chennai on May 27-30. Major Superiors who have not yet registered are asked to RUSH and do it. Let us not miss this unique chance to learn from inspiring experts and from one another.


Fr Joe Mannath SDB
Editor

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Editorial

Loved, Remembered and Called

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You feel good when someone who loves you phones you. Your face lights up. Your voice becomes warm and tender.

Nice to matter to someone, right?

Great to be called, right?

Each of us is loved, remembered and CALLED.

Called before we were conceived in our mother’s womb.

Called into life. Called to be a woman or a man—our basic human vocation.

Most of us respond to God’s love through marriage and parenthood—a great and beautiful vocation.

A few of us feel called, while appreciating marriage and what our parents did for us, to embrace the larger human family and to give ourselves generously to anyone in need. Celibate priesthood and religious life make sense only if we experience it as a personal call from God that seems to respond to our deepest longings. To coax an unwilling person to stay unmarried to do some work with us is neither fair, nor is it “vocation promotion.”

Vocation is much more than joining a group or just staying in. As Fr Pascual Chavez Villanueva, former Rector Major (Superior General) of the Salesians, used to say, “Perseverance is not the same as fidelity.”

April 22, 2018—Good Shepherd Sunday—is “Vocation Day.” Hence this Special Issue devoted to this very practical theme: Vocation.

Kevin and Crystal Sullivan found that their marriage took a lovely turn when they started living it as a vocation.

David tells us what drew him to the challenging life of a Christian Brother.

Sharmila’s parents detested the idea of her becoming a nun. How did she become one?

Francis was a gifted violinist who later chose to play second fiddle to Christ.

Dolores Hart was a beautiful Hollywood actress when she shocked the world by becoming a contemplative nun.

For John Bartunek, the journey was from atheism to the Catholic faith and to the priesthood.

Jennifer Fulweiler, mother of six and a brilliant atheist married to a Baptist, found Catholicism more and more appealing.

Eight bishops and sixteen priests lay bare their personal journeys.

In the cover story, Sr Esme invites us to look at our personal histories, at what makes a choice good, foolish, wise or bad.

Many journeys. The same goal.

Different characters. The same underlying quest.

A variety of settings. The same Love.

Many hearts within the same Big Heart.

May these stories help you, reader, to look within, and around, and up—and clarify what it means to be thought of with love and INVITED to get closer to the One Love that placed us on this planet and find meaning by increasing the goodness in the world.

The settings matter very little. The sincerity matters. And the love. And the genuineness with which we listen and respond to that Silent Voice.

To the degree that we let our hearts hear that Voice and allow it to lead us, Easter will happen in our life.

Happy New Life!


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Editorial

FROM AGONY TO HEALING

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This month’s cover story looks at the practical steps victims of sexual abuse can take to find healing.

Since most of the remedies suggested are psychological, we add an article on spiritual helps for emotional healing. After all, most people do not approach therapists; they make do with common sense and the support of family and close friends. One resource that is always available and can be supremely effective is spirituality.

In fact, in a number of distressing maladies, such as, addictions, a combination of psychological and spiritual helps works better than the psychological alone. It is more than likely—and supported by anecdotal evidence—that more people may have come out of alcoholism or drug-addiction through spiritual retreats than through psychotherapy.

It will be wise, therefore, to know what the different healing professions can contribute, and how to combine their efforts. What matters, after all, is that a suffering or dysfunctional human being walks free again, and is able to live a happy and productive life—not which profession or expert provided the tools.

Since Church personnel need to know more about the disastrous effects of sexual abuse and master effective remedies to help survivors, we introduce our readers to a “Child Protection Programme” prepared by Gregorian University, Rome. The online course is offered free. Those interested in more details can contact me.

The Indian government law on Child Sexual Abuse, called POSCO, is briefly explained by a legal expert.

The 2018 National CRI Calendar looks full, as you will have seen in the plan presented in the January issue. The most important event of the year was finalized after that issue went to the press: The Triennial Assembly of Major Superiors, which will be held at SRM University, Chennai, from May 27th to 30th. I have written to all major superiors about this. I will be in touch with them again and again in the coming months, with more detailed information on the topics, speakers, registration, arrival and departure, etc. I am grateful to the founder and senior leadership of this prestigious university for agreeing to host us on their lovely, huge, architecturally impressive and beautifully maintained campus, where normally 12,000 of their 55,000 students reside. Our Assembly will be held during their summer vacation.

More about this by email.

From what a number of you tell us, MAGNET is touching minds and hearts and is becoming a trusted and eagerly awaited community member. Why not introduce it to your family members and friends? If you want us to send any of them a sample copy, all you need to do is to give us their postal address.

I want to say a special “Thank you” to the bishops and provincials who are subscribing to MAGNET for all the priests or religious in their care. This gesture affirms our work powerfully. May your “tribe” increase!

Fraternally in Jesus,

Fr Joe Mannath SDB


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Editorial

Highlighting a Scourge

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In this issue and in the next, we highlight a terrible scourge: Child Sexual Abuse in India. The Government study shows that the rate of sexual abuse of minors in India is much higher than the world average. And most of it happens in the home.

This month’s cover story by clinical psychologist Father Jose Parappully SDB will help readers become more aware of the problem and its disastrous consequences. In the next issue, he will indicate paths of healing. Victims need not remain broken and desperate. They can find avenues of healing.

Let us look at the issue in the face without flinching. That is what the cover story does.

A new feature: Special Days. To make us all aware of crucial issues affecting the human race, the UN and other agencies have declared certain days as “Special Days” devoted to a theme or a group of persons. Schools, churches and other institutions in touch with large groups of people will do well to celebrate these occasions meaningfully. Awareness is one of the best helps for improvement—whether personal or societal.

Some of our “homes” for the poor—whether they are called orphanages or homes or shelters or whatever—have faced legal problems. Whether these problems stem from our mistakes or are a form of harassment, we need to know the law. An experienced priest-lawyer explains some of the crucial rules affecting these institutions. We cannot plead ignorance, nor neglect the implementation of government regulations. Laws are, after all, meant to protect citizens, not to harass those who work for the poor.

Our popular regular features continue: What a wife and mother learns about spirituality from her experience with grand-children; books and movies that have become hit classics; making Lent meaningful; inspiring persons of the month; ways of dealing with employees; the key role of contemplation in our life; the right understanding of exclaustration; moving from meanness to meaningfulness; the lessons an Indian sister learnt while working in a very secularized Europe; the meaning of prophecy in the Bible; the wisdom of a famous Church Father; the difference a super-wealthy woman makes in the lives of the poorest; how nursing students see their life and work; a programme to support young women theologians.

In the midst of the serious reading, try the Fun Page, too. Doing puzzles is not only fun. It stimulates the brain and keeps us mentally alert and young.


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