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Paul Vadakumpadan, Shillong says,
360° VIEW
Shillong, May. 18. We are preparing for the General Chapter. All the provinces have celebrated their own chapters.

There have been much reflection and enriching sharing.  Useful decisions have been made. Hopefully they will be implemented. Next year, by this time the General Chapter too will be over, marking another step on the path of renewal.

Many years ago, Fr. George Williams used to be the General Councillor for the English speaking world. Once he came to India for a visit. He gave a highly impressive conference on the theme ``Joys and sorrows of the Rector Major.`` I don`t quite remember the points he raised. But I do remember that later in family gatherings, that conference became the topic of very original skits and songs.

During the past four decades, it is likely at least some of those joys and sorrows have changed. Let me point out some of these.

Once there was a meeting of Provincial economers at the Pisana. All the provinces were represented. One evening the Rector Major was taking a stroll through the mile long corridors of the Casa Generalizia. He dropped into the chapel for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. There to his great joy, he saw all the Indian economers praying.  Fr. Chavez was most impressed. He said, ``Prayer, prayer, prayer, not money, money, money. India shows the way!`` Later that day he saw these pious Indians at table for dinner. So he asked them, ``Hi guys, I saw you all praying. That`s beautiful! Are you having a recollection or something?`` One of the economers, guess who, said, ``Father we are praying, not because of recollection; we are praying before beginning the collection.`` The Rector Major could not but say to himself, ``Money, money, money, India does not show the way!``

Once a provincial appointed a new rector in a house. The Salesians there formed a bible loving community. When the new rector came, they welcomed him with the bible in hand and said, ``Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.`` The rector started his work in earnest. He thought of making a few changes in the community. So there was a community meeting. At the meeting, the confreres asked the rector, ``By whose authority do you do these things?`` When the provincial came for visitation, they pointed to the rector and said, ``Take him away.`` The provincial asked the Rector Major what to do. Fr. Chavez replied promptly, as he always does. He said, ``If they said, take him away, take him away. If not, the next time you go, they will shout crucify him.``

So much about sorrows. I believe the Rector Major must be having also many joys while guiding the congregation at the highest level. Once upon a time many congregations tended to think highly of themselves and a little less highly about others. Now the situation has changed. Many  think of others as doing better. This not for reasons of humility alone. All are facing many challenges and even more hurdles. Joys and sorrows alternate fast.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Thinking of oneself in less glorious terms is part of getting tough. That is, tough spiritually. Humility and self-sacrifice are a must in any form of renewal. The challenge is to  carry the cross with the Master, not vie with each other to sit on the right and the left.


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